The Daily Demarche
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Keep the pressure on Annan.
Before I get into a topic today I'd like to take a moment and point you all in the direction of a promising new blog "Americans For Freedom"- a collection of links and commentary on the freedom movement in the Middle East. Thanks to this site I found "Blogs by Iranians", a comprehensive list of English language blogs written by Iranians around the world. Good stuff on both these sites.

Now for today's thoughts.

This weekend is the Easter holiday, and at least around here it also seems to be the start of spring. A season of rebirth and renewal, if I may be so cliched. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the United Nations. Big things are afoot in New York, and there has been much talk and even more written about what, if anything, the UN can do to get back on track (as if it ever was on track).

Koffi Annan's plan to reform the U.N. is not necessarily a bad one, it is simply insufficient for the task at hand. A timeline for reducing global poverty, more focus on human rights and reducing terrorism, and even examining the Security Council are all worthwhile ideas, but one key element is missing. Nowhere in all of this have I seen a plan by Mr. Annan or anyone else to make the U.N. relevant. Moral superiority (self-perceived) abounds in the hallways of the U.N., but outside that club there is precious little proof that the United Nations as it exists today or as it will continue to exist even with these reforms has any relevance to the real world. The Economist has summed it up nicely:

Mr Annan's reform plan, which was set out in a report to the General Assembly this week, will be presented at a summit of world leaders in New York in September. It needs America's support. Is that likely?

There is quite a lot that Mr Bush's people seem to like: a new intergovernmental peace-building commission to help prevent "post-conflict societies", like Congo, becoming failed states; a replacement for the UN's awful Human Rights Commission, whose members often include the worst torturers, by a smaller, elected Human Rights Council; an agreed definition of terrorism that denies any exemption for "freedom fighters" like those in Chechnya and Palestine; even an attempt to confirm a nation's right to launch a "pre-emptive" strike in the face of an "imminent" threat without going to the Security Council.

I for one do not feel that these plans go deep enough, however. Trying to be all things to all people means ultimately being nothing to everyone. The U.N. will continue to exist if for no other reason than the fact that it already exists and massive organizations that have convinced a large portion of the world of their worth rarely go away, not to mention the monumental levels of corruption that ensure those involved will fight to the death to keep the gravy train rolling. So, the U.N. will roll on and America will continue to pay the lion's share of the budget as well. Where does that leave us?

This is the best chance we are likely to ever see when it comes to righting the sinking ship that is the U.N., to ensure that the hundreds of millions of dollars we spend on U.N activities are put to good use. John Bolton will have his work cut out for him. We, and any other members of the U.N. serious about refining and focusing the mission of the global body, must continue to pay close attention to the reform movement. We must not, for a single moment, release the pressure on the oil for food scandal, or the sexual abuse by peacekeepers issue. Each and every abuse, incidence of corruption or misuse of power must be run to ground. An almost Herculean effort.

Can it be done? I don't know, and in fact often doubt it. We owe it to ourselves for the money we spend, and to the world for the promises the U.N. has made all these years and so rarely delivered on to try. If the U.N. can be reborn this is the best possible time to attempt it. The people of the world are speaking up, they are demanding freedom and liberty, and now it is time to look for justice, starting in the hallways of the U.N. building in New York. Mr. Annan has barely scratched the surface, let's not let up the pressure now.

Finally, I will not be posting over the Easter weekend, Mrs. D and I are going on a sort of pilgrimage, we both need a little time to tend to matters of the spirit, but I'll be back on Tuesday. I wish you all a pleasant weekend and if you are so inclined a joyous celebration of the holiday.

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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