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tributed—the citizens of Europe, North America and Japan (and of some more fortunate developing countries such as the major oil producers, Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia and South Korea) have seen their per capita real incomes grow by two to three times or more, while the peoples of the Indian sub-continent and of most of Africa have seen little, if any, improvement in their average condition. Moreover, the benefits of progress, as we all know, were very unevenly shared within as well as between countries.
Allowing for all the qualifications, however, the overall record of economic betterment is without precedent in the history of the world. While it would be an over-simplification to give all the credit to the United Nations system of economic institutions, it is clear that the "founding fathers” of the system must have done something right.
The International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to take only the most obvious examples, have provided vitally needed negotiating forums, rules of the game and (in the case of the first two) significant financial resources to cope with monetary, development and trade problems. The World Bank group alone is now providing close to $4 billion a year in resources to developing countries.
Similarly, the United Nations Development Program, together wtih related UN funds for population, environment, children, etc., have made an enormous difference in helping to develop the human and material resources of developing countries. The specialized and affiliated agencies of the United Nations system such as WHO, ILO, FAO and UNESCO have unquestionably been an aid to counties not only in their traditional research and standard-setting activities but in their roles as executing agencies for technical and pre-investment aid. Although the United Nations was originally established primarily as a peace and security agency, some 90% of the $1.5 billion annual budget of the UN system (exclusive of lending by the Fund and Bank) is now devoted to economic cooperation.
But the role of the United Nations as a catalyst for constructive change cannot be judged entirely in terms of technical negotiations and lending operations. One of the most important but least appreciated functions of the UN system is in influencing the political process within member states. The great global conferences held by the United Nations on environment, population, and food, for example, unquestionably helped to marshal scientific evidence, mobilize public opinion, focus the attention of political leaders on hitherto neglected problems and thus significantly influence national policies.
In general, the agencies of the United Nations system have helped articulate the common interest of nations and helped conciliate the adversary interests. They have encouraged governments to take a more international approach and have strengthened the hands of outward-looking leaders in dealing with domestic political opposition. They have taken responsibility for compromises in situations where national leaders could not have taken responsibility alone. Thanks to them, nations have followed better economic policies than they otherwise would have done. In short, these institutions, if not the agencies of world government, have certainly been instruments of a better world economic order.
It is a useful exercise to ask where we would be today had we had no United Nations economic system-no institutions for trade and monetary cooperation, for economic development aid, for agriculture, population and envirnment, for the establishment of safety standards in air and ocean transport, for exchanging weather information, for allocating radio frequencies. Bad as our situation now is, it would have been immeasurably worse-quite possibly beyond repair.
Let me turn now to the problems that the United States and Israel faced at the last General Assembly. The first thing that has to be said about the last General Assembly is that the basic cause of our problem at the UN is not the UN itself. It is the increasing divergence between the United States and the majority of mankind on fundamental issues. I would not agree with those who say that the UN majority is always right-indeed its "double standard" on Middle East, economic and human rights questions is often deplorable—but it is an unhappy fact that United States leadership has been badly damaged by Viet Nam, Water
1 GATT is technically not a UN agency, but it was created as a result of a UN conference and functions in close cooperation with the other agencies of the United Nations system.
agencies of the United Nations system.
gate, economic mismanagement and neglect of Third World interests. So if that UN reflection is ugly, it's not the mirror that's to blame.
The PLO vote is an example. People have said to me, “Isn't it absurd what the United Nations did on the PLO; these two-bit countries, this one-nation, onevote thing has to be stopped." Yet how many of these people realize that the invitation to Yasir Arafat was voted by 105 to 4 with 20 abstentions? In other words, on that vote the United States and Israel were only able to get two countries-Bolivia and the Dominican Republic—to support them. Bolivia and the Dominican Republic!
Some people propose a weighted voting system at the United Nations, .based on population, economics, education or what have you. Yet a prorating of power by these criteria would not have altered the PLO vote in our and Israel's favor—if anything, it would have made it worse. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the United Nations mirror is that an overwhelming majority of governments representing an overwhelming majority of mankind is not sympathetic to Israel's diplomatic position and believes that the Palestine Liberation Organization should be associated in the United Nations with the search for a Middle East solution.
