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Is the Myanmar Military Coup Any of Our Business?
I’m tempted to say straight off that what goes on in Myanmar (formerly Burma) is entirely the business of the Burmese people and that other countries don’t have any business interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country. And that’s fine, as far as it goes.
But there’s a shared responsibility that the world’s leaders have to the world’s citizens, which is the responsibility to ensure that what we call ‘normal civil rights’ are preserved regardless of which government or junta is in power.
Normally, this is expressed through the august offices of the United Nations, first by the UN Security Council (in emergency situations) and later, by the UN General Assembly.
In the case of Myanmar, the UN Security Council has barely commented, and the UN General Assembly hasn’t yet discussed the plight of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the deposed, or partially deposed leader of that country — who, it must be said, barely ‘ruled’ the country in the first place, and that, only with the tepid approval of the powerful Burmese military.
Was she the leader at all, one wonders? Or was it all a pantomime to placate democrats around the world concerned about the purity of democratic process everywhere, and in particular, Myanmar?
I think it was the latter, because as soon as Aung San Suu Kyi began to implement democratic reforms she found herself under house arrest along with some of her government ministers charged with spurious offences. An utterly predictable outcome.
If you didn’t see this coming years ago, either you’re not an astute observer of international politics or you’re incredibly naive.
The Burmese Regime Has Been Preparing for This Moment for Decades
Obviously, it’s been the plan all along: Placate world leaders by installing a weak president bereft of any real power; arrest the president if he or she decides to implement real democratic reforms; and then get ready to repel invasion by international ‘do-gooder’ nations, and then, via the use of pre-placed terrorist operatives around the world, destroy their attackers from within, to ‘teach them a lesson’ about ‘messing with Myanmar’. Anything is possible in war they say.
Which isn’t a bad way for a country to make a name for itself and a good way for a large number of extremely wealthy Burmese generals to enhance and extend their grip on power. Totally logical. Efficient.
And likely to succeed on account of the extended preparation time that Myanmar’s military has enjoyed courtesy of a global order busy with postwar rebuilding, the Cold War, and various wars and economic crises in the postwar era. And during the entire time, Myanmar was at the bottom of the international ‘To Do’ list.
As I said, anyone could’ve seen it coming.
The Moral (and Tempting) Choice is for World Leaders to want to ‘Bring Myanmar to Heel’
But how is that possible without getting Aung San Suu Kyi killed, or worse?
And how is it possible for the world to quickly create a powerful military coalition to enforce change in Myanmar — without hundreds or even thousands of military casualties courtesy of the Burmese military which has been spoiling for this fight for generations and now seems ready to engage and fight this battle on their own carefully prepared turf…
It’s a fight that the existing order is wholly unprepared for and one they could actually lose.
No one thought that North Korea could fight to a draw, a robust America nearing the peak of its power in 1950-53.
No one thought that France could lose the war in French Indochina (Vietnam).
No one thought that the USA (at the peak of its power, 1962-1975) and acting in concert with some of its allies, could lose the Vietnam War.
No one thought that the Cold War would end in a stalemate, irreparably damaging the economy of the former Soviet Union and driving American debt to a sky-high 82% of GDP. Generations from now, American citizens will still be paying the debt on the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and countless brushfire wars, skirmishes, and ‘economic competition’.
No one thought that a single city (Mogadishu) could send the US Marines home damaged — not having ‘won’ their objective but not having ‘lost’ their objective either. And that was just one city.
And after all the billions spent to protect and defend American citizens, even the USA can barely protect itself from a tiny COVID-19 virus.
Myanmar’s military too, has been on an equipment spending spree for decades and it employs among the most sophisticated weaponry available in the world, its troops are trained to a very high standard, and Burmese generals seem to have no concern about losing thousands of their own citizens in civil war or international conflict. The fewer mouths to feed, the better. Unless they’re old enough to carry a rifle, that is…
It might be difficult for some to realize this, but the world has changed, and not just a little. The US, if it acted alone against the Burmese military in Myanmar, could lose that fight. Think about that for a minute. Think about how that would change the world.
What kind of world will we live in if upstarts like Myanmar can beat the mighty United States military and its allies (within Myanmar) and concomitantly wreak widespread (terrorist) destruction across America during and long after a war between the US allied group and Myanmar?
