Wednesday, June 15, 2005

United States Institute of Peace Task Force on UN Reform Report

I am pleased to note the appearance of the Congressionally-mandated United States Institute of Peace Task Force on UN Reform report, released today in Washington DC by the two c0-chairs of the Task Force, Newt Gingrich and George Mitchell. The report can be found here. I was one of the experts, on the section on poverty reduction and economic development. This kind of document is inevitably a consensus production, and so of course I don't subscribe to everything in it. Still, I think it is a very respectable, very commendable set of recommendations, and I hope that it will be read widely and especially taken into consideration by Congress.

Another of the experts, Ann Florini, Brookings Institution, offers a discussion here on current bills in Congress that would seek to promote UN reform. She is highly critical of Rep. Hyde's bill, which would condition US funding on certain kinds of reform. Although I think the threat to withhold funding from the UN core budget is a blunt stick to be used only with caution, I do not agree with Florini that it is necessarily counterproductive, even at this point. I have mixed feelings about it. I will address this in more detail later. But Florini's discussion is well worth reading, even if one comes to different conclusions. To see an argument the opposite direction - one with which I tend to agree, although not on everything - see this piece by the Heritage Foundation's Brett Shaefer, here.

I have strong doubts that the UN is reformable; still, the next two or three years are the moment to try. Moreover, what the various parties think constitutes "reform" can be polar opposites, so that "reform," even if it took place, could seem to me worse than un-reform.

(Update, June 22, 2005: Tod Linberg has a good opinion piece on the Task Force report - Tod was one of the experts and principal drafter of the section on preventing genocide and mass atrocities, in the Tuesday, June 21, 2005 Washington Times. Newt Gingrich and George Mitchell, the Task Force co-chairs, lay out the main conclusions in this June 22, 2005 USA Today op-ed, here. Thanks RCP.)

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