Nepal’s Stake In UN Reform

 

Madhavji Shrestha

Nepal’s unwavering commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations stand tall ever since it joined the global body in December 1955. The United Nations is considered to be a lofty forum for trust and confidence reposed by smaller and weaker states like Nepal. Newly emerging states strive continuously and without fail to get its membership as soon as they got freedom and independence. This global body is an international organisation with universal acceptance to ensure peace, security as also for socio-economic development. However, expectations could hardly be fulfilled especially on the concerns of the global peace and security. Hopefully, it has been successful to some extent in rendering humanitarian services and tackling serious challenges of natural disasters particularly in the least developed and developing regions of the world.
Shortcomings have been cropping up in the discharge of its duties since its establishment. Situations then were very much under the pressing influence of super powers in the aftermath of the Second World War. Democracy was in its infancy. The end of the Cold War and democracy gaining ground in ensuing years have thrown greater challenges to the functioning of the UN to have a new look for its effectiveness and global respect to command.
Hence, the questions of the reform of its Charter haunts the thoughts of Secretary-Generals, both former and incumbent included to make the United Nations trusted as intended by its Charter. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan worked hard to reform the UN system during his tenure. So was the effort of Ban Ki-moon to make it effective to dispel the growing discontentment.
Current Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also put his hands in making efforts to reform the ossified UN system to truly make it purpose serving. As Guterres has good experience of the running government of Portugal as Prime Minister for 7 years as also a respected UN High Commissioner of Refugees for a decade, his planning of ideas and actions for the reform of the United Nations appear both extensive and achievable as presented to the General Assembly this time.
Overall, Guterres has put forward 38 ideas and actions to transform the image of the United Nations. His plan has prioritised 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals as upper most one, which is, he thinks, boldest for humanity and pivotal one for the underdeveloped countries. The present time is taken as a period of transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals.
His plan of actions include the crucial need to reform peace and security architecture to which he has attached a great priority to prevent conflicts and to maintain sustaining peace around the globe.
He has given great importance to the management reform as well with due attention paid to simplifying procedural actions and decentralising decision-making for all these management affairs and actions. There should be transparency, efficiency and accountability. He has felt a great need to create international mechanism and UN development group to accomplish all this.
On Monday, September 18, US President Donald Trump used his UN debut speech to prod the United Nations to cut its bloated bureaucracy and eliminate its ill-timed mission. He pledged US support for the global body he had excoriated as a presidential candidate before last November election in the US. He has commended the efforts of Guterres and urged him to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy with a view to regain the trust of the people. Trump’s speech has been considered incredible as he used to take critical stance towards the United Nations before. His speech now and his stance then stood diametrically opposed. The change of mind is indeed visibly.
French support for the UN reform is also noteworthy. French President Emmanuel Macron on his address to the United Nations is unambiguous. He has said “the UN has total legitimacy to reform UN and I fully support the UN Secretary-General’s plan, his ambition and determination to lead organisation equal to the world’s challenges.”
Nepal as a peace-loving and the Charter abiding member-state is ever positive and supportive to the ideas and actions of the United Nations for its time- demanded reform. But crucial questions crop up as to how far and in what way Nepal should approach the process of the UN reform to serve interests of land-locked and least developed countries, which are the greatest sufferers in terms of socio-economic uplift and welfare of its people. In fact, such damned circumstances have put these countries in politically unstable and economically far behind other countries.
Noteworthy was the role Nepal played in the UN forums in advocating and advancing the interests of LLDCs and LDCs during the sixties, seventies and the eighties of the last century.
Recalling past contributory roles and believing in self confidence to do tangible things, Nepal in close consultation and collaboration with likeminded countries need to devise strategies with regard to the materialising of ideas and actions related with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Nepal should also step forward in seeking a space in any international mechanism under the reform programmes. There is no need to remind Nepal’s extensive contributions for peace-keeping operations in the peace-threatened spots in the world earning fifth in rank, despite the small size of its armed and police forces with less advanced security technical capability. Devotion and loyalty of Nepal’s security personnel to fulfil prescribed duties has stood exemplary. They have never budged from what have been tasked for maintenance of peace and stability. If Nepal slips away from having an honoured space in the international mechanism that will dampen the spirit and discourage steps to further contribute.
It is advisable that the government of Nepal soon form a national mechanism consisting of experts and consultants to give their views to the Foreign Ministry in order that the proposed UN reform might serve the national desires of socio-economic uplift closely connected with UNSDGS
We often come across comments expressed through media that Nepal’s Permanent Representation in New York could not become visibly instrumental in translating what has been entrusted. They have considered people with diplomatic ranks in Permanent Representation ineffectual. The Representation could not achieve targets and enhance the image of Nepal in such an important international forum. Recently, the Nepali media has its story that there should be a review with regard to the appointment of an effective Permanent Representative in New York. If this story is true, the responsible political authorities should mull before they decide to elevate the position of the Permanent Representative to the higher political rank.
It is easy to elevate the rank, but very difficult to select diplomatically capable person for the job. There will be no difference of opinion that the person to be appointed with higher rank needs to be able to provide diplomatic leadership- the leadership that could play proactive role for advocacy and persuasion in advancing Nepal’s effective participation and contributions in all relevant activities. He should be an affable person with proven skills and with wide range of knowledge and expertise on UN conventions and its wider range of practices. Could the political authorities search and find a person of such ability. Try once for a wise selection.

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