Seventy years ago today, warships lay anchored in a cove off Newfoundland, Canada. Churchill and Roosevelt set out principles for a post-war world, one of the first steps towards the creation of the United Nations. Today that institution confronts a vast array of problems, some potentially terminal. It is needed in ways its founders could not have imagined. And it is sorely neglected.
The myopia of powerful governments is clearly shown in their preference for weak candidates for UN secretary-general. Occasionally they misjudge their man, with interesting results. With Dag Hammarskjöld, it was peacekeeping. Kofi Annan's staff devised the millennium development goals. This time – with the quiet reappointment of secretary-general Ban Ki-moon this summer – they got what they wanted. Mr Ban presides over the slow decay of the UN secretariat, an institution that should be working, as Hammarskjöld said, on the edge of progress. In its last annual report, Human Rights Watch wrote "far from condemning repression, Ban sometimes went out of his way to portray oppressive governments in a positive light". China, Burma, Sri Lankahave benefited from Mr Ban's lax hand. To save his legacy he must refresh his top team with people who understand the UN's principles.
In Washington, the flame of Roosevelt and Truman burns low. Barack Obama and his UN ambassador Susan Rice are too aware of the Republican opposition at home to make a powerful case for the UN. But Mr Obama seeks retrenchment, and an effective UN would help him achieve it. The emerging powers are jealous of their sovereignty and ambivalent about human rights. The challenge is to bind these powers into a progressive security council. Take Libya. Britain, America and France should never again elide the responsibility to protect populations with regime change. Brazil and India, among others, must also recognise that when a ruler declares war on his own people he forfeits sovereignty.
Meanwhile, deeper currents are making the UN more, not less relevant. The UN is midwife to the world's newest country, South Sudan. To date, one of the few agreements about climate change is that it should be addressed through the UN. After the Arab spring it is harder to deny that universal rights are universal, and amid a panoply of international organisations only the UN combines universal membership with universal values. A thousand UN services express these values, from tending to the latest famine to international courts and tribunals, from research and statistics to health, elections, children or culture. Many of them succeed quietly every day.
For this the UN has won the Nobel peace prize 10 times, but peacekeeping itself is neglected. Iraq and Afghanistan were lessons in the impotence of force without legitimacy. UN peacekeepers combine both, at a fraction of the cost. For all the disasters since the cold war, UN peacekeepers have a better peaceful and democratic legacy in the worst conflicts than anyone else at a fraction of the cost . A month of war in Iraq cost the same as the UN peacekeeping budget for 16 missions. But the troops the UN is lent are poorly resourced. Worse, operations are crippled by the UN's broken human resources system .
Currently before diplomats in New York are proposals on civilian capacity. It is not unknown for applications to rest in the UN's intray for five years before being considered. A way must be established for the UN to hire quality staff for critical work within a few months.
The United Nations resembles Gaudi's cathedral, the Sagrada Familia. It is half-built, it has great achievements to its name, but its parts are not connected and there are new threats to its foundations. Millions of people need its sanctuary and protection. History will frown on those who do not build.
Robert Orr needs a Chinese Visa to enter UN's DC2 building
Rio+20: GreenPeace Statement
Greenpeace International Executive Director has released a statement on his views of Rio+20. "The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure, It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy" were Kumi Naidoo frank comments after the text for the outcome document was adopted. Please click here for the full statement.
UN Policy Coordination on the Road
DESA's Telecommuting Assistant Secretary General
Sha Zukang's behavior not appropriate...
Sha's behavior was not appropriate as a senior advisor. And he also knows that his behavior has embarrassed most of the [other] senior advisors at that time.
Mr. Chance (buy this book now)
Click on the picture and purchase this book now. It's already a best seller. It shows the coward Ban Ki Moon and his Korean team in action.
Chinese Social Affairs Department
"UN needs complete leadership overhaul"
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who asked Ashdown to carry out the report, said the government would give its response in about six weeks.
Czech President Klaus
"...this is the time for international organizations, including the United Nations, to reduce their expenditures, make their administrations thinner, and leave the solutions to the governments of member states"
Sha Zukang Disrespectful of UN Rules
UN staff rules require employees to uphold and respect the principles set out in the Charter, including faith in fundamental human rights. They prohibit U.N. employees from accepting instructions from any government or from any other source external to the organization. UN staff should avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status.
Barack Obama on UN Reform
Obtain Refund of Funds Owed to the U.S. by the U.N.
CLICK ON VOTE - to save approximate $180 million in one time savings
Get ready U.N. !!
Let's raise our voices
The following months are critical. Changing DESA is in your hand. Speak up now and share our message with all colleagues.
NyTimes disavows Ban Ki Moon
"The United States, meanwhile, should think hard about whether it wants to support Mr. Ban’s re-election" NyTimes Editorial - Nov 03, 2010
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UN at 65
State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley
"Sha Zukang seems to be cranky at lots of folks. It will not affect our relations with China."
UN STAFF RESOLUTION ON BAN KI MOON
If SG Ban Ki-moon fails to take immediate steps towards real reform to address these urgent systemic issues, Staff Union will consider a vote of NO-CONFIDENCE
Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners is at once the darkly comic tale of one man's political coming of age and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of the world's most idealistic institution.
Hacked Emails Show Blatant Climate Change Fraud
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What will this successful Chinese Diplomat do different?