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UN need u.s., u.s. needs un to face challenges -- HIV/AIDS, Sudan -- that defy national solutions, says Deputy Secretary-General in new york address
Following is the address by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown on “Power and Super-Power: Global Leadership in the Twenty-First Century” at the Century Foundation and Center for American Progress -- Security and Peace Initiative, in New York, 6 June:
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today on Power and Global Leadership. I often get asked to talk about leadership, but rarely about power. I wonder why.
Some of the themes -- that the United Nations is misunderstood and does much more than its critics allow -- are probably not surprising. But my underlying message, which is a warning about the serious consequences of a decades-long tendency by US Administrations of both parties to engage only fitfully with the UN, is not one a sitting United Nations official would normally make to an audience like this.
However, inevitably a moment of truth is coming. Because even as the world’s challenges are growing, the UN’s ability to respond is being weakened without US leadership.
Americans complain about the UN’s bureaucracy, weak decision-making, the lack of accountable modern management structures and the political divisions of the General Assembly here in New York. And my response is, “guilty on all counts”.
In significant part because the US has not stuck with its project -- its professed wish to have a strong, effective United Nations -- in a systematic way. Secretary Albright and others here today have played extraordinary leadership roles in US-UN relations, for which I salute them. But in the eyes of the rest of the world, US commitment tends to ebb much more than it flows. And in recent years, the enormously divisive issue of Iraq and the big stick of financial withholding have come to define an unhappy marriage.
As someone who deals with Washington almost daily, I know this is unfair to the very real effort all three Secretaries of State I have worked with –- Secretary Albright, Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice -– put into UN issues. And today, on a very wide number of areas, from Lebanon and Afghanistan to Syria, Iran and the Palestinian issue, the US is constructively engaged with the UN. But that is not well known or understood, in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. That is what I mean by “stealth” diplomacy: the UN’s role is in effect a secret in Middle America even as it is highlighted in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Exacerbating matters is the widely held perception, even among many US allies, that the US tends to hold on to maximalist positions when it could be finding middle ground.
We can see this even on apparently non-controversial issues such as renovating the dilapidated UN Headquarters in New York. While an architectural landmark, the building falls dangerously short of city codes, lacks sprinklers, is filled with asbestos and is in most respects the most hazardous workplace in town. But the only Government not fully supporting the project is the US. Too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping over too many years -- manifest in a fear by politicians to be seen to be supporting better premises for overpaid, corrupt UN bureaucrats -- makes even refurbishing a building a political hot potato.
Originally posted by Baphomet79
I am an American and I have a mixed opinion of the UN. Simply put it kept the Cold War room temperature but given todays international security environment it is incapable of being an effective Non-Governmental Organization, much less one that all member states are supposed to subjugate a certain degree of sovereignty to. I don't push for a League of Nations type of failure but simply a back to basics strategy for reforming the UN along modern standards. The Bretton Woods institutions set up during their time made perfect sense, they don't any longer.