Analysis Brief

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Prepared by: Mary Crane, Editorial Coordinator
January 3, 2006


With UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan due to step down at the end of 2006, the next year will be a time of reflection for the world body and its attempts at reform. Annan’s own reform plans were watered down at last September’s World Summit. Now U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton is planning to start the new year by reviving stalled reform efforts, he told the Washington Post, beginning with a push to get guaranteed seats for the Security Council’s five major powers on a new UN human rights council (New York Times). Annan has made the new council a top priority for his last year in office (UN News Center) to redeem UN credibility. Under Annan’s watch, the UN has been charged with scandal and mismanagement of the oil-for-food program in Iraq; abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the failure to act against violence committed in Darfur. But Annan’s UN has also made real progress in other areas, such as its investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (al-Jazeera) and its invaluable coordinating role for an international response to last year’s tsunami in southeast Asia (Foreign Policy). Our CFR Background Q&A looks at UN reforms; CFR Fellow Lee Feinstein writes in the National Interest there is an “improbable consensus” emerging on the UN; and a congressionally mandated report by USIP outlines the relationship between American interests and UN reform.