Ban’s Backlash?

In the Washington Post today Colum Lynch reports on the developing world’s disquiet with some of Secretary Ban’s early moves to re-organize UN bureaucracy. Apparently, some member states worry that Ban is too “pro-American,” and are suspicious about whom or what is motivating him. Pakistan’s Munir Akram – Chairman of the Third World bloc G-77, and arguably one of the more effective Permanent Representatives in Turtle Bay – gives voice to some of these concerns. “There is always suspicion no matter what the U.S. does because it is such an overwhelmingly powerful player. I think that’s a natural function of being a big power, of being the biggest power.”

Akram may be engaging in pure speculation here, but his point should not be dismissed for it harkens to the climate of mistrust that has torpedoed previous reform efforts. In the year following the September 2005 World Summit – which outlined a broad program of structural reform – a distrustful and polarized atmosphere at Turtle Bay stymied progress on reform. The developing world largely rejected a reform package for fear that it would diminish their influence at the United Nations. If these efforts are to be re-energized, tensions between the developed and developing world must be cooled so that the give-and-take of reform negotiations can proceed toward a more fruitful outcome.

According to this article, it would seem Ban has a tough road ahead. The scars from last year’s reform debates still seem fresh.