The world has changed people! Think about what you want to do, before you commit your country to a plan of action.
It’s Not What the Burmese Generals Know That Will Bite Them – It’s What they Don’t Know That Will Bite Them
Although the military junta has created a large and lethal army to protect their operation, there are other ways to get the citizens of Myanmar what they want and get what we want for Myanmar’s people. Peace and prosperity, along with civil rights.
One: Give the junta everything they want. Eventually, financial excess, unlimited political power and infighting will have the Burmese army consuming itself until there’s nothing left and then legitimate politicians can return to power and never again be challenged by their military after that negative experience.
Two: Cut off any travel by air or sea (only) to and from Myanmar. (A no-fly and no-sail zone along Myanmar’s entire coastline) Yes, plenty of trade could still be done via Myanmar’s land borders and this plan might merely inconvenience the ruling junta.
However, if they challenged America and it’s allies at sea, the junta would lose badly because naval power and air power happen to be Myanmar’s weakness. They have no real air force other than the latest-missile-equipped spotter-type aircraft and they have no real Navy other than small coastal patrol craft that are capable of sinking drug-runner boats. It must be emphasized again that Myanmar has a large and formidable (land-based) army, representing a huge capability for them.
So, when you go to war, you always want to fight the enemy on your own terms, doing that which your own side does best. You never want to fight the enemy on their strengths as that will dramatically increase your own casualty rate and the casualty rate of the civilians you’re trying to protect.
But cutting off air and sea access to Myanmar’s Bay of Bengal ocean frontage would embarrass the junta and let the citizens of Myanmar know that their plight has been heard and is being acted upon by a coalition of nations. (Hopefully, acted upon by all other nations)
And eventually, with enough billions of coalition dollars and enough coalition casualties, they would beat-down the junta enough that they would allow President Aung San Suu Kyi to rule Myanmar again. Unhindered this time.
Three: A long process; But so-called ‘Soft Power’ — employing diplomacy to work with the ruling junta to help it gain the same respect, maturity, and perspective that developed countries enjoy and employ to attain their goals — would work to raise the level of discourse among the generals that presently rule Myanmar. And this is what should’ve been happening all along, throughout the Cold War and especially since the end of that incredibly destructive (and wholly unnecessary) conflict.
Bringing Myanmar’s generals up to the same governance standards as the rest of the world is, by far, the best way to ensure peace, security, and prosperity for Myanmar and other countries in the region.
Helping Myanmar’s junta to become part of Myanmar’s solution instead of part of its own problem is the way to proceed.
Time for a Tony Benn quote: “All war, represents a failure of diplomacy.”
Let’s Plan Ahead and Get the Result We Want
Who doesn’t like peace and prosperity?
Who doesn’t like watching their hopes and dreams come true every day?
Everyone likes these things, and for good reason, they are the pathways that lead to happy and fulfilling lives for citizens and those things allow the robust economics that produce the reliable revenues that politicians need to deliver high quality government services to their citizens year in and year out.
So, let’s continue to plan for that in our own countries, and in the case of countries like Myanmar where governance is clearly still a work-in-progress, let’s help them plan for the same outcomes in their country by giving them the information and training they lack — thereby allowing their country to succeed — instead of them becoming yet another nightmare, another failed state that we all wind up paying for in blood and treasure.
Either this generation of world leaders are up to that task, or they aren’t. And if they aren’t, they haven’t learned from past mistakes and we’ll soon be at some kind of war in Myanmar. We shall see…
The Way Forward for Belarus
All people who live in democracies have the right to be governed in a way that the majority approves — that’s the foundation of the thing we call “democracy”.
And so it is in Belarus, a country that professes to be “democratic” and is a country that boasts a “democratic constitution” that guarantees the rights and responsibilities of citizens, government, the judiciary and the military. Therefore, no one could seriously argue that Belarus isn’t a democracy.
However, even in the best democracies, disputes can arise and sometimes those disputes relate to ‘who really won’ the most recent election.
Sometimes, it’s merely a case of ‘sour grapes’ where the losing side in the election won’t accept the results and subsequently mobilize their base to protest the loss, or to keep its base ‘fired-up’ until the next election, or they use the uprising to embarrass the governing party to induce it to submit to certain political demands. Which seems a bit sketchy, but it happens.
So, who won?
