The U.S. and the U.N. : Time for Reappraisal


The U.S. and the U.N. : Time for Reappraisal

September 29, 1983 35 min read Download Report
Burton Yale
Senior Associate Fellow in African Affairs
(Archived document, may contain errors)

293 I September 29, 1983 THE US. AND THE U.N TIME FOR REAPPRAISAL INTRODUCTION After two centuries of disdain for international org aniza tions, the United States in the post-World War I1 era has become one of history's great joiners. In a short time, the U.S. signed on with scores of groups, ranging from the International Monetary Fund (1945) and NATO (1949) to the Inter-American Tro p ical Tuna Commission (1949), the North Pacific Fur Seal Commission (1957 and the International Agreement Regarding the Maintenance of Cer tain Lights in the Red Sea (1966 So vast grew this nation's memberships in international groups, that the State Depar t ment had to create in 1954 an entire section to deal with international organizations. By early 1983, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations had a staff of 172 to monitor U.S relations with 98 international groups the U.S. has ti e s to at least 50 other international agencies or commissions. The exact number of international bodies to which the U.S. belongs, in fact, no one in the government seems to know To some, America's readiness to join international bodies seemed like a betra y al of George Washington's Farewell Address warning that "in regard to foreign Nations have With them as little Political connection as possib1e.I' To others, U.S. post war internationalization was welcomed as a tardy but sensible affirmation of the Wilson ian vision. It was, in truth, neither.

U.S. participation in international organizations simply was recog nition that the civilized world faced extraordinary threats which could be countered only by active U.S. involvement-indeed, by In addition to those F rom a book to be published in Spring 1984 by Devin-Adair (Old Greenwich Connecticut), tentatively entitled Future 21: Decisions for America in the Year 2000. 2 U.S. leadership. In the years following the German and Japanese surrenders, the globe's industr i al economies were shattered and in need of repair. Europe's democracies were weary and confronting menacing Soviet troops further westward than Lenin ever could have imagined. And the world's financial institutions were reeling from the two decades of tur m oil caused by depression and war It clearly was in American interests to offer the security crutch to Western Europe provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the machinery to encourage world trade provided by the International Monetary Fund a nd the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. Yet what was appropriate in the years follow ing World War I1 now may be an anachronism. With the contemporary world so different from that of 1946 or even 1955, are there still valid' reasons for the U.S. to remain deeply involved in interna tional organizations? It is undeniable, for instance, that the Wilsonian dreams once again seem as hollow as they did a half century ago. George Washington's admonition, meantime, appears increasingly profound. Yet the Un i ted States, as it approaches the 21st century, will find guidance on the question of interna tional involvement neither in Wilson nor Washington. The answers rather are in the lessons learned in the past four decades. Among them ll7n Universal organizatio n s such as the United Nations and those agencies associated with the U.N like UNESCO, accomplish so little that the value to the U.S. of membership becomes very doubtful nlln On the other hand, organizations of like-minded states the International Monetary Fund, fulfill a number of their most important aims lIlI7l The democratic dictum of one man, one vote may work with in communities or nations, but apparently cannot be applied to organizations containing large numbers of nations which differ dramatically f rom each other. Within international organizations the power to influence decisions should closely resemble the re sponsibility for carrying out the decisions. At the United Nations General Assembly or in UNESCO, for example, a majority comprised of devel o ping nations which contribute almost nothing to the U.N budget and bear almost no burden for effecting U.N. programs con sistently dictate what those programs should be and even what they cost. It is quite a different matter at the IMF. There the weight o f a r-tion's vote is determined by the extent of the nation's financial participation with fairly specific purposes, such as NATO, or until recently, I Ill1 Technical organizations must limit their activities and rhetoric to technical matters. This means t h at the World Health Organization should deal with fighting disease; the International Telecommunications Union should keep global communications orderly the International Atomic Energy Agency should monitor the peaceful uses of the atom. When their agenda s and rhetoric become politi3 cized, an organization's value wanes. The matter of South Africa's policy of apartheid or the Israeli occupation of the west bank of the Jordan River are serious political matters but are not appro priate for the WHO, ITU, IAE A or any other technical agency.

American membership in international organizations. In the case of basically sound bodies--such as NATO, IMF, Organization of American States and World Bank--this reevaluation probably would lead to minor revisions of the o rganization's structure and the nature of U.S. participation. When it comes to the United Nations and its many affiliated agencies, however a reevaluation is certain to'prompt a fundamental reconsideration of U.S. member ship. For more than a decade and o n e-half, the U.N. increasingly has demonstrated that it is not merely costly and harmless. In creasingly, the United Nations is becoming, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan entitled his 1980 description of his tour as' U.S Permanent Representative at the U . N., Ira dangerous place." The United Nations, indeed, is becoming a threat to U.S. national interests It is time for the U.S. to apply these lessons and reevaluate A list of the U.N.'s failures and shortcomings should puncture the resolve of all but the o rganization's most blind boosters.

The U.N. has failed as a peacekeeper and peacemaker and as a pro tector of human rights. Its record of caring for refugees is suspiciously mixed, ignoring the legions attempting to flee communist-ruled Viet Nam while allo wing the Palestine Liberation Organization to turn refugee camps into armed garrisons. Inef ficiency, cronyism, high pay, lavish expense accounts and even corruption and illiteracy have become the all too common charac teristics of the Secretariat and oth er U.N. bureaucracies. Mean time, U.N. agencies in New York, Geneva and Vienna serve as a valuable cover for Soviet, East European, Cuban and other espionage services hostile to the West.

