Tuesday, June 28, 2005

You win some and you lose some

SecGen Kofi Annan, father of Kojo of food-for-oil fame used the anniversary celebrations of the UN to call on world leaders to support his supposedly far-reaching reforms of that organization.

The UN, he explained, had many successes, such as the near total eradication of polio and smallpox. Well, I don’t know about that. WHO did play an important part in the vaccination programme but those vaccines had to be produced first. And, in any case, did the programme need that enormous political superstructure we call the United Nations?

It’s just as well that there are these successes, because the SecGen can point to precious few in the political field. He did admit that there were also failures, such as the 800,000 (at a conservative estimate) massacred in Rwanda.

I suppose it would have been the height of bad taste to mention DR Congo, Sudan, the Balkans and the food-for-oil scam.

The world, however, according to the SecGen, needs a new, dynamic, reformed UN more than ever. (Or was that the EU according to Tony Blair? One gets so confused with all these dynamic reforms.)

At least, unlike Blair, Annan seems to have come up with some ideas, though it is not clear how they would achieve anything. But then, it is not precisely clear what he wants to achieve beyond hanging on to his job.

Among other proposals for reform there is changing the make-up of the Security Council, doing something about the Human Rights Commission and increasing money for development.

All of them are controversial, to say the least, and some will give the UN, an unaccountable organization, full of members whose own countries are a bit of a mess, too much power.

How, for instance, can one justify making the Human Rights Commission more powerful if half its members ignore human rights in their own land? After all, Sudan, barely a state at all, with several unpleasant civil wars and continuing massacres supported by what passes for a government, is a member. Libya used to chair it. Cuba is a member. And so on, and so on.

Suppose, more powers are given to it. How will they be administered? And who will be condemned and made to submit? Any African countries? Not, one would have thought, after they all announced that Mugabe’s policies were entirely his business and bulldozing shanty towns was quite a good idea as they had been somewhat unhygienic.

Increased development funds? Will their distribution be overseen by Cotecna?

Well, never mind. At least the SecGen can claim credit for all that vaccination.

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