Security Council needs to do better

Foreign Minister Murray McCully delivered this speech in the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security:

Thank you Mr President.

New Zealand congratulates China for this initiative.

We agree that the 70th Anniversary is the right time for the Council to undertake a measure of serious self-examination, and to assess where we are performing well, and where we are not.

We agree that the Council needs to do much better.

That is clearly the view of UN Members.

With others around this table, New Zealand has just experienced the invigorating process of seeking support from Members to win election to the Council.

We have not been left in doubt as to the desire of member states to see the Council lift its game.

The Council is charged with responding to threats to international peace and security. 

Yet in relation to too many of those current threats, the Council has dealt itself out of its proper role.

Where it is involved, it has often been too late.

The Council has a completely inadequate focus on conflict prevention, and a huge focus on peacekeeping.  

Peacekeepers are hampered and sometimes endangered by poor mandates and inadequate resourcing.

Too many of the cases on the peacekeeping agenda have become part of a revolving list of routine items rather than serious problems that we really expect to solve.

These challenges to the Council’s ability to live up to its mandate in relation to international peace and security are longstanding and complex – some would say intractable.

But we believe it is within the Council’s reach to make real progress.

As we move towards the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Council, we should listen to the UN membership, including the smaller members who are often not heard.

We should hear their disappointment and their frustration.

We should resolve to use this Anniversary Year of the Council to take action.

We believe there are three simple areas in which the Council could take action this year.

My first point is that the use of the veto or the threat of the veto is the single largest cause of the UN Security Council being rendered impotent in the face of too many serious international conflicts.

Whether we are talking about Syria or the Middle-East Peace Process, the veto’s impact today far exceeds what which was envisaged in the UN Charter – to the huge detriment of the Council‘s effectiveness and credibility.

We congratulate France on its initiative on the voluntary retirement of the veto in cases of mass atrocities.

We urge the Permanent Members to use this Anniversary Year to find a way to make progress.

While it is difficult, the future credibility of this organisation depends on it.

My second and related point: the Council’s lack of preventive action under Chapter 6, which is again partly the result of the pervasive impact of the veto.

Conflict is costly in human lives, in reconstruction costs, and in lost opportunities for development.

There is something wrong when we are spending over $8 billion per year on peacekeeping but virtually nothing on the responsibility to prevent situations escalating into intractable conflict.

My third point is that we must recognise and address a major weakness in respect of peacekeeping.

We cannot send peacekeepers into dangerous environments without adequate mandates and resources.

The review of peace operations being led by former President Ramos Horta will set scene for the Council to address that issue this year. 

Mr President, the 15 of us at this table can do more.

We can solve these issues.

We must solve them.

The perception of a “failure to act” impacts negatively on the reputations of both the Council and the UN itself.

It is time for us to confront the root causes that have seen this Council avoid the challenging task of conflict prevention simply because the politics and the diplomacy have been too difficult.

New Zealand is ready to work with fellow Council Members to make real progress in addressing these issues.

Only then will we the Council have earned the right to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of this body being conferred the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

This is a frank and reasoned assessment on the Security Council’s shortcomings and gives three very simple solutions: addressing the problem of the veto; much more preventative work and adequate mandate and resources for peacekeepers.

5 Responses to Security Council needs to do better

  1. Andrei says:

    The permanent members of the security council = the victors of WW2 or their successor states

    France got its place at the victors table due to the genius of Charles de Gaulle, one of the greatest statesmen of all time, though his abilities declined a little later on

    The “United Nations” was the term used during WW2 for those fighting Germany and Japan – we say the “allies” now even in WW2 movies but at the time it was referred to as “the United Nations”

    And this is why it often fails, it has always really been a vehicle for the victors of that last major conflagration to divide the spoils of their victory

    Whether we are talking about Syria or the Middle-East Peace Process, the veto’s impact today far exceeds what which was envisaged in the UN Charter – to the huge detriment of the Council‘s effectiveness and credibility.

    What this means is that when Russia and/or China do not agree to go along with the imperial ambitions of the Western Powers the veto stands in the way of them being granted the fig leaf of cover to justify their plans,

    Syria being a case in point a couple of years back when the USA wanted to bomb it into anarchy the way they had done with Libya a few years before they didn’t get the go ahead

    What has become “ISIS” was of course was plan B for destroying Syria’s civil institutions and internal order so the existing government could be replaced by one compliant with Western and Saudi demands, rather than resisting them when they were not in the interests of the peoples of Syria

    The bombing of Yugoslavia also took place without the blessing of the Security Council or the UN.

    We are now awaiting the “black swan event” that will see the major conflagration that will bring an end the post WW2 world order – perhaps human civilization itself.

  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    Interesting thoughts Andrei. It interests me that the Middle East is the focus of the West and untold military interventions (costing many lives and trillions of dollars) and yet has achieved no stability at all. By destroying much of the regions infrastructure and then trying to rebuild it in a western way (with western companies mainly profiting) does seem to be a recipe for ongoing failure.

    The selective outrage about ISIS is also interesting as there has been no similar outrage because of the thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel, the tens of thousands of Tamils slaughtered by the Sri Lankan forces, the half million West Papuans killed by Indonesian forces and the genocide of 1 million Tutsi in Rwanda.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Sri_Lankan_Civil_War
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201232172539145809.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide

    I can see why some in the world will see the Five Eyes as evil eyes when more people have been killed buy US drones than ISIS beheadings. New Zealand forces will now be supporting another war in the Middle East and with the bombings that some of our forces will be helping target we know that more children and ordinary civilians will be killed than military personnel. We will never learn.

  3. Andrei says:

    Dave ISIS is a term dreamed up by Madison avenue types in the US State department

    They don’t have that name in the ME

    Syria has been flooded with arms, surreptitiously at first then overtly

    $500 million in weapons! You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that there is no way of keeping track of where they end up and in whose hands they might be.

    There are a plethora of heavily armed groups loosely allied with divergent aims creating havoc in Iraq and Syria as a result.

    Some are psychotic, some express dreams of rebuilding the Caliphate, most are just mercenaries in the employ of warlords and gangsters

    And some local warlord under the banner of ISIS has taken some of Iraq’s most prime real estate Mosul

    And the US wants it back and that is really why we are really going to Iraq

    But if we realize it is about a real estate heist we would never support it.

    So the psychotic events that have occurred or maybe have maybe occurred (such is the fog of war and some will be heavily embellished fictions) are played up and we are going on a humanitarian mission which our humanity demands.

    Sad but true Dave,

    The US has been bombing Iraq for longer than two of my four kids have been alive imagine that.

    And what has been achieved?

    A generation of young men who have grown up in a Nation ruled by violence and sudden death with no real future.

    Is it any wonder there are plenty of crazies?

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    I agree Andrei, Terry Waite was held captive by supposed terrorists many years ago and he has tried to explain that when we marginalise a group of people and remove their sense of self-determination they feel they have nothing to lose but react in the way they do. To a large extent it is the West that has created this mess and all they are doing is continuing the cycle. It really is appalling.

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