Consular news Embassy 6 March 2008
Labour veteran urges radical UN reform
Former Labour MP Tony Benn delivered a rousing speech at the Consular Corps of London’s luncheon this month calling for the United Nations to be made more democratic.
Proudly wearing his blue UN tie for the occasion, Benn told consuls that the international organisation would be strengthened if it better reflected the size of the states involved.
“Then China would have bigger representation than, say, Luxembourg, which is not the case at present,” he said.
Quoting the UN Charter, the veteran politician added that everybody had a duty to stay true to the Charter to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
“We have to find another way to resolve our differences,” he said, adding that the religious element must be removed from the world’s conflicts.
“All major religions preach the same thing: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself,” Benn said. “So using religion as a basis for conflict is, in my opinion, a terrible abuse.”
Benn, who sat for 50 years in parliament before resigning in 2001, also referred to recent large-scale immigration to the UK, which has put consular staff in London under increased pressure to provide invaluable services.
“London is so multicultural that it reminds me of what philosopher and revolutionary Thomas Paine said: ‘My country is the world, my religion is to do good,’” he said.
“I have my hair cut by an Iraqi and I have met a woman from Eritrea working at a grocery store and spoke to a man from the Congo clipping tickets while also doing some freelance writing for the Irish Times.”
He also explained how Londoners, despite their different backgrounds, helped each other in need. He said, concluding: “I really have great confidence in the human race.”
For information on the Consular Corps contact André Goodfriend on goodfriendMA@state.gov