HARTFORD, Conn. – Nirupam Sen, Indian ambassador to the United Nations, called for wholesale changes in the organization’s economic and political governance, saying the UN’s current structure is “hopelessly inadequate” to meet the challenges that confront the world today.
Sen also criticized the composition and actions of the UN’s Security Council, asserting that it also needs to undergo fundamental change. As it is currently constituted, Sen said, it is unable to deal with international crises such as genocide and crimes against humanity.
Sen delivered the Patricia C. and Charles H. McGill III ’63 Distinguished Lecture in International Studies at Trinity College on Monday, February 9 before a standing-room-only crowd in McCook Auditorium. Sen spoke about the role of the United Nations in the 21st century in a speech entitled, “India and the Reform of the United Nations.”
Noting that the world order of 2009 doesn’t resemble the world order of years past when superpowers dominated the global configuration, Sen said the United Nations must do a better job of representing the interests of developing nations. He also argued that India deserves a permanent seat on the Security Council.
Sen was not entirely critical of the New York City-based organization with its 192 members and $9 billion budget. “The United Nations has done a lot for the world,” he said. “There are so many things that we take for granted. If the UN wasn’t there, it would have to be invented.”
In a sense, Sen said, the United Nations is very similar to India in that both represent a plurality of people, races and religions. “India is a miniature UN itself,” he said.
Yet, despite his praise for the United Nations, he insisted that it hasn’t adapted to the times, and that its inability to deal with the global recession is a prime example of its out-dated structure and the need for fundamental economic and political reform.
“An organization that cannot stand up to its problems is a decaying organization,” he said.
Sen’s lecture was co-sponsored by the McGill International Studies Fund at Trinity College and the World Affairs Council. A reception followed his presentation.
Sen was appointed to the position of ambassador to the United Nations in June 2004. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1969 after receiving his degree in history from Delhi University and attending Oxford University. He has had a distinguished career in Indian diplomatic circles, having served in Budapest, Sofia, Moscow, Oslo, Colombo, London and now New York City.
The McGill International Studies Fund was endowed at the College in 1996 with a gift from Patricia C. and Charles H. McGill III ’63. The gift enabled Trinity to secure a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The McGill Fund supports the appointment of visiting humanities scholars in international studies.
Charles H. McGill is a nationally recognized expert in merger and acquisitions, and corporate strategic planning and restructuring. He is the founding partner of Sagamore Partners, an acquisitions adviser, and currently serves on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations. McGill is a former member of the Trinity College Board of Trustees and its Board of Fellows. He received the College's Alumni Medal of Excellence in 1993.