Towards an Enhanced Role of the UN Security Council in Maintaining International Peace and Security
Keynote Speech by H.E. Mr. Shen Guofang Assistant Foreign Minister of China on the sub-item of "the Role of the UN Security Council in Future World Order" at the International Conference of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation
Let me start by thanking the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for inviting me to this Conference.
Today, the international peace and development is facing more and more challenges. Old problems remain unresolved, and new ones are cropping up.
In what direction the world will move? This depends very much on how we judge the current situation and how we take on the challenges.
This gathering has given us a good opportunity to pool our wisdoms. I wish it a success.
Some major events have taken place in recent months. None of us, from politicians to people in the street, can afford to overlook.
The war in Iraq is over, but order has not returned. The Middle East conflict drags on, and bloodshed continues unabated. Terrorism remains rampant and unpredictable. Globalization hasn't made everyone a winner, and in the fields of finance, information, health and others, there exist hidden security threats.
First, security threats have taken on multiple dimensions.
Traditional security concerns such as ethnic or religious conflicts and border or territorial disputes still exist, while non-traditional security threats are quickly growing.
Non-traditional security problems such as terrorism, cross-border crimes, environmental pollution, population explosion, drug trafficking and infectious diseases have become the major problems impeding the human development.
The interweaving and mutual conversion between the two kinds of security issues has brought new challenges to the international peace and security.
Second, security threats have a complex nature.
Non-traditional security threats have complicated causes and diverse manifestations.
Terrorists go after their goals through violence, their activities are becoming more secretive, and means more brutal. The use of biological, chemical, cyberspace and other high-tech means makes terrorists more and more dangerous.
As such, the security issue has spilt over to a wide range of areas of politics, economy, military, finance, science and technology.
Third, security threats have obtained global proportions.
Today, with the deepening of globalization, countries are more interdependent.
Security is no longer a local issue bearing on individual countries or regions, but a global one that threatens to impede peace and development of the world.
No country can keep itself out. As a Chinese old saying goes, no individual can simply "clean the snow on his own doorsteps while turning a blind eye to others".
We are living in an interdependent world. Our common interests and common challenges have put us in a same boat.
No peace and security can be achieved unless the international community joins hands in cooperation.
Upholding the international collective security mechanism is the fundamental guarantee for a more stable and prosperous world.
According to the Charter of the United Nations, the UN Security Council is the core of such a mechanism and the most authoritative and legitimate institution of the multilateral security regime. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations Security Council has played an irreplaceable role in maintaining world peace and security.
There are ample evidence of its accomplishments, such as facilitating the independence of Namibia, bringing peace to Cambodia, mediating the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, resolving the Gulf crisis, or easing the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo and defusing the nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan.
The unique features of the Security Council have enabled it to continue to play a pivotal part in the future world configuration.
First, the Security Council is the principal venue for multilateral cooperation.
Given the complexity of the world's problems, no one can take on the challenge single-handedly.
The development in Iraq shows that unilateral approaches can bring neither peace nor security, and will only put trust and cooperation among countries in jeopardy.
Security Council Resolution 1511 and other resolutions passed by consensus have testified that only multilateralism can serve both as a sharp tool and a strong shied in the world's common endeavors to achieve peace and development.
The Security Council, with its sacred power under the UN Charter, acts on behalf of the member states. Its decisions reached through multilateral consultation reflect the common aspiration of the international community.
An institution, as such, surely enjoys high authorities both politically and morally.
Second, the Security Council is a key platform for democracy in international relations.
Any decision of the Security Council must be made jointly by all its members, who are democratically elected by respective regions in accordance with the principle of equitable geographic distribution.
This collective decision-making mechanism gives an effective guarantee for consultations among parties in problem-solving exercises.
Third, the Security Council is a core institution for peaceful settlement of disputes.
As the only organ with the mandated power under UN Charter to decide on the use of force in international relations, the Security Council advocates peaceful settlement of disputes and deploys peacekeeping operations. When special circumstances require, it makes compulsory intervention.
