"A Threat to One Is a Threat to All:" Nonstate Actors, Collective Security, and the Reform of the UN

December 13, 2005

The Ethics of UN Reform


PAIGE ARTHUR: My name is Paige Arthur. I'm the Deputy Editor of Ethics & International Affairs. On behalf of the Journal's editors, and also on behalf of Joel Rosenthal, the Carnegie Council President, who's here with us tonight, I'd like to welcome all of you to this Ethics and International Affairs Roundtable Discussion.

In the past year, there has been a great deal of talk about new collective security threats and UN reform. We undertook this event tonight in an effort to examine the claim, which the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Changes proposed one year ago, that "a threat to one is a threat to all."

We asked ourselves: Is this claim just a matter of the high-minded phrasing one often finds in the great reports issued by the United Nations, or is it the elaboration of a principle, backed up by clear responsibility that is a shared responsibility, as the subtitle of report puts it? We hope it may turn out to be the latter. In that spirit, we have organized this debate on how to deal justly and effectively with nonstate threats.

These new threats are big news. For example, the U.S. News & World Report cover story just ten days ago, on how terrorist groups are increasingly relying on criminal organizations both to finance their activities and to establish smuggling routes. The question is: What does an institution, such as the United Nations, do when confronted with groups whose very existence depends on evading state control? What does such an institution do when confronted with massive international threats that do not emanate from the intentional acts of any particular actor, such as HIV/AIDS, variable poverty, and environmental degradation? And, more to the point of tonight's discussion, what principles should define and guide its course of conduct?

Clearly, one of the issues on tonight's agenda is also what is on the UN's agenda right now, which is reform. Now, some people, particularly in this country, are skeptical of the idea that the UN either can be or ought to be reformed. These doubters would propose more radical solutions, such as giving power to an alternate authority, such as a democratic society of states, would probably follow the Austrian journalist and pundit Karl Kraus' observation that "reform is the desperate decision to remove corns from a person suffering from cancer."

Similarly, in an op-ed in The New York Times last week, Ruth Wedgewood applied the rules of laissez-faire to the debate, suggesting that the UN needed some good old-fashioned competition in order to make itself more meaningful. Certainly, the issue of whether the United Nations is the most legitimate and effective authority for dealing with nonstate threats is on the table tonight. So, however, is the assumption that the UN is already fulfilling or can fulfill these roles. Perhaps the news from op-ed pages is too dire. Here, Karl Kraus might also remind us that, as he wrote, "It is uplifting to lose one's faith in a reality which looks the way it is described in a newspaper."

So, without further ado from me, I'd like to get straight into the discussion.

First, let me introduce our panelists, beginning with Ambassador Nirupam Sen, who is the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, a post he has held since August 2004. Ambassador Sen is a distinguished veteran of the Indian Foreign Service. Among his many posts, he has held two high-level positions at the Ministry of External Affairs, as Deputy Secretary in Charge of East Europe and the Americas and as Joint Secretary. Ambassador Sen holds a master's degree in history and wrote his thesis at Oxford on "Solidarity," a theme I imagine will be important to tonight's discussion.

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg is Senior Policy Advisor to International Crisis Group, a position she took on after serving for four-and-a-half years as International Crisis Group's Vice President for Multilateral Affairs. She has had a long career in U.S. foreign policy, ultimately being appointed as the Alternate Representative to the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, from 1997 to 2001. Her recent book, The Superpower Myth, analyzes the use of force and diplomacy over the last decade.

Robert Keohane is Professor of International Affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discourse in the World Political Economy and also Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World. He is co-author with Joseph Nye of Power and Interdependence, which is now in its third edition. He has served as the Editor of the Journal of International Organization, and also is President of both the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association.

Finally, Bruce Jones is Co-Director of the Center for International Cooperation at NYU. In 2003-2004, he served as Deputy Research Director for the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. In 2004-2005, he served as Deputy to the Special Advisor to the Secretary General and supported the Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning during the "In Larger Freedom" reform effort. He holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and is the author of Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure.

To get started, I have asked all of our panelists to give some opening remarks in response to the following questions:

  • First, in your view what is the most significant nonstate threat the world faces today?
  • Second, what is the most important principle the United Nations should uphold when considering how to address the threats posed by nonstate actors?

I'd like to begin with Ambassador Sen.


NIRUPAM SEN: Thank you very much. I am very happy to be here, ladies and gentlemen, to take part in this debate.

Let me begin by being as conventional as I can. First, coming from where I do, I think we regard the most significant nonstate threat to be one of the oldest such threats, which is poverty. Poverty, war, ethnic cleansing, genocide are as old as the recorded history of man. We think that this is the most fundamental nonstate threat that exists today.

