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Foreign Media Reaction
September 29, 2005
UNITED NATIONS: AT 'THE CROSSROADS' AT 60
** Global dailies criticize UN's "insignificant" 60th anniversary; claim reforms "urgent."
** Papers declare U.S. "bulldozes" UN "multilateralism," creating "crisis" and deep "divisions."
** Media decry UN Summit as "failure" resulting in "watered down consensus statement."
UN is 'part of the landscape'-- Many writers lamented the "sad occasion" of the "greatest summit" in history. While analysts credited the UN for "positive achievements" and "valuable contributions," they termed its "WWII structure" out of touch with the "new world." The Bangladesh Observer claimed the UN's 60th anniversary raised both "high hopes" and "high stakes." Despite "all its shortcomings," an Irish outlet declared, the UN is still a "hugely important organization"; Italy's business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore commented, "the world is not better with the UN," but it might be "worse without it." While there is broad agreement that the UN urgently needs "sweeping reforms," its future is "uncertain." Uganda's center-right New Vision insisted "the world needs the UN" and "the UN needs the world." Latin papers contended a "revitalized" UN is necessary "more than ever before"; they lamented the lack of "visionary" and "audacious" statesmen to take on this "big dream."
'Divergences between North and South'-- At the UN Summit, many observers asserted "frustrations" with U.S. unilateralism are a "major stumbling block"; they added that "nothing will be possible without the U.S." Russia's nationalist Sovetskaya Rossiya insisted that the UN "crisis" is between the U.S. and the "rest of the world." Turkey's Islamist-intellectual Yeni Safak claimed that the "Bush and Bolton duo," called the "designers of UN restructuring," address the "demands of the powerful" to "shape the UN" according to American interests. India's independent Telugu Andhra Jyothy pronounced the UN is a "puppet organization" that "plays American tunes," as the U.S. imposes "its own agenda" on the rest of the world. A Canadian outlet stated, the "real split" at the UN Summit is between "developing countries and the developed world." Latin papers expressed "disappointment" that the UN did not show more initiative in dealing with "crucial matters" of "poor countries."
UN Summit 'downsizes' its goals-- The "mammoth summit of vague promises" ended in "great failure," according to most observers. Australia's liberal Sydney Morning Herald posited, the UN summit was not a "washout," but a weak "compromise." Germany's business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland held the declaration "postponed" answers to difficult questions of UNSC reform, defining terrorism, stopping weapons proliferation, and fighting poverty. Austria's independent Salzburger Nachrichten saw Annan's "far-reaching goals and promises" reduced to "a paper of meager content." India's centrist Statesman judged that "hectic lobbying" ended "in tatters" as built-up "momentum" came to "naught" since the UN paper "bypassed" Indian wishes. Canadian commentators called the "watered down consensus statement," beholden to "hollow rhetoric," a "fecklessly squandered opportunity" to reform the UN, but "better than none at all."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Susan L. Emerson
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 105 reports from 34 political entities over 15 - 27 September, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
FRANCE: "Dear UN"
Left-of-center Le Monde declared (9/16): “The summit ended without firm decisions about the expected reforms due to the divergences between North and South.... But the UN has the merit of existing…and offering a venue for debate and at times confrontation.... There is an undeniable ?UN effect,’ which has operated a change on President Bush: he gave a speech very different from past ones and acknowledged that ?anger and despair’ could fuel terrorism.... Villepin’s ?reality as it is’ approach may have impacted on the U.S. President.... The calamitous situation in Iraq as well as the incompetence of the authorities after Katrina have probably led President Bush to be less arrogant.”
"350 Treaties Awaiting The Signature Of The U.S."
Anne Bauer asserted in right-of-center Les Echos (9/16): “In many Embassies around the world, and at NGO headquarters, annoyance with America’s unilateralism and its scorched earth tecnique is obvious. By questioning the final declaration…John Bolton opened the floodgates to a river of amendments from countries which oppose the UN.... Yet America’s unilateralism is nothing new. This attitude is a major stumbling block within the organization.... Whatever Europe’s efforts to restore international law, which is what the UN represents, nothing will be possible without the U.S. In this respect, the summit cannot be viewed as a total failure: President Bush took part in it and emphasized his priorities in international cooperation: the fight against terrorism, health, trade and development. Which is better than nothing, even if social rights, the environment, culture and disarmament were noticeably absent.”
"A Tribute To The UN"
Dominique Quinio penned in Catholic La Croix (9/15): “The UN, like the EU is part of the landscape, and no longer triggers any dreams. One tends to forget the feelings of hope it elicited when it was created.... We lament its cumbersome system...and some aberrations, such as the nomination of a Libyan to head the Human Rights Commission.... It is also regrettable that national interests do not disappear as if by magic when the superior interest of the world is at stake.... Still, the UN has the merit of existing.... The Summit will probably not give it the new impetus one hoped. But certain objectives will be reaffirmed. Let’s look at the silver lining: what if the UN did not exist?”
"Bush: Development To Counter Terrorism"
Philippe Gelie proclaimed in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/15): "Bush is still holding to the same objective: to rid the world of terrorism.... But he has considerably widened his perception of the ?war’ triggered by 9/11.... Yesterday at the UN the American President presented a more global view.... While his appeal to the free world to unite against terror is not new, acknowledging that radical ideologies ?feed on anger and despair’ is.... The idea that developed nations have ?an obligation to help others’ has taken greater importance in his approach.... The U.S. President’s perception of the world is now that poverty feeds terrorism, and that democracy protects peace and human rights."
GERMANY: "Failed But Not At The End"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/16): "It is easy to declare UN General-Secretary Annan as New York's greatest loser because his reform program was dismantled and unsuccessful. Member states--and not just the big ones--changed his proposals here and there after they thoroughly looked at them. Sixty years after the signing of the UN Charter, the organization did not see a glorious resurrection. This was not a second San Francisco.... It is embarrassing that there is no definition of terrorism. Annan described the final document as a disgrace because people act like the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction does not exist. That is a great failure."
"New Viewpoints, Old Dangers"
Nicolas Richter opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/16): "George W. Bush had to realize that military mobilization alone is not enough to win the fight against terrorists and so-called rogue states.... His address at the UN was much more conciliatory than in the past years.... First, this terror is no longer a U.S. matter...but a danger to which everyone is exposed. Second, at least rhetorically, Bush links the fight against terror to...the elimination of poverty, with a political competition for new ideas. All this would speak for a strengthened UN role.... That is why the controversy with Islam would have greater chances to succeed if it were to be conducted under the UN, not the U.S., flag. But in this respect, the UN quickly meets its limits.... Even the most recent UN resolution, which demands national laws against terrorist instigators, is too general to be effective.... insight has grown in the Middle East that global al-Qaida terror is no longer an American problem but a problem for the Islamic world, too. The affected governments will now have less difficulty seeking solutions in the framework of the UN than to act according to Washington's instructions."
"Meager Results From Extreme Differences Of Interests"
Centrist Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung noted (9/16): "Those who are surprised at the meager results of the largest ever UN General Assembly, are closing their eyes to the extreme differences of interests and power which have characterized the international system. If Iran, North Korea and the United States and 188 other nations are supposed to agree on the fight against terror, arms trafficking, and torture regimes, then the result can only be empty words. The disappointment of some at this mammoth summit of vague promises is therefore not free from a certain degree of naiveté. The view is very popular in Europe in particular that the UN should become a kind of global government, but this wishful thinking leads to a permanent overstretching of the UN."
"At The Mercy Of Great Powers"
Brigitte Kols editorialized in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (9/16): "That Germany has to go home without a permanent seat is not dramatic, given that most of the important reform goals were buried. However, the debate on whether the WWII victors will throne another 60 years above the fate of the world will not fall silent. Do you really have to be an idealist to believe that that current state of the world must eventually unite the UN for the fight against poverty, terror, new wars and environmental destruction? It is not comforting that we can believe that the facts of a destroyed world will force us to act together in the long run. Would that be too late for a victory of reason? Yes, because the UN will remain at the mercy of great powers until then."
"A Cynic From Washington"
Holger Schmale argued in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (9/16): "Humility is an attitude George W. Bush, the reborn Christ, should know from the Scriptures and follow it. Humility is an attitude unknown to the current U.S. president also in his political work. However, we could have expected a bit of it in his speech to the UN. Three years ago, he went there like a warmonger.... Regardless of the chaos in large parts of Iraq under the supervision of U.S. troops, Bush sent a message of optimism and spoke of the beginning of a democratic revolution in the region. He did that on the day of the most serious attacks in Iraq since the American invasion. It did not sound humble but cynical."
Center-right Westdeutsche Zeitung of Düsseldorf had this to say (9/16): "Of course, the smart alecks are now coming to the fore again. They think that a streamlined reform paper is better than no paper at all. They are wrong like those who think that it is possible to postpone the solution of urgent problems. There is no state that argues that it can fight terror, poverty and climate change or the spread of nuclear weapons on its own. Even the Bush administration--whether it is in Iraq or New Orleans--is dependent on international helpers and allies."
Centrist Abendzeitung of Munich argued (9/16): "It is by no means President Bush alone who has deprived the UN of its power. Whether it is terrorism, the elimination of poverty, or corruption and arms trading, whether the focus is on trade barriers or environmental protection, with each subject, there are sufficient countries which prevent progress when it comes to the most important problems. The failed UN reform is one lesson for egotism. We feel sorry for Kofi Annan, for the world is to face the damage because it cannot rely on an important instrument to settle conflicts."
Right-of-center Ostsee-Zeitung of Rostock wrote (9/16): "A frustrated leader of a deeply divided global organization remained from the former visionary reformer of the UN, Kofi Annan. This is the impression the UN is creating these days. There is no trace of the 'united' nations that takes care of the general well-being of nations. Every one fights for his own interests. But these interests must take a back seat when the issue is to make the world more peaceful, more democratic, and fairer. This was at last what the founding nations hoped for."
"UN Summit Disagreements"
Center-right Westfälischer Anzeiger of Hamm opined (9/16): "It is nice that the U.S. global power considers it the world's duty to fight terror at its roots. It is not only this summit that found that one reason is poverty and calls for increased development assistance, a goal to which the United States in particular refuses to discuss again. The result follows hard on the heels. Proposals for a stricter adherence to human rights are rejected from the deeply disappointed affected countries. And if not even the alleged United Nations agree on a definition of terrorism how should they then effectively fight terrorism?"
