December 15, 2004
UN REFORM NEEDS TO ADDRESS '21ST CENTURY PERILS'
** UN remains important, but needs reform to effectively confront dangers of "post-9/11 world."
** Dailies in Japan, India and Brazil demand veto along with seats on Security Council.
** Writers accuse U.S. of engaging in "witch-hunt" against Secretary-General Annan.
'UN reform essential'-- Proposals to reform the UN prompted global media to consider its place in a world facing "terrorism, nuclear proliferation, rogue states" and "the fight against AIDS and poverty." To France's left-of-center Le Monde, these problems "will find solutions only in a unified world of nations" backed by a "strong UN." Even critics such as Israel's conservative Jerusalem Post conceded that without the UN, the world "would mimic a Hobbesian state of nature even more" than it now does. The UN, a Syrian outlet held, "has played an indispensable role" addressing the globe's "dangerous conflicts" as well as issues such as "the environment, population and disease."
UNSC must reflect 'current realities'-- Expanding the Security Council drew interest in countries that might benefit. A Japanese analyst stated it "is important to increase the number of nations" on the UNSC "to reflect the full range of" global views, but warned "dissatisfaction will continue" if the veto power remained restricted to the five permanent members. Brazil's center-right O Globo declared that "reform would be irrelevant" if it did not include expanding the veto. Indian dailies judged that "arguments for retaining veto powers in the hands of a few fail to convince" as this would only maintain the "improper" supremacy of the permanent five. A Canadian skeptic, though, called expansion of the Council "the ultimate can of worms" that would "open up bitter national rivalries" and "distract the UN" from important tasks.
U.S. accused of 'Annan bashing'-- Many outlets noted that the reform proposals came while the UN and Secretary-General Kofi Annan are "embroiled" in a scandal over the oil-for-food program in Iraq. Conservative critics demanded that Annan "must go," but far more commentators denounced what they termed "demonizing" of the UN and a U.S. "witch-hunt" of Annan. A UK journal charged that "certain interests" in the U.S. were engaged in a "malicious campaign" to discredit the UN, while Croatia's government-owned Vjesnik expressed the common view that the U.S. aimed to oust Annan "because of his opposition" to the Iraq war.
U.S. support 'crucial'-- Following statements of support for Annan from the U.S.' UN ambassador, the widely read Philippine Inquirer concluded that the U.S. "called off...its campaign to force" Annan's resignation after triggering "international ...hostility," noting that U.S. ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair had "closed ranks" with Paris and Berlin in backing Annan. Yet writers agreed, as Mexico's El Norte put it, that without the "active participation" of the U.S., "no profound change" of the UN can succeed. A New Zealand broadsheet observed that "a U.S. president re-committed to the UN" would be "a formidable advocate" for necessary reform, but considered it "regrettable" that Bush was unlikely to fill this role.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
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 37 reports from 24 countries December 3-14, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Stop This Demonizing Of The UN"
International affairs editor Quentin Peel commented in the independent Financial Times (12/9): "It is not only the raucous ranks of American conservatives that are capable of voicing criticism of the UN. But they have launched a witch-hunt in Washington to sniff out corruption within the ranks of the UN bureaucracy--over oil-for-food contracts in Iraq--that seems to have lost all contact with reality. They seem to be hell-bent on destroying the organization, and forcing the resignation of Mr. Annan, rather than contributing to a coherent debate on its modernization.... It is high time the president distanced himself from the witch-hunt, instead of tacitly encouraging it. Mr. Bush may still be furious with Mr. Annan for daring to say the war in Iraq was illegal, and the assault on Fallujah a mistake, but he must know that he is running out of inspiration on how to stabilize the country. The UN reform plan provides him with an ideal opportunity to start afresh. He can claim credit for the realistic focus on threats, preventive action and defining terrorism. He does not have to admit he was wrong. But he does have to know it in his heart."
"This Witch Hunt Against Kofi Annan Is The Real Scandal"
The center-left Independent editorialized (12/9): "The furor being whipped up by a U.S. Senate committee over the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the UN's 'oil-for-food program' is a witch hunt if ever there was one.... What we are witnessing now is the end-game in a malicious campaign orchestrated by certain interests in the United States with the single aim of discrediting the UN and all its works. The whispering began long before the U.S. Senate and the UN began separate investigations into the oil-for-food 'scandal' earlier this year.... Now, the flames of this scandal are licking at Kofi Annan himself, via allegations--denied--against his son. More than 50 countries, Britain included, have--rightly--voiced support for the Secretary-General. The oil-for-food program was undoubtedly tainted, but the greater scandal by far is Washington's crude misuse of a congressional investigation to exact revenge on the UN for its refusal to play George Bush's game in Iraq."
FRANCE: "Defending The UN"
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (12/11): “The American campaign against the UN...seems to have produced the opposite effect: a collaborative support in favor of the UN. Last Wednesday Kofi Annan received a standing ovation. Yet barely a year ago he was considered by a major part of the world, namely the Arab world, to be ‘America’s man.’ But on Thursday, the U.S. gave its support to Annan in a well-staged declaration, maybe because the Americans felt somewhat isolated. Just when the White House needs the UN to organize the elections in Iraq, it has decided to take some distance with those who in Congress are asking for Annan’s resignation.... Washington is right to wait for the results of the independent investigation.... Whatever the outcome, the UN’s image has been tarnished.... According to the British Ambassador, ‘the UN’s reputation has never been this bad since 1954’.... This degradation is indeed alarming. To deal with the perils of the 21st century, the world needs a strong UN.... Terrorism, nuclear proliferation, rogue states as well as the fight against AIDS and poverty will find solutions only in a unified world of nations. The reforms proposed on December 2nd, which partly take into account America’s position, must be discussed in view of reforming and revitalizing the UN.”
