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17 Oct, 2010

If “Global Governance” has failed, who should be held responsible?

Originally Published: 17 October 2010

The general debate of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly last month was the last of this first decade of the 21st century. The theme, Global Governance, was chosen by Assembly President Joseph Deiss on the grounds that “Poverty, conflicts, global warming, the economic and financial crisis, migration, pandemics, terrorism, international crime and a whole range of other issues have consequences that cannot be managed at an individual level and that humankind can address only through common global strategies.”

While the mainstream global media remained obsessed with the remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, several leaders sounded some dire warnings about ongoing global hypocrisy and double standards and the looming threat of more conflict.

On the eve of the second decade of the 21st century, these warnings need to be placed on the record. If Global Governance is the issue, there should be no mistake about whom to hold accountable should those warnings be proven right.

Said Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, “While we deliberate here, as (Cuban President Fidel) Castro has pointed out, powerful and influential forces in the United States and Israel are paving the way to launch a military attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Security Council, on its part, possibly under the illusion of preventing it, moves on to adopt sanctions against that country which, together with the unilateral sanctions illegally imposed by a group of States, are seeking to suffocate the Iranian economy.

“The recent and politically biased report issued by the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency has increased tensions and created the pretexts for a war escalation.

“Should this aggression in fact materializes (sic), it would become a crime against the Iranian people and an assault against peace and International Law which will burst into a conflict that will certainly be nuclear. It would take a toll on millions of lives and its impact on the environment, the economy and world stability would be incalculable.

“Who could assert otherwise and on the basis of which guarantees? How could it be affirmed that the present course of events would move the planet away from an armed conflict in the Middle East? This threat is too serious to trust the capacity of the Security Council, where the country that bears the highest responsibility for the crisis has relied on its ability to impose on others its own designs.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, “The U.N. has exhausted its model, and it is not simply a matter of proceeding with reform, the 21st century demands deep changes that are only possible with a rebuilding of this organization. There are two poignant examples that show this unfair and irrational world power architecture.

“For the last fifty years, the overwhelming majority of countries in the world demand before the U.N. General Assembly for a cease (sic) to the economic and commercial blockade imposed upon the Cuban people. However, what has this organization done so that the U.S. government abides by the will of the General Assembly? The answer is well known: Nothing.

“Dozens of resolutions have been adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly on the question of Palestine, but the Israeli military and political elite refuses to comply. The occupying power acts with total impunity, with the complicity of its main ally.

“What has the Security Council done in order for the occupying power to respect the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, in particular the four Geneva Conventions of 1949? The answer is well known: Nothing.”

Ms M. Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, noted that the U.N. “has in the past played an invaluable role in the world-wide process of decolonization, transforming the political landscape of the world, and bringing the much cherished freedom and independence to the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This organization was instrumental in bringing about the demise of the universally despised apartheid system in our own country, South Africa.”

At the same time, she said, “We have been converging here, year after year, to make strong statements on Palestine, the embargo on Cuba, and the independence of the Western Sahara. The ultimate test for the relevance of the United Nations will therefore be in bringing closure to all these long standing issues in a manner that is consistent with our decisions and the collective will of nations represented in this organisation.”

Mr Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said, “Among the most important challenges confronting the international community today that needs to be addressed collectively, is the challenge of ensuring a just, equitable and durable peace. Peace not just during our time, but, peace for all times. It is imperative that we have to achieve peace premised upon a covenant of the willing and not one enforced by way of hegemony through fear and coercion.

“While harnessing our efforts to promote international peace and harmony we are concerned with the increasing trend in some parts of the world to perpetuate or even fuel Islamophobia. Attempts to demonize Islam offend the one and a half billion adherents of the religion. It intensifies the divide between the broad Muslim world and the West. The real issue is not between Muslims and non-Muslims but between the moderates and extremists of all religions, be it Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Across all religions we have inadvertently allowed the ugly voices of the periphery to drown out the many voices of reason and common sense.”

Mr Najib called for the building of a “Global Movement of the Moderates” from all faiths who are “committed to work together to combat and marginalize extremists who have held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias.” “We must, and I repeat, we must urgently reclaim the centre and the moral high ground that has been usurped from us. We must choose moderation over extremism. We must choose negotiations over confrontation. We must choose to work together and not against each other. And we must give this effort utmost priority for time is not on our side.”

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, said, “For reasons some of which we can understand and some of which we fail to understand, this first decade of the 21st century has been blindly attacked by what has come to be known as the war on terrorism. Thus, the beginning of a new century has slipped into a predicament that encumbered it and caused distortions and damages, some if not all of which could have been avoided.

“We recognize the existence of certain practices that certainly fall within the purview of terrorism, but in this regard we emphasize two issues:

“First, we disagree with the attribution of this so-called terrorism to the Islamic religion, because this – in addition to being incorrect – is a historical injustice that is refuted by evidence from recent history. In the 20th century, including the second half thereof, gratuitous violent actions occurred in the USA, Europe and Asia, but nobody said that this terrorism was American, European or Asian. Rather, this violence was attributed to its underlying political, economic, social and even ideological causes, without attributing it to a particular religion, country or idea.

“But what we have seen and suffered from in the first decade of this century and which was called “the war on terror”, was a phenomenon foreign to international politics. It has plunged us into a kind of war with no limits, nor end, nor logic, nor legal or moral conditions. Some of this is still happening and although we note that the current U.S. administration has discontinued the use of the term “war on terror”, we are still looking forward to clearer and bolder initiatives.

“The other issue that we would like to emphasize is that we believe that even as the phenomenon of terrorism exists, it should not be treated by waging wars. This treatment has not achieved security, peace or prosperity. To the contrary, it has spread destruction everywhere, deprived millions of people from their livelihoods, spread fear, and caused the killing and displacing of millions as well as economic and financial crises that shook the stability of the world and undermined the efforts made in dialogue among cultures.”

Stressed the Emir, “(This situation) should not be allowed to continue and its ramifications should not be left to deteriorate unchecked. What we fear is for the war on terrorism to turn into commercial transactions, financial contracts and armies of mercenaries who kill outside of any international and human legitimacy. These are all very dangerous things.”

Mr. Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, asserted, “With regard to the Iranian nuclear issue, Iraq believes in the legitimate right of states to the uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, a right guaranteed by international conventions including the NPT. We stress the importance of reaching a peaceful solution in dealing with this issue, and that dialogue and diplomacy are the most successful means to achieve that goal. On other hand, any escalation of the matter would hurt the interests of all parties and put the security of the region at risk.”

Now let’s wait and see what form of “global governance” Mr Deiss seeks to achieve.