August 11, 2005
UNSC REFORM: 'THE UN CONTINUES TO SEEK ITS DESTINY'
** Global outlets agree the UN is "a near zilch" in effectiveness but collide on reform measures.
** "Proving its solo role in the world": most writers fear UN reform is threatened by U.S policy.
** G-4 media criticize the African Union's decision not to back the G-4, fear China's influence.
** Warming of China/U.S. relations: the G-4 media show surprise, alarm.
'UN reform in jeopardy'-- Writers faulted recent scandals, a "discredited" human rights commission, and a "bitter atmosphere" for the UN's "institutional fragility." Papers agreed there are "varying positions" on UN reforms but that "undignified squabbling" prevents the possibility of "finding a consensus." Britain's center-left Independent advised the UN to "restructure" the UNSC to better represent "new centers of global power." One Japanese writer favored the "injection of new blood" represented by the G-4 nations (Brazil, India, Germany, and Japan). However, Chinese editorials emphasized "gradual reform" without "coercive deadlines."
'The strongest often decides'-- Several papers agreed that while some reforms are "broadly welcomed" by the U.S., a "lukewarm attitude is detectable" on Security Council restructuring. Critics assailed Washington's "power policy instinct," and alleged the U.S. desires to "punish" the UN for its "wholly vindicated" stance on Iraq. Despite accusations of "violent unilateralism" in its UN agenda, a few writers agreed with Britain's conservative Times in encouraging the U.S. Congress' insistence on a "thorough cleaning" of the UN "stables." Russia's reformist Vremya Novostey suggested the oil-for-food scandal may not only help Washington to "save face" but may also lend momentum to UN reform "the way the Americans see it."
'Victims of their power instinct'-- Germany's FT Deutschland termed the African Union's insistence on veto power for new UNSC members as "stubborn," saying the AU "has now foiled all efforts" at reform of the Security Council. India's centrist Times of India declared the AU may be "kissing good-bye" the group's UNSC prospects. "Africa is embarrassing" its G-4 "partners," said one editorial, terming the move a "certificate of poverty" for the African continent. G-4 media also criticized China's "pressuring" of Africa to block cosponsorship of the G-4's reform plan, fearing that China's influence in Africa is "already as great as Europe's." According to China's official Beijing Daily, the AU's draft proposal is "not in accordance" with the principles "emphasized in decision-making" at the UN, giving it "little hope of being passed."
'A weird fraternity'-- Analysts held the implicit China/U.S. alliance to block UNSC expansion "simply ignores ideological and political contradictions"; both countries want to "keep the noble circle as small as possible." Brazil's liberal Folha de S. Paulo claimed the alliance had "practically buried" Brazil's chances of obtaining a permanent seat. But a PRC daily insisted UNSC restructuring would only "split the body" and even "derail the whole process" of reform. "They claim they want to prevent the G-4 from dividing the UN," Germany's center-left Seuddeutsche Zeitung countered, but the truth is that "they care about their own interests."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Erin Carroll
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 48 reports from 17 countries over 28 July - 10 August, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "The UN Should Be Reformed--Not Punished"
The left-of-center Independent (8/9) editorialized: "The Security Council should be restructured to represent new centers of global power, rather than merely the post-Second World War order that existed when the UN was created in 1945. The discredited Commission on Human Rights, which in the past has ludicrously included serial human rights abusers such as Libya and Sudan, should also be scrapped. But the extent--and the pace--of reform must be dictated by the international interest and the principle of collective security, rather than the United States' desire to punish the UN for its wholly vindicated stance over the invasion of Iraq."
"The UN Oil Slick: Another Damning Report From The Volcker Committee"
The conservative Times (8/9) commented: "It is clear that for this scandal to have continued unchecked on Kofi Annan's watch diminishes his credibility, as does his reluctance fully to acknowledge that wider responsibility. Europe has by and large been unmoved, because it expects little of the UN. In the U.S., which, to its credit, has never settled for the 'Third World playpen' view of the global organization, Congress is insisting on a thorough cleaning of the stables. These are the voices the UN needs, not the yawns of world-weary cynicism."
"A Bull In A China Shop: Bolton's Appointment Is Controversial But Not Doomed--Yet"
The independent Financial Times (8/3) commented: "Mr. Bolton will need to establish his clout quickly if the U.S. is to shape the fast-moving agenda on UN reform. The U.S. has so far failed to engage in negotiations over the Secretary-General's reform plans at a sufficiently high level. While proposals for a new intergovernmental peace-building commission, reform of the human rights commission and an agreed definition of terrorism are all broadly welcomed by the U.S., a lukewarm attitude is detectable on Security Council reform."
FRANCE: “Washington Betting On The UNSC”
Guillemette Faure in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/9): “The U.S. is handling the Iranian issue with discretion.... It is convinced that the only solution lies with the UNSC. Iran's ‘no’ to the Europeans has not had the same dramatic impact in the U.S. as it has in Europe. Washington was not openly committed to the latest crisis.... If the Iranian position has elicited such little reaction from the U.S. it is because Washington did not except much from the negotiations.... The new U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has been working on the Iranian issue for years and cannot wait to get his hands on it. The UN could well be the key to resolving the crisis...even if many questions remain about the future of the cooperation between the Americans and the Europeans once the question of sanctions is broached.”
GERMANY: "Annan's Burden"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/10) opined: "For the UN the oil-for-food scandal has turned into a great burden. The investigations revealed that former member Alexander Yakovlev opened his hands also in other aid programs. In addition, the commission also announced an investigation against one person who has thus far not been involved and was cleared of any charges: Secretary-General Kofi Annan.... The mildest verdict the UN and Annan…can now expect is: serious deficiencies in the organization and its control. This can only be useful to the UN opponents in Washington. All this should prompt the 191 UN members to adopt a comprehensive UN reform at their summit in September. They must fight corruption, but also question the entire UN structure. A sharp controversy has developed over the priorities of this restructuring, and the UN reform has failed. This does not bode well for the future of the UN."
