Greater Role in World Affairs for the UN in the 21st Century
by Gad Nahshon
The United Nations recently celebrated the coming of the next century and the coming of the next millennium. This international organization with an annual budget of only 2.5 millions dollars has to challenge, in the name of humanity, the 'culture of violence' as well as the world's poverty ignorance and defend the basic human rights, minority rights, women's rights, defending the universalistic idea of brotherhood of mankind.
Recently, Dr. Yehuda Lancry joined the U.N.'s community as Israel's new permanent representative replacing Dr. Dore Gold who returned to Israel. Dr. Lancry has a unique personality and probably will develop his own style of U.N. diplomacy. He brings his experience, not just as a diplomat who served as Israel's Ambassador to France (1992-1995), but also as an expert of African affairs, as well. Dr. Lancry, a scholar likely to link himself to the tradition of those who served in the past such as Abba Eban, Dr. Lancry also believes in the idea of the U.N. He even would like to see an increase of its role in the world's affairs in the next century. He is objecting to those who tend to be cynical as to the future of this organization. By the way, he would like to educate those Israeli's who would like to ignore the U.N. Of course, Israelis are aware of the 'sufferings' of Israel and the long conflicts between the U.N. and Israel. He knows that there is a negative image of the U.N. inside the Israeli society but he told be in his office on Second Avenue: "I am against those Nihillists." Dr. Lancry is optimistic. He would like to see a strong and active U.N. in the next century: "The humanitarian involvement of the U.N. in the next century will stress more the issues of world peace and stability while pushing aside the dimension of national or state's sovereignty. Furthermore, this confrontation between humanitarian involvements and the term 'State Sovereignty' will be even greater when the issues will be, issues of basic human rights.
We will live in a new century: "The century of the ethics," remarked Dr. Lancry, a man for all seasons. He told me that we should provide the U.N. with even more tools for achieving pragmatic effective results: "We live in the era of globalization. We can see less rigidity in the U.N.'s General Assembly. States tend to decrease their level of national sovereignty. They show more openness to the U.N.'s idea of universalism and one great humanity. The Secretary of the U.N., Kofi Annan, symbolizes this new tendency of openness. There is more room for the U.N.'s involvement, more openness," explained Dr. Lancry. He also would like to see more U.N. concern in other dimensions: "We must help the poor people. We must challenge the hunger of Africa! By the way, Israel has helped these countries and the Israeli Embassy in Paris was a sort of a wailing wall to many African nations. We must dismantle the situation of hungry over there, as soon as possible. I must stress my frustration of the fact that in the last General Assembly, we faced a terrible discrepancy between rich and poor countries," said Dr. Lancry, who was born in Morocco and had to struggle in Israel in order to achieve his well being.
Dr. Lancry comes from the northern part of Israel. He was the mayor of a northern town of Shlomi. He understands very well the situation in the North - Syria, Lebanon, and the Hizzbulah. In the U.N., he has to defend the Israeli policies. He also has understanding of education, propaganda, or psychological war. We also know that the U.N. is a stage. The following is his condensed bio: Ambassador Yehuda Lancry is the 12th Permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.
Dr. Lancry had previously served as Ambassador to France, from 1992 to 1995. Upon his return to Israel, Ambassador Lancry was a member of the 14th Parliament, from 1996 to 1999.
Prior to his appointment to Paris, Dr. Lancry served as Head of Public Council of Israel Television's Channel Two and radio, in 1991. This followed two terms as the Mayor of Shlomi, from 1983 to 1992. Between the years 1988 and 1992, Dr. Lancry was a guest lecturer in French literature at Israel's Haifa University. Dr. Lancry headed the Documentary and Film Publications Department of Raphael (Authority for Defense Technology), from 1980 to 1983. Prior to that he served as Emissary of the Jewish Agency, Youth Department, in Antibes, France, from 1976 to 1980. Dr. Lancry has published numerous articles in both academic and popular publications, and has co-authored two books. He received his Masters Degree in French literature from Nice University, in 1980, where he went on to earn a Doctorate in french literature in 1986.
Dr. Lancry's main goal today is to achieve an Israeli integration into the West European regional group. This act will give Israel a take-off inside the U.N. and its branches or agencies. This membership will give Israel many opportunities to work in fields such as health or economy. Israel must dismantle its posture and feelings of a siege mentality. "The acceptance of Israel into this regional group of 28 countries will revolutionize the Israeli or the Jewish attitude toward the U.N.," Dr. Lancry pointed out.
Israel can not get in the Asiatic region, so its hope is the West European one. So what's the problem? Dr. Lancry explained: "We ask now only for a temporary status. But many say that then we will stay forever. Our chances are better now because of the effects of the Oslo accords but the Arab-Muslim block is objecting. The leader of this fight against Israel is Egypt. They argue that by accepting Israel, you will insult us, the Arabs. We, the Israelis, believe that we deserve the right to join this regional group from the vantage point of international law. We must join a regional group. This is our moral right. I must point out that we built a 'lobby' - Jewish organization and I would like to thank them and we must praise the work of Richard Holbrook, the American Ambassador. We also expect, pretty soon, the involvement of the American President Clinton in our struggle for justice to Israel," revealed Lancry. He also praised the help of the U.N.'s Secretary Kofi Annan. He has expressed, a few times, solidarity with the Israeli guests. His role in improving the set of relations between Israel and the U.N. can be learned from the following remarks by Dr. Lancry: "The U.N.'s administration changed its negative attitudes to Israel! There is thanks to Annan, a good spirit. There is much more sensitivity to our feelings than we encountered in the past. Of course, not everyone here loves Israel. But even in the last U.N.'s Palestinian exhibition, one could not find an anti-Jewish element."
It is no secret that there is a permanent anti-Israeli huge block in the U.N. It is taken for granted the automatic anti-Israeli vote. Eban used to say that this anti-Israeli majority among the 188 members of the U.N. can vote for a resolution that our goal is a square period. Of course, this majority follows the P.L.O.'s diplomats who enjoy a U.N.'s status of permanent observers. Dr. Lancry remarked that this majority is less 'automatic' than in the past as a response to the Israeli peace agreements. Dr. Lancry feels that the essence of the anti-Israeli attacks is much more often moderate but the real frustrated situation in the U.N. did not change. Of course it 'feeds' the negative image of the U.N. inside Israel or the pro-Israeli camp abroad.
How can we explain this situation especially since the new relations between Israel and the P.L.O.? Dr. Lancry illuminated: "Here in the U.N., the PLO's representatives behave as if they are not aware about the changes and the agreement in the West Bank or Gaza. They are still extremists. They are still managing in the U.N. their old propaganda or psychological war. They do not link themselves to the spirit of Oslo! The PLO intentionally used the more militant of their leaders or spokesmen such as Kadami. They used the U.N. as a smoke screen in order to cover the various achievements of peace in the Middle East itself. They ignore, for example, the fact that we develop many projects of 'people to people.' And then they trigger their automatic blind majority in the U.N. Even when they know that Israel did contribute to the Arab's well being will they go and cry that Israel is still an imperialistic country? When will Israel gain its moral right to a fair discussion and unbiased U.N.'s resolutions? Who will dismantle the automatic anti-Israel majority? Do we have to wait for another millennium? Dr. Lancry is an optimist. He has strong nerves and an international kind of sophisticated wisdom. He can survive in the U.N.'s lion's den. Indeed, our posture has been improved because Israel's better status of worldly diplomatic relations and because of the leadership of the U.S. and, of course, Kofi Annan.
Indeed, the bottom line is that Dr. Yehuda Lancry has to fulfill a great mission inside the U.N.
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