United Nations Reform

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:58 am on 18th April 2006.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:58 am, 18th April 2006

It is a pleasure to contribute to this debate. The debate is long overdue, and I hope that I am not alone in thinking that it should be an annual fixture, and held more properly on the Floor of the House. Every year, we debate our relations with European Union, and it is right and proper that we should do so. It is an important international organisation, and we are part of it.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, and with the United Nations taking such incredibly important decisions, I would certainly welcome an annual debate on the UN on the Floor of the House. Judging from the nods that I see from all sides of the Chamber, I think that we might seek that through the powers that be. We could ask the Leader of the House whether that can be brought about, because it would spread an interest in and a greater knowledge of the UN among all Members. That would help bring pressure on the Government of the day to ensure that the UN moves forward, as it must. Reform is being examined closely across the organisation. It is absolutely right and proper, so that the UN can focus on what it needs to do and to do it as well as it can.

A one-page sheet of all the different UN organisations was helpfully given to those of us who visited the UN earlier this year. There are quite a number of them, many of which, I suspect, most of us have never heard. For example, there are regional commissions that report to the Economic and Social Council. Were Members present aware that there is a UN Economic Commission for Europe, which is known as the ECE? I wonder whether it has ever come into the consciousness of anyone present from a news report of something that it has said or because of any useful contribution that it has made to debate on economic affairs in this continent of ours. I confess that the first I heard of it was when I looked down the sub-divisions of the regional commissions, of which there are four across the world, with a budget of $50 million or so. We need to question the value of such parts of the UN organisation, and whether that money would be far better spent on the front line of development or peacekeeping work, where it is really needed and would really make a difference. I hope that every part of the UN structure is considered in the reform.