Sunday, July 31, 2016

Concluding Statement of the Organizers, UN African Meeting on Palestine

Concluding statement of the Organizers

Concluding statement of the Organizers

1. The United Nations African Meeting on the Question of Palestine was convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Rabat on 1 and 2 July 2010. Participants in the Meeting included internationally renowned experts, including Israeli and Palestinian, representatives of United Nations Members and Observers, parliamentarians, representatives of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, representatives of civil society, academic institutions and the media.

2. The objective of the Meeting, at this time of intensified efforts at resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, was to promote broad international support, including by African States, for a solution of the conflict based on a shared vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Meeting discussed the current status of Jerusalem, including the religious and cultural significance of the Holy City, and its status in international law and United Nations resolutions as a city occupied since 5 June 1967. The Meeting considered the question of Jerusalem in the context of the permanent status negotiations. Participants in the Meeting also looked into the importance of building an international consensus on a just and viable solution of the question of Jerusalem and the role of African States and other actors in that regard.

3. The Meeting was opened by H.E. Mr. Taïb Fassi-Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Morocco. In his statement, he underlined that the United Nations, in conformity with the text and spirit of its Charter, could not be just an international forum to follow up the development of the Palestinian cause or denounce the ongoing aggressions by the Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It had to take full responsibility by playing a pioneering role for an effective and coherent mobilization of necessary efforts towards ending the tragic conflict that negatively affected the interests of all parties and represented a real threat to international security and stability. He also emphasized the active efforts made by

CPR/AFMQP/2010/19

His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, to preserve the legal status of Al-Quds and maintain its spiritual identity, and to provide all kinds of support to the Makdesi population in order to promote their living conditions in the areas of housing, social work, health care and education, whether directly or by means of the Bayt Mal Al-Quds Al-Sharif Agency, where Morocco remained the major contributor and sponsor.

4. In the course of the Meeting, the participants reviewed the current status of the political efforts to revive a meaningful political process between Israelis and Palestinians. Speakers stressed the importance of a comprehensive peace on the basis of the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map, and deplored recent developments on the ground, which were seriously complicating the ongoing efforts to advance negotiations. The participants examined the current situation in and around Jerusalem and underlined the imperative of a just and viable political solution of the question of Jerusalem as a permanent status issue. They discussed the support of African countries for a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by promoting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the United Nations system as well as through regional mechanisms, including the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and various civil society initiatives in the region.

5. The Organizers welcomed the support by the participants for the two-State solution, with the State of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Hope was expressed for early progress in the negotiations, that would lead to consider all permanent status issues, including settlements, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, water and security. There was consensus that for any peace efforts to be successful, it was imperative to find a just and viable political solution of the question of Jerusalem.

6. Noting that the question of Jerusalem remained a key permanent status issue in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the Organizers note that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem has never been internationally recognized. In that context, the Organizers concur with the 8 December 2009 conclusions by the Council of the European Union, as well as the 19 March 2010 statement by the Middle East Quartet, reaffirming that the annexation of East Jerusalem had not been recognized by the international community and that the status of Jerusalem was a permanent status issue that had to be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

7. The Organizers reiterate that the presence of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. They call on Israel to immediately cease settlement construction, including the so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle settlement outposts. Of particular concern were plans for the expansion and consolidation of large settlement blocks in and around East Jerusalem, especially in the so-called “E-1” area, which cut off the City from the rest of the West Bank, thereby undermining and prejudging the outcome of permanent status negotiations. Pointing out that the moratorium on settlements announced by the Government of Prime Minister Netanyahu only provided for a temporary and partial freeze on settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Organizers join the participants in the Meeting in calling for a permanent and complete halt to all settlement activities, including in Occupied East Jerusalem, which has been excluded from the moratorium. The Organizers emphasize that there will be no international recognition of any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed upon by the parties.

