- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

NEW YORK Scores of ambassadors this week demanded a more transparent and accountable U.N. Security Council, saying the council's insular ways inspired neither trust nor confidence within the U.N. system.

Frustration has been building within the General Assembly for years, with countries ranging from Singapore to the Netherlands claiming they are being marginalized even on the economic and social issues that are traditionally theirs to debate.

In two days of speeches, ambassadors from several regions also warned that the council's sweeping new anti-terrorism resolutions which demanded that all states make periodic reports to a newly created counterterrorism committee on their legal, banking and intelligence systems did not have the required respect to be effective.

"That resolution could only be successful if it had the cooperation of all members of the organization," said Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, who has served on the Security Council since January. That relationship, he stressed, can be enhanced only by greater communication.

Singaporean Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani said that if the counterterrorism resolutions were to work, "both constitutional as well as practical political requirements underscore the need for a relationship of trust and confidence" between the 15-member council and other nations.

The General Assembly discussion followed the release of the Security Council's annual report on its activities. The document covers the 12 months ending June 15 a period that saw the council adopt 52 resolutions, issue 35 presidential statements, hold 185 consultations and meet for 325 hours to consider 72 Secretariat reports and 1,245 formal communications.

Diplomats this week dismissed the 571-page report as little more than a compendium of publicly issued documents. Dutch Ambassador Dirk Jan Van Den Berg called it "an encyclopedic masterpiece that is not likely to fuel a spirited debate on the council's activities."

Instead of debate, the report seems to have spawned something of a mutiny. Several ambassadors suggested a new framework for evaluating the work of the powerful council, saying that the body's sweeping and legally binding powers warranted a more critical appraisal and commitment to include the rest of the organization in their work.

South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo suggested the council distribute briefing papers to all delegations before meetings, while Peruvian diplomat Oswaldo de Rivero asked for informal consultations afterward.

Mr. Mahbubani also chided member states whose governments pay for the U.N. system for not demanding a better accounting of the council's work.

"Frankly, all the previous General Assembly debates [on the Security Council] have been perfunctory. But the members of this General Assembly have no one but themselves to blame for this sorry state of affairs," he said on Monday. "Behavior like this explains the growing weakness and irrelevance of this General Assembly."

Loosely defined, the 189-member General Assembly makes the laws, the 15-nation Security Council is the enforcement mechanism, and the Secretariat is the research and bureaucracy unit that serves them both.

Irish Ambassador Richard Ryan, the current council president, introduced the report and said the Security Council "had conducted business as transparently as possible" and broadened participation in its discussions.

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