March 24, 2005
WITH AMERICAN SUPPORT, A 'CHANCE FOR UN REFORM'
** Papers opine that Annan's proposed reform puts the UN "on the right track."
** Skeptics see Annan's proposal as "no more than a signal."
** Without American participation, the UN is likely to be a "toothless tiger."
** The UN must choose: "reform or death."
Reform plan 'deserves every support'-- Supporters of UN reform saw Annan's proposal as "a step in the right direction" and an "attempt by Mr. Annan to reassert his leadership and to restore confidence in the UN"; the UAE's expatriate-oriented Gulf Today declared that "Annan's call for bold changes in the world body deserves a positive response from all its members," and a Czech writer claimed that "Annan's proposed reform of the UN amounts to its resuscitation." Like-minded outlets applauded the "human rights" element of the proposal, and agreed that the UNSC is "a top item" in need of reform. Some Euro papers warned that "the road for approval...will be an uphill battle," as Annan has many "enemies in the U.S. Congress."
'Reforming the UN is a hopeless cause'-- A number of commentators were critical of UN reform and unimpressed by Annan's proposals. These outlets claimed that the UN reaction to recent atrocities in Darfur did "not cast a favorable light" on the body. The conservative Australian decided to "take the whole issue of UN reform with a grain of salt" because of the failure of "previous reforms." Canada's conservative National Post scoffed, "since 1948, the UN has sent nine peacekeeping missions...to the Middle East. What have they achieved in bringing stability and freedom to the region?" Liberal Euro papers argued that for reforms to succeed, "wealthy countries will have to increase their foreign aid contributions."
UN reform 'depends solely on Washington's position'-- Worldwide outlets agreed that Annan needs "U.S. backing to proceed with UN reform," and that his proposals reflect a "desire to win back the Bush administration's interest." Euro dailies agreed that America has "shown little inclination to allow anyone to dilute its influence," and that "without the resolute cooperation of the Americans, there will be no reform." Japan's liberal Mainichi hoped for a U.S. "return to the global body," while a Russian writer warned that for negotiations to work, Bush must "turn a blind eye to the...corruption inside the UN."
If reforms fail, the 'UN will end in the dustbin of history'-- Global papers agreed that the UN is "in crisis" and "needs a general overhaul." They generally warned that the UN is "facing its biggest credibility crisis" and that the U.S. will be "among the many losers" if reforms fail. Germany's right-of-center Schwäbische Zeitung opined that if the UN ultimately failed, America could no longer "exert its influence" on the world body; another editorial pointed out, "Europeans often forget...that Washington is also interested in effective UN reform." An Austrian author believed that the U.S. "silence" in wake of the proposal may be "an indication that American interests were preserved."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: David Meyers
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 50 reports from 18 countries over March 21-24, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed by the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Reform Of The United Nations"
The left-of-center Independent opined (3/22): "The Bush administration may have adopted a more conciliatory tone of late, but it still harbors a deep resentment towards the UN for its refusal to authorize the invasion of Iraq. It is worth remembering that the attacks on the leadership of Kofi Annan intensified after he publicly called the Iraq war 'illegal'. And many of the American assaults on the integrity and effectiveness of the UN need to be treated with caution. Several U.S. firms were implicated in the oil-for-food scandal. And it was the UN--not the U.S. taskforce--that ultimately proved more effective in co-ordinating the aid and reconstruction mission in the wake of the recent Asian tsunami."
"Wooing America: To 'Save' The UN?"
The independent Financial Times editorialized (3/22): "The fate of Mr. Annan's proposals will probably turn on how he himself emerges from the Iraqi sanctions affair, and even more on whether the Bush administration meets him half way with a constructive response to reform."
FRANCE: "Time To Act"
Patrick Sabatier commented in left-of-center Liberation (3/22): “As with Europe, the blatant failures and shortfalls of the UN are not due only to the weightiness of the institution, nor the incompetence of its officials. Its shortcomings are real...but the reasons have more to do with the political resolve of its member states, especially those with the most power and money, the ones that pay the bills. This is why, alas, we have cause to cast doubts on the realization of the reforms that were proposed yesterday.... The UN may well be the worst of the international organizations, but lacking an alternative, it is preferable to the law of the jungle, or of the strongest.”
“Kofi Annan: Man Of The Day”
Communist l’Humanite remarked (3/22): “Kofi Annan’s reform proposal for the UN, while stressing the central role that the organization has to play in world governance does not strengthen the role of the General Assembly which remains the most democratic part of the institution. Another thorny subject is the proposal to legalize preemptive war by giving the UNSC to power to have recourse to the use force, including preemptively. This major concession to the U.S. casts a questionable light on the “multilateral’ nature of the reform.”
