When the United Nations was formed by 51 countries in 1945 after the Second World War, one of the most important motivations was keeping peace throughout the world. Though a lot of progress has been made nearly eight decades later, many states are still experiencing armed conflicts within their borders.
Professor Nabhit Kapur, 33, who on April 7 joined the race to become the next UN Secretary-General, believes controlling the illegal spread of guns is a major step in achieving greater peace.
“Conflict resolution is a very broad process and differs in every different country but one of the main keys to conflict resolution is to create clear, multilateral diplomatic relations between countries and the insurgents,” he told HumAngle.
“I believe that in order to eradicate armed violence and guerilla movements, we must urge countries to create a more descriptive global control system on arms supplies because the main cause of armed violence is that in some countries arms can be bought more easily than water due to smuggling. This is caused by a very weak control system on arms on a governmental level.”
Kapur is the founder of Peacful Mind Foundation, an India-based non-profit that promotes mental health, and president of the World Leaders for Mental Health. He is also a multiple TEDx speaker and fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.
He has three honorary doctorate degrees and has received numerous awards and honours including the Ghana Peace Award; Peace Ambassador Morocco; Peace Envoy (International Academy of Peace); Most Influential Psychologist (Federal Association for the Advancement of Visible Minorities, Canada); and so on.
The UN Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly after nomination and informal dialogues by the candidates. The body has recently made efforts to improve transparency in the process, but many still fear that it is too obscure and problematic.
The first informal dialogues in the build-up to the next election are set to take place on May 7, 2021. The current Secretary-General, António Guterres, was appointed in Oct. 2016 and has indicated interest to serve a second five-year term once his first lapses in December this year.
Though he considers all global issues important, the ones dearest to Kapur are healthcare, humanitarian concerns such as disease outbreaks, as well as what he refers to as “well-being diplomacy”. Other issues he has highlighted include climate change, ecological disruption, and gender equality.
One of the ways of addressing humanitarian crises, he explained, is ensuring that victims receive psychosocial care, and to do this law reforms are necessary. Existing international conventions, Kapur said, should be amended to fit modern crisis conditions.
“As a part of my first 100 days, my goal would be to create a humanitarian task force for regions that need urgent attention,” he told this paper. “Secondly, my focus would be multilateral diplomacy, helping each other, but especially the hardest-hit areas.”
Thirdly, he continued, ensuring equitable vaccine distribution to underdeveloped regions of the world will also top his short-term agenda.
In his expression of interest letter to President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, Kapur said he observed from his interaction with various world leaders that the United Nations has become a status symbol. He had written that despite spending trillions of dollars, the intergovernmental organisation has achieved little in terms of peace-keeping and health in many parts of the world.
If he becomes Secretary-General, he said, his administration will be about work and not showing off.
“It is true to a larger extent,” he maintained. “The UN has become a major status symbol for people. I see many organisations even using the UN logos to create that hype. Whereas, the UN is an organisation which came into being to help build a world where ‘nations would be united,’ focus on sustainability, and build a just world.”
Kapur says his most vital qualities are his energy, focus, and vision. He also chipped in his go-getting mindset as well as the ability to connect with people and governments.
As a way of illustrating his equitable agenda, Kapur has made his campaign hashtag #UN4All.
“I think the UN should get member-countries to create a command centre that checks to see that people are benefitting from the programmes established for them,” he said. “One of the reasons people do not benefit is poor awareness. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how much awareness creation is important to mobilising people on any issue.”
If he does not get elected into the UN Secretary-General position, Kapur says he will simply continue his work on mental health, well-being, and bringing world leaders together to support related issues.
“Definitely, assuming a position changes the way we tackle things, but surely I will continue it in any case,” he said matter-of-factly.
Kapur is not the only millennial in the race. 34-year-old Arora Akanksha, also a native of India, has submitted a formal application. A gynaecologist, she has served as an audit coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2017.
Since its formation in 1945, eight people have served as UN Secretary-General from the youngest, 48-year-old Dag Hammarskjöld, to the oldest, 70-year-old Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The current Secretary-General was 67 when he assumed office in 2017. But Kapur believes the history of the institution should not discourage young people from aspiring to its chief position.
“Bold steps are needed in life; risk is important,” he said. “Don’t think of winning or losing. Concentrate on the vision you have. The more you come out of your comfort zone, the more you realise how much you can do.”
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