The Viability of International Regimes and Institutions

Report Global Politics

The Viability of International Regimes and Institutions

April 13, 2004 29 min read
The Heritage Foundation

Cantigny Conference Series

November 6-7, 2003

Almost 40 diplomats, researchers, and members of various nonprofit groups met November 6-7, 2003, at the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, to discuss the future of international organizations. The conference was co-sponsored by the McCormick Tribune Foundation and The Heritage Foundation.

Opening Remarks by Gov. James S. Gilmore III, Distinguished Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

The Honorable James S. Gilmore III, former governor of Virginia and a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, opened the conference with a short speech. He traced the history of international relations from bilateral treaties, through the initial attempts at international organizations after the First World War to the rise of international organizations in the post-World War II era. He described the inherent conflict between the American character and the surrender of national sovereignty that is required to work through international organizations. He closed his speech by discussing the controversial and unexpected doctrine of preemption in the post-9/11 world and how it reduces the power of international organizations.

Keynote Speech by The Honorable Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations

Dr. Holmes began stating that the United States strongly believes in the international system and strives to improve its viability, integrity, and credibility-whether in the war on terrorism or by improving international law and trade regimes. He described international terrorism-as-evidenced by attacks on UN and International Red Cross personnel-as a threat to the entire international system. International terrorism, he said, is antithetical to the very idea of both international organizations and internationalism. Terrorists reject the pillars on which the international system in is based-the rule of law, the idea of the nation-states, the free market system, human rights, liberty, and democracy. Fighting terrorism is thus necessary, he said, to preserve the international system, and particularly to stop the lethal combination of non-state terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Seen in this light, it would be foolhardy to think that the United States' response to terrorism and its defense against it is more of a threat to the international system than terrorism itself.

Dr. Holmes went on to say that, while a forum like the United Nations is still needed, the UN needs to be reformed to be more effective. The UN-and especially the Security Council-is a vehicle for international policy and consensus. Many UN agencies do good work. However, the UN system has its limitations. For example, the Security Council reflects political realities outside the UN. He described a lack of accountability in UN budgets and program priorities, and cited a number of other problems-such as with management, membership of UN bodies, and how leadership is chosen which make improving the system difficult. He discussed initiatives that the United States has undertaken, particularly to improve UN peacekeeping, and said that the Bush Administration continues to push the UN to strengthen its commitment to fighting terrorism.

Regarding the issue of preemption, Dr. Holmes recalled the discussion in the National Security strategy, which reflects the U.S. has long maintained the option of preemptive action to counter a sufficient threat to national security. He also noted that international law has long recognized nations need not suffer an attack before they take action to defend against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. What's new is the realization following 9/11 about the nexus of Weapons of Mass Destruction ("WMD") and terrorists who would use them against us; and governments cannot simply wait until something horrendous happens to act. He observed that the coalition response to Saddam Hussein's defiance of his international obligations was previously authorized under a series of Security Council resolutions and was not in any sense a threat to the international system.

Dr. Holmes closed by saying that the U.S. takes the UN seriously, so much so that it takes great risks to help the UN agencies and the Security Council live up to their purposes. The U.S. seeks to ensure that international regimes and institutions succeed in furthering peace, security, freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

Multilateralism and Limits on American Sovereignty


The Honorable Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations

Ambassador David J. Scheffer, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, former Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues

Darin R. Bartram, Partner, Baker and Hostetler, LLP

Moderated by Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Legal Research Fellow, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Mr. Bartram said that the act of signing a treaty requires giving up national sovereignty. The questions to ask are "What do we relinquish?", "What do we gain?", and "Are the benefits greater than the costs?"

He then made the case that the United States should not accede to either the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming or the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Kyoto Treaty was a case of good intentions gone awry because the current treaty is poorly written and requires little of the developing nations that signed it. The Kyoto Treaty has become a tool to hobble the U.S. economy rather than to protect the environment. President George W. Bush proposed alternatives to Kyoto because the environment is important; however, what needs to be done to protect it lies outside the scope of the Kyoto Treaty.