"The World Of Egoists"
Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/15): "A meta idea was behind all the provisions, bodies, and commitments...hidden in the draft of the jubilee declaration: the UN should be led out of its crisis, this association needs a new legitimacy because the old one was used up. The symbol of this wear and tear is the Security Council in its composition from 1945.... This reform was considered a model to wake up the international community, but what remained is a shrill wake-up call.... When searching...who must be blamed, we will find many actors: those who show contempt of human rights, those who sponsor terror, and finally the overzealous and idealist reformers. But the implosion would not have been that strong if we did not have the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, who entered the stage like comic figure Tullius Destructivus and who, by grasping into the box of political negotiating ticks, destroyed the painstaking reform business.... It reflects the prevailing typical aversion in the Bush administration against any form of multilateral policy, against bodies that seek a consensus, against alliances at all.... The UN will not go to pieces because of this defeat, but it will take years before the most important reform ideas can be revived.... The poor people in the world do not have this time."
"Bitterness In New York"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/15): "There is no doubt that Kofi Annan is the loser of these past few days. First, his management skills were criticized in a devastating way, then his reform agenda was taken apart to its core. It sounds bitter, even embittered and resigned, when he hit the nail on the head with his description of reality in the UN: wealthy and poor, powerful and weak states pursued their own interests and not an imaginary well-being of all people. These United Nations are divided. In addition, all those were also disappointed who saw themselves in the front row of the Security Council and advertised it. The Council will not be extended, since resistance was too great. The Red-Green ambitions were so great that it even linked fanaticism with blindness. This is a crashing failure."
"The UN In Motion"
Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel filed the following editorial for right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/15): "The final document of the UN General Assembly demonstrates that Washington shows understanding when its multifaceted interests are at stake. Bush now knows the structures of the global balance of forces. The United States was striving for a comprehensive UN reform but compared to initial expectations, it got a small one.... The struggle for a compromise was a give and take. John Bolton, the feared new U.S. envoy, made many concessions. The reason was that, on the one hand, for the U.S. Congress, it is part of the global balance of powers that the House of Representatives threatened to stop contributions to the UN. On the other hand, countries like China and France offer Bush an indispensable support for his foreign policy. The White House must take both things into consideration.... The reform talks will become tough. The extension of the Security Council cannot be considered a separate issue…it will be part of a second round, whose complexity will give all sides involved a certain lever to influence events. Bush and Chancellor Schröder have now experienced that maximum positions will often--and rightly so--fall by the wayside."
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg judged (9/15): "An old viewpoint has now been confirmed again: The UN international community is only as strong as its members allow it to be.... The declaration on which all sides have now agreed prevented a failure but the difficult questions were only postponed.... To a great deal, the United States must be blamed for this development. For instance, it refused to make any concession with respect to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It presented a list with 500 amendments...and because of this, all other nations felt encouraged to primarily represent their own national interests. The international community has now forfeited a great chance. The UN, whose establishment was pushed with so much verve by Franklin D. Roosevelt, is tarnished. In the United States, many people smiled at the UN and despise it. With its lack of efficiency and corruption affairs, the UN has now discredited itself. But the reforms initiated by Annan could have become a new starting signal."
ITALY: "The UN Missed Its Chance--Leadership Goes To 'Private Organizations'"
Danilo Taino opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/16): "The ?largest summit of heads of state’ perhaps could not have been different from what we are currently seeing at the UN: a parade of leaders at the podium, a great deal of rhetoric and the real 'business’ in the bilateral meetings, on the sidelines. This time, however, there is more: the climate in the corridors of the UN is one of an organization that is beginning to feel demoted, no longer unique. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s great plan to reform the UN with a wave of the magic wand has failed.... The UN cannot make it on its own and this will lead to cooperation with private and non-governmental organizations."
"With The UN The World Is Not Better--And It Would Be Worse Without"
Ugo Tramballi wrote in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (9/15): "The assembly system, whether made up of kings, princes emirs...has never worked.... In none of the eras since it has existed...has the UN produced certainties. Then what is the purpose of the UN?… The UN is needed even less when its General Assembly is...convoked in a world without leaders. George Bush’s America, incapable of taking an interest...in the needs of its allies and even of its citizens...is not a leader; neither is Europe, whose leadership ability was not devastated by a hurricane but by the referenda on the Constitution. Nor are...the newcomers China and India.... Last but not least is the UN General Secretary...who was humiliated by the oil-for-food scandal.... The way things stand, the United Nations does not count for anything and could close down...it is a sign of a global crisis when the world’s leader chooses as UN Ambassador a diplomat who despises the UN.... The UN...is a mirror of world governments.... It is not a decision-making organ, but useful in the end: its blue berets arrive late on the scene of a conflict...often reducing the duration of the massacre; its aid does not resolve world hunger, but it feeds the hungry; its resolutions have never redressed an injustice, but...they are there written in law.... The world is not better with the UN. However, it might be a little worse without it."
"The Unreformable UN"
Pro-government, elite daily Il Foglio remarked (9/15): "Sixty years on, power relations in the world have changed, but it is not possible to express them at the UN because the majority of the assembly is made up of countries that do not recognize them, feeling unjustly excluded from the division of world resources. Hence, the UN can only exercise itself in rhetoric, by talking about human rights without doing anything to guarantee them, about peace and security without having the operational instruments to impose them, about the fight against underdevelopment as an academic discussion without results. That is what happens when one expects to equalize the unequal."
"Bush: 'Development And Ideas to Beat Terrorism'--Annan Disappointed Over Reform"
Giampaolo Pioli commented in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Quotidiano Nazionale (9/15): "The entire world is in New York these days. But the final words in Secretary General Kofi Annan’s speech barely hid the frustration, bitterness and disillusion. The final document of the 60th General Assembly, which was supposed to mark a shift and rebirth for the international organization, is in reality a weak compromise: only a small step in the right direction.... No significant indications derived from President Bush’s awaited speech…but he lowered his tone of world policeman used in past years and concentrated on world solidarity.... America tolerates the many calls for multilateralism…but in fact its acts like the UN does not exist."
RUSSIA: "World Leaders Prefer Meeting Tête-à-Tête"
Artur Blinov held in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (9/19): "Most observers, speaking of Summit-2005 in New York, call its results modest or even worse. The Final Declaration is rich on bombast wishes and poor on concrete commitments. Remarkably, while condemning all forms of terrorism, participants in the summit again avoided giving it an exact definition. This is no omission. It is a result of differences remaining unresolved for decades. It is a mystery how the UN is going to develop and adopt the text of a comprehensive convention on fighting terrorism proposed by world leaders, including by the Russian President. Worst of all, the Final Declaration contains no clear tasks concerning disarmament and WMD non-proliferation. There are two reasons for that ?omission:’ one, the world powers pay less attention to the post-Cold War military balance; and two, non-proliferation is in crisis.... As shown by meetings on the East River and Potomac, world leaders tend to take over from diplomats, their contacts more frequent and varied. On the one hand, this reflects the seemingly diminished role of their foreign policy agencies, and on the other hand, in an emergency or crisis, their countries may end up without a ?reserve,’ unable to move a dialogue to a higher level."
Vyacheslav Tetekin insisted in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (9/17): "There really is no (UN) crisis.... The current ?crisis’ is....a conflict between the UN and the U.S..... America wants the UN to become its foreign policy instrument.... The U.S. has had to follow the rules of the game.... Wanting to adjust those rules to their own interests, the Americans think they can do this most easily by subjugating the international body that makes those rules.... But, U.S. public opinion still values moral justification of the use of force, and America likes to pose as a moral authority in the world. Thus, a UN mandate for aggression...is still considered useful propagandawise, impelling America to seek UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions against countries that refuse to submit or are opposed to it.... The UN Secretary General is the U.S.’ protégé.... But, under pressure from tens of UN member-states united in powerful regional organizations...Kofi Annan can’t afford to act openly as an American puppet or let the UN Secretariat become part of the U.S. State Department.... Things grew even worse after John Bolton’s appointment as the U.S. envoy to the UN...an embodiment of America’s cowboy-type determination to reach its goals no matter what.... The final declaration document hoopla and the Bolton appointment show that the U.S.’ UN policy is one of out-and-out diktat, unacceptable to an overwhelming majority of UN member-nations.”
Dmitriy Sidorov and Aleksandr Reutov stated in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (9/15): "Because of insurmountable differences, the General Assembly failed to agree on ways to reform the UN. In the end, it came up with a ?feeble’ resolution, dull and insipid enough for everyone to readily sign. Opponents of reform must be happy.... Russia, while favoring UN reform in word, does not really want it, primarily because increasing the number of UN Security Council permanent members would detract from the five countries with the veto right. Moscow says not to push so hard that reform damages the UN Security Council’s efficiency."
"A Sad Jubilee"
Marina Volkova judged in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (9/15): "With the UN marking its 60th anniversary, it does not look like a jolly occasion. While it may not feel like dying, the organization does not quite know what to do with its life. The range of problems it faces now is without precedent. A few days before the GA session, the final document was far from ready, and the number of amendments suggested left it certain to be a lot weaker than the proposals suggested during its preparation."
AUSTRIA: "The Mens's Club Of Nay-Sayers"
Foreign affairs editor Martin Stricker editorialized in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (9/16): "Kofi Annan's reform visions, with far-reaching goals and promises, have dwindled to a paper of meager content.... What remains from the United Nations summit is avowals and lip service, but also small first steps in the right direction. The Human Rights Commission that was formerly a platform for criminal regimes such as the one in Sudan is going to be dissolved in its present format. There is agreement about the urgency for organizational reform. The monstrous UN apparatus that has often demonstrated its vulnerability to corruption must become transparent and much more efficient--not the worst one can do as a confidence-building measure. Many a nation could set an example in this respect. The Pakistani UN Embassy alone owes the city of New York the incredible sum of 560,000 dollars in transportation fees."
"The Big UN Flop"
Foreign affairs editor Christian Ultsch commented in centrist Die Presse (9/15): "What a waste of resources! For two years, the cleverest people have been wracking their brains about UN reform. The result is pitiful. All the ambitious reform plans were abandoned.... And who is responsible for the meager results? The UN? This is a cheap shot: After all, the UN can only be as strong as its 191 member states, especially the U.S., allow it to be. And it was obviously the Americans' intention to torpedo the reform. Why else would they put forward 700 requests for changes at the last minute? However, other states that are now engaging in finger pointing in the direction of the US have also pursued blockade strategies of their own, albeit in a quieter fashion. For them, it is just a convenient excuse to hide behind the Americans. Kofi Annan is likewise facing charges--he always manages to wriggle out of every tight spot and is now presenting himself as the disappointed and outraged party. He ought to have explored the differences between the members earlier and tried to balance them out. This is after all his job."
