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UN at 70: A Charter moment for the world body

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Today is the birth anniversary of the charter of United Nations which came into existence on octobar 24,1945 completing 70 years.

Addressing the General Assembly, on September 25 2015, Pope Francis reminded leaders of the founding purpose of the United Nations: “saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”. These are, in fact, the very principles boldly proclaimed in the preamble of the UN Charter. The Pope, however, also reminded the august forum that without strong ethics and judicious use of power, the Charter can only be an unattainable illusion or “even worse, idle chatter which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuses and corruption”.

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is also being marked by its inability to address new and emerging challenges and an inability to carry conviction, let alone credibility, in large parts of the world. Policy-induced failures, action with or without authorization for use of force has resulted in the unraveling of countries, with long-term ramifications for the global community: from the highest numbers of displaced peoples since World War II to global pandemics.

The Syrian conflict has entered its fourth year, with more than 300,000 killed, millions displaced and over 12 million in need of humanitarian assistance. The unraveling of Libya has produced a “Somalistan” on the Mediterranean coast. The ISIS/Daesh, the most vicious terror entity known to mankind, is holding territory larger than the United Kingdom and attracting recruits from over 80 countries, including many from rich Western economies.

The United Nations itself was conceived during a period of disarray and long-term suffering. It is entirely possible that, without the Second World War, agreement on the Charter may not have been forthcoming. Unless all countries big and small alike can set aside their immediate short-term differences and rededicate themselves to the principles enshrined in the Charter and a genuine reaffirmation of multilateral approaches – prevention rather than intervention – the situation will only get worse. The deep longing for peace was the basis for the creation of the United Nations. It must be that same yearning for peace, stability and growth which will give the United Nations hope for survival.

Not everything, however, appears to be hopeless; there is a silver lining. On September 25, 2015, 193 member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This was one of the most important gatherings in recent years, attracting several heads of state not usually present during the High-Level Week of the General Assembly. The adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a historic moment for the community of nations, and is described as a “charter for people and planet in the 21 century” (2030 Agenda Declaration).

Building on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs’ objectives are broader in scope and more ambitious, including: ending poverty in all its forms; reducing inequalities within and among countries; urgently addressing climate change; changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production; and inclusive economic growth and employment. Each goal is not built in a silo but is a part of the greater whole. As opposed to the MDGs, it is not an agenda solely for the south but rather a universal plan to be applied in all countries and by all peoples, with a firm priority to “leave no one behind” and reach those farthest away. The ownership of the agenda stems from a three-year negotiation process that included all member states, while eight million people offered their views.

The 2030 agenda sets a new international framework that encourages inclusive governance and inclusive economic growth. In order to implement these global agreements, national policies will need to be integrated. The “business-as-usual” models of development and of economic growth that perpetuate poverty and inequalities require an overhaul.

The adoption of the SDGs constitutes the one bright spot and, hopefully renewing collective interest in multilateralism a new relevance for the UN. The summit demonstrates the UN’s unique convening power and a visionary path for the community of nations. The multilateral community will, however, be tested again this December. Can member states adopt a universal agreement that limits average global temperature below two degrees Celsius and lead the way to the decarbonization of the world economy by 2050? These agreements require deep transformation in the world economy and in our societies.

The Pope’s message that “the misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion” acquires a special relevance. World leaders normally do not stake their personal reputations on the successful outcome of a multilateral conference. The Pope had no hesitation doing so. World leaders gathering in Paris should draw inspiration from this.

(Hardeep Singh Puri & Jimena Leiva-Roesch, IANS)

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U.S. President Donald Trump Announces Withdraw Of Almost All The Troops From Syria

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials, as well as members of the coalition actively fighting the terror group, have been reluctant to predict when final victory will be declared.

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President Donald Trump shows maps of Syria and Iraq depicting the size of the "ISIS physical caliphate" as he speaks to workers at the country's only remaining tank manufacturing plant, in Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019. VOA

In late 2018, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw almost all of its troops from Syria, saying the Islamic State terror group had been defeated and there was no longer a reason to deploy U.S. forces in the war-torn nation.

The announcement led to the resignation of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who reportedly felt the drawdown was premature.

In the months since Trump announced the defeat of IS, he has wavered on whether the group has been vanquished. Sometimes he predicted that total victory would come in hours or days, while other times he has doubled down on the claim that the IS threat has been eliminated.

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Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS,” in a video released by the White House, to explain why the U.S. was pulling most of its troops out of Syria. VOA

Here’s a chronology of claims concerning the demise of Islamic State.

Dec. 19, 2018 — Trump declared, “We have won against ISIS,” in a video released by the White House, to explain why the U.S. was pulling most of its troops out of Syria.

Dec. 22, 2018 — Trump tweets that “ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains.”

Jan. 16, 2019 — Vice President Mike Pence declares in a speech at the State Department that “the caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated.” Earlier that day, four Americans were killed in Syria by an IS suicide bomber.

Jan. 30, 2019 — Trump tweets about the “tremendous progress” made in Syria and that the IS “Caliphate will soon be destroyed.”

Feb. 1, 2019 — Trump repeats that “We will soon have destroyed 100 percent of the Caliphate.”

Feb. 3, 2019 — Trump tells CBS News, “We will be announcing in the not too distant future 100 percent of the caliphate, which is the area — the land, the area — 100. We’re at 99 percent right now, we’ll be at 100.”

Feb. 6, 2019 — Trump predicts that the declaration that the coalition has captured all IS holdings “should be formally announced sometime, probably next week.”

Feb. 10, 2019 — Trump tweets that the U.S. will control all former IS territory in Syria “soon.”

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Feb. 16, 2019 — Trump tweets, “We are pulling back after 100 percent Caliphate victory!” Pixabay

Feb. 11, 2019 — At a rally in El Paso, Texas, Trump says the announcement that 100 percent of Islamic State territory has been captured will be coming “maybe over the next week, maybe less.”

Feb. 15, 2019 — At a news conference Trump says a statement about “our success with the eradication of the caliphate … will be announced over the next 24 hours.”

Feb. 16, 2019 — Trump tweets, “We are pulling back after 100 percent Caliphate victory!”

Feb. 22, 2019 — Trump tells reporters “In another short period of time, like hours — you’ll be hearing hours and days — you’ll be hearing about the caliphate. It will — it’s 100 percent defeated.”

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March 2, 2019 — At a conference, Trump tells attendees, “As of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria.” VOA

Feb. 28, 2019 — In a speech to U.S. troops in Alaska, Trump says, “We just took over, you know, you kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the caliphate in Syria. Now it’s 100 percent we just took over, 100 percent caliphate.”

March 2, 2019 — At a conference, Trump tells attendees, “As of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria.”

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March 20, 2019 — Trump shows reporters a map that plots the territory still held by the Islamic State in Syria and promises that area “will be gone by tonight.”

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials, as well as members of the coalition actively fighting the terror group, have been reluctant to predict when final victory will be declared. Some also note that even when IS no longer controls any territory, fighters who escaped capture and are hiding within civilian populations could still pose a security threat. (VOA)