Mr. Bartram spoke similarly of the International Criminal Court. The ICC purports to have jurisdiction over countries that have not agreed to it. Further, many of its signatories, who will vote on important issues affecting the ICC, have persistent human rights problems themselves, and do not share our value system. The ICC will be subject to misuse for political purposes, he said.

Ambassador Scheffer spoke next and said that the question of multilateralism versus sovereignty is both large and complex, and the idea of national sovereignty has long historical and legal precedents. While sovereignty had weakened during the 20th century, there has been a return to the idea in the 21st century. International law is grounded in the actions of nation-states and the interactions between them. The question for the United States as sole hegemon is how to advance its national interests in an interdependent world.

The question surrounding the Kyoto Treaty and the ICC is: If the United States were to pull out, would it remove itself from international progress? The world would move forward with or without the United States. By refusing to work with these bodies, the United States will be unable to influence the course of events within them and will be passed by. The United States needs to stay engaged and concern itself with its global, as well as national, interests.

Ambassador Scheffer said that the 20th century was a period of codification of international law and that the next 30 years will be spent not by increasing treaties, but by determining how treaties will be enforced. It will be hard for the United States to take the lead in treaty enforcement if it pulls back within national sovereignty whenever it feels threatened. He suggested that one way for the United States to shore up its international credibility would be for Congress to take notice of the body of unratified treaties stretching back to the Eisenhower Administration and ratify them.

Multilateralism and Limits on American Sovereignty

Question-and-Answer Session

The Honorable John D. Holum of the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies congratulated Dr. Holmes on his speech but said that it left open the question of rationalizing preemption in other countries in the war on terrorism. Dr. Holmes said that he could not get into hypothetical examples, but reiterated that the war in Iraq was a follow-up to UN resolutions and not a case of preemption.

Mr. Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, asked Dr. Holmes about the U.S. position on expanding the UN Security Council. Dr. Holmes said that Security Council reform is a hot topic and that it is understandable that countries that make large monetary contributions to the UN would want Security Council seats. "The Security Council, though, shouldn't be expanded if doing so would increase its current problems," he said. He also stated that the Security Council doesn't shape international policy, but instead reflects international political realities.

Mr. Gaffney asked Ambassador Scheffer what the role of the U.S. Senate should be in the treaty-making process, because the world expects that the United States has agreed to a treaty when the President signs it, as in the case of the ICC. Ambassador Scheffer said that the United States signed the ICC agreement because it received the bulk of what it had requested and because it was the United States' last chance to work within the international system. By not signing the agreement, he said, the United States would have lost all influence over the court. He also noted that not all Senators oppose the ICC.

The Honorable Frans Van Daele, Ambassador of Belgium to the United States, noted that Belgian laws on the ICC had been changed to remove extraterritorial provisions and asked how genocidal criminals would be brought to justice. Ambassador Scheffer said that atrocities must be addressed and that the world now has 10 years of experience in dealing with atrocities. Nations, including the United States, should amend their criminal and military codes to incorporate ICC crimes so that national courts can properly investigate and prosecute such crimes rather than the ICC, which would fulfill the intent of the ICC statute. Mr. Bartram said that nations ultimately have the responsibility to solve their own problems and gave the examples of South Africa and Argentina. Dr. Holmes said that part of the problem comes from colliding sovereignties and even colliding ideas of sovereignty.

Ambassador Avis Bohlen, former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, said to Dr. Holmes that the idea of preemption was old, but that it seemed the Bush Administration had removed the need for an immediate threat. Dr. Holmes replied that, with terrorism, the nature of the threat is new and different. He indicated that President Bush feels that the greater the threat, the greater the danger of inaction. Still, preemption is not the central doctrine of the Administration's National Security Strategy.

International Financial Institutions: Building Economies or Tearing Them Down?


