Annan backs deputy’s call for greater US engagement with UN

Mark Malloch Brown

7 June 2006 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan supports a call by his Deputy for greater United States engagement with the United Nations, a spokesman for the world body said today.

Asked about criticisms by US Ambassador John Bolton regarding Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown’s comments, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the Secretary-General agrees with the thrust of yesterday’s speech.

In his address to the Century Foundation and Center for American Progress Security and Peace Initiative, Mr. Malloch Brown warned that “a moment of truth is coming” since the world’s challenges are growing but the UN’s ability to respond is being weakened without US leadership.

Mr. Malloch Brown praised those US officials who have supported the UN and played leadership roles, but noted that “in recent years, the enormously divisive issue of Iraq and the big stick of financial withholding have come to define an unhappy marriage.”

He pointed out that the US – like all countries – “is today beset by problems that defy national, inside-the-border solutions: climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, migration, the management of the global economy, the internationalization of drugs and crime, the spread of diseases such as HIV and avian flu,” adding that: “Security has gone global, and no country can afford to neglect the global institutions needed to manage it.”

Responding to questions on Ambassador Bolton’s reaction, Mr. Dujarric said that it was not an anti-US speech, but rather one that argued for greater US engagement in the United Nations, since it says that the United Nations cannot work without US engagement and leadership and UN reform cannot happen without the United States.

Mr. Malloch Brown, speaking directly to the press today, said he had made his speech out of concern for the current situation. “I felt this was something very important to say and to say now because we are in crisis,” he said, noting that he had been criticized by the G-77, a caucus of developing countries, in recent months for telling them that “they too need to get their house in order and engage around this reform agenda.”

Since it takes “two sides to make a bargain,” Mr. Malloch Brown said it had been important “to deliver that call to my American friends.” The appeal, he emphasized, was not anti-US. “It was intended as a very pro-US speech in that its central point was an appeal for a more consistent public leadership by the United States in the United Nations.”

He said he was urging those concerned to “engage here, engage consistently, and go out and engage with the American public to say the UN matters.”

Stressing the critical nature of the current juncture, he said, “This Organization is slipping towards a very serious crisis: we have a budget cap that expires at the end of June, we have two sides to the debate talking past each other, not engaging in finding solutions.”

Mr. Malloch Brown emphasized that his intention was to be constructive and not partisan. “It was a speech addressed to foreign policy makers and political leaders to say, ‘Look, both parties, you’re going to need us more than ever. Therefore you have to engage to help make this institution a better institution. And you need to engage, if I dare say so, with your own public opinion to explain better why the UN matters to American interests.’”

“That was the message, and it was not intended to be either partisan or provocative.”

Related Stories






In-depth Interviews