News & Views
ON Monday the October 24, 2016, United Nations Day will be observed by holding seminars, concerts and meetings in New York and in Geneva, The Hague and its offices in other countries to highlight its achievements. The UN participates in activities ranging from assistance in times of disaster – natural disasters and those caused by the war. They offer medical assistance to those in need in these places, as well as providing clean water, food, and places to rest and recover. The day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter, and is celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, the United Nations officially came into being. Through its various organs and programs, it helps the developing countries to reduce poverty, hunger and disease, and to promote education through UNICEF.
UNICEF’s goals are: “Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger; and reducing poverty starts with children. More than 30 per cent of children in developing countries – about 600 million – live on less than US $1 a day. While a severe lack of goods and services hurts every human, it is most threatening to children’s rights – their survival, health and nutrition, education, participation, and protection from harm and exploitation. It creates an environment that is damaging to children’s development in every way – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.” More than 1 billion children are severely deprived of at least one of the essential goods and services they require to survive, grow and develop. Some regions of the world have more dire situations than others, but even within one country there can be broad disparities – between city and rural children, and between boys and girls.
According to data collected by UNICEF, poverty contributes to malnutrition, which in turn is a contributing factor in over half of the under-five deaths in developing countries. Some 300 million children go to bed hungry every day. Of these only eight per cent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 per cent are suffering long-term malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency. Providing them with basic education, health care, nutrition and protection produces results of many times greater magnitude than these cost-effective interventions. Their chances of survival and of a productive future are greatly increased – as are the chances of a truly fair and peaceful global society. UNICEF is involved in building national capacities for primary health care. Around 270 million children, just over 14 per cent of all children in developing countries, have no access to health care services.
United Nations Development Program works to make real improvements in people’s lives, opening up their choices and opportunities. UNDP promotes inclusive and sustainable human development and works to reduce poverty in all its dimensions. To that end, the UN has played pivotal role. However, it has failed to resolve the international disputes especially Palestine and Kashmir for the last 68 years. Since 1989, around 90000 thousands Kashmiris have been killed and many more injured and maimed. Recently, Kashmir came into focus in the UN after Indian forces killed more than 120 Kashmiris and injured more than 1000 using pallet guns during the last 100 days; and one would not know how long their nightmare would continue. However, the UN has failed to implement UNSC resolution bestowing on the people of Kashmir to join India or Pakistan through a plebiscite under the aegis of the UN.
On 22 November 1974, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3236 recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in Palestine. Israel has occupied parts of the West Bank and continues with construction of Jewish settlements, though it had been decided in Oslo Accords that Palestinian state would comprise Gaza and West Bank areas. Up to October 2014, 137 countries of the world had recognized Palestinian state. Except Eastern European countries Hungary, Poland, Balgaria, Romania that had recognized Palestinian state in 1988. Some European countries did not recognize Palestinian state just to appease the US and Israel. Spanish lawmakers adopted a motion on 18th November 2014, which read: “The parliament urges the government to recognize Palestine as a state.” Sweden formally recognized Palestinian state on 30th October 2014; and the French National Assembly also voted on a similar resolution on November 28 2014.
Nevertheless, credit goes to the United Nations for saving the people in the areas of conflict between the nations by deputing peacekeepers. General Assembly had designated 29th May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to pay tributes to all men and women who served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping force operations, and to honor the memory of the UN peacekeepers who lost their lives in the cause of peace for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage. On that day, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold solemn events to honor fallen peacekeepers. Last year, the United Nations honoured five Pakistani soldiers for their sacrifices, among over 137 peacekeepers who laid down their lives while serving the cause of peace around the world in 2014. Pakistan is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission.
Pakistan has contributed 8,163 personnel including 7,581 troops, 487 police officials and 95 military experts that are serving in the UN operations in seven countries. Pakistan’s troops and advisors have been involved in peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and Western Sahara etc. Within one month of its coming into being, Pakistan joined the United Nations and is committed to a world in which upholding human dignity is the highest value and maintaining global peace a sacred duty. Pakistan envisages a world, which is free of want, hunger and deprivation – a world where justice and fair play govern the affairs of human beings, and inequality, oppression and war are abhorred. Pakistan has put this vision into practice by making significant contributions to the principles and objectives of the UN Charter.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.