Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 ‘eventful year’ for Malaysia in UN Security Council, says envoy

Malaysia’s envoy to the United Nations (UN) Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim says it has been an ‘eventful year’ for the country as it enters the second year of its non-permanent membership in the Security Council. – Pic courtesy Foreign Affairs Ministry, December 31, 2015.Reviewing 2015 as it draws to a close, Malaysia’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) has described it as an “eventful year” for the country which enters 2016 as the second year of its non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“There were many crises in the world with which we had to grapple... from Africa to the Middle East to Asia... ranging from engaging in conflict resolution to resolving very urgent humanitarian problems such as displacement of millions of people as a result of wars,” Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim said.

He described Malaysia’s UNSC role in 2015 as “constructive, positive and successful”, an apparent reference to the series of consensus-based resolutions passed by the body on crisis-plagued countries such as Syria and Libya.

Malaysia has always been a “voice of reason”, calling for “greater dialogue, inclusiveness and for the people in the region to own up”.

It is working towards the “revitalisation” of the General Assembly whose work is often mired in unproductive processes and is not outcome-driven.

“The election of the next secretary-general, for example, was discussed under the General Assembly’s revitalisation articulated through resolution 69/321 on September 11, 2015, taking into account Malaysia’s concerns and positions,” recalled Ramlan.

The incumbent UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is due to retire in a year’s time; there are moves in UN circles to find a widely acceptable candidate.

It is now the geographical turn of Eastern Europe to present a candidate from the region. But the large majority of members want a transparent, fair and just process for electing the next candidate, unlike in the past when a candidate was selected by some permanent members (P5) and then presented to the general assembly as a fait accompli for endorsement.

To achieve quicker and more meaningful results, Malaysia has called for organising “Arria-formula” meetings, named after former Venezuelan ambassador Diego Arria who introduced informal, confidential meetings for frank and private discussions among UNSC members.

Ramlan said Malaysia’s position that the candidate for the secretary-general’s post should be selected on the basis of meritocracy, and that the selection process should be fair and transparent, giving due consideration to regional and gender balance.

“Malaysia will continue to call on the Security Council to present more than one candidate to the General Assembly, as the secretary-general represents all member states of the United Nations and not merely the Security Council alone,” he said.

A joint letter, in terms of resolution 69/321, backed by Malaysia, was sent by both the presidents of the General Assembly and the UNSC on Dec 15 to member states on presenting suitable candidates for the secretary-general’s post.

The exercise of veto rights by P5 members is a contentious issue among member states. Malaysia supports the initiative called “Code of Conduct by the Accountability, Coherent and Transparent (ACT)” on the use of veto in cases of genocide on October 22, 2015, and the political statement on the suspension of the veto in case of mass atrocities on October 1, presented by France and Mexico.

Malaysia has called the responsibility to protect human lives of "paramount importance” to all member states, in cases of genocide war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Malaysia co-chaired with Spain the Arria Formula Meeting on the role of climate change as a threat multiplier to global security on June 30, 2015, enabling member states to discuss and better identify the inter-connected threats to international peace and security related to climate change.

Ramlan claimed this initiative provided “political momentum” for the ambitious climate change agreement and the focus on security implications of climate change at the Paris climate change summit in December 2015.

He touched on the “extremely important” resolution on abduction of children and their deployment in armed conflict, initiated by Malaysia during its UNSC presidency and unanimously adopted on June 18 with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman presiding over the "open debate" in the UNSC.

“Resolution 2225 on the subject was very important for Malaysia as it underscored our unified stance in denouncing the abduction of children," he said.

A concomitant symptom of wars is the unabated waves of refugees fleeing conflict areas. According to the mid-2015 report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there were 60 million refugees, migrants and displaced persons worldwide in the first half of 2015.

Given the incredible humanitarian devastation of wars, United States (US) President Barack Obama is convening a summit in the US on refugees next September, which is of great interest to Malaysia which has given refuge to some 100,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar, and will take 3,000 Syrians as recently announced by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Prior to the US-led refugee convention, Malaysia will, for the second time, preside over the Security Council next August.

“There is broad consensus that countries in conflict serve no one’s interests... Malaysia would like to bring all players together in a conflict. I hope the accord on the Libya conflict (the accord was reached in Morocco, 10 days ago to form a national unity government in Libya) will be a precursor to settling other issues, as well,” said Ramlan. – Bernama, December 31, 2015.

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