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NAM can revitalize debate on UN reform
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman has reaffirmed the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) determination to transform the world’s structure and establish a global management system based on justice.
“We (the NAM members) call for the establishment of justice in the international relations and the abolition of the monopoly on the global management system by a number of Western countries who have put their interests before everything and trample the other countries’ rights,” Ramin Mehmanparast said on the sidelines of the 16th NAM Summit in the Iranian capital in Tehran on Friday.
Mehmanparast pointed to Israel and the West’s plots to prevent Tehran from hosting the NAM summit and noted that such an antagonistic campaign aimed at “deceiving the public opinion and portraying Iran as an isolated and insecure country” has ended in failure.
The NAM summit touched upon critical international issues, including the reforms required in the international economic structures, resistance against global hegemonic policies as well as the actions of the Israeli regime.
Interview with Kaveh Afrasiabi, an author and political scientist from Boston, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Q: Why do you think the Islamic Republic has chosen as the theme of this conference ‘lasting peace through joint global governance’?
Afrasiabi: It’s an interesting question. It resonates with the UN Charter and the challenges that the world community faces today in terms of the various conflicts or potential conflicts around the world including in the volatile Middle East, and the insufficiency of the international organizations to tackle the various issues of peace and development.
We heard from various participants including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the insufficiency of the world governance and the need for revitalizing the international institutions in order to empower the developing nations that are member states of the Non-Aligned Movement.
I think that this is a very timely thing that captured the essence of the summit and the agenda that it has in front of it for the months and years to come.
Of course, Iran is very well prepared to meet these challenges and to use its creative imagination, political imagination, in order to be the conductor for this music chamber on the political scene that is the Non-Aligned Movement.
Q: Let’s look at some of the different issues and get your opinion on them, for example when this NAM summit talked about the rights of Palestinians or Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, just to name a couple here.
When we look at NAM, isn’t there a counterweight to it when it comes to some of the member countries of NAM, that the key recipients of US foreign aid, for example, not to mention that some of them are non-NATO allies? Do you think that’s going to be a hindrance or a stumbling block when it comes to some of the objectives that NAM has said, for example, in this summit?
Afrasiabi: No, I don’t think so. The reason is that we deal with a very complex scene on the international arena, and you have whole members of countries that have a network of relations with other countries including the big powers in the West, and you have cross-cutting loyalties and so forth.
What is important with respect to their participation in the NAM movement is that, well, essentially the NAM is a global movement that gives hope to the hopeless ones.
It’s a movement that is a link to the economic dimension of it which is the G77+China that actually encompasses some 132 countries at the United Nations and addresses the issues of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. The NAM has a coordinating committee with the G77+China, and they usually meet at the beginning of September before the General Assembly meeting.
I think that NAM now with the leadership of Iran is very well poised to work with the G77+China in terms of highlighting the economic needs of the NAM countries together with other priorities such as the UN reform.
When you look at countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Columbia and so forth that are considered to be pro-West and yet had a high level of participation at this meeting, it shows that these countries face challenges that have commonalities with the rest of the NAM family of nations, and they realize the importance of collective efforts to meet those challenges such as regional stability in the Middle East and so on and so forth.
In response to your question, I think we need to take into consideration the complexities of the international scene today, and the political needs and demands of prudent policies on the part of the NAM member states.
Q: Let me nitpick your brain, Kaveh Afrasiabi, since you have written several books -- one of which includes UN management reform. What reforms ranks on top of the list here or in general? Can you tell us more about how the UN can be reformed?
Afrasiabi: Surely. But if I may address another issue of very high importance which is the NAM’s decision on a nuclear free zone in the Middle East; there is a very important conference coming up in Helsinki, in December.
Now, Iran with its leadership of NAM can play an effective role in pushing for this UN agenda that prioritizes Israel’s nuclear arsenal and so forth. I think that it’s very important that the leader of Iran emphasized Iran’s focus on this particular issue and it has become a NAM priority now.
With respect to the UN reform, it’s a multi-faceted issue. The debate on it has been raging on for a long time.
However, I think that NAM, as a power bloc within the United Nations, can exert influence and contest the powers that be in order to, for one thing, revitalize the debate on the reform of the UN Security Council because, just as the Supreme Leader said, it’s very undemocratic and even dictatorial. It harks back to a bygone era and is not reflective of the power distribution in today’s world.
I think that’s an issue together with the NAM priority of enhancing the power and role of the General Assembly as well as the host of UN related agencies.
One of them is the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, which is a very sinister thing during the summit, issuing a report trying to smear Iran. Fortunately, the participants at the summit were wise enough to recognize the political motives behind that.
One of the issues in the Tehran summit is the call for democratizing the IAEA’s governing board because it’s under the spell of Western hegemonic powers; it’s undemocratic and is not representative of the geographic distribution of the IAEA membership.
I think this was a very timely move for reforming one of the UN agencies by the NAM movement, and that goes back to one of the cynical statements made by your guest in Lebanon. I really think that NAM has a very big role to play as a power bloc.