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Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad

Conference on

UN@70: Achievements, Failures and the Way Forward
October 6, 201t
(Conference Report)

The United Nations has completed 70 years of its existence on October 24, 2015. The global
body was formed at the end of WWII, and was hailed as an unprecedented consensus among the
comity of nations. It came at a particular time, and thus, was welcomed universally. Over the past
seven decades, UN has evolved into a much larger organization with a very vast agenda and
scope spanning over security, economic and social spheres. There is little doubt that UN, during
this period of its existence, has witnessed noticeable success.
Nonetheless, while at one hand it is fact that there has not been any conflict matching the
devastation caused by of WWII, during past seven decades; there also are certain questions on
the overall success of the United Nations Organization, particularly so in view of its Charter. The
talk of ‘reforms’ in the UN is also not new, and has seen many ups and downs over past two
decades in particular. While modalities of the ‘reforms’ may be hard to agree upon by all the
member countries, a consensus is there on the very need for structural changes in the UN at
broader levels ranging from its decision making mechanism to its global security apparatus and
onwards to its global developmental and social agendas. An intensive academic debate has been
ensuing on the subject and related issues all around the world over past few years
It was in this background that Tthe Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) organized a one day seminar
on the topic titled “UN @ 70: Achievements, Failures and the Way Forward” on [date] October
6, 2015. Comprising of two sessions, the seminar was chaired by the former senator and
secretary general, Akram Zaki, and the panel included three very able speakers on the subject
including Ambassador (r) Asif Ezdi, a career diplomat, Bilal Ahmed Soofi, Barrister and the head
of RSIL, and Ambassador (r) Masood Khan, Pakistan’s former Representative to the UN and
presently the Chairman Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. The
three experts presented their thoughts and analyses on a range of aspects and dimensions of UN’s
role and performance during its seventy years, characterizing them as its achievements and
shortfalls.
Commencing the session the DG IPS, Mr. Khalid Rehman, evoked some thought on UN’s
accomplishments over the years. He said that as the UN celebrates its 70 th anniversary and its
member states draw a consensus on the ambitious post-2015 development agenda, namely the 17
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this new development has coincided with the start of
Russian bombing in Syria, further complicating a conflict well into its fifth year and with no end
in sight. The two developments, he highlighted, denote the success on one hand and an ostensible
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failure on the other, on part of the global body. conflict raging in Syria with no resolution in
sight.
While deliberating on ‘UN and the World Peace’ Ambassador (r) Asif Ezdi delved on two broad
aspects, UN’s role in various crises over its tenure of seventy years and structural reforms
demanded by the G4. He opined that the UN has leveraged itself as the center of mankind’s
efforts for a better and a just world and holds credit to many advances made in the field of
socioeconomic and human rights, it has been largely ineffective in maintaining international
peace and resolving international conflicts. However, Hhe also presented some glaring examples
of UN’s failures in support of his argument including the present Syrian crisis, the massacre of
Bosnian Muslims between 1992 and 1995, the genocide of Rwanda of 1994, etc. According to
Ezdi, the failings of UN can be attributed to its most powerful organ, the Security Council (SC)
and more specifically its permanent members, also known as the P5. The ability of the P5
members to exercise their veto power over any decision which is in contravention of their
national interest, has hijacked the efforts for resolving crises and maintaining peace all around
the world. This privilege has placed these states above the law and has enabled them to use the
SC as an instrument of their national and foreign policy and to impose their will on other
member states.
Going back to the time of creation of the UN, Amb. Ezdi dwelled on how the P5 members
garlanded themselves with this in-commensurate freedom. There were only two real victors in
the Second World War, the US and Soviet Union. Britain, as a principal ally of the US and still a
major colonialist power, also qualified as the a ‘victor’ of the swords. Pre-communist China,
then under the nationalists, was also included into the SC as the permanent member on the
proposal of President Roosevelt who wished to set up a world order that would have four global
police maen. France, which had remained under the German occupation throughout the war, was
sponsored by the British Prime Minister Churchill who wanted to restore it to the Great Power
status to serve as the buffer state against the rise of Germany. If the P5 got their seats in 1945, it
was not necessarily so because they were real or putative great powers, and if some of them revel
in that status today only because they are permanent member of the SC. If it was not the pride of
these seats, they’d be relegated to the position of the middle ranking powers. That is certainly
true of Britain and France! It is therefore, no wonder that they are determined to cling to their SC
seats at all costs and for as long as they possibly can.
