The United States and the United Nations: U.N. Reform and American Politics. (Niel Staes)


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I. Introductory Chapter


On August 1 2005, President Bush announced the recess appointment of John R. Bolton to the position of Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. This move followed months of intense Congressional debate over the controversial nominee. At the center of the discussion stood one particular topic: The Future of the United Nations.


That the United States, as the main contributor to this World Body, plays a key role in the future success of the U.N. is beyond doubt. But what exactly is this role? The relationship between the two world players has clearly not been a rosy marriage over the last years, and amongst U.N. critics talk of a divorce is always in the air. The aim of this thesis is to comprehend the current relation between the United States and United Nations. In order to achieve this, I believe it is necessary to investigate the road traveled over the years by both parties. Because the U.S.-U.N. relationship entails such a large agenda, ranging from Child Welfare through UNESCO to global justice with the ICC, it is simply impossible to study all the aspects within the bounds of this work. Therefore I have opted to take the process of U.N. Reform as a guide.


We’ll see that U.N. Reform is very controversial topic with clear ups and downs. Sometimes it serves as the catalyst of a downfall in cooperation, while at other times it seemingly falls victim itself to outside tensions. The ways the United States attempts to engage the U.N. to reform are as diverse as the demands that are being made. Even within the U.S. there are partisan discussions raging as to how and what reform should be and has to accomplish.


The thesis is set up to speed through the first decades of the United Nations in order to paint a general picture. As we near the 21st century and the Bush Presidency, the relation will be discussed with more detail. The role of U.S. Congress will also be tackled as Capitol Hill plays an important role through the “Power of the Purse”. It’s only after taking the entire history under closer observation that we can reach a verdict on the unique position the United States holds at this time with regards to the U.N.’s future.



II. General Introduction


The creation of a new international organization takes a lot of goodwill and vision. Both necessity and idealism can be the driving forces behind such process. Furthermore, a great consensus is required to take the bold step. The United Nations is perhaps the prime example of this. Clearly other international projects had similar origins; The current European Union, or the U.N.’s predecessor, the League of Nations, to name two.


All too often the initial consensus and amity quickly disappears as participating nations find out that not everything is quite working out as they would like. It is then that the durability of an alliance is tested the most. The capability to change and adapt is where the strength of an international organization can be found. The need and demand for reform can have a variety of origins: A shifting political landscape, new economic developments, social and cultural evolutions, a flawed constitution or charter,...


This call for change can come from all different types of actors, both members and outsiders. NGO’s are the typical outsider lobbyists and they naturally tend to focus on their particular area of expertise. Through joint statements, their viewpoints and proposals are made clear to the U.N. An example of this is a recent joint NGO Statement on the Commission of Human Rights, supported by organizations as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Not only will NGO’s point out the problems, they will also come up with recommendations for change.[1] Other issues such as greater NGO access to the U.N. and greater cooperation in the field, are also being lobbied for on a regular basis. Outside actors are not all united when it comes to the U.N. Closer cooperation between the private industry and the U.N. for example is much scrutinized by NGO’s as it would compromise the U.N.’s integrity.[2]

Obviously the demand for reform isn’t only coming from the outside. Member states are the main force requesting reformations within the United Nations. The demand comes from all levels. [3] Developing nations are putting their mark on the structure of the U.N. by bringing important issues such as Human Rights, debt relief, AIDS, extreme poverty and agricultural issues to the table. Most of these problems are addressed through the creation of new commissions. This process started in the 1960’s when the newly independent African states joined the U.N. At this time, perhaps one of the most significant reforms took place. In 1963, the General Assembly successfully passed an amendment which expanded the Security Council to fifteen members. The actual expansion took place on August 31, 1965.[4]


Another call for reform comes from new economic powers. Their main contention is that the 60-year old U.N. Charter which was drawn up to large extent by the victors of World War II, isn’t up-to-date no more. Japan, Germany, India, Australia, … are but a few of nations that consider themselves worthy of a more weighty position within the United Nations. The ultimate way to achieve this, is by acquiring a permanent seat on the U.N. Security council, if possible with veto powers. The problem these major reforms pose, is the need for the support of all five permanent members (P5). Major reforms are amendments to the U.N. Charter and these not only require a positive vote by two thirds of the General Assembly but also a P5 blessing.[5]


The United States, as a permanent member, thus holds an important key to fundamental changes to the workings of the United Nations. Despite the fact that the U.S. was one of the main contributors to the writing of the U.N. Charter, it has been one of the nations that are increasingly demanding significant changes to the United Nations. The recent tactics used by the U.S. delegation to achieve change, combined with an apparent unilateral behavior in global matters, are interpreted by many as a general opposition to the United Nations as a whole. In order to understand the current position and demands of the U.S., we’ll look at the road the United Nations has traveled since its inception and the role the U.S. played in this evolution.



III. U.N.-U.S. Relations in the 20th Century


I believe it’s important to draw a distinction between the natural evolution of an international organization on the one hand and intentional planning on the other. The natural evolution tends to be supported by a large majority of the member states and addresses a need all parties recognize. Intentional planning, on the other hand, specifically targets disputed practices or rules. It usually takes a lot of compromising and discussing before real changes are implemented. While all changes in the structure of the U.N. are essentially “reform”, there is no real “U.N. Reform agenda” to speak off during the first decades.



A. Changing the U.N.[6]


During its first years, the United Nations changed in several ways. There was the creation of various new commissions and subdivisions which didn’t require amending the U.N. Charter. An important example of this is the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which was established in 1946. UNICEF is in essence the embodiment of the course the U.N. followed during the first 15 years. Most of the U.N.’s attention was spend on economic and social rebuilding programs after WW II. The United States was a great supporter of these causes and assisted greatly in the finances through various funds coming from voluntary donations. For example, the U.S. was the first to create a special Fund for UNICEF in 1947.[7] A second, be it then minor, phenomenon that the United Nations underwent from the very start was a growing international decentralization of its offices. Early illustrations of this are Economic Commissions established in Geneva and Bangkok.


The first real change to procedures resulted from a Security Council deadlock which was triggered by a conflict between the United States and the USSR in 1950. A U.S. peacekeeping plan for Korea was blocked by the USSR. The U.S. subsequently addressed the General Assembly and managed to bypass the USSR as there are no vetoes in the Assembly. Through the passing of U.N. Resolution 377, known as the “Uniting for Peace”-Resolution, the General Assembly was now allowed to take over the responsibilities of the Security Council when the Council fails to exercise its primary responsibility, being the maintenance of international peace and security.[8] Though the first invocation of the “Uniting for Peace” formula wouldn’t happen until 1956 (Hungary), it would be the direct catalyst for several reform efforts within the U.N during the 1960’s.[9]



B. Early Reform efforts at the U.N.


The first real calls for reform did not come from the United States, but from the USSR. The first issue dealt with management. The Socialist states found themselves underrepresented in the various committees, especially in the U.N. Secretariat. Non-cooperation is one of the methods to achieve change. The USSR had tried this tactic with limited success early in the 1950’s as they refused to participate in the Security Council in opposition to China’s misrepresentation on that body. Now they refused to work along with Secretary General Trygve Lie and forced his resignation. His successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, started a reform program through a Committee of Experts, better known as the “Group of 8”. This first real effort showed the difficulty reform faced. There was no consensus with regards to a new structure for the Secretariat and budgetary proposals also fell short of real significance. There was only agreement on increasing representatives from Socialist states, Africa and Asia.