8. The Organizers express serious concern about illegal Israeli practices aimed at altering the status and demographic character of East Jerusalem, including the continued house demolitions, eviction of Palestinian residents, revocation of Palestinian residency rights, settlement construction and transfer of settlers. They underline that such unilateral actions constitute violations of international law and impede all efforts at re-launching meaningful permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, the Organizers deplore all discriminatory Israeli practices against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including restrictions on access to and residence in East Jerusalem, construction of the wall in and around East Jerusalem and the further isolation of the City from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The continuation of such illegal and unhelpful practices calls into question the credibility of the stated Israeli commitment to negotiations towards a two-State solution. The Organizers call upon Israel to ensure that provocative steps are not taken in the City, particularly at this delicate stage when the goal must be to build trust and support political negotiations. The Organizers call upon the United Nations, in particular its Security Council, to take, as soon as possible, responsibility for the situation in East Jerusalem and to take the necessary decisions, in consultation with the interested political groupings, to prevent its further deterioration.

9. Drawing attention to the historical, cultural and religious significance of the Holy City, the Organizers wish to remind about the importance of recognizing that religious sites in the West Bank have a special spiritual significance to many people worldwide, including Jews, Muslims and Christians. In that context, the Organizers express regret at the inclusion, earlier this year, of a number of many sites in Jerusalem, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi) and Rachel’s Tomb (Masjid Bilal or Qubbat Rakhil), in the list of Israel’s “National Heritage Infrastructures”. They also express serious concern at the continued Israeli excavations in and around the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound in East Jerusalem and called for an end to all acts of provocation and incitement, in particular at or near the City’s holy sites, which are likely to fuel tensions in the entire region. They stress the need to find a solution to the question of Jerusalem that would take into account the concerns of both sides, while ensuring access to the City’s holy sites by the people of all religions.

10. The Organizers join the participants in welcoming the recently renewed international efforts at re-launching the Middle East peace process, including the initiatives by United States Special Envoy George Mitchell. The Organizers are worried that these serious efforts can be undermined by recent developments on the ground, including the announcement by the Israeli Government of 1,600 new housing units in the “Ramat Shlomo” and the most recent case, involving the approval by a Jerusalem municipal planning body of a plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the Al-Bustan area of the Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem to make room for an Israeli tourist centre. These actions constitute clear violation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

11. The Organizers have been deeply concerned about the fatal Israeli attack of 31 May on the international flotilla, heading towards Gaza with humanitarian aid. The Organizers strongly condemn this attack in international waters, and consider it a violation of international law. They fully support the call of the United Nations Secretary-General for establishing an international investigative panel to look into the incident. At the same time, the Organizers are of the view that the incident could have been avoided, had Israel lifted its blockade of Gaza, which for more than three years has been suffocating the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip, while preventing them from rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the comprehensive destruction caused by the Israeli attack on Gaza 18 months ago. The Organizers deplore the continuing blockage of many items and materials vital for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts and the obstacles faced by patients trying to leave the Gaza Strip in search of treatment for serious and chronic illnesses. While noting the recent slight easing of the restrictions on Gaza, the Organizers stress the need for concrete action to lift the siege completely and promptly to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and people through the crossings.

12. The Organizers remind Israel, the occupying Power, of its responsibilities under international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that Israel, as a High Contracting Party, is obliged to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation and to act within the ambit of international law. The applicability of the Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, has been repeatedly confirmed by the Conference of the High Contracting Parties, as well as by the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Reiterating the need for a full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), the Organizers call on Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately lift the blockade and to open all crossings in accordance with the 2005 Agreement on Access and Movement and to completely implement the other provisions of the Agreement.

13. The Organizers also urge the Palestinian leadership, the leaders of all factions and all Palestinians to strive for national reconciliation as an essential condition for ending the occupation, achieving a just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine and the establishment of a viable, contiguous, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State. The Organizers express appreciation for the Egyptian efforts in achieving such reconciliation as soon as possible.

