|Office of Research
Foreign Media Reaction
September 8, 2005
THE UN: CONFRONTING THE 'WORLD BODY'S SHORTCOMINGS'
** Consensus on the need for "genuine engagement with reform."
** The Volcker Commission report showcases administrative "corruption and chaos."
** Some observers bristle at the "shocking changes demanded by the United States."
** Preparations for the Sept 16-18 UNGA "among the most acrimonious in history."
Facing the 'challenges of the 21st century more effectively'-- Although, as a Czech writer asserted, "UN reform is heading towards shallow waters," writers globally agreed "massive reform" is needed. Germany's financial Handelsblatt stated the UN is "unable to master the...global jobs of the 21st century," and a German analyst opined that the UN, "like other institutions," needs to be "constantly renewed." The UK's left-of-center Guardian echoed global sentiments saying, "no one disputes that the UN is in need of reform." Observers concurred with France's left-of-center Liberation that the oil for food scandal is "proof" of the UN’s ills.
A 'slovenly organization' inclined to 'mismanagement'-- UN critics joined the Volcker Report on corruption to say that SYG Annan is "not a venal or corrupt man." However, they also agreed that his "mismanagement" resulted in the "disappearance of billions of dollars." This event marked the "biggest corruption case" in the UN's history. Italy's influential La Stampa noted that Annan said, "mea culpa, but I will stay on"; UK outlets countered he "must take responsibility" and "should quit." Russian analysts averred that the issue is "not only corruption scandals," but whether the UN can "effectively deal with international problems."
'Bolton's appointment foretold' the U.S. 'offensive'-- Before the Volcker report, writers saw "plenty to think about" as U.S. "new man" Bolton went on the "offensive" and proposed 750 amendments to the "already drafted" 38 page "working document" of reforms. Papers assailed his "bullying tone." The UK's center-left Independent said he made a "bad start to his job"; others added he came "like an elephant" or the "proverbial bull in the UN's China shop." French writers said his "red-ink pen" makes reform a "mission impossible" and Spain's left-of-center El Pais declared, "Bolton’s appointment...foretold that this administration continues not to believe in multilateralism." After the Volcker report, however, Italy's elite Il Foglio cheered, "go, Bolton!"
Terrorism, human rights and NPT in; Kyoto, ICC and poverty out-- "The tough U.S. stance on human rights and countering terrorism...aroused bitterness in many countries," according to the pro-PRC Macau Daily News. Numerous writers found fault with the Bush administration for what the U.S. wanted in and out at the UN for mid-September. They feared U.S. "negotiating tactics" aimed at de-emphasizing--inter alia--the ICC, Kyoto and Millennium Development Goals to push anti-terror, democracy and the 2002 Monterey Consensus on market reforms would "mess up" reform and "shred" a summit accord. The centrist Irish Times cited the UN Human Rights Development Report saying it dramatized the UNGA task ahead "to reaffirm" Millennium Development Goals for relieving primary poverty by 2015.
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 38 reports from 16 countries from August 26 - September 9 , 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "If The UN Is To Prosper, Kofi Annan Should Quit"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph remarked (9/8): "Responding to Mr. Volcker yesterday, Mr. Annan accepted responsibility for his own shortcomings.... The Secretary General is no doubt hoping to be granted new powers under the proposed changes. However, given the devastating criticism made of his leadership, it is difficult to see how the UN can embark with any confidence on reform while he remains in office. It would be best, now that the high-level panel and the inquiry have revealed the world body's shortcomings, that he resign and allow a new, untainted successor to implement their proposals.... The UN is approaching next week's summit at sixes and sevens over the panel's proposals and with a secretary-general whom the oil-for-food scandal has left a lame duck."
"Oil for cash. Annan Must Take Responsibility"
An editorial in the conservative Times stated (9/8): "The most controversial point of all is the role of Mr Annan himself. The Secretary-General needs to be an accomplished diplomat; but he is employed under the Charter as the UN's "chief administrative officer". Mr. Annan is not a venal or corrupt man; his failings, Volcker says, were those of oversight and omission. But these failings were devastating. The criticism in the report is trenchant and personal. He must heed it and draw the honorable and only possible conclusion."
"Hubris Blocks United Nations Reform"
International affairs editor Quentin Peel commented in the independent Financial Times (9/8): "If the reform effort fails, every side will be the loser: not just the developing countries for whom an effective UN is a vital source of aid, advice and influence; also the U.S., which has demonstrated repeatedly in recent months and years that it is both ill-equipped and often unwilling to do precisely the tasks that an effective UN should and would do--such as peace-making, nation-building in failed states and dealing with disasters. Few can doubt the urgent need for reform of the UN system… The belated arrival of Mr Bolton in New York has not made the matters any clearer, merely reinforcing the nit-picking negotiating style. To be fair, that is his job: he represents--robustly--an administration that has never seemed to understand why it really needs an effective UN. Yet without active U.S. engagement in brokering a broad-based UN reform, hopes must be slim for an effective package to emerge at any time soon. Unless, that is, the painful lessons of Iraq and New Orleans result in a bit more humility and less hubris."
