Thursday, March 15, 2007

Let us privatise UN operations for better results
By Bashir Goth

THE new UN Secretary General is fortunate enough to have come at a time when the US failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have mellowed American unilateralist tendencies and pushed the world agenda back to the UN corridors.

The increasing US reliance on international consensus on Iran and North Korea’s nuclear issues as well as its turnaround on its intransigent position on Iraq provides an unprecedented opportunity to Ban Ki-Moon to be more of a General than a Secretary. But true to his low-key profile and being America’s man, the new Secretary General has already chosen to be a loyal, docile secretary than a commanding general. By making his first mission to Africa, he underlined his intention of skirting thorny issues such as Iraq , Afghanistan, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian issue and Lebanon.

Raised on the South Korean diplomacy that sees the US as a strategic partner and defender of his country’s sovereignty, Ban Ki-Moon is not a man cut out for standing up to American hegemonic policies. Kofi Annan’s occasional defiant streak such as branding the American invasion of Iraq as "illegal" was due to his African anti-colonial upbringing and his long schooling in the UN system. Annan was also lucky to have an almost unified African block, which sometimes lobbied for his support through its historical, sensitive and diversified cultural ties with the West.

The top UN job will, however, always remain a frustrating seat for any occupant due to the organisation’s intractable bureaucratic system. The Security Council with its sacrosanct veto power holding members is long over due for change. As the world has changed beyond recognition since WWII, it makes no sense that the 21st century’s economic giants such Japan, Germany and emerging India need to continue to bow down to the dictates of small countries like the UK and France. While I view the demand of allocating a veto power to each continent as ridiculous, knowing that in today’s world its economic interests and having common values that unite countries rather than sharing geographical location, I can envision the need to eliminate the veto system and replace it with a system that allocates power according to each country’s contribution to UN operations. Read More in Khaleej Times.