As I said, to begin conventionally, you should go back to the teachings of Christ in the Gospel that was found in the upper reaches of the Nile in 1948, which has been authenticated as the Gospel According to St. Thomas, which is actually "blessed are the poor." Poverty is regarded as a kind of blessedness, not only in terms of the fact that the poor are worth saving, but that they ought to be saved.

But if you go to the Psalms, you find that there are sentences like "the sword has been drawn to cast down the poor and the needy," "you eat my people as bread." Some very powerful language is used, which is suggestive of a threat, even in those days.

Fundamentally, I think modern poverty is a threat also because of technology and globalization, which, on the one hand, has made it worse; and on the other, paradoxically, which has given us the means of overcoming it. In fact, some of the six threats that are identified by the High-Level Panel are really global in themselves. They have become global because of the forces of globalization and technology. This is certainly true of poverty.

If you look at some of the worst affected areas—for instance, subsaharan Africa, where over the last decade or so infant mortality has increased, per capita income has declined, poverty has increased in fact, in spite of all the progress that the international economy was supposed to make. I think here the main problem is that following the oil crisis, there was an adverse movement in terms of trade, which also was made worse by the assistance given by the IMF—that is, by the structural adjustment policies. Because, on the one hand, you had an encouragement for agricultural exports; on the other, you had an encouragement to do away with subsidies, which led to a decline in investment in infrastructure and so on, and overall a decline in food availability. Because of the need to pay back debts, debt amortization payments and so on, it was not possible for them even to import foods, at a time when in fact world food stocks were high. This, in turn, made worse not only social and societal problems, but also led to many of the civil wars that are being waged in subsaharan Africa. Debt constraints, structural and adjustment policies, certainly played an important role.

It is not simply that these policies in themselves create poverty and therefore need to be addressed, but also because this poverty means that you have, on the one hand, an increase in terrorism; on the other, you have emigration, including illegal emigration. Many of the policies on trade, such as for instance trade liberalization, in many of these countries led to de-industrialization, if imports are liberalized. Those very people who are displaced by this de-industrialization then, in fact, turn to emigration, become illegal immigrants, and it also creates a fertile soil for terrorism emanating from unintegrated immigrant communities. So, quite clearly, this is a very serious problem.

Since this is a discussion which is within the context of ethics, we are all familiar, I'm sure, with John Rawls' A Theory of Justice—given the veil of ignorance, it is necessary to see that there are no extremely poor people within the society, in terms of their being able to lead lives of dignity and make effective use of freedom. If this is applied internationally, then one reaches the same conclusion vis-?-vis countries.

Peter Singer, of course, has criticized Rawls in terms of not applying this internationally in The Law of Peoples, his later work, but here Singer is a little unfair, I think, to Rawls, because Rawls does say quite clearly that it is necessary to remove the most extreme forms of poverty. In other words, that global distributive justice is very necessary in terms of extreme inequalities, extreme poverty, and extreme injustices, as he calls them, which are in the world today. This, quite clearly, is an ethical basis for supporting the MDGs [UN Millennium Development Goals] which are a very important factor in development, and the reform of the ECOSOC, [UN Economic and Social Council] with which the UN is dealing today.

So I think, all in all, that the question of poverty is, to our minds at least, very fundamental and is a fundamental nonstate threat. And this is not just poverty in the developing countries. There are things that are happening in the UN to which this is directly related, because we are discussing problems of national governance, which is because, as I have shown, much of the poverty in these developing countries—particularly the most extreme examples, as I said, in subsaharan Africa—is not a result of the residual effects of colonialism. It is also because of the policies that are being pursued today. So you have, on the one hand, national governance in terms of corrupt elites that are making things worse; on the other hand, problems of international governance, with policies that are making this worse.

This includes the IMF. So, therefore, in the Outcome Document there was an important discussion of the reform of the IMF itself. If you read The Bretton Woods Debates by Raymond Mikesell, who was in the U.S. Treasury in 1945, you find some very astonishing facts. In fact, he was asked to arrive with predetermined quotas to ensure permanent dominance of the Big Four. France didn't come in at that time because of its dislike for the [inaudible]. So, obviously, there was a lot of gerrymandering; there is clearly a need for addressing these issues, and the reform of the IMF also is proceeding.

So what the UN is doing is having an impact on the [inaudible], on the development activities, the reform of the quotas [inaudible] is being addressed. So you have national governance, international governance, reform of the IMF. All that is necessary in order to address this threat.

On the second question that was raised, on how we look at nonstate actors, here it is not how we look at nonstate threats but nonstate actors, and what are the things that are the most important. Quite clearly several of these principles are important. Certainly, fairness and impartiality. If you take, let us say, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction for nonstate actors, then, if somebody is pardoned if he is from an allied state and if a tougher line is adopted for somebody else, then you really undermine the universality of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and make counter-proliferation that much more difficult. So fairness and impartiality are necessary.

Another thing that is very important isthis question of equal regard for all human beings, even from a purely ethical perspective. For instance, if you take Stalin and his liquidation of the Kulaks, the white armies or the red armies in Russia at that time had no sympathy for their victims. The Nazis had no sympathy for the Jews. So, in other words, this limitation of sympathy really limited the concept of good itself, that good is limited to either if you are a communist or you are a white aristocrat or if you are a superman or an Aryan, or whatever. So I think, quite clearly, an all-embracing sympathy is very necessary.

Now, in practical terms, this means that this encompasses this principle of cooperation, which is not just through UN Security Council resolutions, though those have been effective and have played a role, and there is cooperation within the UN Security Council in terms of the 1373 Committee, the CTC, [the Counter-Terrorism Committee] and so on and so forth, the CTED [Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate]. But, at the same time, the cooperation has to be truly multilateral and universal. Therefore, there is no alternative to the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, including its humanitarian law provisions, to ensure that this problem is effectively tackled, that of nonstate actors.

So I think I'll just say, if I may, two or three sentences before I conclude. Much of the confusion that arises in dealing with nonstate actors, and much of the challenge, much of the unhappiness, much of the political challenge, certainly in certain cases even legal challenges, can be summed up in Chesterton's point, because it goes back to a paradigm which is grounded in Just War and so on. Chesterton puts it very well. He said:

Borgia, and Torquemada, and the throng,
Good men, bad men who had no right to their reason
Good men who had good reason to be wrong…

So actually these conclusions arise, in our view, because of this Just War doctrine. The thing is, what is a "just" cause for which you will fight? Who decides? Browning says, "Who shall arbitrate? Ten men love what I hate." So who decides that?

This affects also the principle of nondiscrimination, which is of course in the High-Level Panel Report, when it comes to force. That is, proportionality, nondiscrimination, and so on, and minimum force. Now, how do you decide all that?

Here I think our own point of departure ethically is that of the Bhagavad Gita, which goes back 2000 years before the birth of Christ. In the Gita, when there is a threat to the values of a society and its very existence, then of course war is counseled by Lord Krishna.

But, at the same time, he very clearly says that this war has to be in the context of two very important things. One is disinterested action. That is, he says that by leaving the fruits of your activity to the universal self, by identifying with that, and by not attaching yourself to this and to the fruits of this action, you escape contamination, just as the lotus flower escapes contamination by the mud in the water. Otherwise, you can see what contamination means, that in the absence of this, what happens is that you pay a price, even domestically, in terms of the restriction of civil liberties, habeas corpus, and the like, and restrictions on certain freedoms.

Therefore, disinterested action is one, he says. The second is what he calls "tamil." Tamil is not just war. Tamil is that which upholds the world, which upholds the universe. So it means a multilateral, law-governed, rule-based order. So it is only disinterested action within the context of a rule-based, law-governed, multilateral order that can really prevent both wrong actions and the consequences of those wrong actions. It even takes care of genuine [inaudible], which the Just War doctrine does not. So, therefore, in this context, quite clearly, you cannot have this kind of disinterested action, unless you have a thoroughgoing reform of the UN Security Council and the UN itself, the UN Security Council, particularly in terms of the working methods and the membership of the Council.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Thank you, Ambassador Sen.

Ambassador Sen, just one question. Is there one principle above all others that you would think is the most important?

NIRUPAM SEN: Yes. The one principle is the one which is not here. As I said, it is disinterested action within the context of a multilateral, rule-based order.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Next we're going to turn to Ambassador Soderberg.

NIRUPAM SEN: But I supported some of the other principles as well which are in your text.

NANCY SODERBERG: First of all, I want to thank Paige for pulling this evening together and provoking all of us to think about ethics in the world today in ways that we don't always do, so I appreciate the questions that I have been pondering over the last bit. I am going to try to throw out a different concept than the ones that you listed—fairness, cooperation, neutrality, and all of that.

A lot of people say the most significant threat that the world faces today is terrorism. That's a U.S.-centered opinion. But the more I think about the state of the world today, I would actually say that the growing divergence of trust in the world is the biggest threat that we face today. It's something that most of us don't spend a lot of time thinking about, and it's one of the luxuries of a Carnegie evening that you get to think about things that you don't usually think about.

If you look at what is happening in the world today, there is a real division between the United States and those who participated in the war in Iraq, which is primarily some European countries, the Australians, and ourselves, and the rest of the world. The United States has lost the world's trust in the last few years. It's not just about the war in Iraq; it's a whole range of things that we are doing today.

Our rejection of engagement in the world in the traditional sense has triggered a world public opinion against us. There are some fascinating polls out there. My favorites are the Pew polls, but there are many others out there. If you look at the surveys, 55 percent of the citizens of the United Kingdom—now, this is our closest ally, which means this is the best-case scenario—do not trust us. They do not believe that we are conducting the war on terrorism in earnest. The polls in France and Germany are even worse.