"The Poor Get Poorer"
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (Internet Version 9/8): "No one can deny that the latest UN Human Development Report makes very grim reading. Appearing so soon after the euphoria of the Live 8 concerts and the Gleneagles summit the document shows--an unprecedented reversal--that the world's poorest countries are worse off in most ways than they were in 1990 when the index was first published. Norwegians--top of the wealth table--have nothing to fear, but the lives of millions in Niger and 11 other sub-Saharan African states are being devastated by deprivation, hunger, conflict and HIV/Aids. Russia and five ex-Soviet satellites show declining life expectancy. But the timing of the report, just before next week's UN's summit in New York, the largest such gathering ever, means leaders' minds should be concentrated on the scale of the task facing the world--and the world body par excellence.... Harsh words like "illicit, unethical and corrupt", used in yesterday's report by Paul Volcker on how billions of dollars went astray in the mismanaged program to alleviate sanctions on Saddam Hussein's regime, will not help UN credibility unless they spur long-overdue reform efforts.... But John Bolton, President Bush's newly appointed, and highly controversial UN envoy has tabled so many amendments to the planned declaration that he seems intent on wrecking it. It was not surprising that Mr Bolton seized on the Volcker report to demand closer supervision of UN programs--though even he acknowledged that governments had to take their share of the blame for the oil-for-food scandal. Yet the only basis for action can be the maxim that the UN-- with what Mr Volcker called its unique and crucial role'--is only ever going to be as effective as its members are committed to its enduring principles. Next week's summiteers must remember this as they look at advancing international security and human rights after the failures of Iraq, Rwanda and Bosnia. Issues such as nuclear proliferation and terrorism will be highly divisive."
"Mr Bush Fires A Missile"
The left-of-center Guardian published (8/27): "Less than three weeks before world leaders are due to meet in New York for an unprecedented summit aimed at reforming the United Nations and preparing it to face the challenges of the 21st century more effectively, Washington has suddenly proposed hundreds of amendments to the working document. In effect they are telling officials to tear it up and start again.... Mr Bush has never really forgiven secretary general Kofi Annan and other senior UN figures for their failure to support his invasion of Iraq. Although no one disputes that the UN is in need of reform, the American notion of reform looks more like a settling of scores than an attempt to improve its workings. The president's controversial appointment of John Bolton as his ambassador at the UN--during a recess without the senate's approval--is a case in point."
"Mr. Bolton Makes A Bad Start To His New Job"
The left-of-center Independent editorialized (8/26): "Mr. Bolton is unlikely to get all his demands next month. But their bullying tone is sadly familiar and recalls the worst excesses of the first-term Bush administration. It is also telling that no mention is made of perhaps the most pressing question that will be on the table next month--the broadening of the Security Council. If the U.S. were serious about making the UN a more accountable and effective organization, this would head Mr. Bolton's list of priorities. Instead of genuine engagement with reform, we have childish threats to withhold funding from the UN unless the U.S. gets its way. If Mr. Bolton's negotiating tactics so far are anything to judge by, the summit is likely to be a deep disappointment."
FRANCE: “Bush Releases His Hawk On the Organization”
Pascal Riche opined in left-of-center Liberation (9/8): “John Bolton, the hawk, has used his best red-ink pen to cross out everything he did not like about the UN reform plan...and asked for 750 amendments. New negotiations had to be launched. But the risk today is that the September summit will end up in failure.... While the Secretary General is not pinned by the Volker report, his credibility has suffered. And calls for his resignation will resume. For the Americans, the ?oil for food’ scandal stands as proof of all the organization’s ills.... If the Americans do not get what they want, they can use the scandal as an excellent pretext to distance themselves from the UN and maybe even threaten the organization’s existence.... Still the time is ill-chosen to reactivate a new crisis: the UN has just offered Washington its assistance in the humanitarian crisis caused by Katrina.”
"The New Offensive Of American Diplomacy"
Laurence Tubiana and Thierry Giordano commented in right-of-center Les Echos (9/7): "UN reform looks very much like an impossible mission considering the demands of the U.S. Beyond the summit, what has become apparent is the multilateral system which the U.S. wants to offer as a model for the international community.... The U.S wants to break away from the doctrine of geographic equilibrium and establish a system of a closed club of nations able to take and implement decision.... On the military level, the NPT is the answer. On the political level, it is the central position assigned to the UNSC as opposed to the General Assembly.... Beyond, there will be the hierarchy of sovereign nations established in three circles: in the first circle the nations holding the power of decision, in the second circle the nations that follow good governance, and finally the 'failed’ or ?rogue’ nations.... The Bolton amendments represent this very coherent vision, and must be taken seriously.... They upset the initial UN concept of equality between nations."
"U.S. Strong Arming Attempts"
Alain Barluet commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/26): “Before the General Assembly on UN reform, Washington has already set its conditions.... The U.S. initiative is described in a confidential document which the new U.S. Ambassador, John Bolton, has started circulating, proposing 750 amendments and clearly indicating Washington’s priorities for the ?new UN.’ At the head of the list is the U.S. preoccupation with the fight against terrorism. The objective is to erase any trace of ambiguity between terrorist actions and armed resistance movements.... Another American priority is the replacement of the Human Rights Commission, which has recently been discredited, with permanent members who have demonstrated that they are good students of democracy.... The U.S. explicitly wants the UN to conform to all things pertaining to U.S. interests. The ?Bolton amendments’ suggest that any mention of the fight against climate change should be omitted.... With a stroke of the pen the Americans are crossing out the objectives of the Millennium Account… Instead of the fight against poverty they want to put the accent on liberalizing economies… These proposals are sure to raise opposition from poor countries. Says a UN source: ?This is truly a strong arming tactic. For the Americans, the rule is make or break.’ While the Bolton amendments are not a complete surprise...the negotiations, with three weeks to go before the opening of the summit, are akin to a mission impossible… or a sinking of the reform plans.... ?Negotiations will be very, very difficult’ says a UN Ambassador.”
GERMANY: "Washington Wants A Better UN"
Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel filed the following editorial for right-of-center of Berlin (9/8): "The final report of the Volcker Commission on corruption in the UN makes clear two things with the necessary clarity: Even in the United States, people consider the UN role to be indispensable. Second, this is why the UN does not stand out and is beyond of any criticism. The last aspect cannot be emphasized too much. The timbre people use when speaking about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sometimes sounds like a reverence tone towards the Dalai Lama…while, for some U.S. sources, the catchphrase UN is enough to give up any hope. But the truth lies in the middle and the Volcker Commission describes it as realistically and as pragmatically as possible: The UN can and should be useful, but it is no institution that has a moral authority because of its pure existence only. The UN, like other institutions, will be fallible if it is not constantly renewed. To state this is not an insult to t
he international consensus, but a precondition to guide global policy in a peaceful direction. "It deserves to be mentioned that no other UN country but the United States shows so much interest for the events surrounding the UN oil-for-food program.... For Americans, the UN is the only institution where their own sovereignty has its limits and that is why the debate focuses on the UN when it comes to interferences in national rights, on contributions and the duty to present reports.... The Volcker Commission, whose activities the White House watched with great attention, had the task to exercise criticism without questioning the UN.... Paul Volcker met the requirements by showing courage and circumspection. His report will see to it that the UN debate will be directed into constructive structures instead of ending in passionate debates. It is a good conclusion to a plan on which depended more than Kofi Annan's fate."
"UN Reform Threatens To Fail Because Of Excessive Goals"
Ruth Ciesinger judged in an editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (9/8): "The Iraq war has plunged the UN into a crisis that is not yet over…because UN secretary-General Kofi Annan has been weakened by the oil-for-food scandal...and because the U.S. government, three years after the beginning of he Iraq war, does not feel like subjecting to other principles but to its own. The amendments which U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, presented, practically turn every 'must' into a 'should,' deleted any reference to international treaties like Kyoto of the ICC, no longer refers to the development of the millennium goals and to an increase of 0.7 in the GNP for development assistance. If the Americans are able to assert their views in this respect, then this would be a serious setback that would weaken not only efforts for the fight against poverty, but the consensus which the donor countries achieved three months ago in Monterrey would be destroyed. That is why it is no surprise that criticism of the superpower has already started.... The large majority of Europeans, who, according to a recent poll by the German Marshall Fund condemn U.S. foreign policy, would then feel confirmed, and the desire for greater independence from U.S. foreign policy would even intensify."
"Corruption And Chaos"
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (9/8) observed: "As a consequence of the biggest corruption case in the UN history, Paul Volcker is now calling for massive UN reforms, and he is right. The UN must profoundly attack the jog trot in its own ranks. A slovenly organization that always tends to mismanagement is unable to master the enormous global jobs of the 21st century, ranging from disarmament to the fight against poverty and the global implementation of human rights. The United States has demanded tough and profound changes in the UN management, but politicians and diplomats of the only superpower frequently acted too harshly in the past. That is why their demands met with a deaf ear. Now, a few days before the beginning of the UN summit, it is urgent to listen to what they have to say. Then the state leaders can start off efforts for a transparent and efficient UN."
