Monday, March 21, 2005

Annan to Propose Reforms Today: Human Rights Commission to be Scrapped

Kofi Annan is scheduled to announce in a talk to the General Assembly today that he will push for major reform at the UN, including replacing the HR Commission with a HR council, expanding membership of the Security Council from 15 to 24, making troops serving UN missions accountable for their crimes, redefining terrorism and adopting an agressive nonproliferation system. I will blog more on each of these separate points after I have read the entire release. But I have a couple of initial reactions. I am not as optimistic as Annan and Julian that there is currently any shared understanding of "terrorism" such that the entire UN membership can sign on to Annan's proposed definition of terrorism, which he adopted from the recommendation of the Panel on Threats, Challenge and Change. (For a round-up of critiques -- some arguing the proposed definition is too broad, some that it is too narrow -- see this discussion in the latest ASIL newsletter.) As to Security Council membership, the devil is in the details. Will there be an additional permanent member with a veto? Or two with rotating membership? For now, I think it appropriate to recognize the boldness and seriousness of Annan's plan; this is the most ambitious reform program ever put forth in the history of the UN. Stay tuned.