"UN Scandal: By No Means 'Fully Investigated'"
Andreas Zumach judged in a front-page editorial in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (8/10): "With the latest findings, the Commission has, despite all doubts in U.S. media and among Republicans, proved its independence. It is in the UN interest and in the interest of the overwhelming majority of honest staff members that the commission continues to work so independently and will present clear and convincing answers to four remaining questions in its final report at the end of September. Was former UN secretary-general Boutros Ghali involved in Sevan's corruption? Did current UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan exert any influence on UN business relations with a Swiss company, which had hired his son Kojo? Why did the UN Security Council, despite indications and warnings, not do anything against Saddam Hussein's regime setting aside money when it sold oil for humanitarian relief goods? And finally: Why was the regime able to ignore Security Council decisions on sanctions and smuggle oil to Turkey and Jordan with the approval of Britain and the United States? An answer to all these questions could contribute to finally realizing the proportions of the individual parts of this oil/Iraq/UN scandal."
"Victims Of Their Power Instinct"
Joachim Zepelin editorialized in business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (8/8): "With this stubborn decision to maintain their own proposal for a UN reform, which would never have a chance, the African Union has now foiled all efforts to reform the UN Security Council. But not only this. The Africans also set up too many obstacles for an improved representation of their interests. They have now politically damaged the G-4 foreign ministers and they have stopped the necessary reform of international crisis management. The chances of finding a majority for a reform of the Council are now only minimal.... In addition to the Africans, the United States, too, offered a miserable picture in the reform debate. It defended its special role as (for the time being) last superpower with a full veto right. And it did this all the more embittered, because it had to accept a bitter defeat in the Security Council in the vote on the Iraq war. For its own power's sake, Washington does not seem to share the view that international crises require different security policy answers today than during the Cold War. Washington's power policy instinct is preventing the necessary internationalization of the fight against terror. And the U.S. arguments are hypocritical: After a discussion that has been going on for twelve years, Washington says a reform should not be rushed.... We must be grateful to the openness of the new U.S. ambassador to the UN. In order to prevent an extension of the Security Council, John Bolton forged an alliance with China. This step can hardly be exceeded in absurdity. China is not only the largest dictatorship of the international community of nations, it also resists sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program, and it prevented sanctions against the Sudanese leadership.... The group that consists of China, the U.S., Algeria, Pakistan, and Italy is about to torpedo the UN Security Council reform. With their efforts they have made progress. The African Union had the chance to make the enlargement possible and this would have been in its own and international interests. But they have weakened the G-4 and its efforts to achieve a majority in the General Assembly to such a degree that a positive outcome can no longer be expected."
Dietrich Alexander in the right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin commented (8/6): "The cat is finally out of the bag: the African Union (AU) is pursuing its own UN-agenda and is betting everything on one card. The Africans are demanding two permanent seats on the Security Council with a veto right and two other nonpermanent seats. That may be appropriate in view of the number of African states in the United Nations with a right to vote (53) but it is not realistic. In the end, the Africans will probably discover that they wanted too much and will obtain nothing or very little. The reform proposal of the G-4 group of states is more realistic because it is more modest. They are wisely dispensing with a veto right, knowing that this intention has no chance at all. Apart from the fact that the ego trip of the four has already produced some bad blood, after the African move Berlin could finally consider the project a failure. It has too many powerful opponents: China is blocking Japan and Germany and the United States is agitating against all except Japan. Even if the G-4 reform proposal receives a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly after all, the Germans and their three allies are still far from the horseshoe table in New York, because two-thirds of all the parliaments of the 191 UN states must ratify the amendment of the charter necessary for the reform. Then, as a last resort, there would be the possibility of a 'little veto' against the enlargement. It is difficult to imagine that Beijing will not use this lever to keep Tokyo off the council. It is also no secret that in the U.S. Senate it is difficult to find friends of the United Nations, not to mention German world political appetites. All sorts of political dislocations are threatening and the question must be allowed: Is a German seat on the council worth all of that?
Stefan Ehlert commented on regional radio station Südwestrundfunk of Stuttgart (8/6): "The failed special summit of the African Union (AU) is a bitter disappointment, mainly for Germany. The AU seems to boycott the reform of the UN and its Security Council. By rejecting this realist compromise proposal, Africa is embarrassing Germany and its partners in the G-4. The reasons for it can be found not only in Africa. Africa is a stepchild of German foreign policy. This is now coming back to haunt Germany. The G-4 countries did not understand how to get the support of a sustainable African alliance, and they must now bury the dream of a UN reform.... The failure from Addis Ababa is mainly a disappointment for Africa. The G-4 wanted an extension of the Security Council by six new members of which two were reserved for Africa. A better representation of the African continent is bitterly necessary…but Africa again disagrees and is now damaging itself.... This is a certificate of poverty and does not correspond to Africa's growing significance."
"German Foreign Policy"
Center-right Volksstimme of Magdeburg (8/5) had this to say: "Germany's move to get a permanent UN Security Council seat has been thwarted. The chancellor will now be unable to score points with this issue in the upcoming election campaign. His political challengers will now accuse him of bad management. And they are right. In this matter, German foreign policy has hardly found support in the EU: Only Belgium and France have supported the so-called G-4 model.... The British are silent, while Spain and Italy are up in arms against it. In addition, it was a strategic mistake to think that pressure could be exerted on the five powers in the Security Council by establishing a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly. They forge their alliances as the deal between the United States and China shows. Both countries want to keep the noble circle as small as possible and form a blockade duet. And Beijing is not even upset that Washington has strongly criticized China's monetary policy and the increase in military spending for months. Power is not shared nor given away but it will be defended."