Now, if they don't think that we're sincere, how are we going to get them to lock down the financing, lock down the intelligence, to try and help us do the renditions that have been in the news lately? That is a major problem, because the global threats today are terrorism and nonproliferation in the United States. Now, as the Ambassador said, if you are in a developing country, in India or others, however you want to define it, you don't necessarily think that terrorism and nonproliferation are the worst threats.

The most deadly conflict in the world today is the Congo; an estimated 30,000 people a month are dying there. Do you ever hear about that? No. They don't really care about nonproliferation and terrorism, but they do care about the development of AIDS solutions, addressing poverty and debt.

Seven out of eight Muslim countries today think the United States is going to attack them. Now, I don't happen to think we are going to attack them. Even if we had maybe thought about it a few years ago, we are not going to do it anymore. If you are trying to make inroads into the Muslim world and convince them that we are not on a crusade and that we want to have a partnership with them in things that we care about and things that they care about, if they don't trust us, that is not going to work.

If we just take Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, a few years ago 75 percent of Indonesians had a favorable view of the United States. That plummeted to 20 percent in three years. These curves up and down are unprecedented in those who follow polling.

The good news here—and I'm not here to depress you—is that the minute we started helping during the tsunami, those numbers went right back up again. So you can recoup it very quickly.

Now, I don't really care as an American if the world loves us or hates us. Everyone wants to be liked in the world. It's not just a popularity contest. It matters today because every threat that everyone faces is global. Whether if you are in the United States and you're worried about being attacked by terrorists who might have nuclear weapons, or if you are a villager in the Congo who is worried about getting AIDS and worried about the progress of development in your own backyard, the only way you are going to address any of these threats is globally.

Now, if the world doesn't trust each other, nothing is going to work. I am not going to try to help these countries that are just going to let terrorists and proliferators slip through their fingers and threaten me. The developing world is not going to really do a whole lot to crack down on terrorists and proliferators if they don't think that we are going to help them.

The only way we are going to address this is to get that trust back. The only way you're going to get that trust back is to try and build global coalitions, where both sides are addressing the other's threat. Now, sometimes that is going to mean doing things on our own, but mostly it is going to mean doing things in consultation with the UN and others.

Now, a lot of people think, "Well, just worrying about development in others is an altruistic, 'feel good,' democratic thing, and nobody who is really serious about security would care about it." That is changing. We need to look at economic development as essential for American security; and vice versa, American security as essential for the world's development.

The numbers are very simple. Poverty breeds conflict. That's all you really have to know if you are asking, "Why should we care about what's happening in Africa?" Of the 164 violent conflicts that broke out over the last two decades, most of them were in poor countries within a state, not between states, as it was during the Cold War. It is in these very environments that terrorism takes place.

It's not an accident that bin Laden went from Saudi Arabia to Sudan, where there had been a two-decade-long war, to Afghanistan, which is the definition of a failed state. If you look today where terrorists are looking for inroads, it is in the failed states, particularly in Somalia.

Bruce Jones, I assume, will talk about this, but there is a grand bargain deal out there for the taking. Kofi Annan put it out there. This could restore trust. I'm a big fan of the UN, as you'll know by the end of this evening. They're not perfect, but they're better than everybody else.

Kofi Annan put this deal out there for the world to take that could have restored this trust, a grand partnership to address the developing world's problems and ours. The world said, "No thank you, we're not ready for it." It was a huge missed opportunity and a real tragedy.

The ultimate deal that he put forward was: okay, developed world, if you want the rest of the world to get serious about fighting terrorism and nonproliferation, you have to get serious about the threats that the developing world perceives to itself. It's many of the ones that Ambassador Sen spoke about. It's basically poverty, war, debt, AIDS, infectious diseases. All he asked was a serious commitment to this of 0.7 percent of the gross national income to address these. We're not even talking about 1 percent—0.7 percent.

(The U.S. is about 0.2 percent, if you're generous in how you calculate it. We basically said, "No thank you, we're not ready to do that.")

To the developing world they said: okay, if you want us to get serious about development, you have to get serious about proliferation and terrorism. It is not okay to proliferate weapons and support those who are seeking weapons of mass destruction. You have to get serious about that. And it's not okay to harbor terrorists and let them take haven, or for you to not help us in the intelligence sharing that needs to go forward.

What we need to do is take a step back and say: How can we restore the trust between the developing world and the developed world, north/south? I hate those black-and-white divisions, but for the purposes of tonight I'll use them. We've lost that trust. It's not just President Bush versus Clinton; it's that after the Cold War, everyone's trying to negotiate.

What is the deal here? There is a deal on the table for that, and I think it's incumbent on everyone.

So to answer Paige's question, I think the greatest threat is that loss of trust between the two sides of the world. I think the greatest principle we need to restore is basically everything on your list, but I would put trust at the top. Without that trust, you're not going to have progress on these issues that we will address.

