U.N. Backs Diluted Reform Blueprint

Posted on Wednesday, September 14 at 12:26 by jensonj
They include an agreement on U.N. members' responsibility to protect vulnerable people from massive violations of human rights, and a substantial boost for the office of U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour. "There was sleep deprivation and long negotiations," said Allan Rock, Canada's U.N. ambassador. "But in the end we made real progress." Other sections of the summit declaration, he admitted, drew a "more mixed reaction," including failure to agree on the membership of a new Human Rights Council, to get a universally agreed definition of terrorism, and to move swiftly to form a peacebuilding commission for countries in the perilous transition from war to civil society. "It isn't everything we wanted, but we can build on it," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose sweeping proposals for U.N. reform shrank to mere statements of principle in some sections of the summit document. Negotiators also failed to agree on how to tackle nuclear proliferation and disarmament, drawing sharp criticism from Annan. "This is a real disgrace," he said. The summit, the largest in world history, takes place on the 60th anniversary of the U.N. But diplomats say, the birthday present Annan hoped for endorsement of visionary reforms was little more than a consolation prize. While the United States decried the document's lack of detail on overhauling the U.N.'s scandal-ridden management, and Britain failed to get Washington's endorsement of some anti-poverty goals, Canada had some reason to celebrate. As the summit document was tabled, Prime Minister Paul Martin arrived in New York and attended a reception given by U.S. President George W. Bush, before meeting with other leaders at a dinner hosted by Mexican President Vicente Fox. Ottawa had conducted a long campaign to push through the "responsibility to protect" concept, a response to the genocide in Rwanda. Contrary to some predictions, it survived opposition from countries that are regularly accused of violating human rights, as well as others opposed to language that would force them to act against their will, or to support intervention for political reasons. "This will put the focus on prevention, talking about early warning before armed intervention is necessary," said Rock. "And at the end of the day, what you have are 180 leaders adopting a specific declaration that the Security Council will react in a timely and effective manner to stop genocide." A doubling of resources for Arbour's office will also further the cause of human rights, Rock said. "It gives her the ability to put more people in the field. She's developed a good effective plan that can now have a real chance to succeed." But Canada and other Western countries found other sections of the summit declaration disappointing including sections on fighting terrorism, and setting up a new Human Rights Council to replace a discredited commission that is sometimes led by countries notorious for their human rights violations. "We didn't crack terrorism," said a European diplomat who had attended negotiations. "The West wanted explicit language against any and all attacks on civilians, but the Arab countries wanted to eliminate people fighting against occupation from the definition of terrorism." Peggy Hicks, Global Advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said "the Human Rights Council is a litmus test for the upcoming summit, and global leaders are in danger of failing it." Countries Annan has called "spoilers" Cuba, Venezuela, Pakistan, Syria and others have blocked several of the reforms, and diplomats said that developing countries felt threatened by management reforms that would take power away from the 191-member General Assembly, with a majority of poorer countries, and put it in the hands of the secretary-general. But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who had been accused of torpedoing the summit by tabling hundreds of last minute amendments, put a brave face on efforts to reach accord on reform. "It was only ever going to be the first step," Bolton told reporters. "The nature of the culture is such that the changes we want, both in the way the secretariat functions, and the way member governments function, needs to be changed in a substantial way." Much of the document was devoted to the Millennium Development Goals, which most rich and poor countries support in principle. But the Bush administration has argued with the goal for wealthy donors to give 0.7 per cent of their GDP to help the neediest. British diplomats, however, have hailed the summit document as an endorsement of the declaration by eight major industrial countries in a recent summit in Scotland. Among other elements, it would cancel $40 billion (U.S.) in debt held by poor countries. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_PrintFriendly&c=Article&cid=1126648215985&call_pageid=968332188854 [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 14, 2005]

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  1. Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:53 am
    WORDS! Americans still want to run the show. Flood the agenda with American proposals so that nothing more can be discussed. Defend against an American invasion and be labeled as a Terrorist. Help the needy is not what the American Capitalists will ever support. Not even in their own country. Pollution is a smell of money being made. "Words" looks good on paper and good to use as the "fine print" in a legal battle. Why is the USA still a member when they will defy the organization when and whenever it suits them. Fine print manufactured to use when the world tells them they had no right to do what they did.

  2. Thu Sep 15, 2005 7:43 am
    This is sad.
    I liked Gwynne Dyer's idea that they should have let the whole reform package die for a few years until you-know-who is gone or impeached and then do a really top notch job of the necessary changes. I guess they had to take into account that everybody had booked their flights to New york for the photo-op.

  3. Thu Sep 15, 2005 8:24 am
    >>Pollution is a smell of money being made.<<<

    Ill bet the air is clear around you.

    >.Why is the USA still a member when they will defy the organization when and whenever it suits them.<<

    We are a founding member and the largest single contributer. I think the latter should be stopped.

  4. Thu Sep 15, 2005 9:19 am
    "Me thinks he doth protest too much".
    There are millions of websites in your country and the world yet you come here. We appreciate the commitment of your time and effort and your obvious passion for our country and its social issues. Why else would you be here expending that little portion of leisure we have in our lives outside of family. It's clear that you secretly harbour a great love of all things Canadian. Like most good-natured trolls your commitment to expressing your views on this forum is admirable and revealing. The other kind I have no time for. I hope one day that you come to accept your inner voice and make the move to our country and let the healing begin. God bless.

  5. Sat Sep 17, 2005 12:30 am
    >.I hope one day that you come to accept your inner voice and make the move to our country and let the healing begin. God bless.<<<

    I do, several times a year. I have all my life. I have a house there, family too Still protesting though.

    May God bless you as well.

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