Wanted: UN Lobbyist
New-Look UN Seeks Washington Appointee (Financial Times)
The United Nations is looking for a well-connected Washington figure to head its information office there, as part of a wide-ranging image makeover to improve relations with Congress.
The move, revealed to the Financial Times on Thursday, is touted as part of a public information revolution within the UN, which began with the recent appointment of Mark Malloch Brown, a former strategic communications professional, as chief of staff to Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general. According to one UN insider, the idea is to appoint an influential advocate with Capitol Hill experience who Ã¢€œunderstands how Washington works, can make calls, and get those calls answeredÃ¢€.
The UN had previously resisted following the Ã¢€œrevolving doorÃ¢€ model of Washington lobbying, in which departing lawmakers and policymakers use their contacts to push particular interests. But a change in business conduct is now seen as crucial amid strong congressional criticism of the UN’s handling of Iraq’s oil-for-food programme and other scandals.
It’s astonishing that a global institution wouldn’t have such a lobbyist in the first place. Isn’t the US the most powerful country? Isn’t it, at the most basic level, a permanent member of the security council? Why wouldn’t you have a full-fledged operation whose sole purpose is to monitor beltway politics, especially since one major party tends to take a skeptical view of your very existence?
I can somewhat understand the desire to stick to principle and resist the revolving door. Perhaps it would upset other influential countries, which already disdain American might. Who knows? But, as far as I’m concerned, you take these lumps and establish direct communications with Washington anyway. You can’t risk encountering a problem as seemingly minor as a misunderstanding when you’re dealing with such high stakes.
If you’re only beginning to recruit someone who can “get those calls answered,” then it’s no wonder you’re feeling the heat.
I hear Dan Rather’s going to be free in a few months. 😉
I am not sure why the UN should have a lobbyist in any country–let alone the US. The UN is only as pertinent as its member states make it. In fact, this plan seems to violate the UN Charter (Art. 2, #7; Art. 100) as it would assume involvement in a member state’s affairs.
Certainly the recent noise made by members of Congress regarding Kofi Annan’s role in the so-called “oil for food scandal” is guided by ideological considerations and absolutely void of independent evidence. But creating a lobbying presence in Wsashington is not the correct (or legal) way to silence these baseless charges.