Restoring the U.N.’s Credibility
The U.N.’s 60th anniversary celebration yesterday was devoted, not to the accomplishments of the past six decades but rather to the need to restore the organization’s credibility.
Bitter differences between U.N. member states have blocked many crucial United Nations reforms, and nations must act boldly to restore the world body’s credibility, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a summit of world leaders.
Presidents and prime ministers were more blunt about the U.N. system at the gathering that marked the United Nations’ 60th anniversary. If member countries want the United Nations to be respected and effective, they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect,” President Bush said Wednesday. “The United Nations should live up to its name,” Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair said.
Instead of a celebration of U.N. achievements since its founding in the ashes of World War II, the summit was much more a somber reappraisal of its shortcomings and a debate about how to meet the daunting challenges of a world where poverty and violence are still endemic.
Coming into the summit, diplomats had to dilute a document on goals for tackling rights abuses, terrorism and U.N. reform because they couldn’t settle their disputes.
Therein lies the problem. Because of the diversity of the member states, there is little chance of achieving concensus on even the most fundamental issues. The underdeveloped states see the U.N. as a giant teat from which to suckle money from the prosperous whereas the West sees it as a mechanism for spreading democracy, law, and order. Reconciling those visions is next to impossible.