CIAO DATE: 06/06
Volume XL, No. 4 (October - December 2005)
OpinionsThe Millennium Summit and UN Reform
Summit Asymmetry: The United States and UN Reform
Far from bypassing the political chokepoints that impede bold action at the United Nations, the 2005 world summit on security and development produced only modest progress on the Secretary General's reform agenda. The United States in particular approached the summit with considerable diffidence, not sure of what it really needed in the way of structural UN reform and fearful of its linkage in multilateral negotiations to the unwelcome security and development agendas of others. With Washington's UN debate focused primarily on the Human Rights Commission and Oil-for-Food, there was comparatively little convergence of interests with its partners - and considerable confrontation.
UN Reform: A Test of European Leadership
Although the outcome of the UN summit was considered disappointing by many, it must not be assessed on its own but seen in perspective as only one step in a long and continuous process. More realistically, while the result was insufficient in some sectors - disarmament and non-proliferation - it should be seen as a success in others - peace-building, human rights, protecting populations and the role of regional organisations. More importantly, it is generally acknowledged that the European Union was the driving force behind progress in those areas. By offering the most comprehensive and balanced platform, it was able to act as a bridge-builder to shape consensus. This large-scale diplomatic lobbying by the EU must be seen as a significant step forward from its traditional practice of a declaratory external presence.
The European Dimension of the UN Security Council Membership Debate
The implications for the UN of a continued stalemate over how to restructure the UNSC are serious. It may well continue without collapse or even existential crisis, but its place as the central public forum of international politics will slowly, imperceptibly, degrade. There are three possible scenarios for the future development of the debate on reform of the UNSC and the European place within it. The first two involve prolonged stalemate or a sharpening of contradictions as a result of it, producing crisis, with the UNSC either falling apart, or dramatically reconstituted. The third is some kind of deal on the basis of a combination of the two principles of regional/continental representation and revolving membership. The existing European members of the UNSC need to accept that the issue of changing membership has wide ramifications for their own allies and partners, as well as for the wider international system, while idealists who still dream about a single European seat need to accept that this possibility has to be put on ice at least until 2020.
The UN Security Council Needs Fewer Europeans and More Europe
With UNSC reform stalled, ways must be explored to heal the internal wounds and reshape the EU and the international debate. Two key points must be kept in mind: a more representative UNSC need not be larger, and "more Europe" in the Security Council need not entail more European members, either permanent or re-eligible. Currently, European membership on the UNSC amounts to one-third of the entire body - hardly proportional to its share of the planet's population. With a sensational coup in terms of "public diplomacy", Europe could "sacrifice" one of its current non-permanent seats to show that it is serious and consistent about "effective multilateralism", efficiency and effectiveness, and by leaving that seat to either the Asian or the African grouping it could prove that it is serious about fair representation as well.
Issuing Union Bonds to Finance the Lisbon Agenda
The Euro area has been going through a long economic downturn since the launching of Monetary Union. This has compounded the widespread Euroscepticism confirmed by the "nos" in the French and Dutch referendums on ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. The Lisbon Agenda was agreed upon in 2000 as a way to boosts Europe's economic growth and dispell some of this scepticism. Yet its implementation has not been possible at the national level due to the constraints of the Stability and Growth Pact nor at the European level, given the small size of the budget and the member states' unwillingness to increase their contributions. The only solution is for the Euro area to finance the expenditures required by the Lisbon Strategy through the emission of Union bonds.
For a Core Europe in an Open Union
The famous Austrian general, Radetzky, jotted down in his diary that "the noble idea of a united Europe, the urgency of which is before our eyes", runs the risk of not being put into practice because "Europe is divided as never before". Almost 150 years later, is Europe still in the same position? There are two possible scenarios for exiting the current European crisis and moving toward union. One is to freeze all further enlargement of the Union, at least for the foreseeable future - and to digest what has already been achieved and put the house in order. The other envisions going ahead with the planned enlargements and perhaps even those proposed for the future while at the same time creating more closely integrated groups within the Union. The latter, focussing Europe's more specific and eminent personality in a core-Europe that is not only political and economic, but in some ways also civil and cultural, with more precisely defined borders could exorcise the people's sense of confusion which seems to be contributing to their estrangement from community institutions.
The Leadership Deficit in Europe
Europe has entered a period of transition of its leaders. Most of the current political leadership of Europe is either weak or on its way out of power. This is occurring at the end of an annus horribilis in which the European Project suffered a number of self-inflicted wounds and is left wondering about its future. Will this period of a leadership vacuum be replaced by an era of a new type of collaborative leadership, or will much of Europe yield to the temptation of charismatic and populist figures who will only deepen the current leadership deficit? What is needed is a longer-term approach to the definition of effective leadership rather than the short-term electoral-cycle-oriented one favouring "clever" leadership. The new generation of European leaders will have to recommit to the European dream. They will have to avoid the easy temptation to bash Brussels, blaming the domestic problems of their nations on Europe and they will have to find ways to create more transparent and effective links between their publics and the EU.
Will the W Factor Change the World Bank's Development Agenda?
For the moment, there is little on which to base an assessment of the new World Bank presidency. But there are two major problem areas in which Wolfowitz will have to intervene and qualify himself. The first is the type of approach that the Bank will adopt in relation to the new international agenda on development cooperation. In the wake of 9/11, the new development agenda has become increasingly intertwined and at times overlapping with the security agenda, with the risk of subordinating the former to the latter. The second is the fundamental issue of the Bank's institutional mission and organisational set-up, whether it should be more of a bank or a development agency, directed at fostering the economic development of the emerging countries or combating poverty and sustaining the poorer countries. Wolfowitz will be under pressure to come up with a credible solution to the World Bank's problems of ambiguity, institutional incoherence and difficulties in translating its strategic guidelines into operational realities.
The New World Bank Presidency: Waiting for the Wolf to Bite
In the second half of the nineties, the World Bank acknowledged that development policy should be based on evidence and started developing tools and methods to analyse what policies are needed to reduce poverty. More recently, however, it started to abandon reforms enhancing sustainability, ownership and public participation, drawing back progressively toward its core business of lending for infrastructure and deep macro-economic reforms. In the absence of clear indications as to what road the new president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, plans to take, civil society will be monitoring the outcome of all those key multi-stakeholder processes still pending in which it and and other development actors have been deeply involved in the last ten years. Three important areas are analysis of poverty and social impact of the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategies, actions following publication of the report by the World Commission on Dams, and strategies based on the findings of the Extractive Industry Review.
Book Review and Notes
American Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century
IAI Library Notes