"Kofi Annan, The New Man To Bring Down"
Jacques Amalric wrote in left-of-center Liberation (Internet version, 12/9): "Stimulated by George W. Bush's re-election, the American extremists and neoconservatives have resumed their offensive against the United Nations...[which] they have sworn to pull down. To do this, they have decided to aim at the head of the international organization: it is no longer the operation of the Security Council that is in their sights, as it was on the eve of the American-British intervention in Iraq, but the secretary general of the UN, Kofi Annan.... This witch hunt, to which George W. Bush does not want to call an end for the time being, is based on embezzlement carried out by Saddam Hussein thanks to the 'oil for food' program established by the Security Council.... It must be recalled that the UN officials who managed the 'oil for food' program did not report to Kofi Annan but to the Security Council, meaning essentially the United States and the UK.... Thus far Kofi Annan has been defended by most of the members of the Security Council, including the UK. Next, because at a time when he needs the UN to organize elections in Iraq, it is not in George W. Bush's interest to engage in open warfare with the international organization. Undoubtedly he will prefer a weakened secretary general, in the hope that he will show greater understanding. A secretary general, by the way, imposed in 1996 by the United States, which at that time wanted to get rid of the 'anti-American' Boutros Boutros Ghali."
ITALY: "Dealing With Multilateralism"
Elite liberal daily Il Foglio commented (12/14): “The pressure that the Bush administration is exerting on IAEA Director El Baradei, including tapping his conversations with Iranian leaders, is part of a U.S. strategy to reveal and eliminate UN ambiguities. The same goal is behind U.S. Congress initiatives regarding Kofi Annan. For many years, the United Nations was granted a large margin of tolerance, much different from the tight control exerted over other international agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO.... What has changed the picture has been France’s choice, imitated with more or less conviction by Germany, to make the UN the center of ‘multilateral’ opposition to U.S. policy. If the UN takes on this role, obviously America will be prompted to switch from generic expressions of annoyance over certain initiatives...to firm action to fight the ambiguity of UN officials. Those who have tried to make the UN the international opposite of America have upset its balance, probably for good.”
"Kofi Annan Under Siege, Will Leave In One Year"
Elite, center-left daily Il Riformista stated (12/14): “When U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Danforth discreetly summoned journalists last Thursday for a statement, many at UN headquarters sighed with relief. After weeks of ambiguity, Danforth did not disappoint them.... As for the White House, Kofi Annan can stay in his job.... At the UN, no one is under the illusion that Annan’s problems are really over. The Bush administration reached its decision with some hesitation and only after the 191 members paid tribute to Annan.... Problems for Annan and his closest associates do not come only from Washington’s attacks. For several months, discontent and a subtle revolt have been spreading among UN staff.”
AUSTRIA: "U.S. Fire Against Kofi Annan"
Publisher and senior editor Hans Dichand commented in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (12/9): "Sometimes, a global power tries to invest all its influence in removing a person who, in their judgment, is too independent. At present, Bush is trying to blast UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, using an unexplained affair, in which Annan's son might be involved, to achieve his goal.... Bush began the Iraq war in opposition to the UN boss. He and those Americans who voted for him will have to pay the price for this for a long time to come."
BELGIUM: "The Hunt For Annan"
Foreign affairs writer Ivan Broeckmeyer remarked in independent financial daily De Tijd (12/11): “Today, Bush is trying to repair the damage between the United States and the allies that he caused with the war in Iraq. He realizes that a direct effort for the resignation of Annan would set the United States on a collision course with the rest of the world. Even his most loyal ally, Tony Blair, recently said that he would not participate in a manhunt for the UN leader. In many countries the conviction prevails that the latter has to pay a price for his criticism on the war in Iraq. However, together with Annan his organization is also a target. Many conservative American opinion makers believe that the UN is a disorderly bunch that is totally incompetent in the war on terror and that even is a danger to America’s interests. Consequently, the attacks against Annan are accompanied by the plea to cut the U.S. contribution to the UN. The ante of the game is not Annan’s resignation, but the weakening of his position. The Secretary-General has two years to go and wants to use that period to carry out a drastic reform that makes his organization stronger and more representative in the world of 2004. That is why he has proposed to expand the UNSC with more members. To date, the United States has been amazingly silent about this plan. It will saddle Washington with a number of problems. The enlargement of the UNSC will inevitably weaken America’s power position. However, an excessively open obstruction to that operation would be ill-received by the countries that seek a seat (in the UNSC) like Germany, Japan, India and Brazil. And, those who are always claiming that the UN is a paper tiger can hardly be opposed to measures that want to do something about it. So, it seems that the White House has opted for the decomposition strategy: to make Annan’s life so difficult that he cannot carry out his plans. Ironically, Annan was considered ‘America’s man’ in 1996. Bill Clinton denied a second term to his predecessor Boutros-Ghali because he allegedly took an overly anti-American posture. The search for a successor to the man from Ghana with the soft voice is expected to be an interesting exercise. One of the 15 American intelligence services must have a suitable candidate somewhere.”
