14 September 2009 The President of the General Assembly today called for a complete overhaul of the United Nations so that it can effectively carry out its mission, as he wrapped up his year-long term as head of the 192-member body.
“The time has already passed for reforming or mending our Organization. What we need to do is to reinvent it, and we need to do it urgently,” Miguel D’Escoto told Member States in a wide-ranging speech that touched on several issues of that concerned the Assembly’s sixty-third session, including the global financial crisis, international aid and Security Council reform.
“Much remains to be done if the United Nations is to become worthy of the prestige, trust and credibility it needs to carry out its mission effectively, a mission that is so important in today’s world,” he stated.
Mr. D’Escoto cited, among others, a “low level of commitment” on the part of the “most powerful and influential Member States” to the rule of law and to complying with the legal norms enshrined in the UN Charter.
“Certain Member States think that they can act according to the law of the jungle, and defend the right of the strongest to do whatever they feel like with total and absolute impunity, and remain accountable to no one.”
As a first step to reinventing the UN, Mr. D’Escoto called for adopting a “Universal Declaration of the Common Good of the Earth and Humanity,” which could then be the basis for the draft of a new charter for the world body.
He said his greatest frustration over the course of his presidency has been the situation of Palestine. “The evident lack of commitment for resolving it is a scandal that has caused me much sorrow.”
In addition, he said he found “disgraceful the passivity and apparent indifference of some highly influential members of the Security Council to the fact that the blockade of Gaza has continued uninterrupted for two years, in flagrant violation of international law and of the resolution of the Security Council itself.”
The global economic and financial crisis was a major issue on the global agenda over the past year. The President convened a Commission of Experts on Reforms of International Finance and Economic Structures, chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, which recommended that international finance structures must be drastically overhauled in the face of the crisis.
The Commission also stated that a coordinated approach – bringing together not just the G-8 or even G-20 nations, but the “G-192” representing all members of the Assembly – is needed to pull the world out of the recession.
“The G-8 and the G-20 will continue to be significant minorities. However, this is more due to the fact that they are rich and powerful than to their demonstrated ability to do things well,” said Mr. D’Escoto.
“We cannot and should not forget that, after all, it is because of the extremely grave errors committed by them, and the Bretton Woods institutions run by them, that the world is currently undergoing what could well turn out to be the worst crisis in history.”
News Tracker: past stories on this issue