Adam Lerrick, Ph.D., The Friends of Allan H. Meltzer Chair in Economics, Carnegie Mellon University

Bartlomiej Kaminski, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

Moderated by Sara J. Fitzgerald, Policy Analyst, Center for International Trade and Economics, The Heritage Foundation

Dr. Kaminski said that the decisive factor in globalization was not only technology, but also the regulatory structure of the international economy as established by the Bretton Woods conference in 1944. Three institutions underlying the architecture of global economy, i.e. the IMF, GATT transformed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 and the World Bank owe their emergence to U.S. leadership. The U.S. policy makers were keenly aware of the link between liberalization of international economic interaction and reducing the likelihood of war. The foundations were laid already in the 1940s, but it was the Third World Debt and the collapse of communism that led toward a convergence of international economic policy. The WTO turned out to be a wonderful instrument to get members to accept certain rules of behavior. Countries that wanted to become WTO members had to adopt policies that succeeding governments couldn't change. Dr. Kaminski concluded that without international organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, there would be no globalization-and the United States would lack this tool of foreign policy.

Dr. Lerrick opened his presentation with the opinion that, while these institutions have valuable roles to play, they do not currently fulfill them. The World Bank admits that only one-third of its development projects have benefits that outweigh their costs. The problem is simple: Monitoring is poor, and oversight of monies spent is almost nonexistent. There are no rewards for success, and there is no penalty for failure. The World Bank and IMF seem afraid not to give money away. Aid should be run like a business, he said, not a popularity contest. The Millennium Challenge Account is a good program because it requires results. While the IMF has improved greatly, there is a need to move to preconditions before granting loans. He concluded that it is a mistake to think that developing nations aren't as smart as the World Bank or IMF or that they need the assistance of outside agencies in their economic development.

Dr. Kaminski agreed that economists in developing countries are capable, but stated that they are often hampered by political problems. Thus, there is a real need for outside consultants to liberate economic policy from capture by private interest groups.

International Financial Institutions: Building Economies or Tearing Them Down?

Question-and-Answer Session

Colonel Ken Irish from the Pentagon wanted to know whether there was a point in the process of globalization when a nation-state becomes incapable of acting as a nation-state. Dr. Kaminski replied that while globalization is irreversible, it might strengthen states, since strong states with good laws are needed for economic cooperation to take place. Dr. Lerrick said that the real question should be, "What is the optimal size of a state?" With free flow of trade, he said, a state can actually be smaller in size.

Dr. John McGinnis of Northwestern University commented that the United States should be in the WTO because it is in the U.S. economic interest for other countries to embrace free trade. However, he expressed concern over the possibility of "mission creep" within the WTO: that it could become a regulatory institution through labor and human rights laws. Dr. Kaminski replied that while there is a danger of going too far, there is also a need to expand the WTO into areas such as services and customs. He said the danger was that the WTO would turn into a development agency through the shaping of economic regulations to benefit certain countries.

Ms. Dale asked Dr. Lerrick for his opinion on the Millennium Challenge Account program. It is an excellent idea, he said, because it is founded on performance-based grants that do not go directly to governments. The risk, however, is that standards will be loosened due to political considerations.

Louis Schirano of St. Mary's College asked Dr. Kaminski why the IMF and World Bank shouldn't just let Argentina default on its loans. Dr. Kaminski responded that the default of other countries would have a negative impact on U.S. wealth. Therefore, it would not be in the interest of the U.S. to allow this. The IMF and World Bank have a role in U.S. foreign policy, he said. These organizations provide a second "hat" for the United States to wear when negotiating with other countries.

Transforming Alliances: Coalitions of the Willing vs. Enduring Regional Alliances


Ambassador Frans Van Daele, Ambassador, Embassy of Belgium

Mark Esper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy

Chuck Pena, Director of Defense Policy Studies, Cato Institute

Moderated by Nile Gardiner, Research Fellow in Anglo-American Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Mr. Esper said that the issue of "coalitions of the willing" versus regional alliances is not new. Throughout history, nations have had constantly shifting interests, enemies, and allies. This is because nations have different views of national interests and different perceptions of threats to their security. The United States' key alliances are strong and healthy, he said. The United States has also successfully created coalitions of the willing. There is no dichotomy between fixed alliances and coalitions: One or another may simply be more appropriate in a given circumstance.

The more pressing issue, he said, is to pit coalitions of the willing against actions taken through the UN. The United States does not need the UN to lend legitimacy to its policy actions, as some in the UN believe. The UN's structure makes it useful for protracted diplomatic debates, but it is often incapable of taking decisive and rapid action to address crises. The UN imprimatur can help to strengthen international support, but the United States cannot predicate its actions on UN approval. The UN is not the only way to be multilateral, and unilateralism is no vice. Coalitions of the willing are multilateralism by other means and can be more effective than alliances. Coalitions of the willing can also be used in non-military ways, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative. Mr. Esper concluded that the United States' national interests must remain paramount, and the manner in which those interests are pursued and protected may take a variety of forms and venues, each with different strengths and weaknesses. When acting, the United States cannot feel compelled by others to choose one form over the other. At the same time, the United States should also strengthen and adapt its alliances, while expanding and deepening relationships that will lend themselves to the rapid formation of coalitions.

Ambassador Van Daele made a case for fixed organizations, such as those the United States set up after World War II. These organizations have always been good at regulating between colliding sovereignties, and the pooling of sovereignties often leads to a win-win situation. However, some countries feel that joining these organizations shackles them and that some states have joined solely for the power that membership affords them.

Ambassador Van Daele described the three alternatives to fixed organizations: "going it alone," coalitions of the willing, and the "Directoire" of leading nations. "Going it alone" requires unlimited means and unlimited justifications. Working with coalitions of the willing appears to be a shortcut to going through fixed organizations, but it has several drawbacks: Coalitions cannot be used to solve all problems; picking allies may lead to frustration among them; a lack of international legitimacy can lead to a lack of domestic legitimacy; coalitions lend themselves to use by unfriendly governments; and coalitions leave out the weaker states that most need the structure of International Organizations. "Directoires" of leading powers never work because splits form rapidly within them and because the states that are left out feel frustrated. Instead of pursuing these alternatives, more energy should be spent to retool existing organizations so that they perform better. Specifically, member states should always be careful to give the organization enough power to do its job. Second, energy should be expended to improve and streamline the decision-making process within international organizations.

Chuck Peña began his presentation by quoting Presidents Washington and Jefferson on alliances. He said that alliances can be important, but they should be temporary and for a specific purpose. Mr. Peña then gave the example of NATO as having outlived its original purpose and become unhealthy for both the United States and Europe.He said that the United States needs to be realistic about the UN. The UN shouldn't be abolished, but national sovereignty should always take precedence. The UN is used by all member states when it is to their advantage and ignored when it is not.

Coalitions of the willing will be used more often in the future, he said, for better or for worse. There is a difference between a coalition of the willing and a coalition of the capable. The coalition of the willing has not been of much help to the United States in post-war Iraq. Coalitions of the willing are a double-edged sword in that they may make it easier to quickly accomplish some things, but the United States must establish specific goals before it assembles coalitions. Mr. Peña said that the war on terrorism will not primarily be a military war, and formal alliances therefore will not be as effective as coalitions of the willing.

Colonel Ken Irish from the Pentagon said to Ambassador Van Daele that he had heard that one of the reasons for NATO's continued existence was to prevent overly aggressive European countries from having designs on their neighbors. The Ambassador replied that this may have been true at one point, and that while the threat of the Soviet Union has withered, there are still good reasons for NATO to remain. NATO is another tool that both the United States and European Union (EU) can use to work with each other. Even though today's threats are more diffuse, they are still threats. NATO is already in place to face threats without having to build new coalitions of the willing. Further, if structured alliances were used only when convenient, it would show the developing world that the United States and EU are not truly interested in working together.

Mr. Peña said that it is a leap of faith to assume that internal conflicts in other parts of the world are necessarily threats to U.S. security.

