Letter: More power to the UN if it is to 'put blue on the map'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Despite the unfortunate use of 'imperial' in his arguments about the role of the United Nations (19 September), Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, has raised once again some issues of cardinal importance, particularly his acceptance that national sovereignty should increasingly be subordinate to the implementing of international obligations.

We welcome the increasing public support - at least in the North - that the UN should be better equipped to 'put blue on the map' in areas of conflict and humanitarian need which are ripping themselves apart; but in our view, it is too limited to talk of such action in Third World counties alone. What of Bosnia? And, perhaps, all too soon, of Kosovo and/or Macedonia? Or of areas in the former Soviet Union?

Mr Hurd also speaks of atrocious human rights abuses. One of the UN's major frustrations over many years has been the ability of governments to hide from such dreadful misbehaviour for strategic reasons - how far, for example, did our Government come out and seek to mobilise world opinon against the junta in Argentina prior to the Falklands/Malvinas crisis of 1982? We need total consistency rather than a piecemeal approach based on self-interest.

What surely is needed is a return to the idealism of the Sixties and early Seventies, when public opinion called with increasing conviction for the more adequate sharing of both power and resources between member states of the UN. Leonard Doyle's article today ('Hurd 'imperial role' idea divides UN') rightly stresses how cynical many non-aligned countries are becoming about their feelings of increasing marginalisation in international relations.

Is it too much to hope that, in his speech to the General Assembly tomorrow, the Foreign Secretary will outline the oneness of the United Nations and ways in which all its members can become - and thus feel - more directly involved in strategic planning? Not least, will he speak forthrightly about adequate UN resourcing - and especially about those members whose failure to pay their dues is placing the organisation in considerable jeopardy?

Yours sincerely,



United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

London, SW1

21 September