The claim of the P5 to the veto power is becoming more and more difficult to defend with the
passage of time, especially with the rise of new emerging powers which no longer appeared
preparedappear prepared to act in a global system run by a few self- appointed global policemen.
Its only supporters are P5 and the countries of the G4 including India, which itself aspires to
wean the power. The structure and the composition of the SC have remained unchanged since it
was founded in 1945 except for the small increase in the number of its rotating members from 6
to 10 in 1985 and does little to loosen the stranglehold of the P5 over the SC.
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Amb. Ezdi identified a few emerging realities which has made the structural reform of the UN
more imminent, however he refuted the demands of the G4 as illegitimate and unjustified. One,
the UN was founded in 1949 1945 by the victor powers who dictated that how the new world
structure would be governed by the new world powers. The other countries had no choice but to
accept as a second class status, because either they had been vanquished or were too weak.
Presently, a few of those countries are claiming the privileges of the victor powers, which is
simply against the logic of geopolitical realities -- no country in history has ever gained the food
fruit of victory without having won a war. Two, the reality of today is that the military and
economic power is no longer concentrated in a handful of countries but is diffused among a
couple of dozen large states. Many of these countries are uniting for a Consensus Group which
opposes the creation of new permanent members, whether in the UNSC or outside as demanded
by G4 because such a step would relegate them forever to a status of a second class country.
Mr.Barrister Ahmer Bilal Soofi presented his thoughts on UN’s achievements in light of the
International Legal Framework. He stressed that Tthe rule of law invariably refers to the law as it
exists, in the constitution of a given state. It, he viewed, means upholding the constitution and
the laws which are made pursuant to the constitution of the Pakistan and also implies upholding
not only the domestic law but also the international law and commitments that a state has
ratified. This is one of the greatest contributions of the UN and has given the management tool to
the interstate relationship. So He added that although it is politically correct to say that we are an
independent and sovereign state, in reality we are subject to the treaty commitments. States can
deflect local pressure but not the pressure from the international binding. Therefore, treaty
commitments, foreign policy objectives and national policies have to be in harmony with each
other.
He opined that Oone of the biggest achievements of the UN is Article 24. The article requires
that Aall members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat of use of force
against the territorial integrity or the political independence of any state or in any matter
inconsistent with the purposes of the UN. Mr. Soofi highlighted it as It is one of the most
important legal formulations in the history of mankind. Up till the 1945, before the formulation
of this charter, a state could use force against the other to occupy territory through force. After
1945, no state says that it is using force to expand, but for self defence, however, the definition
of self defence can be expanded. In 1971 India encircled Bangladesh but it did not lay claims on
it, and had to declare it an independent state although the Bangladesh armyPakistan had
surrendered. It was due to Article 24, in his opinion!
Barrister Soofi deplored Tthe inability of the UN to explain to the powers of the world that the
use of force has become unlawful is the failure of the UN. The achievement is that a state will
not any longer use force to acquire title and the failure is that you are unable to bring this point
home to the states and the non statenon-state actors, and hence, this makes the failure linked with
the achievement. The Daesh threat is trying to overrule Article 24 by saying that we disregard the
boundaries and we will have Khilafat. Article 24 must be presented to the religious scholars that
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the religion does not authorize any state or any non state actor to use force to dislodge the treaty
framework. This is the future challenge of the UN which must be addressed.
Concluding his thoughts, Mr Soofihe observed that the UN is the only comprehensive
organization which has done reasonably well. He further remarked that if he was to be the
examiner he would give it A- grade. It has a few shortcomings but it is very close to A grade.
