UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- African leaders and officials on Monday called for greater UN help in combating the twin scourges of war and poverty, at the same time seeking greater representation for Africa on the UN Security Council.
"Since 1945 the essential rules governing the workings of the UN Security Council are literally frozen in a paralysis that is becoming more and more repulsive," Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe said on the last day of the annual high-level UN debate, which opened Tuesday.
"The inability of the Security Council to agree on certain issues of great importance is a perfect illustration of this and renders reform of this body at the heart of UN action yet more urgent," he said, calling for total and immediate action, including giving Africa adequate representation.
There has been a wide consensus that the world body and its Security Council need to be reformed, but there is a big gap among UN member states as to how to conduct such a reform.
For his part, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh said it is clear that the United Nations has not succeeded in its paramount purpose of saving humanity from the scourges of war and poverty, and now the threat of global climate change, in the 67 years since its creation.
"What is particularly significant is the fact that in most of these wars, it is some of the big powers, who have been the main architects and actors in these wars -- the same powers, who by virtue of their position in the United Nations Security Council, should have shouldered the biggest responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability," he said.
"The United Nations system, as has been repeatedly pointed out, is indeed outdated. The General Assembly has been emasculated. The Security Council is dominated by one powerful permanent member and increasingly becoming paralyzed," he said.
"No part of the world is in need of positive change as the African continent, which remains marginalized and almost voiceless," Saleh said.
He called on the international community to assist Mali in recovering its territorial integrity after Islamic militants seized control of the north of the country, imposing strict Sharia law and sending 260,000 refugees fleeing into neighboring countries.
Basile Ikouebe, foreign minister of the Republic of the Congo, warned at the General Debate that terrorist groups in the north of Mali threaten peace, security and stability in the whole sub-Saharan Sahel region.
He noted that the worsening humanitarian situation, together with the risk that the terrorist contagion may spread, makes it imperative that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of the African Union and the United Nations, ensure that in future the dangerous precedent would not repeat itself.
Ikouebe cited other crises such as the bloody uprising in Syria, the Middle East conflict and the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while stressing Africa's vulnerability to the global economic crisis.
"Faced with this situation, my delegation reaffirms the responsibility and central role of the UN in forging the spirit of solidarity and cooperation needed to ensure that the pledges already made for development aid and financing are kept," he said.
Djibouti's Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf noted that the global economic and financial situation remains more worrying than ever.
"It is therefore important that the fate of the least developed African countries be examined with renewed attention to help them lessen the burden, improve their productive capacities and facilitate the access of their products to world markets on favorable conditions," he said.
He called for the mobilization of a donors' conference to help restore Somalia's economy following progress in setting up a new government and recovering territory in a country that has been riven by ferocious factional fighting over the past two decades.
Foreign Minister Joseph Bandabla Dauda of Sierra Leone, a country often cited as a success story in UN efforts to consolidate peace in countries that have been ravaged by conflict, vowed to continue to wholeheartedly embrace mediation and other conflict prevention initiatives as a key and indispensable tool in settling disputes and preventing and resolving conflicts.
"The use of preventive diplomacy in the maintenance of international peace and security was, until quite recently, not the strongest point of the UN system," Dauda said. "Rather, it was used more as a tool in crisis management. I am, however, heartened by the present impetus."
Sierra Leone, recovering from a decade of civil war that ended in 2002, was the first country, together with Burundi, to be put on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission when it was set up in December 2005 to prevent post-conflict countries from relapsing back into bloodshed.
Botswana's Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani highlighted the adverse effects the global economic crisis had had on the southern African country, forcing it to delay development projects.
"We continue to be concerned that many of our traditional donors who helped to bring us to where we are today have virtually abandoned us following our graduation to Higher Middle Income developing country status," the foreign minister said.
"Contrary to the perception that Botswana is an economically well-off country, we do need development assistance now, more than ever before, on account of the varied nature and gravity of challenges we continue to face," he said.
In his statement to the Assembly, Angola's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ismael Gaspar Martins, cited major crises around the world, including Mali and Syria, the effects of the global economic crisis and the need to reform the 15-member Security Council.
"The Security Council plays a preeminent role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in the maintenance of peace," Martins told the gathering of the 193 UN member states.
"The central theme, the objective of our debate, brings before us the necessity to reform the Security Council and the imperative for an equitable representation of all regions of the world, thus adapting it to contemporary reality," he said.