Transforming Alliances: Coalitions of the Willing vs. Enduring Regional Alliances

Question-and-Answer Session

Ms. Dale asked Mr. Esper what the future of the NATO alliance will be if the world is moving toward coalitions of the willing. He replied that coalitions are only one tool; NATO is another. It is not an either/or proposition. Coalitions can be more efficient and less cumbersome than alliances in some cases.

Ms. Dale asked Ambassador Van Daele whether the European Defense Initiative is a coalition of the willing. He said that there are discussions within the EU to allow smaller groups of countries to take action with the blessing of the larger alliance.

Ms. Dale asked Mr. Peña how the United States would communicate with Europe in the absence of NATO. He replied that, even without NATO, diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and the EU would not cease and that there are other ways of engagement between friendly countries.

Ambassador Williamson said that when Turkey asked for help before the Iraq war, NATO was prevented from aiding it by countries such as France and Germany. The Ambassador asked the panel what that bode for the alliance.

Mr. Esper said that while the United States supported action, some in NATO did not and that this does not bode well for the alliance. However, the majority of NATO countries are now in Iraq.

Mr. Peña said that the example of Turkey demonstrated only that the alliance had been asked to do something it was not designed to do.

Ambassador Van Daele said that the proposal had been presented to Turkey by another country and that it took Turkey weeks to endorse the request. However, it took only two weeks to work through NATO.

The Utility of International Arms Control Regimes


The Honorable John D. Holum, former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; former Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Henry D. Sokolski, Executive Director, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

Moderated by Helle Dale, Director, Foreign Policy and Defense Studies, and Deputy Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Ambassador Holum said that formal arms control is fundamentally important. However, current treaties can and should be improved because they are insufficient to contain the growing threat that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will fall into the hands of terrorists and rogue states. The treaties are important because they establish a global norm against state possession of WMD and because they form a political and legal basis to take action against states that proliferate. Ambassador Holum disagrees with those who argue that agreements lull the United States into a false sense of security: Without them, he said, the WMD threat would have been even larger before the United States became alarmed. To those who say that only the "good guys" and non-nuclear states should join these agreements, he replied that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has led several "in-between countries" such as South Africa, Brazil, and Taiwan to become non-nuclear. In addition, having a large number of member states puts countries of concern under political pressure to join. A final objection some make is that violations are difficult to detect.

Ambassador Holum said that the treaties cannot be abandoned simply because they are hard to enforce. The alternative to abandoning these agreements is far worse than the cost of enforcing them. Enforcement does not always succeed: The NPT, written just after World War II, actively promotes nuclear development. However, the NPT does not prevent the diplomacy and collective action that occur beyond its terms. He said that treaties share a similar cost/benefit profile with Ballistic Missile Defense and that they are only one of several options to prevent the spread of WMD.

Non-proliferation regimes face serious challenges. As part of the NPT, the five nuclear powers agreed to reduce their arsenals, but no timetable was given. This affects how seriously other countries treat the regime, especially when the United States undercuts the NPT by rewriting its nuclear doctrine to expand the roles and missions of nuclear weapons and by developing "mini-nukes" and "bunker busters." He said that this would be a setback for nonproliferation. He also said that North Korea is a bigger nuclear threat than Iraq and that the United States needs to improve its own credibility regarding WMD in the international community.

Mr. Sokolski said that there were two justifications for the NPT: the original one from when the NPT was established, which is sound, and the other, which is popular today, based on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), and unsound. It matters a great deal which one the United States backs. The key criteria for the success of arms control are that it should reduce the cost of maintaining peacetime military forces, reduce the likelihood of war, and limit the destructiveness of war if it breaks out. At the time the NPT was negotiated, the premise was that all nations had a right to nuclear weapons but that those not exercising this right should be compensated with anything short of nuclear weapons. The way out of this conundrum is to go back to the original rationale of the NPT, which was "them that's got, don't give, and them that's not, don't try to get." At the time the treaty was negotiated, there was concern that the spread of nuclear power capability would lead to the spread of bomb-making capability. This has proven a valid concern. The NPT needs to be re-interpreted in light of its original intent and not abandoned as unworkable. However, this view is not yet the view of those who talk most about nonproliferation. Sokolski hopes this will change in the future.

