Archive for the ‘reform’ Category

Times of London reports on Ban’s vote buying

September 29, 2006

Update: The Indian press has picked up on this too and going into their typical feeding frenzy.

We have said that this is an extremely important issue and deserves a higher level of scrutiny. Now a mainstream newspaper has documented the charges. The basic framing is:

Mr Ban announced his bid in February and has since been criss-crossing the globe trying to win support. A month later South Korea announced that it would treble its aid budget to Africa to $100 million (£53 million) by 2008. Seoul then contributed tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor this year’s African Union summit in the Gambia in July, when Mr Ban declared 2006 to be “the Year of Africa” for South Korea.

Then the article discusses Tanzania. This is one of the clearest cases that we have discussed:

One fortunate recipient was Tanzania, which currently has a seat on the Security Council. When Mr Ban arrived in May he pledged $18 million for an educational programme and also promised to carry out a road and bridge project in western Tanzania. Between 1991 and 2003 South Korean grants to Tanzania totalled $4.7 million. Seoul’s generosity seems to have worked. Yesterday Elly Matango, the Tanzanian Ambassador to Tokyo and Seoul, said that his Government had decided to support Mr Ban

Next stop Greece:

This month President Roh and Mr Ban headed the most senior South Korean delegation since 1961 to visit Greece, another Security Council member. Overseen by hundreds of South Korean businessmen, the countries signed agreements on trade, tourism and maritime transport.

It is about time that the media gives this race proper scrutiny. We believe that more examples are out there and need to be properly discussed and identified. In many countries, this kind of behavior would disqualify a candidate for public office and open them to criminal prosecution. We have trouble seeing how a candidate that acts like this has any credibility leading the UN.

This is important because it provides the US and UK a reason to veto Ban while also undermining the credibility of the UN. Conservatives in the US especially will use this as another reason to distrust the UN.


UNSG race as North versus South

June 22, 2006

Bloomberg has an interesting article on the UNSG race today. It seems to argue that this race is simply North versus South or P5 versus GA. The Egyptian Ambassador says that the GA may reject the UNSC's pick:

We want a greater say. The General Assembly made a mistake by never turning down a candidate from the Security Council. It might happen this year.

The Indian Ambassador says:

"Things have to be different … This is a year of reform. The world has changed. The Cold War has ended and democracy is expanding. This should be reflected in the selection process.

This is interesting from Shashi's campaign manager. Of course, Shashi is running an incredibly public campaign. While still primarily in India, he is speaking to the press about his candidacy, something that other candidates simply are not doing in the same way. He is making policy statements to the microphone, not in papers or meetings.

The article also points out the management fights:

The U.S., EU and Japan, which together contribute 80 percent of the UN's budget, have threatened to cut their support unless the General Assembly — which consists of the world body's 191 members — cedes more control to the secretary- general over spending and the hiring and firing of employees.

In this context, Shashi is talking about his own management at the UN:

I am absolutely convinced that reforms are essential. I set about reforming my own department, which was in a bad shape and even shut down eight offices in the West. It's a model for the rest of the secretariat

Perhaps Pakistan is saying it best now:

it will be critical that the new guy come in and put the building back together.

Shashi on his own candidacy

June 20, 2006

The day after his nomination, Shashi spoke to UNA-USA on UN reform:

Mr. Tharoor believes his nomination – in particular the way it was presented – is the first example of the new, more open process of nominating a Secretary General. The process has started out much more transparently and openly than in the past, when decisions were made in secret conversations held in 'smoke-filled rooms'.  States are hoping the change the process in other ways as well – suggestions have emerged for having hearings or consultations with candidates, in front of member states or regional groups.

Unfortunately, UNA-USA did not report many of his comments on reform. It seems that making statements on reform is a necessary part of the campaign (see Ban's and Dhanapala's). We do not believe we've heard anything from Sathirathai.

With the evidence suggesting that Shashi is the candidate of the NGO and UN insider crowd, we wonder how many more events like this will be sponsored by UN related groups.

Human Rights Council opens today

June 19, 2006

Today, the new Human Rights Council begins operation in Geneva. The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform. However, Human Rights Watch sent a warning on Friday demanding "No Business as Usual".

The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform, and, indeed, there have been a number of important improvements.

There have already been some changes. South Korean candidate Ban Ki-moon has said that North Korea needs to begin to address its human rights record. As the article points out:

The remarks by Ban, who is eyeing the top UN post, represent a departure for South Korea by singling out the North without lumping it with other offenders like Burma. South Korea has been criticized for its passivity over human rights abuses in the Stalinist country on the international stage.

