UN must reform to effectively respond to global challenges – Portuguese leader
The range of today’s global challenges requires a stronger United Nations that is more representative, transparent and effective, Portugal’s Prime Minister told the General Assembly today, calling for reform of the world’s leading multilateral forum.
“The long-term success of a global organization such as the UN depends upon its capacity to respond to ever-changing challenges and new international players, by reforming, adapting and continuously reinventing itself,” Prime Minister José Sócrates stated in his address to the annual high-level general debate.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, whose chairmanship his country currently holds, the Prime Minister stressed the group’s belief that “only with a stronger Organization will we be able to live in a safer, fairer and more developed world.”
Whether meeting internationally agreed development goals, combating the growing threat of climate change or responding to the range of threats to international peace and security, he stressed that “global challenges require global responses.”
And no institution was better placed to forge global responses to common concerns than the UN, with its ability to convene the nations of the world to address shared problems and coordinate concerted action.
Among the common concerns is climate change, which Mr. Sócrates called “one of the great global challenges facing mankind.” He stressed that “our response must be global, and collective.”
The EU has already committed itself to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions – responsible for global warming – by at least 20 per cent. “But we want to go further,” he said, announcing that the Union was ready to raise its commitment to 30 per cent.
He also highlighted the need to develop “a more responsible energy policy,” as well as innovative technologies to exploit new sources of energy and to improve energy efficiency.
The Prime Minister’s call comes one day after an historic gathering of world leaders at UN Headquarters on the subject of climate change, ahead of a major summit to be held in Bali, Indonesia, in December.
In his address to the Assembly today, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovic also highlighted the need for the UN to speed up its pace and reform.
“We think it is necessary to make the work of newly-created structures and institutions more dynamic, and to set the UN to ensure targeted prevention and solution of concrete problems and conflicts,” he said.
The President welcomed last year’s establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up to help countries emerging from conflict avoid sliding back into war or chaos. He also noted changes to the work of the Human Rights Council and the UN Secretariat.
But “UN reform cannot be complete without also reforming the structure and working methods of the UN Security Council,” Mr. Gašparovic said, noting that Slovakia – currently a non-permanent Council member – has been actively engaged on the issue.
The number of permanent and non-permanent members should increase, Germany and Japan deserve permanent seats and the so-called countries of the global South should also acquire more seats to reflect today’s changed geopolitical realities.