"Stones Are Rolling Down From The Summit"
Foreign affairs writer Christoph Prantner declared in liberal Der Standard (9/15): "An attempt to identify the culprits for the failure of the UN summit reveals a broad range of possible explanations: They bit off more than they could chew was the consensus at the UN summit in New York--referring to all the 191 member states. However, Deputy UN Secretary General Angela Kane had her chief culprit already identified: The United States of America. In fact, the U.S. has been advocating a thorough reform of the UN for a long time, only to now prevent it by bringing in hundreds of requests for changes shortly before the summit. Whatever the strategy behind that move, it is a fact that the UN is now weaker than before the 'reform.' And that is the continuation of something that has already emerged in the course of the controversy over the Iraq war at the UN. The U.S. is not willing to tolerate any restrictions of their new way of treating global politics as their own domestic demesne. In this sense, the UN is as weak as the Americans want it to be."
BELGIUM: "A Summit That Avoided Total Wreckage"
Colette Braeckman commented in left-of-center Le Soir (9/17): “Can one consider a success the fact that it was not a total disaster?... The major Summit for the UN’s 60th anniversary was not the disaster that some had predicted and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton will have to postpone his plan to cut the top ten floors of the UN. The reason is that President Bush, weakened by the situation and Iraq and...by Katrina, is much less arrogant. Bush, who once said that ?those who are not with us are against us,’ thanked the some 115 countries that offered help in Louisiana, and he mentioned and endorsed the Millennium Goals, which Bolton wanted to scrap from the final declaration.... Bush did not only receive the sympathy of the world for Katrina’s victims, he also obtained a resolution that not only prohibits terrorism but also makes it possible to prosecute cultural or religious institutions that are suspected of encouraging extremists.... Another reform which pleases Washington is the upcoming disappearance of the Human Rights Commission, which will be replaced by a Council of human rights where only ?good pupils’ will have a seat.... However, no progress was made on the UN’s internal reform.... Everybody is speaking of multilateralism, but the selfishness of countries is in fact greater than ever.”
"More Successful Than Anticipated"
Philippe Paquet analyzed in independent La Libre Belgique (9/17): “In spite of the satisfaction that many displayed after a UN Summit that was generally perceived as more successful than what people feared, one should not forget that the UN did not make any progress on what initially appeared as essential, i.e. the reform of the institutions themselves and, in particular, of the UN Security Council.... Although predictable and predicted, the incapacity to adapt the UN Security Council to today’s realities cast quite a shadow on the New York Summit.... Yet, as the Belgian Prime Minister rightfully underlined, ?how can one accept that Africa and Latin America do not have a permanent seat?’ Some are claiming that it will happen soon, as the Summit paved the way to ineluctable reform. ?Pressure will mount,’ Guy Verhofstadt said, ?Africa and Latin America are not going to continue to accept such a situation and they should be helped in that way,’ he added. But Verhofstadt also admitted that ?these last months, he saw a lot of energy being spent to torpedo the negotiations on the UN Security Council.’”
"UN And EU: It Is The Same Fight"
Serge Vandaele expressed the view in financial L’Echo (9/16): "The UN does not seem to be doing too well. Humiliated by the episode of the American intervention in Iraq and sapped by the oil-for-food corruption scandal, the international organization is also said to be almost bankrupt. This is a sad anniversary that some would like to turn into a funeral.... Like the EU, the UN does not have the political power that would enable it to impose its decisions.... The UN is unable to reform itself, just like the EU missed a unique opportunity to reinforce itself when it rejected the constitution. When one looks at the UN’s failures--Iraq, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kashmir, Congo, poverty, etc.--its balance sheet is disappointing.... The UN sped up decolonization and brought an end to apartheid in South Africa. If elections are taking place under acceptable conditions in many countries and if international penal tribunals are now in place, it is thanks to the UN. Criticizing the UN actually boils down to criticizing its 191 member countries, and...forgetting that 70,000 Blue Helmets are trying to maintain peace in troubled regions of the planet. Thanks to its perhaps not very glorious role of crisis manager, the UN prevented wars, or it at least prevented conflicts from deteriorating.... What if the UN did not exist? Wouldn’t countries try to recreate, with the same difficulties, a multilateral body that would be capable of exerting ?soft power’ through negotiations?"
"In Sixty Years, The UN Has Only Enjoyed One Success"
Yannick Hallet analyzed in conservative La Capitale (9/15): "When they created the UN in 1945, its founding members intended to shield the planet from another disaster. One must admit that the UN was unable to prevent China from annexing Tibet, Turkey from annexing Northern Cyprus, and the USSR from invading Afghanistan. India and Pakistan fought about Kashmir, even acquiring nuclear weapons, just in case.... Great Britain and Argentina waged a war for the Falklands islands, the reunification of Vietnam took place in bloodshed, just like the partition of Yugoslavia. Genocides took place in Rwanda and Cambodia, and the Congo was the victim of two wars. And as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, it is almost as old as the international body.... Does this mean that the UN has been useless? Not at all. It was quickly paralyzed by the Cold War. In spite of this situation, it constantly remained a forum of discussion between Washington, Moscow, and their respective allies. One can therefore give the UN credit for a genuine success, i.e. that of having avoided a third world war that would probably have ended in a nuclear cataclysm."
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard editorialized (9/15): "The UN is nothing more than what the member states make of it. When those member states violate the rules all the time, the Secretary General cannot be blamed for the failure of the system. How can he make his secretariat function properly when he is not allowed to fire incompetent or corrupt officials because they are protégées of their regimes and, therefore, untouchable? How can the UN work efficiently when many officials come from countries where bribery is part of the national ?culture'?... developing counties rejected the proposal that he [Annan] should be allowed to hire officials on the basis of their expertise.... Once again the member states were unable to agree on the definition of terrorism.... The UN is neither an ?international community’ nor a ?world parliament'.... Such terms require a common system of standards and values-- which the 191 member states simply don’t have.... The clear division demonstrates how indolent it is to refer all conflicts and major problems to the UN. Most of the time that is an excuse to do nothing and to let genocide--like in Darfur--take place while long palavers are held in New York. As long as that suits the member states not much initiative can be expected from the UN."
Foreign affairs writer Lode Delputte commented in independent De Morgen (9/15): “In New York a discrete consensus prevailed: the idea that the main opposition came from Washington. The only superpower in the world continues to stick to unilateralism and refuses to believe that a modernized, flexible and workable UN can also solve America’s security problems. To support that vision the Bush administration sent John Bolton to New York--one of the architects of the war in Iraq.... In contrast to Kofi Annan--whose face displayed bitterness yesterday--Bolton showed that he was quite happy with the compromise. He was right: if he continues to get what he wants, the UN building will lose ten floors--realizing the boldest dream he had as a boy. But, there is one thing: Bolton is no little boy anymore. Wouldn’t it be better, after the debacle in Iraq, to send him on early retirement, rather than to the UN?”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "UN: Super Summit Is A Big Fiasco"
Viliam Buchert comments in mainstream MF Dnes (9/15): "Seldom are so many millions of dollars thrown out the window as these days in New York. The greatest summit of presidents, premiers and monarchs in history, meeting for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the UN, is really a fiasco.... Why? No basic UN reforms have been agreed upon. The totally discredited Human Rights Commission which included representatives of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes will be replaced by a new Council for Human Rights which from its inception is doomed to failure. The prepared formulas for the removal of trade barriers and for developmental assistance are very vague. The experts found no definition of terrorism. And any mention of nuclear non-proliferation was dropped.... This is not only the problem of Kofi Annan who bears the responsibility for the scandalous oil-for-food program in Iraq.... The figure of the incompetent Annan only reflects the overall weakness of the UN. The great powers do not want to agree on reforms and they are strongly supported in this by other states. The world organization is therefore immobilized and incapable of action. It is dreadful that the world taxpayers will have to continue paying for this unacceptable status quo."
HUNGARY: "Little Drops On The Bottom Of The Glass"
Cultural anthropologist Balazs Frida stated in top-circulation left-of-center Nepszabadsag (9/27): "No one envies the paralyzed General Secretary. He tried to execute brave reforms but he encountered powers that swept both him and the reforms away.... The American intention to extensively curtail the prestige and the authority of the world organization was already clearly visible in the case of Iraq; still even the most cunning experts had not counted on such a strong diplomatic offensive.... Nobody can blame Kofi Annan for the crises and the severe problems of the world, or for the lack of wise consideration of the member states. More appropriate is to analyze the responsibility of the leading powers of the world, especially that of the only superpower of the world, the United States--the country that tends to consider itself as the “world's policeman.” When its economic interests so demand it should have unavoidable responsibility for the establishment of the secure future, for managing global crises and for determining the new role of the world organization. However, the present government of the U.S...is disinterested in the changes."
"World War Against Poverty"
Historian Ferenc Fejto, in his biweekly column in liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap held (9/19): “On September 14, 2005, President Bush assumed charge of what he called in the UN's 'world war against poverty.' For the success of the fight against poverty and impoverishment, the solidarity of all nations--small and large--is necessary. At last, the time has come for the politicians to listen to the best minds of the world’s scientific elite and take into account their opinions. Launching and participating in this war, President Bush is carrying out an action which might make him forgivable in the eyes of the world, all of the mistakes for which he is rightly reproached all over the world.”
"Little Success, Big Failure"
Washington correspondent Gabor Horvath stated in top circulation, left-of-center Nepszabadsag (9/16): “The most spectacular reform measure would have been the transformation of the Security Council. The structure established after WWII does not represent the real balance of powers.... The Americans smiled calmly: there is no need for veto here, opposing interests quietly destroy each other. If this doesn't happen, there is still the obstinate fact that at the moment nothing can be executed against the interests of the U.S..... On the other hand even the American objective is not enough for success. Washington would have liked to reorganize the world organization in a way that would give the Secretary General greater authority in personnel and practical decisions. At the moment all minor appointments require a resolution of the General Assembly.... The greatest challenge is that the UN is not a forum of debate but an operations center.”
"Mirror Tell Me"
Staff writer Gyorgy Fodor asserted in liberal Magyar Hirlap (9/16): “Sixty years have passed of Russian ?nyet’-s and American 'no'-s, narrow position fights, below-the-belt blows, Khrushchev shoes and political speeches.… This is not the place for listing the merits of the UN. Although they most probably exist, at the moment nothing comes to my mind.... What kind of institution is one of which the reorganization and the reorientation to the new world is hindered by built-in brakes? The Security Council cannot be reformed, expanded, narrowed, terminated since the present members of the Security Council do not want this and would veto it. Is this clear? It is 21st century surrealism.... This UN cannot be reformed: it should be destroyed and a new one should be built.”