CROATIA: "Annan -- Bush’s New Favorite Enemy"
Kresimir Fijacko remarked in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik (12/8): “Kofi Annan has not found himself unexpectedly on [Bush’s radicals'] path. On the contrary. It is obvious that they were 'waiting' for him, and had designed the punishment long time ago, because of his opposition to and criticisms of Bush’s campaign against Iraq. And it’s not like Annan was innocent in the current scandal: in addition to some 'command responsibility,' if not 'closing his eyes' to the fact that Saddam had been outwitting the UN sanctions, Annan is being burdened with his son's role in all this.... His role and responsibility in all this will be shown once the investigation is over. In the meantime, Washington’s role in Saddam’s large manipulation is becoming more and more interesting.”
DENMARK: "Naive UN Report"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten carried the following analysis by former Minister of Defense, Hans Hækkerup (12/12): “The UN report (on the organization’s future after the Iraq war) talks about how the war against terror must show respect for human rights. It is easy to agree with that. But the UN panelists do not seem to realize that if we are to fight terrorism effectively, the limits of the kind of action we must take have moved.”
PORTUGAL: "Destroying The UN"
Former Finance Minister Francisco Sarsfield Cabral opined in respected centre-left daily Diário de Notícias (12/14): “The scandal surrounding the UN ‘Oil for Food’ program which allowed Saddam’s Iraq to import food in exchange for oil, has come at a good time for the institution’s antagonists.... The American right, and in particular, the neoconservatives, have always hated the United Nations. Now they want Annan’s head.... But the UN’s adversaries don’t want to reform it, they want to do away with it, because they consider it an obstacle to the full sovereignty of American power in the world.... Curiously, the UN was created by the United States, in 1945, when American power was, in relative terms, even greater than it is today.... But Washington understood, then, that American security itself would benefit from this international organization.... There will be not be a reformed and functioning UN without the commitment of the only superpower. Now, such a commitment doesn’t exist.”
ISRAEL: "UN Self-Interest"
The conservative Jerusalem Post commented (Internet version, 12/7): "The UN, on the brink of irrelevancy, is struggling to save itself. Given its antipathy toward the Zionist enterprise, should we help it succeed or hope that it heads over the edge? The answer should depend on whether plans announced Thursday at UN headquarters to radically transform the world body have the potential of offering Israel a 'new deal.'... And yet absent a UN, or something like it, the international arena would mimic a Hobbesian state of nature even more closely than it does now. Neither world Jewry nor Israel can thrive in a politically anarchic environment. Fortunately, the UN's crisis has led Secretary-General Kofi Annan (himself embroiled in the 'oil-for-food' scandal) to appoint a [panel to study changes].... Surprisingly, it offers cause for cautious optimism.... Whatever approach is chosen, if the UN wants to convincingly demonstrate a genuinely new beginning, the GA should elect Israel to a two-year Security Council seat. No nation has been so mean-spiritedly singled out, so consistently and for so long, as Israel. No nation has suffered more from the tyranny of the UN majority, targeted through countless denunciatory, one-sided resolutions.... Electing Israel to the Security Council would signal that the community of nations rejects, de jure and forever, threats to wipe Israel off the map. At the same time, such a declarative vote would reassure Israel that its painful concessions (in Gaza, for instance) are valued by the world community.... Reforming the UN will be no easy task; we will know it is on the right track when it begins to apply the charter's universal values to Israel."
SYRIA: "UN Reform"
Fouad Mardoud wrote in the pro-government, English-language Syria Times (Internet version, 12/8): "As the debate over reforming the United Nations goes on, representatives of all nations and world countries must do more than fill the General Assembly of the organization with hollow words and arguments. They owe it to their nations and the future of the our planet to take a hard look at the current efforts to reform the organization in a way that could make it more effective and efficient. With the American effort to dominate it and without introducing significant changes in its organization and behavior, the United Nations will lose its remaining effectiveness and public support.... Voting power is perhaps the most thorny problem that needs to be addressed.... Ways have to be found to include states like Germany, Japan, India and regional groupings like the Arab League with real and equal power.... Meanwhile, reforms should be introduced on the charter of the UN that to suit the realities of present days. The UN cannot just be a means by the hand of one dominant power. The United Nations has disappointed some of the grand hopes of poor nations and those under foreign occupation. Yet it remains one of the world's essential bodies that can provide a stage for those who cannot find other stages to speak about their grievances. And despite of all the shortcomings that have accompanied its work, the United Nations has played an indispensable role addressing dangerous conflicts in the world and focusing attention on global issues such as the environment, population and diseases."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Under-Fire UN Chief Deserves Fair Treatment"
Hu Xuan wrote in the official, English-language China Daily (Internet version, 12/7): "Secretary-General Kofi Annan has become the target of escalating attacks in the United States over suspected corruption in the body's now-defunct oil-for-food humanitarian program for Iraq.... The UN has appointed former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker to head an independent inquiry into the oil-for-food program, handing over all UN documents and ordering its officials to cooperate.... The United States is currently at odds with many UN member states over Annan. The European Union, the 54 African nations and many other countries have expressed support for the secretary-general in the face of calls for him to go. Washington should also not forget that it is a permanent member of the same UN Security Council that authorized the program and the sanctions committee that monitored it. There is no doubt that there should be a thorough, comprehensive and objective investigation of these corruption allegations. But it is obviously too early to rush to any conclusions until all the facts are in.... To cite a lack of UN supervision of the program as grounds for Annan to quit is thus simply prejudging the outcome of the inquiry."
