Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: United Nations Reform Proposal
America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] International Debate
Google
turnea
Well the long awaited verdict from Kofi Annan is in.
QUOTE
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan presents on Monday to the 191-member General Assembly the most sweeping changes since 1945, ranging from security, development, human rights to terrorism.[...]

* HUMAN RIGHTS - A new Human Rights Council to replace the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, criticized for allowing abusers to protect each other from condemnation. Members should be elected by a two-thirds General Assembly vote rather than rotation by regional groups.

* SECURITY COUNCIL - A vote by September on how to expand the 15-member body to 24 members. Annan did not endorse any of the plans now before the General Assembly.

* POVERTY - Rich countries should establish a timetable to reach a 35-year old goal of earmarking 0.7 of gross national income for development aid by 2015. They should establish a lending facility to kick-start development and embrace debt forgiveness.

* USE OF FORCE - Security Council should adopt a set of clear principles, such as whether the military option is proportional to the threat at hand; and whether there is a reasonable chance of success. Endorses "responsibility to protect," even by force, atrocities against civilians when a state is unwilling or unable to do so.
* TERRORISM - Quick adoption of resolution calling for a comprehensive treaty against terrorism, including suicide bombers or anyone who deliberately harms civilians.

Main points of Annan's new UN reform plans
These are some of the highlights of the reform package.
To read the report on full. Report(PDF)

...also to related to a debate we've recently had it calls for and international definition of terrorism.
QUOTE
For years, a comprehensive convention against terrorism has been held up over a definition of the term. Some countries argue that one nation's terrorists are another's freedom fighters. Annan said the debate must end and all countries must accept that resisting occupation ``cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians.''

He called for adoption of a convention by September 2006 with the definition of terrorism in the high-level panel's report. It said terrorism includes any act ``intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.''

Annan Calls for Bold Changes to U.N.
So...

Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
Google
Julian
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?
Yes, it is.

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?
No, but they are a good start. We should not allow the best to be the enemy of the good here.

If not, what other reforms are necessary?
One example is that I think the French and British permanent seats on the security council have been overtaken by events. Perhaps even the Russians too. I would like to see Japan and India also take up permanent spots, and either Germany & Italy (for economic clout) join or all individual European nations step down and a single EU seat take it's place.
I'd also like to see the veto system reformed so that it can only be used if it is explained, and the only grounds for justification should be if a permanenet UNSC member can demonstrate that a motion clearly goes against its own national interest. Ally nations are in the UN too and should speak up if they have a problem.

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
I think that there is certainly some momentum for change at the UN, in the light of their failure to adequately deal with the invasion (&/or liberation) or Iraq.
Nobody on any side of the argument was particularly happy with the way the UN performed; opponents of invasion were not happy because the UN couldn't stop the US & UK & rest from going in regardless of what they thought; and the coalition countries weren't happy because they didn't really get their way either with French, Chinese, Russian etc. troops to spread the load).
The fact that the UN itself, through Annan and his team, are now looking at ways to change themselves should be seen as an opportunity, IMO.
I think the main barrier to change will come, as ever, from those around the world (not just the USA) who see the UN as useless or even counter-productive. They don't want to reform it to make it work better, because they don't actually want it to be there at all. It's like asking PETA to consult on how to make your slaughterhouse work better - they are fundamentally opposed to it on principle, so any changes they do suggest will be steps on the road to shutting it down altogether.
turnea
QUOTE(Julian @ Mar 21 2005, 11:16 AM)
 
I'd also like to see the veto system reformed so that it can only be used if it is explained, and the only grounds for justification should be if a permanenet UNSC member can demonstrate that a motion clearly goes against its own national interest. Ally nations are in the UN too and should speak up if they have a problem.

I think that might be useful but it begs the question: Who would decide an interest has been demonstrated? If an impartial judge cannot be found, wouldn't this defeat the very concept of a veto?

QUOTE(Julian)
 
I think that there is certainly some momentum for change at the UN, in the light of their failure to adequately deal with the invasion (&/or liberation) or Iraq.   
Nobody on any side of the argument was particularly happy with the way the UN performed; opponents of invasion were not happy because the UN couldn't stop the US & UK & rest from going in regardless of what they thought; and the coalition countries weren't happy because they didn't really get their way either with French, Chinese, Russian etc. troops to spread the load).

I think coalition countries were unhappy because UN inspectors could never get full cooperation from the Iraqis on disarmament which made their task of verification impossible.