Columnist Levente Sitkei stated in right wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (9/15): "The striving for consensus has now resulted in completely leaching out the draft, and it lacks anything concrete. According to him [Kofi Annan], the present stagnation [of the UN] is in nobody’s interest. Sure it is. It is a telltale fact that although all the interviewed Ambassadors announced their reservations about the declaration, U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton expressed his joy.... The [UN] established sixty years ago is more of a drag on the United States, and certainly no one in Washington would shed a tear if the above-mentioned crisis [failure to reform the UN] resulted in the cessation of the United Nations. The American politics of the previous years can be interpreted as saying: 'Either we lead the UN or it is useless.' The self-esteem of the United States received a wound never to be healed when the rest of the world did not support the war in Iraq. The fact that they still launched the invasion without authorization made it clear that they do not need any authorization to overrun a country. Of course it proved that the UN is unable to impose sanctions.... In fact, the UN ceased to exist a long time ago, only nobody has noticed."
IRELAND: "The Positives From The UN Summit"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (9/17): “Kofi Annan said...political leaders usually achieve less than they expect.... If there is a continuing political will to keep development and international security issues on a single agenda, the summit outcome looks more half-full than half-empty.... This new doctrine...a responsibility to protect represents...a major shift in international law and politics overriding national sovereignty.... The failure to agree precisely looks more typical of how the UN works in practice. With sufficient will and leadership these new institutions can in time be made to work effectively. The same cannot be said about the most clear-cut failure, on disarmament and non-proliferation. Because of a complete negotiating impasse, this section was dropped all together...a 'real disgrace’. The central objective...was to create a systematic and sustainable linkage between the international development agenda and international security. Politically, that relationship has been established...even if the links are weak.... Thus President Bush explicitly supported the Millennium Development Goals to tackle primary poverty by 2015.... At the other end of the political spectrum, states which have traditionally been hostile...agreed to intrusive new institutions and processes. This balance of attitudes and interests must now be grown into a new and more effective multilateralism. Much will depend on the readiness of European states...since their positions often influence other states to do likewise. Ireland has a constructive role to play in this endeavor.”
"Annan Appeals For Joint Effort To Build Up"
Deaglán de Bréadún commented in the center-left Irish Times (9/15): "There has been widespread and severe criticism of the draft declaration negotiated for the three-day World Summit, but Mr. Annan said it was ?a good start’ whilst admitting it was not ?the sweeping and fundamental reform’ he had originally proposed. A significant number of issues in UN reform remain unresolved and Mr. Annan called for urgent action on these.... In a reference to the need for a definition of terrorism, which was dropped from the final document for the summit, Mr. Bush said: ?We must complete the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will put every nation on record: the targeting and deliberate killing by terrorists of civilians and non-combatants cannot be justified or legitimized by any cause or grievance.’ Mr. Bush also sought to correct the impression that the U.S. was opposed to the goals for the elimination of poverty and disease agreed at the Millennium Summit five years ago.... On the controversial issue of trade subsidies, the president issued a challenge...to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services."
"United Nations Birthday--Nations Must Unite Behind UN"
The left-of-center Irish Examiner editorialized (9/15): “As the UN turns 60, it is timely to scrutinize the role of the world’s only global organization, which stands at a crossroads, facing an uncertain future and urgently in need of sweeping reforms.... Confidence in the UN will be eroded by the emasculated nature of the package of reforms.... While its pledge to honor poverty goals features strongly in the report from Secretary General Kofi Annan, it is hard to disagree with former President Mary Robinson, that world leaders are indulging in lip service. With major aspects of the original document diluted or jettisoned altogether, her accusation of hypocrisy cannot be lightly dismissed.... The only certainty is that it cannot survive in its present state. Both within and outside the organization, there is broad agreement on the urgent need for fundamental change in the way the UN operates. From Rwanda to Bosnia and Darfur, its failure to intervene in some of the world’s most troubled regions in time to save countless lives has left a dark stain on its reputation. Equally, its failure to establish an emergency unit capable of taking swift action to counteract the ravages of war and famine is deplorable. That said...despite all its shortcomings, the UN is still a hugely important organization. As it faces the next 60 years, it must...lead in tackling the yawning gulf between rich and poor nations.”
POLAND: "All Funerals In Vain"
Leopold Unger wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (9/20): “The 60-year-old UN is aging badly. It is too inflated, too expensive, hard to control, marked by corruption, and rotted by bureaucracy--yet the good thing is that it exists. The UN is needed and useful, as it provides a convenient--sometimes discreet--meeting forum for countries or individuals who would not wish--or would not be able--to meet otherwise.... The real decisions, however, are not made in New York City, but in some capitals [across the globe].”
ROMANIA: "UN--The End Of The Beginning"
Sever Voinescu editorialized in the intellectual weekly Dilema Veche (9/23): "The UN is, in fact, a value market.... The prestige of the UN can only be saved by means of a massive infusion of genuine idealism, meaning quick action and not pale contemplation, dare and not precaution, belief and not endless deliberation. As for the UN bureaucracy, nobody should be worried. It will survive, just like any other bureaucracy, no matter what--if the UN dissolved, the UN bureaucracy would continue to exist.... Of what it is now, the UN should only keep the good habit of gathering various people in one place.... The UN should continue being the place where Togo still sits side by side with Sweden."
"UN--End Of Summit And Beginning Of Reform"
Iulia Motoc declared in the intellectual weekly Dilema Veche (9/23): "At a superficial level of international relations...the UN is an organization in decline.... Nevertheless, the efforts made by the U.S. about the UN over the past couple of years, show us that this organization is not only extremely relevant, but that it has also reached one of the main goals of any international institution, that of limiting the states’ power.... UN reform is meant as a process. It’s not only about the internal adoptions of certain measures by member states, but also about the establishment of concrete operating methods of new institutions.... At the same time, it’s difficult to say that the states continue to function in the same anarchic system of the previous centuries or the rule of the balance of powers is the most important principle on the international stage. Neither idealism nor realism? Then what can explain the function of the UN today and, most of all, the reform of the world organization?"
"The UN At The Hour Of Great Decisions"
Simona Haiduc commented in the independent daily Curentul (9/15): "In fact, the UN has always been tormented with internal tensions: between its claims for the role of world ?conscience’ and its impotence, between its aspirations of supreme leader and the petty arrangements in the institution’s halls.... Reality is much less attractive.... The current UN summit is, in fact, a test...of the power of unity [and] of the ability to accept compromises.... The UN has become more and more indispensable. The world has evolved, but the UN operates as it did 60 years ago.... The rules of the games have been set--unofficially, of course by the Americans: UN reform is not of interest for the time being and it [the UN] only serves the U.S.’s own interests.”
"After 50 Years"
Political analyst Cristian Parvulescu remarked in the financial Bursa (9/15): "After half a century, the UN seems to be an organization overwhelmed by events, a discussion club with no authority.... But despite the criticism, much of it justified, there is no other alternative to the UN. That’s why UN reform is crucial.... After half a century, the UN is looking for a new identity. The success of its reform depends on the influential states’ will to democratize this ultimate bastion of the Cold War. Without a powerful and respected United Nations Organization, the chances of peace are limited. In the background of economic globalization, national egos or new fears related to terrorism, which are becoming more and more prevalent, may lead to irrational reactions. UN reform may provide a framework for the solution and a rational answer to the new international defiance."
SPAIN: "Useful 'Junk' "
Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (9/17): "May we conclude that the UN has become a 'piece of junk', as General DeGaulle disparagingly called it once? Not at all. Neither for its actions nor for the developments at the Summit. The critical report on the oil-for-food program in Iraq, which has been used to torpedo Kofi Annan's plans, cannot serve as a smoke screen to hide the role of an organization that has multiplied its activity since the end of the Cold War.... This Summit has also served for the great of the world to modify their positions, starting with George W. Bush, who left aside his Manichaean tone and admitted that terror 'feeds on anger and resentment.' The President, following this logic, offered the elimination of trade tariffs and agricultural financial assistance in the U.S. in order to stimulate development in the third world 'if other countries do the same.' The bath of realism of the Iraq war and the impact of Katrina's tragedy has brought Bush nearer to the multilateralism led by two other presidents, Wilson and Roosevelt."
"A More Divided UN"
Conservative ABC wrote (9/16): "It has just been certified that...the UN, with the highest concentration of leaders in world's history, has lost a remarkable opportunity.... The EU contradicts itself in what it says and what it does.... Actually, the only leadership that can be discerned in the UN is that of the U.S., but that is a taboo, an insolence and nonsense.... Of course, a communiqué will be written so as things finally do not seem what they are.... For Villepin and many others, the malignant agent of the fiasco is none other than John Bolton.... He has needed little time, it seems, to distort the will of the other one hundred and ninety countries that are members of the UN today. An amazing Mephistophelian ability in contrast with the bath of historical innocence that is the constant ecosystem of the UN.... Perhaps the new international order--or disorder--does not correspond much with the current picture of the UN. It is all, of course, George W. Bush's fault, who is also able to pillage the biosphere on his own."
"The UN Of The XXI Century"
Conservative ABC maintained (9/15): "The unresolved matter of the UN is the reform of the Security Council.... The current composition of the institution is obsolete. The challenges of the international community at the start of the 21st Century are no longer the totalitarian regimes of Hitler or Mussolini...but of terrorist threats in any form, of nuclear arsenals, of growing poverty, and of global warming.... A big part of these issues should have been resolved in this summit. Even more so as the organization has fallen into discredit after the 'oil-for-food' corruption scandal.... We will have to wait until the UN itself impels changes from within. This seems to be the only solution for the 191 countries to reach an agreement. The world needs the organization and needs it to be strong. Because, far away from its deficiencies, nothing else fulfills so many functions."
"Putting Out Good Intentions"
Independent El Mundo held (9/15): "It’s difficult to believe that the U.S., when it comes down to it, will be able to put into practice the spirit that it proclaimed at the UN (on reducing tariffs), because it has demonstrated that it is as protectionist as the rest towards the sectors where imports can damage concrete sections of its population.... In the end, a statement of good intentions is always much easier than the actual deeds."
"An Audacious Proposal Against Poverty"
Conservative La Razon penned (9/15): "It is not surprising that, while Europe continues to cling to a concept of aid development closer to giving alms rather than justice, it is an American president who proposes ending tariffs in the face of the egoism and the lack of solidarity of the industrialized countries, especially in Europe, who have taken refuge in them. Bush can be criticized for simplifying the solutions to the serious problems that non-developed countries face when he affirms that 'the elimination of commercial barriers will lift millions of people from poverty by 2015'. But it's a proposal that has more support from poor countries than rich, showing symptoms...maybe because the future consists of free competition, and not financial assistance."
TURKEY: "Bush Prevents The UN Reform Process"
Sahin Alpay commented in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (9/20): “UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s reform package did not receive support from the Bush Administration. It was unlikely that the U.S. would support Annan, particularly given his differences with American plans during the Iraq crisis. It was not a coincidence that President Bush appointed John Bolton, a well-known anti-UN figure, as the American representative in the UN. Annan presented some comprehensive and fundamental reforms in the UN organization but no consensus was achieved on them. John Bolton expressed content after that.… The gist of the issue lies in the ruling mentality of the Bush administration. The neo-cons are after American hegemony on a global scale and they do not care about equality among UN members.”
