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The changing pattern of world wealth, the rising demands for social justice and the growing capacity of the less powerful countries to get together for "collective self-reliance” have combined to mount an unprecedented challenge to the global "seniority system.” The new-rich oil nations, for example, have only tiny influence in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. If they don't get more votes in the weighted-voting system, it is illusory to expect them to endow these institutions for long with their petrodollars.
And in our dealings with the developing areas that haven't yet discovered riches under their national domains, aid as charity will have to give way to mutuality of decisions about what they are going to do for themselves and what we are going to do for them, just as, at home, we have created devices for involving the poor in decisions about antipoverty programs.
MONEY AND BUSINESS REGULATION
For most of modern history, agreements about trade, investment and money have been dominated by a dozen countries ; they did most of the trade, made most of the investments and issued most of the money. World monetary arrangements were left in disarray when, in 1971, the United States decided that the dollar was no longer strong enough to serve as the world's “key currency"; up to then, the Federal Reserve System had acted in effect as the world's central banker. The leadership vacuum has been compensated for, in part, by floating exchange rates, which force each nation to take more responsibility for its own monetary policies. But there will have to be a system of intensive consultation among the nations to coordinate their varying rates of money growth.
Another part of the broad challenge to the "seniority system” is the growing demand for international regulation of multinational business. The outcome here depends on the multinational enterprises as a group. If they develop and live by a reasonable code of international behavior that takes account of smallcountry sensitivities, the drive in the United Nations to establish an international regulatory agency will lose some steam. But one or two more I.T.T.-Chile episodes will bring on international regulation as surely as, in American history, the excesses of a few utilities brought on the Public Utility Holding Company Act, and cheating by a minority of brokers brought on public regulation of the securities exchanges. The Environment
It is increasingly evident that air and water and outer space are a global "commons,” in which littering by one is pollution for all. It is no accident that the most vigorous and potentially most important United Nations agency created since the nineteen-forties is the U.N. environmental program, headed by one of the world's truly international men, Maurice Strong of Canada.
Whether we consider ourselves Americans or citizens of the world (or both), we need global monitoring and agreed international rules about (for example) oil spills, air pollution, the handling of radioactive waste and the changing of climate at human command. International control is also necessary for the regulation of new kinds of world traffic-not just aircraft movements, which are troublesome enough, but sonic interference, broadcasting from satellites, remote sensing technologies, orbital arcs in space and the competitive use of the frequency spectrum. Ocean Resources
As nearly everyone is vaguely aware by now the oceans are man's last and greatest frontier on earth. They cover two-thirds of its surface; there are vast uncharted areas of seabed, with ocean trenches deeper than Mt. Everest is high ; there may be as much oil, gas, copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese under them as there is on land ; the table varieties of fish we now enjoy and require could vanish in a decade without new conservation measures; the oceans offer a vast potential for floating cities, man-made islands and new transportation systems; they could also become a giant irreversible cesspool.
What is lacking is a common international perspective. The oceans do not, by any stretch of nationalist imagination, “belong” to any nation. Global Planning
There is an acute need for long-range professional analysis of global futures, from an international point of view, to catch problems before they become insoluble by peaceful means, to identify new technologies that will need to be
controlled and channeled by new institutions to human rather than antihuman purposes. Some of these will be the consequence of developments in the biological sciences, which look to be every bit as revolutionary as the industrial/nuclear/ electronic upheaval.
The management of interdependence is a collection of Herculean labors too big or too sensitive to be tackled by single nations, or even in two's and three's. The imperatives to multilateral action are so strong that despite all the international obstacles and national reluctances, the U.N. system has already developed a limited capacity to act.
Apart from the World Bank and Fund, the U.N. system spent about $1.3 billion last year, more than 90 per cent of it for development work in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. (That seems a sizable sum until you calculate that it is onehalf of 1 per cent of the world's military spending for the same period). The World Bank and its "soft-loan window"—the International Development Association-lent $4.3 billion to 75 developing countries last year, the International Monetary Fund lent about $4 billion more to its members, mostly for stability rather than development.
So, much real work gets done in the U.N. family, and its more operational agencies are managed about as effectively as the comparable national bureaucracies are. From a generation's experience with international agencies, those that are effective and those that are not, two useful lessons stand out. One is that the more voting there is, the less action there is. The other is that the more initiative is placed in the hands of international executives, the more international action results.
