UN reform legislation underscores House concerns
This past week, the House of Representatives took up debate on a bill introduced by Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde. Hyde, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, had introduced the United Nations (UN) Reform Act of 2005 in large part as the result of a recent chain of events involving the UN, its day-to-day operations, and the recent allegations of improper activity by members of its international peacekeeping forces.
In introducing this bill, Chairman Hyde wanted to present an opportunity for an honest and thorough debate on the difficulties, which have plagued the UN in recent months, as well as on the continuing role of the United States in this organization.
I certainly applaud the chairman for his leadership on this bill, particularly since I, too, have recently had my own concerns regarding the administration and role of the UN. In a column I wrote in December 2004 I focused particular attention on the ongoing oil-for-food controversy and the allegations that representatives of UN-member nations and individuals with direct ties to the UN were heavily involved in this scheme.
During my two decades in public service, both as a staffer to former Congressman Sonny Callahan and now as representative for Alabama's First District, I have watched with concern as the UN has continued to move further off the course designated for it when it was first chartered on Oct. 24, 1945. At that time, the UN was designed to be an organization dedicated to promotion of global peace and humanitarian efforts. In contrast to the billions of dollars allocated on an annual basis by the organization's member nations, one of the earliest amounts of money allocated for the UN – used for the construction of its headquarters in New York – consisted not of a government loan but, instead, a private, $8.5 million donation from John D. Rockefeller.
Initial plans drafted in 1945 for a UN military force for use by the Security Council were quickly dropped, resulting in the current system of troops from member nations being sent as participants in joint UN peacekeeping forces.
These changes, of course, occurred long before the controversy facing the organization today. An organization that was once a beacon of hope for a peaceful, unified world in the aftermath of World War II has now become a lightning rod for a series of investigations into corruption.
The debate leading up to the vote on this bill (which passed 221-184) gave me the opportunity to consider all points of view on the UN and the reform measures this legislation included. The UN Reform Act lays out in very specific language that the UN risks losing much of its manpower support and funding from the United States if certain reform measures are not undertaken.
These would include: