“While the world is changing, the institutional architecture primarily responsible for areas of peace and security remains frozen. The Security Council which takes decisions on behalf of ‘we the people’ represents an increasingly small minority of the world’s population,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said at a Council debate here yesterday on ‘Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace’.
Akbaruddin said if the 15-nation Council has to make rules for “the people” and not just a small minority, it needs to adequately reflect new realities.
“Addressing new issues, threats and challenges of the twenty-first century need an updated, not an outdated instrument. A Security Council which has lost its legitimacy cannot be an effective tool to address the challenges of conflict prevention and sustaining peace,” he said.
With the established international order being upended in terms of economic, political and technological shifts, Akbaruddin said long-established states too are unable to fully respond to the “new factors and forces being unleashed”.
“History teaches us that ungoverned swathes often become grounds for competition or are storehouses for germination of new threats. Yet, we have no global governance architecture in frontier areas such as cyber, space and oceans. We ignore these at our own peril,” he said.
The Indian envoy stressed that prevention efforts can only be effective if they are undertaken with the consent and cooperation of the Member States concerned and are not seen as an imposition.
“As the saying goes ‘you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist’,” he said.
Akbaruddin told the Council meeting India believes that for the UN to develop a culture of conflict prevention, the world body needs to recognise that the primary responsibility for sustaining peace lies with the Member States and the UN can only supplement what are essentially home-grown processes.
“The emphasis on analytical instruments and tools such as fact-finding, agenda setting, diplomatic initiatives, peace operations is important but is too narrow an approach…We provide too few resources to strengthen institutional inadequacies of Member States and instead focus on strengthening institutional arrangements of the UN,” he said.
With efforts at prevention having failed to take firm institutional roots, Akbaruddin said such a scenario raises the question of why the international community has not got it right and whether the nations are using the right tools in the wrong way.
He pointed out that while the mandate provided in the UN Charter is vast, the UN cannot do all by itself.
“There can be and are actors at local, national, sub-regional and regional levels that may be in a better position to do so and can manage these issues better. The UN needs to recognise and act taking the diversity of situations and availability of instrumentalities,” he said.
Further, he said talk of promoting sustainable peace and preventing conflicts will `cut little ice` if there are no resources to back it, noting that resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council last year did not lead to an agreement even on an allocation of one percent of the peacekeeping budget to those activities.
“Are we ready to change that mindset,” he said.