- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005

America’s representative at the United Nations said yesterday that the organization must become better at solving problems and more responsive to U.S. concerns or Washington will seek other venues for international action.

During a luncheon with reporters and editors at The Washington Times, U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said repeatedly that the Bush administration requires nothing less than “a revolution of reform” at the world body, encompassing everything from U.N. Security Council engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general.

The United Nations, he said, “has got to be a place to solve problems that need solving, rather than a place where problems go, never to emerge.”

He added: “In the United States, there is a broadly shared view that the U.N. is one of many potential instruments to advance U.S. issues, and we have to decide whether a particular issue is best done through the U.N. or best done through some other mechanism. …

“The U.N. is one of many competitors in a marketplace of global problem solving,” Mr. Bolton said. That realization “should be an incentive for the organization to reform.”

One alternative, he said, is for regional organizations to play a larger role. He praised the Organization of American States for its work in Haiti and said he would like the African Union to take on greater responsibilities in Africa.

Mr. Bolton, who has been directly or indirectly involved in U.N. affairs since the Reagan administration, said he has found little surprising in his 3 months in Turtle Bay.

“It’s exactly what I expected,” he said. “It does move in many ways that lead you to think it’s caught in a time warp, with discussions they could have had in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s.”

Referring to obsolete mandates and bodies, he said: “Even though the Cold War is over and many of these issues are over, frankly, the mind-set in the U.N. complex hasn’t changed much. I don’t think that it’s a philosophical point of view. … There is a culture of inaction.”

The ambassador said he would like to see change within the “P5,” the powerful conclave of five permanent U.N. Security Council nations. Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States must work more closely to craft powerful resolutions and make sure they are enforced, he said.

Mr. Bolton also wants to see the 15-member council address the underlying causes that have spawned 17 active peacekeeping missions, including a half-dozen that are decades old.

“The biggest change that we should try and make is to have the Security Council play a larger role in solving these problems, rather than turning them over to the Secretariat and special envoys,” he said.

Where Washington and its P5 counterparts find their national interests in opposition, he said, Washington “may need to find another organization to accomplish our objectives.”

The ambassador, who previously handled the disarmament portfolio at the State Department, accused Iran of concealing significant nuclear-weapons programs and said that the International Atomic Energy Agency will remain a key player in its disarmament, with or without a referral to the Security Council.

The Bush administration has been a principal advocate of management reform at the United Nations — supported by a mandate from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the passion of new management and budget czar Christopher Burnham, and crisply worded criticism from oil-for-food investigator Paul Volcker.

But developing nations have mounted stiff resistance to many of the administrative changes sought by Washington — most of which call for reducing micromanagement by budget committees within the General Assembly.

The Bush administration and many lawmakers also are seeking to create a more credible and responsible Human Rights Council, which also is arousing suspicion in many quarters.

“I have to say these efforts have slowed down, and I’m concerned we may not make it by the end of the year,” Mr. Bolton said. “There is substantial opposition.”

He said the administration has increased its lobbying efforts at the United Nations and in foreign capitals.

Washington’s frustration with the General Assembly is well-known.

Mr. Bolton said yesterday that the United States pays 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget, yet has only one vote out of 191 cast.

“We have one-half of 1 percent of the total [votes], meaning we pay 44 times more than our voting power,” he said.

“My priority is to give the United States the kind of influence it should have. Everybody pursues their national interests. The only one who gets blamed for it is the United States.”

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