GERMANY: "Reform Depends On Washington's Position"
Right-of-center Schwäbische Zeitung of Leutkirch argued (3/23): "The German wish for a permanent UN Security Council seat with the right to veto is for Kofi Annan a secondary problem. That is why the secretary general keeps all options open in his reform paper. But as a matter of fact, the reform of the Security Council depends solely on Washington's position, which has thus far shown little inclination to allow anyone to dilute its influence. In addition, it is very difficult to guess, which position the Bush administration will take with respect to Annan's proposals. A UN approval for military missions met already with skepticism. Thus, speculation range from a blockade of the global organization to a revived relationship. Only one thing can be said today: If the reforms fail, the UN will lose significance. But the United States would then also lose, for the last superpower can then no longer exert its influence on an international body for other nations."
Rolf Clement commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (3/22): "Annan's agenda is not a paper with which the world can become free from conflicts. It is a paper in which conflicts are mitigated or that can help settle conflicts more easily. That is why it is an important document, since it will be the basis for the things that are really necessary. It can become the conscience of the international community to which those forces can orient that want to make this world more peaceful. But everything that costs money like the funds for the support of young democracies finds its limits in the budgets of the member countries. Annan is right when he says that even the industrialized countries can be well off in the long run only if they spend their assistance for the really poor countries. The obstacles that must be overcome to do this are the finance ministers of the member states."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger concluded in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/22): "Annan's reform package deserves to be acknowledged, because it does not keep secret the faults of this organization, because it does not shy away from addressing contradictions and from addressing ignorance of genocide and criticizing human rights violators in the Human Rights Commission.... The United Nations needs a general overhaul, it must free itself from the sterile course of the past and acquire a new realism. This is the only way to give convincing answers to the key questions of the presence, ranging from the elimination of poverty to the fight against terrorism. The reform of the Security Council will show how difficult this will become.... Its composition is anachronistic and not representational and privileges a handful of nations. Annan was wise enough to accept the recommendations of a commission he set up with respect to the composition of a future UN Security Council."
"The New Global Formula"
Ruth Ciesinger argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/22): "The UN needs to be reformed, and there is a consensus on this need. In his report, Kofi Annan exhausted the scope of action he has. The proposals he has made, be it the reform of the Human Rights Commission, the anti-terror convention, protection from WMD, and the appeal to the rich nations to spend 0.7 percent of its GDP for development assistance are reasonable and justified. But the real work begins only now. And one thing is clear: without the resolute cooperation of the Americans, there will be no reform. No one knows this better than the UN itself. But what the Europeans often forget is that Washington is also interested in effective UN reform itself. Members of the U.S. administration also know that they would be rather alone without UN support if the issue is shouldering means to create order worldwide. Even a successful UN reform will not make the UN a perfectly functioning organization. Nepotism, corruption and a lack of responsibility cannot be eliminated in the world. The UN cannot be better than its 191 member organizations."
Centrist Badische Zeitung of Freiburg penned (3/22): "The UN Security Council in its current composition is certainly a top item on the list of faults that need to be corrected. But it is not the most important task to reform the Security Council, even though the German government is creating this impression. An extension with Brazil, India, or South Africa, would upgrade continents that faced disadvantages before, and a seat for Germany and Japan would reward regular contributors as Japan and Germany, but it would not automatically lead to wiser decisions. The UN Security Council is dependent on its members. If there were more, more conflicts would arise in which special interests of individual members would block the Council. And in addition, the major powers, with the United States in the lead, would assert their will even more reckless than today."
"Chance For UN Reform"
Center-right Nordwest Zeitung of Oldenburg judged (3/22): "Crises can also have a positive influence. This seems to be true for the United Nations, too. Demonstratively and in all clarity, the United States made clear [during the Iraq war] that the superpower cannot be stopped...and the United Nations was damned to remain inactive. But in the meantime, the Bush administration has realized that the problems of this world cannot be shouldered by one nation alone irrespective of how strong its military is. This offers a great chance for the UN reform, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan has now demanded. Since every one knows: Without the United States nothing works with the UN. One should not miss this opportunity at the East River."
"Reform Or Death"
Stefan Ulrich argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/21): "Kofi Annan's attempt to radically renew the UN, deserves every support. Indeed, if the nations implement the proposals of their secretary-general, the world will become safer, more peaceful, and more humane. The Security Council will get new, more efficient members and reflects the community of nations much better than the current working model, and the Human Rights Commission will be purged from rogue states and finally deserve its name... The question is whether the UN will really experience this brave new world, since two trains are speeding along next to each other. On the one train we can see the sign 'reform' and Kofi Annan is at the controls. On the other train we can read the term 'scandal' and the pace is determined by Annan's enemies in the U.S. Congress. The one train leads to the future, the other to the abyss. And it is still undecided who wins the race.... Currently it is not clear whether America--global power, host country and most important contributor--is still pinning its hope on the UN. Without Washington's support, Annan must fail.... But then the United States will be among the many losers. Then it must shoulder its global tasks to create order all by itself. For a 'League of Democracies' based on Washington's mercy is not only a mirage but also a pipe dream."
