UN Secretary General: A Critical Analysis

June 20, 2017 | Autor: Rana Adan Abid | Categoría: Diplomacy and international relations
Share Embed


As the League of Nations, the precursor of the United Nations (UN), failed to achieve its main objective of preventing war and maintaining peace, the world nations, with a reinvigorated will, decided to create an autonomous body that would be independent in the true essence of the word, and be supported by all nations in maintain such a role role. The role of the League of Nations was carried on by the UN once it was dismantled in 1945; the creation of UN elicited wide, international support as the world did not want to experience the horrors of another ruinous world war. Nevertheless the role of the UN has not eluded all censure as it has at times more than often been widely criticized as being a proxy for the world powers and at others for not being powerful enough to bring about a substantial difference, in the public international arena, as a political actor. Unsurprisingly, by many the UN is considered to be an organisation which plays only a 'so-called' independent role in the world affairs even that of a sycophant to some national powerhouses. Nevertheless with time the United Nation's chief office, SG's, has vitally contributed inasmuch as it can in order to achieve whatever possible degree of autonomy to the organisation's acclaim.

In the aftermath of World War 2, in order to champion peace and avoid any type of future hostility or violence, the allies and the countries that emerged victorious formulated the UN after much discussion at Dumbarton Oaks, at the Yalta conference and then finally agreeing to a final charter in the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO).The UN came in to existence on 26th June 1945 in the UNCIO and its legal enforcement on its member states on 24th October 1945. The UN structure and role was established on the basis of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals which were conformed in 1944, compromising 4 nations.
The UN 's role is extensive as its basic roles comprise not only to keep peace among member states but also to promote humanitarian efforts and social harmony among the residents of its member states which includes most of the world at the moment. The UN has been considered an establishment which aims at bringing all the world problems and disputes of the day to one supranational forum and where efforts are channelized in negotiations and peaceful resolutions to avoid potential conflict, especially of the military nature.

The United Nations (UN) secretary general (SG) has played a unique role in terms of maintaining peace and stability across the globe. The SG's position is defined by the charter of the UN, which states in article 97 the appointment and position of the SG in regards to the UN, Article 98 of the charter describes the responsibilities the SG is entrusted with. Further Article 99 states that the SG should "bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security". This is the main responsibility conferred on the position of the SG in terms of having an effect on global peace. The Fifth SG of the UN Javier Perez de Cueller said defining his stature and task, "it is my moral duty as SG of the UN to do everything I can do in order to avoid war". Although the SG does not possess any formal authority and material power to enforce his decision or opinion but acting as the chief diplomat of the world it has the authority to bring any matter to the attention of the Security Council (SC). Article 100 of the charter explains that the role of the SG should be independent without influence advice or pressure from any organisation in order to limit its accountability to the UN alone.

The Secretary General of the UN "has such wide latitude to shape the position" that, in essence the particular Secretary General in office is said to define the general position of the Secretary General's office. As a leader, many analysts have observed and pressed on the need for a strong willed and determined SG and how it "may prove to be the most critical single determinant of the growth in scope and authority of the international organization". Benjamin Rivlin a well known analyst on international affairs and veteran member of the UN secretariat wrote that "the UN Charter charges the Secretary-General with conflicting responsibilities: to act independently and to serve at the bidding of the Security Council and the General Assembly." The concerns of Rivlin point towards the obvious; that the SG is bound to the SC no matter how resolute the Secretary General be as a leader. While A permanent member of the UN can veto anything that it considers in any way detrimental to its own national interests, there is but some satisfaction in knowing that veto power is used by members with extreme precaution and thus not very often.

Since the birth of the UN the SG's role has been developed and moulded with the influence and role played by different SG's across the UN's 66 year history. The UN's history reveals the numerous situations where the SG has had a significant impact on the SC. The impact of this high-profile office of diplomacy has been varying depending on the particular SG's. How these particular officeholders have within the structure of the UN as it is, ascribed more or less consequence to the office is what I shall be critically assessing.