Thus far, no one has proven that the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, fraudulently won the August 9th election — nor has anyone proven that the opposition party led by Svetlana Tikhanouskaya lost the election, although tens of thousands of her supporters have been protesting every day since the election results were announced.
Which could be everything, or it could be nothing.
Therefore, what we need is an international effort, perhaps led by the UN, to investigate allegations that President Lukashenko stole the election and is refusing to step down, and have the UN publicly announce their findings.
Then, and only then, will we know who has won the Belarusian election.
How to Build Enough Momentum to Find the Truth of the Matter
1: Telephone Diplomacy Works
In 1990, then-U.S. President, George H. W. Bush’s telephone diplomacy worked wonders when Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, invaded the tiny country next door to Iraq on 2 August 1990. President H.W. Bush subsequently telephoned almost every world leader and convinced them that it was necessary for the world to deal with the murderous Iraqi dictator and to evict Iraq’s military from Kuwait.
It took only one weekend for H.W. to create a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ with the noble goal of evicting the Iraqi Republican Guard from peaceful Kuwait. And HW’s plan worked magnificently. In a matter of weeks, Kuwait was liberated with the help of several countries.
2: “How Many Divisions Has the Pope?”
In 1981, Poland’s new Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law (to purportedly) crush a rapidly growing pro-democracy trade union movement known as Solidarity which threatened his (autocratic at best, and dictatorial at worst) leadership of Poland.
America’s President Reagan quickly conferred with the Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II (who was shot in a failed assassination attempt two weeks after that phone call in 1981) to ask what help the Church could offer to the people of Poland, most of whom were Christians of either Catholic or Russian Orthodox Church persuasion.
The quote above; “How many divisions has the Pope?” was uttered by former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin commenting on how much military power the Catholic Church didn’t have in comparison to the dozens of military units (divisions) that the former Soviet Union did have during Stalin’s time in power.
As it turned out, the fall of Soviet communism had much to do with the Catholic Church and its (even more powerful in Russia) brethren, the Russian Orthodox Church. So much so, that the Western attempt to engineer the fall of Soviet communism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and end the Cold War would’ve failed without the help of tens of millions of Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the former Soviet Union.
How many divisions, indeed.
In today’s Belarus, most of the population there profess Christian belief and attend some kind of church, although, as in 1980’s Poland, most would be adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church, not Catholic. Still, there are many more Christians than Belarusian soldiers were you to count them by division strength.
In 1980’s Poland when (Christian) Polish soldiers were ordered to fire on (Christian) Solidarity movement supporters to end the many street protests, the soldiers refused to shoot their (Christian) brethren. And when the soldiers and police refuse orders to shoot, the largest majority wins.
Let’s hope that the situation in Belarus doesn’t ever approach that level of danger and drama, but it could be that if a fair and transparent body finds the Belarus leader has illegally held onto power after losing the recent election, that the threat of mobilization of millions of Belarusians by the Churches combined with the present level of citizen protests could provide the impetus for President Lukashenko to step down before things get out of hand.
That’s called a ‘leveraged exit’ in the diplomatic world where the leader will lose if world leaders proceed one way, but lose by a much wider margin if world leaders proceed another way regarding Belarus.
3: The UN ‘Soft Power’ Option
Of course, the United Nations has plenty of powers that it can bring to bear for a successful conclusion in Belarus, but only if it decides to do so. Unless a UN member proposes (basically sponsors) such an action, it usually doesn’t happen.
But the situation in Belarus is practically crying out for UN involvement — to at the very least! — have the UN independently verify which side won the August 9 election.
- The UN General Assembly could convene to discuss the matter and create a UN Resolution calling on President Lukashenko to step down if the evidence proves there’s been major fraud committed by the government or its agents.
- Further steps could be employed by the UN Security Council if it feels regional stability could be affected, employing a wide array of options against the Lukashenko regime if the evidence proves major fraud was committed by the government or its agents.
Such Security Council resolutions could involve trade restrictions against Belarus, ‘No Entry’ to any UN member country by Belarusian government officials, closing of Belarusian embassies and consulates around the world, and all airline traffic to and from Belarus could be cancelled until further notice, oil and gas shipments to Belarus could be diverted or delayed, and other options could be employed besides that very short list.
Life would quickly become very difficult for the present leader of Belarus if he’s found to have engaged in some kind of major election fraud.
Which to Choose?
