Asia Scope

Gadaffi makes his point – again, and again, and again……

There’s been plenty going on over the last few days – which have been a national holiday in Japan – including at the United Nations where Barack Obama made his maiden speech as US president to the General Assembly (which has come in for criticism and some praise he might feel he can do without).

But what’s been getting most attention today is Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi’s rambling (96 minutes!) tirade in which he railed against the unfairness of the current Security Council set up and broached a range of conspiracy theories but also praised Obama as a ‘son’.

Top human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, writing in the Daily Beast, called the speech ‘arguably the lowest point’ in the UN’s history and ‘lack humor at its zenith’.

He has a point, and it’s a shame because the spiel has overshadowed the reasonable point that Gaddhafi did make, which is that the current arrangement for the UNSC is outdated. If it is going to have any legitimacy among developing nations moving forward it will need to include in some form or other, perhaps through a non-veto wielding permanent seat, African representation.

This point is taken up by David Graham who writes in Newsweek:

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“The council’s structure?five permanent members and 10 rotating members?is a relic of the Cold War, designed to allow the East and West to balance, but not well calibrated to a world with many power centers and only one superpower.”

He’s right. And there are also strong cases for India and Japan (as well as Brazil and Germany), all of whom have been recommended for permanent seats by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.