UN UNIVERSITY LECTURES: 11
from the Standpoint of
the United States1
Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations
City University of New York, NY, USA
A Presentation Made at the United Nations University
on 25 September 1995
Introduction: Implications of the 1994 Congressional Elections
The UN Reform Issue
Background on Reform
The Cold War and Its Aftermath
The US and UN Reform Historically
The UN Peacekeeping Issue ... 18
The UN in the Socio-economic Areas
Current Status of US Thinking on UN Reform
Introduction: Implications of the 1994 Congressional Elections
Any discussion in 1995-1996 of the US attitude towards the United Nations and its reform must take into account the 1994 congressional elections, which radically altered the configuration of American politics. After forty years, control of the US Congress shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party.
Within the new Republican-dominated Congress, the United Nations is held in very low esteem, particularly with regard to its peacekeeping undertakings.2 Speaker Newt Gingrich characterized the United Nations as a failed institution with "grotesque pretensions, a totally incompetent instrument any place that matters."3 Senator Robert Dole, Republican leader in the Senate, when launching his bid for the party's presidential nomination, received the loudest applause from his hometown crowd when he that, as president, "American policies will be determined by us, not by the United Nations."4 As part of the Republican "Contract With America," the platform on which Republican congressional candidates ran in the 1994 election, the House of Representatives passed the National Security Revitali-zation Act, radically curtailing American financial contributions and which, according to the US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine K. Albright, would make it impossible for the United Nations to manage or sustain peacekeeping operations. As of January 1996, this legislation has not yet been finalized and President Clinton has been advised by his secretaries of state and defense to exercise his veto if it reaches him in its present form.5
The change in Congress not only brought many new players into leadership positions but it also signaled a preoccupation with domestic politics, especially over the mounting national debt, taxes, government spending, and the budget. A form of neo-isolationism, evident in the halls of Congress and in the popular mood, projects a new American international posture that leans towards unilateralism rather than multilateralism, vitally affecting the United States position on UN reform. In this setting, foreign policy in general, and the United Nations in particular, are not seen as priority concerns except as objects of budget-cutting.
Caught in the maelstrom of congressional budget-slashing is the United Nations. In keeping with the usual budgetary process, a series of appropriation bills are working their way through Congress.6 It should be noted that foreign affairs and the United Nations are not singled out for cutting, since the prevalent thinking in the 104th Congress is that budgetary reductions are compelling in virtually every account. But, as will be noted shortly, the United Nations and other international programs are more vulnerable than others.
While the exact final figures are yet to be determined, it is clear that there will be deep cuts in US contributions to the United Nations and all international organizations. Even before the new Republican-dominated Congress took office, the previous Congress legislated a unilateral reduction in the US peacekeeping assessment from 31 percent to 25 percent.7 This cut represented a harbinger of things to come. Early in December 1995, both houses of Congress approved the appropriation bill (H.R. 2076) that covers US contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations for fiscal year 1996 as part of the appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary and related agencies. The figures adopted represented approximate reductions of 50 percent for peacekeeping and 25 percent for the UN's regular budget from the budget estimates requested by the administration. The bill was vetoed by President Clinton primarily because it proposed to eliminate some high priority domestic items for the president such as the community policing program, but also because the president felt that the cuts in funding to international organizations and peacekeeping activities were "unwise" since it "would undermine our global leadership . . . and our ability to support important activities, such as the nonproliferation of weapons, the promotion of human rights, and the control of infectious disease like the Ebola virus."8
The intricate budget maneuverings that have preoccupied both the executive and legislative branches of the government leading to the budgetary impasse and government shutdowns are beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say, appropriations for the United Nations and other international organizations are not the most critical issues within the overall battle of the budget. This, however, does not diminish the seriousness of the consequences for the United Nations and other international bodies. Sharp restrictions are in the offing on US involvement in UN peacekeeping operations; payment to the UN regular budget will be conditional on reform of the UN procurement process; voluntary contributions to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be drastically reduced and circumscribed. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seem to be spared a reduction in the amount requested in the president's budget, but UNICEF is threatened with a 25 percent cut in its allocation if it engages in certain activities not viewed favorably in Congress.
The major exception to this budgetary trend is the strong will within Congress for an increase in military appropriations, despite opposition of the Clinton administration and that of the leaders in the Pentagon. In contrast to the military-industrial complex, the United Nations lacks a strong constituency in the United States. People in Congress believe that a vote against the UN is cost-free politically. Although spending for international affairs represents less than 1.5 percent of the overall federal budget, it is perhaps the most vulnerable area of the budget because of this lack of a constituency.
To be fair, it must be recognized that the negative attitude towards the United Nations in the American Congress predates the 1994 elections. Even before the previous Congress had mandated the cut in American contributions to UN peacekeeping operations, skepticism, despair, disregard, and even hostility were commonplace. A perplexing question to most non-Americans is how the United Nations, which was essentially a creation of the vision and leadership of the United States as World War II came to an end and in which American influence and direction today are unrivaled, should now be treated with such disdain. The American public and the average politician generally do not think of their government as dominating the United Nations, which is quite contrary to the perception held throughout most of the world. In contrast, the impression is conveyed by many voices, strident and otherwise, in the media and political circles that American foreign policy interests are subordinated to the United Nations.9
Although a consensus may be said to exist today in the United States that the United Nations "needs fixing," there is no single American view regarding UN reform. A diversity of perspectives, ranging from constructive concern to outright rejection, exist within the country on the United Nations itself, its raison d']etre, its primary function, its role in world affairs, and its place in US foreign policy.
The UN Reform Issue
The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations has been viewed by many as a fitting moment to bring about significant change in the organization. Established in 1945 by the victorious allies in World War II, the organization reflected the thinking of these powers on how best to organize the world to obviate the outbreak of another world conflict. The UN Charter and the UN system were products of the time and reflected their realities, hence the inclusion of the "enemy states" provision and the primacy given to the Security Council and its five permanent members in the area of maintenance of international peace and security.
Conditions have changed since 1945. Membership of the organization has grown from 51 to 185. Certain organs, like the Trusteeship Council, have outlived their usefulness; another principal organ, the Economic and Social Council, has been found wanting in carrying out its basic coordinative functions; duplication and redundancy have crept in between the United Nations and some specialized agencies as well as among General Assembly committees and its subsidiary bodies; and the Security Council has been criticized for not being representative of the changes in UN membership and the lack of transparency of its operations.
Security has also taken on new meanings, as attested to by the statement issued by the 1992 Security Council Summit, which included within the concept of international peace and security, "non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields" that it declared "have become threats to peace and security." Further, it asserted that "the United Nations as a whole, working through the appropriate bodies, needs to give the highest priority to the solution of those matters."10 The scope of UN activities has been broadened far beyond the original intent. The world has appreciably changed and from many quarters has come the call to rethink the premises and structure of the United Nations, to bring them up to date. Serious students of the United Nations have always been aware that the organization, born at a unique moment in world history, would need to be changed to keep up with changing circumstances.
Calls for UN reform are not new. As an inter-governmental system, organized according to the inhibiting principles of sovereign equality of states and equitable geographic distribution, the United Nations has been vulnerable and prone to criticism from the very outset of its existence as it sought to implement the idealistic and all-encompassing agenda enunciated in the UN Charter. Criticisms of the UN's managerial inefficiency, unwieldy bureaucracy, redundant programs, waste and corruption have been heard nearly as long as the organization has been in existence, perhaps unfairly given the fact that this is not a hierarchically structured body with clear lines of authority and with even minimal control over its human and financial resources. However, the call has taken on a special urgency as the United Nations passes its fiftieth anniversary because at this moment the United Nations stands on the verge of bankruptcy11 and the organization is in the throes of a depression with its very future in doubt.