Mr. Gaffney disagreed with Ambassador Holum and said that there is an implied moral equivalence in the NPT: By working with the "bad guys" on the premise that they will follow the NPT, the United States legitimizes bad governments. The United States should be working instead to change these bad regimes. Ambassador Holum agreed that regime change was necessary in North Korea and Iran but said the United States can't wait for regime change to address the problem of proliferation.

The Utility of International Arms Control Regimes

Question-and-Answer Session

Mr. McGuiness asked whether the debate over arms control shows that there is not a lot of tension between the United States and other countries. Mr. Sokolski replied that that during the Cold War, nuclear weapons were seen as the weapons of the strong against the weak. However, they now are increasingly the weapons of choice of the weak against the strong. Ambassador Holum agreed that the United States is on the cusp of a very dangerous era. The problems of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea cannot be solved serially; they need to be solved all at once, he said, and this will require the international community.

Chuck De Caro, founder and CEO, AEROBUREAU Corporation, wondered why the United States permitted the transfer of several tons of plutonium from France to Japan in 1987, when it could have led to an Asian arms race. Mr. Sokolski said it was permitted because Japan is an ally and because it happened during the Cold War.

Esper said that while nonproliferation treaties have been signed by many countries, compliance is lacking. He asked how to insure compliance and how to enforce these treaties. Ambassador Holum replied that enforcement should a diplomatic priority and the United States should instigate challenge inspections. He also noted that Mohammad El Baradi of the IAEA has proposed that production of nuclear fuels be put under IAEA control. Although extreme, the idea is worth considering. Mr. Sokolski spoke against IAEA control of fuel production but agreed that the United States needs to push harder for enforcement.

Ambassador Bohlen said that countries forgo nuclear weapons because they don't believe they need them and asked what impact U.S. actions in Iraq have had on the Iranian situation. Sokolski said that if the United States succeeds in Iraq, it would push Iran toward reform; if the United States fails, however, the Iranian regime will not change, and it will continue its nuclear program. With respect to other nuclear-capable countries, the United States needs to bring them into the Proliferation Security Initiative to make them feel safer and nudge them toward compliance, said Sokolski.


International Organizations, Peace Operations, Democratization, and the War on Terrorism


James C. O'Brien, Principal, The Albright Group, LLC

Shashi Tharoor, Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations

Christopher M. Sands, Director of Strategic Planning and Evaluation, International Republican Institute

Moderated by Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Legal Research Fellow, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Mr. Sands described the International Republican Institute (IRI) and how it works with indigenous NGOs to promote democracy and teach the functional chores (such as polling and creating party platforms) that go with it. He described the IRI's program in Afghanistan-which publishes a newspaper and is training people to promote the new constitution-and its program in Iraq-where it helped set up a think tank and is helping the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Governing Council to communicate better.

These two programs, Sands said, are very inexpensive at approximately $800,000 per country. This is important because alliances are built on burden sharing, and these programs are perfect for allies who want to support the United States but have limited financial means.

Mr. Tharoor said that the UN is an organization that remains vital and relevant. The first half of the 20th century saw many horrors-two world wars, the Holocaust, and others-while the second half was vastly different because a group of leaders, many of them American, were determined to make it different and set up the UN. During the Cold War, the UN served the essential purpose of preventing local and regional conflicts from igniting a confrontation between the superpowers; in this, UN mechanisms, including peacekeepers played a vital role.

The key formula for peacekeeping success is a mandate that is viable and clear; enough resources to accomplish the mandate; and political will, especially on the part of the UN Security Council. The peacekeeping process is cheap: Over 50 years of peacekeeping operations have cost less than one-third of the money the United States has spent on the Iraq war.

