- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly is poised to vote tomorrow on a proposal to expand the U.N. Security Council by 11 nations, despite Washington’s demand that the world body first streamline its bureaucracy.

“We said last week we would vote no on any proposal … that would expand the council without management reform and [establishing] the Human Rights Council,” acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said.

The United States on Tuesday distributed a 10-point proposal that it said would increase efficiency and cut costs, two recurring themes from the United Nations’ largest single contributor.

Among the key demands are beefing up the U.N. inspector general’s office, giving the secretary-general more authority on staffing and spending decisions, and reducing the number of meetings.

The United States also wants to establish a Human Rights Council to replace the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, which includes some of the world’s worst human rights abusers.

Mrs. Patterson said some of the demands are either in the pipeline or on the agenda of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

But she said that a systematic reform of the entire U.N. organization should supersede expansion of the Security Council.

Diplomats have been beavering away on a political declaration for world leaders to endorse when they come to the United Nations for a summit from Sept. 14 to 16.

A proposed communique for the General Assembly session is expected to call for replacing the Human Rights Commission with a similar body, increasing aid to poor countries, improving counterterrorism measures and installing a series of oversight reforms demanded by Washington and other key financial contributors.

The latest draft designates the secretary-general as the “chief administrative officer,” with “broad authority” to make staffing and resourcing decisions.

The measures reflect Washington’s priorities.

“We hope the chiefs of state would endorse that,” Mrs. Patterson said, adding that other innovations will require the approval of various General Assembly committees, a process that will resume in the fall.

The United States pays between 21 percent and 24 percent of U.N. expenses, including operating expenses, peacekeeping missions, international tribunals and the proposed renovation of the U.N. headquarters building in New York.

But other nations show little inclination to postpone the long-overdue debate over Security Council expansion in favor of discussions on internal oversight and cost-cutting.

Much of the oxygen in the grand General Assembly chambers has been consumed by discussions on expansion of the Security Council, a body so prestigious that at least a dozen nations are lobbying to be added as permanent members.

The present council consists of five veto-wielding permanent members, the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, plus 10 members elected for two-year terms.



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