"Kofi Annan's Anger"
Frank Herold commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (9/7): "UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iraq had turned into a greater center for terrorist activities than Afghanistan had been under the rule of the Taliban. One should think that it was high time to intervene and liberate such a rough state. The fatal thing is that the intervention has already taken place; Annan complained about its result. UN Secretary-General cannot be blamed for this. He has always described the U.S. intervention as a violation of international law. There is a reason why he attacks the U.S. administration right now by comparing the country to Afghanistan. The Bush administration is just about to destroy Annan's life work - the reform of the United Nations. The reform will be on the table next week at a historic summit. Annan's anger indicates that he does not expect the summit to be successful. He therefore no longer has to be considerate."
ITALY: "Go Bolton"
An editorial in elite, liberal daily Il Foglio stated (9/8): “The oil-for-food scandal...is the biggest case ever of corruption concerning the United Nations.... The Volcker report has put it black in white that, apart from cases of personal corruption, the United Nations is not objectively capable of handling not only such extensive humanitarian projects, but also smaller projects. The United Nations as it is now simply cannot function, unless it is radically reformed.... Kofi Annan’s reform proposal is a farce more than a reform.... U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is a no-nonsense type: he has seen the bluff and instead of saying yes to a useless piece of paper, is producing a last-minute effort to really reform the United Nations. He is unlikely to succeed, but those who care about the U.N. should get rid of the unsuccessful and harmful Annan and yell ?go Bolton.’”
"Kofi Annan, Mea Culpa, But I Will Stay On"
New York correspondent Maurizio Molinari comments in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (9/8): “At the center of the scandal there is Kofi Annan, whose political credibility emerges seriously weakened, not to mention the shadows that still remain about the conflict of interest regarding his son Kojo.... In reality, Annan’s position is shaky mainly due to his son’s behavior.”
"U.N., Bolton’s Offensive"
Arturo Zampaglione wrote from New York in left-leaning, influential daily la Repubblica (8/26): “?He came to the [U.N. Building] like an elephant,’ sighed a European diplomat commenting on the first offensive of the new American Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton.... The neo-conservative Bolton has quickly presented 750 amendments to the proposed U.N. reforms and asked his colleagues to renegotiate many key-points of the project.... It is already known that one of the more important and controversial points of reform, namely the enlargement of the Security Council, will be postponed until the end of the year, because of disagreement between the four countries that want to become permanent members (Germany, Japan, Brazil, and India).... But the need for U.N. change goes beyond the Security Council, and it is on these other chapters that John Bolton is working on confirming his reputation as ?censurer.’ The objective: prevent the draft presented by the in-turn President of the Assembly, the Gabonese Ping, from going through and force the White House to accept policies contrary to its philosophy.... In this situation there is the risk that Bolton’s proposed negotiations will not lead anywhere and that the summit will have only a theatrical aspect, lacking any functional content.”
RUSSIA: "Kofi Annan Gets Away With It"
Boris Volkhonskiy wrote in business-oriented Kommersant (9/8): “Observers point out that the time the Paul Volcker commission picked to submit its report was most inopportune for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Next week the General Assembly will meet to discuss radical UN reform. Corruption scandals, at best, will tie the Secretary General’s hands, as he is trying to maintain the importance of his post and his own role in implementing the UN’s basic principles.”
"Oil For Food Should Guide Reform"
Moscow Interfax noted (Internet version 9/8): "Shortcomings in the UN humanitarian program for Iraq should be kept in mind when UN reform and future programs of the kind are discussed.... The Paul Volcker commission presented a report on abuses in the Oil for Food program to the UN Security Council on Wednesday. We are getting a clearer picture of the program. At any rate, this negative experience should be taken into account during the UN reform and in new humanitarian programs."
"Reform Timed To Jubilee"
Dmitriy Sidorov in Washington and Boris Volkhonskiy wrote for business-oriented Kommersant (8/31): “The (UN’s) jubilee celebrations won’t overshadow problems confronting the world’s most influential international organization. It is not only corruption scandals. A more serious question is whether the UN can effectively deal with international problems. Most discussions are on how to define and resist terrorism. Also, following the September summit, it will become clear whether the UN will keep working towards international security or do the only surviving superpower’s bidding.”
"Sleepless Nights On East River"
Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (8/31): “As seen by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the World Summit must follow up the 2000 Millennium Summit. But over the last few years the global agenda has changed so much, you can’t stay the course. You can’t say the people involved in preparing this summit ignore the changes. Yet the ideas they suggest make some countries wonder. After analyzing proposals that have been made, many experts say that, given the complexity of UN reform, the World Summit will hardly get it off the ground.”
