September 26, 2007

Mbeki: UN 'favours rich countries'

The richer countries have become the dominant decision-makers at the United Nations at the expense of the poor, president Thabo Mbeki has criticised in New York. "The skewed distribution of power in the world - political, economic, military, technological and social - replicates itself in multilateral institutions, much to the disadvantage of the majority of the poor people of the world" said Mbeki at the 62nd session of the United Nation's General Assembly in New York. "The dominant have also become the decision makers in the important global forums, including at this seat of global governance." Mbeki said this power relation jeopardised the success of the UN's developmental ideals. "Even as we agree on the important programmes that should bring a better life to billions of the poor, the rich and the powerful have consistently sought to ensure that whatever happens, the existing power relations are not altered and therefore the status quo remains."
Mbeki said while poor people saw the UN as the "natural instrument" that would help bring change to their lives, in fact often the dominant and powerful countries responded positively to programmes that only advanced "their own narrow interests". He said in its present form it would be difficult for the UN to help the poor achieve the Millennium Development Goals. When it came to the fight against climate change, the skewed power structure of the UN meant the organisation sometimes came across as all talk and no action. "The poor whose hopes have been raised many times as we make declaration after declaration against poverty and underdevelopment and as we are doing today on climate change can be forgiven for thinking that this important global leadership many a times sounds like an empty vessel," said Mbeki. (Sapa)

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