The conflict in the Middle East is the single biggest challenge facing the world and must be solved with a comprehensive settlement that covers all its various elements, from the war in Iraq to the political situation in Lebanon to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, United Nations Deputy Secretary Mark Malloch-Brown said today.
“Let’s hope that we all see the international community in the next year finally seizing the nettle and dealing with the Middle East in a serious way and recognizing that these conflicts cannot be allowed to fester, breaking into ever more frequent cycles of violence.” Mr. Malloch-Brown was speaking to an audience of diplomats and students of international affairs at an event organized by Washington University’s Centre of the Global South, held at UN Headquarters in New York, at which he was given an award for his services to development.
Mr. Malloch Brown noted that the Middle East crisis epitomized the two often contradictory pillars on which the UN is based. One was the idea that World War II victors would establish a collective international security order with no more war. The second was “a much more visionary one of ideals, of aspirations” for democracy and self-determination and development for people everywhere.
“Surely now it’s time to find a solution based on a merger of those two great ideas of the United Nations, a collective security system underpinned by the world’s major powers but combined with an idealism which occasionally comes into sync with the first when people understand that the best security system in the world is self-determination and democratic rights,” he declared.
The region’s conflicts are interlinked, “where you cannot find a solution to Iraq without addressing the issues of Iran and Syria, where you cannot find an enduring solution in Lebanon without similarly addressing the issues of the neighbours, where Israel’s security is pinned on one side by the political crisis in Lebanon and on the other by the crisis in the Palestinian territories,” he said.
“And yet neither can they be solved by bilateral agreements, they are all linked up and this cone of conflict in the Middle East is the single greatest challenge to our world today.”