UN chief omits reference to Kashmir dispute in annual report
9 October 2007
The News International
United Nations: Pakistan has criticised the UN for catering to interests of big powers and ignoring those of the small countries, while pointing to the world bodys uneven treatment to peace and security issues, especially the Middle East and Kashmir. This organisation was created for all its member states and all their peoples; it must be responsive to their interests and reflect their goals and aspirations, Ambassador Munir Akram told the UN General Assembly on Monday. The ambassador was speaking at the start of a debate on the annual report of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his first to UN member states that covers developments around the world in the political, social and economic fields. In a forthright speech, Akram expressed concern that the United Nations was unable to effectively address todays complex challenges or to exploit opportunities for building peace. To realise the organisations potential, he said states must reconcile their conflicting visions with its purpose and functions. The United Nations is not an instrument for serving the unilateral interests of any power; rather it is a vehicle for promoting multilateral cooperation, he said. From a small and medium state perspective, the Pakistan ambassador said the inequality of treatment of issues was a shortcoming. That inequality was evident in the field of peace and security, particularly in the Middle East, where the views of most members were not reflected in Security Council decisions or Secretariat pronouncements. It (inequality of treatment) is evident from the omission from the annual report of any reference to the volatile region of South Asia and the central dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, which has plagued relations in that region for six decades, he said. It is also evident in the UNs one- sided approach to such issues such as disarmament and non- proliferation as well as human rights. To ensure equality, Akram said it was essential to rebalance the Security Council and General Assembly powers. The Council should restrict its role to maintaining peace and security. Its work must be transparent, and composition more representative of United Nations membership. Pakistan, he said, endorsed the idea of an intermediate approach. Further, Pakistan hoped to secure wide support for its suggestions to empower the General Assembly. Taking up conflict prevention, he said there was ample scope to promote solutions through conciliation, mediation, arbitration and good offices, while underscoring the need to strengthen the United Nations Department of Political Affairs. Also, strengthening the Peacebuilding Commission could help prevention efforts, and Pakistan was disappointed that its full potential remained constrained by defence of Security Council prerogatives. Pakistan, as the largest troop contributor, was satisfied with the success of United Nations peacekeeping efforts, he said, adding that the organisation could face capacity problems in responding to new demands. The United Nations must remain cautious in committing peacekeepers and not become an instrument for unwanted foreign intervention in state affairs, the ambassador said. A greater focus should be placed on economic and social development as a cost- effective approach to preventing conflicts. In that regard, the United Nations role focused on policy formulation, development cooperation and monitoring and implementation of agreed goals. On human rights, he said the replacement of the Commission for Human Rights with the Human Rights Council had not yet changed the culture of political confrontation. There was hope, however, that the consensus reached on decisions relating to the agenda could lead to a more judicious approach to human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was not an independent entity, he said, and its programme must be approved by the Human Rights Council. The UN Secretariat also needed review, Akram said. While Pakistan broadly supported various proposals, it would consider further reforms in procurement, accountability and the administration of justice, among other areas. Finally, he said, the Secretariat could not discharge its additional responsibilities under a zero growth approach to the organisations budget. The resources provided to the United Nations should be commensurate with its mandate, not the other way around.