14. Despite the current stagnation in the peace process and the many negative developments on the ground, the Organizers express firm belief that there is no alternative to continuing negotiations and to the two-State solution. But time is of essence. The Organizers also express their appreciation for the immediate and continued engagement of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, Governments, national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations, regional and international organizations, and civil society organizations, including from the African region, to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They emphasize that a critical condition for achieving a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied since June 1967.

15. The Organizers encourage the international community, including the countries of Africa, to strengthen their support for the peace process, in particular at a time when it faces unprecedented challenges. They reiterate the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine, until it is resolved in all its aspects based on the relevant United Nations resolutions. In that context, the participants commended the Committee for organizing meetings, like this one in Rabat, that mobilize Governments and public opinion in different regions in support of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

16. The Organizers commend the action of African Governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society in support of Israelis and Palestinians in their quest for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and urge them to continue their moral and political support of the Palestinian people. They encourage the African countries to continue to support action on these issues at the regional and international levels, including at the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other intergovernmental mechanisms.

17. The Organizers commend the active and constructive role played by Morocco, an Observer in the Committee, for its tireless efforts to assist the Palestinian people in achieving its inalienable rights. They express their deep appreciation to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, for his tireless efforts and timely actions to preserve the religious and civilizational character of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. They also praised His Majesty’s constructive initiatives in support of Palestinian issues, including that of Jerusalem. Recalling the International Forum on Jerusalem, which was convened in October 2009 in Rabat by the Al-Quds Committee and the Yasser Arafat Foundation, the Organizers applaud the Kingdom of Morocco for its constructive contribution to international efforts towards finding a solution to the question of Jerusalem, which would ensure the peaceful co-existence of peoples of various religions in the Holy City. They endorse the appeal made by His Majesty King Mohammed VI at the Forum for the establishment of an “International Coalition” of Governments, international organizations and civil society actors in favour of preserving the legal status of Jerusalem as a space for dialogue and peaceful coexistence.

18. The Organizers expressed their profound gratitude to the Government of Morocco and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for hosting the Meeting, for the assistance and support extended to the Committee and the United Nations Secretariat in its preparation, and for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to them.

Public Forum Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin Head of Delegation Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I would like to warmly welcome you to the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People.

Many of you also attended the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, which just concluded yesterday. Among the topics discussed at that gathering was the question of Jerusalem, as a key to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Since this issue is of utmost concern to us all, it will also be the focus for this meeting of civil society.

Jerusalem arouses global passions in a way that few other locales can. And yet those passions, instead of creating a bastion of cross-cultural understanding and harmony, are changing one of the world’s great cities from a symbol of spiritualism and co-existence into one of injustice and suppression.

The international community has never recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem following its occupation in June 1967. Also our Committee views East Jerusalem as an integral part of the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel. We regularly point out and criticize Israeli policies of creating facts on the ground and changing the demographic composition of the city.

Since 1967, Israel has built more than 50,000 homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem. Compare that to 600 homes for Palestinians, the last of which were built 35 years ago. Since they cannot build legally, Palestinians are being forced to build without permits, which often leads to Israeli demolitions of their homes. And when it comes to real estate in the holy city of Jerusalem, an Israeli can buy a home anywhere. But a Palestinian cannot.

As we all know, East Jerusalem is home to a wealth of religious, archaeological and cultural sites. But we are seeing control of many of these sites falling into the hands of extreme settler groups. As a result, the Christian, Muslim and Palestinian aspects of the city are being swept under the rug. And because of Israeli restrictions, Palestinian Muslims and Christians are losing access to the historical mosques and churches to which they are emotionally attached.

The Committee considers that a negotiated solution on the status of Jerusalem, which takes into account the political and religious concerns of all sides, should be an integral part of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and lasting peace in the entire region. It should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to holy places by the Palestinian people and peoples of all religions and nationalities.

Any agreement that does not include East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian State will not lead to sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace. Also, Government-sanctioned settlement construction, transfer of settlers, house demolitions, evictions of Palestinian residents and other action aimed at altering or purporting to alter the legal status and physical and demographic character of the city, constitute violations of international law and must be ceased and rescinded.

