Public Talk on Pakistan and the UN: Challenges and Opportunities of Multilateralism
“Reform of the UN is essential to restore public faith in the world body as confidence in it has been waning across the world.” This was stated by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in a public lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Pakistan and the UN: Challenges and Opportunities of Multilateralism.
Detailing Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts at the UN to highlight the issue of occupied Kashmir, she said while the August 16 meeting of the Security Council was a significant development, the inability of the UN to implement its own resolutions on the dispute has long been a source of great disappointment in Pakistan.The non-implementation of not one, but eleven Security Council resolutions on occupied Kashmir has obviously shaped public perceptions about the utility of the United Nations.This, she said, is happening at a time when multilateralism is facing new threats and challenges and has been in retreat as a result of major powers rejecting or renouncing treaties or walking out of international bodies.
The former Pakistani envoy said whatever its drawbacks, multilateralism is needed more than ever especially when a rules-based international system is under assault. An important way to strengthen multilateralism would be to strengthen the role of UN. But, she added, this objective can best be achieved by a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. In a rundown of negotiations at the UN on reform of the Security Council, Dr. Lodhi said that Pakistan’s position in these negotiations is based on principle. Pakistan seeks a Council that is more representative of all member states and not one where privilege is the preserve of a few.
In her wide-ranging lecture, Dr. Lodhi said that Pakistan’s engagement at the UN had, over the decades, involved contributions in both hard and soft power. In terms of hard power Pakistan has for decades been among the world’s top and most consistent contributors to UN Peacekeeping. As for soft power, she said in the realm of ideas, personalities such as Dr. Mahbubul Haq and Nafis Sadiq have made a far-reaching contribution.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, DG ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry welcomed the distinguished speaker and the guests while giving a cross-sectional view of multilateralism, its evolving dimensions in the contemporary world order and its future. Admiring the role of UN as a multilateral institution, he raised a pertinent question why it has not been able to resolve the long-standing dispute of Kashmir, and whether it would ever be able to resolve it in the face of Indian intransigence?
In his concluding remarks, Chairman ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood succinctly captured the structural flaws that are paralyzing the functional spirit of the UN. Undoubtedly, even as the UN is trying to cope with numerous challenges right now, the Ambassador noted, the crucial significance of multilateralism does not fade away. However, he emphasized, the UN needs to improve its structural barriers and must live up to the expectations of catering to the urgency for common good, global peace and security.
The lecture was attended by a large number of diplomats, officials and academics.