The document that diplomats have agreed upon to reform the United Nations is coming under sharp criticism in some quarters and the United States is getting much of the blame. Critics say the reform measures have been watered down and scaled back.
One of those critics is Emira Woods, co-director of the Foreign Policy in Focus program at the Institute for Policy Studies. From New York, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about efforts to reform the United Nations.
She says, “We had a historic opportunity here with the greatest number of world leaders coming together as had ever happened in history. At the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, there was an incredible moment to set a new course for international relations for the world community to function for international legal order. That opportunity has been lost. You have had mainly one government, the United States, under the Bush administration and represented by (UN Ambassador) John Bolton, derailing a process that has been underway for quite some time now.”
Ms. Woods says among the issues the US has opposed is the International Criminal Court, which she says is being used to prosecute genocide crimes in Darfur. Critics of the ICC say it is an attempt to try to control US foreign policy with threats of prosecution over possible unilateral actions by the United States. Also, regarding Darfur, the Bush administration called events in western Sudan genocide. Ms. Woods says, “One year ago today, George Bush used the term genocide. He called it a genocide and he did nothing. Other than call it a genocide there was no action from the US to help protect civilians. What we’re saying is there are opportunities for the world community to do something to protect lives…It is not that the world community is trying to dictate US foreign policy. It is that as a world, we have to set forward priorities. And our priorities must be people.”
The United States is a very generous nation in times of need, often being the biggest donor when UN agencies issue emergency appeals. However, the Institute for Foreign Policy official says the United States only contributes a very small part of its economy to foreign aid.
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