Since the relative stability of the Cold War era evaporated, the uncertainty marking world affairs is reflected in the current precarious state of the United Nations.12 The organization finds itself overburdened and stretched beyond its human and financial resources as a consequence of the variety of peacekeeping operations established by the Security Council, with scant attention paid to how these are to be carried out. The faltering of the UN operations in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia provided renewed fodder for the calls for UN reform. Although the crisis was brought on by peacekeeping deficiencies, the call for reform spilled over to all aspects of UN activities. It has become patently clear that business as usual cannot continue at the United Nations.
To cope with this critical situation, the UN has initiated efforts to streamline its operations internally through the efforts of two offices, that of Internal Oversight Services, headed by Under-Secretary-General Karl Theodore Paschke, charged with ferreting out waste and fraud, and that of Joseph E. Connor, under-secretary-general for administration and management, whose task is to effect savings in personnel and other costs.13 In addition, the United Nations has sought to find ways of sharing its peacekeeping responsibilities with other instruments, such as regional organizations or individual and groups of states contracted by the Security Council to carry out a particular mission.
Reform areas fall into several intertwined categories: the Secretariat, organizational structure, peace and security, economic and social programs, and lastly budget and finance, which affects all the others and is itself vitally affected by them. Movement towards UN reform has been slow to this point. However, as the financial situation threatens the future of the organization, calls for reform have risen from many quarters throughout the world and in the United States. But there is no agreement on what about the United Nations is to be reformed and how it is to be carried out.
Background on Reform
When American attitudes towards UN reform are considered, one must distinguish between the very small group of highly informed specialists in the field of international organization (practitioners, academics, foreign policy specialists, etc.) - the foreign policy elite - and the broad public, including political elites not involved directly in the field of foreign policy. To understand the vacillation of the American polity with regard to the United Nations, a brief examination of the US-UN relations in historical perspective is in order. American influence was paramount in shaping the original United Nations system. The enthusiasm with which the United States and its people greeted the founding of the United Nations, as manifested in the near-unanimous vote in the US Senate approving the UN Charter and the provisions of the United Nations Participation Act of 1945, has given way to disillusionment. This change in outlook did not happen precipitously but took place gradually over the course of decades, culminating in the current mood. Neither did this transformation proceed in a straight line but rather it took the form of a zigzag, love-hate relationship.14 As the year 1995 drew to a close, uncertainty regarding the future of the US attitude towards the United Nations was in the air. On the one side, a bill, "The United Nations Withdrawal Act of 1995," was introduced by a freshman Republican congressman from Florida15 and an article in The New Republic stated categorically that the UN "should not be reformed" but "should be abandoned."16 In contrast, a public opinion poll conducted in early December unexpectedly confirmed an earlier poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations: support for an active role by the United States in the United Nations was registered. According to John C. Whitehead, chairman of UNA-USA and former deputy secretary of state, "these findings suggest that America's political leaders need not be timid about supporting the United Nations" since "by decisive margins, the public favors much greater reliance on the U.N., and support meeting our financial commitments to it."17
Over the years, the attitude of the American government and its people towards the United Nations has wavered between enthusiastic support and disenchantment. It must be recognized that in official Washington circles, not unlike similar quarters in other capitals in the world, the United Nations is viewed as a tool of the country's foreign policy, or as Abba Eban put it, "International Organization, . . . after all, is a mechanism, not a policy or principle. . . ."18
The United Nations organization emerged in 1945 largely as a creation of the Western World. Its Charter for the most part embodied the principles of Western liberal internationalism. Its rationale was Western and it was deeply rooted in the values and the cultural patterns of the West. The liberal internationalism of the United Nations was quite in tune with American postwar idealism. The optimistic mood of the New Deal and of winning the war was carried over to the United Nations.
From the American perspective, the United Nations was viewed positively. The veto insured the United Nations Security Council could not act inimically to American interests. Moreover, it provided an opportunity to build a harmonious and prosperous world order in its own liberal image. As the leading Western postwar power, certainly the most powerful economically, and basking in the aura of Franklin D. Roosevelt's worldwide charisma, the United States was the dominant force in the United Nations during the early years of its existence, as it is again today as the remaining superpower in the world.
At the outset, the United States government viewed the United Nations as a most useful instrument in the pursuit of its national interests, which it saw as coinciding with a genuine world community (in the words of the Charter, "a center for harmonizing the actions of nations"). This means stable and friendly relations between states, machinery to respond to immediate threats to peace, and programs to promote a basic requirement of a peaceful world, and the economic and social advancement of all peoples. Underlying this position is the basic premise that there are human problems transcending national boundaries that require an institutionalized global approach.
From the American standpoint, the first decade of the United Nations proved one of positive achievement. Through the efforts of the Security Council, Soviet troops were withdrawn from Iran's Azerbaijan province, France withdrew its troops from Syria and Lebanon, and a multilateral effort under US leadership foiled North Korea's invasion of South Korea. Achievements of this period included the disposition of the Italian colonies by a binding vote of the General Assembly, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Uniting for Peace Resolution, the launching of economic development and technical assistance programs under American leadership, the creation of the various functional and regional commissions under the Economic and Social Council, the contributions of the Bretton Woods agencies towards the creation of a stable postwar international economy, the initiation of efforts to control nuclear weapons through the Baruch Plan and President Eisenhower's "open skies" program which was adopted by the General Assembly. In addition, during this period the United Nations played a crucial role in the achievement of independence by Indonesia and Israel, and started the process of decolonization. In these early days of the United Nations, the United States, as the state with the greatest capacity to pay, contributed nearly 40 percent of the UN's relatively small budget of $20,000,000.
The Cold War and Its Aftermath
The legacy of the Cold War is a critical factor in understanding the shift in the American popular and congressional attitude towards the United Nations. An uneasy stability of sorts, attributable to the nuclear deterrence balance, hovered over the superpower-dominated world throughout the Cold War. The United Nations organization reflected the bipolar world as one arena, among others, on which the ideological and tactical struggle of the Cold War was contested. Both superpowers sought to exploit the world body in furthering their respective interests. The Soviet Union came to espouse the cause of the nonaligned Third World states as one way to undercut the United States, while the latter led in the efforts to advance UN efforts in the human rights field, as part of its counterattack.
By the mid-1970s positions of the USSR and the United States relative to the majority within the General Assembly had reversed. The USSR voted against the US-led majority in the early days of the UN, but by the 1970s it was voting with a new majority in about two-thirds of the roll call votes, usually against the position of the United States. Different parts of the Third World became disenchanted with the United States for a variety of reasons. A consequence of this was that in those bodies where the rule of majority voting operated, the United Nations came under the domination of the Third World and the Soviet bloc working in tandem. In the mid-1980s, any proposition on which a considerable number of Third World countries and the Soviet Union could agree became United Nations policy. By generally throwing its weight behind most Third World initiatives, particularly those directed against the West, the USSR succeeded in attaining a very influential position in the General Assembly. Coupled with this was the Soviet Union's use of the United Nations and its Secretariat as a base from which to carry out espionage against the United States. How egregious was this espionage was disclosed by the Soviet UN Under-Secretary-General Arkady Schevchenko after his defection in 1978.19
Gradually, as the Soviet-Third World coalition dominated the UN General Assembly, the United Nations and multilateralism became anathema to many in the United States. From shortly after the early halcyon days, there emerged in Congress what has been called a "reflexively anti-UN camp."20 The influence of this group was broadened as both the USSR and the Third World were increasingly perceived as acting irresponsibly in the United Nations and contrary to American national interests.