But even this troubling litany omits what now is the gravest danger posed by the United Nations--its role in affecting the way in which nations and their citizens view critical global issues.

Like a House of Mirrors at an amusement park, the U.N. distorts reality--exaggerating some things, diminishing others and obscuring most.. Unlike a House of Mirrors, however, the U.N.Is distortions particularly in the General Assembly and its Secretariat, form a predictable pattern. One characteristic of this pattern is the U.N.'s politicization of issues that merely are technical. C er tainly the behavior of Israel, Chile and South Africa are not really the most urc?nt issues confronting the General Assembly to say nothing of the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the International Labor Organization and a host of other agencies.

Yet these ostensibly technical bodies squander an enormous amount of their time and energy dealing repeatedly with a handful of political matters forced onto the agendas by a block of nations strongly influenced by the Palestine Liberation Organization and ra d ical leftist states and groups. 4 Another aspect of the pattern is the U.N.'s globalization of problems. Bringing a local or even regional matter or dispute to the General Assembly forces every nation to.take a stand. Issues which could remain local sudde n ly gain global importance and almost always, therefore, become more difficult to resolve. Nearly 15 years ago, The Netherlands' chief U.N. delegate Carl W. A. Schur mann complained that the W.N. system Ilforces governments to take a stand (if not by makin g a speech, then at least by voting) on a great many questions and conflicts that either do not really con cern them or on which they would much have preferred to keep-their opinions to thernselves.I1 This was echoed in 1982 by U.S. Permanent Representativ e to the United Nations Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick in an address to the Anti-Defamation League Instead of being an effective instrument for conflict resolution I she said the U.N.] serves all too often as an arena in which conflict is polarized, extended and exacerbated, in which differences are made deeper and more difficult to resolve than they would otherwise be.

Politicizing and globalizing issues are two of the dangers created by the U.N.Is distorted pattern of behavior. Dangerous too is the legitimacy c onferred on the undeserving, while dis crediting those entitled to respect as members of the community of nations. Within the U.N. system, for example, the PLO and South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) enjoy near offi cial status and are treate d not as the terrorists that they are but as members in good standing of the international community.

Israel, South Africa, Chile, and the Shah's Iran, meanwhile, are or have been reviled as pariah states.

Most dangerous, however, is the U.N.Is de facto (and some times de jure) crusade against the free enterprise system. In many respects, the U.N. has become the headquarters, command post and strategic planning center of an anti-free enterprise campaign.

In almost every U.N. body and almost always in the General Assembly seldom is an opportunity lost to attack the free enterprise system.

These assaults come as direct attacks on the Western industrial democracies which are the main capitalist nations. They come as attacks on individual industries through increasing attempts to impose international codes of economic regulation. They come too as attacks on the most successful of the capitalistic enterprises the corporation which has grown beyond the boundari es of the country in which it was founded and in which it is headquartered very essence and philosophical base of the free enterprise system.

It is an assault which condemns. almost always, without supporting evidence, the notion that the dynamo of growth and economic expan sion is individual initiative, creativity 'and the incentive pro vided by the opportunity of making a profit. This kind of attack even repudiates the notion of economic growth, substituting for it the naive and economically self-defeati n g concepts of wealth redistribution and central planning I the multinational corporation. And the U.N. crusade attacks the 5 In repudiating free enterprise and by ignoring capitalism's record of success, the United Nations and its agencies have raised to t he level of gospel the tenets of what is called the New Inter national Economic Order or, as it is widely known, NIEO. The tena city with which the United Nations fights for NIEO at every forum from every rostrum and in every possible publication and stat e ment is awesome. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO for instance, now deals with educational and cultural matters mainly as a means for promoting the NIEO agen da. A U.N. conference ostensibly called to combat discr imination against women, meanwhile, was transformed into a NIEO pep rally.

This obsession with NIEO has converted the United Nations from an organization that might merely have been costly and annoying into a body which threatens those nations committed to democracy liberty and economic development.

Early critics of the United Nations recognized and predicted the organization's shortcomings. While their warnings then might have been debatable, they now seem only too real. As a result American public suppor t for the U.N. has plummetted sharply from that heady July 28, 1945, when the U.N. Charter went to the Senate floor for ratification and was approved by a lopsided 89 to 2.

This reflected the broad popular backing for the U.N. Support re mained high throu gh the U.N.'s first decade and a half. A 1959 Gallup Poll revealed that 87 percent of those surveyed felt that the U.N. was doing a good job. By 1971, however, Americans were having second thoughts and Gallup found that only 35 percent gave the U.N. passi ng grades. This dropped to 30 percent in 1980, while 53 percent thought that the organization was doing a llpoor job."

And in March 1981, a Roper Poll discovered that only a slim 10 percent of Americans viewed the U.N. as "highly .effective" in carry ing out its functions.

Though now disillusioned with the U.N., Americans cannot be faulted for trying to make the international body succeed. Since the U.N.'s birth, the U.S. has been the U.N.'s most enthusiastic and generous booster. Until 1964, for instance, American taxpayers provided nearly 40 percent of the U.N. assessed budget. Even now with its share reduced, as other nations have industrialized and grown wealthier, the U.S. pays about one-quarter of the U.N.'s bills; in 1983, this probably will cost th e taxpayer more than $1 billion, bringing to about $12 billion the U.S. contribution to the U.N. since 19

45. By contrast, the Soviet Union pays only 13 percent of the U.N. budget (and is $169 million in arrears) and gets much more benefit from the U.N. th an does the U.S. Even more striking is the paltry material support fron hose who control the U.N. The approximately 120 developing nations who command a permanent U.N. majority together contribute less than 9 percent of the organization's costs. Some of t h ose 120 nations, of course are very poor; yet others are quite rich. In fiscal 1980-81, for instance, Saudi Arabia paid only 0.58 percent of the U.N. budget and Kuwait only 0.20 percent, while relatively poor Britain and Spain paid 4.40 percent and 1.70 p e rcent respectively 6 For nearly its first two decades, the United Nations mainly reflected the concerns of the world's industrial democracies. As new nations were formed and admitted to the U.N., in the wake of the dissolution of the world's empires (exce pt that of the Soviet Union the balance of power within the U.N. inexorably shifted.

From 51 members in 1945, the U.N. grew to 82 by 1958, to 115 in 1964 and now stands at 157 member nations. While there is some merit to the argument that a global organiza tion ought to have a universal membership, this has been translated simplistically into a policy within the U.N. (except for the Security Council) of one nation, one vote. As a result, policymaking is divorced from policy responsibility. A majority of tod a y's U.N. members are ill-prepared to address the issues that come before the U.N. for these nations stand only on the threshhold of political and econo mic development. They have no experience in international matters and can'boast little knowledge of any history but that of their own transition from colonialism to independence. In almost every case, moreover, the majority of U.N. members have no respect for or faith in democracy. Yet they determine the policies that the U.N. adopts and which the United St ates and other democracies are obliged to execute and underwrite. To make matters worse, these policies are becoming increasingly opposed to U.S. principles and national interests.

SUPPORTING TERRORISTS Through its resolutions and, what is more alarming, i ts agencies and funds, the United Nations has been supporting ter rorist groups. The Palestine Liberation Organization, the South West Africa People's Organization, the African National Congress and the Pan-African Congress have been receiving material ba c king from the U.N. According to a Heritage Foundation study, between 1975 and 1981 the U.N. spent or budgeted at least $116 million to support these and similar groups. This figure was compiled solely from public records. The real U.N. outlay for terroris m, includ ing items camouflaged and hidden in innocent-appearing budget items surely exceeds by several fold this publicly verifiable outlay.

Of this sum, the U.S. taxpayer contributes at least 25 percent.

U.N. support for terrorists takes a number of for ms. It ranges from gifts of food, housing and health services to provid ing radio channels through which a terrorist group can broadcast propaganda. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization has given money earmarked for education to a wide range of terrorist groups. Totalling at least 8 millior or 1981 1983, there is no way to account for how the terrorists actually spent the money. To be sure, the public record reveals no U.N funds used to purchase arms. U.N. accounting and expen se monitor ing procedures, however, are widely ridiculed as lax, if not deli berately permissive. There is thus valid'cause to question how the PLO and similar groups spend UNESCO's Iteducational" grants.

Even by providing food, medicine and training for civilian cadres the U.N. allows terrorists to earmark more of their own funds for weaponry 7 As important as material aid is the political legitimacy that the U.N. confers on terrorist organizations. 0ffic i al.U.N. recog nition amounts to a seal of approval which gives the Marxist oriented PLO, SWAPO, ANC and PAC a definite advantage over their non-Marxist rivals at home. They enjoy U.N. money, aid projects publicity and international lobbying power not avai lable to their competitors. Example: SWAPO has access to the U.N. Department of Public Information Radio Service which broadcasts worldwide.

With this, SWAPO airs special programs on Namibia. The Department of Public Information also provides photographic and exhibition services for special SWAPO events--such as displays which become semi-permanent exhibits at U.N. headquarters in New York and offices in Geneva and Vienna. The U.N. imprimatur makes the terrorists appear to be the sole representatives of th eir respec tive peoples. In reality, SWAPO, PLO, ANC and PAC face formidable challenges at home from non-Mar.xist and non-terrorist groups.

The United Nations excuses its support for terrorists by claiming that it has a responsibility for helping so-called National Liberation Movements battle colonialist regimes. U.N. aid for these movements, however, is curiously selective. No backing for instance, is given to pro-Western National Liberation Movements such as UNITA, now fighting what appears to be a succe s sful guer rilla war in Angola against the Soviet and Cuban-backed Marxist regime. Nor has the U.N. been willing to recognize the non-Marxist representatives of the Palestinians or the democratic political parties of Namibia. Instead, the U.N. General Asse m bly grandly declares and treats the PLO and SWAPO as the sole, legitimate representaives of their respective peoples. These two terrorist groups, for example, hold coveted "permanent observer" status at key U.N. agencies and bodies--including the Security Council when questipns conerning their areas of the world are on the agenda.

And while the General Assembly effectively has barred the sovereign state of South Africa from its proceedings, denying the South Afri can delegations even the right to answer ch arges against it, the General Assembly has asked all U.N. organs to include the ANC and PAC in their meetings dealing with southern Africa No terrorist group enjoys U.N. munificence more than the Palestine Liberation Organization. It has full observer sta tus at UNESCO, the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Affiliation with the aviation body permits the PLO, whose members are among the most veteran and violent airplane skyjackers, to attend meetings called to discuss international air travel security.

In 1977, meanwhile, the PLO was admitted to the U.N. Economic and Social Council's Commission for Western Asia. This was the first full-membership ever granted to a non-country. Since then, the PLO has been allowed to chair the Commission's sessions.

Two U.N. committees were created for and are dominated by on Palestinian Rights. These committees allow the PLO to use U.N funds to Droduce a wide varietv of Dublications and mount a public the PLO: the Inalienable Rights Committee and the Special Unit a relations campaign, including an annual "International Solidarity Day with the Palestinian People PLO booklets lauding Yassir Arafat as a freedom fighter and defending the PLO's use o f ter rorism are featured at U.N. bookstores--including those in New York. PLO exhibitions, meanwhile, adorn corridors of U.N. build ings. Despite protests from Israel, a PLO U.N. exhibit displayed a map of the Middle East which depicted a state identified as I'Palestineff but omitted Israel.

Through its officially sanctioned presence, the PLO gains inordinate influence at the U.N. On many issues, including a good number of personnel matters, the PLO wields a widely recognized veto. This not only adversly a ffects American and Israeli inter ests, but undermines the efforts of moderate, democratic Palesti nian leaders to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian pro blem. By blindly supporting the PLO, the United Nations actually creates obstacles to the ac hievement of an Arab-Israeli peace.

THE DOUBLE STANDARD The favored treatment of the PLO, SWAPO and a handful of other groups typifies the corrosive double standard increasingly charac teristic of the United Nations. Outrages committed by socialist and com munist nations almost always are overlooked by U.N. agencies while minor or even alleged misdeeds in pro-Western countries war rant U.N. attention and denunciation. Not only does this waste U.N. resources and undermine the credibility of the organization, but also seems to provide a U.N. sanction, by its silence, for some of.the world's worst contemporary violations of political and human rights.

The double standard pervades most U.N. operations. At UNESCO for instance, the draft for the 1984- 1989 Medium Term Plan dwells at length on a critique of how Western private cultural institu tions, because of "short-term amortization, cost factors and profit margins bring] about a deterioration in the economic and soci'al status of the artists The Pla n is strangely silent about the artistic repression characteristic of Soviet-style and other soci.alist states. The double standard is most glaring at the General Assembly. There the majority of 120 or so Third World and Soviet-bloc nations consistently ca stigate the U.S. for such crimes as trading with South Africa. Nothing is said, however about the flourishing South African trade carried on by Zimbabwe and other black African states.

The U.N. is particularly schizoid in defining wars of national liberati on. It is fine for the PLO to attack Israeli towns and for SWAPO to mount an armed insurrection in South West Africa known also as Namibia). These are acceptable battles of "libera tion." But it is not a Ifwar of liberation" according to the U.N lexicon w h en Solidarity struggles for liberty in Poland or when Hungarians or Czechoslovaks tried to wrest freedom from MOSCOW'S tight grip. The coveted "liberation" label even is denied to nonextremist black African groups such as Inkatha, led by Gaftsa Buthelese, head of the Zulu nation. The Zulus are mounting what may be the strongest internal opposition to the South African government. As such it would seem, Inkatha should qualify as a national liberation movement. But not by the U.N.'s double stan dard.

The U.N .'s judgment is seriously flawed by its obsession with South Africa. In the 1981 General Assembly, for instance, 45 resolutions were adopted against South Africa, while over 400 speeches attacked the Pretoria regime. At the Secretariat, about 200 bureaucr a ts work full-time against the interests of South Africa, spending some 40 million. At a time when Soviet troops are marching through Afghanistan, Vietnamese forces occupying much of Laos and Kampuchea and Iraqi and Iranian soldiers ferociously battling ea ch other, South Africa's internal affairs surely were not the most urgent item on the U.N. agenda.

Israel too is a major victim of the double standard. Almost nothing done by the Israelis escapes the U.N.'s viligant scrutiny while very little done to Israe l by its enemies seems to warrant U.N. attention. More tha'n a decade ago, for example, the U.N majority voted to condemn Israel for launching air strikes against terrorist camps in Syria and Lebanon. Nothing was said to condemn those who had provoked the strikes--the terrorists who had massacred Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. At a recent General Assembly session, almost all of the 40 resolutions dealing with the Middle East denounced Israel. Yet no mention was made by any resolution of PLO a ttacks on Israeli civilians, including women and children. The U.S. routinely is excoriated for supporting Israel, while the U.N. majority says nothing about MOSCOW'S training terrorists who attack Israel. The Israeli diamond trade with South Africa is at tacked as still another example of the Jewish state's outlaw behavior; the Soviet Union's diamond trade with South Africa is completely'ignored.

