I.P.O. Information Service



Meeting of the New Policy Forum: "The Middle East and the Mediterranean: Is a Big War ahead?"

President of I.P.O. calls for reform of United Nations Security Council

Istanbul, 15 December 2012

Speaking at a meeting of the New Policy Forum in Istanbul, former Soviet leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev warned of the impending dangers of the ongoing and unresolved conflicts in the Middle East and called upon the United Nations, and in particular the member states of the Security Council, to play a constructive role on the basis of the UN Charter's provisions of collective security. In his opening address, he underlined that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the root causes of the crisis in the Middle East; he said that a two-state solution will be indispensable for peace and stability in the entire region. Gorbachev also denounced the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the Cold War era as an “unpardonable mistake” and pointed out that the US is now repeating the same mistake.

In a keynote lecture on the challenges faced by the United Nations in the Middle East, Prof. Hans Köchler, President of the International Progress Organization, pointed to the structural problems in the UN Charter, in particular as regards the decision-making procedures in the Security Council. He explained that the composition of the Security Council reflects the power balance of an earlier era and that the group of permanent members will have to be enlarged in order to make the supreme executive organ of the UN more representative of today's global realities, and make its decisions more legitimate in the eyes of the international community. Köchler further said that the vaguely formulated Security Council resolution on the use of force in Libya (2011), and the overstepping of the mandate by the intervening countries, was one of the main reasons for mistrust among the Council's permanent members and their lack of consensus on the crisis in Syria. In the subsequent debate he also addressed the issue of nuclear security in the Middle East and identified the continued rejection of the 1995 appeal of the states parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) for the establishment a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East by the only non-declared nuclear power in the region, and that power's rejection to join the NPT, as one of the main causes of instability.

The participants of the meeting adopted an appeal for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Syria and called upon the member states of the Security Council, in particular the United States and Russia, to seek a consensus so as to enable the world organization to carry out its mandate of collective security and facilitate dialogue among the warring parties. The participants stressed that the conflict must be resolved politically and condemned any form of military interference by outside powers. 

Among the keynote speakers of the Istanbul Meeting on the main themes "Unstable Middle East: Precarious Satus-quo, Insecure Future" and "A World Order based on the UN" were Mr. Samir Aita (Syria), Editor-in-Chief of Le Monde Diplomatique Arabic edition; Mr. Elmar Brok (Germany), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament; Prof. Feng Shaolei (China), Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at East China Normal University; Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Canada), former Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada; Prof. Hans Köchler (Austria), President of the International Progress Organization; Mr. Jack F. Matlock (USA), former Ambassador of the United States to the Soviet Union; Lord David Owen (UK), Member of the House of Lords, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom; Mr. Volker Rühe (Germany), former Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany; Mr. René Steichen (Luxemburg), Chairman of the Board of Directors of SES ASTRA and former member of the European Commission; Dr. Thomas Stelzer (Austria), Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations for Policy Coordination; and Mr. Mesut Yılmaz, former Prime Minister of Turkey. As host of the meeting, the Mayor of the Istanbul Municipality of Şişli, Mr. Mustafa Sarıgül, delivered the welcoming address.

The participants endorsed a proposal for a follow-up meeting of the New Policy Forum in Moscow on the reform of the United Nations Organization. On the sidelines of the Istanbul meeting, Prof. Hans Köchler presented a copy of his book "World Order: Vision and Reality" to President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The New Policy Forum is a global think tank with headquarters in Luxemburg. It was established in 2010 at the initiative of Mikhail Gorbachev and aims to bring together political leaders, intellectuals and civil society representatives in a common effort to develop new ideas and new policies for the 21st century.


Text of the statement adopted by the participants 

  • Interview with Hans Köchler on the Syrian crisis: Aksiyon, Istanbul, 2 April 2012 (Turkish)  

  • Speech of Hans Köchler on Palestine and International Law at the United Nations Office in Vienna, 29 November 2012 

  • The Security Council as Administrator of Justice? (Studies in International Relations, 2011)

International Progress Organization 
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