Nikolas Busse said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/21): "The situation for the UN is not very favorable, and the reason is not only the disrespect and the rejection which it witnesses in America. In the case of Darfur, there is no government in America, Europe or Asia, which would be willing to implement the demands of the Security Council despite the ongoing genocide. And the most recent scandals do not cast a favorable light on an organization that was created to create peace and security in the world…. When talking about human rights violations or the fight against terrorism, the interests of the 191 UN member states are diverging. Even though the democracies are in a minority. In the discussion over an extension of the UN Security Council, the ambitions are clashing without inhibition. As an overture to the Kofi Anna's presentation of his reform proposals, U.S. Secretary of State Rice confirmed over the weekend in Tokyo that Japan is an appropriate candidate for a permanent membership. The Bush administration, however, keeps the Germans hanging with the empty phrase that it is still too early to speak about details. This reveals the basic problem of the UN: the organization is not a global government nor is it a replacement for such a government; it is a union of sovereign nations that use the UN for their purposes..."
Dietrich Alexander judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/21): "Nevertheless, with the U.S. support for Japan, Germany's chances to take a seat at the table of the five major powers, have now increased, for it is without any logic to accept Japan but not Germany and would also offend Brazil and India…. The question is: do we really want a permanent membership? For one thing is clear: It will be expensive. And Germany will have to face up to its global responsibility much more than the current governments may like, i.e. global humanitarian and combat missions. Everyone must be aware of this."
"From A New World"
Christoph von Marschall concluded in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/21): "At issue is the UN's survival. The UN will not be abolished if Kofi Annan's reform plans fail, but who would then pin his hopes on the future relevance of the UN?… Kofi Annan is vigorously fighting for reforms, because criticism of his opponents also threatens his survival as secretary-general. The UN will either be made fit for the 21st century or it will lose authority. Annan's proposals for a definition of terror may be uncomfortable but necessary…and the restructuring of the Security Council is overdue. The UN only has the power that is granted to it by benevolent states. Without America's dollars and soldiers, and this is something people in Germany do not like to hear, the UN would be a crazy horse for despots."
ITALY: "UN, Italy's Final Battle"
Danilo Taino stated from New York in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (3/22): "The clash over UN reform is accelerating dramatically. And it looks tougher than ever. For Italy, which will be defending issues that are considered of 'national interest,' the coming weeks are going to be crucial..... On the Security Council issue, the U.S. position will be fundamental, as it currently openly supports only Japan's candidacy. Therefore, Italy will be putting a lot of pressure on Washington in the coming weeks."
"Annan: Here Is The UN I Would Like"
Marco Valsania opined from New York in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (3/22): " With the UN divided between those who want to co-opt powers like Japan and Germany and those who - like Italy - instead are requesting the involvement of a greater number of countries, Annan limited himself to requesting quick decisions, by vote if a general consensus is not possible.... Behind the optimistic facade, the road for approval of the ambitious reform package will be an uphill battle."
RUSSIA: "Annan Out To Rescue UN"
Boris Volkhonskiy said in business-oriented Kommersant (3/22): "The report submitted by the UN Secretary General is an attempt to meet changes that have taken place in the world and its new challenges. The Secretary General's initiative causes skepticism rather than optimism among political observers. It is not only the problems it brings about, and the fact that, based on experience, any proposals to curtail the bureaucratic structure more often than not make the system even more unwieldy. It is also that the chief decision-making center has long moved southwest, 212 miles away from the UN Headquarters in New York, to Washington."
"UN To Change Face"
Oleg Komotskiy noted in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (3/22): "The main idea behind the proposed changes is to maintain the UN as a global security center."
"Annan Goes For Broke"
Yevgeniy Shestakov wrote in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (3/22): "The UN Secretary General trying to push reform in a package within a short time, experts say, will seriously weaken the United States' position in the organization and retard the UN's decision-making capacity. The U.S. Administration may have to bargain hard to get Annan to give up his complex UN reform plans. Only to make sure the negotiations are a success, Bush will have to turn a blind eye to the hanky-panky activities of Annan's son and corruption inside the UN."
"Much Of It Is Due To Iraq War"
Aleksey Bausin contended in reformist Izvestiya (3/22): "Much of the proposed UN reform is clearly due to the Iraq War and the United States and Britain having virtually ignored the opinion of the international community. Annan has urged the Security Council to pass a resolution setting forth the principles of the use of force in international relations, including for preventive purposes."
