UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.—The U.S. takeover of the United Nations approached a conclusion on Dec. 23 when the Bush administration blocked the implimentation of the U.N.’s 2006–2007 budget. The U.S. insists the U.N. General Assembly approve a series of “reform” measures within the next few months.U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was authorized to spend $950 million for the first half of 2006. This was the first time in the history of the U.N. that a “cap” was imposed on its two-year budget. Total spending for the period was expected to be about $3.8 billion. Stafford Neil, the representative of Jamaica, which held the rotating chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the introduction of “conditionalities through the control of the purse was a troubling tendency.”
A call for U.N. reform received support following evidence presented by the Volcker Committee of mismanagement and corruption in the Iraq “oil-for-food” program, repeated incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse of women by U.N. peacekeepers, and the indiscretion of a top U.N. official who acknowledged to a television interviewer his fervent loyalty to President Bush.
Some proposed reforms would address management issues and shift authority from the General Assembly to the Secretary-General.
The latter proposals were disputed by developing countries; some questioned the role of Annan. One high-ranking Secretariat member characterized Annan as “the best Secretary-General the U.S. ever had.”
As of Nov. 15, the United States owed the United Nations $1.3 billion. The United States continued to violate the U.N. charter and other international agreements with impunity – and with little reaction from the American public or the mass media.
The wrecking of the United Nations and multilateralism is the counterpoint of the Bush administration’s destruction of U.S. constitutionalism and democracy.
Y.J. Choi of South Korea, chairman of the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), said the human species needs a sense of its now tragic predicament if it is to escape the trap it is in.
Donald Paneth has covered the U.N. since 1946.