"The Powerful Ones Seek More Power"
Fehmi Koru argued in the Islamist-intellectual Yeni Safak (9/16): “The UN restructuring was designed by the Bush and Bolton duo, and generally it seems that the demands of the powerful were addressed. The text proposing UN restructuring does not indicate good intentions behind the effort since it contains much rhetoric that can easily be distorted or misused.... In the agreed upon text, new authorizations will be provided and new units will be established; both of them have loopholes for misuse. The U.S. did not get what it wanted from the UN during the Iraq crisis, and this time its efforts are designed to shape the UN according to American interests.”
"Tremor At The UN Organization"
Zafer Atay insisted in the economic-political Dunya (9/15): "Unlike the glamorous celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the UN, this time the 60th anniversary was insignificant. One could not see the traditional attendees of such anniversary celebrations, such as the President of the United States.... The United Nations is going through very difficult times due to corruption claims regarding the oil-for-food program for Iraq and the scandals related to UN peacekeepers in several countries. Corruption claims are being investigated within the UN, as well as by France and the United States. Washington is also angry with the current UN administration because of its opposition to the Iraq war. Washington wants UN Secretary General Annan to resign. There will be a monetary sanction as well because the U.S. administration plans to cut off its financial support for the UN unless satisfactory reforms within the organization are undertaken. On the other hand, in the name of fairness, we should not forget the positive achievements of the UN. The United Nations has made some very important contributions to peace, health, and education worldwide. The world owes its gratitude to the UN for eliminating diseases through vaccination programs and for providing food and shelter to refugees."
"The Summit Of Divided Nations"
Deniz Ulke Aribogan opined in the mass-appeal Aksam (9/15): "The United Nations served a very important purpose by bringing together nations to heal the wounds of two world wars. However, the structure of the organization was formed by the winners of the war, providing privileged veto status in the UN Security Council. Since the establishment of the UN up until the present, the privileged members did not see any harm in using the UN to legitimize their own policy priorities. The UN thus turned into an arena for power struggles among those members. The formation of the UN after the world war was meant to create a peaceful world, but unfortunately 60 million people have died because of political conflicts and wars in the 60 years of the post-war period.... Today the UN presents a picture of divided nations. Problems will continue in the world regardless of the number of international summits that are held as long as these divisions continue."
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/16): "A United Nations that cannot even rationally define the universal problem of terrorism, or exclude Libya and Cuba from sitting in judgment of human rights, is a fatally flawed UN. Judging from the dynamics that surrounded that drafting of the outcome document, the UN remains largely at the mercy of nations for whom aggression is a relative term and a legitimate diplomatic tool, one that in fact they will gladly continue deploying at the UN itself, as they have in the past. It would actually be counterproductive to push for a more effective UN, so long as it remains, on fundamental matters of peace and security, pointed in the wrong direction."
"Drawing Up A New World Order"
Washington correspondent Shmuel Rosner wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/15): "Here's an opening sentence that could be used by rivals of both Israel and the United States, but at its foundation is a fact that cannot be avoided: if the American maneuvering succeeds and it manages to find agreement for sweeping UN reforms, no country will gain from it as much as Israel. Moreover, there is no other country that shares with the U.S. such an unequivocal interest in UN reforms.... For some years, the U.S. has felt that this organization, which it hosts, is isolated and blocked. Therefore, and not because of Israel, it began such a sweeping drive, so obviously necessary, to correct it.... After 60 years, the UN is going back to the drawing board, while in its corridors float the innocent ideas raised by Wilson, who envisioned an institutional spirit that would reflect the 'moral position of humankind.' It's not a steering committee of global superpowers that the Americans want, but an organization that will advance values that are not shared right now by all its members: democracy, human rights, equality. Or maybe they simply want to destroy the UN. It's possible to suspect that, too, passed through their minds."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Disregarding Peace"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz asserted (9/18): "The leaders of the world failed to confront terrorism as the biggest threat to peace. They also failed to deal with the proposal to expand the UNSC when it encountered strong opposition by the council’s five permanent members. The rich industrial nations also failed to pay any attention to the problems of the poor and developing nations. Moreover, the UN world leaders summit ignored the right of nations to resist occupation."
"Word Of The Crown Prince"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (9/17): "The words of the Crown Prince were about comprehensive and significant issues. He said that more work needs to be done on agreed objectives.... He also talked about terrorism, which has become a danger, threatening the whole world.... He focused on the significance of UN reform and the expansion of the Security Council.... In summary, the Crown Prince dealt with topics, which concerns the whole world."
EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "United Nations' Reform Must Continue"
Editorial in Melbourne-based liberal Age stated (9/20): "Before it is dismissed as a failed institution, it should be remembered that through its various agencies the United Nations provides food, shelter and health care to millions of people in need around the world.... That said, the UN is a deeply troubled organization, beset by mismanagement and corruption--as revealed in the recent report on the oil-for-food scandal--too often rendered impotent when prompt action is needed, and discredited by the existence on the Human Rights Commission of states guilty of massive human rights abuses. The UN is greatly in need of reform, but unfortunately it did not get that reform at last week's 60th anniversary summit in New York. Indeed, it is easier to say what the summit did not achieve than what it did.... In this era of rapid and unstoppable globalization, finding ways to collectively deal with threatened genocides, natural catastrophes, disease pandemics and global financial crises has never been more necessary. The summit was disappointing. This does not mean, however, that reform should not or cannot continue. There simply is no alternative."
"UN States Must Put Shoulders To Wheel"
Business-oriented Australian Financial Review opined (9/17): “Progress has been made this week, but not nearly enough for it to be said that the UN has put itself on course to genuine change...unless the UN member states actually put their shoulders to the wheel and unless the Secretary-General provides more dynamic leadership than has been his practice, any momentum generated by this week's summit will be quickly dissipated. If there was a reminder during the week of the difficulties ahead, it was the failure to overcome divisions among UN negotiators to include in the reform document any reference to the most pressing issue facing the world--weapons proliferation.”
"UN Leaders Climb Very Low Summit"
Major liberal Sydney Morning Herald highlighted (9/16): “Sixty years after it was founded, the UN encompasses 191 nations, ranging from the mighty to the minnows, from the wealthy to the miserably poor, divided by ethnicities, religions, ideologies and enmities born of contrasting historic experiences and conflicting aspirations. Given this inherently chaotic reality...a disappointing compromise was the best that could be achieved...hard issues and decisions on practical implementation were dodged, fudged or postponed. Nuclear proliferation and disarmament…were dropped from the final document. There is no definition of terrorism.... Provisions to prevent the transfer of weapons to terrorists were rejected.... The vexed issue of enlarging the UN Security Council by extending permanent membership to nations like Japan and India was left in the too-hard basket.... Even so, this 60th anniversary UN summit was not a washout. At least the minds of the mighty were briefly concentrated on global issues...and the UN has been given something to build on.”
"United By Name But Not By Nature, And Therein Lies The Problem"
Michael Fullilove, director of the global issues program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, engendered in the major liberal Sydney Morning Herald (9/16): “The best elements of the document concern humanitarian intervention, development and peace building.... When the communique is bad, however, it's horrid. The document's silence on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament--at a time when the world is concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran, North Korea and even non-state terrorists--is an indictment of the world's governments.... Between these two extremes, progress has been made, but not on the scale the times demand.... When all the heads of government and their entourages leave Manhattan, the UN will have been left in a stronger position to confront the threats and challenges facing the world. But we have seen the reality of the disunited nations, and it is not a pretty sight.”
CHINA: "UN Agreement Reflects Challenge Of Reform"
The official English-language newspaper China Daily penned (9/19): "With little more than a heavily spun repetition of its most lofty aims, the text of the summit mission statement was vague on many key points. It failed to establish an agreed definition of terrorism and left out altogether a section on disarmament. Little progress was made in striving to achieve the millennium development goals that aim to reduce poverty and improve education in poorer countries by 2015. Unanswered questions leave the United Nations struggling to set itself a unified path.... President Hu Jintao's pledge of a five-component package to aid less-developed nations outlined at the summit testifies to China's commitment to the struggle."
"The Real Family Circus"
Foreign editor Peter Kammerer stated in independent English-language South China Morning Post (9/16): "Watching the 60th birthday celebrations of the United Nations this week has been exactly like such an occasion. Of all dysfunctional families, the UN is the ultimate. From the moment Secretary-General Kofi Annan kicked off proceedings by obliquely suggesting to the 191 state and government leaders that his legacy would be nil if they did not agree on the Millennium Development Goals or his plans for UN reform, it was obvious that this was not going to be the party to end all parties. U.S. President George W. Bush made sure of that minutes later by focusing not on easing global poverty, vanquishing disease and hunger, protecting the environment or ensuring that all have human rights, but calling for a united, all-out effort to fight terrorists. Those who had seen nothing but increased terrorism and the sidelining of other serious issues result from such cooperation over the past four years twiddled their thumbs. They wondered when they would get a chance to ask for a loan, debt alleviation or another visit by that nice UN goodwill ambassador for the High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Expectations Of UN Must Not Be Set Too High"
The independent, English-language South China Morning Post spotlit (9/19): "The UN has 191 member nations and territories, each putting their own people before those of other members. Historical, ethnic, religious and territorial issues frequently cloud their decisions. Their citizens' needs come before the UN's. There is no disputing the worth of the UN in bringing people together to discuss the world's problems. In some areas, such as fighting disease and reacting to disasters, it does a good job; in others, like protecting human and civil rights and preventing conflicts, it is found wanting. But it must be remembered that the UN is an organization, not a global government. It can only do what its members want and if they cannot reach consensus, issues will linger rather than be resolved. As Mr. Annan now well knows, he can help build agreements, but cannot force them."
"Two New Ways For Countering Terrorism"
The independent Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News editorialized (9/16): "Chinese President Hu Jintao announced at the UN's 60th anniversary summit that China would offer five gifts to poor countries to embody China's willingness, as a developing big power, to shoulder the responsibility of eliminating international poverty. China takes concrete actions to respond to the Millennium Development Goal of the UN. President Hu also mentioned in his address that eliminating poverty was one of the major ways to eradicate terrorism. In order to end the ceaseless terrorist attacks, President Hu's new thinking should be considered thoroughly.... Bush's performance in the UN is more humble than last time. As a beneficiary country, he thanked 115 countries for offering assistance to the relief effort. He reiterated the need to counter terrorism. But he also talked about the Millennium development goals of the UN. He avoided mentioning Iraq directly and he just said that he was optimistic about democratization in the Middle East. Bush's counter-terrorism foreign policies proved that relying solely on compulsory means could not solve the problem. If he can learn a lesson and change his unilateral manner, it may have positive effects on the U.S. as well as world peace."