QUOTE(Julian)
The fact that the UN itself, through Annan and his team, are now looking at ways to change themselves should be seen as an opportunity, IMO.   
I think the main barrier to change will come, as ever, from those around the world (not just the USA) who see the UN as useless or even counter-productive. They don't want to reform it to make it work better, because they don't actually want it to be there at all. It's like asking PETA to consult on how to make your slaughterhouse work better - they are fundamentally opposed to it on principle, so any changes they do suggest will be steps on the road to shutting it down altogether. 
*
 

I agree 100% for those who have doubts about the UN and actually want reform (rather than elimination) this report is very encouraging.

In the accompanying speech some of the issue UN-skeptics raise were addressed.
QUOTE
Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed sweeping changes to the United Nations today that would expand the Security Council to reflect modern realities of global power, restructure the discredited Human Rights Commission to keep rights violators from becoming members and redefine terrorism to end any justifications of its use for national resistance.[...] 
"This hall has heard enough high-sounding declarations to last us for some decades to come," he added. "We know what the problems are, and we all know what we have promised to achieve. 
 
"What is needed now is not more declarations, but action to fulfill the promises already made."   
[...]Mr. Annan said the Human Rights Commission had been undermined by allowing participation by countries whose purpose was "not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others." In recent years, the commission's members have included Cuba, Libya and Sudan.[...] 
The council now has 5 veto-bearing members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and 10 members elected to two-year terms. One alternative would add 6 permanent members - likely candidates are Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Egypt and either Nigeria or South Africa - as well as 3 two-year term members.

Annan Offers Plans for Changes in U.N. Structure

A major under-reported aspect of the report which I mention in my blog is the stand of the Millennium Project Development goals as a key aspect of reform.

The international community needs to recognize that development is absolutely vital to its security goals.
bucket
QUOTE
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?


I hate to be the one to come out against reform or progress but I will. For me, to allow Annan to move forward with this and to be the man who pushes the UN forward or to what we can pretend is progress makes me totally and completely ill. I just can not imagine how we could all turn around after what has come to light of the UN and it's current Secretary General and ask this man to then reform the UN..how can we trust him to do this? I just can not understand this at all.

The UN charter itself has been broken. The UN Secretary General is alleged to have full knowledge of this and even allowed his own family to benefit from such corruption. Perhaps we should focus on retaining, fixing and upholding the basic structure...the Charter... of the UN first. I just feel the UN is not ready for change until the UN is secure in providing it's most basic functions first and foremost. I would hate to see energies for UN reform get so easily and wastefully misused by this man and his own desires for political self preservation.

Just for added proof of how futile, meaningless and absurd the UN has become under the guidance of Mr. Annan.. the UN claims their new proposed reforms will better address important issues like terrorism by.."adopting a tough anti-terrorism treaty that would punish suicide bombers" exactly how is Mr. Annan planning on punishing suicide bombers? It is all so ridiculous.
source

What the world needs right now is someone like Dag Hammarskjold to lead the UN towards reform.

turnea
QUOTE(bucket @ Mar 22 2005, 12:01 PM)
I hate to be the one to come out against reform or progress but I will.  For me, to allow Annan to move forward with this and to be the man who pushes the UN forward or to what we can pretend is progress makes me totally and completely ill.  I just can not imagine how we could all turn around after what has come to light of the UN and it's current Secretary General  and ask this man to then reform the UN..how can we trust him to do this?  I just can not understand this at all.

As much as I believe the Oil-for-Food scandal has been swept unde the rug at the UN I'm not sure I agree here.

Presumption of innocence is one reason, I don't believe Kofi Annan himself has been charged with corruption only his son.

The question of competence is a good one, I have had occasional misgivings about Annan myself.

But right now he's talking a good game, if he's willing to implement the reforms the report calls for, then by all means let him.


QUOTE(bucket)

Just for added proof of how futile, meaningless and absurd the UN has become under the guidance of Mr. Annan.. the UN claims their new proposed reforms will better address important issues like terrorism by.."adopting a tough anti-terrorism treaty that would punish suicide bombers"  exactly how is Mr. Annan planning on punishing suicide bombers?  It is all so ridiculous.
source

What the world needs right now is someone like Dag Hammarskjold to lead the UN towards reform.
*


The UN is prone to such pie-in-the-sky rhetoric sometimes. We know that punishing terrorists requires physically getting a hold on them, some it seems the UN has not been to good at doing.

..but the other proposal such as a unified definition of terrorism, expansion of the Security Council, and cleaning up the Human Rights Commission all sound like goals that could be accomplished.
Titus
Check out my blog for a small rant on what I think of this.



To answer the first two questions, yes, it's obvious the UN is in need of a serious overhaul. Yet reforms, as necessary as they are, are insufficient because of the problems not only lie in the organization itself, but in it's members and administrators, and that right there makes any attempt at reform, suspect and doomed to failure.

