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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dr. Gingrich: Wise Prescriptions - New York Times

Dr. Gingrich: Wise Prescriptions - New York Times The New York Times
June 16, 2005
Dr. Gingrich: Wise Prescriptions

A bipartisan, Congressionally mandated task force headed by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, has presented a clear statement of America's national interest in a revived and effective United Nations. Their balanced and thoughtful report, prepared over six months, features an unsparing analysis of the U.N.'s current problems and weaknesses. It also offers constructive recommendations on mobilizing Washington's powerful influence to promote urgent and necessary reforms, including some already proposed by the U.N. itself.

Lawmakers should take the time to at least thumb through this report, especially those who have been demanding Secretary General Kofi Annan's resignation, supporting the ill-conceived nomination of John Bolton as the United States ambassador to the United Nations and backing the latest benighted attempt to withhold America's legally obligated dues.

The task force report offers useful proposals on restraining nuclear and other weapons proliferation, and on peacekeeping and peace-building, human rights, economic development, and strengthening the U.N.'s badly discredited management systems. It offers more than 100 specific recommendations, and while we do not agree with every one, we can readily endorse most of them.

The most important include the creation of an independent audit and oversight board, more militarily robust peacekeeping operations, strengthened access and inspections rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies monitoring the proliferation of unconventional weapons, and stronger cooperation between the United Nations and the World Bank.

It also usefully calls for stronger measures to prevent and punish sexual abuse by peacekeepers; enhanced protection for whistle-blowers; American leadership in preventing genocide, starting with Darfur; and United States support for regional war crimes tribunals and truth commissions.

Along with its deserved criticism of U.N. problems, the Gingrich-Mitchell report refreshingly notes that many of the charges commonly leveled against the United Nations - for example, its failure to halt genocide and other threats to humanity and peace - should more properly be directed against those member states that blocked or undermined effective international action.

It also takes note of the ambitious reform agenda proposed earlier this year by Mr. Annan and specifically embraces some of its ideas, like replacing the morally bankrupt Human Rights Commission with a more credible Human Rights Council and creating a new peace-building commission to follow up on the work of peacekeeping missions.

When a United Nations summit meeting convenes in New York this summer to discuss and build on the secretary general's proposals, the United States should take a leading role. As the Gingrich-Mitchell report correctly notes, the goals and principles of the charter "embody and reflect" American interests today as much as they did when the United States played the leading role in founding the United Nations 60 years ago.

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