It is my hope that today’s Public Forum will give you, as members of civil society, the chance to share your views on the situation in the city and to discuss on how to move forward on the topic of Jerusalem, and thus, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in general. You will hear presentations on what is happening in the city today, including on home demolitions, forced evictions, settlements, the revocation of residency rights and IDs, and security concerns, including rising crime rates. A specific emphasis has been put on the role of non-State actors in promoting peace in Jerusalem, including through interfaith dialogue and people-to-people diplomacy.

Today’s meeting is part of our Committee’s programme of cooperation with civil society by providing venues and opportunities for organizations and individuals to come together to exchange views and broaden their international networks in support of the Palestinian people. Also, the Bureau of the Committee periodically holds consultations with civil society representatives to seek their input and new ideas as to how the Committee’s work could be improved. Moreover, the Committee continues to receive, with high appreciation, valuable analyses, statistics and other important information on the situation on the ground from academic institutes, think tanks and other organizations, which are extremely useful for our activities.

The Committee commends civil society organizations for their efforts to uphold international legitimacy with regard to the question of Palestine through advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion and for their initiatives aimed at alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people. The Committee also encourages civil society organizations to broaden their base, involving trade unions and other large organizations, and to focus and harmonize their advocacy efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels.

I would like to inform you that Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, and Sylvia Tiryaki, Deputy Director of the Global Political Trends Center here at Istanbul Kültür University, will moderate today’s Public Forum. On behalf of the Committee, I would like to thank Ms. Bennis and Dr. Tiryaki for agreeing to that role. I am sure we will have constructive and lively deliberations.

Thank you very much.

Ambassador Tanin Delivers Keynote at Global Governance Seminar in Brazil

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, arrived in Brazil yesterday at the invitation of the Brazilian Government to attend a one-day seminar titled “Turning Point: Emerging Structures of Global Governance” to be held on Thursday, 22 April, 2010. The seminar’s purpose was to highlight the increasing interdependence of the world and the need for global governance, explore the current global governance mechanisms and identify possible areas for future improvement. The Concept Note for the seminar, circulated by the Government of Brazil, suggested that the period between the global financial crisis in September of 2008 and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009 represented a turning point for global governance, and prompted a widespread recognition that the old structures were no longer adequate to the need. Invitees to the conference included academics, politicians and diplomats.

Ambassador Tanin was asked to deliver the keynote address during the seminar’s working lunch, where he began with a brief overview of recent trends in global governance, the founding of the United Nations, and the attempts of the last few decades to reform the Security Council. He highlighted the unique legitimacy and legality of the United Nations as a body of global governance and argued for the necessity of reforming the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, rather than turning to less inclusive forums. The Security Council, as the only global body dedicated to the maintenance of peace and security, and the only body whose decisions are binding on all 192 Member States of the UN, is unlike any other international body. He concluded by saying, “…If the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.” Ambassador Tanin’s statement was followed by an extensive debate.

Ambassador Tanin will return to New York on Saturday, 24 April.

Speech

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other.  Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres.  The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue.  Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.

Keynote address of H.E. Zahir Tanin

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan

To the United Nations

At the Seminar “Turning Point: Emerging Systems for Global Governance”

22 April 2010

Brasilia, Brazil

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today. I want to thank the Government of Brazil for extending me the invitation to participate in this seminar. In particular, I would like to thank Minister Amorim, Minister Guimarães, Professor Garcia, and Mr. Rothkopf for their thought-provoking comments this morning. On a personal note, it is a great moment to be in Brazil, because later this year Afghanistan will open its first embassy here, and I look forward to a bright future of close relations between our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation chooses to put national interest second to the good of all. This is not a criticism; to the contrary, when governments do their jobs properly, they fight, above all else, for the wellbeing of their people. But it creates a central paradox in international relations. Though we all recognize the necessity of international agreements governing the global sphere, these agreements are at the mercy of national interests which are concerned more with local needs than with international stability.