Contributing to the American disenchantment was the failure of the General Assembly in 1964 to invoke Article 19 to deny the Soviet Union its vote in the Assembly after it had fallen more than two years in arrears in the payment of its financial obligations.21 A feeling set in that the United Nations was not living up to expectations and that it was acting contrary to American interests. In the words of Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, when he was America's UN permanent representative in the 1970s, the United Nations was a "dangerous place."22 Impatience grew with the United Nations and led to such congressional measures as the Kemp-Moynihan Amendment of 1979 that prohibited the US to pay its share of UN funds for liberation movements such as the PLO, and the Kassebaum Amendment of 1985 prescribing a 20 percent cut in American contributions to international organizations unless their budgetary procedures were sharply reformed. The estrangement between the United States and the United Nations was sharpened during the first term of President Ronald Reagan and Jeane Kirkpatrick's pugnacious tenure as US permanent representative.23 Yearly, Congress cut the US assessed contributions to the UN system, creating the chronic "arrearages" situation where actual US contributions to the UN regular budget and to the specialized agencies fell substantially below legally binding obligations.
An additional irritant from the American viewpoint was UNESCO. Under the domination of the Third World majority, the anti-American atmosphere was carried over from the General Assembly; particularly annoying to the US government was the very loose manner in which the organization was administered and its budget managed. Notwithstanding the many positive aspects of UNESCO scientific programs, which were recognized among specialists in the United States, and the fact that managerial deficiencies were slowly ameliorated, the stigma of an inefficient international organization dominated by an anti-US majority led to American withdrawal from the organization.24
To sum up, the Cold War experience in universal multilateral settings had implanted in the recesses of the American psyche the idea that the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, with few exceptions, were dens of hostility to American interests. At the same time, it should be noted that opinion polls steadily produced heavy affirmation on such questions as whether the US should remain a member of the United Nations.25 One of the leading American authorities in public opinion polling, assessing the public mood following the 1992 presidential elections, wrote as follows:
The public remains ambivalent toward the United Nations-far more positive than in the era when it was dominated by anti-American Third World rhetoric-but still ambivalent. There is no active demand by the American public that the United Nations take more initiative as the world's policeman. But there is latent willingness to support such policy. If Americans do not want the United States to do the job unilaterally-yet feel some responsibility for getting it done-the United Nations is the most credible candidate for the task. Americans are willing to be sold on this proposition, to have their questions and resistance addressed, and their enthusiasm sparked. This will not happen spontaneously. It will require active leadership. The potential nevertheless exists, if America's leaders wish to take advantage of it.26
Briefly, with the end of the Cold War, particularly after the Gulf War, the image of the United Nations improved markedly in the United States, and it appeared that a US-UN rapprochement was underway. Conventional wisdom proclaimed that at long last the United Nations, absent the East-West rivalry, was functioning as was originally intended. For a short period during the Bush and Clinton administrations, efforts to clear up the arrearages problem were undertaken. Serious steps were taken within the United Nations to constrain the alleged run-away budget process that was so vexing to the United States. When Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali assumed office in January 1992, a pervasive feeling in diplomatic circles and in the United States was that the time of the United Nations had finally arrived. Instead of the Cold War stalemate, the organization was coming off a series of successes in Namibia, the Iran-Iraq War, Cambodia, Central America, and the Gulf War. President Bush proclaimed a "new world order," and shortly after Clinton assumed the presidency his ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, declared that the Cold War's end placed "the United Nations in the center of the effort to guide and safeguard a suddenly chaotic world."27
But this euphoria evaporated as the UN operations in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda faltered. The death of eighteen US rangers in the ill-fated attempt to capture General Aidid in Somalia unleashed a firestorm in the US Congress, the American media, and the public.
Public sentiment was overwhelmingly anti-UN, and the prestige of the United Nations plummeted to an unprecedented low.
Realization that the end of the Cold War did not leave the world conflict-free but with a new set of almost intractable problems has touched off what can be aptly called a great debate in the United States and many other parts of the world. This debate is about redefining the institutions of the post-Cold War international system - the system of bilateral and multilateral alliances and most notably the family of organizations that make up the United Nations as well as other international cooperative arrangements. This "redefining debate" takes many forms - over the future of UN peacekeeping, the role of NATO and regional organizations, the problems of failed states, human rights, human security, state sovereignty, the global economy, and many more. It is taking place in many venues, above all in the United States Congress. Perhaps no aspect of this debate is more important than the future of US-UN relations and particularly the future attitude of the United States towards internationalism and institutions for international cooperation in this increasingly interdependent world.
In this debate, such concepts as security, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance have been found wanting in the face of a spate of unprecedented conflicts erupting in parts of the world where pent-up tensions are no longer being held at bay by the heavy hand of the Cold War order. A new definition of security is being thrashed out. The acceptance of the idea that security is a matter of mutual concern and cooperative action is experiencing great difficulty, as is the effort to broaden the concept of security to encompass the growing problems of socio-economic inequity, poverty, environmental degradation, population pressures, human rights deprivation - all subsumed under the notion of "human security."28 A central question concerning the future of the United Nations in this uncertain climate is whether the mission of the organized international community is to foster an international order that addresses or shies away from such issues. While this debate, which has been intimately related to the question of UN reform and restructuring, arrests attention within the world of diplomacy and academia, it has taken on the form of UN-bashing in many circles in the United States.
Since the loss of the enmities of the Cold War, which had provided the United States with a unifying cause around which policy makers could rally most of the American public, an ambivalence has set in over the country's role and responsibilities in global affairs. Resistance has taken the form of budgetary cutbacks affecting all aspects of US international involvements: American embassies, consulates, and overseas libraries have been curtailed, development assistance has been reduced, commitments to help Russia dismantle its nuclear weapons have been ignored, as have promised loans and guarantees to Mexico.
The US and UN Reform Historically
It is worth recalling that the matter of UN reform or restructuring has been constant over the years in the annals of the American relationship with the United Nations. Almost from the very outset, the idea that the UN machinery needs improvement existed. Over the course of five decades, numerous reports, studies, congressional hearings, investigative newspaper series, and reform proposals appeared, all calling for change. The question of UN reform has always been on the agenda of the United States. Of course, there was no single concept of how this reform should or could be implemented.
On one extreme, the international idealists, intellectual descendants of Woodrow Wilson, are intent on building a just, peaceful world order based on liberal democratic principles. Their view is of an increasingly interdependent world and the commensurate evolution of international institutions, structures, and policies. Here, reform means broadening the scope of United Nations activities, strengthening the role of a more independent secretary-general, and providing the United Nations with a degree of fiscal autonomy all designed to further a global agenda. Their aim in reform is a stronger and more effective United Nations. Today, this group is a mere remnant of what it was in the past.
On the other extreme are those suspicious of collective decision-making, who view the United Nations as a multinational fantasy, inimical to American interests, and who demonize the organization as the incarnation of dreaded world government.29 On this side of the spectrum, the best reform of the United Nations would be its ceasing to exist or at least reining in peacekeeping operations and curtailing much of its activities in the social and economic realms.
Between these two extremes lies the very large center, less dogmatic pro or con the United Nations. The most articulate part of this center is occupied by intellectuals who approach the United Nations with a healthy skepticism. To this group, "UN reform is the sense of changing the organization so that its capacities to fulfill the goals of its Charter are strengthened, %and? has been a matter of concern and the object of serious research."30
Only vaguely aware of the reform issue, this large center does not have any fixed notions of what in the UN should be reformed or how it is to be carried out except in the area of serious administrative and management reform. It must be admitted that there is an absence of strong incentives for UN reform in the general political arena.