It seems the first order of business is to ascertain whether the election was fraudulent or whether the results are merely unpopular with a vocal minority of voters.
Second, some kind of diplomacy must be employed to convince the Belarusian leader that it’s a fight he can’t win (if there has been election fraud) and that he must step down immediately in exchange for minimal prosecution.
Third, pressure must be brought to bear in a unified fashion, where the lightest punishment is first employed (the powerful Christian demographic added to the existing protest pool) and punishments are increased every 14-days (UN General Assembly resolution) followed by UN Security resolutions (closing Belarusian embassies and consulates) followed by curtailment of oil and gas to Belarus, and finally closing the airspace of Belarus to civilian airlines and closing of land borders especially to passenger trains — all designed to increase the pressure on President Lukashenko to step down for the good of the country.
At no time (assuming he’s guilty, which hasn’t been proven yet) should he feel that he could win, and he must be made to realize that every subsequent 14-days his life will be worse than in the previous 14-days.
So, let’s find out if there indeed has been election fraud — before we proceed! — because it’s astonishingly easy to depose a world leader when the facts become known in such cases. And then the UN, the Churches, and the citizens of that country can all work together to build a better future for their people no matter what has occurred.
Historically speaking, deposing a leader is the one thing that works every time that we actually try — but please! — let’s get our facts straight before we proceed further.
Theresa May: United Nations Speech September 2018
UK Prime Minister speech to the UN General Assembly: September 26, 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on behalf of the UK at the UN General Assembly 2018
On behalf of the United Kingdom let me begin by paying tribute to an outstanding leader of this United Nations, who sadly passed away this summer.
Kofi Annan was one of the great Secretaries General, a tireless campaigner for peace and progress, and a champion of human rights and human dignity – whose influence will continue to be felt around the world for years to come.
Over the course of his lifetime he witnessed the extraordinary progress that we as a community of nations have made since this organisation was founded.
Progress in which we have more than halved the number of people living in extreme poverty in this century alone.
Progress in which the number of people killed in conflicts has fallen by three-quarters in just over three decades.
And progress in which millions of our citizens lead healthier and longer lives and where – thanks to advances in human knowledge – in medicine, in science and in technology – we are presented with huge opportunities in the years ahead.
Yet today – many are concerned about whether this progress will continue, and fearful about what the future holds.
For the end of the Cold War did not – as many once believed – lead to the inevitable supremacy of open economies and liberal democracies co-operating on the global stage for the common good.
Today instead we face a loss of confidence in those very systems that have delivered so much.
The belief in free markets has been challenged by the financial crisis of 2008, by the concerns of those feeling left behind by globalisation, by the anxieties about the pace and scale of technological change and what that will mean for jobs, and by the unprecedented mass movements of people across borders with all the pressures that can bring.
And after the military interventionism at the beginning of the century, people question the rationale – and indeed legitimacy – of the use of force and involving ourselves in crises and conflicts that are not ours. While at the same time being repelled by the slaughter in Syria and our failure to end it.
These doubts are entirely understandable. So too is the demand for leadership. So those of us who believe in inclusive societies and open economies have a duty to respond: to learn the lessons of the past, to meet people’s concerns with practical actions not beguiling illusions and to renew our confidence in the ideas and values that have done so much to benefit so many for so long.
For be in no doubt, if we lack the confidence to step up, others will.
In the last century – whether in the rise of fascism or the spread of Communism – we have seen those on the extreme right and extreme left exploit people’s fears, stoke intolerance and racism, close down economies and societies and destroy the peace of nations. And today once more we see worrying trends in the rise of these movements in Europe and beyond.
We have seen what happens when countries slide into authoritarianism, slowly crushing the basic freedoms and rights of their citizens.
We have seen what happens when corrupt oligarchies rob their nations of the wealth, resources and human capital that are so vital to unlocking a brighter future for their citizens.
We have seen what happens when the natural patriotism which is a cornerstone of a healthy society is warped into aggressive nationalism, exploiting fear and uncertainty to promote identity politics at home and belligerent confrontation abroad, while breaking rules and undermining institutions.
And we see this when states like Russia flagrantly breach international norms – from the seizing of sovereign territory to the reckless use of chemical weapons on the streets of Britain by agents of the Russian GRU.
We have to show there is a better way to meet the concerns of our people.
