Monday, November 29, 2004

Reforming the U.N.

They're still talking about reforming the U.N., mainly by throwing a whole bunch more countries into the Security Council. What they have yet to ask is how adding more members, possibly including veto power, is going to make the Security Council any less obstructionist.

From the New York Times, the scramble begins:

"For every country you can name," [a British Foreign Office minister] said, "there are two or three next in line who feel their positions entitle them to frustrate the process."

In Africa, the leading contestants are South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. In the Americas, Mexico and Argentina will have doubts about the primacy of Brazil. In Asia, Pakistan can be expected to oppose India, and China is wary of admitting Japan and, with its veto, could single-handedly keep Tokyo out.

Egypt wants Arab and Muslim permanent representation on the Council while Indonesia pressed its case this fall to be considered the voice of what its foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, called "moderate Islam."

Italy, which does not want to be the only major Western European country without permanent representation on the Council, has publicly sought to undermine Germany's candidacy. It suggests instead that there be a seat for the European Union, although the charter at the moment recognizes only nation states, not groups of states, as members.

Of course, more obstructionism in the U.N. may not be such a bad thing. It could help us find a better road, like the Caucus of Democracies:

Since the U.N.'s creation, millions have been killed, maimed, starved, tortured or raped by brutal rulers whose governments nevertheless wield great influence in the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council....

The U.N. today remains far short of realizing its potential or its stated aspirations. Its direction and control have been hijacked by authoritarian regimes, the relics of yesterday. We must work diligently toward realizing its original goals: freedom, democracy and human rights for all the peoples of the world. Until then, with our national values and security at stake, we must not permit our interests to be diverted and undermined by the unprincipled.

At a minimum, it is essential that the U.S. take the lead in establishing and strengthening a Caucus of Democratic States committed to advancing the U.N.'s assigned role for world peace, human dignity and democracy. The recently established Community of Democracies (CD) has called for this move, a recommendation jointly supported in a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations and Freedom House....

A strong case may be made for the need for an international body to which all of the world's states, democratic and authoritarian, belong. Discussion and constructive exchange may flow from it. But let us not bestow on it the appearance of being a forum of principle or wisdom qualified to judge the dimension of our national welfare and value. The changes necessary in the U.N. will be difficult to achieve, and some may not be achieved at all. But the impetus for such change must be a commitment to human rights and democracy. We should put Kofi Annan's statement to the test: "When the U.N. can truly call itself a Community of Democracies, the Charter's noble ideas of protecting human rights . . . will have been brought much closer."

No comments: