October 20, 2003 | WebMemo on International Organizations
On October 21, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Kim R. Holmes, will deliver a major address on the challenges facing the United Nations. His speech comes at a time of widespread disenchantment with the U.N. across America.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the United Nations looks more like a glorified debating society than a serious global body designed to confront the world's growing threats and problems. The inability of the U.N. to deal with the Iraqi dictatorship was symbolic of its broader failure to address the rising global threat posed by international terrorism and rogue states.
As the Bush Administration begins its efforts to make the United Nations a more effective organization, it should call for the U.N. to undergo radical restructuring, including revision of its charter, reform of its major commissions, and the streamlining of its bloated bureaucracy.
Key Recommendations for the Bush Administration
U.S. Funding for the U.N.
Engage the U.N.
The United Nations continues its slow decline as a force on the world stage and will go the same way as the League of Nations unless it is radically reformed and restructured. Reform of the U.N. Charter will be fundamentally important for the future relevance of the world body.
It is in the interests of the United States to actively engage the U.N. and help shape its future, rather than sit back and watch the organization self-destruct. The U.N. can and should play an important role in mediating disputes between nations, advancing human rights, and countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it is imperative that the U.N. does not act as a barrier preventing democratic nation-states from taking pre-emptive action in self-defense.
Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Center for International Trade and Economics, and Baker Spring is F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
In a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of U.S. attitudes toward the United Nations, conducted on August 25-26, 2003, only 37 percent of respondents believed the U.N. was doing a "good job," and 60 percent of those surveyed believed the U.N. was doing a "poor job."