25 September 2003
President Thabo Mbeki has called on world leaders, especially those in rich nations, to put their differences aside and practically recommit themselves to the United Nations.
Mbeki told the 191-member UN Assembly in New York on Tuesday that the poor expected a united international community to create a just and fairer global village.
“The disempowered will continue to look to this organisation, understanding, correctly, that they are too weak to advance their interests singly, outside of the collective voice of the United Nations,” he said.
Mbeki told world leaders that the disempowered believed in a collective future of hope, and were also looking to the 50-year-old body to help bring an end to conflicts around the globe, while working towards the Millennium Declaration goals of halving poverty and a lack of basic necessities by 2015.
“For us, collectively, to meet these expectations, will require that each and every one of us, both rich and poor, both the powerful and the disempowered, commit ourselves practically to act, in all circumstances, in a manner that recognises and respects the fact that none of us is an island”, Mbeki said.
Mbeki said the attack by the US and its allies on Iraq posed many questions over the future and role of the UN as the custodian of world peace and security.
“What is decided about the role of the UN in Iraq will … decide what will become of the UN in the context of its Charter, and the important global objectives that have been taken since the Charter was adopted,” he said.
Regarding globalisation, Mbeki said the global village was still populated by unequal relations, with the majority in the developing nations still powerless and dominated by the powerful West.
This situation ought to be reversed, he said, by levelling the playing field within the UN institution, whose responsibilities have increased since the body was first launched, by reforming its structures and organs.
Mbeki warned that failure to transform the UN could result in the world failing to defeat poverty, underdevelopment and the terrorism that threatens world peace.