The General Assembly's Credentials Committee in 1982 condemned Israel as a "non-peaceloving state If the U.N. pursues the implications 'of this, Israel eventually could be denied its U.N seat since the U.N. Charter specifically states that the organiza ti o n is open solely to peaceloving nations. While the U.N. has no trouble branding Israel, because of its military actions a nonlover of peace, the U.N. apparently regards as examples of peaceloving behavior the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Viet Nam's inv asion of Cambodia, Iraq's war with Iran and Libya's thriiits to Chad and the Sudan. No attempt has been made by the General Assembly to label these breakers of peace as l'non-peace loving" states.

The U.S. too is victim of the United Nations double standard.

Little seems to inhibit the U.N. majority from attacking the U.S by name. Washington was brutally denounced, for example, for shooting down two Libyan warplanes which had opened fire on American aircraft. Washington also was attayked for I1unfairlylf t reating a 10 Palestinian when the U.S. merely extradited him so that he could stand trial for murder. While the General Assembly works itself into a rage over such American sins, it remains mute in its refusal even to reprimand the Soviet Union by name fo r invading Afghanistan or for quashing Poland's quest for liberty. Despite mounting evidence of MOSCOW~S use of illegal chemical and biological weapons in Afghanistan, Laos and Cambodia, the General Assembly has had almost nothing to say on the matter. Ins t ead it prefers lambast ing U.S. for triggering an "arms race" (ignoring the decade-long Soviet military buildup) and condemning Israeli human rights iolationsIl (while saying nothing about the persistent and systematic human rights offenses in North Korea , Ethiopia, and the Ayatollah's Iran, scores of other Third World states and the Soviet bloc El Savador and Guatemala for alleged human rights offenses. This amounts to Ira particularly egregious example of moral hypocrisy U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick told a November 24, 1981, session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly. Those four coun tries are criticized, she complained, while the General Assembly displays Itstudious unconcern with the much larger violations of human liberty elsewhere in L atin America, by the government of Cuba Asked Kirkpatrick: "What are we to think of defenders of human rights who ignore the victims of major tyrants and vent all their ferocity on the victims of minor tyrants Castrols near quarter-century of repression h a s yet to be condemned or even acknowledged by the U.N In Latin America, the U.N. routinely condemns Chile, Bolivia The double standard indeed is most glaring when it comes to the matter of human rights NO aspect of United Nations affairs observed Kirkpatr i ck at the Third Committee meeting, "has been more perverted by politicization in the last decade than have its human rights activities The U.N. has all but ignored blatant cases of genocide, such as Indonesia's massacre of much of its Chinese population i n the late 1960s, Nigeria?s persecution of the Ibos in the mid-l960s, Pakistan's action against the Bengalis in 1971, Burundi's attacks on the Hutus in 1972-1973, Iran's devastation of the Kurds in the mid-l970s, and Nicaragua's cam paign against the Miski t o Indians that continues still. The United Nations .is silent on these well-documented atrocities, as it was while three million Cambodians died in Pol Pot's bloody utopia" and when as many as 250,000 Ugandans died at the hands of Idi Amin. When the U.S. in 1977 proposed a resolution to con demn the Ugandan dictator's actions, the African nations blocked the matter from cqming to a vote.

Attempts at less U.N. hyprocrisy in applying human rights standards typically have been overruled. A 1979 Report of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, for example originally referred to "the existence of relatively full documentation dealing with the massacres of Armenians [in the Soviet Union which have been described as the fi r st case of genocide in the twentieth century.Il, The statement 11 was dropped from the Report's final version. Instead of condemn ing the Soviet Union's human rights record, in fact, the U.N actually has lauded it--at least indirectly. When it came time t o commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. presented a human rights award to, among others, the Soviet Union's Pyotr E. Nedbailo.

He is well known in his native Ukraine for publishing anti -Semitic tracts THE CRUSADE AGAINST FREE ENTERPRISE It is not only the United States and other democracies which are treated unfairly by the United Nations all others are the poor nations of the Third World which look to the U.N. and its agencies for help in economic development. From the U.N., however, these nations receive biased advice that ignores the sole model for growth with a record of success--the free enter prise market economy. Though the U.N. spends more than 300 million annually on economic re s earch, the data are often altered and the results manipulated to confirm the premises of the New International Economic Order. Thus instead of giving Third World states the bitter but useful advice that they need for economic growth, the U.N. tells them t h at they need only take the wealth of the indus trial nations. The U.N.'s NIEO orthodoxy endorses ominiscience of government planners rather than the efficiency of the impersonal marketplace; it champions the idea that all have an equal claim to the fruits of man's output rather than that of rewards dis tributed according to merit; and it rests on the naive faith that wealth--goods, crops, minerals, technology--simply exists in nature rather than being produced through creativity, risk capital and hard work . NIEO enthusiasts maintain that technology somehow is the "common heritage of mankindIl--a resource belonging to no one and to be shared by everyone. Access to technology therefore becomes a right Cheated more than The major target of the U.N. crusade aga i nst the free enter prise system are the multinational corporations, or as they are sometimes known, transnational corporations. They are denounced for 'Iflying no flag but profit" and for causing the "decay and deskilling" of Third World economies. The ph armaceutlcals are attacked, for example, for being ''harmful to public health and welfare and for marketing both the cause and cure" of illness.

The international firms are blamed for causing inflation, unem ployment, poverty and political repression in Third World states.