"Bolton Muddles UN"
Reformist Vremya Novostey quoted Sergey Oznobishchev of the Institute for Strategic Assessments (8/31) : “It is unconstructive to try to follow the proposals of one country alone. Every country, wittingly or not, pursues its own selfish aims. As UN reform is necessary, it is important that it does not serve politicians and countries seeking to gain political capital.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "U.N. Reform Is Heading Towards Shallow Waters"
Adama Cerny noted in the business Hospodarske noviny (9/1): “Skepticism towards the upcoming deliberation of world leaders over the U.N. reform was evoked by the U.S. Ambassador [John Bolton] when he unexpectedly announced comments and amendments to the prepared text of the closing declaration of "the summit of all summits" after his summer start at the post in New York. There are not many favorable explanations for this step. The series of objections and corrections can mean that only changes [of the U.N.] in which the U.S. is interested will be passed. Such a political deal would be hardly acceptable for others. Therefore, it is possible that it is a tacit intention to leave the U.N. in the state when it will remain a target for the American public that can be easily shot at and which at the same time to the least possible extent prevents the American interests from being pushed through. The stance on the ICC, which can prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, except U.S. citizens, could suggest this.”
DENMARK: "U.N. Reforms Would Benefit The U.S."
Center-left Politiken opined (9/6): "The goal for the forthcoming U.N. summit is to streamline the organization so that it can meet the challenges of the 21st century. The make up of the UNSC is one thing that certainly has to be addressed. Countries such as Japan, India, Brazil and South Africa, should have a seat at the table. At the present time, the legitimacy of the Council is more than questionable. This said, it appears that the U.S. is against UNSC reforms, even though it has consistently called for the UN to become a more relevant organization. The U.S. needs allies and it also need a forum in which to discuss problems when they arise. The U.S. is extremely powerful, but there are limits to what the U.S. can achieve on its own, as the present situation in Iraq shows."
HUNGARY: "UN: This Is The Record…"
International lawyer Laszlo Valki noted in center-left Nepszabadsag (9/5): “Those who still had illusions about the possibility to reform the world organization will be disappointed to read the closing document of the UN summit of September16-18. In this there will not be any word about structural changes. Not many could have thought seriously that it would be possible to abolish the veto rights of the permanent members of the Security Council, since according to the UN charter; any organizational changes have to be approved by the five large powers. Consequently, the large powers themselves would have to give up their rights of veto, which is rather unrealistic…The abolishment of the privileges of the large powers could not even make the fall agenda. Instead, reformers proposed extending the veto right in the framework of Security Council enlargement… Recently John Bolton, the new, conservative U.S. Ambassador to the UN agreed with his Chinese counterpart that they would not support any form of enlargement. So the question was decided, since without them the composition of the Security Council cannot be changed…Actually, the UN can not be called either a relevant or an irrelevant organization. It all depends on what its largest member states would like it to be.”
IRELAND: "Worlds Apart In Wealth And Income"
The leading centrist Irish Times (Internet Version 9/8): "Wealth and poverty in an unequal world are once again highlighted in the authoritative Human Development Report published yesterday by the United Nations. It shows that the world's richest 500 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million people. Some 2.5 billion people living on less than two dollars a day make up 40 per cent of the world's population but account for 5 per cent of global income. In contrast, the richest 10 per cent account for 54 per cent of it. These figures dramatise the task facing world leaders who gather in New York next week to reaffirm the Millennium Development Goals for relieving primary poverty by 2015. The report argues trenchantly that this year marks a crossroads on whether that commitment succeeds or fails. In Ireland's case, much hangs on the Government's willingness to move rapidly towards the UN aid target. The report has the major merit of providing comparable statistical measurements of absolute and relative wealth and poverty.... The Human Development Report's comparative listings furnish the evidence. It is to be hoped that political disagreements and debate on these issues will in future be informed by the report published yesterday.