That way lies in global cooperation between strong and accountable states based on open economies and inclusive societies.
That ensures strong nation states provide the bonds that bring citizens together and ensures power remains accountable to those it is there to serve.
That celebrates free markets and has the confidence to reform them when they need to work better.
And that demonstrates that delivering for your citizens at home does not have to be at the expense of global cooperation and the values, rules and ideals that underpin this.
Indeed cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive.
Only global cooperation based on a set of agreed rules can ensure competition is fair and does not succumb to protectionism, with its certain path to lost jobs and international confrontation.
And it is only global co-operation which can harness legitimate self-interest towards common goals, producing agreements on global challenges such as climate change, proliferation and increasing inclusive economic growth.
We see this cooperation here today at this UN, as we also saw it at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting earlier this year.
And here today – as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth – I deliver a clear statement on behalf of the Heads of Government of its fifty-three equal and independent member states. We reaffirm our shared commitment to work together within a rules based international system to address shared global challenges and foster a fairer, more secure, more sustainable and more prosperous future. This commitment takes account of the special requirements of least developed countries, and of small and otherwise vulnerable economies, and it benefits all our citizens and the wider world.
But it is not enough for us merely to make the case for cooperation. We need action, at home and in the community of nations, to show how our ideas and values can deliver practical benefits for all our people in all parts of the world.
We must recognise the legitimacy of people’s concerns and act to build a global economy that works for everyone.
We must invest in the patient work of building open societies in which everyone has a stake in the future.
And we must act to uphold the international rules based system – and stand up for our values by protecting those who may suffer when it is violated.
Let me take each in turn.
First, we must respond to those who feel that the global economy is not working for them.
The pace of globalisation that has left too many people behind.
The fear that our children and grandchildren may lack the education and skills to secure the jobs of tomorrow.
And the risk that technological change could become a source of inequality and division rather than the greatest opportunity in history.
In the UK we are driving investment in industries of the future to create new jobs – from low-carbon technologies to Artificial Intelligence.
We are investing in education and skills so that workers are ready to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.
And we are making sure people play by the rules – so that business and innovation is celebrated for creating jobs not demonised because of grievances over tax not paid or rights not respected.
And while we strive to make our own economies work for all our people – we should do the same at a global level.
In an increasingly global economy, it is not enough to ensure people play by the rules at home.
We need global co-operation to set and enforce fair rules on trade, tax and the sharing of data.
And these rules need to keep pace with the changing nature of trade and technology.
So we need to give the World Trade Organisation a broad, ambitious and urgent mandate to reform. This must address the areas where it is not functioning effectively; deal with issues that are not currently covered; and maintain trust in a system which is critical to preventing a return to the failed protectionism of the past.
Fair and respected rules are essential for business to flourish and drive growth. But recent history shows that this cannot be sustained without deeper partnerships between governments, business, international financial institutions and civil society to ensure that growth delivers for everyone.
That is why I recently visited Africa – along with British businesses – to promote trade and investment, and encourage a new partnership based on shared prosperity and shared security.
It is why at this General Assembly I co-hosted an event with Prime Minister Trudeau, Prime Minister Kagame and President Akufo-Addo calling for more support for investment and job creation for young people in the continent.
It is why the United Kingdom will maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance. And we will put our development budget at the heart of our international agenda, and do more to create jobs, improve skills and increase investment in emerging economies – in both our interests and theirs.
For the best way of resisting protectionism is to ensure that this century is defined by open markets that really deliver for all our people.
Second, we must build countries, not only economies, that work for everyone – inclusive societies where every citizen has a stake in the future.
These are the firm foundations on which strong and accountable nations are built. And history has consistently taught us that giving people a stake in society is the best way to ensure stability, security and economic growth.
There is no one right way to do this.
Every country must choose its own path.
But the basic tenets are common across the world.
They include a government that is transparent and accountable.
An independent judiciary to enforce the rule of law.
Free and fair elections and a free and open media.
The freedom of expression, a right to redress and property rights that are reliably enforced.
And equality, freedom of thought, opinion, religion and conscience – all found in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed 70 years ago.
Those of us who believe in these tenets must set an example in defending and strengthening them at home and abroad.
That is why we must call out hate speech, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of prejudice and discrimination against minorities wherever we find it.