"This Was It"
Richard Meng said in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (8/6) said: "The permanent seat on the UN Security Council has never been certain for the Germans. Now it has become even more unlikely. Germany faces headwinds from three sided at the same time. The United States has joined forces with China to reject the attempt of the G-4, which includes Germany. The opposition at home does not miss an opportunity to show its disinterest in the G-4 initiative, and showed this in a truly reckless way to George W. Bush during [CDU foreign policy expert] Schäuble's visit to Washington. Third, the hoped for African support is now also disappearing.... For the UN, we can only hope that the foreseeable stalemate will not block the urgent reform of the United Nations. Berlin and the other G-4 candidates must do their best to make it succeed. For the Red-Green government in Berlin, the UN seat has turned into a risky issue. At the earliest at the beginning of September, something can be decided in New York immediately before the Bundestag elections. That is why the chancellor all of a sudden consider this issue no longer so urgent."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/5): "An alliance is coming into being in New York that simply ignores ideological and political contradictions: China and the U.S. together want to put a stop to the expansion of the UN Security Council, and it is possible that Russia is a silent partner. Together, they want to exert counter-pressure. Beijing's motive for keeping the things in the Council the way they are is clear. It is about restricting the status and power of the old rival Japan. For Washington, the expansion has no priority. It is the least important part of the reform. Let's think about this again: To stop the expansion and the promotion of Germany, the old favorite ally and new opponent, and Japan, to which relations could not be better, Bush's administration teams up with Beijing's Communists. What a brave new unpredictable world this is."
"The Power Of The Mass"
Nicolas Richter noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/5): "The convenient alliance [of the U.S. and China] would like to prevent the G-4 to get the necessary two-third majority in the General Assembly. Every country has one vote, which means that Washington and Beijing must gather 63 votes to block the G-4 plans. What can they offer to those countries? Nothing concrete. While all agree that the Security Council should reflect today's world, neither the U.S. nor China have said what they want the council to look like. They claim they want to prevent the G-4 from dividing the UN, but the truth is that they care about their own interests. To pursue them there is no better Security Council than the current one, which privileges the WWII winners for ever."
Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel filed the following editorial for right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/5): "The small hint by the world's largest nations should theoretically indicate to the Red-Green government that the ambition of the G-4 would fail. China's influence in Africa, whose votes will decide the fate of the G-4 plans, is already as great as Europe's power there. If China and the U.S. together seek support it will be very difficult for the G-4 to get a majority. It remains to be seen whether Bolton's meeting will also mean the end for American support of Japan. This would be good if this meant that North Korea is about to renounce nuclear weapons so that Japan must no longer get a special treatment."
"The Great UN Poker"
Michael Backfisch asserted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (8/5): "It did not come as a surprise that the U.S. and China want to keep the number of UNSC members as low as possible. Germany, Japan, Brazil and India are now dealt the results for the logical mistake. They believed that a two-third majority of the General Assembly would exert morale pressure on the big five. The empire now strikes back. The new alliance comes in a time in which tensions between Washington and the U.S. were rising.... However, their relations are complex. It is helpful that both economies are interlocked, and U.S. President Bush needs China to solve the nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea. But the trade deficit really annoys the Americans. Even if Beijing would further increase the value of the Yuan, it would not change this situation. The next protectionist surges will come soon in Congress."
"The U.S.-Sino Front"
Roland Heine wrote in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (8/5): "It does not happen very often that China and the U.S. take a common stance in central issues of international politics. Armament, human rights and world trade--there is hardly any topic where they agree. They are also rivals in many regional conflicts.... The case shows how important it is for the veto powers China and the U.S. to thwart UN reform. If the UN council were enlarged by new permanent members, the current members would lose its exclusiveness and some of its power. That is the real reason for the alliance between Beijing and Washington."
Karl Grobe editorialized in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (8/5): "Was this John Bolton's first shot? The controversial U.S. ambassador to the UN agreed with his old Chinese buddy Guangya to act together against the G-4. That is a weird fraternity.... America encouraged Japan, its special partner in the Far East, in its attempt to play a larger role. Japan is also one of the most important financial contributors to the UN, like Germany, which is no longer the closest U.S. ally. Beijing and Washington recently wooed India, e.g. by a nuclear agreement with the United States, which undermines international treaties. On the other side, Beijing and Washington had many problems recently. What did Bolton launch there? A barrel burst?"
"Bolton's First Case"
Michael Backfisch noted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (8/3): "At the moment, no member of the government in Washington seriously considers a military attack. The administration has rather built a diplomatic net based on a maximum of international agreement. In so far, the government has learnt its lesson from the Iraq war. The U.S. supports the German, French and British initiative to put a stop to Iran's nuclear program by offering economic incentives. The U.S. also supports the country's WTO accession and the export of Boeing parts. In return, the U.S. demands from Europeans to call the UN Security Council if Iran resumes its nuclear processing. The interesting question is whether the Europeans will be ready to walk down this path. Bolton will play the bad cop in this game, nothing more than that. The White House and the State Department define the political policy. The hard-liner therefore wears a straightjacket."
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/28) editorialized: "It is well known that the Italians like children, but it is not credible that the government pretends to worry about a canceled child project in the third world. Rome is concerned about its status. If Germany got a permanent seat, Italy would see this as a great humiliation, because the country would be one of the few large European nations without a voice on the important UN council.... Italians have not suddenly discovered their heart for children, but they spread poison for obvious reasons. We can only reply to them that it is bad manners to misuse development assistance for envious status issues."
"Italy Feels Hurt"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (7/28) commented: "There is no other organization than the UN where national power claims play such a large role, but the muscle flexing is usually covered by diplomacy. Every country wants to pretend that it has good reasons for its policy. The Italian Ambassador to the UN has gone too far. Although he did not name Germany, to call it a blackmail country aimed below the belt. This can only be explained by assuming that Italy sees no other way to prevent the G-4 proposal for UN reform."