AUSTRIA: "The Wonderful World Of Kofi Annan"
Christian Ultsch, foreign editor for centrist daily Die Presse, commented (3/22): "The reform plans that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented so accurately in his 63-page-long report lack neither balance nor wisdom. His body of top-notch experts has done good work. Its proposals are plausible and reasonable, too.... However, whether the nicely-worded suggestions will ever become reality is a different matter and will certainly not be dictated by the UN Secretary-General. Annan did what he could to save the UN. Perhaps he did so too late, perhaps not with sufficient drive. He won't decide the UN's fate, but the five most important member states that have a veto right in the Security Council: France and Britain to a lesser degree, Russia and China to a greater, but most of all the US. In view of that fact, it is bad news that the U.S. President finds a weak UN more attractive than a strong one. Annan's wonderful plans are, for the most part, going to be wasted. What a pity!"
"No More Than A Signal"
Foreign affairs writer for independent daily Der Standard Christoph Prantner gave the view (3/22): "Changes in power structure call for changed institutions. At least according to this postulation, the reform paper that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented is a step in the right direction. It signals that structures dating from the time after the Second World War are inadequate for shaping politics in the 21st century.... However, the Annan plan does not really go beyond this signaling effect. The veto right of the five permanent members has not been touched, which ensures the old system will remain intact.... The fact that the U.S., which, during the past few years, clamored for UN reform, kept a meaningful silence until Monday evening, may be seen as an indication that American interests were preserved. There was also little to be heard from France or Britain, since the proposals did not include a common EU seat in the Security Council. Apparently, everyone is prepared to live with new, permanent, members as long as they don't lose the veto right. That this will change is unlikely. Each actual Security Council reform needs a two-thirds majority among the 191 UN member states--and the approval of all five vetoing powers."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Annan Rescues Himself"
Petr Pesek stated in center-right Lidove noviny (3/22): "Kofi Annan's proposed reform of the UN amounts to its resuscitation. Annan's takeover as UN General Secretary was met with great expectations several years ago. At present, he heads a colossus which has become a synonym for helplessness in the military settlement of crises (Kosovo, Iraq), for embezzlement of humanitarian programs (Iraq) and for sexual abuse of children by officers (Congo). This is hardly the goal the UN was established for. This negative assessment is not entirely fair. The UN has accomplished a great deal of good work, such as the recent coordination of aid to the Tsunami victims. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the UN does not need a profound and quick change. Annan's proposal promises both. However, if his promises fail to materialize, he and the whole giant UN will end in the dustbin of history."
DENMARK: "UN On The Right Track"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende editorialized (3/23): "It is high time that the UN was reformed, but is Annan's proposal good enough? He has called for the replacement of the Human Rights Commission with a new council which cannot be taken hostage by dictatorships. He has also proposed clear guidelines regarding the use of force to protect civilian populations and suggested the enlargement of the UNSC. But it is doubtful that the last too suggestions would have prevented the problems we saw before the invasion of Iraq. This said, the majority of countries seem to have agreed to work constructively in the reform process. Therefore, the UN seems to be moving, however slowly, in the right direction."
"Fate of Annan's Reforms Lies With Wealthy Countries"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende carried the following analysis by senior staff writer, Ole Damkjær (3/23): "Secretary General Annan's proposal for reforms of the UN was wide-ranging and visionary. But if it is going to be adopted, the wealthy countries will have to increase their foreign aid contributions. They will also have to stop protecting each other."
"Denmark Should Urge U.S. To Sign Off On Annan's Reforms"
Center-left Politiken opined (3/23): "Every step forward regarding the UN should be welcomed. Therefore, Denmark, from its seat on the Security Council, should help to ensure that the U.S. signs off on these ambitious reforms. Without the full support of the U.S., the UN will be a talking shop filled with empty promises."
"International Community Must Support Wide-Ranging Reforms"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten asserted (3/23): "Kofi Annan has got a difficult task ahead of him. In particular, the enlargement of the Security Council looks like it could be problematic. All members countries much go actively into the reform process. If this does not occur, the consequences would be as obvious as they are undesirable."
"Annan's Courageous Proposal"
Left-wing Information commented (3/22): "Annan's proposal to replace the UN Human Rights Commission with a council that would, by definition, not include countries like Cuba, Libya or the Sudan, should be applauded. But, Annan's plan would probably meet with opposition from developing countries and could leave itself open to 'deals' being made. This said, the international community could benefit if Annan's proposal was implemented. All eyes are focused on the U.S."
