By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
Implementing all the United Nations (UN) resolutions would significantly help in addressing post-Arab Spring problems and pressing issues in the Middle East, besides presenting new initiatives, a former UK minister for international development has suggested. Speaking at the Doha Forum yesterday, Shahid Malik said new initiatives would always be welcome, some promises were yet to be delivered. “We just have to do what we had promised and I believe that 60-90% of the problems will be dealt with,” stressed Malik, currently the chairman of Global Co-operation and Development Partnerships.
Elaborating on his statements, Malik told Gulf Times that implementing UN Resolutions 242 and 338 will create a Palestinian state and an Israeli state, a workable solution against extremism and radicalism existing in many parts of the world.
However, Malik lamented that many donor countries in Europe and the West were not true to their promise, although very eager and quick to make commitments. As a consequence, the failure to deliver on their promises has caused various problems for poor countries that rely a lot on such commitments.
He believes people in various parts of the world feel there is a double standard “that certain resolutions will be implemented, certain objectives don’t need resolutions, and this will never be implemented”.
According to Malik, these perceptions lead to hopelessness among some people; when they feel hopeless, they tend to engage in activities that include violence and extremism.
People who have faced years of neglect, hardships and oppression (political or due to poverty) become impatient for change. “Well, there’s a 66 year-old UN resolution about Kashmir, about Palestine for 46 years; why are they less worthy? Then there are UN resolutions that are implemented in five minutes - in Libya and in Afghanistan,” he said. “These are the things that people say reflect double standard.”
World Bank director and special representative Sarah Cliffe shares the same view, especially in terms of helping countries that are undergoing democratic transitions. She noted that donor countries invest more in growth than in job creation, like in the case of Tunisia.
Cliffe said donors seem to focus more on defence and counter-terrorism than supporting peace forces and corps. This translates into under-investing in justice and job creation. “And these areas will not reflect in the original Millennium Development Goals framework.”
Another possible solution came from Jim Marshall, former congressman and now the president/CEO of the United States Institute of Peace. He said empowering women would lead to more peaceful societies and a more profitable world.
Reducing domestic violence, which is costly for governments, also complements Marshall’s suggestion, said a former British minister of criminal justice.
But people have to be patient, said Malik and Cliffe, who agreed that there are difficulties along the way in any transition. “We need honest brokers and friends who would help keep people on track.”
Citing the case of Tajikistan when the USSR collapsed in 1991, Malik said the country got involved in a civil war that lasted for 5-6 years.
He reiterated that change does not take place overnight. “So, it is also about trying to work with them to manage change, give them confidence and then build for the longer term,” said Malik.
Referring to its efforts, the former minister commended Qatar for playing an important role in addressing the problems in the region. “Qatar played an important role in the liberation of Libya, it’s trying to play a role in terms of Afghanistan with the Taliban, it’s trying very hard to play a role in the context of Syria, it tried very hard at the UN to get the UN General Assembly to vote for Palestinians so as to give them the status they deserve,” he asserted. “It is hard to believe that a country with such a small population is playing such a huge role on the international stage.”