The Uniting for Peace resolution, approved in the early 50’s, would be the cause of the financial crisis of the United Nations during the 60’s. By approving peacekeeping operation via the General Assembly, and thus dodging any veto opportunities of the P5, a lot of anger was created. Both the USSR and France were confronted with “Uniting for Peace” resolutions in respectively the conflicts in Congo and Sinai and consequently refused to contribute financially to those missions. Solving this financial crisis proved quite difficult. The General Assembly established the “Group of 15” in 1961 to present recommendations. But no progress was achieved as the USSR refused cooperation and the crisis only intensified when the International Court of Justice judged non-payment as illegal. With the ICJ’s verdict in hand, the United States insisted on the revocation of the voting rights of the USSR based on Article 19 of the U.N. Charter.[10] The USSR threatened to leave the U.N. altogether should this take place. Afraid for a possible collapse of the U.N., a compromise was achieved in which the ICJ’s decision would be upheld but not retroactively, and thus exclude the UNEF (Sinai) and ONUC (Congo) peacekeeping missions. The United States warned that with this solution a very dangerous precedent was set as it might claim a similar right for themselves in the future when it doesn’t agree on certain decisions.


While the “Group of 15” sought for a short term solution, a parallel committee, the “Group of 14” (1965), had to present long term proposals. The U.N. budget had doubled in a decade and the increase didn’t seem to slow down. The “Group of 14” identified the problem as a lack of budgetary control which resulted in too much spending latitude. More co-ordination, increased planning and biennial budget programs would be needed to reduce spending. The need for a proper financial strategy was even more needed with the increasing decolonization. As result we see the creation of the Pearson Commission and the Jackson Commission, both had to come forward with new recommendations for development programs. The key reform proposed by Jackson was the creation of a central coordination organization, which sadly failed as numerous programs claimed more and more independence and authority. The growing division between “the ignorant minority” (The North) and “the tyrannical majority” (The South) resulted in a declining faith in multilateralism. By the end of the 1970’s, belief in the United Nations had reached an all time low and the United States Congress and White House stepped forward, demanding U.S. involvement in U.N. Reform.



C. Reagan pushes for U.N. Reform.


In 1978, the White House released a report “Proposals for United Nations Reform” which listed various domains in which the United States wanted change within the U.N. Increasing the strength of the S.C., more effective peacekeeping (both financially and on the ground), greater use of the International Court,… were all ideas Congress agreed full heartedly with. The White House left out the issue of weighted voting based on financial contribution, something Congress favored. Though most proposals fell short of realization due to irreconcilable differences, both East-West as North-South, the 1978 report did announce the start of a long-term reform agenda.


The demand for reform only intensified with the arrival of the Reagan Administration and the election of a Republican Senate. A renewed focus on unilateral action and a growing disbelief in the effectiveness of the United Nations, led to drastic measures.[11] The United States withdrew from UNESCO (1984)[12], refused the ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention (1982) and resisted U.N. efforts to regulate international business. In 1984, after several internal reform efforts by the U.N. itself, U.S. Congress stepped in with a new tactic for change. Main objective was the adoption of a weighted voting scheme in budgetary matters. To achieve this goal, Congress approved the Kassebaum-Solomon amendment to withhold a percentage of funding.[13] Though a complete overhaul of budgetary procedures was out of reach, the United States did managed to push through several reforms. With a financial crisis looming, the U.N. started a grand reform effort in 1985 with the Group of High-level Intergovernmental Experts, or “Group of 18”.


A year later, the “Group of 18” released its report and after much debate in the General Assembly, an agreement was reached on the budgetary matters, which would be dealt through consensus in the future. Other issues addressed by this Group were the structure of the Secretariat and intergovernmental bodies, particularly those attached to the G.A. The successful reform effort of the late 1980’s were highly influenced by two American organizations. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, presented recommendations to the “Group of 18” while the UNA-USA, an American not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization promoting the U.N., wrote its own report.


It was all in all quite remarkable, as Thomas Franck noted, that in a space of 40 years, the United States had gone from believing that the United Nations should and could do anything, to believing that it should and could do nothing.[14] The crisis of the 1980’s was nevertheless averted, the U.S. resumed its payments and the budget was kept in check for the next 10 years.[15] Though the efforts made were considerable, they didn’t quite embody a complete face-lift of the United Nations. The UNA-USA report, A successor Vision – The United Nations of Tomorrow, for example had the creation of a economical and social alternative to the Security Council in mind, an upgraded ECOSOC as it were.



D. The Renaissance of the early 90’s


Many consider the late 80’s and early 90’s the renaissance period of the United Nations. Increasing unilateralism was halted and at the 44th Session of the G.A. there was room for constructive debate. George Bush Sr. was willing to work through the U.N. and knew the inner workings of the organization very well, him being a former ambassador there.[16] There was also an 180° turnaround by the USSR. With Gorbachev at the helm, the USSR now actively supported U.N. operations in Afghanistan, Angola, Central America and Namibia and was interested in joining the World Bank and the IMF.[17] An overall growing belief in the U.N. led to ambitious targets for education, debt relief, global security and reduction of child mortality. In the wake of this optimism a new call for structural reform came about. Most reform initiatives focused on strengthening the Security Council and the Secretariat.


Representative of this new vitality are the numerous reports and proposals written to promote U.N. Reform. An important example was the Brian Urquhart and Erskine Childers double report, A world in need of Leadership: Tomorrow’s United Nations (’90) and Towards a more effective United Nations (’91). The reports focused on variety of issues ranging from the North-South division to the selection of a Secretary-General. Despite recommendations to avoid an informal nomination process, Boutros Boutros-Ghali was selected through this method to replace Javier Pérez de Cuéllar as Secretary-General in December 1991. An American counterpart to this Irish-English Report was presented by the Stanley Foundation. With The United Nations: Structure and Leadership for a New Era the American point of view was expressed clearly. It also provides a blueprint for future American reform proposals. Four key issues addressed were a selection method of a Secretary-General with new criteria, a reduction of under-secretary-generals, an overhaul of the General Assembly and the updating of ECOSOC.


Despite effort by Boutros-Ghali, it would be the Security Council who stepped up to the plate and took the initiative. The Bush Administration pleaded for a more active approach in international conflicts through peacekeeping and intensive diplomatic efforts. Numerous Peacekeeping Operations (PKO’s) illustrate this new élan of the Security Council, examples of these are Cambodia, El Salvador, Mozambique and Yugoslavia. Perhaps the most important when discussing UN-US relations was the PKO in Somalia. The loss of 18 U.S. soldiers and numerous wounded shocked both the general public as the new Clinton Administration.



E. U.N. revival gets killed in Somalia.


The Somalia disaster, October 2003, coincided with a congressional report on the United Nations.[18] There was nevertheless no bipartisan consensus on the findings of the Commission which was concerned with improving the effectiveness of the United Nations. The majority proposal included a Human Rights Commission, a rapid reaction force and an International Criminal Court. Also managerial issues could be further resolved by selection procedures and more oversight. Some of these proposals would actually be implemented in the longer run, such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inspector General position which had authority in management issues. A minority of the commissioners, mainly Republicans, wrote their own report in which they gave a more skeptical view on the United Nations future. The minority report won the argument concerning a rapid reaction force, which was not established, and managed to achieve that U.S. forces would only operate under U.S. command.


