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Subject: Boutros Boutros Ghali
From: Joe Vise 
Date: 	Tue, 2 Jul 1996 17:18:21 -0400

     "Why the Fight Over Boutros Boutros-Ghali Matters"
      Globe & Mail, 24/6/96 

   by Douglas Roche (Edmonton), who as former Canadian Ambassador for 
   disarmament served at the United Nations, was Chairman of the Canadian 
   Committee for the 50th Anniversary of the UN.

   The most important war in the world at the moment is between the United 
States and United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The Americans' unilateral decision to block a second term for the UN 
chief and Mr. Boutros-Ghali's decision not to return quietly to his 
Egyptian homeland is an explosive situation, and points to a far deeper 
problem involving the future of the United Nations.

   The real issue is not the personality of the prickly Mr. Boutros-Ghali, 
who has not been afraid to confront the United States, but whether the 
international decision-making processes of the coming millennium will 
centre around the United Nations or the American government.  In short, 
who will be in charge of managing the growing list of global problems - 
the arms trade, nuclear weapons, massive poverty, environmental destruction,
attacks on human rights - that affect the security of every person on Earth?

   The issue for the Secretary-General revolves around the determination of 
the five permanent members of the Security Council (the U.S., Russia, 
the United Kingdom, France, and China) to maintain their "super-nation" 
status in the face of the modernization of dozens of other nations.  
In this effort, the U.S. is at the forefront.

   For the past two decades, the UN has been under increasing attack from 
American right-wing elements who have (correctly) understood that the UN 
threatens the old power balance.  A new international economic order, 
the elimination of nuclear weapons, a World Court with teeth - these UN 
goals are hated by powerful interests who continue to fight the  
"horizontalization" of international leadership: the exertion of a 
stronger claim to leadership by a growing number of countries.  They 
are maintaining economic and political control of the world agenda as 

   Mr. Boutros-Ghali has threatened these vested interests by his aggressive 
style of leadership, symbolized by two key documents of his tenure. The first, 
An Agenda for Peace, stressed the need for new and improved procedures for 
preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building.  
The measures he recommended would make the UN as a whole an even more 
powerful instrument.

   The second, An Agenda for Development, set out the route to "an integrated 
approach to economic and social development."  To overcome the financial 
crisis of the UN (caused by the failure of the U.S. and some other important 
states to pay their dues), he proposed new sources of revenue, such as a 
fee on speculative international currency transactions, a levy on fossil fuel 
in all countries, transfer to the UN of a portion of the expected decline in 
military expenditures, and a tax on international travel.  Such measures 
would, of course, make the UN less dependent on the major  states.

   It is not because Mr. Boutros-Ghali has failed that the United States 
now opposes him; it is because he has succeeded all too well in raising 
the importance of the UN around the world. The UN system, building on 50 
years of accomplishments (for which it has won the Nobel Peace Prize five 
times), represents a new model of co-existence among the various cultures, 
races and religious spheres within a single interconnected civilization.

   The UN is not the new saviour of humanity, but it provides the framework 
for a  disparate world to sort out its problems.  The global strategies 
it advances for disarmament, development, environmental protection and 
the guaranteeing of human rights contribute profoundly to global security.

   All this is, of course, greater than the career status of one person.  
In a knock-down battle, the chances of Mr. Boutros-Ghali overcoming the U.S. 
veto are almost nil.  Reform of the UN, including changing the nature of the 
veto wielded by the five permanent members, is in the works, but it will not 
save Mr. Boutros-Ghali in this instance.  He is, by determinedly pursuing a 
second term in the face of U.S. opposition, apparently offering himself up as 
a sacrificial goat to make the point that the world collectively should  
decide, not one state alone, who should be the UN Secretary-General.

   I fear the fight will turn ugly and emotional, with calls around the world 
for the UN to get out of the United States.  The plain fact is that for the 
foreseeable future, it is hopeless to expect an effective UN without the 
Americans' involvement.  The Clinton administration may well understand that 
the only way to keep the U.S.  in the United Nations is to show the 
reactionary elements in Congress that a new Western-backed leader is taking 
over.  Many UN reformists will have to swallow hard to accept this.

   The Canadian government understands these nuances well.  That's why the 
government's support for Mr. Boutros-Ghali (a sort of first-ballot 
commitment) has been tepid. The way is becoming clear for Canada to advance 
the candidacy of Maurice Strong, the pre-eminent Canadian internationalist, 
who is now based at the U.S.-dominated World Bank in Washington, will likely 
have the support of Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore.  But in the 
coming wide-open race, factors of gender and geography will play crucial 
roles in creating the short list.  Robert Muller, the former UN officer who 
has already announced his candidacy, stands for global peace, justice and 
development, and deserves to be on the short list also.

   In the end, a viable and vibrant future of the United Nations must 
triumph over personalities.