What was really damaging to Israel was not anything that happened at the United Nations in recent months—I daresay the publicity given those events and the UNESCO votes stirred worldwide opinion in her favor—but rather the support that the PLO had garnered before it got to the UN. Even the UN resolution recognizing the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people did not fundamentally change Israel's political situation-acceptance of the PLO had already been accomplished at the Arab summit in Rabat, partly as result of Israel's refusal to make a deal with Hussein,
The political isolation of the United States and Israel is one part of the problem at the United Nations; another is the fact that for the past six years—and some would argue it's been longer than that-the US Government has assigned precious little priority to strengthening the United Nations.
Of course, there have been notable exceptions—United States initiatives in the area of environment, population or narcotics have been impressive. But during the Nixon Administration the attitude at the highest levels was one of malign neglect, of weakening the UN rather than strengthening it as an institution. The tone was set early by President Nixon himself when he scrawled on one memo concerning a UN agency: “The hell with this outfit, let's gut it."
Now I don't mean to imply that the United Nations is above criticism. One need only look at the recent report on the deterioration of the Secretariat by former Ambassador Seymour M. Finger, at the lack of coordination between UN agencies and programs, and at the need for reforms in decision-making procedures (not by weighted voting, by the way, but by conciliation and use of small committees with weighted representation). But these and other cracks in the mirror are also due to faulty policies of member governments, including our own, and can be remedied by them. Let's not be like the father I know who neglected his son for years and then complained when the boy was booked on a narcotics charge : “I always knew that kid would never amount to anything."
Some people are now calling for U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Former Senator Peter Dominick wants us to leave the General Assembly and columnist William Buckley says we should sit there but not vote. I submit that such proposals are unsatisfactory because they have not been thought through,
For the United States to withdraw from the United Nations would be, in the words of a friend from Israel, "desertion of the battlefield under fire." United States withdrawal certainly would not serve Israel's interests; it would leave Israel without the protection of a United States veto in the Security Council. Remember that those United Nations peacekeeping forces under the Council's direction are very important to Israel's interests.
It would be equally foolish to withdraw from the General Assembly or not to exercise our right to vote on items like the U.N. budget, U.N. personnel policy, Israel's right to exist, a Mideast settlement, the role of the Palestinians, the future of the U.N. presence in Korea, disarmament issues and human rights. The "Fortress Security Council” strategy simply won't work, for the simple reason that the ten elected seats are held mainly by developing countries. If we try to write off the Assembly, they have the votes to block action in the Council.
The remedy for our present U.N. difficulties is not to downgrade our U.N. participation but to upgrade it. We need a whole new approach to the U.N. system which would include the following elements :
A new commitment to international institution-building at the top levels of the U.S. Government;
The strengthening of our U.N. Mission and Assembly delegations ; Much greater use of our diplomatic strength in support of U.N. positions we believe in;
Involvement of our European allies and the Soviet Union in the search for a Middle East settlement which will guarantee Israel's security essentially within its 1967 borders;
A more imaginative approach to the "world economic bargain" that needs to be struck with the developing countries; and
And a serious search for U.N. decision-making reforms of the kind referred to earlier.
I suggested earlier that the need for multilateral agreement and multilateral management would be increasingly with us during the last quarter of the twentieth century. But of course, need along is not enough. Most national leaders around the world do not have to be persuaded that it would be much better to approach key problems on a multilateral basis, usually a global one; the question that troubles them is whether international rules and organizations can be made to work. Unless some major structural weaknesses can be dealt with more effectively, even the existing responsibilities of existing international agencies will slowly wither away, and new responsbility, however badly needed, will simply not be given either to old or new agencies.
Since the structural problems are political in origin, to remedy them will require not just technical ingenuity but an act of political will on the part of key member-states. The deficiencies of international institutions that governments cite as reasons for bypassing them are of the government's own making. Some acts of creative statesmanship are needed to break out of the vicious circle. To paraphrase a slogan of the peace movement: "All we are saying is, give the international organizations a chance."
The most obvious structural problem is in the decision-making process. How to equiliberate voting power, not just with national sovereignty but with responsibility for implementing decisions, is a riddle that continues to plague the international agencies. It is understandable that large and middle-sized powers will not grant significant authority to a General Assembly where countries representing less than ten percent of the population of the total membership and less than four percent of the budget can take decisions by a two-thirds majority. It is equally obvious that the "principle of unanimity" under which any one country can veto action is not a recipe for progress.
