NEW YORK (Staff Report) – Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi has said the United Nations should transform itself into a 21st century institution, by making the Security Council more responsible to the General Assembly.
While in a meeting of Inter-Governmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, the first meeting of the year was discussing the “Relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly”, Maleeha said that the general public sees the UN to be losing its moral legitimacy as it struggles to deal with complex challenges and be relevant in maintaining international peace and security. “This impression can only be reversed if the Security Council in its decision making takes into account the collective voice of the General Assembly – as envisaged in the UN Charter”, she added.
Ambassador Lodhi said that the UN Charter envisages a relationship of synergy between the Security Council and the General Assembly, based on the concepts of responsibility, transparency and, above all, accountability.
She referred to the deadlock in the UN reform process which has been mired in a very sterile debate for more than two decades. The process has remained fixated on whether or not and we should not add members to the Council who are not accountable to the wider membership. “I say sterile because I have never seen anyone choosing someone to act on his behalf without making him accountable”.
Recalling the role played by elected members in the Security Council, Lodhi said, “Not surprisingly, it is the elected members in the Council who have traditionally played a leading role on improving the relationship between the Council and the Assembly – Pakistan being one of them”. These efforts, she said led to modest but important changes.
More elected members in the Council, she argued, would certainly accelerate these efforts. Without strengthening accountability, other measures will only bring about slow and incremental changes, she maintained.
Ambassador Lodhi highlighted the importance of the General Assembly, which, she said, has much to contribute to the work of the Council. “Its members are the main contributors to peacekeeping missions mandated by the Council. And the resolutions and declarations of the Assembly carry legal weight in customary international law, as many of them form the basis of binding treaties and conventions” she added.
The Pakistani envoy argued that while the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the Security Council, the General Assembly was not divested of this responsibility. She said that if the Council requests, the General Assembly can also make recommendations on issues of international peace and security. Moreover the Charter requires the Council to “act on behalf of the General Assembly”.
Ambassador Lodhi stressed the need to achieve harmony and collaboration between the Security Council and the General Assembly. She said, “The two organs must have a complementary and cooperative and not competitive relationship. For much is to be achieved through two-way communication and cooperation between them, making their actions mutually reinforcing as well as consequential”.
Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to achieving a comprehensive reform aimed at making the Security Council more representative, accountable, transparent and effective.