UN reform per se has not arrested the attention of the broad American public. In contrast, the United Nations itself has become the center of debate and the subject of discredit because of its perceived ineffectiveness in Rwanda, Somalia, and Bosnia. For most Americans, the question is not "how to reform the UN" but simply "why should the United States pay such a large share of the UN costs," uttered without any awareness of what are the actual costs, particularly in comparison to other government expenditures.
In political circles, that is among elected legislative officials and their staffs, the United Nations is decidedly unpopular. Public opinion polls show a broad support for the UN, but it is not a high priority item for most. The United Nations is caught up in the American people's anti-government mood. In 1995, the American people do not like Congress nor the presidency and they do not like the United Nations. In general, they do not like government very much, and they are not respectful of political institutions but rather suspicious of them. The UN as a political institution is treated in similar fashion.
The question of UN costs and fiscal responsibility is one aspect of UN reform that has for many years been high on the agenda of the US Congress in dealing with the United Nations. Over the years, the American contribution to the United Nations was a contentious issue between the executive and legislative branches. Until the Reagan incumbency, efforts to curtail the American contribution were largely initiated in Congress.31
Under Reagan, the executive branch assumed the leadership of the anti-UN policy, "resorting to tactics far stronger than rhetorical condemnation," namely "withholding a sizable portion of its sizable financial assessment."32
The financial question was also a concern outside the halls of Congress. As far back as 1957, the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, a private body of distinguished American citizens - practitioners and scholars - with great expertise in foreign affairs, noted that for the future development of the United Nations it is necessary for the organization "to undergo a budgetary expansion of revolutionary proportions" and that the United Nations "promote continuous and intensive exploration of possible new sources of revenue to supplement governmental contributions."33
The situation today has changed somewhat. Most friends of the United Nations would agree that alternative sources of revenue are needed but the notion of "budgetary expansion" would find little support.
The Reagan withholding policy and the effect of the Kassebaum amendment precipitated a crisis in the 1980s that intensified the perpetual financial difficulties of the United Nations. To meet this challenge, the General Assembly in 1985 took a step in the direction of reform when it established the Group of High-Level Intergovernmental Experts (Group of 18) to recommend measures for improving the efficiency of the UN's administrative and financial operations.34
This was followed, at the next General Assembly session, with Resolution 41?213, which called for the adoption of critical budget decisions by consensus, thus giving the United States a de facto veto over the UN budget. In Congress, this reform received a lukewarm reception. UN detractors, inside and outside Congress, were not convinced that the 1985-1986 budgetary reform actions of the General Assembly were sufficient. They argued that the main issue of UN reform was not budgetary, managerial, inefficiency, or structural - but substantive. To them, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council were in the hands of an irresponsible majority that were bent on pursuing policies inimical to American interests.35
The UN Peacekeeping Issue
When Bill Clinton assumed the US presidency, hopes for positive American leadership in the United Nations ran high. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton spoke of a more forceful American involvement in Bosnia, advocating lifting the embargo against the Muslims and air strikes against the Serbs.36
As noted above, a few months after taking office, his UN ambassador, Madeleine Albright, asserted that "the United Nations is in the center of the effort to guide and safeguard a suddenly chaotic world."37
In the summer of 1993, while the Clinton administration was shaping its foreign policy, according to The New York Times, it was "considering an expanded role in United Nations peacekeeping operations that would include having Americans serve under foreign commanders on a regular basis."38
As part of a policy of "assertive multilateralism," the administration was seeking to establish guidelines for the utilization of American forces within a UN framework. The mere fact that the Clinton administration was considering these options elicited concern from many in Congress, including influential members of the president's own party. Signs that the Clinton administration was listening carefully to the dissenting voices in Congress were evident when in September 1993 President Clinton told the General Assembly that "if the American people are to say yes to peacekeeping, the United Nations must know when to say no."39
This was before the debacle in Somalia in October 1993.
President Clinton has been gingerly wrestling with the peacekeeping issue from the earliest days of coming into office. He has found it difficult to carry out the positions he enunciated during the 1992 presidential campaign, such as the creation of a rapid deployment force that would be on instant call to the United Nations. During the first six months in office, the Clinton administration seemed to be groping for policy looking towards a greater US role in UN peacekeeping. In June 1993, it was preparing a new set of criteria for US involvement in UN peacekeeping operations that would provide for a much wider role for US military personnel. The proposed policy constituted an endorsement of many of the ambitious proposals suggested by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in his Agenda for Peace.40
As peacekeeping policy was being shaped inside the administration, voices were heard from within Congress, at that time still under control of the Democratic Party, against greater American participation in UN peacekeeping activities.41 In an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ambassador Albright told the senators that "it is essential that we work together to reestablish that consensus %on UN peacekeeping? so that we have a clearly and politically sustainable policy governing America's role in UN peace operations. This is necessary to maintain the credibility of American leadership, to minimize the likelihood of harmful miscalculations abroad and to keep faith with the American people, particularly those who serve in our armed forces."42 She also noted: "we want a stronger UN, but we are not about to substitute elusive notions of global collective security for battle-proven and time-tested concepts of unilateral and allied defense," and that the decision to involve Americans in situations of conflict would be decided on a case-by-case basis, one of the considerations being "just how robust the command-and-control arrangement is and even who the commander is, whether in fact we consider the commander competent to lead our soldiers in that operation." The Clinton administration was letting the senators hear what they wanted to hear - stringent restrictions on US participation in UN peacekeeping activities, reduction of American monetary contributions to these activities, and reforming UN budget processes in order that "UN capacities and decision-making procedures . . . be strengthened."43 For a brief time, significant support for US involvement in UN peacekeeping operations was manifested in the summer of 1993 among members of both houses of the Congress. But faced with a budget-cutting fervor in the legislative branch and the aftermath of the debacle in Somalia, these voices became mute.44
Clinton, facing a firestorm in the US Congress and the media over the loss of American lives in Somalia, retreated to a seemingly more cautious position in his celebrated policy directive on peacekeeping, Presidential Decision Document (PDD 25) issued in May 1994. This directive was a sharply revised version of the one under consideration the previous August. Stringent restrictions on any US participation in UN peacekeeping activities were established and American monetary contributions to these operations were to be reduced. There was also a promise of restraint in approving new peacekeeping operations by the Security Council. In this directive, the Clinton administration was acceding to congressional criticism. Indicative of the volte-face of the United States on peacekeeping is Ambassador Albright's statement that "harshly criticized the way United Nations peacekeeping efforts were organized, saying many of the thirteen operations mounted in the first five years had been hampered by a 'near-total absence of contingency planning', hasty recruitment and a 'byzantine and drawn-out budgetary decision-making process.'"45
A leading scholar on the United Nations, Professor Lawrence Finkelstein, has described PDD 25 as "a serious effort to grapple with the problems multilateral peace operations pose for the U.S." and a "document that exudes prudent good sense . . . to require decisions about peacekeeping to start by asking why, what U.S. interests are at stake, what U.S. participation is needed . . . what objectives are sought and how the operation can be ended." But he noted that PDD 25 conveys "a narrower, much more selfish concept of what is in the UN for the United States than motivated the pioneers of U.S. departure from isolationism in favor of an active international role."46 Clearly, the United States was shying away from direct involvement in UN peacekeeping operations.
This inward turn does not imply a total abdication of involvement overseas by the United States. The facts of global interdependence preclude a total withdrawal on the part of the United States. But it does not mean a favorable disposition towards the United Nations. The introduction of US ground troops in Bosnia through NATO in late 1995 illustrates this point. As the Clinton administration was mobilizing support for the Dayton accords and the dispatch of US armed forces to Bosnia, any mention of the United Nations was conspicuously avoided. Too close an identification with the United Nations was apparently deemed politically dangerous.