Fortunately, there are a number of methods that have been developed to assure that influence in decision-making bears a reasonable relationship to power in the real world and to the responsibility for implementing decisions. Weighted voting is the most obvious, but the assigning of differential voting rights is often non-negotiable. Other approaches deserve greater attention: “double majorities” (requiring a majority of all the members plus a majority of specially defined categories of members); "weighted representation" (delegating decision-making to a small committee in which the countries that are most important in the particular subject matter have more than their normal proportion of seats); "bicameralism" (in which decisions must first be adopted by a small committee with weighted representation and then by the membership as a whole); and “conciliation" (deferring a vote for a "cooling-off period" of further negotiations at the request of a specified minority of countries).
Obviously no one decision-making formula will be applicable across the board. Different structures are required for different functions—what is appropriate in a new oceans agency may not be appropriate in multilateral development assistance. Moreover, the decision-making reforms that are needed will not always adjust power in the same direction. The United States will justifiably seek "a GATT within the GATT where decisions can be taken by the key trading nations on some special voting basis rather than on one-nation onevote formula among 86 contracting parties. At the same time, it can reasonably be asked to concede a greater voice in the IMF and World Bank to Japan and the Arab countries, whose voting power does not adequately reflect their financial power. To be sure, changes in outmoded or unreasonable decision-making arrangements may be opposed initially by the countries that presently have more than their fair share of influence. The challenge to multilateral diplomacy
and one that has not been seriously faced so far-is to persuade the countries that are overendowed with power in a particular institution that a fairer sharing is needed to save the institution from creeping irrelevance and make it more effective on matters of interest to them.
A related but separate structural problem is how to improve present arrangements for creating, adapting, interpreting and enforcing international law—what some would call the “normative process." The development of new rules of law has become both more cumbersome and more politicized—we need only contrast the highly political 90-member preparatory committee that was used for the current Law of the Sea negotiations with the small and expert International Law Commission that prepared the texts for the Law of the Sea conventions of 1958. While the membership explosion of the U.N. system makes it politically impossible to return completely to the old ways of doing things, the common interest of all countries in the orderly development of new rules of international law suggests that greater use of small and expert bodies should be made in the preparatory stage of law-making conferences.
Once the rules have been created, we need better arrangements for adapting them in the light of rapid and possibly unforeseen changes in political, economic or scientific circumstances. The traditional amendment process is as unsatisfactory a means for modernizing treaties on oil pollution from tankers as it is for modernizing the GATT provisions on nontariff barriers. A possible formula here is the delegation of power to small and expert groups to promulgate changes in the rules, subject to an "opting out” privilege for countries that do not wish to accept the changes. With respect to interpretation and application of the rules, we will need to have greater resort, in such diverse contexts as trade and environmental protection, to fact-finding, conciliation and arbitration by disinterested third parties. Finally, we will need to find better ways of enforcing the rules, as by multilateral action that denies benefits and applies punishments. As has been noted, where essential community interests are threatened, as for example in hijacking, marine pollution or the withholding of vital raw materals, action may need to be taken not only against those who ratify the rules and then break them but against those who refuse to accept the rules at all.
A third structural problem that must be mentioned is the crisis in morale and effectiveness that now afflicts the international civil service. Though a few international agencies may be exempt from this generalization, in most of them the concepts of independence and efficiency have been badly eroded by political pressures, particularly the excessive emphasis given to the concept of "equitable geographical distribution.” If the vitality of the international agencies is to be assured, more must be done to apply standards of excellence in recruitment, promotion and selection out. Greater efforts should be made to fill senior positions with outstanding persons from the professional, scientific and business worlds, rather than predominantly, as is now the case, with persons on loan from membergovernments. As with the other structural problems, what is required here is a change in national behavior resulting from a new perception by key governments of their enlightened self-interest.