CHINA (MACAU SARS): "'Super Summit' Opens Amid Wrangles"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (9/15): "On September 14, the UN convened the largest scale summit in its history with 170 leaders and heads of government. The UN headquarters, where all 170 leaders met, is full of squabbles, which delayed the meeting by four hours. Instead of concluding on September 12 at 3:00pm, continuous debate by member states of the summit document delayed the conclusion until 7:00 p.m. On the morning of September 13, diplomats of all member countries were still discussing and negotiating the contents of the summit document, which will emerge as largely weakened when compared with the original reform blueprint suggested by UN Secretary General Annan. In the heaving UN headquarters, a new hope is growing. The world needs consensus, a most difficult thing to obtain."
MALAYSIA: "UN Reform Requires Collective Power Of All UN Members"
Government-influenced Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau editorialized (9/17): "The three-day World Summit held at the UN headquarters will re-focus the attention of world leaders into thinking seriously on how best the UN...could carry out its reform truthfully in order to rebuild its credibility. While no nation can downplay the contributions of the UN in the past 60 years in speeding up social and economic development and maintaining world peace and security, we have to accept the fact that in recent years, factors...have subjected it to the control of wealthy powers.... While the watered-down document on UN reform drafted by Kofi Annan can be a disappointment..., we are...happy to see a breakthrough among world nations...to re-focus their attention on fighting poverty, and eliminating genocide and war crimes...some important aspects in UN reform.... Under the control of major powers, it would remain...difficult...for the weaker nations to have their voices heard.... We would like to echo here that it is indeed through collective action and power of the 191 UN member countries that the UN can hope to ward off any unilateral action of major powers."
"UN Reform Needs Full Facilitation Of All Nations"
Petaling Jaya-based leading government-influenced, Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily editorialized (9/17): "After 60 years in existence, all nations agree that the current situation has made UN reform a necessary mandate in order...to move on credibly and truthfully to represent the majority views of world nations. Yet UN reform is easier said than done.... The main reason why the comprehensive reform draft proposed by Kofi Annan was watered down and turned into an outcome document to be rectified at the end of the three-day UN World Summit is because there are differences in approach by both developed and developing nations.... It is thus important for all nations to look at such differences seriously and come to a compromise on how the new UN could face the new and modern challenges. The UN should never become an international club for major powers. The new UN Security Council should be a good geographical representation of the world's regions and include representatives from developing nations.... On the one hand, the U.S. acts against the wishes of the UN but on the other hand, the UN cannot do without the United States. How the new UN can strive and balance the benefits of the U.S. against...world nations has remained one of the greatest challenges.... As it stands now, UN reforms...really need the facilitation of all nations...to...work."
PHILIPPINES: "U.S. Adopts A Conciliatory Tone"
Beth Day Romulo, widow of former Philippine foreign affairs secretary Carlos P. Romulo, wrote in her column in the conservative Manila Bulletin (9/27): "There was also concern about the the U.S. attitude, and its belligerent envoy, John Bolton known for his hostility to the UN in the past, who staggered the pre-opening meetings on UN reform by demanding 400 substantive amendments. But once the changes were discussed and agreed upon, Mr. Bolton backed off and morphed into another hard working representative of his country. He, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and President Bush were all present at the Security Council Summit president by President Arroyo. And in President Bush's welcoming statement at the opening of the General Assembly, he said, "We are committed to the Millennium Development Goals" and the modified reform text was endorsed by the General Assembly. Suffering some of the lowest ratings he has endured as President, Mr. Bush's performance at the UN was helpful and conciliatory instead of arrogant or bullying as some delegates had feared."
THAILAND: "Vital UN Reform Virtually Ignored"
Top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post faulted (9/19): “Presidents and prime ministers went to UN headquarters last week to repair the world body. Unfortunately, they proved not to be 'world leaders' after all. In a process closed off to world citizens, the politicians signed a number of platitudes to work on UN repairs at some unspecified time, and refused even to address some major issues. In the process, they ignored, then trashed months of work and outstanding results by a panel led by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun on how to reform the world body. And finally...Secretary-General Kofi Annan, heavily bogged down in personal scandal, publicly regretted a failure of reform he hardly bothered to publicly fight for.... The men and women...could not even agree on a bland, 35-page document to give Mr. Annan the power to run his own bureaucracy effectively.... Each country must protect its national interests, but the disrespect for the reform process last week went far beyond that. Like any old organization, the UN can become so hobbled by bureaucracy and out of touch with the changing times that it becomes moribund and, eventually, bypassed. That is the fate, probably sooner than later, of a United Nations that refuses to reform.”
"Déjà Vu At UN Summit"
Top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post expressed concern (9/18): “Certainly terrorism should be on the minds of the world leaders, and international cooperation and action is very necessary and good. But why can't they address some of the other crucial global issues with the same sort of determination, can-do attitude and sense of urgency?... Maybe the reason the leaders of the free world decided to lead with terrorism instead is that in the five years since the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) were announced, progress has been 'depressingly slow.’”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Disunited Nations"
Editorial in the centrist Times Of India (9/19): "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip.... It was...true of the main business at hand for more than 170 world leaders gathered in the city: UN reform. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had proposed an agenda that seemed appropriate for a new century and for the UN in the 60th year of its existence, but that is now all but buried under a cacophony of self-assertion by member states.... President Bush made interesting noises that were a departure from neoconservative principles--he said that only a global coordinated effort could rid the world of terror, and that widespread poverty and disease spread terrorism. He also called for an end to farm subsidies, which is a positive signal to developing countries. But his appointment of ultra-conservative John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the UN undercut this message. From the point of view of a hardcore unilateralist like Bolton the UN would be an irrelevant institution, and he underscored this by demanding more than 700 changes in the reform draft. Annan had proposed a grand bargain where rich countries' security needs would be addressed, and the UN's management structures reformed as well. None of these came to pass.... Other moves, for expanding the UNSC, barring persistent human rights violators from the Human Rights Council, and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, similarly fell by the waysides for lack of consensus."
"Lack Of Resolution"
Editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer expressed the view (9/19): "A careful look at the UNSC Resolution 1624...indicates progress in taking effective steps to combat terrorism has lagged behind...awareness of the need to combat the evil. Thus one finds it exhorting all member States of the UN to take steps which they should have taken under the provisions of the far-reaching Resolution 1373 adopted on September 28, 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11.... Resolution 1624 recalls the obligation of all states to "cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism" and "deny safe haven and bring to justice, on the basis of the principle of (sic) extradite or prosecute, any person who supports, facilitates, participates or attempts to participate in the financing, planning, preparation or commission of terrorist acts or provides safe havens." The reiteration of the need to fulfill these obligations shows that many states have not done so.... No UN resolution can curb terrorism if the victims of the evil lack the political will to defend themselves."
"A Defining Moment"
Nationalist Hindustan Times noted (9/17): "The international Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which is open for signature in the UN, will be a shot in the arm for the global fight against terrorism. Although three other conventions on terrorism already exist...this will have a special focus on `safeguards for dealing with nuclear materials.' But its success will depend on how well it defines terrorism.... With an agreement on labeling terror proving to be so difficult, it's but natural for governments to baulk at legalizing harsh laws for fear of restricting civil liberties in a world where everything is seen in terms of black and white. Of course, the fact that terrorism is a concept, a tactic, and not an enemy--and thus may never really be fully vanquished--adds to the problem.... Perhaps a better way of looking at the issue would be for governments not to wonder whether anti-terror laws would erode civil liberties, but instead ask how much would be eroded. After all, the successful implementation of any treaty depends on how much it respects human rights and the norms of international law. The latest UN convention can be no different."
"U.S. Bulldozing The UN"
Hyderabad-based independent Telugu daily Andhra Jyothy editorialized (9/16): “The agenda of the United Nations' sixtieth annual General Assembly in New York has not reflected a single item that was not concurred by the United States. The U.S.’ agenda has eventually been converted as the United Nations’ agenda. The outcome of the General Assembly session has also been decided even before the meetings have started. The United States has been playing several tricks to make the United Nations a puppet organization that plays the American tunes. The U.S. has also been going to the extent of imposing its own agenda, by force, on the rest of the world. Much against the spirit of democratization, it has been attempting to control all other countries by way of monopolizing the United Nations. To blackmail other countries, the United States is trying to replace the existing UN Human Rights Commission with a new organization that would bar entry for those ’who have violated human rights.’ In such a case, what would be the answer from the U.S. for the human rights violations it has been committing everywhere?"
"Kofi Annan's Swan Song"
Columnist S. Nihal Singhan analyzed in centrist Asian Age (9/15): "Kofi Annan started with the disadvantage of being Washington’s poster boy.... True, any UN secretary-general to be effective must make his number with the organization’s most powerful member, but to be perceived as one member’s errand boy was a great handicap.... He began to develop a spine, culminating in his declaring that the American invasion of Iraq was "illegal".... And there was the problem of Annan’s son Kojo...associated with, and paid by, a Swiss company given an Iraq contract job by the UN.... The result has been the public denigration of a man who was lauded as a great secretary-general not so long ago. In any event, the...Bush administration had its own agenda as far as the UN was concerned.... The American approach seems to...raise so many objections to...reforming the UN that little real progress can be made.... The secretary-general will continue to plead...that the organization is the sum total of its members. The real problem is that...the U.S....shaped the UN and other international institutions in the post-World War II era. America saw its...self-interest in building a new multilateral world order.... But the UN remains undesirable in American eyes unless it does American bidding all the time. For Annan, the organization’s 60th anniversary is his swan song."
"UN Paper Bypasses Indian Wishes"
New Delhi diplomatic correspondent Devirupa Mitra wrote in centrist Statesman (9/15): "For India, the UN outcome document is significant not just for what it contains, but for what it does not include. Especially since the 35-page document is silent on two issues of vital importance to India--Security Council reforms and non-proliferation. After three weeks of wrangling, the 35-page document to be adopted by 191 countries at the 60th high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly has been finally decided, but...it is rather a ?watered-down’ agenda for reforms of the world body. It has been a disappointing end to months of hectic diplomacy for the group of four…effectively demonstrating the bulldozing power of the USA, whose interests have shaped the outcome document. While there is acknowledgement that the UNSC should be expanded, there is no answer to the question: ?How?’... The hectic lobbying is in tatters as the momentum which had been building up over the last few months has come to naught...India’s ambition for a permanent seat at the UNSC has been dealt a serious blow.... The ?gains’ for India are in two aspects--disarmament and non-proliferation and definition of terrorism. The outcome document also does not attempt to define terrorism, but makes a blanket condemnation of it."
