UN must reflect the world as it is, not as it used to be, say Ministers from Germany, Liechtenstein

28 September 2013

Germany's Foreign Minister underscored the need for United Nations reform in his address to the General Assembly, saying the Organization must be strengthened so it can play the vital role intended for it and reflect the realities of today's world.

“The authority of the United Nations depends on its being representative,” Guido Westerwelle told the high-level debate at UN Headquarters.

“A Security Council without permanent seats for Africa and Latin America does not reflect the realities of today's world. A Security Council in which Asia, that emerging and highly populated region, is represented with only one single permanent seat does not reflect the realities of today's world.”

Mr. Westerwelle said Germany, with its partners Japan, India and Brazil, is prepared to assume greater responsibility.

“We are seeking reform of the United Nations so that its power to build consensus, establish global rules and act effectively in response to crises and conflicts is demonstrably strengthened,” he stated.

“This is a call not only to the United Nations itself, but also to each and every individual Member State. Only if we are prepared to compromise and willing to act together will we be able to make the United Nations strong,” he said. “Germany remains committed to the United Nations. A strong United Nations is in Germany's interest.”

Mr. Westerwelle pointed out that the General Assembly is meeting this year in a different chamber owing to ongoing refurbishments at the UN Headquarters complex.

“The renovation of the United Nations must not be restricted merely to the buildings,” he stated. The United Nations must reflect the world as it is, not as it used to be. Only then will it be fit for the challenges of our age.”

imageAurelia Frick, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Liechtenstein. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

Echoing that sentiment, Aurelia Frick, Minster for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said: “Our inability to respond to the crisis in Syria demonstrates a crucial weakness in the system: the use of the veto, or its threat, in a manner incompatible with the purposes of the United Nations. This can make the Security Council irrelevant at times when it is most urgently needed.”

She said that earlier in the General Debate, France suggested a “common code of conduct” for permanent members of the Council. “We strongly agree with this proposal. All five permanent members should be able to give the world one public commitment: that they will not use their veto to block action aimed at ending or preventing atrocity crimes. This would be crucial to enhance the Council's effectiveness - and its credibility,” she said

“Unfortunately, however, we have not yet reached the point where we are able to bring the composition of the Security Council in line with the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century,” Mr. Frick said, pointing out that the Council is also struggling to adjust its working methods to new challenges and to better include the perspective of non-members in its decisions - which is a crucial ingredient for effective leadership.

“We will therefore continue our efforts to promote accountability and transparency in the Council's operations,” she said.

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