UN Secretary General should be risk averse and play a more critical and active role

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  • Opinion by Purnaka de Silva (New York
  • Inter Press Service

The war in Ukraine appears to have displaced other ongoing major wars in Yemen, Ethiopia and Myanmar from the global public imagination thanks to its 24/7 news cycle. The primary mandate of the United Nations is to ensure the maintenance of global peace and security, unfortunately we seem to have neither of those, apart from much talk by eminent characters with little or no action to overcome the dystopian reality and carnage on the planet. to restore soil.

The Latin motto res, non-verba comes to mind – meaning “deeds, not words” – as a very appropriate model for the United Nations to adopt rather than stick to “business as usual” – which is weak and pathetic to say the least is in these difficult times.

Secretary-General António Guterres must not leave diplomacy, mediation and negotiations to half-baked UN diplomats in the field and not even within his own executive office – UN-EOSG.

In the context of current world affairs and international relations, it is imperative that the Secretary-General takes a more central and much greater active role in upholding the primary mandate of the United Nations and ensuring the maintenance of global peace and security.

The time for protecting the image and status of the UN Secretary-General is over and it is also being held hostage by the P-5 Permanent Members of the UN Security Council who are shaming all current and past UN Secretaries-General. have stepped.

Rather than being risk averse, Secretary-General Guterres should take a much more active and visible role on the global stage and behind the scenes — traveling relentlessly to war-torn UN member states to regularly meet and personally mediate the key players, using his high office and moral standing with good results – to boost the UN’s mediation efforts.

Recalling the active and energetic interventions of one of his predecessors, the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, who sadly paid the ultimate price along with 15 other UN advisers, bodyguards and aircrew when their plane was shot down on September 18, 1961, in Northern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

In the current geopolitical environment, Secretary-General Guterres cannot be seen as one of the last of a long line of diplomats and politicians to visit a war-torn area, as was the case on his recent visit to Moscow and Kiev in late April 2022 – to to put it bluntly, this is bad optics.

Secretary General Guterres must use his Executive Office to be more effective and the global public must be informed and supportive. Given the very high stakes involved, he needs to be much more proactive with regard to Ukraine and all ongoing wars and armed conflicts in a balanced way – without fear or favour.

On the bright side, Secretary-General Guterres called the war in Ukraine “evil and unacceptable” and called for justice. Guterres’ call fell on deaf ears in Moscow, however, as Russia fired five missiles into central Kiev less than an hour after he held a press conference with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy.

So, what should be done? when a permanent P-5 member of the UN Security Council goes “rogue” – that is, beyond the bounds of civilized, rules-based behavior of a nation-state in the 21st century that adheres to the principles of global peace and security that are enshrined in the UN Charter, the law of war, the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – as in the case of Mr Putin and his government?

Notwithstanding the fact that Secretary-General Guterres is a former Prime Minister of Portugal, he must demonstrate his independence from the Western powers, and immediately follow up on his visit to Moscow and Kiev by Pressure Moscow to end aggression in Ukraine and call off the war dogs.

And while he negotiates in Beijing, he must also gain China’s support to pressure the military junta, Tatmadaw Kyi, to step down and restore democracy in Myanmar without delay to help the beleaguered peoples. Non-confrontational diplomacy is the key to success in Beijing, something Secretary-General Guterres is adept at, which he should use to good effect, given that the Chinese are not belligerents.

Beijing is more inclined to global trade and commerce, promoting their ambitious global mega-project “Belt and Road Initiative”, which is no doubt hampered by the war in Ukraine.

After two bloody world wars in which tens of millions of people have died, nobody wants a large-scale inter-European war, which could have consequences for soldiers and civilians far beyond Europe.

In fact, Putin’s War of Aggression in Ukraine is already fueling world hunger as global wheat production, storage and supply is severely hampered by fighting. The power of the United Nations is a reflected power – that is, that of its leading member states adhering to a rules-based system of global governance – and that power is what all UN Secretaries General should use for the greater good through diplomacy, mediation and negotiation to maintain global peace and security.

Secretary General Guterres is urged to demonstrate his leadership and political acumen in these dystopian and trying times, using his moral courage as a beacon to rally the global public to support the United Nations mandate and mission. The UN Secretary General cannot and should not be relegated to the role of a spectator while warring factions rampage, he/she must lead, regardless of personal cost, without fear or favour.

As for Secretary-General Guterres, a devout Catholic (an outspoken critic of war alongside His Holiness Pope Francis), he cannot accomplish this mammoth task alone – to bolster his moral authority, he must use the power and voice of civil society together. with that of the world multiple religions – all working together at different levels to maintain global peace and security.

dr. Purnaka L. de Silva is Professor of UN Studies (MA Programme) at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, and Director of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Democracy (ISSD) Malta. In March 2022, he received the Seton Hall University’s College Adjunct Faculty Teacher of the Year Award, and in December 2021 he was nominated as Diplomacy Professor of the Year by the School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service





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