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Annan Must Respond Quickly To Scandal"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post held (12/7): "The scandal swirling around the United Nations over its administration of the Iraqi oil-for-food program is growing, yet the world body's chief, Kofi Annan, seems unworried. His muted comment on allegations of corruption and mismanagement contrast sharply with the roar of the accusers, mostly U.S. lawmakers.... The secretary-general last week expressed disappointment in his son's actions. Earlier this year, he attempted to counter a slew of U.S. congressional oil-for-food investigations by setting up an independent commission of inquiry under respected banker Paul Volcker. But while the congressional inquiries have issued increasingly damning statements and reports of UN wrongdoing in allowing Hussein's regime to acquire billions of dollars illegally through bribes and kickbacks, the silence of the organization is deafening. The findings of Mr. Volcker's 60-strong team are not expected until the middle of next year.... Mr. Annan has an obligation to take effective steps and he can only do that by answering the allegations. The sooner he does so, the better."
"U.S. Has Ulterior Motives In Exaggerating Annan's Son Accusations"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (12/6): "Since the disclosure of the scandal of the oil-for-food program and the involvement of Annan's son, the U.S. has been continuously calling for Annan to resign. It is obvious that the U.S. has ulterior motives.... There are two reasons for the U.S. to make use of the 'scandal' to get rid of Annan. First, the U.S. is very displeased with the UN, especially because the UN Security Council was not 'obedient' after Annan became the secretary-general. Senator Coleman threatened that if Annan remained in office, he would push the U.S. to hold its contribution to the UN budget.... Secondly, it is a specific example of U.S. unilateralism. Since the Bush administration came to power, the U.S. has been pursuing a unilateralist policy. To a certain extent, the status, roles and influences of the UN have been crippled. The Russian deputy foreign affairs minister said that the accusations made by some people in the U.S. were 'groundless.' These accusations aimed at 'crippling the function of the UN in international affairs and damaging the multilateral principle of international contacts.' However, the urging of the U.S. for the resignation of Annan did not get much support. On the contrary, Annan is supported and trusted in many countries. Chinese Ambassador to UN, Wang Guangya, accused the U.S. of being 'unfair' in its attacks of Annan. French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder called allies to support Annan.... Europe and other countries all blame U.S. media and say that U.S. politicians have ulterior motives in exaggerating the scandal."
JAPAN: "Reform At The UN"
The liberal Asahi editorialized (Internet version, 12/6): "How best should the United Nations be restructured?... The focus of reform is shaping up to be the reshuffling of the UN Security Council.... It is important to increase the number of nations seated on the Security Council to reflect the full range of opinion. That is no guarantee, however, that the body will be strengthened. Neither of the two [reform] proposals gives the right of veto to any seats outside the present permanent members.... As a result, dissatisfaction will continue to simmer over the granting of such special privileges to just these five states.... The fact remains...that council reform cannot succeed simply by tinkering with the systems now in place.... In particular, if Washington fails to join with the four other permanent members in the quest to reform this body to meet the doctrines in the UN Charter, there will be little to no progress.... The Japanese government wants to be a permanent Security Council member, with or without veto power.... Nevertheless, allowing no new veto rights means no real change in authority or position from being a nonpermanent member. This scenario pretty much eliminates grounds for calls to transform our Self-Defense Forces into a regular military or other premises for winning permanent member status. If Japan is seeking to gain a permanent council seat in keeping with the panel's proposal, this country should boldly advance a vision for arms reduction, nonproliferation, 'human security' and other diplomatic principles unique to its perspective."
MALAYSIA: "UN Looks Towards Serious Reform"
Munir Majid observed in the government-influenced, English-language New Straits Times (Internet version, 12/7): "Almost 60 years after it was set up...the UN is looking at serious reform of the organization that has been marginalized in major world affairs.... There is going to be a lot of excitement among member states about who is going to fill the nine additional [proposed] slots, which would address the issue of the emergence of significant and substantial states since 1945...but it would not have come to grips with how to make the UN and the Security Council more effective in dealing with threats to international peace and security. The right of veto is disabling..... Expansion of Security Council membership would certainly make it more reflective of present-day realities, but the world and the UN would still have to deal with the preponderant power of the U.S., which we always have had to do but, under the Bush administration, with greater difficulty and under more severe threat. The U.S. has never cared less for the UN than now. It has to be cajoled to bring matters to the world body.... When the UN membership favored the U.S. in most matters, the Americans used the world body; when it did not as new states were born, became more assertive and independent-minded, it turned its back on the General Assembly, although the U.S. continued sometimes to work through the Security Council, especially if there was a consensus among the five permanent members. With France not seeing things the American way, not to mention the overwhelming majority of the membership following unilateralist U.S. actions after 9/11, the UN has absolutely not become the favored American forum.... Expansion of membership of the Security Council is not going to make the U.S. think differently or think better of the UN.... It is not likely the U.S. will be too enthusiastic about the reform process. And it is always the member states--what more the United States--that will ultimately determine how well the UN will work, reformed or not."