ITALY: "U.S. And China Allied On Defense Of The Council"
Marco Valsania from New York wrote in leading business daily Il Sole - 24 Ore (8/5): "U.S. and China are allied against the G-4. John Bolton, the new American Ambassador to the UN did not waste time in confronting one of the hottest challenges on the international diplomacy agenda: Security Council reform. In his first hours at the UN building he met with the Beijing delegation and forged a strategy that appears to be aimed at blocking the maneuvers of Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil to quickly obtain a vast enlargement of the number of permanent seats.... The reaction from one of the G-4 capitals was hard and immediate, thus proving a tense mood inside the international organization [the UN]. Accusations of economic blackmail came in thick as the four worked to secure consensus in the weakest countries. 'Tell Bolton that we are unstoppable,' blasted the Indian Ambassador, Nirupam Sen, 'We will not be defeated, not by Bolton nor by Wang.' The United States sensitively presented itself only to the Japanese request of a permanent seat in the Security Council, while it appeared to be cold or opposed to the advances of the other G-4 countries. Above all, Washington fears a hasty vote that will fuel polemics and threats to stop the impetus to again favor ample UN reforms encouraged to be efficient and transparent after the recent scandals of the Iraq Oil for Food Program."
“UN, Italy Triggers Diplomatic War”
Mariuccia Chiantaretto wrote in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (7/28): “A hornets nest has been stirred up. Germany and Japan reacted furiously to the attack by Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, who on Tuesday requested an investigation into their dealings to conquer a permanent seat in the Security Council.... The objective of the G-4 is to reach a vote of the General Assembly by late July on Security Council enlargement.... The United States had promised to support only Japan, but it could reconsider its position toward Germany if Fall elections should bring the conservatives back to government in Berlin. The bitter atmosphere at the UN threatens to sink the reform. All in all, for Italy this might be preferable to a reshuffle of the Security Council from which it would be excluded.”
“Berlin: Untenable Words”
An article in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (7/28) commented: “Germany denies Italy’s accusations regarding the permanent seat at the UN Security Council. A spokesman for the foreign ministry defined Italian Ambassador to the UN Marcello Spatafora’s statement, in which he hypothesized the use of blackmail tactics on the part of the countries of the G-4...to attain the support of smaller and poorer States for their request for a permanent seat on the reformed Security Council, as ‘lacking in foundation and untenable.’ The German Authorities yesterday urged Italy to keep the tone of the debate on a level of greater objectivity.... We are facing a new diplomatic crisis between Italy and Germany.... As a result of the difficult relations with the United States in the last three years, Germany does not enjoy the support of Washington.”
“Italy On The Offensive Against The G-4”
An article in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (7/28) opined: “Day two of the Italian offensive for a strong appeal to ethical values in order to exclude forms of economic blackmail to obtain a vote on the subject of reform of the UN Security Council.... But some political observers note that if Italy chose to go public…it means that there is great concern that the G-4 will succeed. It could also mean that reports in the Italian UN delegation's hands are explosive.... Rumors have it that there are numerous cases in addition to those cited by our ambassador...that merit the attention of an investigations committee.... Comparing the Oil for Food scandal to the utilization of funds for cooperation as an instrument to apply political pressure is a strong statement which lays bare the institutional fragility of the United Nations.”
RUSSIA: “Who Needs The UN?”
Natalya Gevorkyan commented in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (8/10): “The UN, just like many international superstructures, has long become a sinecure--a gravy train--and a status symbol for a great many people. Originally, it probably pursued lofty ideas like ridding the coming generations of wars, securing justice and respect for commitments already made, contributing to social progress, and improving the quality of life. Sixty years later the UN, which was designed as a strictly humanitarian organization in postwar years and supposed to unite nations, became a separate and independent player in global politics.... As things are going, one tends to agree with America that the outfit needs refurbishment. The findings of the Volker commission make that perfectly clear. Lately, America has had a lot of problems with the UN. As they dig into facts that may compromise the UN, the Americans, clearly, pursue their own selfish aims, but they have nothing to do with the missing $10 billion.... The problem is not that UN officials steal money or that some of its leaders and their relatives have been involved in scandals. The problem is that a costly project named the UN is a near zilch as far as its effectiveness is concerned. Over the years it has transformed into formidable bureaucracy with excellent political and economic ties in the world. The temptation is too strong to resist.... Aleksandr Yakovlev is not the only one who used the UN.... He is the first to have confessed. The story is sure to have a follow-up and may well ruin the UN, since, the way it is now, it serves nobody's purpose except perhaps its own.”
“A Russian Fall Guy In The UN”
Andrey Zlobin said on the front page of reformist Vremya Novostey (8/10): “Everything about the Yakovlev story looks well coordinated. It seems even weirder, as you realize that Aleksandr Yakovlev, not a key figure among the UN officials involved in the food-for-oil program, is the first to have been arrested.... The latest exposures have been damaging to the UN’s prestige.... The United States started the war in Iraq without UN authorization.... The scandal over the food-for-oil program, in a way, not only helps Washington save face but also gives it more reason to speak of a need for UN reform as the Americans see it. It is not for nothing that President Bush was so persistent in pushing John Bolton as a new U.S. envoy to the UN.”