The first SG of the UN was Gladwyn Jebb and he remains the only SG that ever came from a permanent member nation. His role did not define the SG's position as he was an interim SG until the new SG Trygve Lie was elected by the general assembly and the unanimous selection of the SC. The first elected SG of the UN was Trygve Lie and in his tenure as the SG he set the precedent as to how a SG can give his impartial opinion (which was later set out in the Provisional Rules of Procedure) about a matter and how he can bring a matter of importance before the SC. Lie enhanced the role of the SG by investigating matters which were thought to need any kind of international intervention and placing it in the SC. After the Iran and the Berlin blockade crisis the hope of UN acting as an organisation of peace keeping became grey as the SG was ineffective in exercising his power. The fight for control of the SC between the US and Soviet Union became more apparent, and this made matters worse for the SG's office in independently affecting political dynamics. Even though Lie was criticized to be pro-western and in his time the office of the SG reflected the policies of the western allies, he had a hand in broadening the range of issues a SG could look onto. He was applauded for bringing communist china out of isolation and bringing the Korean Issue into the political limelight.

Trygve Lie did not lose focus on the issues he was to tackle as being SG even though he was criticized by the United States (US) for supporting Red Army China for a seat in the UN. He was opposed by the Soviet Union for tabling the memorandum on the Korean crisis in the SC. He also had a part in ending the Greek Civil War which was a tussle between the Soviet Union and US as both sides of the Civil War were supported by each of the superpowers. The abduction of Greek Children to other countries was drawn to attention by a special report submitted by the United Nations Special Committee on the instructions of the SG; this helped in abducted kids to be repatriated. In his own words he described his handling of the Korean War as "the best justified act of seven years in the service of peace". Trygve Lie failed to keep the view of the UN as independent body intact as the Soviet Union accused him of being favourable towards the interests of the allied nations this made the Soviet Union oppose his re-term. Lie situation can be well described as him being "a hostage to the cold war". He also had a fair number of critics and one of them was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin who accused Lie of being a communist and though not worthy of his post, this and many other issues made his position untenable in the UN and thus he resigned.

The SG to follow Trygve Lie was Dag Hammarskjöld a Swedish diplomat elected on the recommendation of the Security Council and majority vote of the UN general assembly. He is widely known to be open-minded as he would support military involvement in some issues but would mainly rely on negotiations and dialogue in order to resolve in others; he has been attributed with being motivated towards realising the principles of the UN Charter. Hammarskjöld once addressing legislators explained the role and significance of the UN and the responsibilities on the SG said that "the constant struggle to close the gap between aspiration and performance now, as always, marks the difference between civilisation and chaos". The role played by SG Hammarskjöld in the Suez Canal Crisis has been praised for decades, as he had a major contribution in putting pressure on Britain, France and Israel to abide by the Charter of the UN. After initial reluctance Hammarskjöld accepted the proposal by Canada to form the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) which would replace the Occupying forces of the Egyptian territory and ensure ceasefire between the two bordering nations.

On the Invasion of Hungary, the Soviet Union refused to abide by the resolution of the General Assembly and this point it can be seen that the SG has no power in itself to ensure that a resolution is enforced but can only muster international support in order to pressurizing a nation to conform. Hammarskjöld gained criticism from the Soviet Union for invoking Article 99 and on that moment defending his stance on the issue of the invasion of Hungary he said "it is not the Soviet Union or, indeed, any other big Powers who need the United Nations for their protection; it is all the others. In this sense the Organization is first of all their organization". In these words he summed up both the power and role of the UN, as at this situation he knew that there was nothing he could do as the suggestion for UN Peace Keepers was also rejected. The Soviet Union opposed to the idea of the position of the SG as they proposed new reforms famously(or rather infamously) known as the "Troika" proposal which suggested appointing three SG's instead of one, this was highly opposed by other member nations and hence did not see a happy ending. Hammarskjöld has also been credited with making the Holy See participate in the United Nations , this notion paved the way for future involvement of religious and social groups with the UN; hence portraying the UN as a forum for all and sundry (i.e. not just the political elites).

