Security Council

“So that is one area at least  where perhaps member states need to get together and see if they can find common ground,  because there is no doubt that the way things have been happening in the last couple of years has been very divisive.” 

Maya Plentz Fagundes interviews Mr. Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications and Head of the Speechwriting Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for UN Radio, September 2003

Transcribed and edited by Maya Plentz Fagundes

New York/United Nations – September 2003

Mayara Fagundes:  What has changed at the UN since September 11, 2001?

Edward Mortimer:  Well, I think a lot of things have changed in the world.  More perhaps than in the UN. And the question is whether the UN can adapt, can respond to those changes and challenges.

We’ve have seen of course a lot of cooperation to try and to deal with terrorism. But we also have seen military action taken, particularly in Iraq, where clearly there was not  consensus of member states or indeed the majority of the Security Council behind it and I think this has left a lot of member states wondering what are the rules of the game now. Do we still agree that force should only be used in accordance with the Charter? Does the Charter itself needs to be revised or do we at least need to interpret it better? Because there are issues such as what do you do about a terrorist group which is planning to set off a weapon of mass destruction in a large city, can you simply wait for that to happen before you defend yourself against it or should there not be some way you can act to prevent that, if you have good reason to know where the group is that is doing this?  I think most people would feel, well it is not very satisfactory if any state or group of states feel they are entitled to act on this basis, at anytime, but if one is going to dissuade them from that then you need to show that collectively you can deal with this problem, and that might require if not a revision of the Charter at least a creative interpretation of it. So that is one area at least  where perhaps member states need to get together and see if they can find common ground,  because there is no doubt that the way things have been happening in the last couple of years has been very divisive.

MF: Do you believe that the events of September 11, 2001 are in part responsible for this renewed interest in reforming the United Nations, in particularly the Security Council, which seem…Secretary General announced yesterday that it would be something he would touch upon on his speech in the opening ceremony of the General Assembly?

EM: Well, I think that one part of the problem is the gradually declining authority of the Security Council and the feeling perhaps that there is, in some parts of the world, that Security Council does not really represent the peoples of the world or even necessarily the most important countries in the world. I mean the idea was, in 1945, you would have five permanent members who were supposed to be the great powers of that time. But there are very important countries: India, is one, Brazil might be another, which are not permanent members, and indeed only served very infrequently in the Security Council, but they surely have an important contribution to make to international peace and security.  So maybe the membership of the Council needs to be looked at, and some way to bring those countries in and associate them more with its decisions needs to be found. I think a lot of Muslims feel that it is essentially a Christian organization and that there isn’t proper representation for the Islamic world. Again, whether the solution is to have a Muslim permanent member, or some other way, I don’t know. But it is important to give the peoples of the world a feeling of ownership and if we are going to expect them to respect this Council’s decisions they have to sort of see some real basis for its authority, I think.

Maya Plentz Fagundes interviews Mr. Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications and Head of the Speechwriting Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for UN Radio, September 2003

Transcribed and edited by Mayara Fagundes

New York/United Nations – September 2003

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