Two North African leaders have told the General Assembly today that the United Nations needs wide-scale reform to ensure that the voices of developing countries are better heard and to bring about more democratic decision-making across the Organization.
Muammar Al-Qadhafi, Libya’s Leader of the Revolution, and Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria, addressed the Assembly’s annual high-level segment at UN Headquarters in New York, saying the answer to the current multiple crises facing the world – from the collapse of the global financial order to climate change – lay in a renewed and reinvigorated multilateralism based on fairness and transparency.
“The interdependence of countries, and the increasingly close connections between the problems they face, require international governance that will promote the emergence of multilateralism based on the values of consultation, cooperation and partnership,” Mr. Bouteflika said.
“It is only through an integrated, unified and inclusive approach… that we will be able not only to solve the problems of our time, jointly and collectively, but also to face up to threats to our peace and security.”
The Algerian President said that multilateral institutions which were “undermined by contradictions and incoherence” would not be able to resolve issues as complex as the current economic crisis, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the fight against impunity and human rights violations, and the battle against terrorism.
He called for “substantial advances in the creation of reforms” which would revitalize the General Assembly, reform the Security Council, reinforce the role of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), integrate the aspirations of developing countries, and seek new working methods that were more suited to today’s needs.
Touching on the relationship between the UN and the African Union (AU), Mr Bouteflika said that while cooperation between the two organizations had led to a significant reduction in areas of tension on the continent, it was regrettable that the Security Council and its African partners did not always meet in full the demands made on them.
For his part, Mr. Al-Qadhafi said the Security Council should be re-named the “Terror Council,” given the way that Council resolutions were used against other countries.
He stressed that the 15-member body as it is currently constituted, with five permanent members that have the right of veto, did not provide genuine security for the world. The AU should also have a permanent seat on the Council, he noted.
Turning to the General Assembly itself, Mr. Al-Qadhafi questioned its utility and compared it to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, where “you just make a speech and then you disappear.”
The Libyan leader said too much of the discussion about reform of the UN focused on expanding membership, such as at the Security Council, when what was needed was the provision of equality among existing members of the Organization.
He also voiced concern about the UN Charter, saying that while he supported the contents of the Preamble to the Charter, he did not support the provisions and articles that follow in the document.
In addition, Mr Al-Qadhafi said Africa deserved trillions of dollars in compensation for the impact of colonialism, particularly the resources and other forms of wealth that had been stolen in the past.
He also called for the establishment of a new State to be known as “Isratine,” bringing together Israelis and Palestinians into one country; and for the creation of another State, Kashmir, that would be separate from India and Pakistan.