UNGA President calls for reform, says UN should reflect geopolitical realities

UNGA President Abdulla Shahid in conversation with WION | Photo: WION

President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Abdulla Shahid has called on the member states of the United Nations to reform and reflect the geopolitical trends of the current times.

Abdulla Shahid’s remarks were made during an interview with WION during his two day trip to India.

WION’s interview with Shahid discussed key highlights of his Presidency at UNGA, which he described as one of hope. As such, he touched on his five “rays of hope”, which are Covid-19 recovery efforts, rebuilding sustainability, respecting rights of all, responding to the needs of the planets and reforming the United Nations.

In the interview, Shahid also answered questions about the challenges his Presidency faced amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I am presiding over a special UN session that has been convened at the request of the security council after 40 years. We have seen the world unite with 143 countries, supporting the resolution that was submitted. We saw the international community speak clearly and loudly,” he said.

Commenting on a follow up question about how this demonstrated a very defunct UN and what initiatives are being taken towards a reform, Shahid said that the process of reforming the security council has been going on for the last 14 years, and that intergovernmental negotiations are happening.

“This year, for the first time, we were able to do more meetings. We were able to bring more consensus on the very diverse issue that was on the table. We have to be mindful that we are talking about 193 countries coming together, including the five permanent members. It will continue to be a long process,” he said, before said that he has urged member states and appealed to member states that if the United Nations is to be regarded as credible, the organisation will have to become more relevant to the current geopolitical realities of the day. “We have to change the composition of the security council and the way that it functions,” he said.

Shahid also revealed his success in ensuring the UN is workplace friendly and welcoming for women coworkers, highlighting that he has been successful in establishing a lactation room at the United Nations.

“Currently, we have nine rooms under the guardianship of New Zealand and El Salvador, one of them next to the general assembly hall itself. We have to mainstream, not only establish, and talk about it so it is established in other parts of the world as well,” Shahid said.

Revealing the purpose of his trip to India, Shahid said that India was the first country to support his presidency when his candidature was declared, among all the other assistance he received during his term at the UN.

“I wanted to convey and express my gratitude as my presidency comes to an end, for the cooperation and commitment they have given to the presidency of hope. More importantly to mention how appreciative the UN is of the outstanding commitment that India has for multilateralism. India is a member of the security council and continues to highlight many of these cherished principles at the UN. I also met the UN country team here who are doing outstanding work in reaching out to the people of India, in assisting the development work,” he said.

Shahid also commented on the “outstanding” relationship between Maldives and India, and further added in response to a follow up question on the anti-India sentiments induced within certain elements of Maldives, especially the opposition, saying that the anti India sentiment is a program of propaganda being pushed by a group of people who have nothing to offer to the people of Maldives.

“No economic agenda, no development agenda, or social agenda. So they have to come up with something. So, they are attacking our best friend and closest ally. It is just like shooting down on our own foot,” Shahid said.

“For the Maldives, it’s very simple. A stable Maldives is essential for stability and prosperity in the Indian ocean. A stable and prosperous Indian ocean is essential for prosperity in the Maldives. So will do everything and we will work with everyone to maintain stability, peace, and prosperity in the Indian ocean,” Shahid commented on how a heating Indian Ocean in terms of geopolitics impacts the Maldives.