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
for the Bush Administration
United Nations should not have a veto right over U.S. foreign
the United States should remain an active participant in the United
Nations, Washington must not allow the U.N. to limit the freedom of
the U.S. and other democratic nation-states to act in their own
national interest on the international stage.
Administration should call for fundamental revision of the United
Nations Charter to bring it in line with the modern world.
The U.N. Charter
should be amended to broaden nation-states' right of self-defense
in the face of mounting threats from rogue regimes and
international terrorist networks.
should oppose any expansion of the Security Council. An increase in
the number of permanent Security Council members will not improve
the effectiveness of the United Nations. Indeed, it might well have
the opposite effect.
Security Council as an institution has become increasingly obsolete
and frequently acts as a barrier to the advancement of U.S. foreign
Administration should encourage the U.N. to explore new structures
for addressing security concerns.
U.S. Funding for the
No other nation
in the world contributes more to the work of the United Nations
than the United States. The Bush Administration should call upon
other leading member states, such as Russia and China, to make a
greater contribution to the U.N. budget, with a larger share of the
Future levels of
U.S. funding for the U.N. should be directly linked to the pace of
The U.S. should
make funding of U.N. commissions, such as the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), conditional on
reform. It should further be demonstrated that long-term U.S.
membership is in the national interest.
Administration should call for major reform of the UNCHR and should
support the removal of tyrannical regimes from its
should press for the U.N. to apply a "zero tolerance" policy toward
Administration should call for a thorough external audit of the
United Nations. At present, the U.N. does not even publish an
needs to be a far greater level of accountability by U.N.
bureaucrats to the taxpayers who fund their salaries.
Engage the U.N.
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
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.
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."