ALBANIA: "Albania's Vote For Germany At UN"
Tirana independent, center-right sensationalist Koha Jone (8/4): "As a UN member country, Albania should give its vote to Germany in the latter's dispute with Italy over adding a new permanent member of the UN Security Council. It is clear that, in view of Tirana's good neighborly relations and intense economic relations with Italy, Albania might have made the political decision to vote for Rome. But Germany is a world economic power and Tirana should remember the importance of a strategic alliance with this country. Therefore, its vote should go to Germany.... The truth is that Prime Minister Nano has been playing with this vote, which is of extraordinary importance, since it will affect, to a certain extent, relations between the two countries. Nano had promised the Italian prime minister to vote for Italy, but then he went to Berlin and promised Chancellor Schroeder that Albania would vote for Germany in September. Italy is a friendly neighbor, but it is not such a power to deserve Albania's vote. Geo-political analyses show that Germany remains a growing world power and that, as a leader in Europe, it exerts a major influence on European developments."
AUSTRIA: "UN Reform In Jeopardy"
Foreign affairs writer for liberal daily Der Standard Christoph Prantner analyzed (8/10): "Kofi Annan, whom the Volcker Commission temporarily cleared of the charge of corruption in March, is now charged with failing to control his direct subordinates. Also, it is still not clear whether he knew of the flow of UN money to a Swiss company that had his son Kojo on its payroll. Thus weakened, Annan now has to manage the closing rounds of the negotiations on UN reform. In September, the 60th General Assembly and a global summit are on the agenda--and nothing less than the future of the UN and its right to exist is at stake. The undignified squabbling about the seats in the Security Council already went beyond the limits of diplomatic procedure--now, the whole reform could fail because its creator no longer has the credibility to strengthen the UN institutions."
"The Price of Obstinacy"
Commentator for liberal Der Standard (8/9) Andrea Waldbrunner wrote: "Despite dwindling prospects, Japan still wants a seat on the UN Security Council. Instead of finding a consensus with its neighbor, ever more powerful China, it prefers to steer a confrontation course and utter ill-considered sound bites. South Korea is essentially subjected to the same treatment. However, there is a chance for a new beginning in Japan and it is to Koizumi's credit that he induced reform into his country. That this cure might no longer work could be the price of his obstinacy."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Hitches Of UN Reform"
Adam Cerny editorialized in the business daily Hospodarske noviny (8/10): "The United Nations are facing a severe test. There are several components to it; each one of them sufficient to cause great trouble. The fresh report of the Independent Inquiry Committee of the UN Food-for Oil Program proving fraud in the program appeared at the moment when the U.S. is exerting pressure on improving the effectiveness of the UN.... Reforms of any colossus, such as the UN, are conditioned by one determining factor: sufficient pressure must build up first to push through reforms. Either there is such pressure in the case of the UN or it disappears depending on the interests of the superpowers in the UN Security Council. Enlarging their numbers would be desirable, because the world has changed since the UN was created. But any change of the UNSC means strengthening or diminishing someone's influence. That is why although the superpowers consent to the reform, any concrete proposal faces someone's criticism. If an agreement is hard to reach, the strongest often decides--and for the U.S., the biggest contributor to the UN's coffers, an effective UN apparatus is more important than the enlargement of the UNSC."
HOLLAND: “Ideologists At The UN”
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad editorialized (7/2): “America needs the UN very much in the near future when it comes to wrapping up the war in Iraq, with the fight against terrorism, and the global shift to new world powers such as China. Iraq serves as an example that American unilateralism often does not have the desired result. For its own interest, the American government will more often have to take one step back.... Bolton will have to use diplomatic skills. That will be the litmus test of his new career.”
JORDAN: “John Bolton Is America's Gift To A World That Is Burning”
Columnist Lamis Andoni wrote in independent Al-Ghad (8/8): “The U.S. strategy does not look at the present only, but also the far future. Removing all obstacles standing in the way of U.S. policy, particularly proving its solo role in the world, is part of its long-term strategy of preventing the rise of any other competitive power for decades to come. In view of this strategy, the existence of the United Nations, even if it is under the control of the sole political and military superpower, as well as the continued presence of international charters, is viewed as available means that could be used by rising powers, foremost China, to challenge U.S. influence in the future.... If Bolton’s appointment to the United Nations is America's message to the world of the process of officially terminating UN. decisions and tasks, the message that is sent to the United Nations by way of the appointment is even more serious. This is because appointing an enemy of the United Nations to represent the United States therein, which essentially means a declaration of organized sabotage inside the United Nations, marks an unprecedented step to entrench the beliefs of extremist American right wing that considers the United Nations an enemy and a threat to the American identity.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "UN Reform Requires Patience And Wisdom"
Official English-language China Daily (8/8): "Reforming the United Nations requires a comprehensive diagnosis of the challenges facing the world's largest multilateral organization. The reason for rethinking the structure of the world body, particularly the expansion of the Security Council, is the UN's failure to reflect today's global picture, which is vastly different to that of 1945 when it was created. Each proponent of reform has an agenda when it comes to expressing the shifts of the past 60 years and what changes should be made, in terms of structure and substance. It thus comes as no surprise that the African Union rejected a compromise deal on Security Council reform proposed by Japan, Germany, India and Brazil, known as the G-4.... UN reform will definitely have a huge impact on the future of the world. There is, to say the least, a need to patiently push ahead with the process to maintain solidarity among member states. Still, schisms remain over such thorny matters as which nations deserve permanent seats, how far the council should be expanded and whether new permanent members should be granted veto power. Given the huge divisions that have come to define the Herculean task of reforming the UN, the G-4's proposal, if implemented, would only widen rifts, split the body and even derail the whole process of discussions about reform. Broad consensus will not be reached overnight. Coercive deadlines for reform must not be set. To keep the wheels of the United Nations running, leaving time and room for full deliberation of areas of divergence is a must. Reform may be painful. But what is the point of UN reform if its members fail to agree on the topics that are of the greatest concern to them? The broadest consensus possible on important matters where divisions exist will provide the United Nations with a comprehensive blueprint with which to better meet the challenges of the present day, as well as the future."