"Bush Team Plays Hardball On Reform Plans For UN"
Sean O'Driscoll remarked in the center-left Irish Times (8/29): “The U.S. has finally shown its hand-on reform of the United Nations.... It was billed as a radical transformation of the United Nations but by the middle of last week the Bush administration had all but ripped it apart. John Bolton, the new United States ambassador to the world body, introduced an unprecedented 750 amendments to the UN's reform proposals.... The U.S. looks set to bring the reform process to a halt with a barrage of amendments designed to break the UN's resolve on the environment, world health, African development and dozens of other measures, including Aids and TB funding. At the same time, it is hoping to increase the emphasis on anti-terrorism measures and reform of UN management at a time when the UN is gripped by the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.... The amendments show the U.S. is fundamentally opposed to increasing its foreign aid capacity to 0.7 per cent of national income...and has slashed dozens of proposals aimed at putting definite implementation dates on UN environmental and development conventions. One amendment deletes proposals to help the victims of terrorism ?around the world’, as the U.S. fears this may be used against pro-American governments or political movements….The U.S. also seeks to stop the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.... The amendments also show that the U.S. wants to weaken dozens of environmental measures and refuses to recognize that global warming is harming the planet.... The amendments also delete a call on members to sign the Convention of Biological Diversity, and definite measures to slow the loss of biodiversity by 2010. Perhaps the U.S. position is summed up by agreeing to ?pledge to make the United Nations more relevant, more effective, more efficient and more credible’ while deleting the rest of the sentence, which would ?provide the organization with the resources needed to fully implement its mandates’. Environment and development groups have rushed to denounce the U.S. proposals.”
"United States Hardens Position On UN Summit"
Colum Lynch wrote in the center-left Irish times (8/26): “Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and United Nations reform, the Bush administration has thrown proceedings into turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event. The U.S. has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments which would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging member states to strengthen language in the 29-page document that calls for tougher action to combat terrorism, promote human rights and democracy and halt the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.... The U.S. amendments call for deleting any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, and the administration has publicly complained that the document's section on poverty is too long. Instead, the U.S. has sought to underscore the importance of the Monterrey Consensus--a 2002 summit in Mexico which focused on free market reforms and required governments to improve accountability in exchange for aid and debt relief.... The proposed U.S. changes, submitted by ambassador John Bolton, touch on every aspect of the organisation's affairs. Moreover, they provide a detailed look at the Bush administration's concerns about the UN's future. They underscore U.S. efforts to impose tighter supervision on expenditure and to eliminate any reference to the International Criminal Court.... the U.S. proposals face strong resistance from poorer countries, which want the United Nations to focus more on alleviating poverty, criticising U.S. and Israeli military policies in the Middle East and scaling back the UN's propensity to intervene in small countries implicated in the abuse of human rights. U.S. and UN diplomats say that Mr. Bolton has indicated, in a series of meetings with foreign delegates, that he is prepared to pursue other negotiating options if the current process proves too cumbersome.”
"Building Global Partnership For Development At UN Summit"
Justin Kilcullen, director of Trócaire (Irish NGO) remarked in the the center-left Irish Times (8/26): “The three-day world summit at the 60th session of the UN General Assembly next month will bring together 191 heads of state and government to address some of the most critical issues on the international agenda.... Preparations for this summit on September 14th-16th have been among the most acrimonious in recent memory.... The twin issues of Security Council reform and the creation of a Human Rights Council unleashed a 'poisonous atmosphere' in which nothing could be taken for granted.... The arrival of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador, just a month before the summit, heightened tensions further. The U.S. has threatened to pull out of the heads of state meeting, arguing that the proposed declaration (which has been under negotiation for six months) was too long and President Bush would be unable to sign it. The fear at the UN is of a 'meltdown' in multilateral co-operation at a time when its role is more essential than ever. Any weakening of the structures of the UN could have long-term ramifications for global peace, security and development. The danger is we will have a summit declaration at the end of the assembly that is full of rhetoric but devoid of any concrete commitments. The real loser in this acrimonious debate has been the world's poor.”
"U.S. New Man Bolton Seeks To Shred UN Summit Pact
The center-right, populist Irish Independent (8/26): “America’s controversial new ambassador to the United Nations is seeking to shred an agreement on strengthening the world body and fighting poverty intended to be the highlight of a 60th anniversary summit next month. In an extraordinary intervention John Bolton has sought to roll back proposed UN commitments on aid to developing countries, combating global warming and nuclear disarmament.... The Americans are also seeking virtually to remove all references to the Kyoto Treaty and global warming. They are striking out mention of the disputed International Criminal Court and drawing a red line through any suggestion that the nuclear powers should dismantle their arsenals. Instead, they are seeking to add emphasis to passages on fighting terrorism and spreading democracy.”
NORWAY: "A Planet In Disorder"
Newspaper of record Aftenposten (8/31) commented: “Tropical hurricane Katrina continues its destructive journey across the U.S., somewhat lesser in strength, but strong enough to create great detruction wherever it strikes.... Climate experts have their own explanations for why and how these violent storms originate. The purely scientific conditions are not that difficult to agree on. But there is much more controversy regarding whether or not the increase in destructive hurricanes is due to global warming resulting from human activity.... The Kyoto Agreement is an attempt to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, important countries, with the U.S. in the lead, will not accept the initiatives in the agreement. And now the U.S. has tried to have the paragraph on active environmental initiatives in the UN’s new reform program removed. Katrina is a powerful reminder that possible climate changes concern the entire planet. The catastrophe in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee should make Washington reconsider.”
