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Rediff.com  » News » Shashi Tharoor pledges improved peacekeeping in UN

Shashi Tharoor pledges improved peacekeeping in UN

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September 08, 2006 09:57 IST
Calling for a United Nations that is "stronger than ever", India's candidate for the next Secretary General Shashi Tharoor has said that he will be focussing on a number of areas including reinforcing the operational capacity and speedy deployment of peacekeepers.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Tharoor emphasised the need of the world body to effectively take on the present and emerging challenges such as effective peace keeping operations.

"This 20th century organisation can take on the challenges of the 21st century," Tharoor said in his opening remarks.

Among the urgent and pressing tasks would include the readiness to tackle old and new challenges, management reforms and building "issue-based coalition" with a view to bridge the North-South divide.

"Development must be a major priority for the United Nations" Tharoor told an audience of diplomats, think tank specialists, administration officials and media persons.

"The world will continue to turn to the United Nations since it transcends any one government's interests" he argued going on to make the point that the "New UN" must encapsulate the spirit of the 21st century and amplify the voices of those who have not been heard, serve as a canopy for all and be the "result and source of hopes for a better world".

Both in his formal remarks and in the interactive discussion, Tharoor repeatedly pointed out one of the major functions of the UN as it related to peacekeeping and in the fashion in which the world body has responded that had prevented the major powers from facing off one another.

Yet at the same time he stressed on the urgent need of maximising the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations through tools, capability and resources.

Tharoor lamented at the pace in which peacekeeping operations have got off the ground maintaining that governments have lost the sense of urgency.

"We have to run peace as effectively as governments have run war before" Tharoor quipped going on to make the argument that the United Nations Security Council too would have to play its role in the process.

Tharoor said that the Security Council will have to provide a "viable and realistic" mandate, followed by human, military and financial resources and political will and backbone. "Without these there will be no mandate to execute."

He also pointed out that 90 per cent of all peacekeepers are from the "South" -- that is "worrying" he said. On the issue of a standing United Nations force, Tharoor said that there was "not enough traction" for the idea among member states.

The nominee of India, who is facing four other contenders, is considered one of the frontrunners for the post to succeed Annan whose term expires the end of 2007. Tharoor, when asked about his chances, said that he did in fact have a "decent" one and that he is conscious of the fact that he needs not only a majority in the United Nations Security Council but also avoid a veto from the permanent members.

Calling the United Nations the "mirror of the world," Tharoor recalled the vision of a handful of statesmen who were determined to make the second half of the century different from the troubled past that eventually paved the way for an international architecture that witnessed among other things cooperation across nations and universal rules as opposed to military alliances and balance of power politics.

Since the time of the establishment of the UN, the world body has accomplished a great deal Tharoor argued -- preventing the Cold War from turning "hot", scores of peace keeping missions, more than 300 treaties and humanitarian assistance.

"Right now there is no war going on between two sovereign nations" Tharoor said also making the point "When the United Nations Succeeds, the whole world succeeds".

On Iran and Sudan, Tharoor maintained that the developments in the context of the United Nations only shed light on the limitations and that the next steps have to be basically worked out by the governments and not the Security Council. The stance of Iran is "not a repudiation" of the United Nations, Tharoor said.

On Sudan, the point was made of the need to see "what exactly is permissible" and that a sovereign country had a right to refuse peacekeeping troops.

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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