Post-World War-II, the victorious nations, spearheaded by the US, pledged to make the world a safer place to live in. This led to the emergence of the United Nations (UN) in its existing shape, with the mandate to fairly and amicably resolve world conflicts and other issues of good governance around the globe. Subsequently, other global regulators cropped up such as human rights bodies for freedom of speech, press and gender equality, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and some other such entities .
Unfortunately, however, the question how fairly and to what extent these global regulators have delivered on their respective mandates has no clear answer.
The UN is supervised by the Security Council (UNSC) comprising 15 Members, of which five are permanent members (P-5) with veto power. These are China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It has 10 non-permanent members (with no veto power) who are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. The presidency of UNSC rotates among the 15 member-states of the council on a monthly basis. India has been holding UNSC presidency in August 2021.
The UN and UNSC have a history of decisions often reached through sheer politics. Decisions taken through a majority vote in the General Assembly and Security Council have often been frustrated by exercise of veto power by one or more of the five permanent members. Some of these veto- wielding powers have been found to regularly undermining the much-cherished principle of democracy in the very supreme body of global regulators and peace keepers.
The record of enforcement of resolutions passed by the UN is not very encouraging. The involvement of the UN in the four long years of the Balkan wars (1992-1995) has been found to be one of its major failures in which thousands were massacred in the presence of the UN peace keeping force.
The state of Palestine has been recognized by 138 of the 193 UN members. It has the status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations. The reality, however, is that the State of Palestine is largely subservient to the State of Israel. The UN resolution of 1948 for a plebiscite in Kashmir has been flouted by India which has altered its status thought its August 5, 2019 action. Unfortunately, however, India has invited no reprimand or rebuke from the UN or any of its bodies for its illegal and illegitimate action.
Last week, the council, under the presidency of India, convened its second emergency meeting in a month to discuss the growing turmoil in Afghanistan. "We made a formal request for participation but it was denied. Obviously, we do not expect fairness from the Indian presidency for Pakistan," Pakistan's ambassador to the UN Munir Akram reportedly told a press conference in New York hours after the UNSC discussed the evolving situation in a war-torn country. Pakistan's similar request for participating in the earlier meeting was also rejected although there existed some legitimate grounds on which it could have been permitted.
There is also now an awakening within UN for reforms. In early 2021, UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said that reforming the Security Council should be an important objective. "The implementation of the Council's decisions, and its very legitimacy, could be enhanced if the Council was reformed to be more representative, effective, efficient, accountable and transparent," Bozkir was quoted as saying by media.
The human rights bodies, which largely ignore the human rights violations in Kashmir and the Middle East, always react strong to any real or perceived human rights violation in China. Moreover, the FATF, global anti-money laundering body, has been found to be ignoring safe havens set up and legitimized under the jurisdiction of the elite states of the west to facilitate parking of such funds.
It is about time some Muslim states joined hands and carved out a place for themselves on their own strength to challenge the status quo. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Central Asian states could make this beginning.
(The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021