While re-affirming his country’s commitment to multilateralism and the role of the United Nations in dealing with international peace and security issues at the General Assembly, the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, today called for steps to ensure that the world body is not marginalized on such matters, citing developments Libya and Iraq as examples.
“Equally important, the United Nations must in future never allow itself to be abused by any Member State or group of States that seeks to achieve parochial partisan goals,” President Mugabe added in his statement to the second day of the 67th Assembly’s General Debate.
“The Charter of the United Nations clearly stipulates it as an international body that should work for the good of all the peoples of the world,” he added.
The President pointed to the involvement of countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in efforts to topple the regime of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, who ruled the country for more than 40 years until a pro-democracy uprising last year led to civil war and the end of his rule.
The North African country is currently undergoing a transition toward a modern democratic State. The Zimbabwean leader said that Libya, like Iraq, had been made unstable, following NATO’s “deceitful intervention under the sham cover” of the UN Charter’s Chapter VII, and the “phoney principle” of the responsibility to protect.
“The increasing trend by the NATO States inspired by the arrogant belief that they are the most powerful among us, which has demonstrated itself through their recent resort to unilateralism and military hegemony in Libya, is the very antithesis of the basic principles of the United Nations,” President Mugabe said.
He added, “In that case of Libya, the African Union and its peace-making role was defied, ignored and humiliated. May we urge the international community to collectively nip this dangerous and unwelcome aggressive development before it festers?”
Chapter VII of the UN Charter allows the Security Council to use force in the face of a threat to peace or aggression, taking “such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” including blockades and other operations by the forces of Member States.
Sometimes known as ‘R2P,’ the principle of the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met.
“It is regrettable to note that certain unacceptable concepts are currently being foisted upon the United Nations membership, in the absence of inter-governmental mandates,” President Mugabe said. “We are concerned by the clear mad growing evidence that the concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ has begun to be applied and seriously abused, thus inevitably compromising and undermining the cardinal principle of the sovereignty of states and the United Nations Charter principles of territorial integrity and non-interference in the domestic affairs of countries.”
In his statement, President Mugabe also said that the Security Council, in its dealings on the peaceful settlement of disputes, had, on occasion, ignored provisions of the UN Charter.
“In contrast, there appears to be an insatiable appetite for war, embargos, sanctions and other punitive actions, even on matters that are better resolved through multilateral cooperation,” he noted. “Instead of resorting to the peaceful resolution of disputes, we are daily witnessing a situation where might is now right.”
The Zimbabwean leader also affirmed his support for reform of the 15-member Security Council, although he cautioned against an open-ended approach “which short-changes those of us from regions that are not represented at all among the permanent membership of the Council.”
He said that Zimbabwe stands by Africa’s demand for two permanent seats complete with veto power, if the veto is to be retained, plus two additional non-permanent seats.
“For how long… will the international community continue to ignore the aspirations of a whole continent of fifty-four countries? We shall not be bought-off with empty promises, nor shall we accept some cosmetic tinkering of the Security Council disguised as reform,” he said.
Other topics touched upon in his statement to the General Debate included the revitalization of the General Assembly and the imposition of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.