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My take on the OIC outcome in The Gambia

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By Lt. Col. Samsudeen Sarr Rtd

In chapter twenty-eight of my book, “Testimony of A Retired Gambian Military Officer and Diplomat,” I discussed my experiences as a diplomat at the United Nations Organization, particularly on what was typically viewed as a successful annual session. For me, it represented little more than the formal gathering of the 193 member states at the imposing edifice in Manhattan, where heads of state delivered meticulously crafted speeches on past, present, and future global issues. Following these speeches, resolutions were passed, and communiques were issued addressing the most pressing current concerns.

Reflecting on the recurrent themes of past, present, and future global challenges, three issues always stood out: firstly, the persistent call for a more inclusive UN Security Council membership, often overshadowed by the dominance and control exerted by the five permanent superpower members; secondly, the unjust and protracted Western blockade of Cuba, spanning over six decades; and thirdly, the enduring quest by majority member states for the establishment of a Palestinian State in the Middle East alongside Israel.

On page 303 of the same chapter, I underscored a stark reality: “It was evident that the United States, the Russian Federation, China, the United Kingdom, and France—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—held the power to veto any resolution, regardless of its importance or urgency to the 193 member states, thereby effectively stalling its passage or adoption.”

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Against such a backdrop, it’s evident that the implementation of resolutions adopted at the UN is consistently subject to the discretion of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. This reality calls into question the purported fair and equal representation of all member states. While nations invest millions of dollars annually to convene and express their aspirations for a better world, ultimate decision-making power rests with the five superpower nations. Consequently, the outcome of the annual gathering often revolves more around the ritual of hosting the meeting, delivering speeches, and enjoying the New York City ambiance, with attendees returning home claiming success, regardless of tangible achievements. Thus, the focus tends to be on the process itself rather than substantive progress.

Comparing the annual sessions of the UN and the OIC, I discern scant disparity in their nature. If the OIC’s achievements are gauged by UN standards, it unquestionably meets the criteria for success. The session proceeded as scheduled, with all member states represented, culminating in a communique addressing the pressing global issue of the Gaza-Israel conflict, bordering on what many consider genocide against the Palestinian people. Central to this communique was the urgent call for a ceasefire in a conflict that, as of May, has claimed 35,000 Palestinian lives, including over 10,000 men, 5000 women, 7,000 children, and 2000 elderly.

While the OIC’s final statement echoes the ongoing demands of the majority of UN member states, its parent body, consistently reiterated since October through successive resolutions vetoed by the USA, UK, and France, the question remains: how optimistic can we be about the impact of the Banjul resolution compared to the UN’s efforts? Will the US, UK, and France heed President Barrow’s appeal to halt the conflict immediately? If not, how does the effectiveness of the Banjul meeting compare to the ongoing deliberations at the UN Headquarters on 1st Avenue, Manhattan?

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I can confidently state that if the three superpowers disregard the UN General Assembly, there is a high probability that they will also disregard President Adama Barrow’s demands on behalf of the OIC, mirroring previous resolutions concerning Palestine over the last three decades or more.

However, refraining, so far, from taking a stance on the success or failure of the OIC in The Gambia, I will leave it to the reader to assess whether the focus lies solely on participation and ceremonial conduct, or on the substantive achievement of the unanimously agreed-upon goals outlined in the final communiqué.

In any case, it’s unlikely that the Indian government, which has been asserting a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship with The Gambia, welcomes being criticized for the apparent Islamophobia within their country, seemingly backed by state policies.

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