SPAIN: "UN Amendments"
Left-of-center El Pais wrote (8/27): "Far from making progresses, the UN reforms of Kofi Annan are moving backwards... The S-14 summit...can run aground and loose a unique opportunity to modernize the UN and to raise it to the level of new needs.... The environment is not favorable for a deep reform of the UN, whether of its duties or of its structure, to avoid corruption scandals or other problems. The attempts of Brazil, India, Germany, and Japan to achieve a permanent seat in an enlarged and more representative Security Council are practically a failure. Washington is not willing to favor a significant enlargement of this central institution and it doesn’t seem that the General Assembly in September can unblock what constitutes this challenge by its biggest power. A UN with which the U.S., the world's biggest power, would not feel comfortable would not be of use. But, after what happened in Iraq, the Bush administration should understand that a representative and effective UN plays a role beneficial to the U.S. But, Bolton’s appointment...foretold that this administration continues to not believe in multilateralism."
CHINA (HONG KONG, MACAU SARS): "Annan Must Show The UN Can Lead By Example"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialIized (9/8): "A report released yesterday on the corruption-plagued oil-for-food program for Iraq made the pertinent observation that Kofi Annan was chosen to be United Nations secretary-general for his diplomatic skills rather than administrative ability, and that it shows. An independent panel headed by Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, found that through his mismanagement Mr. Annan must share the blame for the disappearance of billions of dollars. But it cleared him of involvement in serious instances of illicit, unethical and corrupt behavior within the UN.... The UN's standing has already been weakened by its failure to reach broad agreement on the definition of terrorism and the use of pre-emptive military force, and an overhaul of the decision-making Security Council. It is overly bureaucratic and indecisive. The lack of accountability exposed by the oil-for-food scandal adds significantly to the erosion of its moral authority. As Mr. Volcker says, administrative reforms should be tackled at the summit. 'To settle for less...will further erode public support and dishonor the ideals upon which the UN is built,' he says. Those ideals are worth striving for. The multilateral approach to resolving global problems embodied in the original vision of the UN is still the only moral and effective way to a more secure world. But the organization must lead by example."
"Compromise Needed To Achieve UN Reform"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (8/29): "American Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has been far from idle since his controversial appointment early this month. And he has given other member nations plenty to think about. Sadly, he has not dispelled doubts about the strength of Washington's commitment to the world body and a multilateral approach to resolving conflict.... The U.S. has long criticized the UN for being ineffective in dealing with global security and armed conflict. President George W. Bush's choice of Mr. Bolton, a scathing critic of UN bureaucracy, and the manner of his appointment--during a Congressional recess and without Senate approval-- highlighted the uneasy relationship. This hit an all-time low when the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq without the support of the Security Council. There is no doubt that sweeping reforms are needed to save the UN from irrelevance. Not surprisingly, the appointment of Mr. Bolton was seen as a blow to hopes of a less divisive approach from Washington.... The U.S. should be prepared to compromise. Indeed, compromise will be essential if the UN is ever to be able to fulfill its prime mandate of preventing conflict. It would also lay concerns to rest if the Bush administration were to reaffirm a commitment to the original grand vision of the UN. That means accepting the principle that the multilateral approach to dealing with conflict is the only moral--and effective--way to achieve a more secure world."
"U.S. Messes Up UN Reform Plan"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked in an editorial (8/28): "The UN Summit will be held September 14 to discuss UN reform and how to deal with poverty. The UN General Assembly President Jean Ping has already drafted a 38-page working document, which included some 400 reforms waiting to be passed during the Summit. To everyone's surprise, the U.S. recently proposed 750 amendments. This has thrown the UN's biggest reform since it established sixty years ago into confusion. It is yet to be clear what the U.S.' intention is by making all these amendments. It may be a diplomatic bargaining strategy.... The amendments suggested by the U.S. touch almost all aspects of UN affairs. Some amendments specially focus on supervising UN expenses, rejecting the International Criminal Court, as well as anything related to the court.... the U.S. amendments will be strongly objected to by many countries. The tough U.S. stance on human rights and countering terrorism has aroused bitterness in many countries.... The U.S. has cast a shadow over the UN reform by proposing amendments without taking the interests of all sides into consideration."
