Several heads and officials of United Nations agencies in Egypt today took part in the opening of a seminar organized jointly by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS) at Cairo University on Egypt’s role and contributions to UN bodies and their activities. The two-day debate at the Faculty’s campus brought together prominent Egyptian diplomats and political science scholars.
In a keynote speech, First Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Ayman Kamel cited Egypt’s role in issuing a UN Security Council resolution on medical care in armed conflicts, and pointed to its initiative in the Council to hold a ministerial discussion on “combating terrorist messages and ideologies in order to give the intellectual and ideological aspect the highest attention and greatest efforts in the fight against terrorism.” The discussion was conducted during Egypt’s chairmanship of the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee. He also noted that Egypt now has about 3,000 personnel in UN peacekeeping missions, making it one of the world’s top ten troop-contributing countries and number one in the Arab world.
Participants were also addressed by the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt El-Mostafa Benlamlih who pointed to Egypt’s membership in the UN Security Council for the fifth time since its inception and to its recently-won membership in the UN Human Rights Council. He praised Egypt’s launch this year of its Sustainable Development Strategy – Egypt Vision 2030 – and underlined the “UN’s full commitment to support the country in its implementation and achievement of that strategy.” The UN official pointed out that Egypt was one of the first countries volunteering to review its efforts to achieve sustainable development in a New York meeting last July, praising “the significant progress Egypt has made in empowering women and fighting female genital mutilation” and in other areas.
In an introductory statement, the Dean of FEPS Dr. Hala Elsaid revealed that the Faculty will launch a research unit dedicated to the UN and peacekeeping, which will focus on academic research about peacekeeping issues and conflicts, and on how to activate the UN’s role in peacekeeping and conflict-resolution, and the role expected of Egypt in peacekeeping. The unit will be producing “policy papers that could help UN operatives in their work in Egypt.”
The Secretary General of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mounir Zahran, also addressed the audience. He raised several questions, which he urged the seminar to try to tackle. Among them, for example, was a question regarding the UN Charter’s fifth chapter on the Security Council that “had reflected the balance of power in 1945, but has changed over the past 71 years. Isn’t time to adjust this existing imbalance?,” he asked.
The seminar’s agenda includes such items as Egypt’s contributions to international peace and security, and to dealing with issues of international law, the fight against terrorism and organized crime. They also include its inputs into UN development activities and the work of international specialized agencies, as well as its contributions to the UN’s programmatic budgets, its role in the face of global economic and environmental challenges and climate change, in addition to Egyptian nominations for positions with international organizations.