TWN Info Service on Finance and Development (Apr09/05)
1 April 2009
Third World Network

"G192" only credible body to bring about reforms
Published in SUNS #6655 dated 9 March 2009

Geneva, 6 Mar (Kanaga Raja) -- The "G192", namely, the entire membership of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), is the only credible group to bring about the necessary reforms of the 21st century, in the context of the current global economic and financial crises, the President of the Assembly declared Thursday.

Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua was responding to a question on whether the emphasis on the G20 leaders' process, which is meeting in London in April to discuss the global financial system, will marginalise the United Nations.

D'Escoto Brockmann made these remarks at a media briefing at the United Nations office here. He is currently in Geneva where he delivered an address to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

The head of the UNGA did not think that the United Nations is being marginalised by the G20 process. "But we are absolutely convinced that the only credible enabled group to bring about the necessary reforms for the 21st century is the G192, that is to say, the entire membership of the United Nations."

It is not possible to continue having the vast majority of the population of the world pay for the mistakes made in a decision-making process in which they did not participate in the least, he added.

He noted that all of these meetings such as the G8 or the G20 will give inputs to the proposal that the United Nations is preparing for heads of state from all over the world in the context of the General Assembly. One of the main inputs would be the Presidential Commission of Experts on reforms of the international monetary and financial system, headed by Nobel Laureate Prof. Joseph Stiglitz (which the General Assembly President set up, and will hold a second meeting in Geneva next week).

In this context, he said that he has been travelling to many parts of Asia and Europe, bringing the message to heads of state on the upcoming high-level UN conference (scheduled for June at UN headquarters in New York) to discuss and take action on the global economic and financial crisis.

In his address to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, the head of the General Assembly said that developing countries suffer the most from the harsh effects of the economic and financial crises, and it would be profoundly unjust to expect them to postpone the realization of basic rights such as the right to food, education, and access to water and sanitation.

"I see a profound relationship between access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the enjoyment of the right to life or health. Indeed, access to water is indispensable for a life in dignity and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights," D'Escoto Brockmann told the Human Rights Council.

"Similarly, we must bolster the concept of the right to food, fundamental to the established rights to an adequate standard of living and to health. The right to food
- especially access to adequate food - is seriously threatened by the confluence of global crises," he added.

Asked at the briefing Thursday for his comments on the recent move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for alleged war crimes committed in the strife-torn region of Darfur, D'Escoto Brockmann said "it is really a sad thing" that (the warrant was issued) in spite of the plea of the African Union and the Arab League to give peace a chance in Sudan and for the UN Security Council to put a freeze (on the warrant) for at least a year.

For international justice to regain the credibility "that it should regain if we are going to achieve the peace that we all should be working for, it would be important to begin by indicting people from very powerful nations, not to pick on the smaller ones," the UNGA President said.

"This is neither brave nor do I think (does it) represent a real commitment to justice in the world... it's a political decision that I think doesn't help in the least."

Asked how the current situation in Sudan could be improved, the General Assembly head said "to allow the ongoing peace negotiations [between Sudanese government and rebel groups in Darfur] to continue, to give peace a chance, as was the message brought by the African Union and the Arab League to the UN Security Council only two weeks ago."

Asked to name the powerful nations he referred to earlier, D'Escoto Brockmann, without identifying the United States by name, said that "everyone knows that the greatest atrocity in our world today is that being committed in Iraq."

He cited the British medical journal The Lancet claiming that by this time 1.2 million people have died as a direct consequence of "that aggression and occupation."

"It will give credibility to international justice if some of these big ones were called to give account of their criminal activity," he said.

In his address to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, D'Escoto Brockmann urged the human rights body to focus on the profound problems that have been created by the massive violations of human rights in Iraq. "Even as the world absorbs the inhumanity of the recent invasion of Gaza, we see Iraq as a contemporary and ongoing example of how illegal use of force leads inexorably to human suffering and disregard for human rights."

"It has set a number of precedents that we cannot allow to stand," he told the Council.

D'Escoto Brockmann also urged the Council to discuss the appointment of a special mechanism to report on the situation of human rights in Iraq. "It is ironic that for almost 20 years before the US-led invasion and occupation, there was a Special Rapporteur on Iraq. Yet, precisely when the largest human catastrophe on earth began to unfold in Iraq in 2003, this post was eliminated.

"Reliable sources estimate there are over one million civilian deaths in Iraq as a direct result of the US-led aggression and occupation, and still there is no Special Rapporteur. This is a serious omission that should be corrected," he told the Council.

Asked at the briefing about the current dire situation in Gaza, D'Escoto Brockmann said that it is a case of an atrocity that should not be allowed to go on with impunity, and without real consequences. "And yet that seems to be the case because there are powerful interests defending the perpetrators of such atrocities."

The General Assembly head, a vocal critic of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, said that what is most important at this point in time is to spare no effort "to try to bring peace between our Israeli and our Palestinian brothers and sisters..."

In this respect, he cited peace based on international law and on very concrete United Nations resolutions "calling for certain things that have not been implemented since 1967."

In a lighter vein, the General Assembly president said that while he may speak a bit too frankly at times, "we have to call a spade, a spade", recalling his remarks at his inaugural speech at the United Nations.

He observed that most people realize that what he is saying is true. Pointing to a principle that says that "it's true but its politically incorrect," he, on the other hand, thought that what is politically incorrect is in not saying it. "It makes us complacent with the ongoing lies and fraud." +