BANGLADESH: "UN Downsizes Its Goals"
Independent English language newspaper Bangladesh Observer commented (9/18): "The 60th anniversary of the UN raised both high hopes and high stakes, particularly against the backdrop of the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the spread of terrorism the world over. On the conclusion of the three-day summit, the 198 member states (sic) could finally agree upon a declaration on human rights, terrorism, poverty and the organization's own future. No argument that the much vaunted millennium development goal took a back seat as the lingering shadow of terrorism became the dominant theme.... The reforms fell far short of expectation and even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan termed it a 'disgrace,' adding that the body failed to address issues like non-proliferation of weapons. Reform of the Security Council was not simply considered for serious deliberation. While many believe that it was an opportunity lost, others are not quite pessimistic about the outcome. The fact that the UN has agreed to intervene in a country if the member countries think that gross violation of human rights is being committed there gives them some satisfaction. Yet the commitment...for reduction of poverty by the developed countries can go a long way."
"UN Reform Still A Far Cry: Summit Outcome Touches Fringes"
Independent English language Bangladesh Observer remarked (9/18): "What we have now by way of an agreed UN reform package falls far short of what the original outcome document... had hoped to achieve. The failure...demonstrates the hiatus between the rich and the poor countries on major issues of UN reform.... The country positions have demonstrated deep divisions in perception and priority that vary from region to region, country to country and continent to continent. That it failed to see the whole agenda through is not the fault of the UN; all the 191 members must share the responsibility of the failure, some perhaps more than others. While the redeeming feature has been a coalescence of views on humanitarian intervention in a third country to prevent genocide...disappointing has been their unwillingness to vest the Security Council with the power and...authority to decide and approve such interventions. Disappointing has been the lack of unanimity on...expansion of the Security Council...that reflects the need of the time when it was set up rather than what the UN should be like in the 21st century. It is hard to differ with those that say that we have lost a rare opportunity to reinvigorate the UN system to make it responsive to the contemporary challenges which...are fundamentally different and demanding than anything we have known before."
CANADA: "The Success Of The…Off-UN"
Editorialist Mario Roy questioned in centrist French-language La Presse (9/19): "Will we mostly remember from the 60th anniversary of the UN the…simultaneous occurrence in New York City...of an off-UN?... The fact is that the Clinton Global Initiative, launched last week by the former American president, will have seemed better targeted in many respects. And almost as well attended.... In short, the 'thing’ at the Sheraton was on the same turf as the UN.... And, all in all, it will have been pure Bill Clinton, i.e. an event that was intelligent, open, and covered by the media. And perfectly thought out to show the former tenant of the White House to advantage.... Heads of state and businessmen present at this parallel summit made commitments of immediate action to the tune of 1.25 billion for micro-projects (notably in the Gaza strip). It is very little. It has nothing to do with the huge budget of the UN. But we had the impression to be dealing with something concrete. Because what was the largest meeting of heads of state (170) ever organized by the UN, in a crucial moment for the organization, will have been nothing else than a damp squib. The distinctive dynamics of the UN--weak leadership, divided interests, red tape--has played once again in the direction of inertia.... None of these issues has evolved significantly. So that the question remains: can the UN be reformed?"
"Ray Of Hope At UN"
In an unsigned editorial, the conservative Montreal-based Gazette wrote (9/18): "Whether the words now agreed to by the 191-member UN will mean anything when the time comes to commit soldiers and material remains to be seen. But it is a major step forward for the UN membership to recognize formally that the human rights of citizens must trump the sovereign rights of governments. So many of the other goals the UN wanted to achieve were sensible, necessary and achievable...until they hit the wall of intractable self-interest.... It is a disgrace that the UN has allowed chronic human-rights abusers to chair its Human Rights Commission.... The definition of terrorism...should have been resolved at last week’s meeting.... The real split at the UN is the usual one: between developing countries and the developed world.... But among the dashed hopes of a 60th-anniversary reform of the UN, the most serious was the failure to set a real timetable for helping the developing world out of poverty.... This is the heart of the matter. A definition of terrorism is only a step toward the end goal, which is the establishment of a more equitable world, free from exploitation and deadly poverty.... Progress has been unconscionably slow in eliminating tariffs on imports from the world’s poorest economies. Agricultural subsidies in the West have yet to be dismantled even though they harm small farmers and a fledging private sector in poor countries. All in all, not a stunning achievement."
"Cautious UN Reform"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press opined (9/16): "UN Secretary General Kofi Annan thought that the package of proposals to reform the organization that was presented to the summit of world leaders...was a disgraceful disappointment.... Unfortunately, two of his major suggestions involved giving more power to his own office and expanding the number of permanent members of the Security Council.... U.S. President George Bush, on the other hand, thought the reform package was just jim-dandy. But Mr. Bush does not much like the UN, and has made it clear that his government will not be bound nor governed by it when international tendencies conflict with U.S. interests. Mr. Bush's new envoy to the UN, John Bolton...previously subverted Mr. Annan's reform package by proposing more than 700 amendments to it.... The dilution of Mr. Annan's reform package was...broadly supported.... Responsibility to Protect...gives the United Nations the right and the responsibility to use military force to intervene when a government refuses or is unable to prevent genocide, war crimes or human rights violations against its own people. This is a major step forward, if it is ever used the way it is intended.... Canada has given the UN a tool to stop it [genocide in Darfur]...but, a tool is of no use unless the will to use it also exists. That is where the UN truly needs reforming."
"The U.N. Fails To Lead"
The liberal Toronto Star assailed (9/15): "Feeble. That's the only word to describe the shaky package of 'reforms' that Prime Minister Paul Martin and 150 world leaders have been invited to endorse at the United Nations' 60th anniversary summit.... The idea is spelled out in the World Summit's grand statement of goals that the leaders will adopt before they leave New York. That just might shame the UN into action in the next crisis. But there's no guarantee. That's because the General Assembly flatly refused to accept any legal obligation to intervene that would give the 'responsibility to protect' real force. The Security Council is still free to turn a blind eye to crimes against humanity. And so it goes for the rest of the World Summit's fecklessly squandered chance to reform the UN, fight poverty and disease, thwart terror and defend rights. While the UN did avoid an embarrassing fiasco by agreeing on a watered down consensus statement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's ambitious ideas were subverted at every turn by the United States, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Syria and other spoilers. Hollow rhetoric trumped bold reform.... Challenged to boldly revitalize the UN, its members instead embraced timidity and the status quo. This was an opportunity squandered."
"Half-baked UN Reform"
The leading centrist Globe and Mail predicted (9/15): "It's never easy to change institutions, their methods or their behavior. Even modest reforms tend to run into brick walls erected by protectors of the status quo. So it should come as no surprise that the effort to redesign and revitalize the United Nations has fallen far short of the ambitious goals laid out by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.... The agreement that emerged from months of bitter diplomatic wrangling is a crashing disappointment. Instead of embracing a bold vision of the UN and its future role in world affairs, the 191 member countries settled for modest changes and airy pronouncements that will do little to blunt criticism that the 60-year-old organization has turned into little more than an ineffectual debating club administered by a hidebound, scandal-tainted bureaucracy. Yet, as welcome as a sweeping overhaul of the UN and its mandate would have been, the world body's problem is not so much institutional as a matter of the will of its member states to take collective action on such global issues as security, poverty, the environment and human development.... What the General Assembly did accept was a new responsibility for the UN to protect people from genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities. This at least is welcome.... On balance, the watered-down agreement is better than none at all. And it should not be viewed as paralyzing the UN, which retains the potential to be as effective an organization as its member countries are prepared to let it be."
Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet wrote in moderate French-language Quebec-based Le Soleil (9/15): "The necessary reform of the UN has been postponed indefinitely. The text that the heads of state and government will adopt...is only a vague declaration of principles and intentions. Apart from a few breaches, it is clear that the nice speeches of the last months have hit a lack of will. The political leaders have fallen back on their national interests. The compromise reached at the end of yet another marathon of negotiations more closely resembles a half failure than a half victory. Even if we look at the agreement from various angles, we see little progress. Nothing to rebuild the U.N., nor to strengthen multilateralism. Even if it was foreseeable, the failure is blatant concerning the Security Council, the supreme (but archaic) component of the UN.... Delegations have failed their duty by being divided concerning the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.... In terms of progress, we must mention the setting up of a commission of consolidation of peace to help rebuild war-torn countries. Bravo also for the ?responsibility to protect’ civilians against genocides and crimes against humanity.... Globally, the agreement is not up to ambitions and needs. Submerged in the ?oil-for-food scandal’, the UN will remain a monster of bureaucracy.... If we need strong multilateral organizations, it is because dangers multiply.... Multilateralism is not a handicap, it is an opportunity. The UN is more necessary than ever. During the next months and years, governments of the world must give it the means to evolve so that it can better meet the challenges of the new century."
ARGENTINA: "UN Achieves Few Specific Results"
Leading left-of-center Clarin expressed concern (9/17): "The UN Summit ended without agreements on the way to fight terrorism and poverty, and with a final document that's insufficient regarding the reform of the organization. Secretary General Annan acknowledged, during the opening of the debates, that the document on which the States had agreed upon, was disappointing. 'We would all have liked to achieve more, but it's an important step forward,' he said, before he denounced the failure of the member States in agreeing on one of the major issues, disarmament and non-proliferation, that don't even appear in the text. The document proclaims the States' determination to create a Human Rights Council to replace the present and discredited Commission, but postpones, for later on, the fine-tuning of the details regarding its mandate, functions, dimension, composition and work methods. Terrorism... was unanimously condemned by the 170 delegates.... Nevertheless, orators didn't agree on the ways to fight this scourge.... President Bush urged the organization to mobilize further against terrorism, although he was unable to make them accept a universal definition of this phenomenon.... The leaders of the three emerging countries that are at the head of the fight against poverty--India, Brazil and South Africa--denounced scarce progress in meeting the Millennium Goals set in 2000 to reduce poverty."
BRAZIL: "The Difficult UN Democracy"
Business-oriented Valor stated (9/22): "It is hard to imagine what the international world order would have been in the second half of the 20th century without the UN.... Therefore the importance of revitalizing the UN is for public and international good. The expansion of the democratic procedures within the institution depend essentially on the expansion of its multilateralism and consensus…maybe [the expansion] could benefit from other solutions, such as the European Union’s, where the Treaty that will give birth to the constitution proposes adopting the right of popular initiative…though the UN is an organization of States in which the world population does not participate directly, that might be a path to be explored."
