No Progress?

It appears that a potentially catastrophic United Nations shutdown has been averted, and all Benny Avni of the New York Sun can do is lament. Indeed, he seems to be parroting Ambassador Bolton, who told reporters yesterday, “While the expenditure cap is going to come off this week one way or another, it would not be right to conclude from that that we made substantial progress or any progress at all on management reform.” Both Avni, Ambassador Bolton, and others may now look to Congress to impose spending restrictions where the Bush administration would not. And as the mid-term elections loom closer, some conservatives in Congress may take their cues from Bolton and repeat the canard that there has been no progress on reform.

In fact, there has been substantial progress. The Peace Building Commission opened up for business last week to help coordinate post-conflict reconstruction efforts around the globe. Also last week, the New Human Rights Council held its inaugural session in Vienna.

In terms of management reform, there has been a flurry of activity on mandate review. The United States is the driving force behind Secretary General Annan’s call for a review of all mandates more than five years old. This is a complicated task, but so far steady progress has been made. Further, there has been tremendous progress on accountability and oversight at the General Secretariat. The United States was instrumental in establishing a new Ethics Office at the United Nations as well as strengthening the capacity of the Office of Internal Oversight Services.

It is a wonder why Ambassador Bolton would disparage his own good efforts by minimizing this progress.