Thank you.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Just to clarify, I did give the speakers a list of principles and invited them to choose one. But they're all good principles. I'll share with you what they are. Ambassador Sen mentioned some of them. Fairness, equal regard for all human beings, cooperation, transparency, impartiality, freedom, accountability, neutrality, solidarity, prudence, etc. So those are the ones.

Professor Keohane?

ROBERT KEOHANE: Thank you, and thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here.

With respect to your first question, the most important threat, I think Ambassador Sen's distinction is a good one, between threats in general and specific threats by nonstate actors. I was thinking first of the latter. I think the most important specific threat by specific nonstate actors is the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction by terrorists.

Now, I wanted, though, to follow up on Nancy Soderberg's comments, because I was going to talk about the crisis of legitimacy, both of the United States and of the UN, as the most important political threat in this broad sense. That's very close to the question of loss of trust, because legitimacy involves trust, the belief that a certain set of institutions has the right to make rules and to govern us in some way.

Someone said recently that it's hard to know when you have legitimacy, speaking of the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, saying in retrospect they had a fair amount of legitimacy. It's hard to know when you have it, but you sure do know when you've lost it. We have lost it, as Ambassador Soderberg said.

But I think it is also true that the UN has lost a lot of it. I think I want to focus a little bit more on that aspect of the problem.

When I moved to Paige Arthur's key principles, the one that I want to talk about is accountability. I don't want to claim it's the most important. I think it's impossible to say that one is more important. I wouldn't say it's more important than fairness, but I have some things to say about accountability, so I wanted to focus on it.

Accountability is essentially a democratic principle. It means that policymakers have to give an account to accountability holders, to publics or other agents who are responsible for the actions ultimately. Giving an account requires three things that are quite specific:

It requires a set of standards by which they are held to account—if there are no standards, you can't hold somebody accountable to standards. Secondly, information by the accountability holders: if the people who are holding power wielders to account don't know what is going on, they can't hold them to account. Thirdly, the ability of the accountability holders to sanction the policymakers.

Accountability is an institutionalized relationship. It is not a good use of the term to say, as President Bush has, "We're going to hold accountable the terrorists." We don't hold them accountable; we try to destroy them. That's very different, not the same thing. It is an institutionalized relationship in which the agent being held accountable is accountable by certain standards to an informed set of publics or other audiences and can be sanctioned by them.

Now, democratic accountability is participatory and it facilitates popular rule. It is the basic principle of democracy. But much accountability is different. It's not necessarily democratic. If accountability were simply a principle of democratic elections, it wouldn't have much relevance to international institutions or world politics.

But accountability also follows from delegation. The World Bank executive staff is accountable to the Board of the World Bank, which is accountable to states, mostly powerful states. As we know, there is accountability there, even though it is not democratic accountability.

Now, in the United States and other democracies, there is a more or less coherent public, and therefore democratic accountability is feasible. But at the global level, there is not a coherent public and there are no parliamentary or electoral systems, so the domestic analogy doesn't work.

But there are other methods of accountability. We think of it in terms of not purely a democratic accountability in elections, but in terms of limitations on the abuse of power. The real point is: How do you limit the abuse of power by people who have power? Then we can think of fiscal accountability, which applies in the UN system; legal accountability; peer accountability, where different organizations hold other organizations responsible; and, most broadly, reputational accountability. Reputational accountability is important because institutions can often not be effective unless they are trusted or legitimate. If they lose reputation, they lose legitimacy and often lose effectiveness.

So it seems to me it is very important to strengthen accountability mechanisms. I believe they are weak across the board.

They are weak in the UN. They are very weak in the UN. The General Assembly is not a very accountable organization. It makes decisions in a way that is quite difficult to fathom often. It has a setup which gives equal votes to a large number of countries which are of very different size in population and ability to actually take action. There is no method of democratic election or any systematic way of holding the General Assembly accountable. Accountability mechanisms are also weak in the Secretariat, as the Oil for Food scandal showed. They are notoriously undeveloped in the UN Secretariat, and there has been resistance to strengthening those, despite Kofi Annan's attempt to get stronger mechanisms.

Accountability is also weak in NGOs. NGOs are notoriously unaccountable to anybody. Who are Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch accountable to, except their donors and their members? The answer is nobody.

The governmental networks discussed by my Dean, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the informal networks of trans-governmental relations that span the world, are also very unaccountable to the accounting standards boards or the securities regulators, who meet together and make decisions. Also, there is no systematic accountability arrangement. Most notably and most notoriously, the United States of America is not accountable to anybody. The President is accountable to 6 percent of the world's population and has a huge impact through his actions on the whole world's population. So the United States, in a sense, is the least-accountable actor in the world system.