The future of the United Nations had now become a partisan issue in the U.S., with Republicans and Democrats envisioning a very different U.N. Both nevertheless recognized the need for reform and congressional action was taken to achieve this goal. As mentioned earlier, the U.S. had started to withhold payment to the U.N. to achieve budgetary reforms in the mid-80’s. Satisfied with the efforts made in the U.N. payments had been resumed in ’88. The success of this tactic convinced U.S. Congress to adopt a similar strategy this time around. As a result of the Somalia debacle, a Democratic House withheld payments meant for Peacekeeping operations and demanded an overall reduction in the U.N. total budget. Early enthusiasm of the Clinton Administration for multilateral assertiveness was dampened down by a complete Republican congressional victory in 1994. Whereas Clinton attempted to work within the U.N. framework during the first years, e.g. intervening in Haiti or supporting a U.N. arms embargo in Bosnia despite congressional resistance, he now also made demands, the most important of which was the call for a new Secretary-General.


The renewed optimism of the early 90’s had quickly faded and been replaced by 80’s skepticism. The arrears quickly added up and the U.S. was in danger of losing its voting right in the General Assembly. [19] Congressional involvement was led by Republican Senator Jesse Helms, who was the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. His article, Saving the United Nations: A Challenge to the Next Secretary-General, outlined all the grievances and threatened with possible withdrawal should these not be attended to. Helms directly attacked Boutros-Ghali who had protected the bloated bureaucracy and pressed for a U.N. army and direct U.N. taxes. These and the massive costs involved directly threatened the U.S. national interests. The main contention was the growing semi-sovereignty the U.N. was acquiring at the expense of its member states. This trend was simply unacceptable for the United States. Helms also attacked the fact that the U.N. was more and more meddling in affairs that aren’t its business, such as Bosnia and possibly later the Middle East, conflicts that ought to be resolved on a regional basis. Helms demanded change with the following statement: The time has come for the United States to deliver an ultimatum: Either the United Nations reforms, quickly and dramatically, or the United States will end its participation.[20]


Helms put forth several reforms that the U.N. had to undertake to avoid this drastic move. To start a new reform effort a new Secretary-General was needed who would make work of reform from day one. This effort would have to include a reduction of bureaucracy by 50%, the elimination of numerous obsolete agencies, conferences and commissions[21], a review of the budgeting process with increased voluntary contributions and peacekeeping overhaul. Helms first demands would quickly become reality. After Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s first term, he was replaced by a new Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. Annan was open to a new debate and engaged in discussions with an American delegation immediately after his appointment to the position.



F. Helms, Holbrooke and Annan set the agenda.


Annan’s reform agenda would have to take into consideration American demands as the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill in June 1997. The Helms-Biden Agreement stipulated numerous reform demands which were linked to financial contributions. The bill would eventually be signed by Clinton in November 1999 and offered three benchmarks, which included over two dozen reform conditions, to the U.N.[22] In response to the progress made by the U.N. the U.S. would pay back its arrears, a total package of $926 million. By this time Kofi Annan had already made significant efforts through his “two-track” reform agenda.[23] The proposals made by Annan were most often analyzed in regard to the Helms-Biden Agreement. Annan had to perform a difficult balancing act in order to please the U.S. Congress and still take the developing nations into account. Some of the U.S. demands were addressed, such as a reduction in personal, merging of top official posts, discontinuation of conferences, etc. On the other hand Kofi Annan did envision a larger U.N. in areas concerning arms regulation and world poverty.

All in all, Annan’s agenda was well received by the Clinton Administration, but received some criticism from Republican Congressmen. U.S. Congress would nevertheless quickly recognize the efforts made and the first benchmark of the Helms-Biden Agreement was pretty much in place as it was signed. The U.S. thus handed the U.N. its first payment of $100 million in December 1999. The incoming Bush administration would find a fairly healthy U.N.-U.S. relationship when it entered office in 2001. U.S. Congress was indeed satisfied with the progress made in reform. Kofi Annan was also a very transparent and responsive Secretary-General who had managed to keep his budget in check. The cuts in jobs and programs also pleased many on Capitol Hill.


The belief in the U.N.’s future was also worded by the American Permanent Representative to the U.N., Richard Holbrooke.[24] The U.N. Ambassador called the U.N. a great and vital and indispensable organization echoing President Clinton address to the General Assembly.[25] Holbrooke also expressed the recent repositioning of the U.S.: “The United States of America's population and people have shown increasing respect for the United Nations in the recent months and over the last year or two.[26] It is fair to say that the future looked bright for U.N.-U.S. relations. This rosy prospect clearly comes forward when we look back at Ambassador Holbrooke’s finally testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Among various topics Holbrooke also looked back on the recent achievements concerning U.N. Reform. The Helms-Biden Agreement was the roadmap for his diplomatic efforts, and he advised Congress to acknowledge these effort by approving the 2nd benchmark: If you release the $582 million in Tranche II and accept the assessments in the new peacekeeping scale, I am convinced it will not only strengthen the hand of the incoming Administration, but will also help Secretary-General Annan in continuing the reform process.[27] Congress would follow the advise by Holbrooke and paid the second tranche in February 2001. This gave the Bush Administration a lot of diplomatic credit at the United Nations.


The remainder of this thesis will be spend analyzing the position of the new Administration towards the United Nations. Again I will attempt to use U.N. Reform as a focal point, if possible, and use Chapter III as a background for the discussion. After looking at the events during the Bush Presidency, we can compare its actions to what previous administrations did.



IV. The United Nations and the Bush Administration


A. Confusion and Uncertainty at the Start


The U.N. Reform agenda of the Bush Administration was unclear at the outset of the first term. Richard Holbrooke ended his tenure at the start of 2001. President Bush quickly named John Negroponte as his successor but took his time sending the nomination to the Senate. This resulted in a somewhat awkward situation as the United States chaired the Security Council in May 2001, without a permanent ambassador. The task of presiding the Council was therefore in the hands of acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham. Cunningham ideologically followed the line of his predecessor Holbrooke and seemed disturbed by a lack of direction from the Bush Administration. Whereas the U.S. managed to set the Security Council’s agenda in January 2000 (making it the Month of Africa) there was no theme during the May 2001 sessions. Cunningham outlined his agenda and had to admit that We don't have any theme or headline this month, but the council will look at problems around the globe which inevitably means there is a heavy focus on Africa.[28]


At the beginning of the Bush Presidency, the U.N.-U.S. relations could evolve in several different ways. The United States had three choices regarding the U.N.: 1. It could leave the U.N. as it is and eventually its weakness will undermine its potential effectiveness. 2. It could abandon it and yield to the far right's constant flirtation with destroying the U.N. 3. Or it could proceed from the understanding that the U.N. is flawed but nonetheless indispensable to our national interest and therefore make it more effective.[29]


It isn’t easy to get a real sense of the direction the Bush Administration was heading before that fateful day in September 2001. Statements given and actions taken by the White House before 9/11 could give us an idea of the general policy lines. There was a little bit of optimism from the international community due to Colin Powell’s early diplomatic efforts. By meeting Kofi Annan and subsequently pledging U.S. support for Annan’s second term the relationship improved.[30] But those were the early days, as the relations steadily deteriorated in the coming months.


An article by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, written before 9/11, gives us a glimpse of the tensions at the time. Brett Schaefer recognized the positive tendencies at the beginning of 2001, with among other things, the Congressional clearance of $582 million in arrears. But it all went downhill from there on. The White House took several actions which weren’t well received within the international community. Schaefer pointed at the withdrawal from the Kyoto Agreements (March 2001) and the International Criminal Court (May 2001). In both cases, U.S. domestic interests were cited as the main reasons for seizing support for these U.N. initiatives. Kyoto would infringe on U.S. economic growth while the International Criminal Court opened the door for judicial action against U.S. nationals.[31] A similar domestic motive was given by John R. Bolton in the opposition to the U.N. Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Lift Weapons in all it Aspects as it would violate 2nd amendment rights (July 2001).[32] Bush’s early plans for a National Missile Defense system only soured U.N.-U.S. relations further.[33]


What many experts considered an immediate result of the White House attitude was the loss of the U.S. seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. This happened in May 2001 and send a shockwave through Washington. The United States had served on the commission ever since its inception in 1947 and now lost its seat while other like Sierra Leone, China, Libya and Sudan were on the Commission.[34] Congress reacted quickly and voted to withhold the final Helms-Biden payment of $244 million until the U.S. was reconfirmed to the Commission. Congress made this move despite Presidential opposition to adding more benchmarks to the Helms-Biden Agreement.[35] Although the United States would be reconfirmed to this institution ten months later, the topic of Human Rights and in particular the U.N. Commission in question was now firmly part of the U.S.’s Reform agenda, as we will see later.[36] President would also take a second blow in May 2001 as the Senate suddenly underwent a party switch with the departure of Jim Jeffords from the Republican Party. This significantly reduced Republican grip on the Senate as it is the majority party that chairs the committees, including the Foreign Relations Committee. Many of Bush’s nominations and plans were stopped dead in their tracks on May 24, 2001.[37]


Early official statements by the United States on U.N. Reform, or the U.N. in general, are a quite hard to find. The support for Kofi Annan as Secretary-General could perhaps be seen as an endorsement of his Reform agenda, though one shouldn’t be to hasty in drawing such conclusion. In my opinion, the United States had little other options than favoring Annan. Kofi Annan was by that time the most recognizable face ever to represent the U.N. He was and is a popular and capable leader, not supporting his candidacy would have raised serious questions as the U.S. commitment to the U.N. as a whole.


Other statements concerning U.N. Reform can be found during foreign trips. President Bush did for example meet up with Japan’s Prime ministers twice during 2001. And on both occasions did he affirm U.S. support for Security Council Reform with an explicit mention of a permanent seat for Japan.[38] It is needless to say that the Bush Administration needed a larger charm offensive than casual support for U.N. Reform topics. The Economist points out that Bush was in dire need of such a move and the perfect opportunity to do this came around on September 11th. On that day the annual session of the U.N.’s General Assembly would get underway and Bush was scheduled to address the Assembly on the 24th of September. Among all the topics without a doubt the one that affected every single participant was the following: America’s place in the world during George Bush’s presidency.[39] September 2001 would sadly enough not be remembered for the start of the 56th General Assembly, nor for the United States walking out of the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban; On 9/11 it was the “War on Terror” that took over.



B .The U.N. falls victim to 9/11 and the “War on Terror”


The United Nations Security Council quickly condemned in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks through a Security Council Resolution and a similar action was taken in the General Assembly.[40] Despite this universal support for the United States at the time, President Bush didn’t turn to the United Nations for immediate help. It was Article 5 of the NATO Charter which was activated for the first time ever.[41] A series of ultimatums in regard to Osama Bin Laden and terrorist training camps was offered to Afghanistan. After a number of unsatisfying replies the United States invaded Afghanistan under NATO flag on the 7th of October 2001. Needless to say the U.N. got moved placed on the back burner, the U.N. Reform agenda disappeared all together.

It is not the aim of this thesis to elaborately outline the events in the “War on Terror”. Therefore I will only point out the times the United Nations was featured on the agenda of the Bush Administration and U.S. Congress. Quite remarkable is the quick nomination of John Negroponte as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. This position had been vacant since January 20th and the controversy surrounding Negroponte’s past remained an obstacle.[42] With 9/11 and the upcoming General Assembly the need for an Ambassador seemed to be too great to leave the issue unresolved.[43]


The United Nations appeared on the forefront in October 2001. On October 5, President Bush signed the “United Nations Bill” which authorized the second of three payments of arrears to the U.N.[44] A week later, the United Nations and Kofi Annan jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize with the statement that the only negotiable route to global peace and cooperation goes by way of the United Nations.[45] The role of the United Nations in the “War on Terror” had nevertheless been very small. It wasn’t until a month after the attacks that Bush directly referred to the U.N. as a possible participant in the war. On the day the U.S. Justice Department issued a blanket alert in recognition of a general threat they received, President Bush addressed the Press. In regards to the situation in Afghanistan he said that he believes that the United Nations would -- could provide the framework necessary to help meet those conditions. It would be a useful function for the United Nations to take over the so-called “nation-building,” -- I would call it the stabilization of a future government -- after our military mission is complete.[46]


President Bush reiterated this call during his postponed address to the U.N. General Assembly a month later. Though the United Nations will be involved in the whole reconstruction process it is striking that the United States would remain in charge. The United States will work closely with the United Nations and development banks to reconstruct Afghanistan after hostilities there have ceased and the Taliban are no longer in control. And the United States will work with the U.N. to support a post-Taliban government that represents all of the Afghan people.[47] The United States somehow didn’t seem to be a part of the United Nations, but operated outside of the global organization. In his address Bush also touched briefly on the topic of reform as he mentioned the debacle of the U.N. Human Rights Commission which undermines the credibility of this great institution. But all in all, his speech was an illustration of how the “War on Terror” had completely taken over the Foreign Policy agenda of his administration as nearly every single paragraph of his address referred to either terrorism or Afghanistan.


It was clear that the U.N. wanted to be a key participant in the global war on terror, yet it seemed unable to position itself in this conflict. Though the U.N. granted legal backing for the Afghanistan War, it couldn’t capitalize on this unique authority. The limited responsibility the U.S. wanted to bestow on the United Nations was a somewhat dubious gift. Martin Woollacott of the Guardian described the situation as follows: The potential for good of an extended period of intimate cooperation between the United Nations, the United States and other powers over Afghanistan is clear. But the potential for bad is also clear, ranging from being blamed for all the degrees of failure that are possible in Afghanistan to that of being perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an American tool. He added that experts within the U.N. rated a nation-building mission in Afghanistan somewhere between incredibly difficult and totally impossible.[48]


The murky relationship between the United States and the United Nations wasn’t about to be cleared up. The United States did recognize the importance of a U.N. blessing, but didn’t consider this a requisite for action. Hans Blix also recognized this mindset and testified that: On January 10, 2002, I [Hans Blix] went to Washington. Attitudes had certainly changed. Colin Powell made a distinction between the bilateral path to Iraq and the multilateral. The U.N. stood for the latter.[49] It was becoming quite clear at the start of 2002, that the United Nations was all but sidelined from the international political forum by the United States. In his first State of the Union, Bush focused mainly on homeland security and American military successes abroad. There was indeed little room for multilateral initiative. It was also on that day that Iraq was clearly mentioned as a possible target in the “War on Terror”, as Bush declared that Iran, Iraq and North Korea constituted an Axis of Evil.[50]


In the Spring of 2002, the Stanley Foundation held a round table conference investigating the state of U.N.-U.S. relationship. They defined this relationship as one of envy and respect, of admiration and dissatisfaction. The panel discussion also reached the conclusion that in the post-September 11 context, the United States relies on the United Nations for validation, legitimacy, and political support for actions related to the international war on terrorism. It was almost impossible to give a definite verdict on the current state of the rocky relationship as it seemed to alter from day-to-day. Though there were some stable factors such as the popularity of Kofi Annan and the personal relationship between Powell and Annan. Suggestions coming from the debate concerning U.N. Reform focused on the usual structural and financial issues.[51]


After the State of the Union it remained relatively quiet, both on the topic of Afghanistan/Iraq as on the United Nations and it would stay this way up until the start of the 57th General Assembly. During the month of August, the topic of Iraq sporadically appeared in press releases from the White House. During September it would be mentioned in nearly every occasion President Bush had to address the media.[52] Though the Administration barely spoke of the United Nations in the months preceding the General Assembly, the U.N. was now regularly included in the briefings, in particular the U.N. Security Council. The way President Bush re-introduced the topic of Iraq on the Global Forum was through the United Nations. On September 12, Bush addressed the 57th General Assembly. In his speech he no less than sixty-six times referred to Iraq and about two thirds of his speech was devoted to this topic.


There is not a trace of reference to the United Nations as a structure. No clear support on the topic of reforms or finances. The United States did make two significant announcements in September. Firstly, Bush promised the well received and long anticipated rejoining of UNESCO by the United States. President Reagan had left this institution in 1984 as he was disappointed in the workings and practices that were going on. President Bush recognized the reform efforts made in the meanwhile and thus decided to rejoin. This move can be seen as a way of gathering diplomatic credit and increasing U.S. influence in the U.N. corridors. Secondly, On September 30, Bush signed a bill authorizing $244 billion to be handed to the U.N. This was the final payment in arrears in accordance to the Helms-Biden Agreement, a move which can also be regarded as a way of creating diplomatic momentum.


Despite considerable effort by Kofi Annan to also put other items on the top of the agenda, Iraq remained the talking point for the coming months. Annan for example introduced a second wave of U.N. Reforms on September 23 2002, but there is little response from the United States to these proposals. Annan feared a similar fate for the ambitious Millennium Summit targets and stressed the importance of projects such as cutting in half the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day, ensuring that every child goes to primary school, and reversing the AIDS epidemic by the year 2015.[53]


But Kofi Annan was simply outsmarted by the United States and on November 8 President Bush obtained his own Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, but this one was signed by the United Nations Security Council.[54] Resolution 1441 provided Iraq with the final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations and demanded the return of U.N. weapon inspectors (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission or UNMOVIC) to measure the progress made. As the progress reports did not satisfy the U.S. and the U.K., there were increased diplomatic efforts by the United States to vote for a new Resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.


As with the war in Afghanistan it is not my intention to dig deeper in the events of the Iraqi War. In the weeks running up to the invasion of Iraq on March 19, diplomatic efforts within the United Nations reached its peak. Hans Blix noted that The U.S. administration was not indifferent to getting a U.N. Security Council endorsement of the armed action. Opinion polls clearly showed that U.S. public support for armed action would be stronger with such an endorsement.[55] The motives of working with and through the U.N. were questioned by both experts and public. President Bush wasn’t shy of expressing the U.S. position in public. In his state of the Union address for example of January 2003 he said: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.[56] It was clear that the United States would make the final decision concerning military action, and not the United Nations.


When the Coalition of the Willing took Iraq by storm, the relation between the United States and the United Nations reached a new deep. The United States claimed U.N legitimacy for their actions based on both the Article 51 of the U.N. Charter and Security Council Resolution 1441. These arguments were not accepted by several key actors within the U.N. such as France, Russia and China, who favored a continuation of inspections by the weapon inspectors. Acting without a clear authorization was regarded by many U.N. diplomats as a illegitimate action, especially because the requirements of Article 51 were not soundly proven.


In the coming months there was little room for other U.N. topics. Mainly because the United States had its hands full with the Iraqi War, but also because the climate simply wasn’t there. For the U.S. to suddenly engage in close cooperation with the United Nations on topics such as Reform and finances, seemed out of the question. And as we established earlier, any significant change to the U.N. simply required the commitment of all the P5 countries. Before any progress could be made, the U.S.-U.N. relationship needed mending.


As in the previous two years, the General Assembly speech by Bush proved to be an important moment. Through addressing the entire world, the United States could show where it stood, both in regard to the U.N. as to the current political climate. Bush’s speech on September 23, stressed the importance of the United Nations. Recognizing the efforts made in Afghanistan and Iraq, sympathizing with the victims of the attack on the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad and underlining America’s commitment to the U.N. Charter, all aimed at slowly healing the tensions between both world players.[57] The need for a closer cooperation was also acknowledged by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He stated that: The idea that a peaceful and prosperous world could be organized without the active engagement and cooperation of the United States is not credible.[58] Annan didn’t directly support a U.N. presence in Iraq without security guarantees by the coalition forces. But he did support U.S. action through the U.N. rather than aside it. Perhaps the first step to a closer relationship was made by the Security Council, where a resolution was adopted calling for international aid to Iraq and the rebuilding process.[59]



C. U.N. Reform reappears on the agenda


By the end of 2003, we also see the first reports coming from within the Bush Administration concerning future U.N. Reforms. In response to the passing of Resolution 1511, Assistant Secretary of State Kim R. Holmes gave an American view on the future of the U.N. Kim Holmes was nominated to his position shortly after 9/11 and was responsible for U.N.-U.S. relations and promotion of U.S. policy on a variety of topics. With respect to U.N. Reform, there were no concrete proposals yet, but some vague indication of what the U.S. would like to see was present. We think the place to begin is with principles. Get them right and the reform will improve the institution. Ignore them, and reform will merely be change for the sake of change. Concerning U.N. Reform he offered several principles that would have to be obeyed in future reforms.[60]


The status of reform efforts at the time were researched by the U.S. General Accounting Office, a subsidiary of Congress. A February 2004 Report, titled United Nations: Reforms Progressing but Comprehensive Assessments Needed to Measure Impact, showed that the Reform efforts that Kofi Annan launched in 1997 and 2002, were well underway to be fully implemented.[61] One remarkable finding of the report was that Reforms were more efficiently implemented when the Secretary-General was in charge, than when member states had the authority. The report focused further on more follow-up to reforms to measure their impact, a call that would be repeated several times later on. All in all the report brought the ongoing reforms back in the spotlight of the Bush Administration and showed that reform was a realistic goal.


Even though the United Nations slowly found its way back to the Presidential agenda, it would quickly be overtaken in 2004 by the presidential elections. During the debates and speeches given in the campaign the United Nations was but a few times featured. When President Bush, or Senator Kerry, mentioned the U.N. it was mainly in connection with Iraq, either with respect to Resolution 1441 or possible U.N. involvement in the rebuilding process.[62] It would be until Bush was re-elected that the United Nations would be back in the picture. It is often said that a President who serves for two terms tries to establish his legacy in his second term. Perhaps mending the international frictions is one of the aims of George W. Bush. The United Nations does provide the perfect platform to achieve this.