A strong insistence on unilateralism in foreign affairs rather than cooperation and coordination within the organized world community seems to be the guiding principle among the new leaders in Congress and nearly every one of the announced candidates for the Republican nomination to the presidency.
As the 1996 presidential election approaches, we see the United Nations being increasingly demonized by demagogic candidates. The final report of the recent meeting of the non-partisan American Assembly on "U.S. Foreign Policy and the United Nations System" stated: "U.S. policy toward the United Nations is in crisis. . . . The United States is, in fact, in danger of drifting out of the United Nations before this decade is over."47
This anti-UN mood and rhetoric that have permeated the American public and its Congress are manifested not only in the political arena; they have had a definitive influence on the UN policy advanced by the Clinton administration, particularly with regard to peacekeeping.
The UN in the Socio-economic Areas
Another area of UN activity evoking resentment in Congress and the popular mind is that which concerns many UN programs in the social and economic field. To put it succinctly, the new Republican-dominated Congress has been determined to drastically alter much of the Roosevelt New Deal and the Johnson Great Society social and economic programs; mainly because, it is claimed, they had become too expensive.
Under these circumstances, it is quite natural for this legislative majority to look askance at international projections of these progressive domestic programs. Particularly vexing to this influential segment of the American polity were some of the programs carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), whose very creation in an earlier era had been conceived by the United States, and the various United Nations-sponsored international conferences. To those committed to the UN idea, the string of UN conferences "from Rio to Istanbul" dealing with the environment, human rights, population, social development, women, and cities (Habitat II), is the logical forward movement for the United Nations in fulfillment of the UN Charter's lofty goals in the social and economic field.48 But to the critics of the UN, these international conferences represent an intrusion in the domestic affairs of the organization's member states.49 Further influencing the current American mood vis-(a-vis the United Nations are the issues which are dealt with at international conferences, such as environment, family planning, human rights, and women's rights in particular, and economic development plans. Many of these matters are extremely controversial in the United States and have provided fodder to the anti-UN forces.
Current Status of US Thinking on UN Reform
Lest the impression is given that the criticism by the UN detractors absolutely rules the day insofar as UN reform is concerned, note should be taken of the sober thinking on the subject that is taking place in the United States, both inside and outside the government.50
Formulations for UN reform have been prepared by persons who, unlike the detractors, accept the fact that in this interdependent world some form of global organization, if not the United Nations as presently constituted, is a necessity. Because of the negative attitude in the Congress and in large sectors of public opinion, reformers find themselves having to exert energies in promoting the idea of cooperation through organized international institutions, which was so commonplace fifty years ago. The criticism leveled against the United Nations in the political arena and the media has not been lost on this group. It must be acknowledged that much of the detractors' criticism is not unfounded and is shared in substance, if not in shrillness of tone. Thus, on questions of UN management and fiscal integrity, there is agreement that the UN is seriously wanting on these scores. Whereas the blindest critics are prepared to let the United Nations wither away through neglect, there are serious reformers who are striving to come up with constructive proposals for change that in some instances seek to redefine the UN's mission, either expanding or curbing some aspects - all aimed at making the United Nations a more effective system at this time in history. To some serious observers, this is a losing battle.
On the American scene, among those giving serious attention to UN reform, the suggestions fall into five areas: 1) Security Council restructuring; 2) collective responsibility in peace and security; 3) collective responsibility for sustainable development and human security; 4) managing the collective effort; and 5) financing the collective undertakings. Since a number of these issues such as peacekeeping have already been discussed in this paper, the focus will now be on the other areas.
Restructuring the Security Council is being considered against the background of General Assembly calls for "democratizing the Security Council" through "equitable representation and an increase in membership" and a congressional call for severe limitations in US financial and human contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.
The official American position calls for: no change in the status and prerogatives of the current five permanent members, the P-5 states, i.e. maintain the veto; Germany and Japan, because of their global political and economic influence and their capacity for contributing to peace and security by concrete measures on a global basis (i.e. "money"), should become permanent members of the Council; other states may aspire to permanent membership, but their qualifications do not equal those of Germany, Japan, and the P-5; there may be additional permanent or semi-permanent members as well as other members whose selection will be left to regional groups; to preserve the effectiveness of the Council there should be a modest enlargement to no more than 20; removing the restriction established in Article 23 of the Charter, on self-succession by non-permanent members, is acceptable; finally, the US takes no position on extending the veto power to new permanent members. With regard to increased transparency of the Council, the United States believes that this question should be approached with some caution.51
The official American position generally finds resonance among most of the informed public (scholars, organized groups, etc.). Most of the witnesses appearing before the United States Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations favored extending permanent membership to Germany and Japan, but it was by no means unanimous.52
On the overall restructuring of the Council, one does not find unanimity or consensus in non-official quarters. Views range from increasing Security Council membership to as many as 25 with proper regional representation (i.e. making it less Eurocentric), to trimming or eliminating the veto power of permanent members.
An interesting reform, put forward by Harold Stassen, who was a member of the US delegation at the Charter-drafting conference in San Francisco in 1945, calls for making the United States and Russia special permanent members of a 21-member Council and adding Germany and Japan to the other three remaining permanent members. Decisions of the Council on the use of military force would require the affirmative vote of the special permanent members plus the concurrence of three-fourths of the permanent members.53
The literature abounds with reform proposals that include many ingenious and imaginative suggestions for broadening the membership of the Council, making its proceedings more transparent, and somehow containing the veto. One proposal is to limit the tenure of existing permanent members by subjecting them to ten-year renewable terms. Among the most intriguing is to create a rotating membership from the European Union rather than just adding Germany. These are but a few of the ideas that have been thrown into the hopper.54
It is not easy to reconcile these diverse proposals. They all suffer from the same affliction that while solving one problem, they create new ones. Thus, adding Germany and Japan as permanent members raises the claims of other aspirants to the same status. Addressing this problem by adding more permanent members raises the question of maintaining a balance between permanent and non-permanent members. This, in turn, raises the question of possibly enlarging the Council to the point that it could not work effectively. Extending the veto to all permanent members is an invitation to total gridlock. How any of this can be achieved without amending the Charter is the most difficult question, particularly since under Chapter XVIII, this process is subject to the veto.
In the other areas, countless proposals have been advanced from many quarters. As with the proposals regarding the Security Council, there is considerable diversity among them. A small but very active element among American non-governmental organizations strongly advocates strengthening the UN's capacity to deal with social and economic issues and restructuring the relationship between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods agencies. The idea of an "economic security council" is among the suggestions that have been put forward.55
Just prior to the opening of the 50th anniversary session of the General Assembly, the Clinton administration put forward for the first time a wide-ranging proposal for a radical restructuring of the United Nations in a US "non-paper"56 entitled "Readying the United Nations for the Twenty-first Century." The "non-paper" begins with the assertion that a "coherent, sustainable development agenda for the 21st century cannot be pursued adequately at the international level without the adoption of serious and pragmatic proposals for UN institutional reform." It then goes on to point out that reform is necessary because the "UN system's ability to support environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable growth is undermined by overlapping institutional mandates, poor coordination and priority-setting, and excessive administrative overhead."
