UN Secretary-General Against Nation States

ÁÎ×Ó¹â HenryC.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at SPAMmindspring.com
Fri Dec 31 11:24:13 MST 1999

The UN Secretary-General against nation states through civil society.

Annan's advisors:   At the International Peace Academy, Mr. Malone
        attributes a lot of Mr. Annan's intellectual
        independence to the growing influence of key outsiders
        he has brought into his inner circle. They include John
        Ruggie, an American on leave as dean of the Columbia
        University School of International and Public Affairs;
        Edward Mortimer, a Briton who was foreign editor of
        The Financial Times and is now Mr. Annan's
        speechwriter, and Andrew Mack, an American scholar
        who is head of an in-house think tank set up by Mr.

A war of ideas is shaping up at the UN.

December 31, 1999

        Kofi Annan Unsettles Important
        People, as He Believes the U.N.
        Should Do


            NITED NATIONS, Dec. 29 -- When Kofi Annan,
            a soft-spoken aristocrat from Ghana, was elected
        the United Nations' seventh secretary general three
        years ago, the quiet insider with a gentle sense of
        humor was welcomed as a healer in an organization
        raked by derision from American politicians and
        unsettled by an ugly Clinton administration campaign to
        oust his predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

        Now, with two more years to go in his first term, Mr.
        Annan is turning out to be one of the most provocative
        leaders the United Nations has known.

        Among those who prefer a tamer kind of secretary
        general, Mr. Annan sets off alarms with speeches and
        reports that castigate his own organization and the
        world's major powers for doing nothing in the face of
        predictable catastrophes. He has brushed aside the
        notion that national borders are inviolable and argued
        that the world has the right to intervene when leaders
        abuse their people. He has given public support to
        Israel in its battle to gain a full place in the United
        Nations and talked tough to fellow Africans about their
        continent's shortcomings.

        "This is not at all what a lot of people expected," said
        Sir Brian Urquhart, a former under secretary general
        for political affairs who has written several books
        about the organization and its leaders.

        "He seems to feel that he's in a position to say, in a
        perfectly civil way, things that other people really
        might not have found the courage to say."

        Aggressive in his beliefs? Assertive in style? Mr.
        Annan thought those questions over in an interview on
        Monday and did not disagree.

        "I've always tried to be that, but I've probably done it in
        my own way," he said, adding that he gets attention
        because he has "put issues on the table" involving the
        action or inaction of member nations and the sharper
        scrutiny of past operations and the lessons to be drawn.

        "In my judgment," he said, "one cannot have a real
        mission without a sense of history. You need to look

        "We work in an organization where one usually tries to
        avoid conflict, but when the issues are that important
        and also that persistent, one needs to find a way of
        getting them debated, and move forward in a rational
        and perhaps more organized manner."

        But in his zeal Mr. Annan seems to have antagonized
        both the third world and influential foreign policy
        experts in Washington, where he directs some blame
        for a deteriorating international political climate. In
        October, after the Senate rejected the Comprehensive
        Test Ban Treaty, he said the move undermined
        American leadership in disarmament.

        Like Mr. Boutros-Ghali, who the Clinton administration
        believed had to be removed because he had become a
        lightning rod for anti-United Nations sentiment, Mr.
        Annan may be heading for a collision with vocal
        Republicans wary of any powerful international voice,
        particularly a critical one.

        "I think if he continues down this road, ultimately it
        means war, at least with the Republican Party," said
        John R. Bolton, who was the Bush administration's
        assistant secretary of state for international
        organizations and a leading conservative commentator
        on foreign policy.

        The new Mr. Annan shifted gears perceptibly in
        September at the opening of this year's General
        Assembly session, normally a ponderous and largely
        ceremonial affair, when he announced it was time to
        stop letting governments hide behind routine
        declarations of national sovereignty if human rights
        were being violated.

        The outrage was immediate.

        "What I hear is not my idea of the new world order,"
        Theo-Ben Gurirab, the foreign minister of Namibia and
        president of the General Assembly, told a diplomatic
        gathering soon after Mr. Annan's speech. The idea of a
        right to "humanitarian intervention," he said, was an
        alarming threat to small nations and to the "sacred
        principles and purposes of the Charter itself."

        In the months that followed, Mr. Annan turned the
        spotlight inward, publishing two tough, unvarnished
        reports on United Nations disasters: the murderous
        Serbian assaults in 1995 on areas of Bosnia that the
        United Nations had declared "safe havens," and the
        failure of the organization to prevent or stop the
        genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when hundreds of
        thousands, mostly ethnic Tutsi, were massacred by
        Hutu-led militias.

        Mr. Annan was then head of the United Nations
        peacekeeping department, which took a beating in both
        reports. In neither case was any effort apparently made
        to tone down the findings, which had often happened in
        the past at the United Nations.

        The secretary general publicly and readily accepted
        blame. But the reports did not stop there: they
        implicated the powerful Security Council -- in effect, a
        cabinet of nations led by the five permanent members,
        the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain --
        in the woeful lack of quick and active responses to
        clear signs that horrendous catastrophes were in the

        Some outsiders hailed his forthrightness. Others were

        "Kofi Annan's courage in writing with such devastating
        frankness and precision about the Srebrenica disaster"
        in Bosnia, "and assuming personal responsibility as
        well as responsibility for the Secretariat for its role in
        Rwanda, is nothing short of revolutionary at the United
        Nations," said David Malone, a Canadian foreign
        service officer who is now president of the
        International Peace Academy, an independent research
        organization in New York that guides diplomats on
        many issues.

