The United Nations
Jan 4th 2007 / 2007年1月4日
From The Economist print edition / 来自《经济学人》印刷版
As Ban Ki-moon takes charge at the United Nations, we look at the prospects for this troubled body and for its peacekeeping efforts round the world
ANY new job brings challenges: but none quite like those facing Ban Ki-moon, the quiet Korean who has just become the UN's new secretary-general. Rising nuclear demons in Iran and North Korea, a haemorrhaging wound in Darfur, unending violence in the Middle East, looming environmental disaster, escalating international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of HIV/AIDS. And then there are more parochial concerns, such as the largely unfinished business of the most sweeping attempt at reform in the UN's history. That effort was started by Kofi Annan, who stepped down this week after ten turbulent years at the helm.
Mr Ban now picks up the baton. As a member of a “group without a church”—a Christian organisation that emerged in Japan in the early 20th century, whose adherents make the Gospel a source of inspiration for their private and public life—the UN's first Asian secretary-general in 35 years has described himself as “a man on a mission”, keen to restore trust between member states and the secretariat, between rich and poor countries, and in the discredited organisation itself. He hoped, he joked to journalists last month, that this would not prove a “Mission Impossible”. The world will hope so, too.
如今由潘基文接棒。他是一个“无教堂团体”的成员，该团体为一基督教组织，于20世纪早期在日本出现，其拥护者将福音书（译注：Gospel指的是《圣经•新约》中的《约翰（马太；马可；路加）福音》；也指福音书中的一节）作为私人与公共生活的激励之源。这位联合国的首位亚洲籍秘书长在35年中都将自己形容为“负有使命之人（a man on a mission）”，他极想修补成员国与联合国秘书处之间、富国与穷国之间的互信，重塑世人对于信誉受损的联合国之信任。上个月，他对记者开玩笑说，但愿到头来这“任务不会难于上青天”。想必这世界也希望如此。
Mr Ban says he wants to concentrate on the goals already set for the UN, rather than find “new frontiers to conquer”. That is wise, but frustrating, because the UN's biggest problem is also its most intractable. It lies in the all-powerful Security Council or, more precisely, with its five permanent members. The UN's failure to stop the atrocities in Darfur or the nuclear posturing of Iran and North Korea has stemmed largely from the inability of the so-called P5 to agree on what should be done. If Mr Ban could simply conjure away the P5's extraordinary powers and privileges, which allow any one of them to paralyse the will of the rest of the world, everything, it seems, could be much easier.
When the UN was created in 1945, its founder-nations—the four main victors of the second world war, America, Britain, China and Russia, plus France—allocated to themselves the only five permanent seats, with veto powers, on what was then an 11-seat Security Council. The other members, all elected by the General Assembly, held two-year non-renewable seats without a veto. Since then, the number of the UN's member states has almost quadrupled from 51 to 192, two-thirds of them in the developing world.
Yet apart from the addition of four more non-permanent seats in 1965, membership of the Security Council, the only UN body whose decisions are binding, has remained unchanged. The system is not only undemocratic, anachronistic and unfair, but also—as Paul Kennedy, professor of history at Yale, suggests in his new book, “The Parliament of Man”—outrageous. Yet it cannot be changed without inviting a veto from one of the very nations whose powers might be diminished.
然而，安理会的决议具有约束力，这样的机构在联合国中仅此一个，除了1965年增设4个安理会非常任理事国席位，依然毫无改变。这一体制不民主、不合时宜、也不公平，不仅如此，也如同耶鲁大学历史学教授保尔•肯尼迪在其新书《人之议会》（The Parliament of Man）中所表明的那样——安理会令人无法容忍。然而，这些可能被削弱权力的国家中，只要引来一张否决票，就无法改变安理会的体制了。
Change might well be unwise, too. As Mr Kennedy notes, powerful nations will always be tempted to go their own way. The League of Nations, set up between the two world wars, failed precisely because it was too democratic, too liberal, and toothless. The United States was never a member. Germany and Japan pulled out in 1933, Italy four years later. A different system had to be devised if the potentially isolationist great powers of the post-1945 world were to be kept inside a new world body.
The veto, which America and Russia insisted on as the quid pro quo for their membership of the UN, allows any one of the P5 to block any action brought before the Security Council that it deems contrary to its—or its friends'—interests, without needing to resort to force. If, on the other hand, a country finds itself blocked by a veto (or threatened veto), it can still decide to go it alone, as America did over the invasion of Iraq. Far from being a failure of the UN system, Mr Kennedy argues, this should be seen as the successful operation of a safety valve. Much better to have an obstructionist America on board than a furious one walking out.
