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Crunch time at the U.N.

By Henry Lamb
web posted December 13, 2004

The United Nations is closer to extinction than at any time in its history. Finally, the people of the United States, and around the world, are calling for an end to this institution. Mired in scandal and controversy, Kofi Annan's last hope of salvaging the failing institution is the latest "reform" recommendations produced by his blue-ribbon committee.

The two critical recommendations would expand the Security Council from 15 to 24 members, and would designate the Security Council as the sole authority to legitimize "pre-emptive" military action.

These recommendations, if implemented, would sink the institution further into the quicksand that has prevented it from meaningful action in the past. As long as the veto remains intact for the five permanent members, nine additional members would only lengthen the debate before a proposal is killed - or ignored. Removal of the veto, which is the ultimate goal of global governance advocates, would give the institution the power to impose and enforce world government.

The solution to the world's problems is not reform of the United Nations. The solution lies in the nations of the world finding a new way to address common problems. Dialogue, as a means of dispute resolution, is a far better alternative than bombs and bullets - when dialogue is possible. Cooperation, as a means to achieve a common goal, is far better than coercion. So, there needs to be some kind of system to encourage dialogue and promote cooperation. This is the same observation that prompted the creation of the United Nations originally. The idea went sour at the point where the institution acquired the authority to require its members to implement U.N. policy.

The fundamental organizing principle upon which a successful global system can be constructed must be voluntary participation. The world needs a system of global cooperation, not global governance, as is the goal of the Kyoto Protocol now being celebrated in Buenos Aires.

President Bush and Congress have a unique opportunity to move the world forward toward a global system of dialogue and cooperation. Instead of trying to salvage the U.N. through another round of reforms, and glossing over the cavernous scandals, Congress should simply stop funding this corrupt institution, and the President should use his bully-pulpit to invite other freedom-loving nations to begin discussions toward the development of a voluntary system of global dialogue.

One idea that has emerged is to expand the scope of the G-8 summits as the nucleus of a new system, and invite other nations to participate, and help define goals and procedures. Another idea is for Congress to review all existing international bodies, and withdraw from those that are coercive, or offer no positive influence toward the development of democratic, representative national governments.

There is no practical justification for the U.S.'s continued participation in international organizations such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and many others. There may well be reasons to continue participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency - though some restructuring might be beneficial - and other agencies and organizations.

The point is that the present U.N. system has failed its first purpose, it is blatantly corrupt, and continues to get worse by the year. It is destined to fail, because there is no accountability in the system to the people who are governed by the system.

The current scandals and the new reform recommendations make some kind of action necessary in the very near future. The United States will ultimately decide what happens to the U.N., because without U.S. support, the U.N. will evaporate. The bottom line is money; if Congress has the backbone to say no to U.N. funding, the world will have to find another forum for communication and cooperation. If President Bush has the backbone, he can lead the nations of the world to begin construction of another system, without the inherent flaw - the vision of global governance - that plagued both the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations.

Global governance is not a worthy goal; global cooperation is. Many goals can be achieved through voluntary cooperation. National security, however, is not one of them. Dialogue and cooperation with other nations on security issues is essential, but national security is the responsibility of the U.S. government. The U.S. must never allow the U.N. to even think it has the authority to tell the United States when it may, or may not, go take military action.

U.N. advocates will preach "mend, don't end" the U.N., but there comes a time when mending is futile, and replacement is necessary. That time is at hand.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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