The UN has prevented a global war, it has intervened and controlled certain local wars, and has a
very elaborate certain peace keeping operations in which Pakistan has also played important
roles.
Ambassador Masood Khan delineated on UN Reforms: The Need and Proposal. He said
maintained that the UN has been successful in many areas, for instance, in social and economic
development, in conducting powerful intervention for conflict resolution in Latin America, Asia
and Africa. However, according to his understandingm, the UN has been a failure on big issues
and the underlying reason for this lies in the immobilization of UN when the interests of the
great powers, also known as the P5, are involved. Substantiating his view with the example of
Palestine, he remarked that the SC is a cosmetic body which passes a series of resolutions on the
Palestine issue but those resolutions are practically inoperative. Similar is the case for with Syria,
Ukraine or any other issues like Kashmir or Chemical Weapons Convention in the UN involving
the US and Russia. The issue would be resolved by themselves and between them, probably
away from New York, Geneva to other location, so that both countries can come up with a
workable formula, which can be endorsed and implemented speedily by the SC without any
impediments.
Mr Amb. Khan further revealed that there is no talk of comprehensive reforms. The countries of
G4, India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, want reforms in terms of their inclusion and participation
in the permanent members and give the impression that the SC cannot be complete or fully
legitimate without them as they represent new power, new constituencies around the world.
Their best precipitation was in 2005 when Kofi Annan published a report on SC reforms and
gave two formulae, one which concentrated on increase in permanent seats and the others which
stated the demand of the United For Consensus (UFC) Ggroup, also colloquially known as Kofi
club. UFC’s stance or resolute determination is that there would be absolutely no permanent seat
under any circumstances. This stance is taken by 12 UFC countries including Pakistan, Italy,
Indonesia, Spain, Korea, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costaand Costa Ricao. The UFC have two
main arguments.: 1. The first is that power configuration since the WWII has changed and the
nations that were strong in 1945 are no more strong enough or have become relatively weaker,
for e.g. UK and France. Also, there has been a rise of new nations, like China. Thus, the power
configuration is changing and evolving so permanent status cannot be given practically for all
time to come and strip all other countries of this status no matter how strong they become. 2.
Their second argument is that the comparison of the aggregate contribution of the P5 and the
UFC countries in socio economic development, peace keeping missions etc, is not just very
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close; in certain areas UFC outstrips the P5. Therefore the UFC’s claim is that the dispensation of
the permanent seat that was agreed in 1945 when the spoils were being shared among the victors
of Second World War is no more applicable.
UFC’s proposal is that there should be a longer term, electable seats comprising of four to eight
years but with gaps. UFC emphasizes that there are four big G4 countries, but there are also 12 to
20 medium sized countries which cannot be ignored. By the formula of longer term, electable
seats, any country which has a powerful GDP can take that seat and can serve 4+4 year-term. For
example, Brazil is eligible for this non permanentnon-permanent seat. Similarly, if Pakistan
emerges as a powerful state, in ten years, it can also take that non permanentnon-permanent,
electable seat. It is a compromised formula, a happy medium, which caters to both G4 and UFC.
The sessions were followed by intensive question and answer session by the learned audience
which included members of the diplomatic corps, academia etc.
Amb. (r) M. Akram Zaki, while concluding the event, maintained that the UN
is the only global body so far in the history of the world, which has done
reasonably well, particularly so with regard to social and socio-economic
agenda. It efforts to prevent global wars, and control, to an extent
local/regional wars are worth noting. UN also has an elaborate peacekeeping
mission, in which Pakistan has also been among the leading contributors. UN
efforts for the welfare of refugees and displaced people, trade and
development, as well as for giving awareness regrading fundamental rights
are commendable. Yes, Mr. Zaki stressed, the global body also has few
shortcoming which necessitate reforms in its structure and functioning. It is
upon the members to develop consensus for a reforms package that is
acceptable to all and is justifiable. [Report prepared by Ms. Kulsoom Belal.]

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