Now, to be honest, this item and another from CSM came up in my search for more detail on the proposed changes to the Charter of the UN. I think that more of that is going to have to wait. There are other matters at hand.
What is more to the point presently is the furore that surrounds Kofi Annan. This is an interesting little piece of demonisation, not least because in many respects it goes hand in hand with the “ineffectiveness of the UN”. That there is something rather nasty smelling in the back of his pantry is, in my opinion, a convenient hook on which to get him hung. The truth of the matter is, objectively, that Annan’s connections to the Iraq Oil money scandal is no different to the relationship between Cheney and Halliburton.
Annan’s bio, courtesy of the UN, makes for interesting reading and especially this part…
Official UN bio - Annan
Before being appointed Secretary-General, Mr. Annan served as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (March 1992-February 1993) and then as Under-Secretary-General (March 1993-December 1996). His tenure as Under-Secretary-General coincided with unprecedented growth in the size and scope of United Nations peacekeeping operations, with a total deployment, at its peak in 1995, of almost 70,000 military and civilian personnel from 77 countries. From November 1995 to March 1996, following the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Annan served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia, overseeing the transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to the multinational Implementation Force (IFOR) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
He has used his good offices in several delicate political situations. These included an attempt in 1998 to gain Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions; a mission in 1998 to help promote the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria; an agreement in 1999 to resolve a stalemate between Libya and the Security Council over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing; diplomacy in 1999 to forge an international response to violence in East Timor; the certification of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in September 2000, and further efforts, since the renewed outbreak of violence in September 2000, to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their differences through peaceful negotiations based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of "land for peace".
Why do I think that significant? Not because it is wrong. To my knowledge it is totally factual, except for one small detail.
During 1995-6, Annan was the Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Africa. He had particular responsibility for the administration of UN activity in Central Africa. He was responsible for the administration of UNFOMOR and subsequently UNFOMIR. As is well known, this UN attempt at administering conflict control (in this instance in Rwanda) without involvement was something of an unmitigated disaster.
A very big part of the cause, I have read, is Annan’s personal attitude that the UN had no mandate to get involved in the internal affairs of any nation. That he was dealing with Bosnia at much the same time, and with much the same result as far as the UN was concerned is more than coincidental. His recommendation (as I recall it ) that NATO should deal with Serbia / Bosnia as it saw fit is merely another of the expressions of that attitude.
So, how did he become Sec Gen of the UN? This is how I see it…
He replaced Boutros-Ghali…
Boutros-Ghali bio - independant?
Boutros-Ghali, Boutros , 1922–, Egyptian statesman, secretary-general of the United Nations (1992–96). He attended the universities of Cairo and Paris (Ph.D., 1949). He was (1949–79) professor of international relations at Cairo Univ. A member of numerous academic and diplomatic organizations, he was present (1978) at the Egypt-Israel Camp David Accords negotiations. He also served as Egypt's delegate to the United Nations and other international bodies and conferences. A member of the Egyptian parliament (1987–91), Boutros-Ghali became Egypt's minister of state for foreign affairs and deputy prime minister for foreign affairs. The first African and Arab head of the United Nations, he moved to reorganize and streamline the UN Secretariat and strengthen the UN's peacekeeping role. In 1996, after policy disagreements mainly with the United States, he was forced from office. He became secretary-general of La Francophonie, an organization of French-speaking nations, in 1997.
Boutros-Ghali headed the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in 1979,1982 and 1990. From 1992 to 1996 he served as Secretary General to the United Nations (U.N.). He was the first Arab and the first African to obtain this post, which he assumed as the role of the U.N. was expanding in the post-Cold War era. During his term he was faced with crises in Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, and the former Yugoslavia. Throughout his tenure he was concerned with conflict in the Middle East and the widening economic divide between North and South, as well as the bureaucratic reorganisation of the U.N. Secretariat. The United States opposed his re-election for a second term despite strong African and Security Council support for his cadidacy.
Boutros-Ghali made an enemy of the US. No debate on that. He was quite a different Sec Gen that Annan has been. He was much more in the mould of Hammerskjold, an independent thinker who is not averse to shoving people around to get them into a course of action. Of course, when Boutros-Ghali began trying to shunt the US on its position in the Middle East, and Israel in particular, some noses went out of joint very quickly. The accusations against him (again my memory) did not specifically state but inferred strongly that trying to influence US foreign policy was “interfering in its internal affairs”. In some respects, no make that many respects, the Rwanda debacle was a convenient clothesline on which to hang him out to dry.
So, what should the rest of the world have expected?
Here we have the incumbent Sec Gen Boutros-Ghali, not doing a bad job; a bit abrasive; not afraid of telling important people what he thinks; making one or two – especially one – very powerful enemies.
The rules of the UN require the Sec Gen to be a diplomat, from a “non-aligned” nation, and that the post will be rotated among the five major continents. Thus we have had Europe (Hammerskjold), Asia (Thant) and Africa (Boutros-Ghali). That meant (and I recall this being debated at length) the next Sec Gen should come from the Americas.
Now that was an arrangement that pleased one particular nation very much indeed. But the Africa bloc were considerably p’d off that their “turn” was being cut short by the US applying its Veto to the reappointment of Boutros-Ghali.
In the end, the solution came back to compromise. Africa put up an alternative candidate that the US could agree to. Why could they agree to Annan?
Simple. He had already shown himself to be strongly on the side of non-interference in internal matters of individual nations, and he had also shown himself to be a very good administrator… Totally ineffectual when required.
Back to the CSM for the final word from the article (same link as the first...)
The panel proposes an expansion that includes either six new permanent members - with no veto - or new regionally distributed seats renewable every four years. That would boost membership from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Muslim world.
But critics say adding more voices at the table means more debates, more lobbying, more gamesmanship - and less action.
"Yes, it will make it slower, but ... it will be more representative, will boost the ego of the other continents, and make them happier by opting them in," says Yusuf Juwayeyi, the former UN ambassador for Malawi.
While the veto of the "Permanent Five" will continue to dictate how and when the Council responds to crises, two other factors also look unlikely to change: the widespread lack of political will among UN member-states to act against friends and neighbors - regardless of the transgression - and the vital role the US plays in UN success.
But the US is not expected to embrace any UN reforms that would dilute its influence there or constrain its ability to act unilaterally. And that really is the nub...
"The United States should exercise its moral authority to work through the UN and really find a way to forge these solutions to common problems," says Suzanne DiMaggio, of the UN advocacy group United Nations Association of the USA. "It's not that I'm not holding France, China, and Russia to the same standard, but the US is a special case, as the world's only superpower. It's beholden upon us to be a leader."
And, guess why there is still considerable pressure for the UN to get shot of Annan?
There is still the matter of who will replace him. It is the turn of which continent next? Who in the Americas would be non-aligned and acceptable to the rest of the world?
That, really, is the greatest threat by far to the continuation of the UN.