Pakistan and the United Nations at 75: Past Present and Future
August 31, 2020
The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a webinar titled “Pakistan and the United Nations at 75: Past Present and Future” on August 31, 2020. Former Senator and federal minister, Mr. Javed Jabbar was the Chief Guest at the occasion. Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, former ambassador and Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations was the keynote speaker. Other speakers at the occasion included: former Senator and minister, Mr. Nisar Memon and Dr. Tughral Yamin, Associate Dean, Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at NUST.
The webinar was moderated by Mr. Najam Rafique, Director Research at the ISSI, who stated that the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2020. Formed in 1945, the UN gave new hope to the world following the disastrous world war. But even as the world organization has helped foster peace and conduct reconciliation; at the same time, numerous conflicts continue to fester under the watch of the UN in Kashmir, Palestine, Middle East and Africa.
In a special message on the occasion, UN country representative Mr. Julian Harnies said that Pakistan is an important contributor to the UN, especially to its peacekeeping activities. He said that with the recent assumption of the leadership of the Economic and Social Council, Pakistan can also make a significant difference. He further stated that the UN is a combination of strong nations and has facilitated in the success of decolonization and also the dismantling of imperialism.
In his introductory remarks, the Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry stated that the world is going through a difficult phase with ultranationalist leaders undermining multilateralism and globalism which are on the decline and the world is facing the same problems that existed a hundred years ago. He said that the concept of respecting sovereignty remains relevant in the present world and we still believe in the relevance of the UN.
Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, while talking about UN and challenges to multilateralism stated that the UN is marking a milestone at an unprecedented time, with countries turning inward and the divisions becoming sharper between an increasingly interconnected world. She also touched upon the trends which are impacting the world, which include diffusing multipolarity, the erosion of a rules based system, the anti-globalization movement, intensification of trade wars and the rise of hyper nationalism.
Speaking about the evolving nature of UN peacekeeping, Dr. Tughral Yamin said that Pakistan’s role in UN peacekeeping operations has helped in improving the country’s soft image. He said that Pakistan’s participation in these operations have helped showcase the professionalism of its military in the world.
Senator Nisar Memon talked about Pakistan’s progress on the SDGs and stated that Pakistan has made some progress in achieving the SDGs which shows that there is willingness on the part of the government to move forward in the right direction. He said that the ten years that are left to achieve the Agenda 2030 are very critical and that the SDGs are one of the finest achievements of the UN. Mr. Memon stressed that commitment by the leadership is important and the parliament must also play its role in the achievement of the SDGs.
Senator Javed Jabbar spoke on the relevance of the UN to the world of 2020 and beyond. He stated that generations born in the last five or six decades are very lucky as they have witnessed the significant transformations that the world has undergone. He said that the UN Human Rights charter is very significant as it transcends all divisions and accommodates all the diversity. He further stated that outside the UN, the panorama of change, life expectancy, China’s lifting of millions out of poverty, trade and connectivity; all these achievements have partially been spearheaded by the UN. Mr. Jabbar questioned whether the current UN system is in a position to correct the historic asymmetries? He further explained that while the permanency of the P5 at the UNSC may be de facto, India and Israel also hold sway.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors, ISSI stated that the United Nations has played a central role in forging a normative framework and people around the globe expect the UN to protect them and be there in their time of need. The best way to respond to this feeling of futile rejection of an ever independent world requires multilateralism and cooperation which includes promoting inclusivity and security.