NEW ZEALAND: "UN Reform Is Essential"
Wellington's leading, center-left Dominion Post editorialized (Internet version, 12/13): "The U.S. ...has long been so unhappy with the UN that it has refused to pay its dues. But the George W Bush administration became even grumpier when, in the wake of September 11, the Security Council refused to back military action in Iraq. To some in the White House, Mr. Annan is the problem; they want him to quit before his second term expires on December 31, 2006. Their stance has been bolstered by a scandal over the UN-Iraq oil-for-food dea--an imbroglio that ensnared Mr. Annan's son, to his father's acute embarrassment. But the Bush cabinet has been forced into a rethink. After it won the war in Iraq, it began spectacularly to lose the peace. Suddenly, the U.S. rediscovered the UN's value and sought its help, especially with next month's Iraqi election. The Security Council has been understandably reluctant. Still, better a late convert than no convert at all. A U.S. president re-committed to the UN, and engaged in helping it reform in a way that enlarges the council and streamlines its procedures, would be a formidable advocate for change. Will Mr. Bush help? Unlikely, which is regrettable. Because change is necessary. A UN that cannot handle terrorism, intervene to halt genocide and help to calm international maelstroms is useless. And to small nations like [New Zealand], its role is too important to have even its imperfect initiatives rendered ineffective by its inability to adapt to the demands of post-9/11 times."
"U.S. Support Crucial To UN's Survival"
Auckland's leading, center-left New Zealand Herald commented (Internet version, 12/13): "As an instrument to keep peace in the world, the [UN] may not be perfect but it has been more successful than the League of Nations.... The league failed because major countries--not only the United States but also Germany and Japan--were not signatories. It lacked the power to enforce its will. The United Nations has no such limitation and its 191 members include every major nation. Its collective powers of economic sanction and active peacekeeping can be potent weapons. The potency, however, lies in the word 'collective'. Anything that erodes the common resolve of member nations diminishes the effectiveness of the organization.... The [UN] review panel's recommendations include some measures that even worldly-wise international observers say are worthwhile and probably overdue. They will not be judged effective, however, unless the United States expresses its approval. And Washington's approval of the United Nations seems to be predicated on the world body's willingness to endorse U.S. foreign policy. It is at this point that the rest of the world should begin to feel uncomfortable. President Bush's ire descended on the UN because it would not immediately place its imprimatur on his invasion plans for Iraq.... The president's reaction was symptomatic of a growing American impression that, post 9-11, it knows what is best for the world in these dangerous times. It is an attitude that the United States would do well to shed. The United Nations will survive only if there is a common resolve by all of its members to make it work. It will falter, then die, if its most powerful member forces it to submit to a thinly disguised hegemony. That would be no more in the long-term interests of the United States than of all other nations."
PHILIPPINES: "RP Joins UN Assembly Rebuff To Oust-Annan Bid"
Amando Doronila wrote in the widely read Philippine Inquirer (Internet version, 12/13): "In a dramatic turnaround, the Bush administration called off...its campaign to force the resignation of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.... [Senator Norm] Coleman served as the browbeater of what appeared to be an orchestrated campaign in the Republican-controlled program to undermine the United Nations that, under Annan's leadership, had stood in the way of Bush's unilateral decisions to go to war in Iraq.... Bush had refused to hold back his attack pack.... He had issued a veiled threat that the United States might consider withholding its funding of the United Nations unless Annan acted for full disclosure [on the oil for food scandal].... This threat, as well as the apparently concerted attack on Annan and the United Nations...triggered the international polarization of hostility against the United States and the reopening of the cleavage between Washington and its European allies that opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.... British Prime Minister Tony Blair said criticism of Annan was 'unfair' and that he was grateful for his leadership on many occasions.... In backing Annan, Blair closed ranks with France and Germany."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Change At The UN"
Former Indian UN Permanent Representative Chinmaya R. Gharekhan wrote in the centrist Hindu (12/13): "The just released report of the high-level panel appointed by the UN Secretary-General...contains over 100 recommendations, covering a wide spectrum of new areas, which if accepted would vastly expand the jurisdiction of the Security Council, making it the central institution in international relations.... The report devotes a lot of space and importance to the so-called 'responsibility to protect,' otherwise known as the 'right of humanitarian intervention.'... This proposition has run into considerable opposition from developing countries since they are concerned at the possibility of misuse of such a right by powerful countries.... It is not really necessary to create a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention.... The Security Council is perfectly capable, under its present mandate, to deal with the type of situations mentioned by the panel.... The report contains a number of useful suggestions in the field of preventive diplomacy and mediation such as establishment of a facility for training of potential special representatives and mediators. But the net effect of this and other similar recommendations will be an increase in the UN bureaucracy and expenditure.... The members of the panel would be the first to acknowledge that no amount of reform would produce the desired results without the genuine commitment of member-states to abide by their obligations.... The other side of the coin is that if the member-states were to observe all the principles and provisions of the Charter, there would be no need for reform. What is required is a change in the mindset of members. Reform, nevertheless, is necessary.... At the same time, reform should not be undertaken under threat from one or more states. It has been said that if states are to avoid unilateral action, the UN must become relevant for them. This is a dangerous doctrine since it puts the onus of maintaining its relevance on the UN. International law is clear. Force can be used only in two circumstances: self-defense under Article 51 or in pursuance of a specific authorization from the Security Council. To the credit of the panel, it upholds this principle."