IRELAND: "Annan's Proposals For UN Reform"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (3/22): "These are the most far-reaching proposals for UN reform put to the organization since its foundation. They will be decided upon at a summit meeting of government leaders next September and must be debated by them and their citizens between now and then. Mr. Annan has drawn principally on two reports commissioned by him, one on how to achieve by 2015 the Millennium Goals for human development adopted in 2000, the other on threats to global security. He is convinced development, security and human rights go hand in hand. His proposals are intended to drive home that message within a commitment to a larger freedom which reinforces each of them. This wider purchase on reform adds conviction to his detailed proposals. Mr. Annan is determined not to lose sight of the Millennium Goals on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating killer diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and creating a global partnership for development. He insists the latest action plan to achieve them must be endorsed at global and national levels and that the UN should be empowered to oversee this. Without that, as he puts it, many millions of lives that could have been saved will be lost, freedoms that could have been secured will be denied, and ‘we shall inhabit a more dangerous and unstable world’.... There is much that is good in these proposals. They are calibrated politically to the various blocs and interest groups which compete to use the UN to achieve their ends. There is material here for U.S. skeptics about the world body, and for those who want to see its remit strengthened, extended, made more democratic and underpinned by the achievement of development goals. In this document they have good grounds for argument.”
"Annan Proposes Biggest Reforms In UN History”
North America Editor Conor O'Clery commented in the center-left Irish Times (3/22): “UN secretary general Kofi Annan yesterday urged world governments to endorse sweeping reforms of the organization, including an enlarged Security Council with new rules on when it can authorize military force.... The report is widely seen as an attempt by Mr. Annan to reassert his leadership and to restore confidence in the UN after the bitter divisions over Iraq, and allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq.... One of Mr. Annan's boldest initiatives is to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights, ‘whose capacity to perform its tasks has been undermined by its declining credibility and professionalism’, with a Human Rights Council elected by the 191 UN member countries. The commission has been derided for rotating membership among countries regardless of their human rights record--like Sudan and Libya--and the new council would exclude countries with bad records on human rights. The secretary general also sought to end a deadlock over the definition of terrorism by urging that no cause could justify the killing or injuring of civilians by non-state entities to influence governments, and rejecting a contention by some Arab nations that attacks on civilians to fight ‘state-sponsored terrorism’ by Israel were acceptable.... Central to Mr. Annan's reform package is the belief that world problems such as terrorism and poverty are interlinked.”
SWEDEN: "The Future Of The UN Once Again Is At Stake"
Foreign editor Per Ahlinthe stated in independent, liberal Stockholm morning daily Dagens Nyheterran (3/22): “It is naïve to think that the U.S. views the UN in the same way that a small state does--for a superpower there is always another way to take action. But where the U.S. will put its main focus plays a major role. For EU heads of states and governments there is every reason to view the next U.S. Ambassador to the UN with some skepticism.... It is relatively easy to find official representatives in Washington who speak well of both the EU and NATO. But with regards to the UN it is a somewhat different issue. For the world organization this is a great challenge, and it is hardly an overstatement to say that the UN is in a crisis. Without active American participation, the UN, in the future, runs the risk of becoming a toothless tiger standing on the grandstand whenever there is a crisis situation... Secretary General Kofi Annan wants, among other things, to reform the Commission on Human Rights.... This is a welcome initiative. The way the international organization is seen is important. One cannot--with credibility intact--pursue human rights issues if dictatorships are allowed to be in the lead.... What is essential is the UN’s ability to take action. The organization is not there for its own sake. It has a role to play, a role which in the end only the member states, including the U.S., can define.”
"In Larger Freedom"
Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (3/22): “Most controversial will be the part that deals with the power structure of the UN. A reformed Security Council and weakened veto rights might seem a matter of course, but this is not what everyone thinks.... It has taken quite some time for the UN to wind up the Cold War, but in the last few years there have been serious efforts to adapt goals and means to the new reality. It is in that perspective Kofi Annan’s reform agenda should be regarded. It is a relief that there are demands that the UN should intervene in a future Darfur, that a framework for use of military force is developed, that terrorism is defined, and that dictatorships will not be allowed to be in charge of the Human Rights Commission.... The UN can do many good things but when things heat up it is (still) an organization with a built-in mechanism for failure.”
TURKEY: "UN Reform"
Yalim Eralp opined in conservative DB Tercuman (3/24): “There is a general consensus on the need to reform the UN to adapt the international body to current conditions. The former Foreign Minister of France has argued that the status quo is not acceptable. … But disagreements occur over the kind of reform that is best for the UN. Kofi Annan recently presented a report with some advice on this issue. Naturally, the member countries will decide on the course of UN reforms. The smaller member countries are pushing for a ‘democratization’ of the Security Council structure, but at the same time they do not want the UN to interfere in their internal affairs. The bigger countries are asking for just the opposite. In fact, the main question is whether the member countries want to live in a world with established and enforced rules. Compared to the past, international norms are more strictly enforced that they have been. However, every country wants to redefine the norms based on its national policy. Reform can be implemented at the UN, but if countries do not change their mentality and policies, they will be insufficient.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Reform Of The UN And Arab League"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (3/22): "Sixty years after the establishment of the international organization and the Arab League, current world political developments required their reform. There are countries that have used the UN to advance and protect their interests; a matter that motivated the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to ask for an abiding definition of terrorism, under the international law.... The United States has used military force in Iraq without a UN authorization and it tried to justify its intervention by the excuse of protecting the world from nuclear weapons.
