ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MASI LOSI
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MASI LOSI

In countries such as Syria and Yemen the only real event has been the gradual destruction of ordinary people’s lives and livelihoods. They are for years now into proxy wars of a multitude of players, all UN members, advancing all sorts of interests and agendas flattening kilometres of living space.

An internal political settlement at the outset could have avoided all this. The 20th century was littered with examples, among them SA in 1994.

Recent UN attempts through the indefatigable Staffan de Mistura to settle the problems all stranded on the same rock: he did not have his organisation’s full backing.

The UN Security Council is hobbled by a power distribution architecture required in the immediate post-Second World War years but that simply perpetuates misery in Syria and Yemen, but also Myanmar and elsewhere.

Reforms to the UN could entail limitations to the veto when the General Assembly decides by two-thirds majority that a country’s humanitarian situation requires unhampered physical intervention to effect adequate relief over-riding that country’s government.

There is also the overdue slimming of the UN’s bloated bureaucracy.

Another reform could be wider regional representation on the Security Council. Its secretary-general, António Guterres, needs support and inspiration from as many of his 193 member states as possible. In this, SA could play a pivotal role under its new and dynamic peoples’ administration now poised to take over.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa increasingly takes on the mantle of world icon Nelson Mandela. The country enjoys considerable standing at the UN dating back to Jan Smuts.

We can now firmly and authoritatively raise our voice in the General Assembly and lobby like-minded members to bolster Guterres in pushing reforms through the still stultifying bureaucracy.

Balt Verhagen

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