16 September 2005
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday, South African President Thabo Mbeki slammed the inadequate progress in implementing poverty-reduction goals set by the world body in 2000, and criticised the lack of UN reform. In this he added his voice to similar comments by the leaders of India and Brazil.
Mbeki described as a “miserable performance” the failure of UN member countries to agree on a comprehensive package of reforms.
“In truth we have not made the decisive progress we thought we would make with regard to the critical issue of the reform of the United Nations,” he said. “We have therefore had no choice but to postpone to a later date the decisions we should have made.”
Speaking on the second day of the world’s largest gathering of heads of state and government, the president pointed to the Millennium Development Goals, which include an undertaking by rich countries to commit 0.7% of national income to development aid to poor nations by 2015.
“Our approach to the challenge to commit and deploy the necessary resources for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals has been half-hearted, timid and tepid,” Mbeki said.
“We firmly believe that the reason we have not made the progress we should have, during the last five years, is precisely because we have not as yet achieved what the outcome document described as ‘a security consensus’.”
Mbeki was referring to the UN reform package approved by the UN earlier this week.
“We have not achieved that ‘security consensus’ because of the widely disparate conditions of existence and interests among the member states of the UN, as well as the gross imbalance of power that define the relationship among these member states.
“It is the poor of the world whose interests are best served by real and genuine respect for the fundamental proposition that we need the ‘security consensus’ identified by the outcome document. The actions of the rich and powerful strongly suggest that these are not in the least convinced that this ‘security consensus’ would serve their interests.
“Thus they use their power to perpetuate the power imbalance in the ordering of global affairs. As a consequence of this, we have not made the progress of the reform of the UN that we should have.
“Because of that, we have the result that we have not achieved the required scale of resource transfer from those who have these resources, to empower the poor of the world to extricate themselves from their misery.
“Simply put, this means that the logic of the use of power is the reinforcement of the might of the powerful, and therefore the perpetuation of the disempowerment of the powerless.
“This is the poisonous mixture that has given us the outcome that will issue from this Millennium Review Summit to the peoples of the world. We should not be surprised when these billions do not acclaim us as heroes and heroines.”