UN chief’s remarks as litmus of organization’s inefficiency

23:51, 17 June 2016
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Opinion

Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko was outraged with Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon’s remarks on the “critical role” Russia allegedly should play in ending the conflict in Ukraine. So what's the deal? What was that which angered the Ukrainian envoy in the speech of the secretary-general, always so cautious in his statements?

The speech prepared for Ban-Ki moon to address the participants of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum involved remarks stating that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council with a veto power, “"has a critical role to play ... in addressing other pressing global issues, from ending the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to safeguarding human rights and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

How could these, quite general, words which the secretary-general has been using almost in every speech cause such an outrage of Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN?

The thing is that Volodymyr Yelchenko can’t understand how the UN chief "can say things which appeared "to praise the role of the Russian Federation in settling the conflict in Ukraine, when the Russian Federation is the main player [being an aggressor state toward] Ukraine” and in keeping this conflict hot.

Cautiousness and political correctness of the secretary-general is a typical feature of Ban Ki-moon when he attempts to express his concerns and yet not get into an argument with the parties involved

It’s all about interpretation. I suspect that when the speech was being drafted for the secretary-general, no one expected such an outburst from the Ukrainian diplomat because applying the wording as broad as possible is the Secretariat’s favorite method.

Cautiousness and political correctness of the secretary-general is a typical feature of Ban Ki-moon when he attempts to express his concerns and yet not get into an argument with the parties involved. But this time, the Secretariat lost its vigilance, and, perhaps, willing  to please the Russian side, put into the mouth of Ban Ki-moon some questionable, according to Volodymyr Yelchenko, remarks such as Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council with a veto power, "has a critical role to play.” De facto, there’s nothing seditious in these words. Is Russia a permanent member of the Security Council? It is. Has Russia a veto power? It does. Does Russia play a "critical role"? Of course, it does. There are Russian troops in Donbas, and that is no secret to the Security Council.

But it was a miscalculation. They didn’t expect such a reaction from Ukraine. Well, such things happen. It is for these reasons why the words were simply cut out from the text of speech available at the UN website. But it was too late. Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric had to face uncomfortable questions from the press. But his answer was predictable: "We're not going to walk back what we said."

Well, but what did the AP journalists expect? Did they think Dujarric would be purging in the last months of his stay in the office? He wouldn’t.

The Forum, which is essentially a promo event aimed at attracting investments in the Russian economy was largely ignored by investors

A new secretary-general will soon be elected, so the Secretariat’s team has one main goal to achieve: to sit quietly to the end of rotation term, avoiding scandals, trying not to spoil their reputation, and organized visits to every possible event where they get invited. I suspect these were the reasons why the Secretariat of the secretary-general agreed to participate in the St.Petersburg Economic Forum in the first place. The Forum, which is essentially a promo event aimed at attracting investments in the Russian economy was laregly ignored by investors. Well, who would invest into a heavily-sanctioned country? Major global capital flees the country with a ruined economy and unpredictable leaders. In order to add at least some weight to their forum, the Russians invited everyone they possibly could. For example, Ban Ki-moon, who (I have to be really clear about it) plays no significant role in world politics. However, it is still nice to use him for PR reasons, to press the flesh. There’s nothing wrong with that.

It's no secret that Russia’s veto is the only thing that impedes all of the UN’s peace initiatives for Ukraine and the world in general.

This means that it is really not about Ban-Ki moon. The thing is that the UN is ineffective. The thing is that the Security Council is ineffective.

The veto right, which was granted to five permanent members of the Security Council only due to them being the ones who had won World War II, no longer reflects contemporary global realities. More than 70 years have passed, and the world has changed. That is why, during the latest extended meeting of the UN Security Council, which was devoted to discussing the problems of the peacekeeping missions, there was so much talk about the ineffectiveness of the Security Council and the need for UN reform.

This means that it is really not about Ban-Ki moon. The thing is that the UN is ineffective. The thing is that the Security Council is ineffective

This is not about any specific remarks by the secretary-general.

This is about the organization, which he heads, at the moment.

Andriy Vasyliev

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