Senior UN official briefs US Congressional panel on advances in UN reform

Briefing the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington on the recent World Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, said the negotiations on many issues fell short of UN hopes, having been hampered by unresolved differences between Member States and “a regrettable amount of mistrust.“In March, when the Secretary General proposed an agenda for the summit, he deliberately set the bar high, since in international negotiations you never get everything you ask,” he said.Mr. Annan also presented the reforms as a package – development, security, human rights and UN reform – not because he expected them to be adopted without change, but because States would be more likely to compromise on some issues if they received concessions on the issues to which they assigned a higher priority, Mr. Malloch Brown said.“To be quite specific, the US and others who share the same reform agenda were not going to get what they wanted on management reform, on human rights, or on terrorism unless they showed sensitivity to the views of those many governments for whom development is the overriding priority – and vice versa,” he said.For the first time, he said, the entire UN membership has accepted “the responsibility to protect” populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and the funding for the UN’s human rights machinery would be doubled from 2 per cent of the Organization’s budget.“I believe one important consequence of the reforms must be to allow Israel to play its full part as a member state in all the UN’s affairs and no longer to be judged by harsher standards than those applied to other Member States,” he added.He noted that the US House of Representatives had passed a bill bearing the name of Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to ensure UN reform. “But I hope you might now also understand why we respectfully disagree with the method that you adopted, which mandates withholding of US dues from the United Nations if certain benchmarks and deadlines are not met.”“I fear that this would provoke a backlash among other Member States, whose effect would be not to advance but to set back the priorities that you and we share – such as an effective Human Rights Council, the extensive reform of UN management, a clear definition of terrorism – because it would shatter the pro-reform coalition among UN members,” Mr. Malloch Brown said. The key to success was broadening that coalition. “In this effort, the US is an essential player, but by no means the only one,” he said.On the recent hurricanes that have struck the Gulf Coast, Mr. Malloch Brown commiserated with the many Americans who have suffered bereavement, injury, or hardship, and noted that apart from the humanitarian and logistical assistance given by the UN itself, 136 Member States had offered help out of solidarity and concern.Turning to management reform, he gave the committee a long list of major actions that the Summit expected to be accomplished in a short time. He said they included a clear instruction to apply existing standards of conduct scrupulously and to develop a code of ethics that would extend beyond the Secretariat to the entire UN system, while Mr. Annan’s intention to create an independent ethics office was recognized “and I’m glad to tell you that just yesterday he formally approved this.”In the next few weeks, “we will be working hard to review almost 60 years of mandates and all the budget and human resources rules and regulations. Amazing as it may seem, such reviews have never before been done in the history of the UN,” Mr. Malloch Brown said.He added that he doubted that the majority of Member States would have accepted the urgency of management reform without the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal and the various investigations into it.

Briefing the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington on the recent World Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, said the negotiations on many issues fell short of UN hopes, having been hampered by unresolved differences between Member States and “a regrettable amount of mistrust.“In March, when the Secretary General proposed an agenda for the summit, he deliberately set the bar high, since in international negotiations you never get everything you ask,” he said.Mr. Annan also presented the reforms as a package – development, security, human rights and UN reform – not because he expected them to be adopted without change, but because States would be more likely to compromise on some issues if they received concessions on the issues to which they assigned a higher priority, Mr. Malloch Brown said.“To be quite specific, the US and others who share the same reform agenda were not going to get what they wanted on management reform, on human rights, or on terrorism unless they showed sensitivity to the views of those many governments for whom development is the overriding priority – and vice versa,” he said.For the first time, he said, the entire UN membership has accepted “the responsibility to protect” populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and the funding for the UN’s human rights machinery would be doubled from 2 per cent of the Organization’s budget.“I believe one important consequence of the reforms must be to allow Israel to play its full part as a member state in all the UN’s affairs and no longer to be judged by harsher standards than those applied to other Member States,” he added.He noted that the US House of Representatives had passed a bill bearing the name of Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to ensure UN reform. “But I hope you might now also understand why we respectfully disagree with the method that you adopted, which mandates withholding of US dues from the United Nations if certain benchmarks and deadlines are not met.”“I fear that this would provoke a backlash among other Member States, whose effect would be not to advance but to set back the priorities that you and we share – such as an effective Human Rights Council, the extensive reform of UN management, a clear definition of terrorism – because it would shatter the pro-reform coalition among UN members,” Mr. Malloch Brown said. The key to success was broadening that coalition. “In this effort, the US is an essential player, but by no means the only one,” he said.On the recent hurricanes that have struck the Gulf Coast, Mr. Malloch Brown commiserated with the many Americans who have suffered bereavement, injury, or hardship, and noted that apart from the humanitarian and logistical assistance given by the UN itself, 136 Member States had offered help out of solidarity and concern.Turning to management reform, he gave the committee a long list of major actions that the Summit expected to be accomplished in a short time. He said they included a clear instruction to apply existing standards of conduct scrupulously and to develop a code of ethics that would extend beyond the Secretariat to the entire UN system, while Mr. Annan’s intention to create an independent ethics office was recognized “and I’m glad to tell you that just yesterday he formally approved this.”In the next few weeks, “we will be working hard to review almost 60 years of mandates and all the budget and human resources rules and regulations. Amazing as it may seem, such reviews have never before been done in the history of the UN,” Mr. Malloch Brown said.He added that he doubted that the majority of Member States would have accepted the urgency of management reform without the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal and the various investigations into it.

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