The United Nations would take up a prominent position on the agenda of Congress in 2005. This was mainly a result of the nomination of a new Permanent Representative to the U.N. in March. No other person in the last decade has spurred on so much media attention and political debate concerning the United Nations as John R. Bolton. And while he is a strong critic of the world body, the attention he has created, does favor the United Nations. The topic of reform and the general U.S.-U.N. relations are a hot topic. Bolton is a straight-shooter, says what’s on his mind. Statements he made in the past, such as: There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States, and The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, angered Democrats in Congress.[63] The division in Congress concerning the United Nations along partisan lines, had been pushed in the background as the other topics dominated the agenda. Yet with the nomination of Bolton, these reappeared as clear as ever. In the beginning of the 1990’s, when U.N. Reform started to become an important issue, both Democrats and Republicans envisioned a different role for the United Nations. Bolton’s views are in line with the Republican opinion, and those of President Bush. While Congress was unable to reach a verdict on the nomination, mainly through Democratic efforts to stall the appointment through filibustering, Bolton did get his position through a recent presidential recess appointment on August 1. He will keep this position until December 2006 or January 2007 depending on when the next Senate adjourns.


The eventual appointment was well received by organizations such as the Heritage Foundation. Nile Gardiner concludes that The United States needs a revolutionary like Bolton at the U.N., a warrior diplomat who will aggressively pursue the national interest rather than appease an international consensus. Bolton will do what needs to be done at the United Nations: challenge the conventional wisdom, forcefully advance the U.S. national interest, and lay down markers for U.N. Reform.[64] In a sense one could say that John R. Bolton could become a Republican version of Richard Holbrooke. Both striving for the same momentum of change, but with a completely opposite diplomatic approach and perspective.


While the debate surrounding John Bolton was still raging, both Congress and the President released statements in which they for the first time outlined their visions for the United Nations in the 21st century. Congress did this through a very ambitious report composed by a bipartisan Task Force chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.[65] About six months after Congress commissioned the report, the task force released its findings in June 2005. The Report dealt with a variety of topics. Unlike the vague proposals by Kim Holmes, this report gives very specific reform initiatives on these topics.[66]


That U.N. Reform was important to U.S. congress is illustrated by the passing of the “Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005” on June 17th in the House. This Bill was not supported by the President, even though the aye voters consisted mainly of Republicans (213 of the 221 in favor were Republican Representatives). The EOP stated that the Administration strongly supports reform of the United Nations, including greater accountability, oversight, and results-based budgeting, but it specifically objected to the bill’s certification requirements which could result in a 50 percent reduction in the United States assessed contributions to the UN. Most of the 40 requirements imposed are also present in the Report of Task Force such as streamlining, increased accountability and whistle-blower protection.[67] Democrats fear a repeat of the past, as the United States will restart building up arrears as it had done with the Biden-Helms Agreement without reaching an immediate result.


Not only Capitol Hill was busy trying to get themselves involved in U.N. Reform, the White House also came forward with its viewpoints at a keynote address to the General Assembly. Armed with the proposals of the Task Force and the latest report by Kofi Annan on the Millennium Progression, “In Larger Freedom”, the Acting Representative of the U.S to the U.N, Anne Patterson, outlined the key issues for the Bush Administration. This was the first time in over four years that a clear list was presented with the Administrations desires.[68]


In July 2005, the “United Nations Reform Act of 2005” made it to the Senate’s agenda. Strangely enough it is meeting opposition there from a rivaling Republican Bill introduced by Senators Lugar and Coleman. This second bill aims at achieving a similar Reform effort, but gives the President the authority to withhold the payments, rather then obligating this move. The Administration also recently expressed more support for the Lugar-Coleman proposal as it more flexible.[69] With Congress in recess, the bills have no further been discussed, which brings us to the current state U.N. affairs in Congress. As mentioned earlier, the last word spoken in the whole discussion came from the White House with the appointment of John Bolton as Ambassador to the U.N.



V. Conclusion


The main aim of this thesis was to examine the state of U.N.-U.S. relations. While a focus was placed on the current Bush Administration, I, as an historian, felt it necessary to also include a comprehensive historical overview. The topic of “U.N. Reform” is not a new concept or a temporary hype, but a debate with many participants, both today and in the past. It is simply impossible to write anything constructive dealing with this subject without understanding the baggage it carries.


In Chapter III, we learned several key components of this U.N.-U.S. relationship. The first and most important is without a doubt the very clear call that is coming from the United States for U.N. Reform. Though this was not the case during the first years of the organization, an increasing dissatisfaction with the workings of the U.N., led to very strong demands for Reform in the 1980’s. While it initially were mainly Republican party members, it quickly grew into a bipartisan demand. The United States was mainly disappointed with the budgetary and managerial inefficiency of the U.N. Under president Reagan, the first drastic measures were taken to force change. Non-cooperation and the withholding of payments proved somewhat successful as new practices were adopted. The second wave of U.N. Reform demands came in 1994. The U.N. Renaissance period was cut short by the Somalia casualties and new Congressional action. This resulted in the Helms-Biden Agreement which set new targets for U.N. Reform. Congress found a listening ear in the new Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who stood open to drastic changes in the U.N. Richard Holbrooke was responsible for negotiating the Congressional benchmarks, and achieved significant change. This allowed the new Bush Administration to allow the payment of the second Tranche in February 2001.


While the plea for reform was a constant given during the last 20 years, a second phenomenon is that this call intensified when the Senate is in Republican hands. The Senate switched to Republican in 1981 after the Democratic party had controlled it since 1955. This meant that the Republican also controlled the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, enabling a more conservative approach towards the U.N. The harsher action diminished as the Democrats regained Senate control in 1987 and the Renaissance Period started. A short period of increased multilateral action and support for action through global cooperation emerged. President Clinton kept on sailing this course but was forced to alter his position as the Republican party took over Capitol Hill (both Senate and the House for the first time in 40 years) in 1994. The Helms-Biden Agreement employed in essence a Republican tactic but was widely supported by both parties nevertheless, and eventually Clinton would sign the bill in 1999.


It is clear that achieving any change in a global organization requires a minimum of cooperation and diplomatic arm wrestling. A friendly atmosphere would seem the best moment to reach compromises on a difficult topic as U.N. Reform. Paradoxically, we see a third phenomenon, the appeals for major reforms always came during periods when the U.N.-U.S. relations were already sour and belief in the U.N. was meager. The tactics used to achieve reform only diminished the U.S. standing among other member states further.


Chapter IV addressed the Bush Administration in particular. We could apply the previous findings to the last five years and see if we find a similar trend. We tried to analyze the position of Bush towards the U.N. before 9/11 and found little proof that he profiled himself as a strong supporter of the international forum. The delayed nomination of John Negroponte and the withdrawing from Kyoto and Durban reduced the diplomatic credit of Bush. The calls for reforms simply seemed to grind to a halt as Bush took office. The Biden-Helms Agreement was of course still relevant, yet there was no sort of pressure of the Administration to encourage the U.N. to act more quickly. Bush seemed to be satisfied with the work of Kofi Annan and remained on the sidelines. But even after the final Helms-Biden payment was made to the U.N. in 2002, no new initiatives seemed to come forward, neither from the White House nor from Congress. It was of course clear that the U.S. had more urgent matters on his mind during the first term of the Bush Presidency. But as the United States engaged in the War on Terror, not only did the interest in U.N. Reform disappear but also the belief in the U.N. as a whole vanished in 2003 during the prelude to Iraq.


Unlike with President Reagan, who was similarly disappointed in the U.N. system, we found no immediate action taken by President Bush. Why this didn’t take place could perhaps be explained by applying our second finding to this question. In May 2001, Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party, causing the Senate to fall into Democratic hands. As with the Renaissance period, little legislation with regards to the U.N. emerged from Congress in the ensuing period. By the time the Republicans regained control in 2003, the world was so significantly altered that there was little room on the agenda for U.N. Reform.