At about the same time of the appearance of the "non-paper," Ambassador Albright declared that "this year, for the General Assembly, reform must be job no. 1" and called for a "full overhaul" of the United Nations if it is "to avoid the fate of the League of Nations." Noting that "a serious dialogue is underway on how to revitalize the UN," she touched on most of the reforms proposed in the "non-paper" as she listed ten reform proposals, headed by the need "to bring UN budgets under control" and the elimination of waste in the Secretariat. Although she warned that "piecemeal reform is not sufficient," Ambassador Albright said that "we must begin by supporting the positive changes that are already underway," specifically the creation of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the personnel reforms instituted by Joseph E. Connor, under-secretary-general for administration and management.57
The ten-page "non-paper" was sent to the foreign ministers of all UN member states with an accompanying letter from Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in which he said, "We want to work together with all member states to modernize the United Nations and prepare to meet the challenges of the 21st century." Briefly, the proposals call for cutbacks, mergers, buy-outs, closures, and privatization of the UN's service sector. Thus, it proposed that the United Nations explore the possible consolidation of the humanitarian functions of four UN bodies - the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) - into a single agency. It also suggested consolidating the development-related functions of the following seven UN bodies based in New York, Nairobi, Vienna, and Rome: UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Furthermore, it suggests that the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) could serve as "primus inter pares" among the ECOSOC subsidiary commissions and committees, while absorbing some of their functions.
Among the other recommendations in this "non-paper" were to: place a moratorium on planning any additional major UN conference "until the results of the most recent series ending with the World Food Security Summit in Rome and Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996 are fully absorbed and applied"58; to streamline the work of the General Assembly's Second (economic) and Third (social) Committees by having more issues taken up on a biennial and triennial basis; and to rationalize the structure of the UN Secretariat, in the face of the past failed efforts in this area and because "the credibility of the institution and the prospects for continued financial support depend upon early and visible signs of improvement." These represent the highlights of this ten-page "non-paper" which may emerge as the negotiating text of the General Assembly's Ad Hoc UN Working Group, open to all 185 member states, assigned to consider the restructuring of the world body.
It should be noted that in calling for reform, Ambassador Albright reiterated US support for the United Nations, asserting that "the United States continues to view the United Nations as an important instrument for making the world more secure, democratic and humane." Furthermore, she said "the UN needs-and deserves-the full backing of member states" and "the Clinton Administration will continue to do all it can to help the UN succeed, and to see that US financial obligations are met, despite opposition from some in Congress."59
A less-official and less-detailed, but no less important, proposal "to reinvent the United Nations and give it new life" has come from two leading members of Congress, Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum, majority member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton, ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee. Critical of the UN for falling short of its potential, with lines of authority confused, blurred, and duplicated, staffed by a bloated bureaucracy and producing mountains of paper and little, if any, real results, Kassebaum and Hamilton, describing themselves as "friends of the United Nations," advocate "bold reform" to withstand the onslaught by the detractors of the UN who "are prepared to draw the purse strings to a close." Specifically, they recommend first focusing resources and energy on a handful of core agencies that are most important and eliminating all others. Identified as core agencies are the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), WHO, and the High Commissioner for Refugees. Second, in the area of peacekeeping they recommend restricting operations to the classical interposition of Blue Helmets between parties and that the term "peace enforcement" be stricken from the UN's vocabulary. Third, they propose ending UN-sponsored world conferences because they "fear that the United Nations is in peril of becoming little more than a road show traveling from conference to conference" which often focus on subjects that are normally reserved to domestic politics. Finally, they urge that the United Nations Secretariat become more accountable fiscally and that the process of selecting the secretary-general be reformed with "skills and administrative ability, not nationality or political connections . . . the decisive qualification."60
To complete this review of serious reform proposals, there is the most radical proposal suggested by Professor Donald Puchala of the University of South Carolina and former chair of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. In a paper "Reforming the United Nations or Going Beyond^" contributed to the 87th American Assembly meeting last April on "US Foreign Policy and the United Nations,"61 Puchala wrote:
There is something to suggest that the world's multilateral affairs might be better attended to today and in the future by dismantling much of the UN's center and individually strengthen the specialized agencies that now constitute the periphery. It is, after all, the center-the peace and security mechanisms, the development mechanisms, the budget and finance mechanisms, the management practices, the coordination committees, the super-bureaucratized channels and the New York and Geneva secretariats most generally-that are not working very well, and that are frustrating reform efforts. Why not rationalize the world's division of multilateral labor and spin-off tasks to specialized agencies that are specifically mandated, staffed, and budgeted to execute them?
In short, Puchala is suggesting a world system of functional cooperation as an alternative multilateral system. He would preserve the General Assembly as a debating forum where ideas and ideologies confront, contend, and sometimes converge. But the Security Council would be replaced by a World Peacekeeping Agency whose constitution would be based on Chapters VI and VII of the Charter, plus the good-offices functions of the secretary-general. Also to be replaced would be the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies, whose functions would be picked up by the specialized agencies, all of which would be headquartered at the same place to facilitate interagency coordination.
From the foregoing analysis, one is led to conclude that there are some elements in the United States to whom UN reform is a dead issue. For if they had their way the United Nations would cease to exist. On the other hand, as evident in the previous section, the question is receiving serious attention in both the executive and legislative branches of the government as well as in non-governmental sectors, to whom the continued existence of the United Nations and America's leadership in the world body is an important value.
It is clear that the United States approaches the issue of United Nations reform in its own distinct manner, essentially as a budgetary matter quite unlike the mainly structural changes advocated by many other member states. In the earlier discussion of the various objects of reform - the Secretariat, organizational structure, peace and security, and economic and social programs - the point was made that these are all encompassed by budgetary and financial reform. Within the American government, one may safely conclude that the object of any reform is to lessen the financial burden on the United States government. This is the purpose of encouraging managerial and personnel reform within the Secretariat; as it is in supporting certain reforms in organizational structure, including that of the Security Council, where the addition of Japan and Germany may lessen the financial burden on the United States; as it is in the area of peace and security, where the issue is not whether the United Nations should engage in peacekeeping, but rather where, when, and under what circumstances - that is; how the costs are to be borne; and as it is in the social and economic areas, where the United States favors at least a moratorium on international conferences.
Details of the American position are still to be worked out. According to Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, and Lee H. Hamilton, its ranking Democratic member, "Congress will soon face a major debate on the United Nations, and U.S. participation in that institution. From our perspective, significant reform is the only way to ensure the institution's survival into the next century. . . . We look forward to initiating some lasting changes in the UN system."62 The imponderable question is, What constitutes "significant reform" that would satisfy the United States government? Another question regarding the formation of American policy towards the United Nations and the issue of its reform is the extent to which the Congress will seek to micro-manage these issues.