And while the Cold War lasted, so did its effect on the office and capabilities of the office of SG. Following the death of Hammarskjöld, the first non-western SG was appointed in U Thant in 1961. While the former was opposed by the Soviet bloc as too political, the later sought to settle disputes with the severe restraints. One of the first issues that Thant found himself amid was the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), successfully urging the Security Council to secure a verification agreement: these efforts did not go unnoticed as President Kennedy remarked 'U Thant has put the world deeply in his debt'. His 'search for peace' continued with his successful mediation efforts in arranging a ceasefire between Pakistan and Kashmir in 1965, and Bahrain in 1968. The other major crisis that U Thant confronted was the Vietnam War which showed more than ever the restraints of the UN as an institution in the face of the will of the United States of America. On the Middle Eastern front (Suez Canal crisis) and the subsequent Indo Pak war 1971 too, U Thant's attempts were relatively abortive.

But the political failures that U Thant faced were compensated for by other gains that his tenure secured, and in U Thant's approach one can discern a certain vision. Firstly he materially crystallised the UN working through media, a move Kofi Anan commended, 'It was U Thant who more than anyone before him opened up the United Nations to the media, because he understood that for the organization to earn the support of the world's people, they must be kept fully informed and aware of its work'. Secondly, the Development policy that U.N took showed the resolution of the Secretary General to concentrate not only on political conflict and peacekeeping, but to create a body for all, and for good. This was reflected in his social development efforts in Third World countries. Thirdly were the increase in Asian countries and other modifications in the UN institutional system under his tenure that helped create a power point apart from the Cold War superpowers.

It is these novel ways of countering the Cold War context which afford U Thant qualified credit, so much to make an allegation that 'history remembers U Thant as weak and essentially invisible' sound a little extreme.

Succeeding U Thant was Kurt Waldheim who, faced with the relentless Middle East conflict, managed to convey important messages of world peace and humanity. It was under him that the first of many Geneva Peace Conference(s) on Middle East materialised and initiated talks that ended the Arab-Israel War 1973. Nevertheless he faced substantial failures in other regional conflicts such as the Iraq-Iran war and the war in Afghanistan. Interesting as it is, the tenure of Waldheim exposed the need, which was internationally acknowledged, of an impartial Secretary General with no past affiliation with extremist grouping that executed criminal activities, in his case it was his affiliation with the Nazi in the Third Reich which raised much controversy, especially in the U.S.Am(

On 1 January 1982, after Waldheim's second term's end, Javier Perez de Cuellar assumed office until December 1991. According to Analysts such as Thomas E. Boudreau he '… may already be judged… as one of the most successful Secretaries-general…'. This is so because of the notion of 'high level preventive diplomacy' that Cuellar deeply emphasized on, and utilised in various consequential issues such as Falkwalds war between Britain and Argentina and the on-going Cyprus Issue. Whatever the utility and practical success of his strategic notion, one cannot but deny its sine qua non importance in the office of secretary general in particular and the UN in general.

And yet again, with a cursory but critical glance at the tenure of Boutros bourtros- ghali (1997-2002) alludes to the earlier mentioned issues pertaining to US role in UN and the overall ineffective of UN as an organisation what with the fiasco of the Episode of genocide in Rwanda, which 'the entire international community stood accused afterwards of looking on as the killers embarked on their slaughter' , and the UN debacles in the Yugoslavia wars and Somalia. It unmasked such inherent weaknesses of the system as they were at the heightened points of Cold War. And another factor that exacerbated the situation was how the office of Secretary General tackled financial issues of the UN, although hopeful of creating a bigger UN peacekeeping force, Boutrous was forced to idea 'it would be a folly to do so at the present time when the organisation is resource starved'37. Although the financial dilemma of his tenure was not a historically new on by any means, it did relect more than ever the dependence of the office and the institution on funds by national states, especially the United States of America.

