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United Nations reform « Previous | |Next »
September 19, 2005

It is widely acknowledged that the UN does need to reform, improve its accountability, reduce corruption. and cut out excessive spending and waste. It does need to be addressed, and the 2005 World Summit was a good time to redefine the UN for the 21st Century, put in place management changes, and take action to meet the UN's millennium goals to reduce poverty and promote development. The UN has taken this concern on board.

The United States says that it is prepared to help lead the effort to strengthen and reform the UN. However, the US continues to act as a spoiler in relation to the UN. The US has pretty much been engaged in blocking plans for a far-reaching reform of the United Nations, the UN's plans for poverty reduction through the the millennium development goals, and the attempts by the UN to reach an agreement designed to prevent terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The Republican US is in favour for reform of the UN, not because it wants a stronger multilateral U.N. that lives up to its expectations/ideals, but because reform is a device to strangle an ailing patient.

Steve Bell

President Bush said that the way forward in tackling poverty was for the world to drop all obstacles to free trade.

"Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services if other nations do the same."

This is familar Bush rhetoric.

The rhetoric is being spun even though the Bush administration is aware that the EU or Japan will not embrace free trade with respect to agricultural commodities.

Nor will the US. The Free Trade Agreement the US signed with Australia is a good example of the big protectionism existing behind Bush's free trade rhetoric. We have free traders who were very protective of the sugar (and now the textile) industry in the U.S.

Few of the reformers in the US or Australia are willing to admit that the UN’s complex and inefficient machinery results from deep political disagreements among its members and between other contending forces in the global system. The unilateralism of the US and Australia indicate that they want a weak UN with a small budget and scarcely any voice in economic matters.

So it is no suprrise that in the end, the world leaders approved an embarrassingly weak document, filled mostly with empty platitudes.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:38 AM | | Comments (2)


The public knows the only practical way to reform the UN is to remove the veto and we know that won't happen for practical reasons.

All nations are protectionist at heart. It protects their local economy.

I might not agree with the concept of "trade liberalisation" but at least Australia is putting its money where its mouth is and doing it instead of using rhetoric

Richard Holbrooke, the former US Ambassador to the US says:

"And another contingent of Americans just hates the U.N. and wants us to leave the U.N. or get the U.N. out of the United States or whatever. But the U.N. is nothing more than a collection of its 191 members. When something goes wrong in that big empty factory of diplomatic mumbo-jumbo on the East River there, it isn't the U.N. that's happened; it's the ambassadors representing their governments."

He then adds referring to teh Iraq war:
Now, here is the most important point about the U.N., because it was at that moment that the administration, the right-wing acolytes of the administration, turned on the U.N. Who was to blame? Was it the U.N.? Of course not. The U.N. was just the building in which the train wreck took place. Blaming the U.N. for what happened is like blaming Madison Square Garden for the Knicks. It's just a building. What happened there really happened in capitals—---[Paris] and Moscow and Berlin and Beijing said no, and the British and the Americans went ahead. And then they unleashed the savage attack on the institution.

Saying the UN is just a building puts it into a different perspective does it not?