UAE: "Resuscitating The UN"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf Today remarked (3/22): "UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for bold changes in the world body deserves a positive response from all its members. As the world passes through dramatic changes, the UN needs a total revamp so as to enable it to meet the challenges. This is an opportunity that the world must not miss on whatever pretension that some members may attempt to raise. Annan presented in the reform package the most extensive overhaul of the UN since its founding in 1945. This has increased the significance of the General Assembly session when the members will have to respond to the urgent need for reforms . Annan calls for a realignment of the UN to give additional weight to key development, security and human rights issues. He proposes to make the organization transparent and accountable. Most importantly, he has called for making the UN more independent. There are some who see Annan's call for reforms an attempt to divert the attention from the investigation by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker into corruption in the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq. The role of Annan and his son Kojo, who worked in Africa for a company that had an oil-for-food contract, has been under scrutiny. However, there is no need for second thought when it comes to the need for reforming the UN so that it can play the role that it was intended to when it was established. True, the organization has lost face in many controversies, including financial corruption and even sexual abuse by peace-keepers. But this does not make the need for reform any less important. In fact, these are some of the reasons that make the overhauling most imperative. More than the corruption and abuses, it is the role of the UN as an independent body that has to be revamped. Corruption and abuses are not the core issues. These can be prevented by a more accountable administrative mechanism. However, it takes overall support from members for enhancing the independence of the UN and making its decisions more binding on all. This is not the situation now. At no time in the past has the UN been so humiliated by some of the most responsible members. The immense clout enjoyed by the U.S. on the decision making process of the UN has made the organization pathetically vulnerable to failures. The world saw what the US did to the UN for launching the war in Iraq. Economic and military clout enjoyed by the U.S. had made a mockery of internationalism. Ensuring multilateralism is the UN's main mission. It is in this area that the world body's arms are tied behind by self-interest groups and it is this chain that Annan wants to break. Selective justice as defined by the U.S. and its allies must not be allowed to derail the world's only remaining symbol of internationalism and the only hope for impartial justice. A total revamp alone can provide the UN the oxygen it needs badly."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Reformed UN Can Make World Safer"
The national conservative Australian observed (3/23): “Despite the many sound proposals in Mr. Annan's report, we need to take the whole issue of UN reform with a grain of salt. There have been many waves of reform at the UN, yet it remains a largely dysfunctional organization, as the oil-for-food scandal that is in danger of engulfing Mr. Annan's office illustrates. And while Mr. Annan himself argued on the opposite page yesterday that the UN does more than any other organization to spread democracy through the world, that is hard to reconcile with the fact that the democratic flowering we are now witnessing in the Middle East is the result of actions by the US and its allies, including Australia, that occurred despite, not because of, UN edicts.... Mr. Annan is on firmer ground in wanting to make the General Assembly a more streamlined forum, rather than the irrelevant talking-shop it has become, but his proposals remain vague. The UN bureaucracy has become a byword for inefficiency and nepotism and the 16-member panel proposed a thorough clean-out and generational change. It is in its specific agencies that the UN does most of whatever good it accomplishes: those that are not performing should be closed down so that their resources can go to those that are.”
“The Quest To Revamp The UN”
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald asserted (3/23): “Contemplating reform has been one of the enduring pastimes of the UN. Even before it could hold its first meeting, a number of states were calling for changes. But that has not stopped the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, proposing a extreme 60th birthday makeover for the organization he heads…. The UN must always be changing if it is to remain useful. The Iraq war, which plunged the UN into crisis, suggests it must work harder than ever to ensure its relevance. Mr. Annan cannot afford for his reform package to fail…. There is a strong case for East Asia to have a role in global governance commensurate with its economic and strategic significance, and a permanent seat for Japan on the Security Council would be appropriate.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Annan's Legacy Will Be Shaped By Reform Effort"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (3/22): "Sixty years after its founding, the United Nations is facing its biggest credibility crisis. More than ever before, internal deadlock is keeping the organization from fulfilling its prime mandate--preventing deadly conflict--while recent allegations of official corruption and misbehavior have gone right to the top echelons of the organization. Nothing short of sweeping reforms in the UN structure will be able to save it from an impending irrelevance.... Doing away with the widely derided Human Rights Commission, expanding the Security Council, pushing for fresh consensus on when military force can be used and for an international definition of terrorism are all on Mr. Annan's agenda. He has also called for a review of overlapping and sprawling UN programs, as well as strengthening internal oversight. A new peace-building body would help build institutions and reinforce treaties. Inability to follow through in this area has brought some of the UN's most tragic failures of the past decade and a half.... Mr. Annan's report is sprinkled with references to the internal management problems the UN has faced in recent years. It also includes promises to increase accountability and streamline the organization. Such systemic reforms are essential. The world still very much needs the UN. But only a strong, healthy UN that commands moral authority can hope to carry out its sweeping mandates to provide security and aid development."