"The Proposal Of The Group Of Four Will Lead To A Dead End"
Lin Limin, director of the Strategic Research Center of the China Modern Relations Research Institute wrote in official Renmin Ribao (8/6): "In the past few days, countries 'aspiring to be permanent members' of the UN Security Council were fighting tilt to tilt and their contention has reached one climax after another with a series of dramatic changes in the situation.... The most amazing thing was that China and the United States reached a common understanding and stated on 5 August that the two countries would join efforts to reject the 'Plan of the Group of Four.' Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Wang Guangya clearly said: The 'Plan of the Group of Four' is just like 'a blank sheet.' Thus the 'Plan of the Group of Four' can be said to be snubbed everywhere and be hemmed in on every side.... In the 21st century, people in the world are facing transnational challenges and need 'global efforts to promote peace.' The United Nations is an existing organization to unify 'global efforts to promote peace' and the reform of the UN Security Council should be conducive to meeting the challenges faced by the United Nations. Therefore, the reform of the UN Security Council must conform to democratic principles, accord with the interests and wishes of the overwhelming majority of countries, especially the large number of developing countries, and take regional balance into consideration. The reform of the UN Security Council must be conducive to promoting international harmony, peace and cooperation instead of causing constant quarrels in the United Nations. Finally, the reform must be favorable to raising the prestige and efficiency of the UN Security Council. For that reason, China calls for following a prudent and gradual way to reform the UN Security Council and taking the interests of all sides into consideration."
“Why Do The U.S. And China Conduct Strategic Dialogue?”
Chen Dongxiao commented in the China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (8/4): "The strategic dialogue symbolizes a new historical period of U.S.-China relations. The dialogue has two new characteristics: first, the topics are broad, practical and not limited to specific issues. Second, attendees are from various fields like foreign affairs, security, trade, and others. The strategic dialogue mechanism demonstrates the increasing level of China's national strength and international position. It also reflects the increasingly numerous aspects of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship that involve multilateral factors. Currently, the political uncertainties between the U.S. and China are still strong and the strategic trusts are fragile. The establishment of this strategic dialogue mechanism could help clarify the strategic position of the bilateral relationship's development and help maintain the healthy and stable development of the relationship. Systematic dialogue at the senior level is a characteristic of today's international relations. The U.S. and China have set up many discussions and cooperation mechanisms at many levels and in many fields. They need to have more strategic dialogue that removes doubts and seeks common ground.”
“It Is Meaningful That The U.S. And China Jointly Reject The Proposal Of The Group Of Four”
The Beijing-based newspaper sponsored by official intellectual publication Guangming Daily and Guangdon provincial official publication Nanfang Daily The Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao) commented (8/4): "The newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Bolton has reached a consensus with China's permanent representative to the UN, Wang Guangya, that the two countries would make a joint effort to oppose the proposal of Japan, Germany, India and Brazil regarding UN expansion. The United States’ behavior is not surprising. The U.S., whose control of the UN is much less than before, will not allow any other newly rising powers to divide its own power and influence within the UN. What's more, after pursuing the various UN issues currently on its plate of interests, the United States will not have the spirit to solve the issue of increasing permanent membership. This means this issue would thus be postponed for a long time.... The U.S. behavior to cooperate with China is a positive signal. It reflects the relationship's current condition, characterized by frequent economic disputes with deepening political cooperation. In addition, the American behavior shows the emphasis the U.S. places on China's role in international affairs. Such a gesture leads us to expect much from the Hu's upcoming meetings with Bush.”
“The Level At Which The China-U.S. Dialogue Is Conducted Remains To Be Raised”
Niu Xinchun commented in the official Xinhua News Agency international news publication International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (8/4): "Because China and the U.S. are such large countries with crisscrossing interests, it is better for them to talk than to fight. This first round of the China-U.S strategic dialogue clearly has indicated that the channel has much room to develop. It is therefore worth having high hopes. The current U.S. China strategic dialogue is not at as high a level as strategic dialogues between the U.S. and other countries. The level of the talks remains to be raised. From a historical perspective, so-called China-U.S. regular dialogues have never been regularized. The key to the strategic dialogues will be to avoid this trap. The strategic dialogue has an almost unbearably difficult task. In order to accelerate the China-U.S. relationship, a wider view is needed. It does not matter whether it is the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, or Deputy Secretary Zoellick, both express the need for the strategic dialogue to both get beyond concrete matters and achieve the goals of deepening understanding, promoting mutual trust, and expanding cooperation. Simply put, the goal is to reduce misgivings. At this stage, the form of the talks is weightier than their content and the symbolic meaning is greater than their substantive meaning. We hope that along with the continued reform of China-U.S. relations, this strategic dialogue will, in the future, step from a form phase into a substantive phase.”
“Zoellick Says The U.S.-China Strategic Dialogue Is Very Successful: The Two Countries Will Better Understand Each Other’s Interests”
Wang Chong commented in the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (8/3): "Open-minded and beneficial, this is the conclusion of the U.S. Desultory Secretary Zoellick on the first U.S.-China strategic dialogue. He also exposed that the second dialogue would be held in the end of 2005 in Washington. From Zoellick’s words on the press conference, one can see the meeting with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has a good effect. Zoellick said the meeting with Minister Li is meaningful. They have discussed many domestic issues of China. It is helpful for mutual understanding. China's foreign ministry announced that the dialogue is beneficial and constructive. The long-term, healthy and stable development of the U.S.-China relations meets the basic interests of the two countries. The extending of the U.S.-China cooperation has a great meaning for the peace of Asia-Pacific and the world for now and for the future.”