So persistently vilified are le large international enterprises that the very terms llmultinationalsll and lltransnationals have become tainted, burdened with opprobrium. Only rarely does the U.N. look at the record and acknowledge the c ritically essential contributions which the multinational corporations have made to Third World economic development increasing frequency. Among the many instances The U.N.'s attacks on the free enterprise system occur with 12 llllll At one time, the Worl d Health Organization was concerned almost entirely with encouraging medical research and planning and executing health programs. In recent years, however WHO has been pushed by NIEO advocates into the field of regulation and has become politicized on the a ll-too-familiar lines of the devel oped North versus undeveloped South or Third World llllll Efforts are underway to regulate the international flow of data. The Third World majority at the U.N. is attempting to restrict a company's access to information s tored in its own sub sidiary or headquarters if they are in different nations. U.N agencies, moreover, are trying to impose taxes on the movement of data into and out of countries llllll The International Telecommunications Union, for decades an agency co ncerned only with the technical problems of transmitting communications between nations, is becoming increasingly politicized.

This is clear not only from a threat at ITU to exclude Israel but from demands by the Third World majority within the ITU that un derdeveloped countries be granted a very large share of the world's radio frequencies, no matter that they do not now have and may never have the technological ability to use them. The Third World majority is also insisting that I1rents1l be paid for the g eostationary orbital slots in which communications satellites are parked llllll Under the U.N.'s "Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies a U.N.-affiliated activities in outer space. This Agreement specifically f avors state-owned agencies at the expense of private enterprise llllll Through its Center on Transnational Corporations, the U.N. is preparing a 'Iregister'l of corporate profits. This is seen as an important step towards regulating the activities of inte r national firms has been established to govern exploration and extraction lllill The General Assembly in 1980 approved the Code of Restric tive Business Practices. When enforced, it would compel multina tional corporations to sell their technology and know - how at punitively low prices in Third World markets. Nowhere does the Code acknowledge the contributions made by the multinationals in spurring the development of economically backward states llllll U.N. agencies recently have been attempting to change in t ernational patent regulations. The air is to limit the force of patents to allow Third World nations to exploit new technology without paying for it llllll At the 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies in Mexico City, UNESCO Director General Amadou-Ma h tar M'Bow of Senegal led an unrelenting charge against the U.S., the West and the free enterprise system. He and the Third World-dominated con ference called for a New world Cultural Order and a New World 13 I Information Order. Among other things, these n ew Orders would clamp down on press freedoms and repress expressions of Western culture in the Third World. This Mexico City conference mirrored the almost fanatic anti-West and anti-capitalist turn taken by UNESCO under MIBOW'S direction. UNESCO publicat i ons--printed by the millions, distributed to more than 150 nations and paid for mainly by the U.S. and other Western states--have become an im portant vehicle for Marxist, anti-American and anti-Western arti cles. In books ostensibly dealing with educatio n, UNESCO promotes the idea that Western industrial states hav acquired their wealth unjustly and thus this wealth may be redistributed to poor nations.

Although there is no carefully coordinated or centrally directed grand conspiracy at the U.N. to underm ine the free enter prise system, the NIEO serves as a blueprint or manifesto that is endorsed enthusiastically by just about all of the 120 or so under developed states and even accepted (with reservations) by a number of West European industrial nations. This strategy also was ac cepted by key Carter Administration officials like Andrew Young.

Officially called the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, NIEO was adopted in 1974 at the plenary meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)--the U.N. body which most aggressively attacks the market economy.

NIEO is a blueprint for assuring that the free enterprise system never takes root in the Third World. It is designed to penalize not only capitalist firms and capital ist states, but also the citizens of capitalist societies. What NIEO seeks, in short, is to force the transfer to undeveloped countries of the wealth, tech nology and research from those industrial nations which have creat ed this wealth, technology and r esearch. The transfer is to be mandatory and perpetual; there will be only limited, if any, com pensation for the enormous assets involved.

NIEO is not going to be enacted or enforced in toto on the industrial West. Its underlying philosophy, however, prov ides the conceptual rationale and guidance for the U.N.'s attack on the free enterprise system. It is a blueprint providing a check list of specific anti-free enterprise measures which the U.N. and its agencies individually and..gradually can enact.

In at least two critical areas, NIEO already is close to enact ment. The first is the New World Information Order. It is an attempt to restrict the operations of the Western press and bestow legitimacy on the state-controlled press of the Communist countries a nd most Third World nations. At issue is not only the matter of press freedom. The UNESCO Declaration advocating the :!LW World Information Order is explicitly biased against the private sector.

It mandates preference for non-commercial forms of mass communica tion. The reason for this, states the Declaration, is to "reduce the negative effects [of] the influence of market and commercial considerations.II The Declaration fails to acknowledge the p osi tive influence of a privately owned press in ensuring the competi tion of ideas and alternate sources of information 14 The second important area in which NIEO has come close to enactment is the Law of the Sea Treaty. The Treaty is a carefully crafted repudiation of the free enterprise system It establishes a Third World-dominated cartel; it is designed to control the marketplace it discriminates against private deep-sea mining ven tures; and it declares that those intrinsically valueless metallic nodu l es on the seabed, which are transformed into useable and valu able resources only through the costly mining technologies develop ed by private firms, are somehow part of what is called the Common Heritage of All Mankind. As,such, Third World nations insis t that they are entitled to a large share of the financial proceeds from seabed mining. Third World nations also insist that they be given the pioneering technologies and state-of-the-art know-how of deep sea mining.

