Assembly President calls for power shift at UN

1 October 2008

Calling for the democratization of the United Nations, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto today stressed the need to restore power “usurped” by the Security Council to other organs of the world body.

“The United Nations is supposed to be a democratic institution based on the principle of the equality and sovereignty of all Member States,” as well as the principle of “one state, one vote,” Mr. D’Escoto told UN Radio and the UN News Centre.

But he said that “votes don’t mean anything if they’re not taken into account. So we’ve got to move so that the majority really decides.”

Characterizing the 192-member Assembly as the “most democratic and representative body” of the UN, the President pointed out that there is a perception among some that the Organization is “a dictatorship where a few decide things.”

It is essential to reverse the “usurpation of power” that has taken place and return it to the Assembly, which is “not the only organ that has suffered from this drive to concentrate all the power in the hands of the few,” he said, noting that the role of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has been significantly diminished as well.

Mr. D’Escoto acknowledged that stronger nations would be hesitant to relinquish their power, but he underlined the need to push for changes nonetheless “for the sake of peace.”

At the wrap-up of this year’s high-level General Debate on Monday, he proclaimed the need to end “business as usual” in global affairs to tackle challenges such as the current global food and financial crises.

“We have outlined our priority concerns, and reaffirmed our conviction that this uniquely representative body remains the most important and most democratic forum for global debate,” the President said at the end of the five-day event that heard from over 100 heads of State and government.

The Assembly is a forum that facilitates dialogue and solutions for answers to global issues, he said. “But it is only when all voices are heard that we can expect to implement truly comprehensive solutions.”


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