Establishment of the peace building and human rights commissions are top achievements
CAIRO: The negative image of the United Nations loomed over its 61st annual celebration last week. But in light of reform efforts inside the organization, Egyptian and UN officials confirmed that the organization is still a vital global entity.
“We are not here to eulogize the United Nations but to support this international organization as one of the countries that the organization has stood up for, said Ambassador Essam El-Din Hawwas, deputy head of the Egyptian United Nations Association.
In the introduction to the event, Hawwas highlighted several setbacks in the organization’s recent history; the most prominent of all is its month-long inability to push through a cease-fire in Lebanon last summer.
“The UN is being paralyzed, exactly like international law is being paralyzed, by practices that set us back to the [Dark Ages], he explained.
“I don’t have to specify who puts the UN in such conundrum. I don’t have to say the United States; we all know that, he added.
Finding solutions to the region’s conflicts and wars isn’t possible “without the full cooperation and support of concerned states and actors, the lack of which has been a source of frustration to the UN secretary general himself, most UN staff, and to many member states, said James Rawely, UN resident coordinator.
But Rawely and other guest speakers chose to focus more on the positive aspects of the organization such as aid, debt relief and up scaling response to HIV/AIDS. Egyptian speakers, however, were more concerned with Egypt’s role in supporting the UN, especially in its early days.
Abdel Ahad Gamal, chairperson of the Egyptian UN Association, highlighted the Egyptians holding high positions in the organization, including Mohamed El-Baradaie and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
“Egypt’s and Egyptian diplomats’ role is prominent, he stressed.
But in spite of his praise for the organization, he also said that more should be demanded of it. His recurrent theme was that the UN’s role as an unbiased international organization should be strengthened.
“If the UN collapsed, what would be the alternative? he said explaining the importance of reforming the organization.
“As to the reform agenda at the UN, this has been one that Secretary General Kofi Annan has been working on since he took office ten years ago, Maher Nasser, director of the UN Information Center (UNIC), told The Daily Star Egypt.
The replacement of the Human Rights Commission by the Human Rights Council, the establishment of a Peace Building Commission and Peace Building Fund, the Democracy Fund, the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), and the expansion of peace building operations are some of the efforts Nasser mentioned under reform efforts.
“[They] were accomplished once the member states approved them in 2005 during the 60th General Assembly session.
“Several reform ideas still remain on the agenda of the General Assembly, including most importantly the Security Council Reform where the membership remains divided. Those items of reform that were not agreed on in 2005 remain on the agenda of the 61st session of the General Assembly, explained Nasser, who promised to communicate all Egyptian concerns voiced during the celebration regarding the organization to UN officials including the secretary general.
During the event, Ambassador Naalea Gabr, assistant to minister of foreign affairs on international organizations and associations, stressed Egypt’s role in pushing forward these reforms.
Later in a phone interview with The Daily Star Egypt, a source at the ministry, who preferred to remain anonymous, stressed Egypt’s role in the Peace Building Commission. “[Most] conflicts are in Africa, the source explained.
The source explained that Egypt would support reform efforts “in a way that serves its interests.
This includes the initiative to hold a special session to discuss the global combating of terrorism and participating in administrative and financial reforms and the development of the reshuffle of specialized agencies, the source added.
The sources also pointed to participation in the Human Rights Councils, of which Egypt is not a member. Gabr had stressed Egypt’s commitment to global human rights, justice and respect for international law. “We stress respecting the law, she said repeatedly.
“The rights of the Palestinians, are high on Egypt’s diplomatic agenda, Gabr added.
“The secretary general has called on all member states to put their differences aside and agree on a reform agenda that would serve the organization s best interests, Nasser added.