Home > Australia, Politics, United Nations > >What will Australia’s position on UN corruption be now that we want to get a seat on the Security Council?

>What will Australia’s position on UN corruption be now that we want to get a seat on the Security Council?

>Australia’s new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has announced a policy of closer cooperation with the United Nations, which includes a plan to be appointed to the UN Security Council in 2013-14. As has been highlighted by others, it’s going to take a change of approach to foreign policy from the muscular, moral high ground position taken by the previous government to one of appeasement and ignoring human rights abuses by nations (and voting blocs) from whom we need votes.

Kevin Rudd has take a step down this path by embracing China in what can only be described as a most sycophantic way while poking the world’s largest democracy, India, and our largest trading partner and strong democracy, Japan, in the eye.

Australia’s most recent stint on the Security Council was 20 years ago. We got there with the support of African nations to which we had been giving significant foreign aid for many years. To people who don’t understand how the world works – if you want to get anywhere in the UN then you need to buy the votes of third world countries in order to get their support because it’s one country, one vote at the UN and the fact that the world’s most powerful nation – the US – and a busted arse dictatorship like Cuba both have equal weight is a travesty that democratic nations need to address in order to make the UN more accountable and results-focused.

The WSJ has an opinion piece on the recent resignation of Mark Wallace as US Ambassador to the UN. Will Australia’s new government take a strong position against UN corruption and risk its Security Council chances or simply go with the flow because it’s too big to tackle?

More than one American has tried to make the United Nations live up to its original ideals — Pat Moynihan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, John Bolton. We’d add to that distinguished list the name of Mark Wallace, an ambassador to the U.S. mission at Turtle Bay who resigned yesterday having tried for two years to make the U.N. a more transparent place.

Mr. Wallace’s biggest contribution was exposing the fraud and corruption in U.N. Development Program operations in North Korea. In the wake of his investigation, the then-new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was shocked enough to order an external audit of all U.N. programs. It didn’t take long for Mr. Ban to backtrack on the extent of his original order, but his subsequent probe of the UNDP in North Korea confirmed Mr. Wallace’s findings, as did a Congressional investigation.

Along the way, Mr. Wallace faced hostility from bureaucrats who don’t think the country that provides nearly a quarter of the U.N. budget should demand more accountability. The UNDP’s shoddy oversight of its North Korea operations is rightly seen as a wake-up call for better governance throughout the U.N. system. Mr. Wallace has lobbied for making internal audits, now secret, available to all member states. He also wants the U.N. to make more information, especially on budgets, available to the general public. And he has pushed for a more effective Ethics Office and protection of whistleblowers.

His record is also a lesson to those American officials who think their obligation is merely to get along at these international institutions. Mr. Wallace was unpopular with certain high State Department officials, who didn’t want to risk their engagement with Pyongyang over corruption. He’s the one who had it right.

How can the UN be so corrupt when it has a very left-wing agenda and management structure? Aren’t those on the left meant to be the holier-than-though, compassionate crowd?

(Nothing Follows)

  1. April 2, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    >Silly old me, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what PM Rudd’s agenda is in tipping his hand about a Security Council seat so early in the piece ?As has been widely noted, to get the seat a lot of support has to be curried with sorry-ass tinpot dictatorships around the place who collectively have the voting power.Who walks into a used car lot and announces at the top of their lungs that they are ‘here to buy a car’ ??It is like asking to be taken down and doubtless the foreign services in numerous countries are drawing up wish lists for when Australian ambassadors come calling looking for votes. Which is just natural self interest.Is Rudd gormless – he doesn’t look dumb ?Surely he can’t believe that all these countries will just sign up because we are good blokes – Steve Irwin and all that Aussie charm ??Does he think having friends in high places like Washington and Beijing will get the arm twisting done by remote control ? I guess the Chinese could ensure a swag of votes for Australia if they wanted to – but at what price ?Or uncharitably – is this a stealth way of changing foreign policy settings and principals by placing the nation in the position of having to make concessions in order to achieve the declared target of a Security Council seat ? Sort of like the Canberra gabfest but using the demands of a stack of foreign leaders to set the foreign policy ?Baffling as to what audience he is actually speaking to with this at present.

  2. April 3, 2008 at 7:24 am

    >Kevo,A UN Security Council seat is hardly a prize worth the effort.I can’t work out why he would shout it from the rooftops. All it tells the thugs and dictators of the world is “Here I am. Bend me over.”If he was really after a UNSC seat then he’d do it quietly using established diplomatic channels.

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