        "On the other hand, the silence from national capitals,
        which were at least as heavily involved in
        decision-making over both Srebrenica and Rwanda has
        been deafening, with many of the politicians, military
        leaders and diplomats involved in those decisions
        making no moves to assume specific responsibility,"
        Mr. Malone added.

        Mr. Bolton, now executive vice president of the
        American Enterprise Institute, takes a different view.

        "This is a growing and serious issue, the illegitimacy of
        the secretary general's commenting on the performance
        of U.N. member governments," he said in an interview.
        "Much of the substance of the Srebrenica and Rwanda
        reports I agree with. The issue is whether an
        international civil servant has or can be given authority
        to criticize the performance of member governments.

        Mr. Bolton said he sees an "emerging pattern of
        behavior" from the secretary general that is troubling.
        "All international civil servants in the U.N. system are
        employees of member governments," he explained. "It's
        not to say you don't expect them to use their imagination
        or their creativity, but they have no authority to act
        outside a very limited scope of responsibility. He's
        well beyond pushing the envelope on that score."

        Mr. Annan says that "one could not have told the story
        of Srebrenica or Rwanda without looking at the role of
        all the players." His next project, he said, will be a
        broad study of how the United Nations does or should
        do peacekeeping in all its forms, from unarmed
        monitoring to the use of military force.

        In an earlier interview this fall, Mr. Annan, who first
        attracted American criticism for trying to negotiate with
        President Saddam Hussein when he began to block the
        work of United Nations arms inspectors in Iraq more
        than two years ago, put some distance between himself
        and the Clinton administration as he reconstructed the
        motivations that led him to go to Baghdad in February

        "If we were going to disarm Iraq, it was important that
        we retain the initiative," he said, recalling how he
        made his risky trip with a threat of American bombing
        hanging over the venture. "You can only retain the
        initiative by having people on the ground. You cannot
        do it from the air. I think that once we get to the
        situation where we have to use bombs, then we are on
        the verge of losing the initiative. That's one of the
        reasons I kept asking, 'After the bombing, then what?' "

        But his mission failed in several ways. Iraq signed an
        agreement, but that proved to be a hollow shell, and
        before the end of the year there was bombing anyway.
        That ended the old inspection system, and another year
        has since passed without any on-the-ground
        surveillance of Iraq. Inspections may -- or may not --
        resume sometime in the year to come under a new
        Security Council plan approved this month.

        "Yes, they didn't live up to the undertaking," he said of
        the Iraqis. "But does that mean we should not try
        diplomacy? I know some people have accused me of
        using diplomacy. That's my job. That's what I'm paid

        Mr. Annan said that his talks both with Mr. Hussein and
        later with Muammar el-Qaddafi -- which led to the
        surrender of two Libyans for trial in a special court on
        charges of blowing up Pan Am Flight 101 over
        Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 -- grew out of stalemates
        that the Security Council seemed unable to resolve.

        The secretary general, 61, a graduate of Macalester
        College and M.I.T. who has spent virtually all his
        working life within the United Nations system, said
        problems with Security Council members arise when
        countries, including the United States, seem to be
        working at cross purposes with the United Nations.

        "The secretary general and the Security Council work
        very well, and the U.S. and the Security Council work
        very well, on those issues where their policies are in
        complete harmony," he said. "In those situations where
        the U.S. is party to a Security Council consensus and
        has its own national policy in addition to that -- and is
        attempting to implement two policies -- one runs into
        difficulties. Sometimes the secretary general gets
        caught in between."

        At the International Peace Academy, Mr. Malone
        attributes a lot of Mr. Annan's intellectual
        independence to the growing influence of key outsiders
        he has brought into his inner circle. They include John
        Ruggie, an American on leave as dean of the Columbia
        University School of International and Public Affairs;
        Edward Mortimer, a Briton who was foreign editor of
        The Financial Times and is now Mr. Annan's
        speechwriter, and Andrew Mack, an American scholar
        who is head of an in-house think tank set up by Mr.

        "When he became secretary general, he knew that his
        strength was to be an insider," Mr. Malone said. "But
        that was also going to be a weakness. The outsiders
        have been playing a key role in challenging not only
        how the U.N. does things, but also how the U.N. thinks
        about itself. The U.N. is often self-satisfied, and the
        Secretariat adopts a victim position without necessarily
        thinking issues through."

        The secretary general's deputy, Louise Frechette of
        Canada, is a no-nonsense administrator with experience
        in Canada's defense ministry who has little patience for
        the time-consuming posturing of traditional United
        Nations behavior. Mr. Malone, who once worked for
        Ms. Frechette, said she stands in stark contrast to the
        "blathering of the U.N., where each delegate thinks he
        or she has the sovereign right to natter on indefinitely,
        whether it is related to the subject at hand or not."

        Mr. Annan says he is only fulfilling a pledge. "I did say
        from the beginning that alone I could do nothing and we
        need to reach out and work in partnership with civil
        society, the private sector, foundations and others. I've
        done that."

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