Enhancing U.S. Leadership at the United Nations

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

U.S. influence at the United Nations is low but can be improved, concludes this report of a bipartisan Task Force led by two highly regarded foreign policy experts, Republican Representative David Dreier and former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton. It calls for a new strategy—building a democratic coalition of UN members—to better advance American interests and values with three key goals in mind: supporting democracy and democratic principles throughout the world; advancing human rights; and fighting terrorism.

In its report, the independent Task Force finds the United States is often outmaneuvered at the United Nations by a small but skillful group of repressive regimes. The Task Force commends a good deal of the UN’s essential work on refugee, health, and poverty issues but finds that a number of UN bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission, have produced decidedly mixed or even negative results.

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International Organizations


To be more effective, the United States should engage in more outreach at the United Nations to create a coalition of like-minded democratic states (which now make up more than 60 percent of the UN membership) and establish multiparty democracy as a basic human right. The task force calls for the reform of the UN Human Rights Commission to ensure it focuses on the world's most egregious violations, many of which now regularly escape investigation and censure. Rather than debating definitions of terrorism, the report urges the United States to focus on acts that are already accepted in twelve different treaties as terrorist activities. The report recommends that the United States should not tolerate any definition that excludes or exculpates such obvious terrorist acts as suicide bombings that target civilians.

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International Organizations


Task Force Members

Task Force Members:

RICHARD V. ALLEN, senior counselor, Apco Worldwide; national security adviser to President Reagan.

J. BRIAN ATWOOD, dean, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development in the Clinton Administration.

THOMAS CAROTHERS, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

FELICE D. GAER, director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.

SCOTT HORTON, partner, Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler.

MAX M. KAMPELMAN, chairman emeritus, Freedom House; former ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

PENN KEMBLE, senior scholar, Freedom House; former head of the U.S. Information Agency.

JEFFREY LAURENTI, executive director of policy studies, United Nations Association of the United States.

JOHN NORTON MOORE, professor of law, University of Virginia School of Law.

JOSHUA MURAVCHIK, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

JEREMY RABKIN, professor, department of government, Cornell University.

RICHARD SCHIFTER, chair, International Affairs Commission of the American Jewish Committee; former U.S. deputy representative in the U.N. Security Council.

SARAH SEWALL, program director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University; former deputy assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.

NINA SHEA, director, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House.

NANCY E. SODERBERG, vice president for multilateral affairs, International Crisis Group; former deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs.

JOANNA WESCHLER, Human Rights Watch representative at the United Nations; former activist in Poland's "Solidarity" movement.

KENNETH WOLLACK, president, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

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