LONDON: The UN system has become “sclerotic” and is in need of reform, the president of the European Commission said on Thursday.
During a speech on Thursday during the General Debate at the 78th UN General Assembly in New York, Charles Michel also backed growing calls for the veto powers granted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Russia, France, the UK and China — to be limited under emergency conditions, and to broaden the body’s global representation.
“We must assume our responsibility and that means being engaged in order to put multilateralism back on solid ground,” he said. “To that end, we need to restore trust, solve the most urgent problems and repair the United Nations system.
“For the last 19 months, a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia, without any shame, has been undertaking a war to conquer its neighboring country.
“It can even abuse its veto rights to prevent sanctions against itself, and even use the Security Council to disseminate propaganda, disinformation and lies — let’s be honest.”
Michel reaffirmed the “unwavering” support of the EU for Ukraine in the war with Russia and the country’s “right to legitimate defense.”
He criticized the lack of proper global representation within the Security Council, which he said continues to reflect outdated power structures and this “hobbled” its ability to act in the best interests of the world as a whole, especially given some countries were “still colonial powers.”
He added: “The planet is falling. The world is being torn asunder by poverty and injustice, entire swaths of the world — Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Asia — are under- or non-represented (on the council). We support the comprehensive, massive reform of the Security Council to amplify the voice of these regions.”
Michel also reiterated his previous call for a global treaty on pandemic prevention and preparedness. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have led the push for negotiations on a treaty of this kind within the UN framework, urging the international community to reach a consensus on the topic by May next year.