New directions in the UN budget will largely define the American attitude towards the United Nations. In this regard, the big unknown is whether it is possible for the United Nations to climb out of the budgetary morass into which it has fallen despite the heroic efforts of Under-Secretary-General Paschke and Under-Secretary-General Connor. An important step in meeting American criticism was the adoption by the 50th General Assembly in late 1995 of a "no-growth" budget for the next biennium. Ambassador Albright called this action "a legislative mandate for reform."63
Senator Larry Pressler, a self-described "advocate and critic" of the United Nations, recently welcomed Paschke's first annual report64 as evidence that "the United Nations recognizes that it has a serious mismanagement problem and it now is willing to admit it," but he also said "we must continue to insist on withholding of taxpayer dollars until the United Nations has cleaned up its act."65 Senator Pressler argued that "the United States has little choice but to use its dues as leverage to pressure the UN to end gross inefficiencies and mismanagement practices . . . [and] that effective management is vital to the UN's credibility."66
As the largest financial contributor to the UN's regular and peacekeeping budgets, the consequence of a diminishing and less-active American involvement in the United Nations is most serious for the future of the world organization. This fact has not been lost on many within the United Nations community, least of all on Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In a statement to the General Assembly's High-Level Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations, the secretary-general, without alluding specifically to the United States but with clear reference to the UN's financial crisis brought on by the American withholding of payments, focused on the reforms necessary to "help ensure not only that the Organization survives, but that it is transformed into a more responsive, efficient and effective instrument in the service of its Member States and all the Peoples of the United Nations." In addition to management streamlining, budgetary restructuring, increasing cost effectiveness, rationalization of the work of the organization, and calling upon member states to clear up their arrearages, all of which constitute immediate responses to the UN's financial crisis, Boutros-Ghali proposed a long-term reform of the "scale of assessments" that in effect would lessen the UN's dependency on the United States:
. . . at the heart of any approach to addressing the long-term dimensions of the crisis is the issue of scale of assessments. The realities of international relations today differ from those which pertained at the time of the United Nations' founding. The scale of assessments should reflect current political and economic realities. It should also reflect the global nature of the United Nations, and the fact that the Organization is the instrument of all nations. A ceiling of 20 percent or even 15 percent on the assessed contribution of any Member State to the regular budget of the United Nations would provide for a more even distribution of the assessed contributions, and would better reflect the fact that this Organization is indeed the instrument of all nations.67
Seeking a way out of the financial straightjacket in which the United Nations finds itself due to its reliance exclusively on funds provided by the member states (many of whom, most notably the United States, are delinquent in their payments), the secretary-general brought up a long-standing notion to provide the United Nations with an independent source of revenue.68 Boutros-Ghali suggested that a small surcharge on international airline tickets or a small fee on foreign currency exchange go directly to the United Nations.69
The American response to this suggestion was quick and decisive. Legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress to discourage UN alternative financing by threatening "to prohibit United States voluntary or assessed contributions to the United Nations if the United Nations imposes any tax or fee on United States persons or continues to develop or promote proposals for such taxes or fees."70 Speaking for the Clinton administration, a White House spokesman flatly rejected the proposal, calling it "an abysmal idea."71 If anything, these reactions demonstrated that the United States is reluctant to see a more autonomous United Nations. At the heart of this confrontation is the very nature of the United Nations organization. The thought of a United Nations with supranational pretensions is anathema to American officials in both the legislative and executive branches. Indicative of the American narrow perception of the United Nations organization are the statements made by Ambassador Albright to the General Assembly High-Level Working Group on Strengthening the UN System, that the UN is but one of the many instruments available for countries seeking to act cooperatively. . . . A reformed UN . . . would operate openly and cooperatively with others, including non-governmental and voluntary organizations. It would be the key actor when its universality and expertise enable it to fulfill roles that other organizations and arrangements cannot. But it would serve more often as one partner among many in responding to global challenges.72
In February 1996, Ambassador Albright transmitted to Professor Diego Freitas do Amaral, president of the General Assembly and chairman of the High-Level Working Group, a thirty-three page "compendium of proposals" for UN reform advocated by the United States.73 In a four-page covering letter Ambassador Albright reiterated the American position that "the UN is one of many instruments available to countries seeking to act cooperatively," but she acknowledged that "because of its near universal membership, it has unique legitimacy." However, contended Ambassador Albright, "the UN tries to do too much, and as a result, does too little well." Essentially, the proposals were elaborations of the earlier ten-page "non-paper" and other communications to the High-Level Working Group. It opens with the statement that "to act effectively in the 21st century, a better focused, leaner, more efficient and cost-effective UN system is needed" and proceeds with a comprehensive set of proposals that would reshape the system towards this end. A reading of these proposals reveals that the Clinton administration has one eye on actually reforming the United Nations - not destroying it; and the other eye on placating the US Congress, where hostility towards the United Nations and skepticism regarding its reform are prevalent. The final chapter on the US attitude to the United Nations concerning UN reform may not be written until after the American presidential election in November 1996.
1. This is a revision and updating (as of January 1996) of a lecture delivered at the UNU Public Forum at the headquarters of the United Nations University, Tokyo, on September 25, 1995 and at the UNU Global Seminar, Kobe Session, September 26-29, 1995 Kobe, Japan.
2. A note of caution regarding the generalizations advanced in this article: Generali-zations about American attitudes towards the United Nations, as towards most other foreign policy issues, are fraught with pitfalls. Inis Claude has correctly warned us (in States and the Global System: Politics, Law and Organization, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988, p. 87) "Americans are never unanimous about anything and certainly not about international organizations." In this instance, there are at least two leading Republican congressmen who have records of open-mindedness to the United Nations, James A. Leach of Iowa and Doug Bereuter of Nebraska.
3. Quoted in Newsletter of Americans for the Universality of UNESCO, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 1995.
4. Reported by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, April 19, 1995. Similar and harsher anti-UN declarations were made by other aspirants for the Republican nomination.
5. Warren Christopher and William J. Perry, "Foreign Policy, Hamstrung," op. ed. article, The New York Times, February 13, 1995.
6. An excellent source of information on the status of budgetary legislation is to be found in Key US-UN Legislation before the 104th Congress and the Washington Weekly Report: A Review of Congressional Action Affecting Multilateral Issues and Institutions, edited by Steven A. Dimoff and published by the Washington Office of the United Nations Association of the USA.
7. Public Law 103-236. See Steven A. Dimoff, "New Congress Poses Tough Challenges for UN and UNA," The InterDependent (UNA-USA Newsletter), Vol. 20, No. 1, Winter, 1994-1995.
8. The veto message was sent to Congress on December 19, 1995. Washington Weekly Report, XXI-41, December 29, 1995.
9. In a UN radio interview program, BBC correspondent Jon Leyne noted: "Everybody around the world, particularly when I go back to Europe, say, 'Isn't the place [the UN] just a puppet of the United States? Isn't it just run by Washington?' And of course here in the United States we hear exactly opposite arguments." UN World Chronicle, Program No. 566, recorded October 14, 1994.
10. UN Doc. S/PV.3046, January 31, 1992, pp. 144-145.
11. See Christopher S. Wren, "The U.N.'s Master Juggler: An Accountant Copes with Deadbeats and Bad Debts," The New York Times, December 8, 1995, p. 1 of the business section.
12. United Nations in a Turbulent World, International Peace Academy, Occasional Paper Series, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992.
13. See Christopher S. Wren, "Mismanagement and Waste Erode U.N.'s Best Intentions," The New York Times, June 23, 1995.
14. For an analysis of US-UN relations see Robert W. Gregg, About Face? The United States and the United Nations, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993. See also Lawrence S. Finkelstein, "The United States and the United Nations: Proper Prudence-Or a New Failure of Nerve?", Korea Journal, Vol. 35, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 48-72.
15. Washington Weekly Report, XXI-34, October 30, 1995, p. 4.
16. Michael Lind, "Twilight of the U.N.," The New Republic, October 30, 1995, p. 32.
17. USA-UNA, "U.S. Public Support for U.N. Unexpectedly Grows, New Poll Shows," December 7, 1995. The earlier poll was the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1995, Chicago, 1995.
18. Abba Eban, "The U.N. Idea Revisited," Foreign Affairs, September/October 1995, Vol. 74, No. 5.
19. Arkady Schevchenko, Breaking with Moscow, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.
20. Gregg, op. cit., p. 71.
21. The Soviet Union challenged the legality of General Assembly-imposed assessments for the UN operations in Suez and the Congo, acting under the Uniting for Peace Resolution, as usurping the role of the Security Council. An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice found the assessments as legally binding. See Gregg, op. cit., pp. 62-64 for a fuller discussion of this matter.
22. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Dangerous Place, Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1978.
23. See Alan Gerson, The Kirkpatrick Mission: Diplomacy Without Apology-America at the United Nations 1981-1985, NY: Free Press, 1991. See also Gregg, op. cit., pp. 64-71.
