President Mnangagwa’s call last week for the reform of the United Nations came at the right time when the world body seems to be increasingly getting out of touch with reality.
It has become clear in recent years that the system of operation employed by the UN at its formation in 1945 is no longer in sync with the international developments taking place now.
The UN was created following the end of the Second World War and its major aim was to unite the world to ensure that there is peace and stability.
While there has not been a world war since then, the UN has failed to prevent aggression by powerful countries on the less powerful ones. The rights of less powerful countries are being trampled on a daily basis under the watch of the UN and its archaic system that has failed to ensure peace permanently returns to the world.
There have been questions on the devastating intervention of the United States and its allies in countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria and many others.
Since the invasion of such countries, albeit without the UN’s approval, the affected countries have become ungovernable. These countries are now in a perpetual conflict that is threatening world peace, directly returning to haunt the UN which is supposed to safeguard world peace.
The major problem with the UN is that it has been acting like an accomplice of big powers, who seem to have the green light to do as they please with less powerful countries.
It has become clear that the UN is not serving the interests of all member states, as noted by President Mnangagwa last week. President Mnangagwa made the call for the UN reform while addressing a dinner in Harare hosted for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
President Museveni has also been at the frontline of criticising the UN for failing to reform.
For decades, the UN has been giving a deaf ear to the African Union’s (AU) advocacy for reform of the world body, a decision they refer to as the Ezulwini Consensus. The Ezulwini Consensus is the AU position on international relations and reform of the UN which calls for a more representative and democratic Security Council in which Africa, like all other world regions, is represented.
“At global level, it is our strong conviction that the United Nations should remain guided by its Charter and serve the interests of all member states,” President Mnangagwa said.
“We continue to advocate for the reform of the UN Security Council in line with the Ezulwini Consensus.” There has not been justification as to why the UN is maintaining a limited number of permanent representatives of its Security Council to only five.
It is these five countries — the United States, France, China, Russia and Britain — that have been mandated with directing world affairs through the UN Security Council system.
Yet, what is prudent in this age of globalisation is to broaden the mandate of the Security Council to incorporate members of other continents like Africa. It is this lack of democratisation by the UN which has irked many countries, which feel left out by the system, making them vulnerable. Let’s take Zimbabwe, for example. No country has a mandate to impose sanctions on another without going through the UN system.
But the United States, Britain and their allies went on to impose debilitating and illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe that have affected the country’s economic progress. This clearly shows that the big powers can defy the UN without any fear of repercussions, a situation that has made less developed countries call for more reforms that also protect their interests.
In that regard, the UN has become like an elitist world body that serves the interests of only the powerful. The reforms being called for by President Mnangagwa and many other leaders are justified if the historical injustices which have left continents like Africa on the periphery of major global decision making process are to be corrected.
It is no longer sustainable for the UN to continue sidelining other continents when it has an opportunity to correct the situation by making its Security Council more equitable and more representative of the global outlook. We observe that the political structure of the UN is evidently outdated and is preventing it from being effective because it promotes unilateralism.
The bias in the UN structure has meant its failure to maintain peace and security and settle disputes that are likely to endanger world peace. This is why we totally agree with President Mnangagwa that reforms should be instituted at the UN if the world body is to serve the interests of all.