The current administration in the UN has covered up or otherwise denied responsibility in scandals in the Oil for Food program and the sexual assualts of women by UN peacekeeping troops from Liberia to the Congo.

Even more disturbing is that those who sought to bring light to these issues at an early point were ignored and even dismissed from their jobs as a result of their persuing the issue like Rehan Mullick who testifed before a House Subcomittee early this month or Kathryn Bolovac, who was a contracted by a US company to work for the UN in Bosnia and was subsequently fired for "time-sheet irregularities" after she sent a memo to superiors claiming UN policeman were involved in things such as human trafficking and ignoring suxual assualts.

Now aside from the fact that I don't trust the man, some of his reforms would do some good if they were handled by someone else. Others look to not solve the problem at all or complicate matters further.

For instance, expanding the number of permanent members in the UNSC, which I agree with, will not solve the corruption and hypocracy that has filled the council for years. I also picked Japan and India to be added (and rightly so), but the addition of India may widen the rift between India, China, and Pakistan. India and China will constantly be at odds, and Pakistan will not like the idea India having more power.

Reforms should be made so that certains countries with conflicts of interest (Russia *ahem* with Iraq *ahem) can not stand in the way of justice.

Annan also proposed creating a body that would replace the Geneva based Hman Rights Comission. That's great, but I can almost guarantee that countries like China will be a member of that body, and that can not, but I imagine will be tolerated.

I like the ideas for a "democracy fund" and funding to help fight AIDS and the like, but after the Oil for Food scandal, I'm not sure we can trust those within the UN to handle the money anymore.

To get to question number three, the only other reforms I see necessary (outside from scrapping the UN and starting from scratch) are to dismiss Kofi Annan, dismiss administrators both within the bureaucratic and military ranks that are found to have been involved in any wrongdoing, and completely dismatle groups involved in crimes, including UNWRA, who has been involved with terrorist groups.

Now will the reforms proposed by Kofi Annan be implemented? I imagine some will, but I imagine that some will be used as the framework for future reforms.

Yet at the end of the day, I still beieve that Annan is the wrong man for proposing such ideas, and that as long as he and the corruption still permeate the UN, reforms are useless.
liberaldude81
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?
Yes. of course.

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?
Yes. However expanding the Security Council to 24 members is a bit much. I believe that 8 permanent seats would be sufficient, along with 7 semi-permanent seats.
Perm. seats
Americas: US, Brazil
Europe: UK, France, Germany
Africa: Egypt or South Africa
Asia/Australia: China, Japan

If not, what other reforms are necessary?
Perhaps a revision of the Trusteeship Council. The Trusteeship Council only deal with colonies. It needs to deal with ungoverned regions.

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
Yes. Times are different.
Argonaut
QUOTE(turnea @ Mar 21 2005, 08:19 AM)
Well the long awaited verdict from Kofi Annan is in.
QUOTE
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan presents on Monday to the 191-member General Assembly the most sweeping changes since 1945, ranging from security, development, human rights to terrorism.[...]

* HUMAN RIGHTS - A new Human Rights Council to replace the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, criticized for allowing abusers to protect each other from condemnation. Members should be elected by a two-thirds General Assembly vote rather than rotation by regional groups.

* SECURITY COUNCIL - A vote by September on how to expand the 15-member body to 24 members. Annan did not endorse any of the plans now before the General Assembly.

* POVERTY - Rich countries should establish a timetable to reach a 35-year old goal of earmarking 0.7 of gross national income for development aid by 2015. They should establish a lending facility to kick-start development and embrace debt forgiveness.

* USE OF FORCE - Security Council should adopt a set of clear principles, such as whether the military option is proportional to the threat at hand; and whether there is a reasonable chance of success. Endorses "responsibility to protect," even by force, atrocities against civilians when a state is unwilling or unable to do so.
* TERRORISM - Quick adoption of resolution calling for a comprehensive treaty against terrorism, including suicide bombers or anyone who deliberately harms civilians.

Main points of Annan's new UN reform plans
These are some of the highlights of the reform package.
To read the report on full. Report(PDF)

...also to related to a debate we've recently had it calls for and international definition of terrorism.
QUOTE
For years, a comprehensive convention against terrorism has been held up over a definition of the term. Some countries argue that one nation's terrorists are another's freedom fighters. Annan said the debate must end and all countries must accept that resisting occupation ``cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians.''

He called for adoption of a convention by September 2006 with the definition of terrorism in the high-level panel's report. It said terrorism includes any act ``intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.''

Annan Calls for Bold Changes to U.N.
So...

Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?

