There’s been a fair bit of news around the UN these last couple of weeks. After signaling its contempt for the UN with the nomination of John Bolton, an advocate of ignoring the UN and international law, to be America’s representative here, the Bush administration signaled its contempt for development by nominating Paul Wolfowitz, architect of our successful Iraq policy, to head the World Bank.
Or perhaps not. To take a more optimistic view, perhaps Bush has sent a serious critic of the UN and a neoconservative administration insider because the United States is serious about reforming the UN. The timing is right: this coming autumn, at the 60th session of the General Assembly, world leaders will gather to review progress on the Millenium Development Goals — an ambitious program set up in 2000, with goals to be met by 2015 — and to debate the future of the United Nations, which is preparing to undergo the most comprehensive reforms in its history, potentially including a substantial expansion of the Security Council.
In the past few months, we’ve seen the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which deals with security issues, and Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millenium Development Goals. Yesterday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled his synthesis of these two reports, In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All, which contains recommendations for reform. I’m still working my way through the two latter reports, but it’s clear that when the General Assembly reconvenes this fall, there will be an expectation of large-scale change. Whether there is actually change, and of what sort, remains to be seen.