Mideast conflict shows need for UN reform

January 9, 2009 12:00 am

, JOHANNESBURG, January 9 – South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has underscored the urgent need to reform the United Nations.

"I agree that the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, is in need of urgent reform in order to become more representative of the world’s population," he said in an interview in the Mail and Guardian newspaper.

He said that the United Nations was not implementing its original mandate to give equal treatment and protection to all the countries.

"The problem is that if a country has powerful friends on the Security Council, they can sometimes act with impunity," Motlanthe said.

"All you have to do is listen to the minister of foreign affairs or defence of Israel to know that you are dealing with people who believe they can cock a snook with impunity."

Motlanthe said the veto powers enjoyed by the five permanent members of the Security Council also promoted selfish interests "which is contrary to the collective and principled mandate of the United Nations."

His remarks were published after the UN Security Council voted late Thursday to call for an "immediate, durable" ceasefire in the Gaza Strip leading to a full withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The United States, Israel’s strongest ally on the council, abstained from the vote.

South Africa held a rotating seat on the Security Council for the last two years, but passed the seat on to Uganda at the start of the year. Pretoria has argued for a permanent seat on the council.


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