"Reforming The UN"
The centrist Hindu editorialized (12/9): "The recommendations of the panel mandated to propose reforms for making the United Nations a more effective instrument of collective security might not satisfy either the countries that fret at restraints imposed by international norms or those that seek a greater role in global decision-making.... Given the context in which the international community is trying to cope with the invasion of Iraq by the United States, the panel's emphatic rejection of the doctrine of preventive war is particularly welcome.... The panel pertinently observes that threats today to the stability of the international order emanate from a wider variety of sources than the inter-state conflicts that the UN system was established primarily to resolve.... The report unequivocally declares that peace enforcement, peace-keeping and peace-building operations should not be undertaken without a UN mandate.... Given this concept of a broad-based format for collective security, the panel's proposals for the reconfiguration of the Security Council might appear less iniquitous. Those countries that can be inducted into the second tier of permanent members without the veto power will have a major say in global security affairs if they play a role commensurate with their capabilities. For all that, the panel's arguments for retaining veto powers in the hands of a few fail to convince."
"Expansion Of Security Council"
Varanasi Aj opined in Hindu nationalist Hindi (12/6): "The report released by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding expansion of the Security Council is disappointing. It talks about expanding the UN body and making it more democratic, but the suggestions given in it would hardly enhance the utility of this world organization. A recommendation has been made to increase the number of permanent and temporary members of the Security Council but apart from the existing five permanent members, no one would get the veto power. This would maintain the supremacy of five nations over the UN, which is improper. Although these recommendations have increased the chances of India's membership, it would not be as easy as it is thought to be. Two permanent members would be selected from Asia from where, apart from India and Japan, several other countries including Pakistan are contending for the seat. The United States is in favor of taking a Muslim nation as member from Asia. It is not difficult to understand whom it is favoring. India has the support of all the four remaining members of the Security Council except the United States. India has decided to join hands with Japan, Germany, and Brazil and support each other. India cannot be ignored the way its stature is growing around the world."
"Reforming Security Council; Annan Pays For Defying U.S."
S. Nihal Singh remarked in the independent Tribune (12/7): "It is tragic that the most important reform of the United Nations in recent times should have come at a time its Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in America's gunsight. Now in his final second term, the man who reached the top after the U.S. single-handedly blackballed his distinguished predecessor, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, against the otherwise unanimous desire of the Security Council, has been displaying signs of independent judgment.... Mr. Annan had sailed through his first term in style, pleasing his American benefactors no end.... In his second term, Mr. Annan gave some weightage to the other 190 members of the organization and U.S. legislators took aim at alleged fraud in the UN's oil-for-food program.... Accusations came to be routinely bandied about, and the American Right charged Mr. Annan with having stolen President's Bush's thunder in the UN General Assembly by giving a critical appraisal of world events which, they said, influenced the tepid response to the American challenge to the UN to conform to its desire or become irrelevant.... A Republican senator called for Mr. Annan's resignation,...a call repeated by any number of right-wing individuals and think tanks. The U.S. administration studiously avoiding an endorsement, with Secretary of State Colin Powell damning him with faint praise.... Mr. Annan then committed the unpardonable mistake of describing America's Iraq war as illegal, suggesting that elections could hardly be held there in the then prevailing circumstances. Calls for his resignation grew louder.... All in all, the present permanent members of the Security Council will refuse to entertain new members in their ranks with veto power.... For the immediate future, Mr. Annan's own travails and the scandals swirling around the United Nations will continue to detract attention from overdue reforms. The question of reforming the Security Council has been considered for some 12 years, without success. Vested interests, both inside the charmed circle of permanent members and those outside who will be left out of an enlargement, had successfully prevented reform. The issue now is to separate the reform process from Mr. Kofi Annan's fate."
PAKISTAN: "Why This Annan-Bashing?"
National center-left, English-language Dawn held (Internet version, 12/6): "Annan-bashing is now the latest fad. With Yasser Arafat dead, the UN secretary-general is America's latest bete noire. Till now, it is the American press and Congress which have been demonizing Mr Kofi Annan; it is, however, for the first that President George Bush has joined the anti-Annan chorus. Talking to newsmen at the White House on Thursday, Mr. Bush called for 'a full and fair and open' probe into the oil-for-food programme in which Washington has detected corruption. Even though this programme has been in existence in Iraq since the end of the Kuwait war, Annan-bashers have discovered corruption in it now. However, what has triggered Annan-baiting is his stance on Iraq. The UN secretary-general did not stand up to the world's only superpower when it was planning Iraq's invasion without a UN authorization. Lately, however, Mr Annan has been somewhat candid. First, he said that the Iraq war was illegal; next, he followed this up by saying that the war on Iraq had not made the world any safer. Then he seemed to register a protest against America's monopolization of oil-rich Iraq by saying that the world body had not been involved in the post-war scenario, especially with regard to the proposed election. He also warned that an all-out attack on Fallujah would cause bloodshed, and this could upset the election schedule. All this was obviously too much for Washington, where the only voice of sanity, Secretary of State Colin Powell, is on his way out. Now Mr. Annan's son, too, is being accused of corruption. Fortunately, the vast majority of UN members are with the secretary-general. That is one reason why Mr. Bush did not call for Mr. Annan's resignation--a demand made by the chairman of the Senate committee investigating the case. In office now for eight years, Mr. Annan has been, relatively speaking, a more forceful UN chief than his predecessor--Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. America would do well to listen to him and try to correct itself rather than attempt to undermine Mr. Annan's moral position--a crusade in which it has little support among the UN members."
