Friday, November 14, 2008

UN structural reform & Pakistan

PAKISTAN TIMES online edition ( 28th April 2005.

UN structural reform & Pakistan
By Amer Rizwan Khattak

THE United Nations Organization came out of the most horrible and devastating war, the humanity has ever seen. However, the geopolitical realities and the very nature of the world system has undergone a transformation since its inception in 1945. So theorists and analysts have long been demanding an overhauling of its organizational structure. Of late, a ‘High Level Panel’ under the chairmanship of former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun has submitted a report to UN Secretary General on ‘Threats, Challenges & Opportunities’. Former Executive Director of the UN Population Fund Dr Nafis Sadik represented Pakistan in the panel. Roughly speaking, on the most important point of Security Council enlargement, the panel has suggested two models: ‘Model A’ recommending the creation of new permanent seat but without veto, and “Model B’ talking about quasi-permanent seats or members who could be rotated or re-elected after two years term. Pakistan is the member of Coffee Club that opposes expansion in the permanent category, and expostulates that such important decisions are to be based on the consensus of the general membership.Pakistan’s position on the creation or addition of new permanent seats in the UNSC is based on its own geopolitical realities. Its avowed stance is: “ There should be no new centres of privilege and power in the United Nations, because these are relics of the past; these are anachronistic in character, and that such inequities should not be perpetuated”.The Government of Pakistan also expresses its hope, along with a large number of countries, “That this process should be inclusive and transparent; that the question of Security Council reform should be addressed comprehensively which means that it should also look at working methods, decision making and so on. And then whatever decisions are taken should enjoy the support of the majority of the general membership because it is going to affect their fate”.Pakistanis Foreign Ministry Spokesman expressed his optimism that the finalization of these recommendations would be inclusive and transparent, and would keep in mind the need for consensus, because that was going to affect the entire globe, and that Pakistan would play a very active role in the debate when these recommendations were submitted to the general members.In any case, Pakistan has much stakes in whether India is successful in winning UNSC seat or not. That is why the most daunting challenge for the Pakistani policy-makers is to try to foil Indian designs in this regard, because if such eventuality occurs then India would get a perpetual strategic leverage vis a vis Pakistan, particularly the tenacity of Pakistan’s position on Indian Held Kashmir would receive a serious setback. India along with Germany, Brazil and Japan has been vying for that covetous slot. It is for this reason that Pakistan has embarked on hectic diplomatic activity in order to mould international public opinion against such a move. Pakistan is the member of ‘Coffee Club having forty odd members. Of late, Pakistan’s permanent representative in the UN Munir Akram convened a meeting of the club members supporting ‘Model “B”. Besides, the members have embarked upon a flurry of diplomatic activities. Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Riaz Khokher’s recent visit of People’s Republic of China is considered as a part of the same exercise. Again, Pakistan’s official position got its true manifestation in the statement read by Mr Tariq Osman Hayder as the special envoy of the President of Pakistan in the Arab League Summit held March this year in Algiers. He said there,“the question of Security Council Expansion in terms of the UN process, and in terms of substance, should be guided by consensus as any other modality would lead to divisiveness at a time when the United Nations should be more united. There should be no arbitrary deadlines, the issue is too important.” The latest event in that direction was a meeting called ‘Uniting for Consensus’, joint initiative by Pakistan and Italy at New York on 11 April. Former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Inamul Haq represented Pakistan in the meeting as a special envoy. Invitations were extended to all members, and response was overwhelming. Representatives of 119 States, three inter-governmental organizations, the current President of the UN General Assembly and various facilitators of UN reform process were among the participants. The United States, China and the Russian Federation, the three permanent members of the UNSC, also attended the meeting. The proponents dismissed Annan’s suggestion that they settle the question of Security Council reform by a vote in the General Assembly before world leaders meet if they cannot reach a consensus on reforming the Security Council. Pakistan’s envoy Inamul Haq said that Pakistan fully supported the UN reform agenda but reforms, particularly the expansion of the Security Council, must be made by consensus among the member States. Moving towards the same direction, Pakistan has also demanded a permanent seat for Muslim countries in the United Nations Security Council, if at all any new permanent seat was created. Talking to a private news channel, Ambassador Akram said there should be a permanent berth for Muslim states at the UNSC. The OIC countries should decide which country would represent Ummah at the forum. When Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was in Beijing, he discussed with his Chinese counterpart Premier Wen Jiabao the issue of UN reform as well because this is an issue of mutual interest. Both China and Pakistan are active in this regard. Both sides reiterated that there should be comprehensive reform of the United Nations, and that, not just the Security Council, but other organs of the United Nations including the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council should be reformed, and the sentiments of the General membership should be taken into consideration in this exercise, and that no issue should receive undue priority in consideration of UN reform. Again, one of the items of the agenda of the President of Pakistan’s first ever visit to three Latin American countries viz Brazil, Argentine and Mexico was UN Security Council reform and expansion. It is to be kept in view that Brazil has the aspiration to be a permanent member in the reformed UNSC, and Argentine has had apprehensions to that effect. That is why, both Pakistan and Argentine vowed to forge a united front against the creation of new permanent seats in the UN Security Council. However, Pakistan’s dilemma is that it cannot afford to alienate Germany, Japan and Brazil in its diplomatic maneuovrings. Accordingly, Pakistan did display astute strokes of diplomacy in its discussions on the subject especially with Japan. When Foreign Minister was in Tokyo earlier this year, he expressed his country’s principled position on the subject. However, he hinted at not opposing Japan’s candidacy for its economy and track record implying that latter’s candidacy would be backed by his country, perhaps, for the only Asian seat that might be created.Traditionally, Pakistan’s all multilateral and bilateral arrangements in the international sphere have been determined by its relations with its arch foe-turned-competitor India. Regardless of the fact, whether or not its manoeuvrings are braced with success, one may conclude that despite sweeping changes in the world system, the contours of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy are still circumscribed by its traditional tools.●
© 2005 Amer Rizwan Khattak


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