Radical departure from traditional stoical policies at the United Nations has emerged as a new characteristic. And all thanks to South Africa.
More specifically, the accolade belongs to SA’s UN ambassador, Mr. Dumisane Khumalo. Single handedly, with grit and determination, he has succeeded in ensuring that the highest decision making arm of the United Nations, the Security Council, opens up its deliberations to the rest of the world.
This crucial intervention at a time when the world is threatened by hostile war-thunder, emanating from an increasingly belligerent George Bush, is saluted with appreciation. More importantly, the spotlight on the divisions within the council, has aided in highlighting its inherent imbalances whereby five countries with veto powers determine the fate of the rest of the world.
Ordinary people across the globe were provided an opportunity to take a peak at the hallowed precincts of former colonial powers. Khumalo’s indelible lobbying also ensured that these ordinary people as part of an audience which remain unconvinced by Powell and Straw’s so called ‘evidence’, used there own veto power in multi-million marches across all the major capitals of the world protesting against a war on Iraq.
This nimble move by Khumalo to neutralise a clearly agitated team of seasoned diplomats from the US and UK, has brought into sharp focus pertinent questions about the abuse of the United Nations by these countries.
Perhaps such abuse can best be illustrated by the tragic plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The genesis of this major conflict stems from the time the United Nations transferred sovereignty of the indigenous population to a foreign group.
Israel and the UN is a tale of regularizing the irregular. It can be traced back to UN General Assembly resolution no 181 (ii) of 29 November 1947. It recommended a partition plan for Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state on 57 per cent of mandatory Palestine [14,500 km] and of an Arab state on the remaining 43 per cent [11,000km].
The resolution was passed with 33 votes in favor, 13 against, and 10 abstentions. The immorality and injustice of this action was necessarily resisted by the Palestinians as well as by the neighboring Arab states. They failed to see the injustice by the attributing Jewish sovereignty while Jewish landholdings consisted of less than 7 per cent of the total area, and that the Jewish population was a minority.
The resistance continues to this day. It is known as the intifada and has not given up its quest to liberate its lands.
Many would agree that Israel is in the eye of the storm, and as much as the protection of its interests may be at the heart of the war on Iraq. Its legal status still hangs in the balance.
This further underlines the significance of SA’s intervention at the UN. If it is accepted that UN General Assembly Resolution no 181 could be reversed, it behoves Dumisane Khumalo to drive that process.
A brazen and bold approach as exemplified by Khumalo is required to redress the injustice perpetrated against the Palestinians more than five decades ago. This will ultimately lead to the desired transformation of the UN as a whole.
(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)