Ambassador Marjatta Rasi: UN Charter continues to be a cornerstone of Finnish foreign policy
News on the UN concentrates nowadays on one topic only, Iraq. Yet the UN works in all spheres of life.
Commitment to the UN Charter continues to be one of the cornerstones of Finnish foreign policy. On this basis Finland today promotes dialogue, cooperation and peaceful resolution of conflicts. According to the first article of the Charter, the purpose of the UN is to maintain international peace and security. Today security is viewed broadly at the UN. It contains the so called global agenda formulated in the major international conferences of the 90s and in recent years.
Implementation of the global agenda is the foundation of the Finnish UN strategy, adopted a year ago, which lists Finnish activities in promoting international peace and security as well as regional stability. Peace building aims at the promotion of sustainable economic, social and environmental development, democracy, human rights, good governance and equality on a grassroots level. It is an integral part of peacekeeping, crisis management and arms reduction. Promotion of justice and punishment of those guilty of severe international crimes must also be seen as a prerequisite for sustainable peace.
Many great issues pertinent to the human race are dealt with at the UN. The International Conference on Financing Development in Monterrey earlier this year was a success. And despite criticism from media and NGO members the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg made major progress. Afghanistan today is a completely different state than a year ago. East Timor is now an independent state, the 191st member of the UN, mainly thanks to the resoluteness of the UN and the international community, not to forget the endeavours of the people of East Timor.
The UN gained another new member state last month when Switzerland joined the organisation, becoming the 190st member. The Swiss finally decided to participate in all sectors of the UN.
Challenges ahead require a strong and functional UN. For its part and together with its EU partners Finland seeks to strengthen the ability of the UN to function efficiently. Currently, the organisation is involved in a reform exercise on the initiative of the secretary general which was launched to improve efficiency. A strong UN is needed to counter unilateralism. Reforms as many other agenda items take their time at the UN which makes the organisation vulnerable to criticism: “the UN was unable, again, to produce results”, “the UN failed” et cetera. The UN is an organisation that reflects the aspirations of all members. Matters often proceed slowly, but they do proceed.
However, the secretariat’s reforms cannot change the UN. The changes are dependent on the political will of the governments.
Ambassador Marjatta Rasi
Finland’s UN mission in New York