BAN KI-MOON PUTS ON KOFI ANNANíS HEAVY CROWN


10.01.07
Moscow. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev)

South Korean former Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon found out how hard his new job was going to be as soon as he officially assumed the position of the UN Secretary-General in early January. He had to deal with the crisis in Somalia, where several countries were making a poorly orchestrated attempt to eliminate the African counterpart of the Afghan Taliban, and to help a legal government assert its power.

But when EU Foreign Minister Xavier Solana suggested sending UN peacekeepers to Somalia, it transpired that the United Nations nominally controls up to 100,000 peacekeeping troops in 19 hotspots. There is no end to those who would like to invite the blue helmets.

In his first days in office, Ban Ki-moon realized that the main result of his predecessorís 10- year rule was a sharp increase in the demand for the UN. This is good news. The bad news is that it is an axiom that the UN is too weak to parry this challenge.

It is no use trying to guess whether Ban Ki-moon will be a match for Kofi Annan, because he will have to be more influential. He will have to wear a heavy crown as the leader of a supranational organization. In theory, its law supersedes the national legislations of its members, and many will have to face this reality.

The contradictions within the UN which became obvious under Annan have not disappeared. Up to this day, the overwhelming majority of its 194 members believe that the UN exists in order to restrict the influence of a few great powers. The minority is of the opposite opinion. It is the majority that endorses the UN budget and without which the Secretary-General can do nothing. On the other hand, under the UN Charter, the Secretary-General can do little without the consent of all the great powers represented in the Security Council. Many of these great powers do not want anyone to limit their autocracy, and there were repeated attempts not only to get rid of Kofi Annan, but also to discredit the UN as a whole. Today, many would like to present the UN as an ineffective, corrupt, and redundant organization. The first point is almost true; the second is very relative, while the third is an outright lie.

The Russian Presidency of the Security Council since the start of this year has also created quite a stir of interest in the potentialities of different UN forces. The Russian mission has been showered with questions Ė how would Moscow use this situation? How would it help its partners? But the Presidency gives Russia only 30 days for exerting a minor influence on the agenda. One can imagine what kind of pressure is exerted on Ban Ki-moon, who will be in a much more powerful position for at least five years.

For the time being, it is not yet clear how Ban Ki-moon will display his brilliant diplomatic skills in this capacity. His first days in office have revealed that he has a good command of English, and is not so fluent in French; sometimes he visits a cafeteria on the first floor like an ordinary employee; and for the first time since 1950, when the position of Secretary-General was established, his residence will undergo capital renovation. But these are the last things to interest people who want the world order to be fairer than it is now. The answers to the main questions will take a very long time. -0-