Therefore, it is a powerful tool to keep the international relations stable.
Fourth, the Security Council is also an important vehicle to promote a law-based pattern of international relations.
As a noting Chinese saying goes, "you cannot draw squares and circles without the compass and square". In governance at the national level, rule of law is essential. When it comes to the conduct of international relations, the rule of the international law should also be viewed as a reliable safeguard.
Many good decisions and practices of the Security Council have become important ingredients and rationale of international activities.
The type of a world order to be established hinges on the nature of the multilateral mechanism we have.
A peaceful, democratic, fair and equitable world order calls for a strong United Nations and its Security Council.
In this respect, our collective will and concerted efforts are essential.
To that end, we should do the following:
First, we should carry forward the spirit of the UN Charter.
The Charter is our "Bible" for the handling of major issues in international relations, rather than a sheer piece of paper.
The purposes and principles of the Charter form the political basis of international security. Only by upholding the sanctity of the Charter can the Security Council's core role in maintaining world peace and security be maintained.
The over half a century history of the Council has borne this out.
Second, we should guard against expediency in the Security Council.
The Security Council should not serve as a rubber stamp, nor a piece of furniture in Grand Palace. It is the most important decision-making organ in the world's collective security regime.
At the most difficult moments when Iraq stood at the crossroads between peace and war and between stability and turmoil, the Security Council, assisted by the concerted efforts of all parties, successively passed Resolutions 1441 and 1511 and contributed significantly to peace and stability in that country.
We should continue our hard work to uphold the authority and solidarity of the Security Council and plod it to play its vital role for keeping world peace and security, rather than something to the contrary.
Third, the Security Council should work still harder in tackling traditional and non-traditional security concerns.
With respect to the hot-spot issues in places like the Middle East and Africa, the Council should try to get something done, rather than talking on and on without making any real decisions.
When everyone is talking about "people centered" concept, a real action by the Security Council means far more than a thousand statements of flowery language to the victims in the conflict-ridden areas.
As for terrorism and other non-traditional security threats, the Security Council should work out a long-term strategy and effective measures.
In the event of sudden crises, the Council should act promptly with effective intervention measures. We must never repeat the tragedies in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in other places.
Fourth, we should actively conduct preventive diplomacy and make it an effective tool in conflict prevention and peace-making.
Preventive diplomacy may be time, energy and money-consuming, but it is more cost-effective and is a worthwhile endeavor.
The Security Council should improve its communications and coordination with the UN General Assembly, the ECOSOC and many regional organizations and help them better perform their respective duties in promoting peace, security, and economic and social development while coming to each other's aid when needed.
In recent years, some regional and sub-regional organizations have played an increasing role in maintaining international peace and security. Their efforts may be brought to complement the actions of the Security Council.
Fifth, the UN Secretary-General should be supported in his peace-making efforts.
The Secretary-General is elected by all of us through a fair process. He is authorized under the UN Charter to mediate international disputes.
The hard-working Secretary-General and his special representatives are familiar sights in many hot-spot areas.
Peacemaking is our common objective. We have every reason to support the Secretary-General's mediating efforts and have zero reason to be non-supportive.
Sixth, necessary and rational reforms to the Security Council are needed for our courses.
When the world changes with the passage of time, initiating reforms is all the more appreciative. That was what the ancient Chinese sage advocated. In the face of new situation, new tasks and new challenges, the Security Council must move ahead with the progress of the times.
The reform of the Security Council must reflect the current situation in international relations, give priority to greater representation of the developing countries, enhance transparency of its work and increase its efficiency.
Reform is a complicated and incremental process. We should waste no time in taking actions when possible. We should be realistic about the difficult part where gradual approaches can be pursued.
Not long ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a panel of eminent persons for the UN reform. This is most creative and significant. We hope the panel will play a positive role and offer useful suggestions for the reform.
We are the United Nations. It is our shared responsibility to bring our world into the 21st century and beyond.
Our task is heavy and our journey long. Yet I am convinced that in the end we will win.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.