*




Finding myself all but unable to resrict myself from laughing out loud, I confess that I am much more concerned with the diversion of 300 million dollars of oil-for-food money from Sadaam Hussein to Kofi Annaan's boy than I am about whether the future U.N tax on successful people is .4% or .7%

I will have much more confidence in a system where the theives and their fathers are held accountable for their crimes and not appointed to important positions of state.

The Countries of Europe who's industries profited from trade with Sadam Hussein during the "90's (oil and guns) should likewise put away their brickbats and admit that their profits kept a totalitarian dictatorship in power while our son's sacrificed their lives for a future freedom for Iraqs' sons and daughters.
Sevac
QUOTE(Argonaut @ Mar 23 2005, 10:47 AM)
The Countries of Europe who's industries profited from trade with Sadam Hussein during the "90's (oil and guns) should likewise put away their brickbats and admit that their profits kept a totalitarian dictatorship in power while our son's sacrificed their lives for a future freedom for Iraqs' sons and daughters.
*


us.gif Oh my god how patriotic and predictable. Unbelievable how good you have been brainwashed by government propaganda. Invade a country and call it bringing freedom. I love it.




Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

Definitely. It has been set up in the 1940's and stayed the same since then.

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

They can be sufficient if the whole package is adopted.

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

The veto powers should lose that privilege and instead decisions should be made by a 50 % majority. I know it will never happen but it would be very wise.

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?

I think the intentions are sincere but I know that one country us.gif has no intention to let the UN speak for all the nations when it us.gif can do so just as good. Not under GWB and very much not likely under any democrat. The US define their own morale rather than let the majority define it, because, oh well, it would be against the nations best interest.... [So they say]

I would want to life in a world where all nations can speak up and decisions are being made and only valid if the majority of the other nations support them. That would be the world's conscience, and if your conscience says its ok, then why not do it? It would be the dawn of a world government. I hope to life long enough to see it.
Jaime
Stop with the belitting and insulting comments or we will be forced to close this thread.

TOPICS:
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
Google
turnea
QUOTE(Sevac @ Mar 23 2005, 07:10 AM)
I think the intentions are sincere but I know that one country  us.gif  has no intention to let the UN speak for all the nations when it  us.gif can do so just as good. Not under GWB and very much not likely under any democrat. The US define their own morale rather than let the majority define it, because, oh well, it would be against the nations best interest.... [So they say]

I would want to life in a world where all nations can speak up and decisions are being made and only valid if the majority of the other nations support them. That would be the world's conscience, and if your conscience says its ok, then why not do it? It would be the dawn of a world government. I hope to life long enough to see it.
*


This is a vision of something the UN was (thankfully) never intended to be. The United Nations is not an entity unto itself, not a world government. A ruling by a majority of world governments doesn't make a decision correct. Government should kept a large degree of individual decision making ability, at least until the UN is far more trustworthy than it is now.

..and the US is hardly the only country that refuses to make consider the UN the supreme authority on world affairs. There is no supreme authority nor should there be, it would only lead to abuse.

QUOTE(Argonaut)
Finding myself all but unable to resrict myself from laughing out loud, I confess that I am much more concerned with the diversion of 300 million dollars of oil-for-food money from Sadaam Hussein to Kofi Annaan's boy than I am about whether the future U.N tax on successful people is .4% or .7%

Do you think it reasonable to wait until investigation is complete or if you feel the investigation is inept, would you post the evidence which makes you so sure that Annan is at fault in this matter?

..and the Oil-for-Food scandal as bad as it seems is hardly the totality of the UN's actions.

Don't tall me no other worthy organization has ever had problems with financial mismanagement.
ConservPat
QUOTE
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?
Absolutely. As previously stated, the UN hasn't changed since its birth. Not that I believe a "Structural and/or procedural reform" will A: Happen or B: Change my opinion of such an organization, but we'd be better off with such a reform.

QUOTE
If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?
I agree with Julian here [ whistling.gif biggrin.gif ], no it's not sufficient. More can be done.

QUOTE
If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Well, personally I'd like to see the US pull out, but knowing that will never happen, this is what I propose.

1: Perhaps something should be done to prevent a country with serious terrorism problems to become the head of the anti-terror arm of the UN. Or maybe we should prevent countries like Libya from being the Human Right's Chair-country. Just a thought?

2: Koffi's gotta go. If a US President resided over a cabinet that took kickbacks from a violent and murderous dictator he'd be impeached before you can say Richard Nixon.

3: Votes should be weighted. The United Arab Emirates shouldn't have the same amount of power as France.

QUOTE
Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
mellow.gif smile.gif biggrin.gif w00t.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif *wipes tears from eyes* No. Because the UN is a corrupt organization with no incentive or will to correct itself.