"Road To UN Reform To Be Winding"
Zhang Haibin and Li Yansong wrote in official English-language Beijing Daily (8/2): "As a leading force campaigning for Security Council reform, the G4 has chosen this year, the 60th anniversary of the world body's creation, as the optimum opportunity to be admitted to the exclusive club open only to the most powerful nations.... Without a consensus, any reform could lead to a weak or divided Security Council. International order is usually established as a result of war, with the world's structure being designed by the victors, as can be seen in the establishment of the European co-ordination mechanism, the League of Nations and the UN. In times of peace, to set up a new international order through discussion, consensus is certainly needed among at least a majority of members. With 191 member states, it is hugely difficult for the UN to reach a consensus on any matter. The more sensitive it is, the harder it is.... UN history also shows most reform measures have been carried out through extensive consultation. The principles of discussion and consensus have always been emphasized in decision-making. These days the principles and aims of the UN Charter still hold sway, which is why many member states do not want radical measures to be taken that will fundamentally change the direction of the world body. With a direct claim to veto power, the African Union draft proposal on the reform of the Security Council, which is not in accordance with the principle of gradual reform, has little hope of being passed.... Both history and today's reality show this round of UN Security Council reform may end in stalemate if broad consensus is not reached, and any reform of the world body in the future may be slow."
HONG KONG (SAR): "Increasing Permanent Seats In The UN Security Council Needs Further Discussion"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News commented in an editorial (8/6): "Chinese ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, said at the UN on August 3 that China and the U.S. were willing to work together to stop the proposal by Japan, Germany, India and Brazil to expand the Security Council. The reason is that both sides believe that the so-called G-4 nations proposal will only split up the 191 member states in the UN. Besides, the G-4 nations have not yet reached a compromise with the African Union. Thus, it is unlikely that the proposal of increasing permanent seats in the Security Council will be passed. The proposal will need further thought and discussion."
JAPAN: Be Prepared To Be A 'Good Loser': A Series Of Miscalculations In Japan's Diplomacy To Reform The UN Security Council"
Asahi Shimbun columnist Yoichi Funabashi wrote in 'weekly general interest' Shukan Asahi (8/5): "A year ago, it was not possible to predict that China would become so serious about crushing Japan's aspiration to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. China has been making the round of nations, particularly in Africa, pressuring them 'not to become cosponsors of the G-4's reform plan.' As a result, Japan and China have ended up engaging in a fierce battle of diplomacy behind the scenes in Africa. China's negative campaign has struck an immeasurable blow to Japan. In this respect, we must ask Prime Minister Koizumi to be responsible for the consequence of his visits to Yasukuni Shrine. That is because both China and South Korea have used the Yasukuni issue as a pretext for questioning the fitness of Japan [to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council]. China believes that it is the sole representative of East Asia, and has no intention of sharing that position with Japan.... Japan knew that, deep down inside, the United States was against the G-4's plan. But it was unexpected that the United States would announce its opposition stance so openly.... As the way things stand now, it seems quite likely that Japan's UN reform diplomacy will end up being a spectacular failure. But I still do not believe that it was a mistake for Japan to announce its aspiration to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The United Nations today is malfunctioning. Nuclear arms reduction, environment, development, and refugees--in every one of these issues, the old system ('ancien regime' [in French]) with the five permanent member states at the top is clearly defective, showing institutional fatigue. Injection of new blood, new ideas, and new enthusiasm by the G-4 nations should be very much welcomed.... In addition, we must reinforce our direct appeal to the U.S. Congress. I believe that the biggest hurdle this time for Japan's UN reform diplomacy has been the U.S. Congress. There is a limit to what the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs can do in diplomacy. The Japanese Diet, political parties, and politicians must strengthen their strategic dialogues and policy discussions on UN reform with their counterparts in the United States."
THAILAND: "Squabbles Put Reform At Risk"
Moderately conservative English-language Bangkok Post (8/1) editorialized: "For nearly a year, the members, leaders and supporters of the United Nations have unanimously agreed on the need for speed in reforming the world body. Last September, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the UN was at a fork in the road, with renewal in one direction and oblivion in the other. Last April, former prime minister Anand Panyarachun led a 'panel of eminent personalities' to recommend precisely, succinctly--and correctly--just why reforms were vital, and how they should proceed. It is therefore distressing to see a handful of countries put UN reform to the side while they fuss and spat over who will get the power. As the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members noted last week, UN reform has been reduced to bickering over the makeup of the UN Security Council.... The divisions over Asian representation alone could fill this entire newspaper page. This row is now totally out of hand, and it is clear that Mr. Annan's 'fork in the road' speech to UN members last September was an understatement. The true decision faced by the leaders of the countries in the United Nations is whether they are responsible enough to separate the two issues at hand: Security Council power, and true UN reform. The recent troubles of the UN--budget overruns, corruption, loss of respect, loss of moral authority over Iraq and human rights, an inability even to persuade members to sign pacts against terrorism--have nothing to do with the makeup of the Security Council. Though Thailand is an offender in certain areas, the real-life sight of it sitting in the dock at the UN Commission on Human Rights should say more about the need for UN reform than any speech. It is farcical that nations such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe decide the standards of world-class human rights. The tragicomedy of this body was the subject of one of Mr. Anan's panel's most devastating criticisms and prime exhibits of just why reform is so urgently needed.... Security Council reform is important, but UN reform is vital."