"The government has made progress in its position on the issue by taking issue with North Korea’s human rights record at a global event,” a government official said. South Korea has been absent or abstained since 2003 whenever the UN adopted resolutions on North Korea’s human rights violations.

As previous posts have pointed out (here, here, and here), we are concerned about North Korea and Human rights. If a resolution comes up on Uzbekistan or Egypt, who have also endorsed Ban Ki-moon, will he support challenging their records?

Sri Lanka, India, and South Korea are on the Council. It will be interesting to see how these countries vote over the next several months.

More on Shashi’s announcement

June 14, 2006

This is now all over the Indian press. Times of India has a nice article. Some excerpts:

But apart from Tharoor, Dhanapala, one of the strongest candidates for the top job, is the only other with a long stint in the UN.

Tharoor's advantage is that though he is identified with India, he is not part of the Indian government, not even the foreign service. However, he is also known to be one of Kofi Annan's favourites and this could go against him.

But the really interesting bit is the part about what Shashi has to do about reform:

In fact, to promote his candidature, Tharoor will now be required to come up with a script for UN reform that marks a qualitative improvement upon Annan's, and, more acceptable to countries like US which will have a decisive say in determining who gets the slot at stake.

Thus far, he has stuck to the spirit of the reform exercise, saying: "The UN needs reform not because it has failed but because it has accomplished enough over the years to be worth investing in."

More later.

Annan calls Reform “A Moment of Truth”

June 12, 2006

Kofi Annan published an op-ed in today’s Financial Times. The Secretary-General begins with a challenge to the members of the United Nations:

Aminor storm broke out last week when Mark Malloch Brown, my deputy, made a speech suggesting that the US should engage more fully and wholeheartedly with other membersof the UN to bring about reform. That is absolutely right, but he and Ibelieve the same message needs to be heard in many other countries besides the US.

This is an important moment. All the candidates are going to support reform on some level or another or suffer a lack of support from multiple P5 members. But how much will they push it? How much will they be able to push the issues amongst the developing countries. As Annan says, they are the primary benefits of UN programs:

Most of these are well aware of the need to reform – not least because it is in those countries that the UN provides vital services from peacekeeping and peace-building through emergency relief to strengthening human rights, helping organise elections and fighting infectious disease. That means they are the ones who have most to gain from a well-managed UN that really gives value for money.

One of the important questions in this race will be who can say this to the developing world with credibility? Who will they trust to manage and implement reforms to benefit them?

More on Ban’s reform seminar

June 8, 2006

The Korean press is full of praises for Ban Ki-moon's reform seminar. This story focuses on the people who spoke at it:

  • Park Soo-gil of Korea, South Korean Ambassador to the UN when ROK was President of the UNSC
  • Danilo Turk of Slovenia, former Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs
  • Ahmad Kamal, former Ambassador from Pakistan to the UN
  • Pera Wells, Secretary General of the World Federation of UN Associations
  • Oh Joon of Korea, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN

Some choice comments:

Kamal: The United Nations is in one of the greatest crises in all its history. In all of the years I have been around the U.N., I have never seen this level of suspicion or this level of confrontation. In an atmosphere of globalization, an institution that is multilateral, like the United Nations, becomes an essential player. What is needed perhaps is to slow down the level of rhetoric. This is not the time to go fast and to draw lines.

Turk: The United Nations is not yet fit for the challenges of the 21st century. The U.N. has to adjust its structures, its methods of work to be better able to deal with challenges. Of course the big question is whether there is enough agreement about what the challenges are and which challenges have to be taken as a priority.

Oh: I think the question should be more about how we can make the U.N. fit for the new challenges of the 21st century. It seems to me that we do not have much alternative. So it's not really about whether we should continue our efforts or whether we should give up on the U.N., but it's more about how we can make it meet the challenges. That's why we are now discussing reform in the United Nations. The debate itself is very important because it is about the future of the UN.

Ban Ki-moon’s reform seminar

June 8, 2006

As we have previously reported, the South Korean Foreign Ministry is hosting a seminar on UN reform, co-sponsored by the UN Association.

Ban gave the keynote address of the workshop. In his keynote, he identified "dialogue" as the key to solving the problems of the UN, according to the Korea Herald:

"The key, I believe, is genuine dialogue among all the stakeholders. …

"The United Nations, always accused of too much talk, is in short supply when it comes to genuine dialogue and understanding."

"The current mistrust over the secretariat management reform, I believe, is also due as much to the lack of honest discussion among member states with different views."

This is very similar to what he said last week at CFR, which we also discussed. As we indicated there, we find this unsatisfactory. Something programmatic must be done to address the divisions in the UN.

Next on Ban's schedule: wooing the third African UNSC member.

