THE time has come for the United Nations (UN) to enact major reforms in order to remain relevant on the world stage.
This is vital as the UN celebrated its 78th anniversary yesterday.
Currently, many view the UN as having failed in its role as a global peacemaker and a body that can bring unity to all countries.
Among the major reforms that need to be carried out by the UN is the total abolition of veto power accorded to its permanent members namely the US, UK, France, Russia and China.
For many years, this veto power has been abused by these five countries to serve their own interests.
As a result of this, many major issues and conflicts around the globe continue without end.
The ongoing conflict involving the Palestinian people and Israelis has faced many obstacles due to the extensive use of such veto powers by the US against many UN resolutions that condemn the Israeli government for all the acts of terror and aggression against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip.
The impact of this also affected us in Malaysia in 2015 when Russia used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block a five-nation proposal initiated by us to establish an ad hoc criminal international tribunal to try those responsible for the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014 in Eastern Ukraine, which killed 298 people, including 43 Malaysians.
The Russian act of using its veto power to block the proposal has been condemned by many nations which see the move as an act to prevent bringing the perpetrators to justice.
In 2014, despite repeated appeals by senior United Nations officials for accountability for crimes being committed in Syria, the Security Council was unable to adopt a resolution that would have referred the situation in the war-torn nation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to vetoes by Russia and China.
The resolution, which was backed by 13 members of the council would have given ICC the mandate to investigate the horrific crimes committed during the course of the conflict in Syria, which since March 2011 has witnessed the deaths of more than 100,000 civilians, displacement of millions and widespread violations of human rights.
All these are just a few examples of such veto powers granted to the five permanent members being abused for their gains.
The UN was created with the aim of promoting international cooperation replacing the ineffective League of Nations, which failed to stop the atrocities of World War II, which witnessed millions of casualties.
At the very beginning of its creation, the UN had 51 member states, now there are 193.
The main objectives of its creation include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster and armed conflict.
However, in light of the increasingly global conflict such as the ongoing fighting in Syria, the suffering of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Uighur in China, the rise of several militants and extremist groups in several countries, and not forgetting the ongoing struggle by Palestinians wanting to gain independence from Israeli occupation clearly indicates that the UN as the world’s most important international body has failed its role.
Many have started to see the body as being weak and controlled by global players in the West.
The question that needs to be asked now is, why was this allowed to happen?
The 193 member states have pledged to give their full commitment to cooperating with the body in the best possible way.
All nations which have chosen to join the UN should be treated equally at all levels and there should be no special treatment, privilege or even power granted to any of its members.
Therefore, the time has come for all UN members, administrators and policymakers in the UN to work together and act immediately to remove the veto provisions along with other provisions that can be interpreted as differentiating or granting special treatment to any particular member of the body from the existing UN charter.
The writer is an associate professor at the Faculty of Syariah and Laws, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. Comments: email@example.com