On the voting issue, we know from experience what doesn't lead to action : a pseudo-parliamentary process that (1) pretends that every nation is equally relevant to every subject, (2) takes many-sided complexities and squeezes them into a Pro-crustean yes-or-no two-sidedness, and (3) moves each issue toward quick disagreement about words rather than careful agreement about action. The way the General Assembly now operates makes it clearly the wrong system for the needed actions.
But of course it doesn't have to operate that way. There is a remarkably simple solution to the “voting problem” in the General Assembly : Don't take any votes. The alternative mode—the action mode is to decide by consensus among those whose action together is necessary to carry out any given international program. Voting seems to focus attention on disagreed issues of high principle; consensus focuses on cooperation about what to do. And if there is a central truth about man the social animal, it is this: that people from societies at differing stages of development, professing competitive philosophies, growing up in varied cultures, speaking many languages, do seem to be able to come together on what to do next, if they carefully avoid trying to agree on why they are acting together.
Once there is a consensus about action, a vote is unnecessary. When there is not yet a consensus about action, a vote dramatizes the differences and makes eventual reconciliation that much more difficult.
Suppose, for example, that war breaks out again tomorrow in the Middle East. In a voting system, the problem is tackled by formulating a two-sided proposition to decide who's right and who's wrong. There are, however, not two sides but many—Egyptian, Israeli
, Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan, Jordanian and Palestinian sides that are very different from each other; interests of arms suppliers like France, interests of the two nuclear superpowers and the separable interests of the rest of the world in not having local rivalries lead to wider war.
In this complexity a system that requires a yes-or-no vote on a two-sided proposition would be ridiculously dysfunctional. A vote that guarantees Israel's existence is no use if the Arabs vote “no”; a vote that tells Israel to withdraw and disarm will be ineffective if Israel and its friends (including the United States) vote "no." The problem is rather to stop the fighting, maintain a cease-fire, mediate the disputes and enforce an agreed settlement. This requires a legislative framework that takes the multiple interest into account: perhaps an armistice, a peace-keeping force to discourage creating and a mandate to a shuttling peacemaker to seek the more permanent settlement. Such a legislative mandate must represent a true consensus of the interests engaged in the dispute—and not a onesided judgment about rights and wrongs.
The U.N. Security Council, now 15 nations including five with vetoes, has in fact sponsored a number of useful peace-keeping operations, notably in Lebanon, Palestine, Suez, Yemen, Sinai, the Golan Heights, Greece, Kashmir and West Irian. Many U.N. enthusiasts used to decry the veto. But it turned out that
because of the veto, negotiations about Security Council actions had to be serious. The Russians, for example, have to be persuaded to join the consensus or there is no consensus. That sometimes takes days, or months or years; sometimes it never comes; but if agreement is reached, something then happens : Money is spent; people are put to work; peace-keeping forces are dispatched ; pressure is put on combatants to stop fighting and start talking.
In both the bank and the fund, weighted voting has somewhat the same effert as consensus. Those nations that put up most of the money have to be in agreement, or no action results. But consensus, of which they are a part, unlocks their treasuries.
Some international agencies have always acted without voting—by a "no objection” procedure, or "consensus.” During the four years I served as U.S. representative on the North Atlantic Council, the political board of directors of the NATO alliance, I do not recall a single vote on a matter of substance. Not that we lacked for controversial issues and divided Atlantic counsels during 1965–69. But it just did not occur to any of us around the table, for example, to call for a 14-to-1 vote on General de Gaulle's antipathy to NATO. Instead, we negotiated at tedious length to limit the damage in France's military withdrawal. When we had carried the consensus as far as it would stretch, we saw no good purpose in making a public scene about the remaining fraction of dissent. An adversary vote might have persuaded de Gaulle to cut off permission for NATO over-flights, which (unlike the absence of French units in NATO military exercises) could have done real damage to Western defense.
It is interesting to see how many of the recent U.N. processes have been coming around to consensus procedure, whenever international action seems more desirable than words for domestic consumption. The U.N.'s Outer Space Committee worked this way, and as a result produced the Outer Space Treaty and conventions on the return of astronauts and space objects, and on damage claims resulting from space activity. The Geneva Disarmament Committee and the Seabed Committee also formally decided to work by consensus. The big sensitivity training sessions-on environment at Stockholm, on population at Bucharest, on food at Rome-used straw votes in committee sessions, but adopted far-reaching "action programs” by consensus, even in their plenary meetings. (In the General Assembly last winter the complex proposal for a new World Food Council, to monitor production and consumption and work out an international food-reserve system, was agreed to by more than 100 sovereign countries, including even the selection of the founding members, in a two-week period, showing a sense of urgency any national legislature would find it hard to match.)