BARBADOS: "Failures Of The UN At 60"
Ricky Singh argued in leading independent Nation (9/16): "Despite its failures and efforts by some developed countries to undermine it, the United Nations remains an 'indispensable.' If it did not exist, desperation would have driven humanity to create its approximation. Ironically, consensus evaporates whenever serious attempts are made to make the world body both ?indispensable’ and ?effective.’ Effectiveness was at the core of the bold initiative by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for widespread reform of the UN system.... Kofi Annan, a tower of strength at the most testing times, and a target of those who have a vested interest in undermining his integrity, did not conceal his disappointment as he noted how the rich and powerful had failed the UN in meeting the very objectives to which they claimed to be committed. Such as treating poverty as mankinds worst enemy.... The harsh reality is that Bush is yet to commit the United States, as his friend Tony Blair has done for Britain, to even the UN-approved 0.7 percent of Gross National Product for international development assistance.”
ECUADOR: "The UN We Want"
Quito’s left-populist La Hora contended (9/18): “After the rhetoric filled speeches by the 170 chiefs of delegation at the UN headquarters in New York, this gathering of this global organization will now have to adopt or turn down proposals for a series of fundamental reforms as it defines its future.... Although the declarations given at the meeting support the eradication of poverty and genocide and the promotion of human rights, the proposed document was vague because it failed to arrive at an agreed upon definition on what constitutes terrorism and left out the chapter on disarmament.... It is obvious that we are very far away from the UN we all want and it seems this summit did not resolve that."
"The Necessary UN"
Quito’s center-left Hoy editorialized (9/19): "The big dream (on which the UN was founded), although old and in need of profound restructuring, is still in force. The UN is needed today more than ever before. As I am writing, the Final Document of the Assembly is yet to be signed.... Could (Annan) have expected more than just a ?small step forward’? I don’t think he could. At the moment, there is an extreme lack of visionary and audacious statesmen capable of reaching out towards the future and creating history.... Despite it all, the UN remains necessary. Its ideals have not died. Justice, right, and peace shall flourish."
EL SALVADOR: "Disappointment At The Summit, Passivity On The Plains"
Joaquin Samayoa criticized in moderate La Prensa Gráfica (9/21): "The UN General Assembly on global poverty produced a lukewarm consensus...after several months of work to accommodate the concessions that powerful countries demanded to the original rough draft.... In a way, the agreements have been a step backward from the commitments of five years ago to help less developed countries reach the Millenium goals.... The disappointment that several Latin American leaders expressed during the Summit or in later statements is...understandable. However, we have neither lost much nor failed to gain much.... After all, development assistance can neither be imposed nor demanded.... The UN must show more firmness and initiative in matters crucial to the development of poor countries.... Nations that through no merit of their own are privileged to be comfortably seated on petroleum resources that all others need must be brought under international regulations that satisfy a logic other than that of the free market. Those are the kind of challenges that today's community of nations must face. But we poor countries have our own responsibilities."
HONDURAS: "UN's Difficulties"
Roger Martinez Miralda emphasized in the San Pedro Sula-based liberal La Prensa (9/21): "Although my points of convergence with the Venezuelan president are few and his way of making his expositions be taken seriously do not seem the most suitable to me, but I agree with him when he says that the UN is more and more inoperative. The war in Iraq is a clear example of how a third world country (Iraq) ignores the UN's warnings and, at the same time, the first world power country (U.S.) pulls aside the majority of the international community and does what it desires to protect itself with the denominated right of 'preventive' defense. It is also true that one perpetual difficulty is that the central offices of the UN are located in a country whose protagonism in the world-wide political panorama is so big that, as a sovereign state and guardian of the security of its citizens, it can deny entrance of a Chief of State (President Chavez) to its territory and limit the representation of nations in a forum created so they can all express themselves. It is not true that it (the UN) is useless...but it certainly needs to be more agile...remember that is not a super state that is above the governments of the big and small countries, and this is urgent and fundamental, to free itself from the influence of death lobbies so that it will be truly representative of the entire world's aspirations for peace."
The San Pedro Sula-based liberal La Prensa faulted (9/18): "The few results of the UN's General Assembly in its sixtieth anniversary is an obvious example of the disagreements, product of a complex organization, to which we can apply the contradiction of our time: the (UN) has become indispensable before being effective. The UN, political forum and space of civilized coexistence between nations, is at a crossroad. The international community recognizes that reforms are necessary, the rules of the game between nations are completely different from those that existed during the second postwar period when the international body was born. The recent report on corruption in the 'oil-for-food' program weakened the position of the organization's director.... The UN is pressured by those in the Security Council who vote and veto and of those who aspire to renew it in order to improve the organizational scheme that was developed by those who won the war fifty years ago. The negotiations around the document generated ample spaces on which the present international situation weighed a lot towards the unilateralism of the U.S. power. The concrete references and the obligatory commitments were eliminated, transformed into insipid good intentions.... While the UN does not show its will in concrete facts with pragmatic and real solutions, we will continue listening to remote grandiloquent speeches of the tragic daily life of millions of people."
JAMAICA: At 60, The Untidy Nations Lurches On"
Columnist Keeble McFarlane wrote in the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica Observer (9/17): "As a youngster, I read somewhere a definition of diplomacy as the art of saying ?nice doggy’ while looking around for a stick. Well, the ?diplomat’ the United States has just sent to the United Nations…has perhaps reworked it to miss out the ?nice doggy’ part. John Bolton carried a stout stick with him since George Bush sent him to New York to be his wrecker-in-chief, and has wielded it with gusto in the few weeks he’s been there.... Senators--not only the opposition Democrats--had misgivings about Bolton’s suitability for the job.... Bush used a loophole provided by the constitution and appointed him anyway.... Bolton thus went to the UN as tainted goods, and the scene was set for what was to come.... The UN is a creaking, cumbersome, ungainly beast...but it has survived all kinds of crises…and it will weather this one too.... It’s become too entrenched in the world’s daily life to wither away and die.... It will always be a somewhat messy, ungainly, unwieldy outfit, for the simple reason that it’s made up of people--who are notoriously resistant to conforming to anyone’s master plan."
PANAMA: "Summit With No Results"
Tabloid Critica Libre held (9/18): “Last Wednesday, the leaders of the 191 member countries of the United Nations met in New York to talk about the changes in this international organization, but found pressures and frustrations.... Other representatives even asked for the closure of the U.N., in favor of other forums.... There is still time for the United Nations to avoid the same destiny as the League of Nations, the previous world organization that failed in its objective to prevent conflicts.”
"UN’s 60 And Our Country"
Melquiades Valencia commented in pro-government La Estrella de Panamá (9/16): “What appeared to be a celebration of the U.N.’s 60th anniversary...was actually a long list of complaints and criticism from the different heads of state attending.... The United Nations is the scene, the ideal forum to resolve the problems affecting the relationship between the countries.... I am sure that Panamanian president Torrijos will include in his agenda other subjects to bilaterally address with other hemispheric colleagues.... He should take full advantage of this event [U.N. 60th anniversary].”
VENEZUELA: "The UN Reform Is Urgent"
Pro-government tabloid Diario VEA editorialized (9/20): "In his speech at the UN General Assembly, President Chávez clearly expressed the real situation this organization is going through. Out of the 191 countries, only Venezuela and Cuba rejected the approval of the UN General Assembly’s final document because they were excluded from the negotiations. Only 30 countries participated and the document was not put to the vote of the Assembly. Most Venezuelans and countries agree with President Chávez, even though the Heads of State do not dare say it."
"Chávez At The UN"
Journalist and Venezuelan Ambassador to Mexico, Vladimir Villegas, commented in liberal El Nacional (9/20): "Chávez’s intervention at the UN General Assembly was the most outstanding speech of that summit. One of the main aspects of his speech was the location of the UN headquarters. The host country, the United States, bypasses the UN and imposes its warlike policies on the world; for instance, what is currently happening in Iraq and in Afghanistan and what happened in Vietnam some decades ago. The U.S. violates the rights of some of the countries represented in the events organized by the UN, by applying a capricious visa policy, which depends on political decisions to ?punish’ the governments--that of Venezuela, among others--it does not like and not on domestic security issues. At the UN, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice made a statement that borders on a humorous comment. She said: ?Today, however, it is clear that weak and poorly governed states--unwilling or incapable of ruling their countries with justice--are the principal source of global crises--from civil war and genocide, to extreme poverty and humanitarian disaster.’ These statements clearly reflect the Bush administration’s cynicism. If there is a country linked to everything regarding civil wars, genocides and extreme poverty that take place in the world, it is precisely the United States; so, these statements represent, in soccer terms, an auto-goal."
"Globalization And The Culture Of Human Rights"
Lawyer Jesús R. Quintero P. stated in liberal El Nacional (9/20): "Chávez’s rejection of the UN General Assembly’s final document--which includes fundamental aspects on Human Rights--because he considered the procedure to be wrong, isolates our country, since only Cuba shares that stance, which may be considered as hostile by the rest of the international community that did approve the document in question."
"The Ineffective UN"
Journalist Andrés Cañizales commented in liberal El Nacional (9/20): "If the goal of reducing poverty is complex, the task of making an internal reform of the UN can be described as traumatic. As an international forum, the decision of a deep transformation must derive from its General Assembly, in which each country’s vote really counts, regardless of its size. Kofi Annan’s leadership is weakened; he came to this summit with the heavy burden on his shoulders, after the disclosure of a report that revealed a network of influence peddling and corruption, involving his son, in the framework of the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq. Besides, according to some opinion surveys, the big challenge of the UN is to improve its negative image of being ?ineffective.’"
UGANDA: "What Are The World Leaders In New York To Discuss?"
Dr. Abdul Raheem Tajudeen, the Secretary General of the Pan African Movement opined in center-right, state-owned New Vision (9/15): "The beleaguered UN secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, has submitted a draft paper on UN reform to the General Assembly. It is...a personal and institutional auto critique that will ensure that the UN never repeats the mistakes of the past, defines a new relevant role for itself and is better able to respond to the needs of the peoples of the world. Unfortunately a compromise has been reached to abandon discussion on UN reform and to defer it to December. This is not surprising...the countries that wield undemocratic power...in the UN Security Council do not want to lose it.... The small countries also do not want a reform of the voting system in the General Assembly.... Proposals to replace the discredited UN Human Rights Commission have become a pledge to set up a new council, without details on its membership.... There has been no agreement on defining terrorism.... There has also been no agreement on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Even the normally bland Kofi Annan called this ?a disgrace’ and hoped that the world leaders will return to it in the next few days. Even a commitment to break down trade barriers was substantially weakened because the rich and the poor cannot enter the market with equal power. It will be a partnership of mice and cats. Does that mean that the UN summits are completely useless? My unqualified answer is NO. The world needs the UN and the UN needs the world. But it needs to reflect on the wishes and aspirations of all peoples, rich or poor, powerful or powerless. Its success requires a willingness by all states to surrender their much-vaunted political sovereignty for collective good."
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