JAPAN: "U.S. Holds The Key To UN Reform"
A Washington correspondent report in top-circulation moderate Yomiuri observed (3/24): "There is an international consensus that the U.S. holds the key to the success of UN reform. Although the Bush administration has expressed its support for Japan's bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, Washington appears to be remaining 'vague' about other reform plans, saying that reform is still in its initial stages and that the global community needs to address a wider range of reform issues. However, remarks by USG officials seem to suggest Washington's 'real' position on UN reform. Ambassador-designate to the UN John Bolton has stressed that the UN should not be engaged in 'nation-building' processes but should instead limit its involvement to only 'peacekeeping' efforts. His argument indicates Washington's policy to attach higher priority to its national interests than to international cooperation. The U.S., which has experienced a bitter confrontation with Europe over the Iraq war, appears to be trying to change the UN into an international body that will not bind Washington's diplomatic stance of prioritizing U.S. national interests."
"U.S. Reaction Indicates Limit Of UN"
Conservative Sankei's Washington correspondent stressed (3/24): "The U.S. showed restrained reaction to UN Secretary General Annan's recent proposal for UN reform. Washington's reservation about proposed UNSC authority over military action by member nations suggests difficulties in achieving the ideal of 'multinationalism' under the current UN framework. The U.S. has insisted that sovereign nations should have the right to decide on their use of force. The Bush administration appears to share this policy. It seems natural that the U.S., the world's superpower and the biggest donor of UN funds, opposes Annan's proposal of not allowing nations to use force for the purpose of preventing regional conflicts and providing humanitarian assistance without the consent of the UN Security Council. It seems unlikely that other permanent members of the Council, including France, Russia and China, would prioritize UN approval of their national interests or security."
"Seize the Moment"
Liberal Mainichi editorialized (3/23): "UN Secretary Annan's reform recommendation package reflects his desire to seek a U.S. 'return' to the global body, whose reform cannot be achieved without Washington's deep involvement. By frequently using phrases including 'freedom,' which were originally proposed by then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in pushing for the creation of the global body prior to World War II, Annan tried to draw U.S. attention to the spirit of the UN Charter. We praise the package as comprehensive and as offering ambitious proposals on an array of pressing issues. Momentum for reform must be maintained and further reinforced in order to restore the effectiveness of and trust in the UN"
"Help Increase Momentum for Expanded Security Council"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri argued (3/23): "Annan's UN reform package appears to help Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the Security Council. In order for the General Assembly to pass a resolution calling for the expansion of the powerful council and Japan's membership on the enlarged forum, Tokyo must do its utmost to secure support from at least two-thirds of member states, or more than 128 countries. For that purpose, Japan should demonstrate more than ever, its strong commitment on international peacekeeping missions and development aid programs."
"UN Must be Reformed to Change into Entity for Peace"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun opined (3/23): "Annan's reform package covers broad items, including 'humanitarian intervention' in conflicts by the international community, as well as conditions for the mobilization of military force in dealing with trans-border crimes, international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The main purpose of the recommendations is to revive the organization to enable it to bring about and maintain peace. A suggested expansion of the Security Council should be one of the tools used to revive the effectiveness of the UN Serious deliberations on the proposed package will determine the course of UN reform. Tokyo must keep in mind that securing cooperative ties with its neighbors, including Beijing and Seoul, as well as seeking Japanese public's support, is imperative to its gaining a permanent seat on the Security Council."
"Be Prepared for Annan Proposals"
Liberal Asahi contended (3/22): "SYG Annan has offered a blueprint for a viable UN, with a powerful Security Council reflecting the 'genuine' power dynamics of the modern world. The top UN official therefore proposed the enlargement of the authoritative council... The weakness of the council is that its effectiveness has often been crippled because of confrontations between its veto-wielding powers. We must reach consensus between major powers regarding the use of force against a member state. To this end, the Secretary General called for approval of a resolution calling for the establishment of criteria for the use of force. We urge the U.S. to actively engage in discussions on UN reform in order to create a new international legal order which can better address new types of threats to peace."