No critical appreciation of Secretary Generals in general is complete without the discussion of Kofi Anan and his strong impact in redefining the role of the SG. It was with Kofi Anan that the true limits of his office were tested from efforts in humanitarian intervention culminating in the concept of The Responsibility to Protect 200538 in which Kofi Anan essayed to forge worldwide consensus on the how and when must humanitarian intervention be deemed just. The R2P, as it is often called, is one of his greatest achievement as the new norm of the responsibility to protect, championed by Annan, captures the convergence of some significant trends in world affairs 39 Kofi Annan was also the first to openly criticize the actions of a world superpower, The United States during the Iraq-US war 2003, which he publicly reckoned illegal saying that "No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others"40Thus the stance that Kofi Anan took in this regards was firmer than any of his predecessors, and helped relieve some worry that UN is nothing but a body subordinate to the interests of the superpowers. Kofi Annan introduced the much needed concept of legality in relation to interventions in his many press statements.

Besides the political strengthening the office of secretary general underwent in the ten years of Kofi Annan tenure were his efforts on social issues cannot be forgetfully erased, such as AIDs and Diabetes ushered new precedents of regulating the world order in a consensus of member states. This was important as the turning of the millennia provided more radical challenges than ever in issues such as health, women's rights and poverty.

As to the contemporary SG Ban ki moon one of his mentionable credits includes his ability to bring into the political limelight and hence the UN agenda, global issues such as Global warming. This was a resuscitation of the need for collective co operation in face of collective threats, which in its own way is highly commendable. It remains to be seen whether The Millennium Goals Development initiated by Ban ki moons forerunner, Kofi Annan are still to be seen to be materialised. As to the global threat of terrorism, Ban ki moon remarked on Osama bin Laden's death on 1 May

37 Mike Moore, UN peacekeeping; a glass half empty, half full, The bulletin of the atomic scientists
38 http://www.iciss.ca/menu-en.asp
39 WHAT ANNAN HAS CONTRIBUTED TO WORLD, Ramesh Thakur, Special to the Daily Yomiuri, 26 December 2006
40 Annan chides US in final speech, Tuesday, 12 December 2006, BBC News

2011 as a 'watershed' moment in the fight against global terrorism41. But as the apparent threat of terrorism faded into middle background, the rebellions plaguing the Middle Eastern (in Libya and Egypt for instance) countries are still to reach a peaceful resolutions. Ban ki moons efforts, in his capacity as SG, are still to be gauged in these aspects.

The conditions in which the United Nations organisation was created are not akin to the circumstances of later decades in which it was tested. Being a body mainly responsible for preventing another war of catastrophic proportions like World war II from being triggered in future, this rudimentary goal, albeit intact, is not by any means the only or the paramount objective it seeks to achieve now. With the collapse of the Westphalian system of state sovereignty and the rise of internationalism, in theory and reality, has no doubt ushered in a new era with new politics; one where supranationalities and their top administrative heads refuse to be subjugated to a merely advisory position as they have emerged as respectable political players. Against the background of these present realities, when we assess the importance of Secretary General, not only do we learn about its theoretical importance in an academic subject but also its practical consequence in shaping (or not shaping) the new order of world politics. A secretary general now aims not only to prevent war and thus correspondingly maintain stability, but also to emerge as an uninfluenced, unprejudiced institution for all. The dimensions of humanitarian intervention and its legal significance and the collective working towards social and economic projects (as we see in the example of Kofi Annan 'have added more weight to the office as his range of issues to wrestle has considerably increased. But it must also be recognised simultaneously the inherent weaknesses of such an international system must be blamed when a finger is pointed at Secretary General. Though when the office was created it was to be independent and autonomous, but it has nevertheless not been untarnished as I have through the course of my essay showed.