CP us.gif
bucket
QUOTE
As much as I believe the Oil-for-Food scandal has been swept unde the rug at the UN I'm not sure I agree here. 
 
Presumption of innocence is one reason, I don't believe Kofi Annan himself has been charged with corruption only his son. 
 
The question of competence is a good one, I have had occasional misgivings about Annan myself. 
 
But right now he's talking a good game, if he's willing to implement the reforms the report calls for, then by all means let him. 


Perhaps my own disgust with Annan is more based on his complete failure as the Secretary General, among other titles he has held within the UN, then just one particular accusation or incident. I don't understand Turnea how we must provide legal charges of Mr. Annan to prove his incompetence. Isn't the fact he is the Secretary General of the UN enough? Hasn't all of this occurred under his guidance? Doesn't his own job titles, duties and responsibilities make him guilty? One of the defined roles/duties of the UN Secretary-General is he is expected to uphold the values of the UN and act as its moral authority.
Has he done this? Is he guilty of failure in this role? I believe he is.

From the largest known corruption to the sex scandals of UN peacekeepers, to the now disclosed total and complete inaction of the UN peacekeepers to even bother to attempt their role as peacekeepers in Africa, to the allegations that UN peacekeepers have a very active role in the spread of AIDS in some African nations, to the UN's decision to ignore Dutch peacekeepers pleas to save innocents lives, to the absolute compliancy and disregard for the mass amount of lives lost in Rwanda..how much more proof is needed? All of the above has plagued the UN and destroyed any sense of legitimacy it may have had under the guidance of Mr. Annan. I don't understand how you can claim he is innocent. How much more presuming of innocence should this man be afforded?


QUOTE(sevac)
Definitely. It has been set up in the 1940's and stayed the same since then. 

That is not true...reform and calls for reform have always been heard in the UN. Annan came into the Secretary-General role with reform in mind..right from the start. Some of which he succeeded at but most of which he has obviously failed at. In 1997 Annan made the commitment to UN reform by stating he sought to better manage and coordinate the UN, stronger Human Rights protection, and a promotion for better equipped and manned peacekeeping operations. I think we are all too aware of what has happened in these focused areas of Annan's past reforms in the past few years. Again I ask..how can we trust this man to further "reform" the UN when his past commitments to reform were so poorly implemented?

What the UN needs is reform but it needs to reform and better implement it's basic fundamentals. It will only continue to fail to meet it's commitments until it's commitments are actually being sought.
I don't believe that a UN that really desired to uphold it's basic principles would allow a man like Kofi Annan to continue as it's Secretary-General.
turnea
QUOTE(ConservPat @ Mar 23 2005, 09:19 AM)

1: Perhaps something should be done to prevent a country with serious terrorism problems to become the head of the anti-terror arm of the UN.  Or maybe we should prevent countries like Libya from being the Human Right's Chair-country.  Just a thought?

Actually that is precisely what is being proposed.
QUOTE(ConservePat)

2: Koffi's gotta go.  If a US President resided over a cabinet that took kickbacks from a violent and murderous dictator he'd be impeached before you can say Richard Nixon.

Did Annan do so?

QUOTE(ConservPat)
3: Votes should be weighted.  The United Arab Emirates shouldn't have the same amount of power as France.

Perhaps a combination like the one they have now (with different members) equal votes in the General Assembly weighted votes in the Security council.

Sort of like the House and Senate.
QUOTE(ConservPat)
Because the UN is a corrupt organization with no incentive or will to correct itself.
*


I'm not sure of the breadth of the corruption but certainly there is a complacency buoyed by the almost irrational faith some people seem to have in the UN.

..as soon as most of the world realizes the UN needs reform we can get somewhere.
QUOTE(bucket)
I don't understand Turnea how we must provide legal charges of Mr. Annan to prove his incompetence. Isn't the fact he is the Secretary General of the UN enough? Hasn't all of this occurred under his guidance? Doesn't his own job titles, duties and responsibilities make him guilty?

I take the same angle on this that I do when people blame Bush for not knowing Iraq's WMD were destroyed.

Just because he is the leader doesn't mean he's to become the sacrificial lamb every time something goes wrong.

Punish the responsible parties, but I don't believe it is the Secretary General's job to micro-manage every UN program.

QUOTE(bucket)
I don't understand how you can claim he is innocent. How much more presuming of innocence should this man be afforded?

Until hands are found (directly or indirectly due to neglect) in the cookie jar, I don't believe he should be maligned.

...it's the same principle that makes me roll my eyes when people blame Rumsfeld for prisoner abuse, as if he could ever watch every detention camp.

I don't believe in seeking a whipping-boy.
ConservPat
QUOTE(Turnea)
Actually that is precisely what is being proposed.