So what I want to argue, then, and to conclude, is that the legitimacy crisis that is experienced by the United States, but also by the United Nations right now, and by other international institutions, is in large part a consequence of the lack of accountability, lack of systematic accountability arrangements. Institutions and the people in power resist accountability; it weakens their authority. But in the long run, if they don't accept it, they will lose legitimacy, lose soft power, and be less able to act effectively in world politics.

Thank you.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Now Bruce Jones.

BRUCE JONES: As somebody who has done his fair share to contribute to the loss of legitimacy at the UN, I'll refrain from comment on Bob's very insightful remarks.

The advantage of going last in this is I get to say "agree, agree, we'll think about it." So I can do my little thing without pretending it is the only issue that we have to think about.

If I look around at the threats that we are confronted with within the United Nations and as an international system as a whole, I have to say that in my mind one stands out without real question, which is the erosion of our biological security. I mean by that two specific things: the growth and spread of infectious disease—which I won't spend time on, since you can barely turn on the news these days without reading or hearing about avian flu—and, more specifically, I am concerned about biological terrorism.

Nancy already talked about terrorism as a grave threat to international security. I want to narrow it down and focus specifically on biological terrorism. I see it as probably the greatest threat we face, both in terms of the potential direct loss of human life, the potential threat to state integrity, and its impact on the spread of other threats, some that have already been mentioned, such as poverty, the spread of civil war.

There are very direct connections, I think, between the spread of infectious disease and those other threats, and in particular if we look at it in terms of the potential spread of bioterrorism. In trying to assess threats, I think we have to look at a number of different factors.

  • What is the agency: who is likely to do something to somebody?
  • You have to look at the materials: are there tools of war, are there tools of threat action; so in conventional warfare we look at armaments and we look at nuclear weapons, we look at a bunch of different things.
  • And you have to look at technology: how can you transmit, how can you project; so in conventional security, we look at the projection of the use of force, et cetera.

If I looked at this in terms of biosecurity, I see the following things. We know of at least 10,000 facilities worldwide that, perfectly legally, have and use biological agents in a variety of agricultural, commercial, or industrial processes. It's a perfectly normal thing. When you buy yogurt everyday, all factories that make yogurt use biological agents, which, if weaponized, are unbelievably deadly. It's a perfectly reasonable thing for a yogurt factory to have that agent, but there is a problem here with the potential. So we know of thousands of facilities that have biological agents. There's not a great deal of security around yogurt factories, I can tell you.

When we were doing the research for the High-Level Panel, we consulted with the leading scientists in the world on this from the United States, from India, from China, from Russia, all over the world. One of the things they said to us about this issue —in trying to scare uswhich they succeeded in doing—was, "Look, you have to be aware that the technology to weaponize biological agents is likely to be off-the-shelf within three or four years." As we continued the research, some of them came back to us to say, "Look, we were actually wrong. Go to eBay. You can get this stuff for about $4,000 off the Web now."

Now, when you're talking about the availability of agents, you're talking about the availability of technology, you are also talking about the fact that not only do you not need large states to deploy this weaponry, unlike with nuclear weapons let's say. You don't even really need nonstate groups of any significance. Really small numbers of individuals can wield this technology to pretty devastating effect. I think we are watching the emergence in the world of a system in which in this field ever smaller numbers of people are potentially capable of inflicting ever greater damage on human life and security.

Now, this is a little scaremongerish, and I want to be very clear that I am not a pessimist about this. Somebody introduced me to the word recently "terrorphobe." I'm not a terrorphobe. I think there are real limits on the extent to which we have to worry about terrorism as a kind of fundamental threat and across a range of systems. But in this particular field I am very worried, indeed.

Before I move on to principles of response, I think one point to make is that our investment to date in prevention and potential response to the spread of infectious disease, both in terms of well-understood threats like AIDS but also in terms of emerging infectious disease and the potential for bioterrorism, is grossly inadequate. We do very little to prepare ourselves for the potential response to the outbreak of an infectious diseases.

Whether it's from a bioterror attack, a natural event, an accident, it doesn't make much difference, once a bioagent has been released. Once it is released into the system, the real issue is: How well are you prepared? How much have you done in prevention, in national health systems and public health systems, and how quickly and how effectively can you respond?

If we watched the United States' response to Katrina, for example, we have some cause for concern. But the United States is not by any means the least-prepared state for dealing with these kinds of issues.

What are the principles to use in response? I was struck in looking at the list that it's hard to come up with a human rights response to an infectious disease; it's hard to come up with a fair response to an infectious disease; it's hard to come up with and equal or impartial response to an infectious disease. So the ethical basis on which you respond is a slightly odd one in this case, because of the nature of the potential threat.

Obviously, if you're looking at response to terrorism as a whole, then the kinds of principles we are talking about here—respect for human rights, et cetera—are fine. But in this specific case, we have to go a little farther.

