The United Nations has fallen short of its original intentions, a high-ranking Israeli diplomat said in a speech at Lehigh on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Ambassador Daniel Carmon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, spoke to a packed auditorium in Whitaker Lab as part of Lehigh’s ambassadorial speaker series. His speech was titled "Israel and the United Nations." The event was sponsored by the Lehigh University United Nations Partnership.
"I am here to give you a clear picture of how the United Nations can contribute, and where it has failed," Carmon said. "I can say without hesitation that it has on many issues failed, unfortunately. The UN was formed 64 years ago, and it had the idea of changing the world and being an organization we did not have before. The U.N. that we know today is totally different from that vision."
Since Israel gained its independence in 1948 through a UN resolution, Carmon said, the organization has changed dramatically and tension has arisen.
"The UN has changed dramatically, in its dynamism and mechanism. It’s become a very cumbersome organization, much richer but much more complex with many [endeavors] being blocked because of political litigation."
The UN’s budget is one source of tension, Carmon said. Only about 60 of the UN’s member nations contribute funding, with the United States alone footing about 24 percent of the budget. But the 140 non-contributing countries make decisions on how the money is spent.
"Group dynamic" is another pivotal problem in the UN, said Carmon. In addition to ethnic and geographic groups, such as the Asian, Arab and African groups, the UN has pressure groups with leaders exercising almost total discipline over member states.
Carmon concluded by saying that Israel has much to offer the world, including a sophisticated economy, technology and medicine. Israel is trying to figure out how to cooperate with the world through the UN, but a resolution to conflicts involving Israel are not likely to occur unless the UN makes changes, he said.
"If the United Nations would like to be active and relevant, it has something very basic it has to change in the machinery," Carmon said.
Elana Nack ’10, vice-president of Hillel, a Jewish student organization, said she enjoyed the honesty and new perspective Carmon gave to his audience.
"He was very well spoken in the way that he brought up certain topics and points of view that you wouldn’t normally hear," she said. "A lot of people get more publicity and are in the public eye by giving only the one side that we hear a lot more than the other. He brought to this campus a very different perspective and a new way to look at things."
Story by Allie Rolnik
Posted on Friday, October 16, 2009