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The position of the United States of America in the UN-reform Process

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2006 29 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: USA

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 The Role of the United States as a Member of the UN

3 The U.S. Priorities for a Stronger, More Effective United Nations Concerning the Present Discussion about Reforming the UN
3.1 Budget, Management and Administration Reform
3.1.1 Reasons for Reforming the UN Budgetary System, Management and Administration
3.1.2 Recommendations of the U.S. Institute of Peace for Reforming UN Budget and Programming as well as Management and Administration
3.1.3 Current Discussion
3.2 From the Human Rights Commission to the Human Rights Council
3.2.1 Reason for Reforming the Human Rights Commission
3.2.2 Recommendations of the U.S. Institute of Peace for Reforming the Human Rights Commission
3.2.3 Current Discussion
3.3 Reforming the UN Security Council as a Long Term Task for All Member States
3.3.1 Why Is Urgently a Reform of the UN Security Council Needed?
3.3.2 Recommendations of the U.S. Institute of Peace for Reforming the UN Security Council
3.3.3 Current Discussion
3.4 Further Reforms

4 Conclusion

References

1 Introduction

The United States of America are one of the most important UN member states regarding their power which can be determined by their contribution to the UN Budgetary System. This essay tries to figure out the main strategy of the American UN reform process. In some ways it is completely different to the strategies of other member states. Finding out the differences precisely would have broken the limits of this paper and must be done in another context.

After the introduction in chapter 1, chapter 2 shortly introduces the U.S. as a member of the UN. Subsequently, chapter 3 describes the position of the United States concerning their priorities in the UN reform process where as chapter 3.1 to 3.3 lay down the three main priorities “Management and Budget”, “Human Rights Commission” and “Security Council”. Further reforms concerning Development, the Peace Building Commission, Democracy Initiatives and the UN Democracy Fund as well as the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism are summarized but not described in detail in chapter 3.4. The last chapter 4 will provide an evaluation of the American strategy and will give a view on its effects on the UN reform process.

2 The Role of the United States of America as a Member of the UN

Brian Urquhart, Former Undersecretary of the UN, explained the role of the United States in detail in his article “Looking for the Sheriff” in 1998.

In 1942 under the threat of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and his deputy Sumner Wells along with many politicians, journalists and academics already started a debate on postwar arrangements to build an international organization that could withstand enemies who were threatening the American nation. On October 24, 1945, the United States of America were one of the member states who ratified the UN charter which seem to fulfill the American interests. This brought about a fundamental change to the American foreign policy which was signified by a “spirit of isolationism” until then. But Roosevelt´s post war planners neither anticipated the cold war which extended after the end of World War II nor became the cold war the basis of the UN charter. The U.S., being the most powerful country on earth and the sole nuclear power in 1946, tried to handle the controversial questions during the cold war in accordance with the UN charter. The UN policy was therefore reflected by the U.S. foreign policy which consequently operated under international approval. In many UN missions, e.g. in North Korea, Somalia, Bosnia, Middle East, the U.S. provided the main troops for UN peacekeeping. In other matters like the Hungarian revolt 1956 or the Soviet invasion of Czechoslavakia in 1968, the U.S. refused to intervene in the Soviet sphere of influence. This led to protests in the UN and discussions about pusillanimity and ineffectiveness of the world organization. The impression came up that “other nations would do as the U.S. tell them”. At the same time, frustration and disillusionment with the UN grew in the U.S. Congress. The number of third world countries with UN membership had grown because of the radical processes of decolonization which changed the voting balance in the UN. These countries, encouraged by the Soviet Union, spread anti-American and anti-Israelian spirit within the UN.[1] In March 2003, the Bush administration demonstrated that UN rules did not apply to U.S decisions. U.S. military troops were sent to Iraq without UN mandate as the Bush administration could not get a broad support from UN Security Council.[2]

The end of the cold war revealed that the U.S. is unquestionably the leading political, military and economic power but its influence in dealing troubles might being limited as Gulf War I showed. This and the domestic aversion of the U.S. society to play the role of sheriff led to the refusal of the Congress to pay their dues and the whole assessment for the UN budget.[3]

Thus, at the beginning of the year 2005, the US owed the UN budget $ 241 million for prior years. By October 2005, the U.S. dues had increased up to $ 607 million as the payments for the current year were still not paid (see graph 2). These were 84 % of the dues of all member states.

Graph 1: Total Assessments vs Payments Made by Member States to the Regular Budget (Source: Global Policy Forum 2006)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Additionally, as graph 2 shows, a much higher U.S. dept of $ 723 million for the peacekeeping budget exits. Altogether, the U.S. owes the United Nations $ 976 million.
Graph 2: Total Contributions Outstanding (Source: Global Policy Forum 2006)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

3 The U.S. Priorities for a Stronger, More Effective United Nations Concerning the Present Discussion about Reforming the UN

The UN reform process is one of the great challenges that must be faced by all member states in the coming years. The basic reason for the reform process is that structures and processes in the UN Organization do not fit with the existing global political situation anymore. Since the end of the cold war there has been a change in many fields the UN is working for.[4]

The United States have important interests in every field that has to be reformed. They see themselves as a nation with an international responsibility and therefore claim for influencing the UN reform process in detail. Thus, the U.S. Congress mandated the establishment of a bipartisan task force organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace which elaborated recommendations and solutions for reforming the UN. The report of the task force describes precisely the American interests in every area that must be reformed. Therefore, it delivers the basic arguments for the following chapters which are completed with current articles expressing discussion and statements of U.S. representatives.

3.1 Budget, Management and Administration Reform

3.1.1 Reasons for Reforming the UN Budgetary System, Management and Administration

Budget, Management and Administration are top priorities which are presently being discussed by the General Assembly to be reformed. The demand for reforming is growing from year to year as the financing of the UN organization could not be assured for a long time. Pressure is coming from a financial crisis that must be managed. There are two main reasons for the financial crisis.

1. Payment Outstanding of member states

The Budgeting System of the UN distinguishes between the regular budget agreed to by all member states in the General Assembly in a two-year budget cycle and the peacekeeping operations budget that is financed by voluntary contributions of the member states.
Chart 3: Outstanding Regular Budget and Peacekeeping Operations Budget (Source: Global Policy Forum 2006)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Chart 3 shows the development of the financial crisis of the UN. The outstanding of the contributions for the regular budget ranged between the lowest outstanding of 20 % in 2000 and the highest outstanding of 50 % in 1992 of the agreed assessment. The outstanding of the peacekeeping operations budget, being more than three times bigger than the regular budget, differed between 33 % in 1993 and 160 % in 1998.

The following graph shows the total payment arrears of both budgets for the years 1975 to 2004.

[...]


[1] See Urquhart (1998), pp. 1 – 13.

[2] See http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3728.html

[3] See Urquhart (1998), pp. 1 – 13.

[4] See Varwick (2004), p. 37.

Details

Pages
29
Year
2006
ISBN (eBook)
9783638020176
ISBN (Book)
9783638924641
File size
534 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v84899
Institution / College
University of Marburg – Politikwissenschaften
Grade
2,0
Tags
United States America UN-reform Process Reformperspektiven Vereinten Nation USA UN Vereinte Nationen

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Title: The position of the United States of America in the UN-reform Process