|Less than a year has passed
since President George W. Bush's controversial
choice of John Bolton as permanent U.S. representative
to the United Nations. So it was with more
than a little curiosity that students at the
School of International and Public Affairs
(SIPA) crowded into a room at the school to
hear him deliver a lecture on UN reform.
As reported by second-year SIPA student
Tom Glaisyer in the Morningside Post, SIPA's
first community blog, Bolton
delivered a clear articulation of the U.S.
attempt to foment a "revolution of
reform," as coined by Secretary of
State Condoleeza Rice, restating his intention
to work from within what former Federal
Reserve Chair Paul Volcker called the UN's
"culture of inaction." Volcker
headed up the UN inquiry into the Iraqi
In addition, Bolton mentioned his "grave
doubts" about the package of reforms
announced by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
in his March report to member states. Although
Bolton said he agrees with Annan's premise
that the body needs a "radical overhaul,"
in his view, the proposed reforms do not go
For Bolton, the only way to achieve drastic
change at the 60-year-old bureaucracy lies
in the application of "best management
practices" -- or as the title of his
SIPA address put it, "No More Business
Management reform of the UN is not a new idea,
but current discussion of the subject is louder
than ever, with Washington insisting that
the UN be run like a business, not like a
government, by moving to streamline its operations
for greater efficiency.
Bolton made it clear that citizens of member
states -- whom he referred to as "consumers"
-- deserve better value for their money. It
was this belief, he said, that was driving
his efforts to review all UN program mandates
more than five years old, to cull those that
are still relevant from duplicative or obsolete
Such a review, he explained, should help "realize
budget savings and eliminate the significant
waste and overlap which pervades the UN system."
It should also "pave the way for future
phases of mandate reviews as a regular order
of business in the UN."
As part of the review process, Bolton's team
is also analyzing how different funding mechanisms
influence or impact performance. Does it make
a difference, for instance, whether a particular
UN agency receives a voluntary or assessed
In Bolton's view, agencies that compete for
funding tend to perform better and are more
responsive to both contributors and beneficiaries.
He cited the World Food Programme (WFP) as
an example. Unlike the UN, the WFP tries to
be as efficient, accountable, transparent
and results-oriented as possible, he said.
Finally, Bolton argued that the assessment
scale for determining member states' dues
should be revisited. Alternative mechanisms,
he claimed -- in particular, that of using
purchasing power parity data in the calculation
of a member state's gross national income
-- would be fairer.