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Tangled Webs in a Global Sanctum Sanctorum

K.P. Fabian

By Chinmaya R. Gharekhan
Pearson Longman, Delhi, 2005, pp. 328, Rs. 550.00


There is a perfect fit between the author and the theme he has chosen to write on. Chinmaya Gharekhan of the 1958 batch of the Indian Foreign Service has established a well deserved reputation for his professional competence, integrity, and superb  navigational skills in the often treacherous waters of  diplomacy.  As India’s Permanent Representative to the U N in New York for six years, he has presided over the Security Council twice. Each presidency lasts a month. Later, he was appointed by Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali as his Senior Political Advisor. Ghali was averse to attending the closed, ‘informal’ meetings of the Security Council and appointed Gharekhan to represent him in such meetings where decisions were taken, to be ratified at the   ‘formal’ meetings to be held subsequently.   The book is timely as the global citizen is increasingly concerned about the delay in reforming the UN system in general and the Security Council in particular. In fact, there is a growing body of opinion that the UN might have outlived its essential  utility as an instrument to prevent war, mediate over conflicts,  contributing towards the emergence of a reasonably peaceful world order to replace the current disorder. It should be noted that the specialized agencies that take care of the non-political sectors are much more purposeful and effective than the Security Council . Ghali in his  foreword has commended the author for giving “an intimate, honest, and highly professional account of the manner” in which the Security Council conducts its business. The author kept notes throughout and his account is rich in details such as the date, time, and the identity of the persons involved, and often the very words they used.   The author has wisely chosen a thematic approach. The first chapter is an excellent introduction into the mysteries of the Security Council. There are two chapters dealing  with Iraq starting from the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Developments in the  former Yugoslavia take up another  two chapters. Libya (the Lockerbie disaster), the Middle East,and the Rwanda genocide take a chapter each. The election of Ghali in 1991 and of Annan in 1996 are narrated in a manner that makes the reader feel that she  too was present with the author. In the final chapter, the author shares with the reader his thoughts on the reform of the Council. While dealing with the themes, the author has used a logical approach, ...

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