41 http://preview.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-02/un-security-council-ban-ki-moon- welcome-bin-laden-s-death.html


Anthony Gaglione, United Nations Under Trygve Lie, 1945-1953 , Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc
Lars Barentzen, "The Paidomazoma and the Queen's Camps", By Ole Langwitz Smith
Rivlin, Benjamin. "The Changing International Political Climate and the Secretary-General." The Challenging Role of the UN Secretary-General: Making "The Most Impossible Job in the World" Possible, Ed. Benjamin Rivlin and Leon Gordenker. London; Praeger, 1993.
Schwebel, Stephen M. (Stephen Myron). The Secretary-General of the United Nations: his political powers and practice. Cambridge, 1950.
Political Science Quarterly ,Vol. 106, No. 4 (Winter, 1991-1992), pp. 728-729
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1995
Fredrik Logevall. Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999
Robert W. Cox, "The Executive Head; An Essay on Leadership in International Organization," International Organization, Vol. 23, No.2 (Winter 1969): 205.

Scott, George (1973). The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations. London: Hutchinson & Co LTD
Political Science Quarterly Vol. 60, No. 3, Sep. 1945
Political Science Quarterly Vol. 60, No. 3, Sep. 1945
Kent J. Kille, Leadership and Influence in the United Nations: A Comparative Analysis of the Secretaries-General, (Ph.D. diss., The Ohio State University, 2000): 6.
Robert W. Cox, "The Executive Head; An Essay on Leadership in International Organization," International Organization, Vol. 23, No.2 (Winter 1969): 205.
Benjamin Rivlin, "The Changing International Political Climate and the Secretary-General," in The Challenging Role of the UN Secretary-General: Making "The Most Impossible Job in the World" Possible, ed. Benjamin Rivlin and Leon Gordenker (London; Praeger, 1993): p.17.
Global Governance 9 (2003) pg 441-458
Schwebel, The Secretary General of the UN, p.94
Time , Milestones, Jan 10, 1969
Lars Barentzen, "The Paidomazoma and the Queen's Camps ",pg 135-136
Stanley Melsler, The Atlantic Monthly Press, p.57
United Nations Under Trygve Lie, 1945-1953
Cordier and Foote, Vol 2, pg 56
Raymond B. Fosdick, The League and the United Nations: the Six Secretaries-General (Connecticut,
1972): p.132
The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4, Oct., 1962, Charles Henry Alexandrowicz, The Secretary-General of the United Nations
EDWARD NEWMAN, GLOBAL DIALOGUE Volume 2 , Number 2 , Spring 2000—The United Nations: Reform and Renewal
A. Wa l t e r d o r n a n d r o b e rt p a u k, Unsung Mediator: U Thant and The Cuban Missile Crisis, the journal of the society for historians of American foreign relations
Gertrude Samuels, "The Meditation of U Thant," New York Times Magazine, December
13, 1964, 115.
U Thant : the search for peace / June Bingham , first edition, New York, Knopf, 1966.
xxii, 300, vii p. map, ports. 22 cm.
Fredrik Logevall. Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, New York in 2003
Oxford Dictionary of Political Biography: U Thant, (b. Pantanaw, 22 Jan. 1907; d. 25 Nov. 1974)
The men who ruled the world , Saturday, 14 December 1996, The independent
Sheathing the sword: The UN secretary general and the prevention of international conflict by Thomas E. Boudreau. Wetsport, CT ,greenwood press, 1991
Leon Gordenker, Political Science Quarterly ,Vol. 106, No. 4 (Winter, 1991-1992), pp. 728-729

Profile: Boutros Boutros Ghali, Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, BBC News
Phatom Forces, Diminished Dreams, by Richard Longworth, The bulletin of atomic scientists.

Lihat lebih banyak...


Copyright © 2017 DATOSPDF Inc.