"UN Needs U.S. Help"
Conservative Sankei's New York correspondent argued (3/22): "Calls have emerged within the UN for a U.S. 'return' to the world body following Secretary General Annan's submission of a reform recommendation package. The recommendations are designed to allow the UN to explore joint solutions with the U.S. in order to deal with international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The reform package reflects Annan's strong desire to win back the Bush administration's interest in the UN"
"Annan Seeks U.S. Attention"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined from New York (3/22): "Many of the UN reform recommendations proposed by Annan reflect U.S. viewpoints, starting with the report titled 'In Larger Freedom' and the proposed creation of a human rights council and a 'democracy fund.' Annan's report also favors the hosting of a terrorism prevention convention and support for the U.S.-orchestrated Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The fact that his son has been implicated in a reported scandal involving UN humanitarian assistance programs for Iraq has prompted Annan to present the 'pro-Washington' recommendation package. He needs U.S. backing to proceed with UN reform. However, it remains uncertain whether Washington will fully endorse Annan's proposals."
"Concern Over UN Shift to U.S. Organization"
Liberal Mainichi's New York reporter contended (3/22): "Annan's UN reform recommendations came following President Bush's controversial appointment of DOS Under Secretary Bolton as his UN Ambassador. Washington holds the key to the suggested overhauling of the world body. There is, however, concern that the UN could be tailored into an organization favoring U.S. interests."
CANADA: "UN Reform Will Stall"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen editorialized (3/24): "...Mr. Annan wants the UN to focus on issues relevant to the modern age -- he's right there's no point carrying on as an institution protecting state sovereignty when that's not the pressing problem it once was. But anyone who believes his reforms will make the UN newly relevant or do anything to help the illiterate young man with AIDS or the frightened woman without a vote is certain to find the next decade deeply disappointing."
"Reforming The UN Is A Hopeless Cause"
Lorne Gunter observed in the conservative National Post (3/22): "To the extent the UN was once effective at maintaining international security, it was because the two Cold War superpowers--the United States and the Soviet Union--permitted it to be. Whenever they would tire of funding surrogates to fight one another in some Third World hellhole, Washington and Moscow would permit the otherwise feckless UN to send in blue berets to stand between the warring parties. At best, the United Nations was only ever a useful tool the nuclear powers could use to end conflicts they had become bored with. Since 1948, the UN has sent nine peacekeeping missions of one sort or another to the Middle East. What have they achieved in bringing stability and freedom to the region? Not half as much as U.S. President George W. Bush's efforts to spread democracy.... Admittedly, the organization's habitual failure was also partly the fault of the Cold War. When one of the superpowers--usually the Soviet Union--felt adventurism served its purposes again, it would reignite a conflict the UN had just been sent to quiet down.... But my point is: There was no Golden Era which the UN should aspire to recreate. What limited successes it has had, it has had because the superpowers grew tired (Angola) or were never especially interested in the first place (Cyprus). Did the UN stop the Vietnam war? Could it prevent the Russians from invading Afghanistan or force them out once they were there? Of course not. It only managed to prevent the Chinese and North Koreans from overrunning the South because the U.S. ambassador waited until his Soviet counterpart had stepped out to relieve himself, then quickly moved a motion for a 'police action.' Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, things have only got worse for the United Nations. No longer are there two superpowers that can give the body missions that make it look useful. Now there is only a gaggle of middle-level powers who seek to use the UN to hamstring the sole remaining superpower--the United States. The UN has become the world's focal point for dissatisfaction with America.... On its own, without superpower forbearance giving sanction to its missions, the UN is either so morally and ideologically conflicted it cannot act or, when it does choose sides, it chooses the wrong one.... Mr. Annan and his supporters in world capitals...can pontificate and deliberate all they want about how to make the UN relevant again. But the truth is it never was and never will be."
BRAZIL: "Annan’s Proposal"
An editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo opined (3/23): “Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed a package of reforms that if adopted will represent the UN’s largest reform since its creation. Annan’s proposals were received with special enthusiasm by the Brazilian delegation, because they provide the enlargement of the Security Council.... The secretary general’s proposals also include changes in the Human Rights Committee, which is currently chaired by Libya--a self-explanatory joke--and requests the rapid adoption of an international convention against terrorism, as well as a definition of precise rules for the use of force.... Brazil could obtain a permanent seat at the Security Council, but would not get veto power.... To give veto power to all the new members would mean to condemn the UN to immobility. It also seems unrealistic to remove such a right from the SC’s current members.... The attempt to create an international definition of terrorism and to establish clear rules for the use of force--which in principle is positive--must be viewed at with a certain skepticism. In the case of terror, generic definitions may be insufficient. More precise definitions such as ‘acts causing civilian deaths,’ may find the opposition of nations that support separatist movements such as the U.S., which at times launches bombs with predictable ‘side effects.’ In regards to the use of force, the U.S. wants to include the Bush Doctrine in the rules of the institution, thereby ensuring the right to preemptively attack latent, even not so imminent, threats.”
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