Good, that's probably my biggest issue with the UN.

QUOTE
Did Annan do so?
Unless I'm misunderstanding, the UN took kickbacks from Saddam Hussein, my point was that if a US President did something similar, he'd be gone.

QUOTE
Perhaps a combination like the one they have now (with different members) equal votes in the General Assembly weighted votes in the Security council.
Perhaps, but I don't see why they aren't weighted in the General Assembly as well.

QUOTE
I'm not sure of the breadth of the corruption but certainly there is a complacency buoyed by the almost irrational faith some people seem to have in the UN.

..as soon as most of the world realizes the UN needs reform we can get somewhere.

Well, I kinda agree with that, but I'd add that the corruption I spoke of breeds the complacency that you speak of. The UN has no will to reform because those in charge have power and are unwilling to change for fear that their power may be lessened.

CP us.gif
turnea
QUOTE(ConservPat @ Mar 23 2005, 10:31 AM)
 
Unless I'm misunderstanding, the UN took kickbacks from Saddam Hussein, my point was that if a US President did something similar, he'd be gone.

I don't believe there are any accusations that Kofi Annan was involved in bribery . I believe there were accusations against the director of Oil-for-Food but that was not something run directly by Annan.

If you don't mind my asking, why do you feel so adamant about Annan's corruption if you weren't privy to any evidence of it?

Not being smarmy, by the way, I always try to grasp motivations in a debate.

QUOTE(ConsevrePat)
Perhaps, but I don't see why they aren't weighted in the General Assembly as well.

Likely the same reason they aren't weighted in the US Senate, concern that large powers will abuse smaller nations.

Imagine an America where California ran the Congress. tongue.gif

QUOTE(ConservePat)
 
Well, I kinda agree with that, but I'd add that the corruption I spoke of breeds the complacency that you speak of.  The UN has no will to reform because those in charge have power and are unwilling to change for fear that their power may be lessened.
*
 

I think that is yet to be seen, I suspect opposition to reforms will not be concentrated in the UN itself, I fear our government and others may succumb to greed and push to keep current Security Council arrangements.
ConservPat
QUOTE
I don't believe there are any accusations that Kofi Annan was involved in bribery . I believe there were accusations against the director of Oil-for-Food but that was not something run directly by Annan.

If you don't mind my asking, why do you feel so adamant about Annan's corruption if you weren't privy to any evidence of it?
Ah, but Turnea, I never called Annan corrupt. I was careful not to do that in my analogy. I said that he is the head of a corrupt organization...And if a US President had a cabinet that was as corrupt as the UN, that President would be gone.

QUOTE
Not being smarmy, by the way, I always try to grasp motivations in a debate.
Not a problem.

QUOTE
Likely the same reason they aren't weighted in the US Senate, concern that large powers will abuse smaller nations.
Right, but the whole concept of the UN is internationalism. We're Earthlings, and as such, why are the countries with more people given the same amount of powers as those with them. While I see [and considered] the comparison to America, I think that because America doesn't have weighted votes for nationalistic reasons and the UN doens't for internationalistic reasons [read: bringing the US down a peg], that the comparison isn't entirely accurate. If that doesn't make sense, ask me to write it again coherently...The Tylonal I just took must've been the "Drowsy" version.

CP us.gif

Ptarmigan
QUOTE
Right, but the whole concept of the UN is internationalism. We're Earthlings, and as such, why are the countries with more people given the same amount of powers as those with them. While I see [and considered] the comparison to America, I think that because America doesn't have weighted votes for nationalistic reasons and the UN doens't for internationalistic reasons [read: bringing the US down a peg], that the comparison isn't entirely accurate.


Well one good reason not to have weighted voting is presumably because it would give China, India and Indonesia more voting rights than the US!


Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?

If not, what other reforms are necessary?

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?


To be honest, I think the concept of permanent security council members is irrelevant in a post-cold war world. Sure, give America a veto, but is there any point in allowing Britain, Russia and France to have one, given that they don't really have the muscle to back up their veto? (I missed out China because I reckon its going to be a superpower eventually).

So I think we need reform of the Permanent members / veto wielders - in that really the US (and possibly the EU as a whole, if it actually had an effective military) should have a veto, becuase in reality it is the only country that can really stop others doing what they like.


ConservPat
QUOTE
Well one good reason not to have weighted voting is presumably because it would give China, India and Indonesia more voting rights than the US!
And if you look at it in the context that the UN should, that's okay. As I said, personally, I think the US should pull out...But considering what the UN is, weighted votes are the way to go.

