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Panel calls for UN reform

June 16, 2015

Calls for major reform within the United Nations have been made by veteran diplomats led by America's Madeleine Albright. Their report calls for a larger Security Council, less veto powers and special conflict mediators.

UN Logo und Hauptgebäude in New York
Image: Getty Images/AFP/E. Dunand

The 14-member commission comprising numerous ex-foreign ministers issued adamant calls for UN reform on Tuesday. Co-chairman Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria cited what he called a "crisis in global governance."

Albright, a former US secretary of state Albright, warned that continuing failure within the world body "risks prolonging and deepening" global crises.

The panel said a cadre of experience UN mediators should be created to better handle conflicts.

And, it recommended the transformation of the UN Peacekeeping Commission into a better financed "Peace-building Council."

It said an expanded World Court was needed alongside a new UN Global Partnership to push issues such as women's rights, migration, and job training.

Ibrahim Gambari UN UNAMID Sudan Darfur
Veto at UN "unfair," says GambariImage: Reuiers

Re-think Security Council urges panel

Without going into detail, the panel called for an expanded UN Security Council and a new voting mechanism to replace the existing full-blown veto often exercised by former Cold War powers.

Gambari, who is a UN undersecretary for political affairs, said the existing veto exercised by five former Cold War powers was widely perceived as "unfair" by nations outside the 15-member council. Russia and China, for example, have often blocked action on Syria, sought by the US and its allies.

21st-century threats must be "grappled" in new ways by world leaders, Albright said.

New issues-related forums

The panel also recommended the creation of new forums to handle pressing issues such as climate change, cybersecurity and economic shocks.

USA Madeleine Albright Ex-Außenministerin
New approaches needed, says AlbrightImage: Getty Images/AFP/S. Loeb

Improved coordination was needed between the Group of 20 major economies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to prevent the spread of cross-border financial shocks.

"Our small, dense, interconnected would cannot prosper if more than a billion inhabitants fail to cross a basis threshold for a safe, dignified life," said the 158-page report.

It noted a "visible increase" in mass atrocities in various countries that had "reversed" the trends that had begun with the end of the Cold War.

"We want to really build a global constituency in favor of a change," said Gambari.

Groundwork for 21st century

The report lays the groundwork for changes over the next five years, with decisions to be made at a World Conference on Global Institutions in 2020.

Its release coincides with the 70th anniversary of the world body and precedes a gathering in September of world leaders to discuss new goals to reduce poverty.

The reform panel includes six former foreign ministers from Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, the Netherlands and Tanzania.

ipj/jil (AP, AFP)