Obstructionist States paralyze UN in face of major crises, Lithuanian leader says

23 September 2008

United Nations efforts to resolve conflicts and crises around the world are being blocked by States that avoid punishment by claiming national sovereignty, Lithuania’s President told the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly today.

Valdas Adamkus said the UN did not responded sufficiently or quickly enough to recent crises in various hotspots, such as Myanmar, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

“The world needed UN leadership,” he said. “But the Organization has not acted accordingly. It is because some States hide behind the technicalities or the shield of national sovereignty, thus paralyzing the UN.”

Mr. Adamkus cited the recent outbreak of deadly fighting in Georgia that involved Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces as an example of the UN having “largely failed to react to an act of aggression against a small nation.”

He said: “Perhaps we have failed to react because one of the interested sides to the conflict is a permanent member of the Security Council, which has the responsibility to adhere strictly to the letter and the spirit of the UN Charter and United Nations resolutions.”

The Lithuanian President reminded world leaders attending the high-level debate that it is the mission of the UN to protect human life and human rights.

“The United Nations cannot be a mere passive observer if and when universal values and international law are under threat. Still, too often we remain observers in the face of mounting security crises.”

The President said it was clear that the UN needs to reform so that it is more focused on the issues “that will determine the future of the 21st century, such as energy, information security, [the] fight against terrorism and fundamentalism, and the like.”

He added that the world body must also become more responsive to emerging threats, such as unreliable energy supplies or coordinated cyber-attacks.

 

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