UN's birthday letdown

There were failures of solidarity and generosity in the haggling that produced the UN summit document world leaders approved on the final day of the New York gathering celebrating the organization's 60th birthday.

The Bush administration and its UN ambassador -- the proudly undiplomatic John Bolton -- must take the blame for a shameful refusal to accept specific goals and timetables for eradicating extreme poverty and fighting preventable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Other governments, including Iran, Syria, Cuba, Egypt, and Pakistan, are to blame for thwarting the efforts of Secretary General Kofi Annan to reform the UN by conferring needed decision-making authority in the secretary general.

In blocking progress, member states were doing what too many of them have done too often at the UN: defending the narrowest possible conception of their national interest at the expense of a common interest.

Bolton and his supervisors were acting on a doctrinal hostility to any gesture that might be construed as subordinating US national sovereignty to foreigners. The governments that opposed Annan's UN reform plans were seeking to preserve their limited naysaying powers as members of the UN General Assembly.

[Excerpts of article in Boston Globe]

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