"Consensus" does not mean unanimous consent. In a Pacific island village, important decisions will draw all the villagers to a community circle, but only those who care about a particular decision will edge toward the circle's center to make their views known and their weight felt. The others will sit around the outside, often talking among themselves about something else. When the village elder is able to divine and announce a common view, that doesn't mean that everybody is an uncritical endorser of what will be done. It does mean that among those whose water-buffaloes might be gored, there is at least passive acquiescence, and those who don't much care are willing to leave the outcome to those who do. To insist at this juncture, under Western procedures, that everyone's pulse be taken, and then to divide the converging company into clear ayes and nays, would endanger the agreement already reached.
To convert the U.N. system to consensus decision-making will seem visionary only to Americans and Europeans who have grown up in the belief that parliamentary procedure and Robert's “Rules" are the very stuff of democracy. But that is a minority view in the modern world, and even in the West is a rather recent notion, not deeply rooted in classical or Christian thought. "Consensus" will not seem extraordinary to any one who has participated in a Quaker meeting, grown up in a modern family, or sat on a British or American jury. It will not seem strange to a Japanese businessman, a Chinese scholar, an African villager. Chaidir Anwar Sani, the Indonesian delegate to the U.N., commenting on the Scali speech, actually charted a way out: “Indonesia,” he said, “has a tradition of decision making through musyawarah and mufakat, consultations and consensus. Most of our countries have at one stage or another known that method. The process may be lengthy, cumbersome, sometimes exasperating, but we are much better off than immediately after our independence when we experimented with the ‘half-plus-one-is-right' method. . . . My delegation would not like to see the United Nations turn into an arena for confrontation between
majority and minority, or a factory to turn out resolutions, but a forum for the combined and concerted efforts of all the countries in the world to find concrete solutions.” Let's elect him President of the General Assembly. Voting has formed a habit, and like any addiction, it will be hard to shake—both for Westerners who have been missionaries of the gospel that voting equals democracy, and for the more recent converts who have found out what fun majority rule can be for the majority. I have a constructive suggestion: To hasten the day when "the time for monologue is past,” let's negotiate a one-year moratorium on voting in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
But legislation by consensus is only a beginning. The key to international action—and often the agent of consensus-building—is the international executive. The great work of gluing the international community together requires a rare quality of executive leadership.
Some national leaders consider it disloyal if one of their citizens acts in the interest of mankind. Nikita Khrushchev was one of these, and during a visit to the Black Sea port of Sochi shortly after the launching of Sputnik I, a Secretary General of the United Nations argued the point with him. “As long as I remained on my Swedish launching pad,” Dag Hammarskjold told the Russian leader, “I found it hard to think and act as an international person. But once in orbit as an international official, I am like your sputnik, free from the divided jurisdictions on earth.”
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the U.N. Development Program, the Children's Fund (UNICEF), the new U.N. Environmental Program, and some other parts of the system work comparatively well because their centers of initiative are competent and self-confident executive leaders not afraid to act in the long-run international interest as they see it, even if that sometimes isn't the perceived short-term interest of their own national governments.
The negative cases in point are equally instructive. UNESCO's director general pandered for years to the emotional majority in his governing body. He was consequently reelected to office several times, but UNESCO failed then to attract to its activities the outstanding leaders in education, science and culture from around the world. It is no accident that UNESCO so often, ás recently in the case of Israel, lets politics get in the way of its raison d'etre. The world needs a first-rate international public agency devoted to education, science and culture; but, because of one executive's maneuverings, important elements of the international intellectual community are wondering if they couldn't do better than UNESCO if they started all over again.
