Tan Sri Razali Ismail shares his experience on diplomacy and UN role

By Puteri Othman and Aznan Mat Piah

GOMBAK, 12 March 2015: A prominent diplomat who was formerly Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, was the guest of honour at the IIUM Model United Nations (IIUM MUN) Club to share his experience and deliver a talk on “Diplomacy in Modern Global Politics: Finding A Solution”.

Tan Sri Razali Ismail was also the President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1996 until 1997 and a peace-broker for Bosnia and Myanmar.

The programme was held at the university’s Senate Hall which was also attended by the Rector, Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Zaleha Kamaruddin, and the Deputy Rector, Prof. Dato Dr. Mizan Hitam. The attendance of the event was overwhelmed, even before the start of the talk at 4.00 p.m the hall was already filled with students from different Kulliyyah.

Tan Sri Razali shared his experience, among others, in the handling of the Kenyan refugees, his experience when he was Malaysia’s High Commissioner in India during the time when Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was murdered, the role of the United Nations and the Security Council, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the Earth Summit during the early 1990s, and the attempts at reforms of the United Nations Security Council when Malaysia was then playing a role as a non-permanent member.

On UNCED, Malaysia came into the picture because of the tropical timber issue which required countries to conform to policies on certification and protection of the forests to resolve global environmental problems and earth warming.

He said not all the global issues that the United Nations had tried to tackle or implement have been successful. On some occasions there have been failures as a result of the delays on the part of UN’s action and the inability to resolve the issues and conflicts on time. He also said Malaysia’s position in the Security Council ought to be seen as constructive and helpful. It was not about making rhetorical statements but there were a lot of challenges.

Tan Sri Razali said in diplomacy there’s the need to engage the parties in conflict, therefore he couldn’t understand how diplomacy could be conducted through what the younger generation now called “digital diplomacy”.  He said he saw diplomacy has more to do with the people rather than the government, therefore there should be promulgation of policies towards these stakeholders.

He also said diplomacy should be a refined craft and diplomats must give the illusion or impression that “you are not going to fail the people.”

“That is very important,” he added. In other words, what he meant and implied was that diplomats must help to find solutions to the global issues and problems.

“Diplomats must try to win support of the people on the other side. One just cannot do it alone. It is therefore incumbent upon diplomats to continue to be active and to make strategic friends and to build on a process to a certain line of action,” Tan Sri Razali emphasised.

During the Question and Answer session Tan Sri Razali responded to a number of questions raised by the students especially relating to the Palestine-Israel relations, the issues of human rights and politics, especially the Rohingya issues in Myanmar, the disputed territory of Kashmir, the issues of the Muslims in southern Thailand and southern Philippines, the ISIS Muslim issue (Iraq and Syria issues), the issues of nuclear weapons, and other global issues and conflicts.

Also present at the talk was former Malaysia’s Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris, Datuk Kenneth J. Luis, who was invited to officiate the launching of the IIUM MUN Club. This is the seventh UN Club established in Malaysian universities.

The intellectual session by Malaysia’s renown diplomat had given students golden opportunity to be exposed to the knowledge of the United Nations and diplomacy to bring about solutions to global issues and conflicts.

The programme was divided into two parts that began with Tan Sri Razali sharing his personal experience as a Malaysian diplomat and a representative to the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council.

On the second part, Tan Sri Razali was invited to talk about the topic “Diplomacy in Modern Global Politics: Finding A Solution.” The two-part talk was wrapped up with Question and Answer session which lasted for half an hour.

Before concluding the programme, Datuk Kenneth Luis gave a closing speech and officially launched the IIUM MUN Club.

The UN Club in IIUM was established in 2014 to enhance the students’ knowledge on diplomacy, international relations and the roles of the United Nations in resolving global conflicts through research, debate and writing.***

Pictures taken by Wan Eizzul Wan Zulkfili

Puteri Othman

a pr student and currently the managing editor of IIUMToday

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