There are very many problems with the L aw of the Sea Treaty beyond its assault on the free enterprise system. But not the least of its dangers is that it is designed to serve as a model treaty for other issues by which the industrial West is to be coaxed and intimidated into surrendering a por t ion of its national sovereignty. The Law of the Sea Treaty is a pioneering effort by the U.N. to undermine the West's economic system for the sake of that Third World bloc which prefers to strive to get a share of the West's wealth as a kind of welfare tr ansfer payment rather than work at creating its own wealth.

After nearly. a decade of negotiations, during-which the Carter Administration made some devastating concessions, the Treaty draft reached a critical stage in early 19

82. It was in final form aw aiting approval by all nations, when the Reagan Administration balked at signing the document. Since then, the U.S. has been seeking, with other industrial states, an alternative that would provide a fairer system for encouraging seabed mineral developmen t.

That the U.N. should be greatly concerned about and devote enormous resources to the economic growth of the Third World is understandable and appropriate. What is puzzling is why the U.N ignores those Third World economic efforts which have been most su ccessful. Why does the majority controlling the U.N. endorse the economically catastrophic model of a Tanzania rather than the economically booming model of a Taiwan or Singapore? Why has the U.N. majority made the free enterprise system its enemy rather than embracing it as the one economic system with a proven record of success?

The answer in large part is ignorance. Daniel Moynihan has written that many leaders of the countries which once were colo nies--the majority of U.N. members--were educated in We st European universities, such as the London School of Economics, where they learned the economics of socialism. As leaders in their own nation's drive against colonial rule, they found the heady rhetoric of socialism politically useful colonial rulers st o od for and swallowed Lenin's contention that imperialism was a direct stage in the development of capitalism They rejected much of what their 15 an assertion for which there is no evidence. The major imperial power of the past quarter-century, in fact, ha s been the Soviet Union.

To a great extent, therefore, the Third World knows little about how capitalism works and how capitalism succeeds. And the U.N. does little to enlighten the Third World. The economic studies,and analyses produced by U.N. agencies a nd departments such as the New York-based Department of Public Information, have a strong anti-free enterprise and pro-socialist bias. To make matters worse, participating semi-officially in U.N. proceedings are scores of anti-free enterprise groups such a s the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Institute for Policy Studies, the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. Among the most active of these groups is the Inter national Organization of Consumers Unions. Founde d in 1960, it now includes more than 100 consumer associations from nearly 50 countries. Malaysia's Anwar Fazal, IOCU has cloned a new wave of extremist, anti-free enterprise organizations that include Consumer Interpol, International Baby Food Acti o n Network, Health Action International and Pesticide Action Network. What gives IOCU and similar groups muscle is the legitimacy which they achieve through their' association with the U.N. as Non-Government Organiza tions. These NGO's swell the anti-capit alist chorus and further distort the economic data and guidance available through the U.S for Third World states.

Particularly distorted are the Third World's perceptions and understanding of the multinational corporations. To be sure, the multinationals a re not in the business of altruism. But neither are they necessarily.the enemies or exploiters of developing coun tries. The multinationals-Third World relationship is not zero sum for multinationals have made enormous contributions to economic developmen t ., They provide developing states with an integrated package of technology, financial and physical resources, managerial experience, training, entrepreneurial ability and market outlets Since most multinationals enter a market in a developing country for the long haul, they provide sustained back-up and support services. Multinationals provide technology and make it opera tional. They take risks. And they account for over half the total fixed capital investment in a great many developing states.

Rarely, if ever, is this acknowledged by the U.N. With such skewed information provided by the U.N., it is no wonder that Third World states are ignorant of the free enterprise system's true nature.

U.N. opposition to the free enterprise system also stems from the influence of the Soviet Union and its client states, such as Cuba. The Soviet bloc enjoys an impressive record of successes in shaping U.N. attitudes. During the 1981 General Assembly, for example, the Third World states on average voted with Moscow 84.9 percent of the time, compared to an average 25 percent agreement with Washington.

I I The most important reason why the U.N. majority wars against the market economy is because the free enterprise system correctly is viewed as a threat to the authoritarian regimes running most Third World societies. Capitalism, after all, has proven to be history's best guarantor of liberty. Observes Ixving Kristol Never in human history has one seen a society of political liberty that was not based on a free economic syst e m--a system based on private property. Never, never, never. No exceptions The free enterprise system permits the emergence of important centers of independent power which rival and successfully check the authority of the state. To regimes whose only legit i macy is their monopoly of the state's coercive power, it is unacceptable that such independent centers of influence as the large corpora tion, free trade unions and business associations exist. The U.N opposes the free enterprise system, therefore, becaus e the vast economic and social pluralism concomitant with free enterprise. majority of U.N. members would be threatened by the political THE U.S AND THE U.N.--WHAT NEXT?

As the United Nations grows increasingly hostile to U.S interests and principles, it is time for Washington to reappraise the merits of continued American membership in the world body.

