UNITED NATIONS  - Pledging its commitment to the United Nations Charter, Pakistan has called for a renewed focus on peaceful means to settle international disputes, preventing violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and upholding the principle of sovereign equality.

"The UN must fulfill its purpose of developing friendly relations among nations predicated on the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, as the Security Council held a day-long debate on the tenets of the Organisation’s Charter on Monday.

"It is counterintuitive to expect peaceful and friendly relations among nations if the UN cannot guarantee application of its fundamental principle of self-determination," the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council.

The Charter’s greatest success was that there had not been a general conflagration for more than 70 years, she said, but pointed out that the world was hardly at peace, amid conflict, rampant human rights abuses and the flouting of humanitarian law.

Unilateralism in “consequential” decisions of war and peace and “unwarranted” foreign adventures had devastating consequences, she said. The management of peace and security must be carried out by consensus, forged on the basis of Charter principles, rather than power politics.

"A cooperative approach, not the imposition of coercive measures, shaped by the interests of powerful States, must guide our actions."

Stressing UN responsibility to preventing violation of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States, she said that the use of force or threat of use of force, contravening international law, must be censured and effectively deterred.

"Failure to do so has already created an impression that the UN has become an instrument of the powerful, not the guardian of the principles of international law." While peoples of the world expect fairness and justice from the UN, it was also member states' responsibility to abide by the organisation's principles, and to translate their commitments into actions, she said.

"For if we are unable to do so, we will not only endanger the progress achieved in previous years but also risk making the institution appear irrelevant in a world marked by increasing turmoil and trouble, where insecurity prevails and injustice persists," the Pakistani envoy said.

"This would be a huge price to pay, especially at a time when so many conflicts are devastating the lives of millions and raising questions in people’s minds about the relevance and effectiveness of the UN in managing international peace and security."

Over 70 speakers took part in the debate on "Respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security,” opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “For the millions living amidst war and extreme poverty, and for countless others whose rights are violated or neglected in other ways, the ideals and aspirations of the Charter remain elusive,” he acknowledged.

Noting that 2015 was one of the most “troubled and turbulent years in recent history,” with civil wars ravaging Syria and Yemen and the spread of violent extremism, the UN chief emphasised that decades of experience have nonetheless validated the Charter's vision.

“The blatant disrespect for fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law defies our common humanity – and challenges the Security Council in fulfilling its duties under the Charter,” the Secretary-General added.