- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Help on the way

The White House announced last week that President Bush intends to nominate a career Foreign Service officer to be the next deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, settling rumors that another political appointee would join Ambassador John R. Bolton in New York.

Alejandro Daniel Wolff, most recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, will need to be confirmed by the Senate before he can take up his new posting.

It is not clear when he could arrive at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, which has suffered a thinning of its top ranks: The mission is without a political adviser and a senior management and budget specialist, both key ambassadorial-level positions.

A California native, Mr. Wolff also served in Cyprus and was an executive assistant to former Secretaries of State Colin L. Powell and Madeleine K. Albright. He would succeed Anne Patterson, the hardworking deputy who served as acting U.N. ambassador until Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Bolton ambassador in August.

She will move back to Washington, possibly by the end of the year, to serve as assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs.

New council members

The U.N. General Assembly last week elected the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Qatar, Slovakia and Peru to two-year terms on the Security Council, starting in January.

All nations were endorsed by their regional groups — and therefore unopposed — except Peru, which beat out Nicaragua, 144-43, on the first ballot. All were elected in a secret ballot.

The new members will be responsible for maintaining international peace and security, of course, but their biggest challenge might be electing the next secretary-general, presumably in late 2007, when Kofi Annan’s term expires.

Asian governments have put forward two candidates, with several more expected from that region and Eastern Europe.

The Security Council also authorizes peacekeeping missions, considers sanctions against governments and rebel groups, and urges political solutions to conflicts.

The council’s 15 members include five permanent, veto-holding countries — the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain. It’s 10 elected members are staggered, so half leave the body every year.

Algeria, Benin, Brazil, Romania and the Philippines will step down Dec. 31. Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania will continue to serve for another year.

“We’re just pleased with the outcome of the five countries that have been elected. It’s a major opportunity for them to participate in the work of the United Nations,” U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton told reporters early in the week.

Smaller is better

Speaking of the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton, on a brief trip to London last week, warned that the current effort to expand the council was doomed to fail.

“Our prediction would be that this latest effort at changing the composition of the council is not going to succeed,” he said at London’s Chatham House, a foreign affairs think tank.

Washington has not commented in detail on three competing proposals to expand the council, except to repeat support for a permanent seat for Japan and an unnamed developing nation. However, U.S. officials have long tried to whittle down the size of U.N. bodies, saying smaller is more efficient, effective and accountable.

Proposals to increase the Security Council from 15 seats to 25 or 26 “give us great pause,” Mr. Bolton said, adding that 19 or 20 seats should be the maximum.

All the plans in contention propose a much larger council, giving louder voices to Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The General Assembly is likely to take up the matter again in about three weeks, under the leadership of new GA President Jan Eliasson.

Betsy Pisik may be reached via e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

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