President Zuma calls for an objective UN

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pretoria - It was important for the United Nations and its organs, especially the UN Security Council, to execute the organisation's mandate of working for peace without fear or favour, President Jacob Zuma has said.

"We must not steer away from the founding objectives of this organisation. The UN faces immense pressure when the world sees the unprecedented loss of lives as it is happening in Africa and the Middle East," Zuma said, during an address at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

"It is of concern when it appears as if the United Nations is unable to act and assist, and when it comes across as paralysed in certain instances, due to the actions of some member states," Zuma told the annual gathering.

In a lengthy no-holds-barred speech, Zuma repeated his comments made this week that the Security Council needed to be transformed.

"We have seen a divided Security Council unable to muster the collective courage to say "no more" to warring parties in the interest of peace," he said.

Member states needed to deepen the reform of the United Nations and its organs to make it "agile and nimble" in addressing the contemporary challenges facing humanity.

Zuma said the debate on the reform of the United Nations and its organs in particular the Security Council, had been going on for the past eighteen years. However, there had been no significant movement forward.

He believed that given its mandate, the council needed to be legitimate, democratic and transparent.

Its current composition had a propensity for deadlock and paralysis even in the face of crisis.

"It remains un-representative and undemocratic in both its composition and decision making".

South Africa would like to see a more meaningful representation of Africa in the UN Security Council. This is because about 70 percent of the agenda of the UN Security Council was taken up by issues from the African continent.

The Security Council had to be expanded in both categories, with at least two seats for Africa in the permanent category and five in the non-permanent category.

In addition to seats for the continent in its composition, Zuma urged that the UN should also recognise fully and appreciate the role of regional organisations working with the UN, in conflict management and resolution.

"In this regard, we urge closer collaboration with the African Union peace and security mechanisms, especially given the progress being made by the AU in conflict resolution and peace building in some parts of the continent since its formation 10 years ago."

Currently, the AU continued to address one of the longest outstanding conflicts on the continent through one of its mechanism the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan.

Zuma said it was also of critical importance for the UN to closely guard its impartiality, independence and objectivity. The UN should never be dragged to take side with any party in a conflict under the guise of the protection of civilians.

He called on the world body to play a central and decisive role in efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict in the Middle East.

"Any act of aggression or violations of international law should be condemned unequivocally by the UN at all times".

The UN we cannot be seen to be strong in condemning some and on the other hand, being soft on others.