NGOs Urge Secretary Rice to Employ Diplomacy over Unilateral Ultimatums
On June 8th, the Open Society Policy Center joined 41 organizations in calling on Secretary Rice to use the United States' full diplomatic force to promote UN reform, rather than rely on unilateral approaches that could have devastating consequences for the future effectiveness of the United Nations and to U.S. interests.
June 8, 2006
On June 8, OSPC joined 41 organizations in calling on Secretary Rice to use the United States’ full diplomatic force to promote UN reform, rather than rely on unilateral approaches that could have devastating consequences for the future effectiveness of the United Nations and to U.S. interests. Please see Citizen for Global Solution’s press release and the letter to Secretary Rice below.
Press Release by Citizens for Global Solutions
Contact: Don Kraus: 202.365.0890
U.S. strategy of brinksmanship threatens a UN shutdown
Concerned about the growing political disagreements over the United Nations’ budget and reform, 42 non-governmental organizations sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the United States to eschew brinksmanship and articulate its priorities for UN reform and to initiate diplomatic efforts to resolve differences so the UN can continue its life-saving work.
“A concrete and specific listing of U.S. reform priorities could do much to help convince other nations that we aim to improve, not undercut, the UN,” the groups wrote. “…strategies that threaten to disrupt or delay continued funding for the UN will further isolate the U.S. and undermine the UN’s ability to carry out ongoing, critical activities, such as peacekeeping, nuclear inspections, support for democratic processes in the Middle East, and humanitarian relief missions—at a time when the U.S. is calling for the UN and other nations to do more to confront the difficult challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Darfur.”
The emerging crisis at the United Nations is tied to progress on a substantial reform agenda underway at the UN and a two-year budget approved late last year. The budget was approved, but at the insistence of the United States spending was authorized for only about six months of UN operations, pending additional progress on reform. By imposing a spending cap, the United States has widened the rift between donor countries and developing countries. As a result, this deteriorating negotiating environment has hardened the position of the Group of 77, a coalition of 132 developing nations, against reform. The deadline for the spending cap approaches at the end of June.
“Imposing a spending cap on the U.N. and threatening a shutdown has only alienated the G-77 countries that we’re trying to win over to our side.” said Don Kraus, Executive Vice-President for Citizens for Global Solutions. “To this point, the Bush Administration has not made clear exactly which reforms the U.S. requires in order to remove the U.N. spending cap. Now, some countries won’t play ball because they suspect that the U.S. is moving the goalposts on U.N. reform. Through diplomacy the U.S. must rebuild its credibility to achieve these reforms. Holding up the U.N.’s budget should not be an option.”
These NGOs work and have interests in the broad range of UN activities – from peace and security to humanitarian relief and development – and recognize that the United Nations plays a unique role in fostering international cooperation and burden-sharing in efforts to solve global problems.
The letter sent to Secretary Rice is included in full below.
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Dear Secretary Rice:
We would like to express our continued support for the package of management reforms proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in March and endorsed by the United States. We continue to believe that a more streamlined, efficient and accountable United Nations is vital to the U.S. national interest.
We are therefore concerned with the recent decision by the “G-77” to oppose the Secretary-General’s efforts to overhaul the UN. We are also concerned, however, that the U.S. response to this action may have harmful and potentially irreparable effects on our shared goal of improving the United Nations and, ultimately, on our national security.
As you are aware, an impending crisis looms in June, when the United Nations’ spending authority runs out. Because approval of a budget is tied to the completion of reforms which now will be more difficult to accomplish, it is imperative that the United States develop and clearly articulate its priorities for management reform and lay out a strategy for achieving them.
Mistrust at the United Nations is at an all time high. A concrete and specific listing of U.S. reform priorities could do much to help convince other nations that we aim to improve, not undercut, the UN. If we rely only on ultimatums and U.S.-imposed timelines – tactics that have failed to yield results so far – we risk exacerbating tensions and undermining the chances of reform. And strategies that threaten to disrupt or delay continued funding for the UN will further isolate the U.S. and undermine the UN’s ability to carry out ongoing, critical activities, such as peacekeeping, nuclear inspections, support for democratic processes in the Middle East, and humanitarian relief missions – at a time when the U.S. is calling for the UN and other nations to do more to confront the difficult challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Darfur.
At this critical juncture in the reform process, we urge you to fully engage in dialogue with your counterparts abroad, and ask that you instruct Ambassador Bolton, our other diplomats at the UN, and those in capitals around the globe to use persistent diplomacy and direct negotiation to convince other nations, particularly those of the G-77, that a modernized and revitalized UN will be a more effective tool to address the concerns of all nations, not just the wealthy few.
As noted at the beginning of this letter, we in the NGO community support your efforts to achieve substantial and lasting reform at the UN. Representatives of the organizations below would like to arrange a meeting with Administration officials to discuss how we can help marshal the resources and encourage and facilitate specific strategies and tactics to help ensure the successful adoption of these important reforms.
Speaker Gingrich recently said, “the challenge to us now is to accelerate and increase the pressure, to reach out to other countries and make (reform) a multilateral effort, and to do everything we can to ensure that the UN continues to move toward greater accountability, greater transparency, and greater effectiveness.” He said this was a cause worth spending a great deal of time and effort on.
We agree. Effective U.S. leadership in this reform effort requires sufficient resources, reasonable timeframes, and deliberate diplomacy. We encourage you to use the United States’ full diplomatic force to promote this cause, but fear that the continued reliance on unilateral approaches will undermine this opportunity and will have devastating consequences for the future effectiveness of the United Nations and to U.S. interests.
Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASTT)
African Medical and Research Foundation, USA
American Friends Service Committee
American Humanist Association
American Society for Public Administration
Americans for Informed Democracy
Americans for UNESCO
Americans for UNFPA
Better World Campaign
Center for War/Peace Studies
Church Women United
Church World Service
Citizens for Global Solutions
Council for a Livable World
Democracy Coalition Project
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
International Gender Organization
International Rescue Committee
Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy
Medical Mission Sisters
National Association of Social Workers
National Council of Churches USA
Open Society Policy Center
Peace Action Education Fund
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
United Nations Association of the USA
United Nations Association-National Capital Association
Universal Human Rights Network
cc: Ambassador John Bolton
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas R. Burns
Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs and Democracy Paula Dobriansky
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Mark Lagon
Senator Richard Lugar
Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Congressman Henry Hyde
Congressman Tom Lantos