Like many leaders, I suspect, I do not always enjoy reading what the media in my country writes about me. But I will defend their right to say it – for the independence of our media is one of my country’s greatest achievements. And it is the bedrock of our democracy.
So too, will I defend objectivity and impartiality in the face of those who treat truth as just another opinion to be manipulated.
This challenge has only become more complex with the rise in social media, and online information. That is why we agreed at the G7 Summit in June to step up our efforts to respond to disinformation. And why, together with our partners, and with tech companies, we are leading efforts to reclaim the internet from terrorists and others who would do us harm.
And just as we must stand up for the values that we adhere to, so we must support countries and leaders who choose to take the often difficult steps towards a more inclusive society.
The United Kingdom will use all the levers at our disposal to do so.
Through our aid budget and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals we will not only protect the most vulnerable but also bolster states under threat and help others sustain their progress.
Through global campaigns we will help countries to end scourges such as modern slavery and sexual violence in conflict.
And we will mobilise wider support through our alliances and membership of multilateral organisations – not only the UN, but also international financial institutions, the G7, the G20 and NATO.
And just as there is no single recipe for an inclusive society, so there is no single model for balancing the democratic demands of our public with the imperative to co-operate internationally.
The vote by the British people to leave the European Union was not a rejection of multilateralism or international co-operation. It was a clear demand for decisions and accountability to lie closer to home.
I believe the role of leadership in these circumstances is clear: it is delivering on the democratic wishes of our people and international cooperation working with allies and partners in pursuit of our shared values.
Third, we must have the will and confidence to act when the fundamental rules that we live by are broken.
This is not about repeating the mistakes of the past by trying to impose democracy on other countries through regime change.
But we should not allow those mistakes to prevent us from protecting people in the face of the worst violations of human rights and human dignity. We should not allow those mistakes to paralyse the international community when its long-established norms are violated. And we should not let our inability to prevent some of the worst conflicts today stop us from making every effort to ensure they do not happen again in the future.
For if we stand back, we allow the world to become divided into spheres of influence in which the powerful dominate the weak, and in which legitimate grievances go unaddressed.
This is not just a moral imperative. It is also a matter of self-interest. For when barbarous acts and aggression go unchecked – dictators and terrorists are emboldened.
So, we must have the confidence to act.
When the Syrian Regime used chemical weapons on its people again in April, it was Britain together with France and America who took military action to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
And when earlier this year, Russia used a toxic nerve agent in a sickening attack on the streets of Salisbury, the UK with our NATO, EU and other allies took action, expelling over 150 Russian intelligence officers: the largest collective expulsion ever.
In Burma, following the damning report of the United Nations fact-finding mission, we should show the same confidence to hold accountable those responsible for the appalling atrocities repeatedly inflicted by the Burmese military on the Rohingya, Shan and Kachin peoples since 2011.
Similarly we should gather evidence of Daesh’s crimes worldwide, so ensuring justice for their victims and deterring those who might conduct such crimes in the future.
But accountability alone is not enough. We must do more collectively to prevent such atrocities in the first place, and address the causes of instability that can give rise to them.
The United Nations has a critical role to play. And it has a wide range of levers to do so from sanctions – which show the leaders of Iran and North Korea that they cannot act without consequence – to peacekeeping missions such as that in South Sudan, which is helping to prevent suffering and the collapse of law and order.
But to be able to draw effectively on these levers, the Security Council must find the political will to act in our collective interest. The UN’s agencies must deliver the reforms that the Secretary General has started – to become more agile, more transparent and better coordinated on the ground. And to support these reforms, we must also ensure proper funding is targeted specifically at those parts of the UN that deliver results.
70 years ago the General Assembly agreed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today we must renew the ideals and values on which that Declaration was founded.
In doing so, we must learn the lessons of the past and show through our actions how co-operation between strong and accountable states with open economies and inclusive societies can best deliver security and prosperity for all our people.
As Kofi Annan said at the start of his second term as Secretary General: “I have sought to turn an unflinching eye to the failures of our recent past, in order to assess more clearly what it will take for us to succeed in the future.”
In that spirit, let us show unflinching resolve to renew the promise of freedom, opportunity and fairness.
A promise which has delivered for more people, in more places than at any other period in our history.
And let us ensure that promise can be fulfilled for our children and grandchildren – and for every generation to come.
Published 26 September 2018
Transcript courtesy of GOV.UK