Without American involvement the UN would not amount to much, as successive secretary-generals have recognised. Before taking up his new post, Mr Ban made it clear that one of his first tasks would be to forge closer relations with the United States. That pledge is an indication of how poisonous they had become under his predecessor.
Restraining the mighty 抑制强权
The low point came when Washington, ever suspicious of the UN's desire to restrain it, reacted furiously to Mr Annan's purported failure to deliver UN backing for the Iraq war—not in fact his own doing, but the result of divisions on the Security Council. There followed the $64 billion oil-for-food scandal, and reports of UN peacekeepers sexually abusing the people they had been sent to protect. Congress and the American press had a field day, vying with one another to see how much blame they could dump at Mr Annan's door. The arrival of John Bolton as America's ambassador to the UN in August 2005 did not help matters; the two men never got on.
Mr Annan was never in any doubt about the importance of strong American leadership, without which, he said, he saw “no hope of a peaceful and stable future for humanity in this century”. At the same time, he insisted, no nation, however powerful, could hope to tackle today's increasingly global threats and challenges alone. Nor—as he declared pointedly in one of many valedictory speeches last month—could a nation “make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others”. Historically, America had been in the vanguard of the global human-rights movement, Mr Annan noted; but that lead could be maintained only if America remained “true to its principles in the struggle against terror”.
Mr Ban was asked what he thought of such undiplomatic sideswipes at the Bush administration. He replied firmly that they represented Mr Annan's “personal assessment and insight”. South Koreans are used to that sort of thing from Mr Ban; back home, the former diplomat's tendency to duck awkward questions won him the nickname “the slippery eel”.
But he is in an awkward spot. He owes his election as much to the backing of America and China as to his own superbly organised campaign, and dare not offend either of them. At the same time, Mr Ban knows that he cannot be seen to be too cosy with the American superpower. Mr Annan, who also started out with American backing, soon showed his independence. Mr Ban could do the same—especially if, as he claims, he wants to win the trust of the increasingly assertive and obstreperous group of developing countries known as the G77.
但他处于尴尬之境。他选举成功，不仅归功于组织得声势浩大的竞选活动，也有赖于美国与中国的支持，双方不论哪方都得罪不得。同时，潘基文知道，他不能让外界看来与超级大国美国过于亲密。安南也始自美国的支持，不过很快就表现出他的独立姿态了。潘基文可能也是如此，一如他声称的，尤其是如果他想赢得七十七国集团（G77）信任的话，G77是发展中国家组织，如今正越发武断与任性。（译注：G77即Group of Seventy-Seven，七十七国集团，是世界上发展中国家驻联合国外交官所组成的一个非正式集团，前身为“七十五国决策委员会”）
For many years after it was set up, in 1964, to represent the interests on trade and development of 77 poor countries, this group was regarded as a fairly negligible force, unable to agree on anything other than more aid and plumper trade concessions. It is now much bigger—131 countries plus China—and bolder, heartened by the growing oil wealth of some of its members and by deepening divisions, on matters ranging from Kyoto to Iraq, between America and its European partners. The abrasive Mr Bolton, in his 16-month stint at the UN, probably did more than any other single factor to encourage the G77 to get its act together and resist the United States.
Some see the gulf between rich and poor countries as the single most important issue confronting the UN. It is paralysing vital proliferation talks and blocking badly needed reforms. The G77 now sees everything through the distorting lens of the North-South divide. UN management reform? An attempt by rich white countries to gain even more influence over a secretariat already dominated by the North. Greater powers for the secretary-general? A bid to reduce his accountability to the General Assembly, one of the few UN bodies where the developing countries have a controlling voice. The replacement of the assembly's principle of “one country, one vote” by a system of weighted voting based on the size of a country's contributions to the UN? Another attempt at a power-grab by the North. The newly adopted “responsibility to protect” victims of genocide and other atrocities? Hypocritical northerners claiming the right to meddle in the domestic affairs of the South. Even proposals to expand Security Council membership to include more developing countries, which might have been expected to attract G77 support, are opposed on the ground that these would simply strengthen a body that, whatever happens, will remain dominated by four white veto-wielding northerners, plus China.
Kofi's legacy 安南的遗产
Will Mr Ban, who hails from what is now the world's tenth biggest economy (in nominal terms), be able to win the co-operation of the G77 any better than his Ghanaian-born predecessor? Many doubt it. But at least he is making the right noises, announcing that his first foreign trip will be to attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa later this month, and promising to make the Millennium Development Goals one of his top priorities.