This paradox means that global governance mechanisms are frequently toothless and devoid of enforcement measures, both practically and legally. Even when the agreements are widely seen to be necessary, self-interest and domestic political pressures frequently prove stronger than the perceived benefit of an agreement. Peoples are particularly reluctant to sacrifice visible comfort or convenience without equally visible returns. As a result, we often find ourselves caught up in empty rhetoric and unable to encourage tangible cooperation. Even when a political agreement can be found, the resulting decisions may be bluntly ignored by states at little cost when compliance is inconvenient.

However, to paraphrase the French scientist Blaise Pascal, if justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical.

International politics have always been governed by the law of the jungle: rule by the strongest. But none of us would be here if we didn’t also recognize that our self-interest can no longer be divorced from the interests of our fellow nations. Despite the difficulty in forging or enforcing agreements, the alternative would be unilateral action on the part of powerful states, enforcing their decrees by military or political force. Even those who have such power now recognize that this would be an unsustainable option. The world is far too interconnected for one state, no matter how powerful, to act alone without far-reaching repercussions. Frustrations, the difficulties and the inefficiency notwithstanding, global agreements have become necessary for the smooth functioning of the international system.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recognition of the need for global cooperation is by no means unprecedented. It was precisely this recognition that underpinned the establishment of the United Nations after the Second World War. When fifty nations gathered in San Francisco in 1945, it was to address the growing interdependence of the world and the mutual responsibilities of nations to their people and to each other. Together, they built an Organization that aimed to prevent conflict and to inspire mutual trust and respect among nations and between peoples.

Of course, the world has continued to evolve since 1945. Decolonization and self-determination have created a new map, shaped by imperialism and the fight against it. A global economy now binds us even more closely together, developed and developing worlds alike. Conflict and instability no longer recognize national boundaries but affect entire regions and can span the globe. Non-state actors and regional organizations play a large and growing role in both the political and economic spheres. The hierarchy of power that bound the world together in 1945 has changed dramatically, with new powers rising and old powers finding new ways to engage with one another.

As the world has changed, the landscape of global governance structures has changed as well. Formal institutions like the UN and the Bretton Woods Institutions, created in the middle of the 20th century, have been joined by the WTO, the ICC and other organizations with more specific spheres of influence. Dozens of regional and trans-regional organizations address a range of issues from security to economic cooperation. Lobbying and voting blocs like NAM and the G77 represent particular global interest groups. In addition, new, more informal and thus more flexible decision-making groups have evolved to address targeted issues where no formal decision-making bodies exist. The G7/8 and G20 are perhaps the best examples of these.

Despite this proliferation of global governance mechanisms, the United Nations is still the only international body that can claim to represent all nations on earth; that aspires to grant each nation equal voice and equal sovereignty. Member States, in ratifying the Charter, commit themselves to respect the rule of law and the sovereignty of their fellow nations. The Organization as a whole enjoys a legitimacy unparalleled in the international arena. And the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international security, is the only such body whose decisions have full force of law over Member States.

Today we are entering a new era in global governance. Recent events, including the global financial crisis, have made our need for collective governance even more painfully clear. At the same time, recent setbacks such as the stalling of the Doha trade round and the difficult climate change talks in Copenhagen have also highlighted the challenges we face in finding innovative ways to inspire and encourage cooperation.