A final structural problem is how to coordinate and rationalize the fragmented system of international agencies. Governments are encountering increasing difficulties in coping with the proliferating conference schedule and the bewildering variety of secretariats that deal with separate pieces of a total problem. The need here is not just to cut overlapping and wasteful activities, but to clarify responsibility for taking and implementing decisions. It involves both functional coordination (e.g., the respective responsibilities for balance of payments adjustment between IMF, GATT and OECD), and regional coordination (e.g., the division of functions on air pollution between the U.N. institutions and agencies like NATO, OECD, and the Council of Europe). Once again, the problem is fundamentally political, since the proliferation is partly the result of "forum shopping" by governments which wish to promote a favorable outcome, and partly the result of the launching of special purpose programs (e.g., on population, environment, and narcotics) financed by voluntary contributions from governments which feel they cannot achieve their objectives within the U.N.'s central policy and budget process.
A. generation ago the central problem was to create new institutions where none existed ; today it is to get several hundred functional and regional commissions, boards, committees and secretariats to work together effectively. Perhaps the most difficult ohstacle in the way of the objective is the projection into the international organizations of the fragmented system of "portfolio government” that still characterizes most of the major countries. Governments will have to do a
better job of coordinating themselves if the functional approach is to produce a coherent system of international institutions. The special session of the General Assembly on economic issues scheduled for September of this year provides a useful opportunity for governments to clarify their objectives and improve their internal processes for the achievement of this purpose.
Now let me close by suggesting some fundamental things the United States should be doing in the United Nations and multilateral institutions generally
One obvious and pressing need is to take a hard look at the way the American government is organized to cope with the present sweep of multilateral negotiations. Multilateral diplomacy increasingly cuts across the interests of many domestic departments. The effort to resolve foreign policy conflicts between agencies has led during the past decade to excessive concentration of power in the White House. The new practice of having cabinet officers like the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury double as assistants to the President, with responsibility for directing policy in certain areas, offers a new opportunity to coordinate our approach to different multilateral negotiations, achieve consistent solutions to structural problems, involve the necessary disciplines and interest groups in the policy process, and exploit potential "trade-offs" between different negotiating sectors. The staff of the National Security Council (NSC) could be used more than it has been to achieve these objectives. Alternatively, a new senior White House aide could be appointed to discharge this responsibility.
Moreover, for many of the multilateral negotiations discussed earlier, we could establish an interagency task force as a sub-group of the NSC, with a supporting staff in the executive department most directly concerned with the subject matter. The model could be the NSC interagency task force on the law of the sea and the new office established in the State Department for the law of the sea negotiations. It would also be useful for many of the ongoing negotiations to appoint an outstanding professional from within the government or from private life to serve as Ambassador-at-Large to direct the U.S. negotiating team. Regular congressional consultation and private-sector involvement through a working (not ceremonial) public advisory group—as is now the case on the law of the sea-could assure a more open and democratic policy-making process.
It is people, of course, not just boxes on organizational charts, that determine the effectiveness of a nation's policy process. Our ambassadors to the United Nations and other international agencies should be individuals with broad experience and deep substantive knowledge; their staffs should consist of the best talent our country can make available, not only from the foreign service but from the business, academic, professional and scientific communities. We will know we are serious about our “world order business" when we stop using positions in our missions and delegations to international agencies for political payoffs, and start applying the same requirements of excellence here that we apply in negotiations with the Russians and Chinese. Another test of our seriousness will be the extent to which we include in the very top structure of decision-making-in the White House and the key executive departments, persons experienced in and committed to the multilateral approach.
Third, we need to put a new emphasis on world order issues in our bilateral negotiations with former adversaries, nonaligned nations, and old allies. In particular, this would mean using our negotiating leverage to encourage the Russians and Chinese to take a more affirmative position on such matters as the law of the sea, international programs to curb population growth, U.N. peacekeeping and U.N. financing, and the reform of the decision-making processes along the lines mentioned earlier. This will be a difficult and long-term effort, but there will be a growing number of people in both countries who understand the necessity of tackling such issues in a cooperative and non-dogmatic way; we could strengthen their hand by the right kinds of initiatives. For example, we have created a dozen U.S.-U.S.S.R. bilateral commissions as the result of the summit meetings : we could use the SALT Commission to explore the possibilities of mutual nonintervention by the superpowers in Third-World areas and of limiting the spread of nuclear and conventional arms; we could seek support for global health and population programs in the bilateral health commission; and we could press in the environmental commission for Soviet cooperation in global efforts to curb whaling, protect ocean fisheries, and regulate land-based sources of marine pollution. We could place a similar priority on world order issues in our relations with the European countries and Japan both bilaterally and in