Kofi Annan releases report on UN Reform

Kofi Annan has finally released his report and recommendations on how to go about reforming the United Nations.

I’m in the process of looking through it. It’s, of course, very large. But already I see encouraging facets to the recommendations. Even if they may not go far enough, they are definitely going in the right direction, and I’m seeing many important questions being asked, and answered.

I’ve downloaded the report so you can grab it here.

The CounterTerrorism Blog has a good writeup on what they think of Annans call for a “Terrorism Convention” to be approved by the General Assembly this year.

My Pet Peeve with the UN has always been the Security Council.

Briefly, here are some excerpts on its’ fate from the report:

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The Security Council must be broadly representative of the realities of power in today’s world.

….

They should… increase the involvement in decision-making of those who contribute most to the United Nations financially, militarily and diplomatically, specifically in terms of contributions to United Nations assessed budgets, participation in mandated peace operations, contributions to voluntary activities of the United Nations in the areas of security and development, and diplomatic activities in support of United Nations objectives and mandates. Among developed countries, achieving or making substantial progress towards the internationally agreed level of 0.7 per cent of GNP for ODA should be considered an important criterion of contribution;

Member States should agree to take a decision on this important issue before the summit in September 2005. It would be very preferable for Member States to take this vital decision by consensus, but if they are unable to reach consensus this must not become an excuse for postponing action.

Sounds like a “you pay, you play” mentality. And Annan wants it to happen ASAP. The question is, will the current Veto-wielding members be agreeable to such huge reforms. I have my doubts.

He proposes two models (non of which do anything to change the current veto system):

Sec Council Models

I would see Model B as representing the greatest progress towards a more democratic and representative Security Council.

I personally don’t think any SC position should be “permanent”. Model Bs’ combination of long-term renewable and short-term non-renewable positions is what the entire SC should look like. Model B also shows 2 “long term” positions for the Americas, whereas Model A only has one additional permanent member. I don’t think Canada needs to be on the Security Council, but given the aforementioned criteria, might find itself on there, whether that would be a “wasted” seat, i don’t know… but if that were the case I would definitely want Brazil or another worthy South American country to be granted a long-term position as it is critical for that part of the world to be more engaged in International affairs.

Both models would ensure that Asia, Africa and South America would gain representation in a more permanent way. This is key to ensuring that the Security Council remains effective. Though I am still worried that without reform of the veto process itself, we may simply be looking at even more deadlock down the road regardless or because of these changes.

Annan never actually mentioned, from what I have read so far… the “Responsibility to Protect” document promoted by many world leaders including Paul Martin. But he did have this to say about the UNs’ response to Humanitarian disasters and events.

I expect them to include a series of proposals for new standby arrangements for personnel and equipment to ensure the capacity to respond immediately to major disasters and other emergencies, if need be in several areas at the same time. I shall work with Member States and agencies to ensure that these proposals, once finalized, will be implemented without delay.

….In order to save unnecessary pain and suffering it is essential to protect humanitarian space and ensure that humanitarian actors have safe and unimpeded access to vulnerable populations.

I can only hope all this pussy-footing and diplo-speak will lead to a real reform of the UN that includes the will and ability to respond quickly to threats of conflict against the displaced and disadvantaged in the world.

We can only wait and ssee how this all plays out.

Update

The BBC is carrying some reaction from Member States.

US state department spokesman Adam Ereli called Mr Annan’s proposals an ambitious agenda.

The Japanese ambassador to the UN, Kenzo Oshima said his country – like Germany, Brazil and India – favoured an expanded Security Council and wanted to see it reformed to reflect political realities in the 21st Century.

The Nigerian ambassador to the UN, Amin Wali, said Nigeria was pleased with the proposal that Africa would get two permanent seats on the Security Council.

The UK ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, said the report must be seen as a whole – if it was dismembered, he said, there would be no agreement.

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