Tuesday, November 29, 2005

UK : opposes Bolton tactic on UN reform

Britain has rejected a proposal by John Bolton, America's combative ambassador to the United Nations, to block the upcoming UN budget as a tactic to push throughdisputed reforms. The rare public disagreement between the two close allies comes as the showdown over reforms at the UN's New York headquarters becomes increasingly acrimonious.

Britain has rebuffed a Bolton move to join him in refusing to pass the organisation's 2006 budget until member states approve wide-ranging management reforms.

To the irritation of Mr Bolton, many developing nations are bitterly opposed to changes that they claim are driven by American political pressure. He suggested last week that talks on the 2006 and 2007 budgets could be postponed as a means to overcome the trenchant resistance from the "G77" bloc of developing countries. He also threatened that the United States could seek an alternative to the UN for solving international problems in future.

Britain strongly supports the reform package, but along with the other 24 EU states it has ruled out a budget delay. "We are not in favour of holding any individual items or the budget hostage to other issues but we do say very clearly that by the end of this year we need clarity and a determination to tackle a better management for the United Nations," said the British ambassador Emyr Jones Parry.

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said that any delay in approving next year's budget would create a "serious financial crisis". Mr Bolton says a temporary budget could be passed to ensure UN operations did not grind to a halt.

The reform proposals are intended to improve the efficiency and running of the UN bureaucracy by handing the secretary general's office greater power to oversee management, finance and staffing. These responsibilities are currently the remit of the unwieldly 191-state General Assembly, where developing nations fear losing their influence.

The changes - agreed at the UN World Summit in September following a damning report into the oil-for-food scandal - are already a watered-down version of what America and the EU had hoped for.

The stand-off is also frustrating Mr Annan, who is desperate to introduce reforms before he leaves office next year in an attempt to improve a reputation badly tarnished by the scandal.

"We have to get past this political dogfight. We just hope that both sides can sober up and reach some agreement on this," Mark Malloch Brown, Mr Annan's British chief of staff, told the Sunday Telegraph. "The UN needs a first-class international public administration capable of meeting its challenges and we don't have that right now."

Western diplomats hope that there may be progress before the end of the year on limited changes such as new ethics committee and overhauling the discredited human rights commission. But they are braced for "trench warfare" on management reforms.

"The hostility and conflict in the debate about reforms illustrate the many fault lines in the organisation," said a senior Western envoy. "It is going to be a long hard slog."

Mr Bolton, a long-time and vocal UN critic, arrived in New York four months ago with a reputation as an uncompromising tough talker. Privately, British diplomats express surprise that he has not made greater efforts to cultivate them or build alliances. "You're either with him or against him," said one.

Source : Here


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home