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"CEO of the world"?

International | Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali seeks to expand the role of the United Nations and increase his own power

Issue: "Church inside the state," Oct. 12, 1996

President Clinton is not the only chief executive pushing for reelection. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who won his first term as UN secretary general by pledging not to seek a second one, is seeking a second term. His pledge was supposed to leave him free to make the radical reforms-including budget-cutting-the UN needed. He did not make those reforms; in fact, UN spending worldwide went up 20 percent during his administration, and the White House is opposing his reelection. He claims that U.S. opposition to him, an Egyptian and the first African Secretary General, smacks of racism. But at least some Africans aren't impressed with that claim. Ghana-born George Ayittey wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the only Africans Mr. Boutros-Ghali represents are his cronies, the kleptocratic African dictators who "clink champagne glasses" at Organization of African Unity galas while their countrymen go without shoes and medicine. It is not easy to explain Mr. Boutros-Ghali's mania to stay in office. He is not a typical civil servant, even by UN standards. He would like to be, to use UN booster Sir Brian Urquhart's phrase, the world's CEO. The UN Charter allows the secretary general to bring to the attention of the security council anything that may threaten international peace and security, and secretaries general have been using this provision to expand their authority since the Suez crisis. Mr. Boutros-Ghali, however, takes this idea to new lengths. In his 1992 Agenda for Peace, he calls for "assertive multilateralism," or, as we used to say, making war, to be carried out by his own private UN army. In a speech at Oxford, he called for worldwide taxes to support him and the UN, and in an April, 1996, Foreign Affairs article called for expanding the role of the secretary general. Putting his plans into action costs money: The price for UN peacekeeping alone has skyrocketed from $230 million to $3.61 billion in just six years. According to the UN Charter, the secretary general has only one specific job-manage the UN-a job that does not seem to interest Mr. Boutros-Ghali. His UN has been described as elephantine, and its bureaucracy, according to Australian Representative Richard Blitler, was "designed in hell." Remarked U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright: "I don't think management issues are his favorite issues." Some of the ways the UN spends American dollars sound like skits on Saturday Night Live. For example, the UN set aside $50 million for an anti-apartheid program after Nelson Mandela had become president of South Africa. Joseph Connor, the new UN undersecretary for management, diagnosed the problem: "The UN ...defies oversight because there is no person who is the chief executive of the organization." Last year on the UN's 50th anniversary, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who both describe themselves as friends of the UN, spoke of the organization as a place "where those engaged in such practices are not punished and those who report them are.... Despite thousands of pages of budget documents prepared each year, we don't know how many employees it has, how funds are spent, or which programs work. After a decade of 'no real budget growth' the budget has almost doubled." One important reform demanded by the United States and pushed by Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) was the creation of a UN inspector general. His job is to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse within the UN An office called the "Undersecretary of Oversight Services" (in UN-speak) was created, but without subpoena power, whistleblower protection, or even the right to choose its own staff. Instead of the watchdog Sen. Pressler had fought for, the UN brought forth a pussycat. Like so many things at the organization, it was form over substance. Sen. Kassebaum simply called the new office "disappointing." Nominees to succeed Mr. Boutros-Ghali, if President Clinton remains resolute in opposing him for a second term, include Irish President Mary Robinson, Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundland, and Kofi Annan, a UN bureaucrat who has been responsible for UN peacekeeping. None is known for management ability. Joseph Connor, an American, is undersecretary for management. The former head of Price Waterhouse has tried, since arriving in 1994, to introduce the concept of management to the UN by substituting civil service procedures for the UN's current cronyism, trying to cut the workforce, and reducing the UN budget. These are issues, as John Goshko reported in The Washington Post, "for which Boutros-Ghali does not have much enthusiasm." Reactions within the UN have ranged from lip service to foot-dragging. Mr. Connor is making more progress than his predecessor Dick Thornburgh, former U.S. attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania. In 1993 he gave Mr. Boutros-Ghali a report on waste, fraud, and abuse within the UN and proposed ways of saving over $100 million. Mr. Bo

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