24. For an excellent analysis of conditions in UNESCO and the United States that led to America leaving the organization, see Lawrence S. Finkelstein, "The Struggle to Control UNESCO," in David P. Forsythe (ed.), The United Nations in the World Political Economy: Essays in Honor of Leon Gordenker, London: Macmillan, 1989, pp. 144-164.
25. See John Rielly, ed., American Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy, issued every four years since 1975 by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
26. Daniel Yankelovich, "Foreign Policy After the Election," Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992, Vol. 71, No. 4, p. 10.
27. Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, June 11, 1993.
28. Much has been written in the past two years about the concept of "human security," which is essentially an attempt to broaden the meaning of security beyond that of "security of territory from external aggression, or as protection of national interests in foreign policy or as global security from the threat of a nuclear holocaust." See UNDP, Human Development Report 1994, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 22, and the entire chapter two, "New Dimensions of Human Security." See also Flora Lewis, "The Changing Concept of Security," in Uner Kirdar and Leonard Silk (eds.), People from Impoverishment to Empowerment, NY and London: New York University Press, 1995.
29. An example is the following statement by a leading conservative publicist, William Kristol, on The David Brinkley Show, August 27, 1995: "I'm glad the women's conference is taking place in China. It helps complete the demonization of the UN."
30. Donald J. Puchala, "Outsiders, Insiders, and UN Reform," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4, Autumn 1994.
31. See Gregg, op. cit., pp. 82-88.
32. Ibid., pp. 60-61.
33. Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Strengthening the United Nations, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957, p. 51.
34. UN GA Res. 40/237, December 18, 1985.
35. See for example Charles Krauthammer, "Let It Sink," The New Republic, August 24, 1987, pp. 18-23.
36. The failure of President Clinton in these efforts is discussed by John Newhouse, "No Exit, No Entrance," The New Yorker, June 28, 1993, and Michael Mandelbaum, "Foreign Policy as Social Work," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 1, January/February 1996.
37. See footnote 27 above.
38. The New York Times, August 18, 1993.
39. US Mission to the UN, Press Release 140(93), Rev. 1, September 27, 1993.
40. An Agenda for Peace, NY: United Nations, DPI?1247, June 22, 1992.
41. Robert C. Byrd, "The Perils of Peacekeeping," The New York Times, August 19, 1993.
42. Quoted in International Documents Review, Vol. 4, No. 37, October 25, 1993.
44. See Steven A. Dimoff, "Congress's Budget-cutting Fervor Threatens U.S. Standing at U.N.," The InterDependent, Vol. 19, No. 3, Fall 1993.
45. The New York Times, June 19, 1994.
46. Lawrence S. Finkelstein, "PDD-25: A New Failure of Nerve," paper presented at the workshop: The T.I.E.S. That Bind: Technology, Intervention, Ethnicity, and Conflict Management in the Post-Cold War Era, November 19, 1994, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
47. "U.S. Foreign Policy and the United Nations System," Final Report of the Eighty-seventh American Assembly, Arden House, NY, April 20-23, 1995, p. 3.
48. For an analysis of the UN international conference practices, see Jacques Fomerand, "Les grandes conférences des Nations Unies dans le domaine économique et social: événements médiatique ou actes de diplomatie," Le Trimestre du Monde, 4e Trimestre 1995, pp. 95-110.
49. See John M. Goshko, "U.N. Conferences Come Under Fire," Washington Post, November 25, 1995, and discussion below on curtailing future UN conferences in several of the proposals for UN reform.
50. An excellent account of the long-standing efforts at serious UN reform is provided by Puchala, op. cit.
51. This summary of the US position is based on a presentation by Joseph C. Snyder, "UN Security Council Reform: The U.S. Government View," at the Conference on Restructuring Options for the UN Security Council, March 7-11, 1995, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
52. Final Report of the United States Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations, Defining Purpose: The U.N. and the Health of Nations, Washington, 1993.
53. Harold Stassen, United Nations: A Working Paper for Reconstruction, Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Co., 1994.
54. The range of proposals is covered in other papers presented at the East-West Center conference referred to in footnote 51. Among the American contributors, in addition to James Sutterlin, were Edward C. Luck, Bruce Russett, and William Buffum. A broad array of non-American perspectives on the Security Council are to be found in UN Docs. A/48/264, July 20, 1993 and A/49/965, September 18, 1995.
55. Revamping the UN's structure in the economic and social areas by establishing a small body, analogous to the Security Council, has been advanced for some time. See Maurice Bertrand, "Some Reflections on Reform of the United Nations," Joint Inspection Unit Report, JIU/REP/85/9, Geneva: United Nations, 1985 and Peter Fromuth (ed.), A Successor Vision: The United Nations of Tomorrow, NY: USA-UNA, 1988, pp. 53-57. The most recent proposal of this genre is to be found in the Ford/Yale study, The United Nations in Its Second Half-Century: The Report of the Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations, 1995.
56. A "non-paper document" strikes me as an oxymoron uniquely utilized in the negotiating setting at the United Nations: a written document dealing with an important substantive matter that is denied the status of an official position paper or a definitive proposal. A trial balloon of sorts, its purpose is to put some ideas on the table for discussion for consideration by others without commitment.
57. Speech at the Foreign Press Center, USUN Press Release 145(95), September 22, 1995.
58. In a subsequent statement to the General Assembly's High-Level Working Group on Strengthening the United Nations, Ambassador Albright suggested that "the role of the Assembly would be enhanced dramatically . . . if it were to take the place of expensive global conferences, and become the venue for sustained thematic discussion, on a scheduled basis, of important and timely issues." USUN Press Release, 005(96), January 15, 1996.
60. Nancy Landon Kassebaum and Lee Hamilton, "Fix the U.N.," The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, July 3-9, 1995, p. 28.
61. In U.S. Foreign Policy and the United Nations System, edited by Charles William Maynes and Richard S. Williamson, NY: Norton, 1995, chap. 8.
62. Letter to the author dated December 12, 1995.
63. USUN Press Release 005(96), January 15, 1996.
64. UN Doc. A/50/459, October 2, 1995.
65. Washington Weekly Report, XXI-39?40, December 12, 1995.
66. "United Nations Reform-Time for Real Reform," Diplomatic World Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 1, January 24-31, 1996.
67. UN Press Release, SG/SM/5892, GA/9050, February 6, 1996.
68. The matter was raised by the secretary-general on January 15, 1996 in an interview with the BBC in Oxford, England, The Washington Times, January 17, 1996. The idea dates back at least to 1978, when economics Nobel Laureate Professor James Tobin of Yale University suggested the imposition of a tax on international currency exchanges to fund development of Third World countries through the United Nations. See David Felix, "The Tobin Tax Proposal: Background, Issues and Prospects," Futures, Vol. 27, No. 2, March 1995.
69. Schemes for some form of international taxation have been around for many years. The proposals include a tax on arms sales and on land mines, a fractional levy on all or specific sectors of international trade (i.e. polluting materials and mineral raw commodities), as well as the two raised by the secretary-general. See Erskine Childers with Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System, Uppsala, Sweden: Dag Hammarskj[old Foundation, 1994, p. 155. See also Futures cited in previous footnote. This is a special issue devoted to "The United Nations at Fifty: Policy and Financing Alternatives."
70. Washington Weekly Report, Vol. XXII-2, January 26, 1996.
71. Quoted in a Reuter's dispatch in The Japan Times, January 21, 1996.
72. USUN Press Release 005(96), January 15, 1996.
73. Letter from Ambassador Madeleine Albright to Professor Diego Freitas do Amaral, dated February 21, 1996, with enclosure, entitled "US Views on Reform Measures Necessary for Strengthening the United Nations System."
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