CP us.gif
turnea
QUOTE(ConservPat @ Mar 23 2005, 11:30 AM)

Ah, but Turnea, I never called Annan corrupt.  I was careful not to do that in my analogy.  I said that he is the head of a corrupt organization...And if a US President had a cabinet that was as corrupt as the UN, that President would be gone.

Oh, I see.

Well it seems to me that a president has a much closer relationship with his cabinet than Annan had with say the head of Oil-for-Food.

Again, I compare this to the prisoner abuse scandal. Just because some of his subordinates decided to engage in illegal, immoral activities doesn't mean Rumsfeld should be fired.

Regardless, I certainly don't think his presiding over an organization with corruption problems makes him unfit to propose reforms.

Especially since the reforms are good ones.
Sevac
Whether Annan is corrupt or not, that doesn't matter in this case for he will have no gain in reforming the UN.

The UN needs a reform or the world will lose the one institution that provides some form of widely-acknowledged legality. For it has been set up after WW2 and still reflects the winning powers that were in charge back then.

I do not understand why you are so opposed to a world government? I am not saying that the UN is headed towards that direction, yet I am eager to learn of your arguments against that. Please send a PM to me about that.

Again. International actions against another country are only widely accepted when the UN Security Council supports the decision. I know that it is a chain on the premise to have both hands free in international matters. But the US will lose all credibility it has got left if it pulls out of the UN.
I don't think I have to remind you: Anti-Americanism has dramatically increased since the invasion of Iraq. I would predict that the US will have almost no allies when the US retreats from the UN, and despite what conservatives say: You need allies.

Don't misunderstand me, I am just a critic, who sometimes tries to explain American actions to my fellow colleagues who love to see the US fail. I am certain that GWB has got the US a step closer to that.
turnea
QUOTE(Sevac @ Mar 25 2005, 05:20 AM)
 
 
Again. International actions against another country are only widely accepted when the UN Security Council supports the decision. I know that it is a chain on the premise to have both hands free in international matters. But the US will lose all credibility it has got left if it pulls out of the UN. 
I don't think I have to remind you: Anti-Americanism has dramatically increased since the invasion of Iraq. I would predict that the US will have almost no allies when the US retreats from the UN, and despite what conservatives say: You need allies.
*
 

I agree wholeheartedly. I would be the last one to call for the US to pull out of the UN.

That said although the UN adds some "legitimacy" in certain areas of the world (Europe especially) in others the UN is just a useful political tool.

Dictators and corrupt powers often use it as a shield. Hussein was a perfect example. Not once did he ever come into compliance with his obligations under UNSC resolutions and yet, were it not for US antagonism, he would not have dealt with so much as sanction.

Just because the UN, makes a decision doesn't mean it is the right decision. The main goal of UN reform should be to improve it's decision making process.

Perceived legitimacy is useless if it backs unwise policies.
Euromutt
Frankly, I think what this discussion needs is a quick refresher in UN 101. Too often people talk about "the UN" in its entirety when they mean a single organ, and attribute the failings of one organ to another.

The General Assembly (UNGA) may be likened to a national parliament, albeit a rather toothless one. It can pass resolutions, but because it's restricted by considerations of national sovereignty, only those resolutions which relate to the organization itself are binding (e.g. approval of new member states, selection of non-permanent UNSC members, etc.).
The Security Council may be likened to the upper level of a national government. Its job is to set policy and authorize the acquisition of resources to deal with such threats to international peace and security as may occur.
The Secretariat is in effect the UN's civil service; its job is to carry out the policy set by the UNSC to the best of its ability, with such resources as the UNSC sees fit to authorize and which the Secretariat can actually obtain. The Secretary-General (currently Kofi Annan) is its head.

