Discussion at U looks at U.N. policy

The Americans for Informed Democracy University chapter sponsored the event.

Naomi Scott

The University got a chance to weigh in on the future of the United Nations on Tuesday at Moos Tower in a town hall meeting about recent reforms proposed for the international organization.

Approximately 100 people listened to Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Charlie Brown, a former deputy executive director of Amnesty International, express their hopes and concerns for the United Nations.

Brown said the United Nations has earned a bad reputation in the United States, partly because much of its work takes place “offstage.”

“The U.N. does a lot of things well,” he said. “But not a lot of it makes the nightly news.”

The United Nations knows how to coordinate disaster relief, as it showed in its reaction to the tsunami in Asia, Brown said. It has also been successful in creating a global fund that seeks to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, he said.

Brown said the United Nations needs to be reformed so it can respond to threats posed by the new century. These threats include poverty, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and genocide, he said.

The United States plays an important role in the existence of the United Nations, he said.

“The United States and the United Nations not only need each other,” Brown said, “they cannot succeed without each other.”

Brown went on to criticize President George W. Bush’s nomination of John Bolton as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Bolton once argued against the existence of the United Nations and international law but now says he will strengthen the organization if confirmed, Brown said.

“He has been wavering in his disdain for the institution he is now supposed to represent,” Brown said.

Pickering said this is an important year for reforms in an organization that was formed after World War II and is no longer prepared to deal with 21st century issues.

“This year is the year of the U.N. and the year of U.N. reform,” he said.

Addressing genocide through humanitarian intervention should be of foremost concern to the U.N. Security Council, Pickering said.

Luke Robinson, president of the University chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy, said discussions like Tuesday’s can have a significant effect on the public’s view of international organizations and how these institutions are reformed.

The nonpartisan chapter sponsored the event.

Johnny Liu, an applied economics junior, said the United Nations does not have the authority, power and jurisdiction to address important global concerns.

“The current U.N. is unable to be in charge of the issues right now,” he said.