Another instructive contrast was the way two different Secretaries General reacted when the U.N.'s peacekeeping role was challenged. In 1960, a shortlived Soviet-dominated Government in the former Belgian Congo (now Zaire) demanded that the U.N. peace-keeping force withdraw from its territory. Dag Hammarskjold refused to comply and insisted that the U.N. Security Council's mandate took precedence over the national Government's desires. In 1967, U Thant was faced with an Egyptian demand for withdrawal of the U.N. Emergency Force from its mission of observing the truce on the Sinai frontier with Israel. Without consulting the Security Council or the General Assembly, Thant ordered the blue helmets to withdraw; later reports indicated that even the Egyptians were astonished that the Secretary General had pushed the panic button so fast. The Six Day War followed soon after.
The command of peace-keepers, the management of planetary bargaining, the promotion of just and rapid development, the regulation of money and business, the creation of an environmental alert system, the establishment of an international oceans authority, the conception of a global planning staff-each of these tasks will require the world's best talent. In the United Nations system, national logrolling on appointments and long tenure in most of the senior posts has made it impossible to bring together a critical mass of first-rate public executives. That is why, when a major new international operation is planned, talk of bypassing the United Nations is normal; the proposed seabed authority is a current case in point.
But-again-things don't have to work that way. The administration of international responsibilities is not necessarily characterized by timidity or timeserving. Governments, if they want to, can lend the international community their very best people. And international agencies—though they are subject to the same Parkinson's Law as other institutions—can also respond to the
personal leadership of men and women, of whatever race or political creed, with vision in their minds and fire in their bellies.
Charlie Brown is right, of course, in most cases, when he says, “No problem is so big and complicated that it can't be run away from.” But the management of interdependence is the exception; multilateral systems for interdependent functions are, quite simply, a must. To the extent that the United Nations system we helped create doesn't roll, we will have to turn to and help install new and better wheels. And since both the United States and the United Nations will be around for quite a while, let's teach our Little Leaguers not to cop out, but to hang in there.
STATEMENT OF JOHN NELSON WASHBURN, A WASHINGTON-BASED INTERNATIONAL
LAWYER AND SOVIET AFFAIRS SPECIALIST, ON THE SUBJECT OF FUTURE U.S. POLICY WITH RESPECT TO THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION
In my capacity as attorney-adviser (international) in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State U.S.A. during the period March 1958– October 1966, it was my good fortune to serve as an adviser on the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly four times, in the autumn of 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962, twice under a Republican Administration and twice under a Democratic Administration.
I have two major suggestions to make on the basis of such service on the United States Delegation at United Nations Headquarters and the United States Mission in New York City.
First, without deprecating in any way the qualifications of the United States Representatives and Alternate Representatives at the United Nations General Assembly who have served since the Seventeenth Regular Session in 1962, let me urge that the White House consider naming as Representatives and Alternate Representatives during the American Revolutionary Bicentennial Years 1975– 1976 really eminent Americans representing as many ethnic groups as possible and most regions of our vast land. Where, oh where, is the current equivalent of Miss Marian Anderson, who graced the United States Delegation at the Thirand most regions of our vast land. Where, oh where, is the current equivalent torney from Billings, Montana—the late Arthur F. Lamey, who proved so effective working in and about the Third Committee of the General Assembly at the Fifteenth Regular Session in 1960 ? These were the individual United States Representatives and Alternate Representatives who made so many friends for the United States, particularly among countries which would today be considered to belong to The Third World, the developing world. To produce amicable activities along the same lines in 1975–1976, why not designate as Alternate Representatives or United States Delegation Advisors such able and charming American Indian representatives as Gail, Charlotte or Grace Thorpe—the three daughters of that greatest of American athletes of the first half of the twentieth centuryJames Francis "Jim" Thorpe of Oklahoma ?
My second suggestion also bears on the problem raised by Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan prior to and upon becoming United States Representative to the United Nations, namely, how best to deal with countries defending the interests of The Third World, the developing world, within the United Nations system? I respectfully submit that there be no slippage, no dilution of the words of President Ford's pledge made in the White House Rose Garden on the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony for Ambassador Moynihan June 30, 1975:
“We must deal with new political problems as developing nations press forward vigorously to correct what they see as injustices. ... We will work with firmness and with patience in a determined effort to foster mutually beneficial relations with the developing world.”
In this connection let me take the liberty of urging President Ford, Secretary of State Kissinger and Ambassador Moynihan to do justice to the People's Republic of Albania (a Third World leader still unknown even geographically to the State Department, judging by the map enclosed on which Yugoslavia's town Dibrë is found inside Albania !) as my enclosed article urges.