Klaus criticises UN, charges it needs to stay out of economics, science

Václav Klaus in front of the United Nations headquarters, photo: CTK

The outspoken Czech President Václav Klaus raised more than a few eyebrows at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York when he suggested in his address on Saturday what was needed was not an increased role for the organisation in global governance. While he agreed some reforms were necessary - namely to the Security Council – he made clear that the UN needed to adhere more closely to its founding principles.

Václav Klaus addresses the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters,  photo: CTK
Following a slew of calls for reform to bring the UN up-to-speed to reflect 21st century realities, Mr Klaus’s address once again cast him as something of a black sheep, adamant that what was needed was not a greater role or new objectives for the organisation, but the opposite: a streamlining of its administration and closer adherence to its original principles in seeking international peace. Speaking on Saturday, the Czech president charged that an increase in objectives and a greater role in the global governance of the economy, called for by some, would only make the situation worse.

Václav Klaus in front of the United Nations headquarters,  photo: CTK
“I don’t think that the UN needs to search for a new mission. The goals of the United Nations should remain those defined in the original UN Charter: to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems. The United Nations should not divert from these principles. It should not search for alternative or substitute projects to those which enhance peace, freedom and democracy.”

In his address, the Czech president stressed when it came to the economy and recovery from the economic crisis, the solution lay not in the creation of “new governmental and supranational agencies” but in allowing individual member states to find their “own solutions”. He suggested that greater intervention would hurt, not help. Václav Klaus again:

The 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly,  photo: CTK
“It is not possible to prevent any future crisis by implementing substantial, markets damaging macroeconomic and regulatory government interventions as is the case now. It is only possible to destroy the markets and together with them the chances for economic growth and prosperity in both developed and developing countries.”

Turning from economic matters, the Czech president was equally outspoken on other issues, including global warning. A vocal sceptic of man’s role in global warming, the Czech president stressed that the United Nations needed to limit involvement in science - a sharp contrast, for example, to the position of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for whom stopping climate change is a major priority. As a result, there is little doubt Mr Klaus’s words will be hailed by a number within more conservative circles but will equally raise the hackles of those left of the political spectrum. That said, the president’s words at the UN were probably not overly surprising to most, as his positions on the economy and the environment are well-documented and largely consistent.