Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday denounced the structure of the U.N. Security Council, criticizing the permanent seats and veto power granted to a limited number of nations.
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual debate session, Gadhafi called for world unity in confronting global crises such as climate change and food shortages. But he elaborated on what he believes is the unfairness of the structure of the Security Council, which has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain. Each of those nations has veto power. “No one is objecting to the preamble [of the U.N. charter], but everything that came after that is contradiction of the preamble,” he said through an interpreter. “The preamble says the nations are equal whether they are small or big. Are we equal in permanent seats No, we’re not equals.” Watch Gadhafi demand equality Citing the history of colonization and persecution of Africans, he said there needs to be a permanent African presence on the body, calling that a “priority” for the United Nations.
General Assembly speakers*Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil Barack Obama, president of the United States Moammar Gadhafi, leader of Libya Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom Hu Jintao, president of China Dmitry Medvedev, president of Russia Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran *abridged list
He also said that despite the fact that the United Nations says there should be no resorting to military force unless it is a collective decision, 65 wars broke out after the establishment of the United Nations, and the Security Council didn’t do anything to stop the conflicts. Gadhafi said the Security Council hasn’t provided security, but “terror and sanctions.” He slammed U.S. military actions in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Grenada. He called the invasion of Iraq “the mother of all evils,” criticizing the hanging of deposed leader Saddam Hussein and the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He also said there should be investigations into many incidents, such as the Afghan war, the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp during the Lebanese civil war, Israel’s Gaza offensive, and the killings in the 1960s of former President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Gadhafi also broached the idea of taking the U.N. headquarters out of the United States and putting it in another location. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Obama made speeches before Gadhafi. Watch President Obama speak to the United Nations Ban, giving the annual session’s opening address, urged global leaders to unite and work together to face many of the world’s challenges: “Now is our time. A time to put the ‘united’ back into the United Nations. United in purpose. United in action.” He focused on the importance of tackling “the threat of catastrophic climate change” and expressed hope that if nations work together to deal with the problem, they will succeed. He touched on nuclear disarmament, saying, “Let us make this the year we agreed to banish the bomb.” Watch how the General Assembly works Ban also talked of the need to fight world poverty, citing what he said is an urgent development: that “near-poor” people are becoming “the new poor.” He cited the possibility that 100 million people “could fall below the poverty line this year.”
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Transcript: Obama addresses U.N. General Assembly
Noting the economic crisis around the world, the secretary-general said markets may be bouncing back, but incomes and jobs are not. “People are angry. They believe the global economy is stacked against them,” he said, mentioning U.N. initiatives to address such economic problems. Other urgent issues he noted include sexual violence, child mortality, and empowerment of women. He underscored the importance of the International Criminal Court and named trouble spots around the globe that continue to require urgent attention, including Sudan’s Darfur region, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Gaza, and Afghanistan. He also cited “significant progress” in unstable environments such as Timor-Leste, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Nepal. “We see quiet progress in Iraq … and fresh opportunities in Cyprus,” Ban said. Obama touted strides he has made since entering office, such as prohibiting torture, and listed four challenges the world should tackle: nuclear non-proliferation, the pursuit of peace, the preservation of the planet, and the global economic crisis. He, too, encouraged world unity. “In this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future,” he said. As for the vision of nuclear disarmament, Obama made reference to Iran and North Korea and their nuclear aspirations. “If they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East, then they must be held accountable.” In another address Wednesday morning, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva elaborated on the ongoing economic crisis, lack of democratic world governance and the threat of climate change. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s controversial president, was scheduled to speak early Wednesday evening. An Israeli official has called on leaders to leave the General Assembly hall when he delivers his address.
“We call on world leaders to leave plenum when Ahmadinejad begins to rant and not give legitimacy to the most dangerous anti-Semite since Hitler,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon posted on Twitter. Others on the agenda Wednesday were French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.