Sunday, March 20, 2005

Reforming the United Nations

Tomorrow, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will present to the General Assembly a series of proposals for reforming the United Nations. The proposals, drawn primarily from last November's Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, include two different options for expanding the Security Council, reform of the Human Rights Commission, and the establishment of a new Peacebuilding Commission. The recommendations to be presented are also said to draw from the Task Force Reports of the Millennium Project, a U.N. initiative aimed at reducing global poverty.

On Friday, the Secretary-General's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said that "the elements of the Monday report are viewed as a package deal, with something to offer to everyone." U.N. member states will be asked "to accept it as a package" when the report, entitled "In Larger Freedom," is taken up at the General Assembly Summit in September. Whether the United States, with its bull-in-a-china-shop approach to the U.N., will be willing to accept the complete package remains to be seen. Certainly the element relating to the Human Rights Commission is specifically designed to address American criticisms, but adding additional permanent states to the Security Council--states such as Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil--even without veto power is unlikely to please the Bush Administration.

For more on the proposals, see yesterday's frontpage Los Angeles Times story or the story in today's New York Times. Links to the Secretary-General's report will likely be available through this site tomorrow.