Monday, May 01, 2006

You have to feel sorry for them

There are times when even I feel sorry for the UN. Here they are doing their best, giving Iran a top job on the Disarmament Commission, giving an Iranian hostage taker, known not so affectionately as Screaming Mary, a “Champion of the Earth” award and what happens? The President of Iran turns round and tells the UN where it can get off on the subject of nuclear enrichment and other suchlike matters.

Well, at least there are those reforms. They are going ahead. Aren’t they? Well, errm, no. Or not so that you would notice.

The developing nations are undercutting efforts to reform the budget. According to UPI:

“The so-called G77 group of developing nations led by South Africa rejected efforts by the richer members of the body and Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resolve their complaints and moved ahead with its resolution.

The G77's resolution broadly rejects efforts to reform the way budgetary decisions are taken and undercuts calls by Annan for more flexibility.”

The Sunday Telegraph gives a succinct summary of the proposal:

“Supported by America, the European Union and Japan, which provide 80 per cent of the UN budget, Mr Annan wanted to transfer key spending and management decisions from the unwieldy 191-member General Assembly to a strengthened professional secretariat.”

Of course giving more financial power to SecGen Kofi Annan (father of Kojo) may not be a particularly top-notch idea and shifting money management from the unaccountable General Assembly to an equally unaccountable but possibly more sensible professional secretariat is not going to change the culture of the UN one iota.

However, the countries that provide 80 per cent of the funding do have a weapon they can use in the future if they manage to stiffen their resolve. The developing countries are furious at what they see as blackmail and are shrilly demanding that the richer countries continue to pay in their dues and not claim any special privileges for that.

Separately, Japan has been campaigning for a rearrangement of funding that would make Russia and China, at present minimal contributors, pay more. The latter two countries are, needless to say, resisting the suggestions. China is also resisting any notion of Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.

All round, one can see that the UN is the epitome of peaceful global co-operation.

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