by Pierre M. Atlas
March 31, 2005
CAPTION: The town hall will be held at the Marian College Civic Theater auditorium at 7 p.m. Tuesday and is free and open to all. It is sponsored by the Stanley Foundation, Americans for Informed Democracy, the Sagamore Institute and the Franciscan Center for Global Studies. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week proposed the most wide-ranging reform of the U.N. since its founding in 1945. On Tuesday evening, Hoosiers can learn more about these reforms and discuss them in a town hall meeting in Indianapolis.
This public conversation on “Reforming the U.N. to Produce a Safer World” will be one installment in an ongoing series of nationwide town halls sponsored by the Stanley Foundation. Bruce Rashkow, director of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, will participate.
Annan’s report, “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security, and Human Rights for All,” recommends major changes to enhance human rights and democratization worldwide, to reduce global poverty and combat major diseases, to increase international security cooperation, and to move the world toward more sustainable development.
One of the report’s four sections is devoted to structural changes to improve efficiency, reduce corruption and provide for more equitable representation on the Security Council. This report will top the agenda at a special U.N. summit in September to be attended by leaders of the 191 member-states, including President Bush.
The U.N. has lost a lot of credibility in recent years. For long-time detractors, the oil-for-food scandal, the refusal to take a harder line against Saddam Hussein’s violations of U.N. resolutions prior to the Iraq war, and the ridiculous sight of Libya chairing the Human Rights Commission only increased their already low opinion of the organization. Many supporters of international law and collective security, on the other hand, were dismayed by the U.N.’s inability to restrain the U.S. from unilaterally launching a war without an internationally recognized provocation.
With its nationwide series, the Stanley Foundation hopes “to identify whether common ground exists on how the United Nations can be reformed to advance U.S. and world security. The town halls put (U.N.) recommendations to a cross-sample of Americans to see if there is consensus among the U.S. public for these reforms.”
Kudos for organizing and moderating the Central Indiana event go to John Clark, senior fellow at The Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a local think tank.
Joining the U.N.’s Rashkow on the town hall panel will be Phebe Marr, a noted historian of modern Iraq and senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace;
William Bradford, professor of law at Indiana University Indianapolis, an expert on the laws of armed conflict and a strong advocate of the Bush Doctrine on pre-emptive war; and Indiana trial lawyer Ed DeLaney, who has extensive legal experience in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and has represented the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in legal proceedings.
This is a critical moment for the United Nations and for U.S.-U.N. relations. In this era of increasing interdependence, the global and the local are intimately connected. No one, Hoosiers included, can afford to live isolated from the world.
Atlas is assistant professor of political science and director of the Franciscan Center for Global Studies at Marian College. Contact him at email@example.com .