MALAYSIA: "U.S. Move Stirs Up A Storm At UN"
Government-influenced English language The Star ran the following commentary by Martin Khor (9/5): "The world was shocked last week at how Hurricane Katrina turned an American city into a chaotic mess. The surprise was not with the hurricane as there was ample warning. It was that the world’s richest and most technologically-advanced country did not anticipate the scale of the disaster, and that its response was so slow or non-existent even as the crisis developed. In New York, another hurricane was sweeping the United Nations as a United States proposal is putting at risk a UN Summit that will start on 14 September. The UN Summit, long in preparation, is supposed to adopt a historic reform of the United Nations. Its declaration was to advance the United Nations’ development and environment role, commit rich countries to do more for developing countries, clarify the United Nations’ role in peace and security and reform the Security Council. There is little time left to consider such a radical overhaul of an already heavily-disputed draft on UN reform. Among the shocking changes demanded by the United States is the removal of any mention of the Millennium Development Goals."
"Factors Affecting Japan's Decision To Slow Down On Pursuing Proposed UNSC Seat"
Government-influenced Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau ran the following commentary (8/26): "It is now obvious that it is quite impossible for the G-4 (Japan, Brazil, Germany and India or the Group of Four) resolution to be adopted by the United Nations in September. Although Japan has never said officially that it would give up its bid for the proposed UN Security Council Seat, the current political situation in Japan is that domestically, the nation is now more concerned with its own September general election than any international affairs. In the coming election, its incumbent prime minister has opted for a drastic reform and privatization of Japan's postal service, which is considered as the biggest financial institution in the country that can affect the people across the board. Behind the scene, Washington is also the main factor that has blocked the advancement of the G-4 resolution. A recent survey done by a conservative think-tank in the United States has indicated that the supporting rate of U.S. decisions by Japan and Germany is only about 50 percent. Thus, it is only logical for Washington to come to the conclusion that an expanded UNSC would not significantly benefit the U.S. decision in UN affairs. Another key factor that has discouraged Japan's determination to bid for the proposed UNSC seat is the attitude of China. Japan knows pretty well that with China's influence in the region, it would not be easy for Japan to seek cooperation from China on its bid for the proposed UNSC seat."
INDIA: "Africa Split Hope For Delhi's UN Bid"
Washington-based Diplomatic Editor K.P. Nayar expressed the view in centrist The Telegraph (8/28): “India and other members of the Group of Four (G-4) states--Brazil, Germany and Japan--will allow their joint resolution for permanent seats in the UN Security Council to lapse in the General Assembly. So will the Africans, who have moved a resolution that has come in the way of the G-4 bid to secure an expansion of the Security Council. Both resolutions will lapse on September 13, the day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives here to address a special summit of UN members to commemorate the world body’s 60th anniversary, move ahead on reforming the UN and set the stage for mankind’s goals for the new millennium.... The lapse of the resolution will not, however, mean the end of the road for India’s quest for a permanent seat in the Security Council.... African and G-4 sources expect...talks to lead to an extraordinary summit of African leaders on the sidelines of the UN meeting of heads of state and government. Since the Africans are still in disagreement over a common course on Security Council reform, the expectation is that the African Union will split during its extraordinary New York summit. If the majority of 53 African states decide to go along with the G-4 plans, a new resolution will be tabled by the G-4, co-sponsored by African countries that have broken away from the African Union’s hitherto obstructionist stand on expanding the Security Council. The current G-4 resolution has about 30 co-sponsors. That number is expected to double with an anticipated split in the African Union. There is hope among those who want Security Council reform on the lines advocated by the G-4 that the new resolution will find two-thirds support in the 60th General Assembly.... Since the G-4 proposal is the one that has the widest support among UN members, the world body’s membership is likely to eventually coalesce around the position taken by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan on adding permanent seats to the Security Council. In re-orienting its strategy, the G-4 has received unexpected, if ironical, support from the Bush administration, which has been opposed to the group’s resolution. Since his arrival here, John Bolton, the new U.S. permanent representative to the UN, who was appointed to his job by President George W. Bush bypassing the Senate--has been charging around in the UN’s china shop like the proverbial bull, trying to impose his neo-conservative views on the world body’s membership. His pronouncements on Syria have revived nightmares of Washington blundering into Iraq with ?shock and awe’ while his attempt a few days ago to undo nearly a year’s work here relating to the September summit have bred resentment among Third World countries. The G-4 expects that growing vulnerability among developing countries triggered by Bolton’s familiar but ham-handed approach to UN issues will force many fence-sitters in the Third World into moving towards the G-4 on reforming the Security Council and translate into a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly on a new resolution that they plan.”
PANAMA: "Bolton Modifying UN Reform"
Leading broadsheet La Prensa editorialized (9/2): “U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is putting pressure on his colleagues at the General Assembly [UN] to modify the reform project that will be discussed at the Summit on September 14. Washington doesn’t want any other commitment related to development or climate change...[and] expects the UN to center themselves in the fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.... The countries will not feel united as long as the ?veto powers’ are private property...depending on the interest of a few.”
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|