CAMEROON: "101 Proposals To Reform The United Nations"
Ambroise Ebonda concluded in pro-opposition Le Messager (12/3): "This week, the UN...proposed a series of reforms, some of which have been discussed by the UN diplomats for years now, without any resolution.... The report also picks on the United States in connection with the war in Iraq, to which Kofi Annan and several members of the Security Council were strongly against.... One of the most awaited reforms concerns the Security Council.... Though some of the 101 proposals can be implemented by the secretary-general himself, or by a UN organ concerned with this particular section, the Security Council's reform requires an amendment of the UN Charter.... To many diplomats at the United Nations, these ambitious reform proposals...can produce concrete results but some of the set objectives such as the broadening of the Security Council will be very difficult to realize."
KENYA: "How The U.S. 'Runs' The UN"
Fred Oluoch observed in the intellectual, weekly East African (12/6): "The immediate former UN secretary-general, Dr. Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali, is a living example of the impossibility of escaping the determination by the U.S. to remove a UN secretary-general whom the world's only superpower feels has outlived his usefulness. In 1996, the U.S. used its veto--despite protests from African states and France--to prevent Dr. Boutrous-Ghali, an Egyptian, from getting his second term on the grounds that he had failed to reform the UN from within. While the U.S. maintained that his questionable reform agenda led to his removal, those privy to the U.S. modus operandi maintained that his undoing came as a result of his seeking independence from the U.S.... Having been the first African to hold the UN post, Dr. Boutrous-Ghali's open conflict with the U.S. put Africa in an awkward position, with some states vowing to defend him while others urged him to quit. The U.S. then gave Africa an ultimatum to come up with another 'credible' candidate to replace Dr. Boutrous-Ghali, failing which the U.S. would look beyond the continent."
CANADA: "Resist Rush To Judgment"
Paul Heinbecker, former ambassador to the UN, commented in the liberal Toronto Star (Internet version, 12/13): "According to the uber-hawks in Washington, including their birds of a feather in Congress, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan should not only resign, he should be arrested. And this at the outset, not the conclusion, of an investigation of the Oil-for-Food Program (OFFP)--frontier justice, in the grand old West tradition.... Belatedly, the U.S. administration has distanced itself from the hawks in Congress..... Congressional and other opponents of the UN, friends of Halliburton to boot, evidently see an opportunity to diminish or destroy an organization they consider an obstacle to U.S. foreign policy. There is not much doubt that the refusal of the Security Council to endorse the war in Iraq and Annan's characterization of that war as illegal are stimulating the animus of the American right. A thorough investigation, with interim reports as appropriate, will illuminate the real issues. A rush to judgment, however, would only serve the purpose of destroying the UN."
"The Lynching Of Kofi Annan"
Columnist Jocelyn Coulon commented in the centrist La Presse (12/8): "An opponent from the start of the war in Iraq, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in the cross hairs of the U.S. government. Washington has found the perfect excuse--the scandal of the 'Oil for food' program with Iraq--to proceed with his execution.... The program generated billions of dollars many of which are said to have been hijacked by Saddam Hussein to buy arms.... Kofi Annan reacted. Last April he named an independent inquiry commission and to please the Americans.... At the same time, American senators and members of the House opened their own investigations. And they already reached their conclusion before they even finished their work. Kofi Annan closed his eyes on the doings of his personnel. As UN secretary general he is responsible, thus guilty.... Unfortunately for the lynch mob, this affair is not as simple as it is trying to paint it. First, the Oil-for-Food program was created by the members of the Security Council, including the United States.... They were in charge of the program, not Kofi Annan. Second, with Washington's accord, Saddam Hussein's regime reached trade agreements with Jordan and Turkey, two countries penalized by the impact of the embargo but whose stability and good relations with the United States were essential to the sanctions being maintained against Baghdad.... The lynchers do not want to hear anything about those explanations. The corruption issue does not preoccupy them.... No, the pack has other reasons to be angry with the Secretary-General. Directed by the White House, elected Republicans can't forgive Kofi Annan for declaring the war in Iraq illegal, for writing reports that the carpet bombing policy in Iraq, the destruction of whole cities and the exclusion of groups or personalities from the political process cannot replace a policy of national reconciliation, the respect of political prisoners' human rights, the principle of proportionality in the use of force. For the Bush administration, this is more intolerable than corruption. The international community has quickly grasped the vicious game it is witnessing. Last week, the 53 African countries wrote a letter of solidarity to Kofi Annan. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder phoned him to assure him of their support.... Even an ally as faithful as Great Britain stiffened its spine to say 'Enough is enough.'"
"Bush Puts Squeeze On UN's Annan"
Columnist Richard Gwyn observed in the liberal Toronto Star (12/8): "The suggestion by Republican Senator Norman Coleman that United Nations' Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign because of the UN's oil-for-food scandal fits somewhere on the scale in between the absurd and the vicious.... The demand...was quite obviously grandstanding [and] would have attracted little attention except for what then didn't happen. What didn't happen thereafter was that President George W. Bush didn't say the obvious, namely that this wasn't the time to judge Annan. Instead, in reply to a reporter's question Bush went out of his way to say how important it was to have a full, detailed inquiry that laid out all the facts. In saying this, Bush wasn't quite saying he wants Annan to twist in the wind. He was, though, signaling that he doesn't care if Annan takes the drop.... What gives force and a cutting edge to Bush's deliberate coolness toward Annan is that he has expressed it at the very moment when Annan is attempting fundamental, strategic reform at the U. itself.... Under any circumstances, Annan's, and the UN's, chances of successful reform would be damaged by the scandal. But if Bush is out to use the scandal to force Annan to step down...or just to hobble the UN, then reform is an impossibility and the world body faces irrelevance. All that would be left as global steward would be the U.S. But even if it has the power--Iraq has in fact shown its limits--it doesn't have the legitimacy. We really are at a fork in the road. At that intersection, Bush appears to be standing by the roadside, grinning."