The only one of Paige's list of principles that pops out to my view is the principle of cooperation. I think it's not only relevant in the case of bioterrorism; it is actually hugely relevant across the spectrum of threats. There are a couple of things that go on when we talk about cooperation.

The first is in the specific case of bioterrorism, there is a real-world issue here, which is I don't think there is any issue that forces us as clearly to confront the reality. Paige said it was either rhetoric or a principle. I think it's a reality that a threat to one is a threat to all.

If avian flu hits East Africa, every single country represented in this room will be at threat to the rapid spread of infectious disease. If a bioterrorist group launches a bioterror attack in New York City, every single country represented in this room will be at serious risk from the spread of infectious disease.

There are absolutely no borders here that matter. There is the effectiveness of national health systems, there is the effectiveness of international health systems. No state can protect itself against biosecurity threats without truly global cooperation. It is only on the basis of truly global cooperation that we have even the remotest chance of protecting ourselves in a serious sense over the long term against the erosion of our biosecurity.

That seems to me to be an important point to dwell on in this era, which, as Bob and others have already pointed to, the legitimacy, the credibility, the effectiveness of our international response mechanisms and our national response mechanisms are under a pretty severe credibility crisis, a pretty severe attack in terms of their legitimacy.

We need to rebuild confidence. We need to rebuild a sense of the ability to work together to tackle threats, and it seems to me that the spread of infectious disease and bioterrorism, looking at it together as biosecurity, is probably the most fruitful place that we could start to do that.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Thank you.

It seems as though our panelists have done a very good job of identifying some very disparate kinds of threats—for example, use of nuclear weapons by a terrorist group, or weaponized biological agents, or other kinds of biological threats. And then, both Ambassador Sen and Ambassador Soderberg identified poverty and underdevelopment.

The next question is this. These are very different kinds of phenomena. In what sense are we to construe them all as the same kind of threat that ought to be addressed under the same kind of framework—that is to say, a security framework, which is what the High-Level Panel had proposed?

Just to refresh here, the High-Level Panel identified six threats:

  • The first is economic and social threats, including poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation.
  • The second was interstate conflicts—so the old kind of threat.
  • The third was internal conflict.
  • The fourth was nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons.
  • The fifth was terrorism.
  • The sixth was transnational organized crime.

These are all very different phenomena. And again, in what sense should they all be understood to constitute threats that ought to be understood under the same framework, or maybe ought these threats to be disaggregated?

I'm going to ask Ambassador Sen to address this, since I'm sure there are many people who are wondering how is it that poverty is a security threat.

NIRUPAM SEN: I already pointed out how poverty is a security threat, in terms of the consequences of poverty for other communities.

There is obviously a commonality between the six threats that are mentioned here, because all these, including poverty, are global because of the process of globalization and technology. For instance, take poverty itself. It is a life-shortening thing. It causes suffering, pain, disease, hunger, outrage to dignity.

Quite clearly, therefore, if you take the thesis of negative actions—namely, that it is not just killing that is a crime, but also allowing killing to go on, and not doing anything about it—in that sense, whether it is the responsibility to protect against genocide or whether it is tackling the consequences of large-scale poverty, there is a very clear conceptual connection. In that sense, certainly these threats have a certain commonality.

But at the same time, of course, it is quite clear that the proportion to which these threats emanate from state and nonstate actors is not the same—so while having a commonality, a certain measure of disaggregation becomes inevitable because of the proportion. Let us say, in the case of interstate conflict, it is really the state actors who are important rather than the nonstate actors. In internal conflict, it is a mixture of both. In the case of terrorism, it is mostly nonstate actors, unless of course you accept the Cuban and Venezuelan theory of state terrorism. And similarly, in the case of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons, there is proliferation by states as well as there is a possible proliferation—not yet, fortunately, but a possible proliferation—to nonstate actors.

Similarly, because of this difference in proportion of state and nonstate actors in which these threats emanate, the responses again have to be different, institutionally as well as otherwise. Therefore, in that sense also, there is quite clearly a case for disaggregation, because a threat of the type that Dr. Jones pointed out—I mean, apart from prayer, which would seem to be the most logical way of tackling this threat.

But apart from that, here you would require a much more fundamental way of tackling it, rather than purely immediately catalytic institutional mechanisms. That fundamental way, as he said, is pragmatic cooperation. But it must go even deeper than that, because there is no way you can possibly guard yourself against a biological toxin. There is a committee in the UN that works on this. One of the disadvantages of the dinosaurs was probably that they didn't have a UN committee to work on this kind of a threat.

But, in a sense, if there was a universal kind of threat from the universe itself, it would escape, because the universe is too large to be tackled; it would escape. So also, a toxin or a germ is too small to be tackled; it would equally escape. So here you would require a much more fundamental mechanism.