There are a number of crucially important points to understand.
The first is that the Sec-Gen does not have the power to decide how to deal with threats to international peace and security; the UNSC does that, and it also sets the rules under which the Secretariat has to operate. The best known example is the mandate of any given UN peace-keeping force; this is set by the UNSC, not by the Sec-Gen. Once you know this, you will understand that when there are complaints that "the mandate is inadequate," this is not the fault of the Sec-Gen, but of the UNSC which set it.
The second is that the UNSC determines what resources should be adequate to carry out the mission, and authorizes the Sec-Gen to acquire these resources. However, the UNSC is under no obligation to actually provide these resources, it merely authorizes the Sec-Gen to acquire them. (Many Americans will recognize this sort of behaviour as the "unfunded mandates" which the federal government will from time to time inflict on states.) Moreover, the amount of resources the UNSC deems adequate to fulfil the mission does not necessarily have any basis in reality, but is more often determined by political considerations. For example, the Secretariat's Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) estimated that effectively carrying out the UNSC's proposed "Safe Areas" resolution in Bosnia would require 34,000 troops. The member states, with much cajoling, were willing to pony up no more than 7,000. Well, actually one member state was willing to provide 10,000 troops, all combat veterans, complete with their own medical unit, to secure the Srebrenica enclave. Unfortunately, that country was the Islamic Republic of Iran, and its offer was rapidly turned down due to political considerations which seemed valid at the time.
An important detail is that each government contributing troops to a UN operation receives a certain amount in US dollars per soldier, per day. While western governments pay this money to the individual soldier, most other governments pocket the money. The reason you find Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Ukrainians (among others) on so many UN ops is not because of these countries' commitment to maintaining global peace and security, but because it provides a steady influx of hard currency into the state coffers. Overall, when "UN" troops misbehave, it's because they're members of the armies of such countries, placed in harm's way so that their government can rake in $50 US per day (or more) over their backs, possibly over their maimed or dead bodies. But again, DPKO does not have the authority (because the UNSC won't grant it) to tell the contributing member states what to do with the money.

With this in mind, we turn to the UN's Office of the Iraq Program (OIP), which administered the "Oil-for-Food-Program" (OFFP) and the scandal surrounding that. The OFFP was not unlike a peace-keeping operation, in that the rules under which it operated were set by the UNSC, not by the Secretariat. Moreover, in the case of the sanctions on Iraq, the UNSC instituted an oversight committee, manned by direct representatives from the 15 member states making up the UNSC at any given time, to oversee the functioning of both the sanctions and, later, the OFFP. Saddam Hussein was able to cream off $5 billion primarily by exploiting loopholes in the OFFP; loopholes which the UNSC had created, and which the oversight committee failed to notice, even when the global media did. Saddam made more money than that, but that was not by exploiting the loppholes in the OFFP, but rather by cross-border smuggling activities. This failure can, again, be traced to the UNSC, which had delegated enforcement of the sanctions along Iraq's borders to the member states actually bordering Iraq (such as Syria), thereby bypassing the Secretariat entirely.
In short, if the utter failure of the sanctions regime against Iraq and the OFFP occurred on anybody's watch, it occurred on the watch of the UNSC, and particularly its five permanent members. So if anyone should resign from his position of power, it should be the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, the French Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Once they've left the Security Council, we can talk about whether Kofi Annan should or should not continue to be Sec-Gen.

And with that said, on to the questions which sparked this thread:
Is the United Nations in need of structural and/or procedural reform?
Full disclosure: I am a former UN staff member, and while I continue to believe firmly in the purpose of the organization, I also believe vehemently that reform is badly needed for it to achieve its originally envisaged potential.

If so, are the reforms outlined in Annan's report sufficient?
They're possibly a step in the right direction, but they're not good enough, and they skirt the real problems.

If not, what other reforms are necessary?
First and foremost, the UNSC needs to stripped of its ability to issue unfunded mandates. That is, any government represented on the UNSC which votes in favour of a UN intervention should be compelled to provide troops, materičl and funding for that operation, and have those troops placed under unconditionally under the command of an officer from a country not on the UNSC at the time. No more letting the Bangladeshis, the Ukrainians and the Nordic states pick up the slack of unfunded mandates.
Secondly, there needs to be a complete purge of anyone involved in human resource departments in any UN organization over the past fifteen years minimum.

Do you think it's likely that we will see such reforms implemented? Why or Why not?
I hate to sound pessimistic, but I consider it highly unlikely. If such reforms were implemented, it would most likely spell the end of UN peace-keeping operations, because no UNSC member would be willing to put their money where their mouths are.
turnea
As an update it seems there has been opposition to one of the key reforms from an unexpected area.
QUOTE
China signaled on Wednesday that it would resist plans to enlarge the Security Council this year, a proposal that is the centerpiece of Secretary General Kofi Annan's broad package of changes for the United Nations to be taken up at a meeting of heads of state in September.[...]Mr. Wang's insistence on consensus was a direct challenge to Mr. Annan, who in his March 20 report said that while consensus among the 191 member states of the United Nations was "very preferable," failure to obtain unanimous support "must not become the excuse for postponing action."

China Rejects Plans to Expand Security Council
Apparently someone doesn't want to power share...

It seems to me the greatest obstacles to reform is not likely to come from within UN structures. Memeber state's reluctance to turn the UN into a workable organization is the main problem.

Both extremes of opnion have been manipulated to this end. From those who feel the UN shouldn't be reformed because they want it disbanded to those that feel it can do no wrong.

I'm not quite sure if the pragmatist majority (assuming it exists) can prevent these two from scuttling change.
This is a simplified version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2021 Invision Power Services, Inc.