Podium: Is it beyond us to find a collective solution to Middle East conflict?

Tony Blair
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The Independent Online

We have mid-20th century international institutions governing a 21st-century world. This is true of the global economy. The reform of the IMF and World Bank, of the financial regulatory system, are long overdue.

But it is true across the board. Look at the G8. Reflect on its absurdity. In fact, take the G7, the so-called economic club of the world. Four European nations. No China. No India. No Brazil. No one from the Middle East. No one from Africa.

Take the global negotiations over global warming and a new accord post Kyoto. The UN negotiators are able, I would say, heroic, people. But be serious: 190 countries sitting round a table trying to hammer out a deal, with no global institution with the technical know-how, research capability and political weight to guide them? And this is in an area of inordinate technical complexity and political sensitivity.

Or take the awful events of the Congo: 6,000 rebels on one side, 6,000 militia thugs on the other. A UN force of 18,000 unable to keep people from being subject to mass rape, murder and pillage? Are we really that helpless? And don't think because the TV cameras have moved on, the suffering has. And where have they moved on to? The Middle East. By luck, France has the Presidency of the Security Council. By his energy – to which I have referred before – the French President got the sides together.

But examine the absurdity. Here is a conflict whose supreme importance reaches across the world. With even the limited mandate I have, these past 18 months have been an extraordinary instruction. You know what is most frustrating? Not that it can't be solved; but that it so clearly could be.

Is it really beyond our wit to grip this, to co-ordinate our international efforts and to see them bear fruit, so that Israel no longer has to fear for its existence and Palestinians have the justice of a viable state in which the two people can live side by side?

What I am saying is that this economic crisis holds a deeper, broader lesson for us. In today's world, no nation's governance, not even the most powerful, can work without a strong dimension of global governance.

This is an edited extract from a speech given by the former British prime minister at the 'New world, new capitalism' conference in Paris last week