潘基文来自如今是世界第十大经济体的国家（按名义上的说法），他与G77的合作能比他加纳生人的前任更好吗？许多人对此存疑。不过，至少他发出了正确的声音，宣布本月晚些时候，他的首个外方行程将出席在亚的斯亚贝巴（译注：埃塞俄比亚首都）举行的非洲联盟峰会，也承诺将千年发展目标（the Millennium Development Goals）列为他优先推动的议题之一。
These goals, adopted in 2000 and regarded by Mr Annan as his proudest legacy, commit world leaders to halving poverty, slashing mortality and illiteracy rates and raising aid levels to 0.7% of GDP by 2015. But as Mr Annan himself has admitted, he leaves the UN with the job “far from done”. Although some encouraging progress has been made, notably on debt relief and HIV/AIDS, the world was “not on track”, he said, to meet many other goals. In Africa, for example, poverty has actually risen over the past decade.
Much else, too, remained undone or unfinished on Mr Annan's watch. The long-awaited reform of the Security Council has been pushed once again onto the back burner. The new Human Rights Council is almost as ineffectual as its discredited predecessor, and is equally stuffed with flagrant human-rights violators. Under Mr Annan, the UN proclaimed a new high-minded “responsibility to protect”; but in Darfur the raping and killing continue unabated. The search for a definition of terrorism has been abandoned; management reform has been blocked. But Mr Annan is not solely, or even chiefly, responsible for these failures. As Mr Bolton himself conceded before stepping down last month, “While it is easy to blame the UN as an institution for some of the problems we confront today, we must recognise that ultimately it is member states that must take action and therefore bear the responsibility.”
In some areas Mr Annan notched up notable achievements. Thanks to an overhaul of the organisation's department of humanitarian affairs and much better co-ordination with NGOs in the field, the UN's once shambolic relief operations are now regarded as second to none. Around 30m people in some 50 countries currently depend on its services for survival. In March a new $500m central emergency relief fund was launched to deliver assistance within hours, rather than months, of an emergency. Another $250m fund, administered by the UN's new intergovernmental Peacebuilding Commission, has been set up to help finance reconstruction in countries emerging from conflict. Sierra Leone and Burundi have been designated as the first two beneficiaries. In return, they will have to produce evidence of good governance.
Peacekeeping, which is not even mentioned in the UN Charter, is another of the organisation's recent success stories. The explosion of civil wars and of ethnic and religious violence at the end of the cold war caught the UN by surprise. It had no standing army, no effective military staff, and very little peacekeeping experience. What troops it managed to muster, mostly from developing countries, were often poorly trained and badly equipped. Peacekeeping mandates from the Security Council tended to be far too restrictive both in scope and numbers. Some terrible mistakes were made: the UN's failure to stop the slaughter in Rwanda and the massacre in Srebrenica continues to haunt it. But over the past five years or so there has been a marked improvement.
A 2005 Rand Corporation study of American and UN peacekeeping operations concluded that the blue-helmet missions were not only cheaper, but had a higher success rate and enjoyed greater international legitimacy. Another Canadian study attributed the dramatic decline in the number of conflicts and battle deaths over the past decade to the “huge increase” in preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping over the same period, “for the most part authorised and mounted by the UN”. Never has the demand for the organisation's peacekeeping services been so great (see article). As the UN's former head of peacekeeping, Mr Annan had a lot of experience in the field. Mr Ban has none.
Indeed, the more people compare the UN's new secretary-general with his predecessor, the glummer they tend to become. Mr Ban is said to be bland, given to platitudes, lacking charisma. Honest, intelligent and diligent he may be (his only hobby is said to be his work), but many fear he is unlikely to provide the strong, inspiring leadership the UN so badly needs. Some even wonder whether America deliberately chose a weak candidate in order to undermine an organisation with which it has always had problems. But the inscrutable Mr Ban replies that, in Asia, a smiling face often hides an inner strength. He could surprise everyone.
Almost since its inception, the UN has been charged with failing to live up to its original high ideals. But big changes in world governance seem possible only after great global upheavals. At other times, the world has to be content with small incremental steps. The UN's new secretary-general, eager to find consensus, might be rather good at those.
Gladwyn Jebb, the British negotiator at the UN's founding conference and later its first (acting) secretary-general, reckoned that its founding fathers had simply aimed too high for “this wicked world”. But as Dag Hammerskjöld, the organisation's third secretary-general, wisely noted: “The UN was not created to take humanity to heaven, but to save it from hell.”
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