The United Nations has struggled to adapt to these new realities. The very solidity and legitimacy of its foundation makes it resistant to change, and the breadth and scope of its activities means that any reform has far-reaching consequences. And yet, despite the institutional inertia, reform efforts have begun. UN processes aimed at revitalizing and empowering the General Assembly, reforming the Secretariat, encouraging system-wide coherence and institutional efficiency, and reviewing and reforming peacekeeping operations, have been ongoing for years and have seen some modest success. New bodies like the Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council have been created in the past years and are now entering their first review phase. Discussions on UN-led environmental governance efforts are ongoing. But perhaps most important, and most complex, are efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Efforts to reform the UN Security Council began almost as soon as the Charter was signed. In 1965, the eleven-member Council was expanded to the current fifteen to account for the growing membership of the UN. Since then, the composition of the Council has not changed: we have five permanent members, whose concurring vote is needed for all Security Council resolutions, as well as for Charter amendments, and ten non-permanent members selected from the five regional groups, who are elected for two-year terms.

In the early 1990s, as new economic and political powers emerged, efforts to further reform the Council began with the creation of an Open-Ended Working Group to explore the issue. Two major drives for reform have occurred since then: the first, in 1997, when the facilitator of the group proposed a possible three-stage solution; the second in 2005, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertook a comprehensive review of the UN system with a view to promoting ambitious and sweeping reforms, including reform of the Security Council. Both efforts failed. In between, the Open-Ended Working Group oversaw years of endless discussions.

Our current reform attempt, which was mandated by a decision taken in September of 2008, tries a new approach: intergovernmental negotiations. These negotiations represent a long-needed break with the repetitive OEWG and the best opportunity for real reform that we have seen in decades. As the Chair of this process, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the efforts to reform the Security Council, and the attitudes of Member States towards this reform, in the context of our larger debate about global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The need for reform of the Security Council is universally agreed upon, though the principles and details of reform are the subject of intense debate. Some feel that the current structure’s lack of representivity is a real threat to its legitimacy, while others feel that the long-term legitimacy of the Council is guaranteed by the UN Charter. Some feel that the decision-making process, even more than the membership of the Council, lacks transparency and effectiveness. Others are concerned that the Security Council supports a power structure that is no longer reflective of current geopolitical realities. Though the proposed reform options vary widely, there is a large and increasingly vocal majority who feel that the continued effectiveness of the Council is threatened by its current composition.

Perhaps as a result, Member States are now increasingly demonstrating an intense engagement in the process. Since the beginning of these intergovernmental negotiations last February, the Member States have gone through four rounds of negotiations, looking at each of the five key issues of reform both separately and together – categories, veto, regional representation, size and working methods, and relationship between the Security Council and the GA. In this time Member States have shown the desire to push for a real reform.

As I stand here today, we are reaching an historic moment in these negotiations. The fifth round, which will begin shortly, will be based on a negotiation text that reflects the positions and proposals of Member States. Member States all agreed on the need for a text and all expressed readiness to engage in this process. What remains to be seen is whether the membership has the political will, and the flexibility, to rise above their immediate national concerns to recognize the long-term consequences of failure. A solution is both possible and necessary, both for the strength of the United Nations as an institution and for the continued viability of our current system of global governance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Security Council is unique among global governance mechanisms. As a body mandated to make legally binding decisions, the Security Council both directly and indirectly affects the national interests of all 192 UN Member States. As the only international body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council deals with the most intractable and contentious issues in the world. It is crucial that Member States feel a stake in the Council’s decisions and that these decisions are widely, if not universally, implemented.

The Security Council must be reformed. No other body has the legal standing to tackle the most difficult issues of the day, and no other body has enough legitimacy to demand that its decisions are implemented. If we are unable to achieve this reform, we run the risk that some will turn to other less inclusive mechanisms to preserve peace and stability in the world, sidestepping the rule of law and the principles of fairness and sovereign equality of nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of us are naïve enough to believe that relative power has become irrelevant in international relations. Lack of coercive enforcement mechanisms can mean that international agreements reinforce the political weight of strong nations, who are able to enforce their decisions through bilateral or multilateral political pressure. This will not change in the near future. But if the last decade has taught us anything it is that the perceived legitimacy of power is now nearly as important as the power itself. In the sphere of international peace and security, the Security Council remains the only source of that legitimacy. This must be preserved, or we risk returning to the law of the jungle.

Thank you.