PUTRAJAYA, July 3 ― Malaysia is fully supportive of greater civil society engagements in the United Nations (UN) as well as strengthening multilateralism, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said the 75th anniversary of the UN this year serves as the perfect catalyst for Malaysia to deepen the partnership with civil society to identify gaps and reform the system.
Heeding the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he said there is a need to give more meaning to the phrase “we the peoples” and promote a more people-centric concept of multilateralism.
“We need to ensure the UN remains relevant and beneficial for our people, as an abdication of responsibility will be a betrayal of the future,” he said.
Hishammuddin was speaking at a virtual gathering of the “UN75 National Conversation: The Future We Want and The UN We Need”, from here, today.
He said the Covid-19 crisis has served as a wake-up call for all in the global community and the pandemic further compounded the effects of conflicts and poverty, to economic instability and climate change.
“...and we will be worse off should they all not be addressed collectively in the spirit of mutual trust and confidence. Even with the UN leading the discussions on many of these issues and challenges, we are more often than not, left wanting for something more tangible.
“We must get to grips with the undeniable fact that the UN needs to be reformed and the 75th anniversary serves as the perfect year to look back, take stock of our achievements, and move forward with the necessary changes to make it a more effective international organisation in the years to come. History will judge us and the actions we take today will determine what we want the UN to look like in 25 years at the 100th Anniversary,” he said.
Hishammuddin said Malaysia stands ready to play its part and today’s deliberations and discussions will pave the way for a stronger partnership between Malaysia and the UN to jointly address common challenges in fighting Covid-19.
“Despite these difficult times, you can be assured of Malaysia's commitment as a reliable partner of the UN. We are prepared to work with all parties as the world takes a step towards recovery amid the Covid-19 aftermath,” he said.
As a display of Malaysia's commitment and firm conviction in advancing global peace, security and prosperity, Hishammuddin said Malaysia led an initiative to launch a “Statement of Support to the UN Secretary-General's Appeal for a Global Ceasefire amid the Covid-19 Pandemic”, which now enjoys the support of 172 member states, non-member observer states and observers.
“We believe that it is crucial to allow nations, including those that have suffered from conflict, to focus their attention on addressing the deadly pandemic and its aftermath,” he added.
Calling for an equitable Covid-19 vaccine, Hishammuddin said Malaysia believes that the manufacturing of the vaccine must promote international collaboration rather than nationalistic competition.
“This is where the UN can play a larger, more proactive role to place a stronger emphasis on an equitable, accessible and affordable vaccine for all. Global solidarity on this is needed now more than ever and time is not on our side. We must work fast as this could be the only chance we get,” he said.
He said as the foreign minister, he has worked closely with his friends around the world under the ambit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Commonwealth, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and regionally with Asean to jointly share best practices and experiences in managing and controlling the Covid-19.
“However, Malaysia can do more if we have the UN on board, charting a new course in our joint destiny in the post-pandemic era,” he added.
On the UN's front, Hishammuddin said much more work needs to be done and step up to further promote international cooperation and teamwork in fighting Covid-19.
He said the people do not see the direct impact the UN has had on their daily lives and Malaysia had to address this socio-economic crisis alone as many have lost their jobs, businesses have had to close, “and wallets are getting thinner”.
“For instance, in the first few months of the pandemic ― the UN Security Council (UNSC) did not discuss the issue even though it poses a grave threat to the world’s security landscape. Only on Wednesday did the UNSC meet and adopt a resolution to demand an immediate cessation of hostilities to allow nations to refocus resources on combatting the pandemic. As this is a positive first step, we must take cognisance of the fact that Covid-19 is not the only crisis we are facing,” he said.
Taking the plight of the Rohingyas for example, Hishammuddin said the refugees in the camps are being increasingly susceptible to exploitation.
“Their deprivation and frustration could also lead to potential recruitments by terrorists and extremists who have remained silent throughout the pandemic, which cannot be misconstrued for inactivity. It is crucial for us to grasp the fact that this is all happening on top of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. ― Bernama