Sunday, June 12, 2005

The UN Needs Reform

In Monday's New York Times, Warren Hoge covers a report to be released tomorrow from a panel created by Congress to recommend reforms for the United Nations. Headed by former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, the commission is composed of "former diplomats, military and intelligence officials and leaders of conservative and liberal political institutes."

In the commission's 174-page report, as reported by Hoge, the panel suggests that the UN should:

- "put in place corporate style oversight bodies and personnel standards to improve performance."
- "create a rapid reaction capability from its member states' armed forces to prevent genocide, mass killing and sustained major human rights violations before they occur."
- create a new Human Rights Council as envisioned by Secretary General Annan, with the Council's membership "ideally composed of democracies."
- create a "new United Nations office to monitor potentially genocidal developments and issue warnings to governments involved."
- implement a "new independent oversight board similar to a corporate audit committee to deter corruption and insure efficient use of resources."

The commission urged the the US to add "a new position of ambassadorial rank in the United States mission with the responsibility of helping to organize a caucus of democracies within the United Nations and of promoting the extension of democratic rights throughout the member states," and importantly recognized that sometimes failures of the United Nations are failures of its member states: "'On stopping genocide,' the report said, 'too often 'the United Nations failed' should actually read 'members of the United Nations blocked or undermined action by the United Nations.'"

All of the proposed reforms are excellent ones, and the US should push strongly for these and more. In order to make the United Nations an effective international institution as we move forward, this country must provide strong leadership and push for meaningful changes in the organization that will result in a more efficient, more useful, and more streamlined international response to events around the world.

A healthy first step toward reform at the United Nations would be the appointment of a strong, effective diplomat to be our ambassador there. As we have seen time and time again, the Administration's current nominee has proven ineffective and undiplomatic in his current position, and there is no reason to believe that John Bolton will change his stripes once he gets to New York. As the first order of business in response to the Gingrich-Mitchell report, President Bush ought to withdraw John Bolton's name from consideration and replace it with someone who will be able to carry through with reforms at the United Nations.

They're too important to entrust to Yosemite Sam.


At 11:34 PM, Blogger EG said...

Looking at the list of suggestions, I don't see how any of them would solve the problem in Darfur (without some military action). I assume the rapid reaction capability item refers to civil resources made quickly available.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Thanks for the comment eg - I agree (hence the "and more"). I meant to add something about Darfur above and forgot, but I'll say it here. I'm not certain exactly how the rapid-reaction force as proposed would work (all I've got to go on until the report comes out tomorrow is the NYT's synopsis, obnoxiously), but you're right, there certainly needs to be something done that will allow interventions to stop genocidal attacks on populations ... perhaps intervention even if some member nations try to ignore the issue, as is happening today.

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would certainly be nice to get some reform at the UN, however, it would also require a vast change in the power structure of the world as presently constituted. The US is currently the largest contributor/manipulator of the UN, with large MNC's running the US through campaign contributions and propaganda posted in the media so as to influence the population to think things are going fairly well, and that the "terrorists" are the source of the world's problems. Maybe it would be possible for world peace to exist if there were genuine dialogue about the problems we currently face, with greed and pelf as the issues to deal with, not to be protected from discussion like some sacred cow. Many think GWB is the problem in this respect, but he is only the face of the heinous, selfish ones who really would like to maintain this status quo, or further tip the scales in their own favor. Nevertheless, I applaud those who stand for change for the better, while encouraging them to find effective ways to do so.

At 1:41 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Since Bolton is known for disagreeing with so many of the policies of the UN, and he is supposedly an inflammatory figure, I think he is exactly the man to represent America in the UN. Any world organization that puts Libya and other human rights abusing nations on the human rights counsel needs someone who will beat them up a little.


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