Thursday, November 24, 2005


Shape up UN, or maybe UDN?

Reprinted from
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005 11:42 a.m. EST

Ambassador Bolton: U.S. to Bypass U.N. if Not Reformed

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has laid it on the line: Reform or we'll take our business elsewhere.

According to today's Washington Post, Bolton warned the controversial international organization that the U.S. might bypass it in dealing with thorny global problems if the U.N. is unable to make management changes that will make the world body more effective and prevent a recurrence of the kind of corruption revealed in the scandal-ridden $64 Billion Oil-for-Food program.

Bolton told reporters the General Assembly has "essentially not made progress" since President Bush and other world leaders convened a U.N. summit in September to endorse a platform of changes, including proposals to increase scrutiny of spending practices and to create a human rights council that would exclude such rights abusers as Sudan, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe all of whom have served on the Council.

He warned that continued resistance to reforms in the U.N. would drive the American public away from the United Nations. "Americans are a very practical people, and they don't view the U.N. through theological lenses," Bolton said. "They look at it as a competitor in the marketplace for global problem-solving, and if it's successful at solving problems, they'll be inclined to use it. If it's not successful at solving problems, they'll say, 'Are there other institutions?'"

He added, "Making the U.N. stronger and more effective is a reform priority for us: Because if it's a more agile, effective organization, it is more likely to be a successful competitor as a global problem-solver."

The Post explained that the dispute has underscored the Bush administration's inability thus far to use the findings of former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker's investigation of the $64 Billion Oil for Food program to bring on institutional reform.

Volcker's 18-month investigation into the U.N.'s management of the $64 billion Oil-for-Food program in Iraq uncovered evidence of corruption by U.N. diplomats, foreign dignitaries and companies from more than 60 countries.

Although world leaders had told Annan to present a series of specific reform proposals to the 191-nation General Assembly in early 2006, Bolton warned that such key initiatives as establishing a new ethics office, a human rights council and a peace-building commission, would not get funded until the next budget negotiation cycle, in late 2007.

The Post reported that Bolton has proposed delaying the passage of the United Nations' $3.6 billion 2006-07 budget until the U.S.-backed reforms have been adopted and has suggested that the General Assembly could pass a temporary budget to finance the organization's operations through the first three to four months of 2006.

Annan told reporters on Monday that he opposes such a delay, and warned that the failure to adopt the budget by Dec. 31 could "create a serious financial crisis for the organization."

He refused to comment on reports that Bolton has warned that the U.N. could find itself on the sidelines if it fails to put into place the reforms the United States supports. "I'm not the interpreter of Ambassador Bolton," he said.

The Post reported that the Secretary General also tried to calm the fears of G7 members that the reform effort is an effort to reorder the U.N.'s administrative priorities to serve American interests, and to transfer more control of the organization's budget from the General Assembly to the secretary general's office. "I made it quite clear that there's no attempt at power grab," he said. "We accept the General Assembly as the key deliberative body of the organization."

Time to dump the UN and it's $3.6 Billion budget demands in favour of the new United Democratic Nations and more efficient, decisive operations. TG

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