"UN Reform: Stick To Herding Cats"
Marcus Gee commented in the leading, centrist Globe and Mail (Internet version, 12/8): "How do you herd 191 cats? That was the challenge that faced the eminent group studying how to reform the United Nations. One way is to empower a bunch of powerful tomcats to lead them. In the UN's case, the toms sit on the Security Council, the world organization's troubleshooter. At present, the UN has five big cats...and each holds a veto over anything the council decides. The trouble is, everyone else resents them.... Its members come from the winning side in the Second World War. Why, ask other powers, should these cats be responsible for running the world in perpetuity? Wouldn't the Security Council be more representative, and thus more effective, if the UN updated its membership to reflect today's world? Sounds sensible, doesn't it? The panel that studied UN reform certainly thought so, and it made an updated Security Council a centerpiece of the report that it submitted to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week. In reality, it is a bad idea. Trying to reform the Security Council will open up bitter national rivalries that will only distract the UN from the things it urgently needs to do, like stopping wars, famines and genocide.... The 16-member panel offered options because it couldn't decide on the best model. If 16 men and women had such a hard time, imagine what it will be like to get the UN to agree. The wrangling has already begun.... Expanding the Security Council is the ultimate can of worms. The question is so fraught, the committee that has studied it for years, the Open-Ended Working Group, has been nicknamed the 'never-ending' group. And even if the reform succeeds, it may not make the UN any more effective. Indeed, it is likely to make decision-making even more of an agony. Though the reform committee wisely shied away from recommending extending the veto to more than the original five, it will be no treat getting a decision out of 24 countries, some of them with permanent or semi-permanent status and the delusions of grandeur to go with it.... So leave the Security Council be. It is not the tomcats that hamstring the UN. It is the failure of all the cats to overcome their squabbling and act as one."
"Kofi Must Go"
The conservative National Post opined (12/6): "It is amazing to think that Mr. Annan was once thought to be a man who could help reform the United Nations. Indeed, he was originally the Americans' choice for his position.... But whether or not he was the wrong choice from the get-go, or a good man whose leadership came to progressively resemble the stunning dysfunctionality of the organization he was picked to run, there is no doubt that his tenure as the United Nations' leader should end as soon as possible."
BRAZIL: "The UN Should Reflect The New Realities"
Center-right O Globo argued (12/7): “The UN’s inability to punish the superpower (U.S.) and prevent the illegal use of force to solve regional conflicts is evidence of its limitations, rather than its uselessness. It’s easy to disdain the UN in Washington and in large European capitals. But ask someone who lives in East Timor if the UN is useless or irrelevant. All agree on one issue: the structure is obsolete because it reflects the post WWII geopolitical map and balance of power.... From the reform proposal prepared by 16 noteworthy countries...the most important part is the one suggesting an increase in the number of seats in the Security Council from 15 to 24, granting six representatives to each macro-region--Europe, America, Asia and Africa.… But that proposal may be impaired by the insistence of limiting veto power to the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France and China. Those countries would continue to hold the power of an anti-democratic organization. If that prevails, the reform would be irrelevant for having wasted an opportunity to make of the UN a more faithful reflection of current realities.”
MEXICO: "A Safer World"
Javier Treviño asserted in the independent El Norte (12/9): “The current moment is not the most adequate to begin a profound reform of the UN. The U.S. doesn’t seem interested in strengthening the UN. A few days ago, its ambassador to the organization resigned surprisingly. Without the active participation of the only global superpower, no profound change could be successful. Also, Kofi Annan is under great pressure due the scandal surrounding the 'oil for food' program that operated in Sadam Hussein’s Iraq and in which his son Kojo has been involved. Even a U.S. congressman has requested his resignation.”
"UN Reform: The Critical Point"
Juan María Alponte wrote in the nationalist Universal (12/8): "But [Bush] has announced that if the UN doesn't reach agreements, the U.S. will act by themselves. He certainly talks about going 'with allies,' but his words reveal that, without Powell, and with a hard-line cabinet (Condoleezza is not as sweet as her name) the dialogue will not be easy. In principle, the debate on UN reform has begun with a target: Kofi Annan. He can't avoid his African heritage in front of the white [Anglo-]Saxon evangelicals accompanied by the Hispanics of Cuban and Mexican origin who have ascended to power among the hard-line Republican right. The UN reform that will pass is the reform of George W. Bush or Bush's idea of the reform. A puzzle for Kofi Annan."
GUATEMALA: "Even The UN"
Fernando Beltranena opined in Prensa Libre (12/7): “The United States is the most important player in the United Nations. In other words, the UN cannot do anything without the cooperation of the United States. If the Bush administration remains hostile and does not collaborate with the UN, it would be impossible for it to function effectively and tame the U.S. power.”
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