Finally we looked at the current situation. As President Bush is trying to mend the wounds the relationship suffered during his first term, the topic of U.N. Reform reappears on the agenda. Unlike in the past, when bringing up the topic of U.N. Reform only seemed to worsen the situation, Bush now approaches the issue with a new tactic. His opposition, both in 2001 and 2005, to new Helms-Biden-like Legislation is striking. While the nomination of John Bolton angered many Democrats, it is undeniable that this move will provide the world with a new understanding of the U.S. position. Better to have a disliked but capable captain at the helm, than no captain at all.


It is probably still too early to judge whether U.N. Reform is back on the American agenda, but all indications seem to favor such a statement. John Bolton might perhaps not have the patience and strong belief in the U.N. as Richard Holbrooke displayed, but he does represent the current Administration’s point of view and has the diplomatic skills and personality to lead the U.S. With clear reform proposals, an improving relationship and an ambassador with strong personality, George Bush is in the perfect position to confidently address the U.N. at the upcoming General Assembly and give U.N. Reform the renewed American attention it deserves.



VI. Bibliography


A. Consulted Works



B. Consulted Websites



VII. Appendices


A. “Remarks of Assistant Secretary of State Kim R. Holmes.”

October 21, 2003. Online available @ Council of Foreign Relations, >International Organizations > Transcripts.



B. “American Interests and U.N. Reform.”

June 2005. Online available @ United States Institute of Peace.


These are some of the striking recommendations from the 145-page report. They were divided among the following five distinct categories.


1. Saving Lives, Safeguarding Human Rights, and Ending Genocide


2. In Need of Repair: Reforming the United Nations General Recommendations


3. Deterring Death and Destruction: Catastrophic Terrorism and Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons UN Security Council


4. War and Peace: Preventing and Ending Conflicts UN Peacekeeping: Doctrine, Planning, and Strategic Guidance


5. Helping People and Nations: Development and Humanitarian Assistance General Recommendations


C. “Statement by Ambassador. Patterson on UN Reform” 

June 22, 2005. Online Available @ United States Mission to the United Nations,

Ambassador Patterson explained the U.S. position in the following areas:


home list theses contence  


[1] Joint NGO Statement on U.N. Reform. (Presented to the 61st Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights), April 12, 2005.

Online available @ Human Rights Watch. Last Accessed: August 2005.

[2] An example of this is the Global Compact. This “Charter” includes ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Numerous NGO’s see this as a façade behind with corporations can hide and demand for reform in this U.N. project.

For more information check online @ The Global Compact, Last Accessed: August 2005.

[3] The distinctions made here are derived from a more detailed division given in TAYLOR, P. “The institutions of the United Nations and the Principle Consonance: An Overview.” in TAYLOR, P. and GROOM, A. J. R. The United Nations at the Millennium: The Principal Organs. Ebbw Vale, 2000.

[4] U.N. G.A. Resolution 1991 (XVIII), 17 December, 1963.

[5] Article 108 of the U.N. Charter specifies that: Amendments to the present Charter shall come into force for all Members of the United Nations when they have been adopted by a vote of two thirds of the members of the General Assembly and ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two thirds of the Members of the United Nations, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

[6] MUELLER, J. Reforming the United Nations: The Quiet Revolution. Den Haag, 2001.

This large compilation provides the backbone for early years of the following overview. Müller also gives several additional volumes with the documentation.

[7] For more information see United States Fund for UNICEF, Last Accessed August 2005.

[8] For a brief overview of the application and definition of this Resolution see PETERSEN, K. S. “The Uses of the Uniting for Peace Resolution since 1950” International Organization, XIII, n°2 (1959) 219-232.

[9] The United For Peace resolution is still a very actual theme. The United States was for example really worried about a possible application of this tactic to address the current Iraq War.

For more information on its current application and historical background see BILLINGTON, M. “U.N. ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution for peace’ resolution could demand end to U.S. war on Iraq” Executive Intelligence Review. XXX, n° 14, 2003.

[10] Article 19 of the Charter says that A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years….

[11] The position of the administration was only reinforced by a publication of the Heritage Foundation (A conservative research institute) in 1984. A world without the U.N. – What would happen if the United Nations shut down? attacked the U.N. on a vast array of issues, going from health policy to human rights, peace keeping operations to education and offered a variety of counterproposals.

[12] The United Kingdom would leave UNESCO as well in 1984. They rejoined the organization in 1997.

[13] As we saw earlier, a nation not complying with financial obligations was prone to losing voting rights. But the debt had to amount to two years aggregate payment, which wasn’t going to happen soon with the U.S. as it only reduced funding by 20%.

A nice overview of the earlier financial actions is offered in NELSON, R. W. “International Law and U.S. Withholding of Payments to International Organizations.” The American Journal of International Law. LXXX, n° 4. (1986), 973-983.

[14] FRANCK, T. M. “Soviet Initiatives: U.S. Responses – New Opportunities for Reviving the United Nations System” The American Journal of International Law, 83, n° 3 p. 533.

[15] Through consensus and biennial budget proposals the U.N. budget didn’t increase between 1987 and 1995.

[16] George Herbert Walker Bush served as the U.S. permanent representative for the U.N under the Nixon Administration from 1971 until 1973.

[17] Many consider this turnaround by the USSR as a desperate search for a new position within global affairs. By promoting the U.N. the USSR could capitalize on its U.N. Security Council seat, which would hence increase in importance.

[18] LEACH, J. and LICHENSTEIN, C. “Defining Purpose: The United Nations and the Health of Nations” United States Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations. September 1993.

[19] Though this wouldn’t immediately impact the U.S., it did diminish U.S. prestige and influence. Other nations showed their discontent with the U.S. behavior by rejecting U.S. candidates to committees. Example here is the refusal to appoint the American candidate in 1996 for the ACABQ, a advisory committee on budgetary matters. The U.S. had led this commission since its creation almost 50 years ago.

[20] HELMS, J. “Saving the U.N.: A Challenge to the Next Secretary-General” Foreign Affairs. September/October 1996.

[21] Helms give a striking example of this in the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which counts among its crowning achievements the passage of a resolution calling upon sovereign nations to report all contacts with extraterrestrial beings directly to the Secretary-General.

[22] The House had approved the bill in April ’98. Clinton postponed signing because he did not agree with some restrictive clauses concerning funding to family planning organization within the U.N. Clinton was nevertheless bound by a time agenda as the Helms-Biden agreement also pushed for a reassessment of U.S. contributions, something that had to be decided on a General Assembly. Clinton missed the first deadline, being the Assembly of early ’98. The next would take place end 2000 before which the bill had to be signed.

[23] Track One reforms of Annan's "two-track" reform program entailed immediate managerial changes in areas within the Secretary-General's authority. Track Two reforms would establish a long-term plan of action to address more fundamental issues involving input from Member States.

For more info see: LAURENTI, J. “Kofi Annan’s U.N. Reform Measures to Do More with Less” United Nations Association of United States of America. March, 1997.

[24] Holbrooke had already been nominated to the post on June 17, 1998. After much delay the nomination had its first hearing on June 17 of 1999. Senator Helms said the he couldn’t recall another cabinet-level nomination sent to this committee [Senate Foreign Relations Commission] with so much ethical baggage attached to it. Holbrooke was finally confirmed by the Senate on August 5, 1999 and sworn in as U.N. Ambassador on August 25. Quote see SHENON, P. “Helms had White House worried about its U.N. nomination” New York Times, June 17, 1999.

