Vol. 5 Num 1041 Mon. May 07, 2007  

UN fails to adequately address issues of poverty: Shafi Sami

Former adviser to the caretaker government CM Shafi Sami yesterday said that the United Nations (UN) is failing to adequately address the issues related to poverty because of its projects' lack of focus on the results, operational ineffectiveness, incoherence in the policies and duplication of its various agencies' works.

Inefficient and ineffective governance exacerbated by unpredictable and inadequate funds also contributed to such failures, he said at the Syed Ahmad Hossain Memorial Lecture-2007 organised by United Nations Association of Bangladesh (UNAB) at the city's Cirdap auditorium.

"The world faces an all pervading poverty with 40 percent of the world's population surviving on less than two US dollars a day and approximately 50,000 people dying each day as a consequence of this extreme poverty," he said while delivering the lecture on 'Securing the future of the United Nations'.

CM Shafi Sami, also former foreign secretary, said there is no security of the global basic human right to food, water, healthcare, education, energy and other resources because of the lack of universal realisation that the greatest threat to world security stem from poverty and marginalisation of the majority of the population.

"Poverty anywhere threatens peace and today's problems in the developing countries will inevitably become tomorrow's predicament for the developed world," he said.

The world is facing more critical challenges, he said, suggesting that the UN needs ambitious, bold and far-reaching reforms and reinvigoration to ensure that it rises to the occasion and delivers on its promises.

The former diplomat said it became painfully obvious that the UN power was strictly limited to the investment and priorities of its powerful member states. Some member states sought to prop the UN as a counterweight to US hegemony, while others saw it as a means of constraining or taming Washington's unilateralist urges, he noted.

"As a consequence came the US-led military intervention in Iraq that was a jolt to the UN with heightened international anxiety about the commitment of the powerful states to uphold the principles of the UN," CM Shafi Sami added.

In the end, the prestige of both the US and UN suffered grievously, while the larger strategic and legal issues remained unresolved, he noted.

Paying tribute to founding secretary general of UNAB Syed Ahmad Hossain on his 8th death anniversary, its President Prof Salahuddin Ahmed said Ahmad Hossain was the soul and body of the organisation.

UNAB Secretary General Prof Syed Mohammad Shahed also spoke.