Latvian candidate speaks to US Congress

June 7, 2006

Today the President of Latvia, Dr.Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, spoke to a joint session of the US Congress. We don't take her seriously as a candidate. The Russians would veto her, no doubt. Just consider this part of her statement:

Fifteen years ago Latvia, along with neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, regained its independence after fifty years of Soviet occupation. The Baltic Singing Revolution achieved this by non-violent means, and the sheer courage and determination of the peoples of these countries. They were ready to face Soviet guns and tanks with nothing but their unarmed bodies and the deep conviction of their rights, knowing full well that, at any moment, these guns and tanks might crush them as they had crushed so many others before.

Putin would veto for this alone. But this is still quite an interesting speech. First, this is the first candidate to speak to Congress in a format that is reserved only for the highest level dignitaries. The new Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, etc. Those are the kinds of people that speak to Congress.

After a long passage on Europe, she spoke on the United Nations. I think that we can assume thather statements on the UN to represent a position that the US is maximally comfortable with. This sounds like an American or someone who is self-consciously being a "friend of America". We have excerpted below the passage related to the UN:

I was pleased that the General Assembly managed to agree in principle on the necessity for sweeping and fundamental reforms. The new Peace-building Commission was created, which we need for diffusing long-lasting conflicts. Too often in the past, the UN has been unable to prevent genocide and lasting bloodshed: in the Congo, in Rwanda, in the former Yugoslavia and in the Darfur region of Sudan.


One of the UN’s fundamental roles lies in the defense of human rights. The newly created Human Rights Council must become more credible and more effective than the Commission that preceded it. Its best way to gain credibility would be by starting with a thorough and unbiased evaluation of the human rights record of its own newly elected Council members.

She comes out swinging.

Most dangerous [challenge] of all is the continuing and growing gap between the developing and developed nations. The great divide between North and South, between haves and have-nots is as dangerous as the divide between Eastern and Western blocs ever was during the Cold War. We have to do our utmost to reach the UN’s Millennium Goals of reducing poverty in the developing world.

Unlike Ban, she makes a link between security and development.

Brutal and unremitting poverty is a scourge, unsolved in spite of decades of massive international aid and countless well-meant programs. Clearly, the quality of governance in aid-receiving countries has a crucial role to play, as well as their readiness to foster reforms and progress. But the quality of aid-providing efforts also needs to be improved. We need better international coordination of results-oriented programs, which should be constantly monitored for their effectiveness.

Note that this ignores a significant criticism of so much American aid: it is tied.

The world-wide spread of terrorism as well as the growing signs of intolerance and xenophobia in many countries underscore the urgent world-wide need for a meaningful and sustained Dialogue between Civilizations. As already recognized at the Millennium General Assembly of the United Nations, our common goal is to overcome the prejudice, misperceptions and polarization that stand as barriers to better understanding and consensus among members of different races, religions and cultures.

Terrorism is the closest we have to security issues, other than non-proliferation, which comes below.

Due to the enormous importance of nuclear non-proliferation, the world’s democracies should maintain a coherent position regarding the nuclear program of Iran. We welcome the recent joint initiatives by the United States, the UN Security Council and the European Union to offer a constructive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and hope that the Iranian leadership will respond in kind.

Again, we don't consider her to be a serious candidate, as such. Merely an expression of the ideal type of the United States.

Ban campaigns on reform and passes out (more!) cash

June 5, 2006

Today’s Korea Times has two important articles today:

First, the Foreign Minister of Ghana came to Seoul and got a promise of a check:

President Roh Moo-hyun said Monday South Korea is going to expand its grant and credit assistance to Ghana so the two countries could further promote cooperative ties, according to Chong Wa Dae.

Roh hoped Ghana could share the South Korean experience of rapid economic growth through various exchange programs of government officials as well as the expanded aid, Jung said in a press release.

Of course, Ghana is a Security Council member. We have reported before here, here, and here on Ban’s campaign trips. By our estimates, Ban has promised $48 million in foreign aid to Uzbekistan ($30 million), Tanzania ($18 million), and promises for other exchanges with other countries. This is the second promise of foreign aid to an African Security Council member.

Ban is also holding a seminar on UN reform in Seoul:

The United Nations Association in South Korea will host an international seminar at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on June 8-9 on the challenges the global organization is facing in the 21st century.

Foreign participants include Pera Wells of Australia, acting secretary-general of the World Federation of United Nations Associations; Jin Yongjian, president of the United Nations Association in China; and Mark Minton, deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

Does anyone else think it’s a strange juxtaposition to pass out money for votes and then campaign on reform? We will have an analysis of Ban’s CFR speech on reform later today. Presumably this wasn’t what Suzzane Nossel meant by “moral authority“?