[25] Clinton spoke to the 54th General Assembly in September 1999 and called the U.N. indispensable in dealing with nuclear non-proliferation, global economy and refugees. CLINTON, W. J. Remarks to the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. September 21, 1999.

[26] HOLBROOKE, R. Statement in the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly on the Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of Expenses of the UN. October 2, 2000. [USUN Press Release #131 (00)]

[27] HOLBROOKE, R. United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. January 9, 2001

[28] LEDERER, E. M. “U.S. Takes over Security Council Presidency without Ambassador or Policy.” Associated Press, May 1, 2001.

[29] HOYOS, C. “U.S. Signal Sought on U.N. Stance” Financial Times, February 13, 2001.

[30] The endorsement of Annan’s bid for a second term came in March 2001.

“Remarks by the President and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in Photo Opportunity.” Office of the Press Secretary, March 23, 2001

[31] A rather interesting compilation of articles on the U.S. position on the International Criminal Court is given in SEWALL, B. S. and KAYSEN, C. The United States and the International Criminal Court. s.l. 2000.

Though this was written before Bush became president it does identify the main contentions, which were already present during the Clinton Presidency.

[32] John R. Bolton was the United States Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs at the time. He would later be nominated as U.S. ambassador to U.N.

[33] SCHAEFER, B. D. “Setting the Tone for America’s Relationship with the United Nations” The Heritage Foundation, Executive Memorandum #772. September 5, 2001.

[34] On the same day the United States suffered a second setback as it wasn’t reconfirmed to take up its seat on the U.N. International Narcotics Control Board.

[35] BUSH, G. W. The President’s News Conference. May 11th , 2001.

Question. Did you—or do you believe that some U.S. back dues to the United Nations should be withheld as a result of that vote, as some in Congress were asking?

The President. I do not. I think we have made an agreement with the United Nations, an agreement that had been negotiated in good faith, and I think we ought to pay our dues.

Having said that, the decision was an outrageous decision. To me, it undermines the whole credibility of this [Human Rights] Commission— to kick the United States off, one of the great bastions of human rights, and allow Sudan to be on. And I think most reasonable people in the world see it that way.

[36] LYNCH, C. “U.S. to Regain Seat on U.N. Rights Panel: Diplomats see Presence on Commission as Vital” Washington Post, March 15, 2002.

[37] KARON, T. “How Jim Jeffords changed the World” Time Magazine. May 29, 2001. Online Available @ Time Online Edition,,9565,128283,00.html Last Accessed: August 2005.

[38]Joint Statement With Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.”. and “Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi: Partnership for Security and Prosperity.” Office of the Press Secretary. March 19, 2001 and June 30, 2001.

[39] “America and the U.N.” The Economist. September 10, 2001.

[40] U.N. Security Council Resolution 1368. 12 September, 2001.

U.N. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/56/1. 12 September, 2001.

[41] In a sense, Article 5 is still dependant on the United Nations as it specifies that all action taken has to be in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

[42] John Negroponte was a former Ambassador to Honduras during the Iran-Contra Scandal and his role in CIA-backed Death squads at the time was very unclear.

FARLEY, M. and KEMPSTER, N. “Bush’s U.N. Pick Faces Battle over Contra Role” Los Angeles Times. March 25, 2001.

[43] WRIGHT, J. “Senate Panel backs Negroponte for U.N. Post” Reuters. September 14, 2001.

[44] “President Signs United Nations Bill” Office of the Press Secretary. October 5, 2001.

[45] The Nobel Peace Prize 2001 Press Release. 12 October, 2001.

Available online @

[46] BUSH, G. W. “President Holds Prime Time News Conference” Office of the Press Secretary. October 11, 2001.

[47] BUSH, G. W. Remarks by the President to United Nations General Assembly” Office of the Press Secretary. November 10, 2001.

[48] WOOLLACOTT, M. “The United Nations Faces an Afghan Nightmare” The Guardian. 26 October, 2001.

[49] BLIX, H. Disarming Iraq: The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. London, 2004. p 58.

[50] BUSH, G. W. “President Delivers State of the Union Address” Office of the Press Secretary. January 29, 2002.

[51] “The State of the U.S.-U.N. Relations” The Stanley foundation. 25-26 April, 2002. Online available @ The Stanley Foundation,, Last Accessed: August 2005.

[52] The Press Secretary releases show that Bush discussed the topic of Iraq on September 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 24 and 26. And there is a similar pattern in October.

[53] RANJAN, R. “Kofi Annan Calls for Reform” Associated Press, September 24, 2002.

For more information on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals see online @ U.N. Official Website, It is not the aim of this thesis to look further into these social/economic targets as they do not directly involve U.N. Reform nor a particular U.S. statement.

[54] BUSH, G. W. “President Pleased with U.N. Vote” Office of the Press Secretary. November 8, 2002.

[55] BLIX, H. Disarming Iraq: The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. London, 2004. p 145.

[56] BUSH, G. W. “President delivers “State of the Union”” Office of the Press Secretary. January 28, 2003.

[57] BUSH, G. W. “President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly” Office of the Press Secretary. September 23, 2003.

[58] ANNAN, K. “Annan Emphasizes U.S.-U.N. Cooperation. (at Ninth H.J. Heinz Company Foundation Distinguished Lecture.)” Pittsburgh Business Times. October 21, 2003.

[59] U.N. S.C. Resolution 1511, 16 October, 2003.

[60] HOLMES, K. R. Remarks of Assistant Secretary of State Kim R. Holmes Before The Council on Foreign Relations. October 21, 2003.

Online available @ Council of Foreign Relations, >International Organizations > Transcripts. Last Accessed: August 2005.

For an overview of the Principles given by Kim Holmes, see Appendix A.

[61] “United Nations: Reforms Progressing but Comprehensive Assessments Needed to Measure Impact” United States General Accounting Office. 10 February, 2004. Online available @

[62] An interesting compilation of the mentions of the U.N. during the Presidential Elections can be found @ Council of Foreign Relations, Last Accessed: August 2005.

[63] WATSON, R. “Bush deploys hawk as new U.N. envoy” The Times, 8 March, 2005.

[64] GARDINER, N. “John Bolton: A Force for Change at the U.N.” The Heritage Foundation. August 3, 2005.

[65] The Task Force consisted of a experts from all the important political think tanks including The Heritage Foundation, The Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies complemented with experts such as Wesley Clark.

[66] GINGRICH, N. and MITCHELL, G. “American Interests and U.N. Reform: Report of the Task Force on the United Nations.” United States Institute of Peace. June 2005, Washington.

For an overview of the proposals presented in this Report see Appendix B.

[67] HIRSCHKORN, P. “House Threatens to Withhold U.N. Dues” Cable News Network. 20 June, 2005. Online available @ Cable News Network. 20 June 2005.

Also “House Passes United Nations Reform Act; Administration on Record in Opposition” Washington Report. 22 June, 2005. Online available @ United Nations Association of the United States of America. June 22, 2005.

And SCHAEFER, B. D. “The United Nations Reform Act 2005: A Powerful Lever to Advance U.N. Reform” The Heritage Foundation. 10 June, 2005.

[68] For an overview of the speech by Anne Patterson see Appendix C.

[69] “Two Paths to Change: A Summary of U.N. Reform Legislation” Washington Report. 1 August, 2005. Online available @ United Nations Association of the United States of America. August 1, 2005.