The UN is an international instrument that has worked for the United States. It can generate wholesale support for U.S. interests, such as, for example, when the Security Council passed an anti-terrorism resolution that otherwise would have required the United States to negotiate individually with 191 countries. Thus, the UN remains essential on the terrorism front. As the world's most universal organization, the UN can provide a unique legitimacy for international actions. The U.S. should support that legitimacy, and the institution that provides it, because it serves the interest of every country, including the U.S. to have rules to manage transactions between sovereign states.

Mr. O'Brien said that he takes a practical perspective on the matter. The question is, "How does U.S. participation in international organizations and the international system support U.S. security and interests?" He said that, if done well, U.S. participation works to our advantage. However, the United States isn't using its influence to the extent that it could. International organizations and international groups are not good at developing post-war political strategies, rooting out warlords and criminals, or governing.

In the case of Iraq, the question should not be one of U.S. or UN control, but how to move toward Iraqi self-governance. The key is that the United States should not attempt to dictate the form of democracy in Iraq. The problem with imposing a political structure is that it impedes the United States' ability to attract international help. The United States needs to change its plan and create a provisional state, hold elections, and then later establish a long-term government.

What does the United States get out of the international structure? It gets persuasiveness in the international community and a way to bring in key players from different sides of the political debate. Additionally, it helps share the burden and costs of any potential military actions. International organizations give the United States a method to reach out to other countries, especially on issues like AIDS and nonproliferation.

International Organizations, Peace Operations, Democratization, and the War on Terrorism

Question-and-Answer Session

Ambassador Holum asked the panel for its thoughts on the collision of interests in Iraq: on the one hand, wanting to give away power as quickly as possible and, on the other, not wanting to give up power before Iraq is ready. Mr. Tharoor replied that the UN Secretary General has already suggested a way forward: Have the United States end its occupation as soon as possible and recognize a sovereign government in Iraq. Only then should a constitution be written. Mr. Sands said that the IRI hasn't encountered problems with the Iraqis in setting up a democracy. He said that the Iraqis will be ready for the task and that a government should be set up as soon as possible.

Ms. Dale asked whether there are ways of conferring international legitimacy other than through the UN Security Council. Why should Africa have to approve U.S. actions? Mr. Tharoor said that, firstly, if the United States wants other countries to abide by UN resolutions, it must do so itself. Secondly, the UN blue flag means that no-one can easily undermine international activities by arguing that they are undertaken purely to serve one nation's or group's self-interest. It removes ambiguities about the motives for operations and assistance, and shares the burden of responsibilities and costs among the international community as a whole.

Professor Kaminski said that if one looked at Kosovo and Bosnia six months after their respective wars, both were a mess. Both are, however, now much better off. How, then, can it be said that Iraq is a failure? Would internationalization help? Mr. O'Brien answered that there are currently no international forces dying in the Balkans, but there are soldiers dying daily in Iraq, which is a sign of trouble. Therefore, it would be a good idea to internationalize, as it gets rid of the idea of "resisting America" as a terrorist recruiting tool.

The Future of International Regimes and Institutions


Paul M. Kennedy, Ph.D., J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director of International Security Studies, Yale University

Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, Partner, Mayer Browne, Rowe, and Maw; former U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs

Moderated by Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Legal Research Fellow, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Dr. Kennedy said that he could not imagine a world without international organizations. The world would find it very difficult to do without organizations like the IMF, ICAO, WHO, WFP, and IAEA, as well as the numerous organizations that facilitate international trade. This sort of international organization is safe.

However, it is the more politically charged aspects of the UN that cause problems because they can threaten national interests and sovereignty. The sensible approach to international organizations is the pragmatic one. There are parts of the UN that the United States needs and wants (such as the WHO), parts that the United States needs but wants changed, and parts that are of concern. The UN has seen many changes over its lifetime, but on the whole, the UN's founders got it right when they set up the organization with small countries as "consumers" of security and the big powers as "providers."

The problem in the debate over the future of the UN is that many take an absolutist view ¾ either pro or con. Dr. Kennedy reiterated that the United States needs to take a pragmatic approach to dealing with the UN instead.