CENTRAL AND SOUTH ASIA
INDIA: "G4's Death A Big Blow For India"
The centrist Times of India (8/6) opined: "The Africans have confounded again. And India's hopes of getting into the UN Security Council via the G-4 route is now a no-brainer--it's time to bury the ambitious group. In the second time in as many months, the African Union (AU) refused to break ranks to endorse a G-4 resolution for expanding the UN Security Council, maybe even kissing good-bye to the group's UNSC prospects in the near future. No amount of 'persuasion' by India, Japan, Germany and Brazil could sway the AU.... Friday's statement of 'regret' by MEA 'that the extraordinary AU summit was unable to endorse an AU/G-4 draft framework resolution, based on the understanding arrived at between the G-4 foreign ministers' was only a mild indication of the shock with which the decision was actually greeted in New Delhi.... It was a lesson in how India is out of touch with Africa. In many ways, it is a personal setback for external affairs minister Natwar Singh, who had clocked thousands of miles flying from London to Dakar and New York, trying valiantly to use India's so-called 'traditional links' with the Africans to bring them around.... It's a sad comment on India's supposed romance with Africa, and the halcyon days of NAM and South-South lovefest, but equally a reflection that the cheque-book diplomacy which was Japan's forte no longer works. What happens now? Well, an embarrassment of riches in terms of draft resolutions for UNSC expansion are floating around the General Assembly. Apart from G-4, there is a UFC or Coffee Club resolution introduced last week and an African resolution. The choices now are pretty stark. Given the opposition to each other and the U.S.-China pact to nix G-4, none of the resolutions have any credible chance of going through. Where does that leave everybody? The Japanese will most likely leave their fate to the U.S., which has promised to support them even if they killed the G-4. Germany's chances are negligible to non-existent, particularly after the U.S. stopped them short by refusing to endorse them. As countries with plateauing economies and declining populations, their subsequent chances are slim. India is in a unique position. As its economy and stature grows, India's chances as a natural candidate becomes stronger. In many ways, the value of the G-4 exercise has buoyed India's confidence levels--when it joined the grouping it was the weakest of the lot. But in the following months, India has been pleasantly surprised to find that support has been more forthcoming that it had thought, even if the G-4 grouping did not excite many people."
“Unfit For The Job"
The nationalist Hindustan Times noted (8/4): "The Bush administration's keenness to have a UN envoy in place in time for the opening of this year's session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September may also have another dimension. Proposals for reform will be the most important agenda on the table before the UNGA. At a time when the UN stands discredited by a long list of scandals--including the oil for food intrigue, the sexual abuse of civilians by UN peacekeepers in Congo, the failure to intervene in Rwanda, Bosnia and now Darfur--the world must collectively think of reforming it. Although Washington supports reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC), it doesn't think much of plans to add ten new members, including six permanent members.... [Bush] never made any bones about his dislike of the UN as an institution, even openly stating in 2000 that the UNSC should have only one member, the U.S., 'because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world.' This is unfortunate, since such violent unilateralism is the antithesis of what the UN stands for.”
PAKISTAN: "China's Veto Warning"
The centrist national English daily The News (8/9) editorialized: "The global division on United Nations reforms, particularly pertaining to the expansion of the Security Council, sharpened after Sunday's announcement by China that it would veto the proposal peddled by the G-4 states--India, Brazil, Germany and Japan. There are varying positions on UN reforms, with no attempt in sight to reconcile the diverse opinions on an effort that was initiated to correct a heavily skewed division of power in global politics, at least to a certain degree.... Having justified its positioning in the interest of the developing countries, China is better placed to facilitate consensus among the developing countries over the reforms, as well as act as a bridge between the permanent members of the Council and the developing world. An international agreement on the reforms, as propagated by the Consensus Group, is a must to save the effort that is meant to unify the world. The existing perplexity and lack of leadership are only creating divisions and generating groups that are only harming the interest of the developing countries, giving an opportunity to some countries to try to hijack the reforms agenda."
"Pakistan, China Join Hands To Defeat G-4"
Center-right national English-language daily The Nation (8/8): "Pakistan and China are in close contact through diplomatic channels to develop consensus on UN's proposed reforms, said Chinese official sources. Both the countries follow a joint strategy, not allowing the G-4 or group of four countries to seek expansion of the Security Council by forced voting. We believe that voting on the Council's reform will be 'highly divisive' and will be in the final analysis a fruitless exercise, the sources said while talking to APP here Sunday.
BRAZIL: “Good-Bye Council”
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo (8/6) editorialized: “An unexpected alliance between the U.S. and China has practically buried the GOB’s ambition of obtaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Following a quick meeting between the new U.S. ambassador in the organization--the hard liner John Bolton--and China's representative Wang Guangya, both nations decided to oppose the reform proposal presented by the G-4.... China does not accept promoting its regional rival Japan because of still unhealed WWII wounds. The U.S. makes restrictions to Germany's entry in the SC. Berlin's inclusion would give three seats to the European Union, and in addition, President Bush has not yet come to terms with the German government's opposition to the war in Iraq.... If all this weren't enough, leaders of African nations, which according to the G-4 project would get two permanent seats, have decided not to support the proposal.... Not even the worst critics of Brazilian diplomacy would have thought of so adverse a scenario for the plans to obtain a permanent seat for Brazil at the SC, which recently became an obsession. The most deplorable aspect is that to achieve that goal, Brazilian diplomacy sacrificed principles and long term relations that were carefully cultivated.”
CHILE: “Quo Vadis (Whither Goest Thou?) UN”
Government-owned, but editorially independent La Nacion (7/31) ran an article by columnist Jose Rodriguez Elizondo: "On its 60th anniversary, the UN is suffering from the syndrome of irrelevance...which began with the UN refusal to support George H. Bush's previous war in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. Following Clinton, who valued multilateralism, George W. Bush took up the unfinished task, disregarding the UN at the first opportunity. And that opportunity arrived tragically with the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York. To the relief of Bush junior, the UN secretary general was no longer the impudent figure his father had to deal with.... The results are there for us to see. Bush is waging war not to strengthen democracies that truly exist, but to instill democracy in other civilizations, reminding us of the medieval crusades or a science fiction author trying to implant the future in societies of the past. In this sense, he has gone further than the UN would have intended and beyond that which Western civilization permits. The worst part is that he does not know how to end this adventure, while the UN continues to seek its destiny.”
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