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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Kofi Annan addresses U.N. corruption

Kofi Annan had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today. Much of is is eminently fiskable, but I won't do that here. Instead, I'll focus on his conclusion which I very much agree with:

In my eight years as secretary-general, I had already done a lot--with the support of member states, often led by the U.S.--to make the U.N. more coherent and efficient. Now we need to make it more transparent and accountable--not only to diplomats representing member governments, but also directly to the public. The U.N. cannot expect to survive into the 21st century unless ordinary people throughout the world feel that it does something for them--helping to protect them against conflict (both civil and international), but also against poverty, hunger, disease and the erosion of their natural environment. And in recent years, bitter experience has taught us that a world in which whole countries are left prey to misgovernment and destitution is not safe for anyone. We must turn the tide against disease and hunger, as well as against terrorism, the proliferation of deadly weapons and crime--starting, urgently, with decisions from the Security Council to end the abominable crimes in Darfur and bring war criminals to international justice. This September, we have a real opportunity to make the U.N. more useful to all its members. Leaders from all over the world are coming to a U.N. summit in New York. I shall put before them an agenda of bold but achievable proposals for making the U.N. work better, and the world fairer and safer. I know that Americans want to do that as much as any people on earth. More than any other people, they have the power to do it--if they listen to and work with others, and take the lead in a concerted effort. I believe that they will give us that lead. I look forward to September with hope and excitement.
I fully support these goals and this idea. I have some concern however, that Kofi Annan is not the man to lead such a reform. I have equal concern, that even if he is the right man, the character of many of the member states, and the philosophy of the U.N. beurocrats is such that these reforms will be difficult to achieve


Blogger The probligo said...

Dave, there was just prior to Christmas a news release covering the working committee of the UN proposals. There wa slittle in the way of detail.

As I recall, the changes proposed to the Charter include the right for the UN to "actively be involved in the internal affairs of a nation" given due prior process. In the accompanying news analysis, there was specific attribution to Rwanda as an example of the situation where that might be used.

That one change will, in my opinion, go far to improve the effectiveness of the UN in international affairs.

2/23/2005 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I am willing to entertain anything.

However, I think that the most important thing the U.N. can do is develop more transparancy and accountability. The records for Oil-For-Food, for example, should have been open to the public from the beginning in my opinion.

In addition, U.N. personnel need to be held to high standards and prosecuted (although I am not sure by who) for corruption.

If they can get their own house clean, I will be more willing to support them in cleaning up other places.

2/23/2005 11:22:00 AM  

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