Not only does the U.N. cost American taxpayers 1 billion annually officials and diplomats, the organization rarely fulfills its most basic missions and has embraced an ideology and adopted pro grams and rhetoric dangerous to the United States and the world's free societies and the full-time efforts of dozens of senior Administration I The United States cannot continue with business as usual at the U.N. If th e U.S. is to remain a member, Washington must begin working for measures designed to blunt the threats posed by the U.N. This means ending or reducing the politicization of the United Nations system, preventing the General Assembly from global izing local i ssues, denying terrorists the legitimacy and support they obtain by association with the U.N. and countering the U.N majority's crusade against the free enterprise system which Washington should consider Among the reforms required for continued U.S. membe r ship 1) The U.N.'s technical agencies once again must deal ex c:.isively with technical matters. Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River, alleged human rights violations in Chile or, for that matter, the Soviet Union) and the establishmen t of a New International Economic Order do not belong on the agendas of the Wor;ld Health Organization, the International Telecommuni cations Union or the International Atomic Energy Agency. These agencies have been created to resolve critical but non-poli tical problems has eroded significantly their value and even credibility on The politicization suffered by them in the past decade 17 technical matters and opens to question whether U. S participation is warranted.

This is also the case with UNESCO, the sprawling bureaucratic empire ostensibly concerned with culture, education and science.

Since the U.S. pays more of UNESCO's bill than any other nation Americans have the right to demand that their costly investment yield some dividends. As such, UNESCO's education programs in poor, developing nations should emphasize literacy, mathematics and basic technical skills. UNESCO instead squanders its resources on teaching the virtues of the NIEO. This cheats not only the n ation funding UNESCO, but more so the nation which looks to UNESCO for help. The U.S. should refuse to contribute to any UNESCO pro ject that is prompted by political rather than technical concerns 2) The U.N. must stop funding the Palestine Liberation Or g an ization, the South West Africa People's Organization, the African National Congress and similar terrorist groups. If the United Nations refuses to establish the auditing procedures adequate to ensure that terrorists receive no U.N. material support, th e U.S should begin monitoring U.N. expenditures, perhaps through the General Accounting Office. If an audit reveals American funds going to terrorists, the U.S. must halt its contribution to that agency, even if this means unilaterally reducing the America n share of the ''assessed" U.N. budget. During 1982-1986, for I instance, the U.N. Development Program plans to give SWAP0 and other terrorist groups $22 million in aid. The U.S. should pay I none of this 3) The General Assembly's stature must be reduced. D ominated by an intolerant majority which routinely produces a barrage of anti-U.S anti-West and anti-free enterprise rhetoric and reso lutions, the General Assembly should not be allowed to pose as a legitimate and impartial global forum. By participating in the General Assembly, the U.S. becomes an accomplice to that body's mischief. Washington probably should start sending U.S. repre sentatives to only a few General Assembly sessions, boycotting the rest as an expression of American disdain with the orga n iza tion. At the same time, the U.S. could downgrade its General Assembly delegation; instead of being top-heavy with ambassadors it should contain solely junior State Department officers. So long as the General Assembly refuses to function responsibly, t he U.S. should not treat it as if it were responsible. At UNESCO and other U.N. agencies, U.S. representation and attendance simi larly could be downgraded and made more selective.

Even with these changes, Washington still may have cause to reconsider Amer ican membership in the United Nations. The U.N now may well be beyond redemption. If this is the conclusion after extensive, sober analysis, then the U.S. seriously should consider withdrawing from the U.N. and ask the U.N. to vacate its Manhattan headqua r ters 18 Whether the United Nations in such an event would survive is unimportant A world body which has achieved so little is not going to be missed very much. In its place, the U.S. should fashion a new international network whose aims are less ambitious and more modest than those which inspired the birth of the U.N By now the U.S. certainly must have learned that although inter national cooperation is important, not all (perhaps not even most nations are willing to cooperate. If a new international body i s to be created in the wake of the United Nations, therefore, it should be limited to like-minded states willing to cooperate on a limited number of issues. Washington could propose, for example, a new organization comprising the industrial democracies an d those states committed to building a democratic society. The organization would enable the democracies to exchange ideas and cooperate on specific matters and would create a platform from which the democracies could challenge the anti-democratic rhetoric of the Soviet Union, its satellites and the totalitarian states of the Third World As for those useful international technical organizations the U.S. should attempt to reestablish the most important of them as independent agencies. The World Health Organi zation and Inter national Telecommunications Union, for instance, need not be part of a U.N. system or of any other global umbrella organization. A number of them, in fact, existed independent of the United Nations.

WHO predates the U.N., for example, whil e the ITU is more than a century old. Once decoupled from a General Assembly or similar global bodies, these independent agencies are much less likely to be embroiled in political conflicts. This would free them to focus almost exclusively on the technica l concerns for which they exist.

The funds that the U.S. saves by withdrawing from the U.N could underwrite bilateral aid programs to those Third World nations serious about economic development. Unencumbered by the self-defeating NIEO obsession with wealt h redistribution, U.S development programs could teach-the principles of wealth creation that have made South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, the Ivory Coast Kenya and an handful of other Third World nations the envy of the developing states A world without a U n ited Nations--or without U.S. participa tion in a U.N.--in sum would be a world less hostile to the U.S and the free enterprise system. More important, it would be a world which offers more hope to Third World nations of democratic development and economi c gi-,wth.

Burton Yale Pines Director of Research


Burton Yale

Senior Associate Fellow in African Affairs