Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the General Assembly High-Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security: "In a World of Risks: A new Commitment for Peace", (11 May 2016)

Mr. President,

This High-Level debate provides an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and chart a wiser course for our future.

Mr. President,

The international geopolitical environment is much more uncertain now than at any point in the past two decades. New risks and threats have emerged to international peace and security. Yet older and traditional threats have not diminished.

We see continued turmoil in the Middle East and Africa. Terrorism is spreading, poverty remains persistent and human rights are being violated with impunity. We are also witnessing human dislocation - refugees and forced migrants - on a scale not witnessed since the end of the Second World War.

And while it is logical to expect unity in adversity, we see instead the rise of xenophobia, Islamophobia, intolerance and various forms of discrimination.

Mr. President,

The magnitude and complexity of challenges today is truly imposing. Yet, with challenges come opportunities. And opportunities can be seized so long as we nurture and strengthen our ability to cooperate. This is what the United Nations must do to be fit for purpose: evolve cooperative solutions to international challenges.

Sovereign equality of States, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, and avoidance of the use or threat of use of force are fundamental principles entrenched in the UN Charter.

But the Organization will be seen to practice double standards if it continues to condone military aggression or foreign interventions, ignore persisting situations of foreign occupation and denial of the right of self-determination to people living under occupation and also if it fails to address prolonged outstanding disputes.

After all, the United Nations was created with the very purpose to prevent and stop these injustices - injustices such as the denial of fundamental human rights to the people of Palestine and Kashmir. Isn't it our collective and solemn duty to keep the promises made to them through numerous resolutions of this body? How can this body command the respect it deserves if its own edicts are flouted?

We need some introspection as Members of the United Nations. Why is the Security Council - a source of international law, reluctant to refer legal disputes to the International Court of Justice? Why has the General Assembly been absolved of its responsibility to make recommendations on questions relating to international peace and security?

And if we have no credible answers to these questions except the imperatives of realpolitik, the world at large will view the United Nations as little more than a political tool in the hand of the powerful few. This impression would hardly inspire trust.

Mr. President,

Over the past seven decades, the international community has come to acknowledge the indispensability of democratic principles, accountability, transparency and the rule of law. These values, make the United Nations capable of meeting new, diverse and complex challenges we face today.

A participatory approach, that we saw in the adoption of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is essential. Yet in the maintenance of international peace and security, we do not see similar unity, consensus or resolve. We believe our approaches to critical issues such as counter-terrorism and peacekeeping will benefit from wider participation and consultation.

At the institutional level, there is even greater need to strengthen the principles of democracy, accountability and effectiveness. Reform of the Security Council is a key area in this regard. If we were to create more centers of power and privilege rather than enhance the Council's representativeness and accountability, we would have learnt nothing from the United Nation's 70-year history. A more inclusive approach to revitalization of the General Assembly is already paying dividends, as evident from the renewed vigor and interest in the process for the appointment of the next Secretary General.

Mr. President,

The challenges we face today will continue to evolve in new and unpredictable ways. What we need to ask is whether we, the Member States of the United Nations, are ready to evolve and adapt to meet them? Will we uphold the principles we espouse or will narrow self-interest trump these principles?

We have the ability and the wherewithal to meet these challenges. But for that we must discard the old notion of diplomacy as the continuation of war by other means and instead embrace the egalitarian idea of "cooperation by all means".

I thank you, Mr. President.