Dr Oyedepo, Others Seek Restructuring of United Nations’ Operational Framework as Global Body Clocks 75
A preponderance of facilitators including the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Regents, Covenant University, Dr David Oyedepo has called on the United Nations (UN) to rejig its structure if the world body must maintain her relevance and enjoy the unflinching support of member states.
The advice came at a recently held international virtual conference in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN. The event jointly organized by Covenant University and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, had the theme, “The Future We Want; the UN We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.
Dr Oyedepo, who declared the event open, stated in his Opening Keynote Address that there was the urgent need to change the structure and the current operational framework of the UN if the sustainable impact and world peace would be attained. “We will need a new wine in a new wineskin, as against the old wine in a new wineskin, for a UN we want for our generations after us to be birthed,” he added.
He stated that there was a need to transform the United Nations and offload the excess baggage that had tied her down. He said this would be achieved by being ready to evolve a structure that would see a UN prepared to stand up to superpowers when their actions endangered the very essence of human existence.
Dr Oyedepo said it was the desire of not just Africa but all concerned to see a UN that would present a common platform where race, colour, ethnicity and religion would have no basis in the scheme of things. He noted that it was time that the world body had an African nation on the permanent seat in the Security Council. “A world of equals and with equal opportunities; this is the future we want,” he affirmed.
A former Commander, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Lt. Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor (Rtd.), had in another Keynote Address titled “United Nations and the Evolution of Peace Support Operations (PSOs)”, said some of the challenges to effective peace support operations were considered largely conceptual.
Gen. Obiakor noted that the days of peacekeepers patrolling buffer zones between two conflict parties had since ended. Instead, he said, peacekeepers faced even more complicated large-scale situations, with diverse and fragmented actors, both state and non-state, while at the same time receiving more complex multi-layered mandates.
The ex-UNMIL Commander, who served the Nigerian Army for 40 years, said that the lack of political will of Western nations to engage in peacekeeping missions especially under the auspices of the United Nations had been identified as one of the challenges facing peacekeeping operations in the current context.
On the future of Peace Support Operations, Gen. Obiakor said the basis of the UN Security Council Mandates should be configured to have capacity and capability to attract deterrence from belligerents so that they could execute their mandates. The member states, he added, should place the UN Peace Support Operations on the same pedestal as their national security structures as both serve a common goal of ensuring peace, security, and the wellbeing of humanity.
The Head, Department of History, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Professor Olutayo Charles Adesina, who presented a paper titled “Projecting Difference or Promoting Equality? A Critique of the United Nations and the Borders of Global Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century”, said there was a growing conviction in the world that the UN had not been fair to all concerned. He stated that everyone should begin to regard equality with so much seriousness.
Professor Adesina was of the view that there was the need for an overhaul of the United Nations to become an institution, whose operational charter would be tailored towards ushering in equality, peace, and prosperity in the world. “The sense of alienation felt by many countries of the world should be rolled back, while the idea of a future together that is more alluring and welcoming should be worked at,” he advanced.
Professor Adesina, who has carved a niche for himself as a scholar and historian, highlighted the manipulative roles that some member states had taken in driving the world body. He noted the domineering influence the world’s superpowers over the UN, with no African nation currently having a spot as a permanent member of the Security Council, despite being there at the inception of the body.
He posited that making the UN great again would demand tapping into some redeeming virtues available in the advancement of a robust set of multilateralism values. According to him, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would give the world body a very vital tool for the partnerships that would sustain interest in and support for the UN from the developing world.
The Chair, Conference Organizing Committee, Professor Sheriff Folarin, had while setting the stage for the goal of the event said the #EndSars Movement should be a significant focus of the United Nations. He said that #EndSars represented a new nudge for another brand of self-determination, which was the quest for a new Nigeria where all would be equal and good governance would dislodge the maladministration that had dogged the nation for so long.
Professor Folarin called on the renowned world body to take up the crucial role of an element of check on the state for the wanton disregard for life by the government and mount diplomatic pressure on those in power to accede to the demands of the youths, who are the real owners of Nigeria.
The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Covenant, Professor Akan Williams, in his welcome remarks, said globalization had generated a variety of problems with global tentacles, which demanded multilateral responses in addressing them. He urged the United Nations to focus her resources in fostering international cooperation towards resolving global socio-economic problems and promoting respect for human rights.
Professor Williams said the prevailing realities of the digital economy and rapid technological advancement required steadfast collaborative actions to address the emergent challenges, as the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. “It behoves the international community to celebrate past achievements and to acknowledge the urgent need to retool the organization and strengthen its capacity to mobilize multilateral systems to act more cohesively,” he stated.
He noted that it had been widely recognized that the current multilateral system was out of tune with the rapid changes in the economic, demographic, and political weight of advanced and emerging economies. Thus, he contended, there was an overarching need for an inclusive multilateral system that involved the full participation of key stakeholders, including the civil society and youths.
Earlier in his goodwill message to participants, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Antonio Gueterres, noted that the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, coming in the middle of a global pandemic, had reinforced the body’s founding mission of promoting human dignity, human rights, respect for international laws, and save humanity from war.
Mr Gueterres posited that it was time for a stepped-up push for peace to achieve a global ceasefire in all conflict areas around the world. According to him, “We must also make peace with our planet. The climate emergency threatens life itself. We must mobilize the whole world to reach carbon neutrality -- net zero emissions of greenhouse gasses by 2050. A growing number of countries and companies have already pledged to meet this goal.”
The UN scribe reiterated the need for all around the world to do more to end human suffering from poverty, inequality, hunger, and hatred and fight discrimination based on race, religion, gender or any other distinction. He noted that the months of the Coronavirus pandemic had seen a horrific rise in violence against women and girls.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, said the world was in a critical moment, with the hope of the future hinged on the increased young population of the world. According to him, “as we see everywhere around the world, our young people are demanding for a better future for themselves”.
Mr Kallon said even before the advent of the Coronavirus scourge, inequalities were growing, and the benefits of globalization and growth had failed to reach millions of needy people, deepening their already profound despair.
Asides from the keynote speeches, participants at the multidisciplinary conference were treated to three academic breakout sessions, with each breakout session having three-panel sessions.