Ambassador Williamson said at the outset of his presentation that the UN is important and valuable but less influential and important than its strongest supporters sometimes suggest. They sometimes push the UN into doing things that it is unable to do and thereby hurt the organization. He agreed with Assistant Secretary Holmes that the UN Security Council reflects the real world with all of its divisions, disputes, and flaws. Those countries that have much less power in the real world hold on tightest to their Security Council prerogatives. Ambassador Williamson said that in the real world, a dominant consideration is the disparity of power. For example, on Iraq, among the Security Council's major considerations were differing threat assessments. The Iraqi episode weakened and diminished the UN because the Security Council failed to take its own resolutions seriously.

On the topic of UN reform, Ambassador Williamson said that the United States could engage the UN on things such as budget and management issues but that these are, at most, the margins of the problem.

The UN does many good things, especially in the humanitarian and peacekeeping spheres. The Security Council, however, has significant and inherent structural and procedural weaknesses. The United States should remain engaged. The United States should be mindful of these dynamics. The United States should show patience and grace and try to work with others, both because it is better for the United States not to go it alone and because the UN is an important shaper of international values. Still, the United States should keep the UN in perspective and help other countries do the same-especially those who wish to use the UN to contain the United States.

Ambassador Williamson also commented on the previous panel. On terrorism, he said that while the UN has helped, it is now having problems with how to impose some costs on countries that fail to combat terrorism. The UN is limited on what it can do against countries that are unwilling to cooperate.

Mr. Tharoor acknowledged that the UN does have limitations and isn't perfect. He agreed that the primary role of the UN Security Council cannot and should not be one of containing U.S. power. However, he said, the UN hasn't failed just because the United States doesn't get its way in the Security Council. Ambassador Williamson replied that the United States understands that it doesn't always get its way, but in the case of Iraq, the Security Council didn't even take its own resolutions seriously.

Mr. de Caro asked whether Article 41 of the UN Charter, used for embargoes, needs to be rewritten to add embargoes on intangible things like financial transactions. Dr. Kennedy said that the language of the Charter doesn't need to changed but that perhaps Article 41 should be used more creatively.

Mr. O'Brien agreed with the panel's statements but added that the UN is considered to be too important by both by its friends and its critics. In the case of Iraq, the United States spent too much time dealing with the UN and not enough with individual countries. The United States should lock in what advantages it has today with the UN. Ambassador Williamson agreed on Iraq, saying that the United States should have done more both within and outside the UN. The advantage of the UN over the United States, he said, is that it sets norms for international behavior. Professor Kennedy said that Iraq's violations were against UN Security Council resolutions and that the United States should have done more to point that out.

Paul Rosenzweig of The Heritage Foundation said that perhaps the core of U.S. dissatisfaction with the UN lies in the Cold War, with the belief that the nonaligned movement wasn't taking the "good" side of the war. While the Cold War is over, current anti-UN feeling in the United States might be left over from that time. Ambassador Williamson agreed and cited the rhetorical excess of former colonies from that time, but attributed current attitudes to the historic sense of U.S. exceptionalism and our belief that results matter, not process. This creates challenges with European allies as they become more entrenched in the value of process through the EU.

Ms. Dale said that ECOSOC has taken on The Heritage Foundation as an NGO and said that, as a conservative organization, Heritage is nearly alone. She said that this part of the UN seems to be dominated by liberal interests. Might the UN be more effective if it didn't have an apparent political agenda that automatically makes the organization extremely controversial in parts of the United States and rest of the world?

Dr. Kennedy said that NGOs predominantly are "from the left" because they come out of the "soft agendas," such as human and women's rights. Though useful to exert pressure within their own countries, NGOs are obsessively self-centered and not very democratic because they think only within their own particular bailiwicks. He added that the problem with discussing UN reform is that so many people use the term in so many different ways, from sweeping changes to minor ones.

Ambassador Williamson agreed that NGOs can be overly self-righteous. On UN reform, he said that people often use it as a cover for political agendas but that there are some ideas that need to be looked at and considered. Of the failures of international organizations and the UN, the majority result from the irresponsibility of member states, he said.


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