UN needs speedier reforms

Updated: 2013-10-25 07:04

(China Daily)

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Saudi Arabia's unprecedented refusal to sit as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council ignited speculation as well as concerns this week. Whatever the reasons behind the Arab country's decision, this dramatic event should prompt the international community to contemplate the role of the UN and reform of the Security Council.

On Oct 18, one day after being elected by the UN General Assembly, Saudi Arabia announced that it was rejecting the two-year rotating seat on the UNSC it had campaigned for two years. The decision stunned the rest of the world as it is a prestigious seat that is envied or coveted by many other countries.

Indeed, only 10 countries can sit with the five permanent members in the UNSC and address the major issues facing today's world on behalf of the UN's 193 members. The status of a nonpermanent member could mean bigger international clout to an elected country.

The Saudi decision was, therefore, widely perceived as a sign of its dissatisfaction with the United States over its policies toward Syria and Iran.

However, as the largest international organization committed to maintaining world peace and stability and promoting international cooperation, the UN's role is irreplaceable. All countries, no matter whether they are big or small, should actively participate in UN affairs and rally behind the world body. This is especially important as the UN is under the shadow of power politics, as some Western countries have developed a penchant for pursuing their own agendas in the UN.

To explain its decision, the Saudi foreign ministry said it was "refraining from the UN Security Council membership until it has reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace".

In fact, Riyadh is not alone in pressing the world body to reform. The world body has been under pressure to improve its efficiency and curb its bureaucracy. But more importantly, with the rise of emerging countries and the trend toward the democratization of international relations, the calls for the UN to raise the representation of these countries have grown louder.

Considering reform of the Security Council is an important part of international governance reform, the UN should set an example and boost the momentum for change. Only by doing so can it retain its own credibility, live up to the wishes of people around the world and contribute more to building world peace and stability.

(China Daily 10/25/2013 page8)