Here what I said about poverty and what Ambassador Soderberg said about the lack of trust and so on, all that comes in, even what was said about nuclear weapons, because you require a more just order in the world. You require a greater sense of trust, a greater sense of justice, that people should feel that there is a certain sense of justice, which is where this whole question of ethics comes in. So I think in this sense, as I said in the second and third senses as I pointed out, there is a case for disaggregation, but we should not forget that there is a common framework. But it would be a great mistake to reduce all this to simply an immediate kind of mechanistic institutional security framework. That I don't think would be the right way to tackle this.

PAIGE ARTHUR: I don't know if there is a dissenting view on the panel to that. Ambassador Soderberg, would you also like to comment? Do you think this is the appropriate kind of framework for conceiving of these threatst—that is, conceptualizing them together?

NANCY SODERBERG: I do. But I would add a common thread through all of them, whether it's the Panel or what we've all talked about—from disinterested action, to a crisis of legitimacy, to biological security, or crisis of trust, as I've spoken about—every single one of these involves collective responses. Not one nation, even if you're the big superpower like the United States, can address it.

So I think in all of your effort in these questions to define the threat, it's all of the above, unfortunately. I think the common thread that you're hearing from that is there needs to be a collective response to address these collective threats. Without that, without a restoration of interested action or some kind of accountability, versus threat about the biological—I would agree with Ambassador Sen. Every time I go to work in Grand Central Station, I'm wondering when the sarin gas attack is coming through there. And one day it will come, certainly.

But I think, from a Carnegie perspective, the restoration of some kind of collective moral consensus on what the threats are, which is really all of the above, unfortunately— you can read them differently—but unless we address them together, we're all in trouble.

ROBERT KEOHANE: I agree, but I'd put that point in a little more political science way. It seems to me that the umbrella framework, this grouping of these six sets of threats, is essential as a framing and as a bargaining price, because different actors, with their own interests, because nobody's disinterested, have different priorities. If you're going to get this universal cooperation, everybody has to have their priority included. So you have to have this umbrella framework.

But, as Ambassador Sen said, the responses have to be specific. You couldn't have a mechanical response with the same response to poverty and the same response to threats of bioterrorism. That would be silly.

PAIGE ARTHUR: I wonder if we could turn to the question of when it is that a threat rises to the level of international concern, and more specifically, when it rises to the level of international moral or ethical concern. I was hoping I could get some brave person on the panel to comment on that, perhaps Professor Keohane.

ROBERT KEOHANE: You asked me that in advance. I would ask Bruce Jones too. I think a threat becomes a threat to all when one of the following—I'll just put this forward—four conditions obtains.

First, as in bioterrorism or biological security in general, when it could directly affect all of us, as in bird flu bioterrorism. I would add in that category terrible events that happened probabilistically but they could have happened to any of us, like the tsunami. We all felt that as a threat to all. Even though we weren't affected by the tsunami directly, it could have happened in our part of the world just as well, or an earthquake. So that's one, if it directly does affect or could affect all of us.

The second category I would have is when the enormity of intentional harm— now I'm moving to an intentional harm, not just to damage—is so great as to profoundly affect our view of the human race. The Holocaust was a threat to all of us—not just because we might have been affected, or relatives or friends were, but because the whole view of humanity was altered by 6 million people being killed deliberately. Rwanda is the closest thing in our recent past to the same kind of event—not quite as large, but still enormously large, and deliberate, intentional killing, which raises questions about ourselves and our species.

The third condition that I have is when clear harms are preventable at moderate cost. Now, I am moving here to harms that themselves might not really rise to the level of global threats—Bosnia in 1993; the fact that a lot of people get malaria in the world, which they don't have to get if we take very cost-effective, moderate cost actions, to stop it. It seems to me these are threats to all because then our failure to act implicates us and affects our fundamental view of ourselves and our species. So it is a threat in an indirect way to our own sense of ourselves and our own sense of the human character.

The final example I would have is when unjustifiable harm, morally indefensible, intentional harm, is rationalized and justified, either by adverse emotion or by a supposed cause. Terrorism, in a certain sense, apart from weapons of mass destruction, biological and nuclear, is not really a threat to all. It's actually fairly small scale, in terms of the number of people who are killed by terrorism. On the other hand, when it is justified and rationalized, that seems to me to be even more of a threat, because it undermines our sense of ourselves, our sense of solidarity as human beings.

So the inference I draw is that sometimes the acceptance of an unacceptable practice—unacceptable dying because of poverty and disease, unacceptable terrorism, for example—may be more problematic and pose in a certain sense more of a threat than the occasional bad practice itself, because certain bad practices or bad things happening is a part of human life and history.

That is more of a threat because it affects our moral character and, therefore, shapes our response to other abuses. If we lost the sense of essential humanity and solidarity and felt that, "Well, there's so much acceptance of this, it's all right if terrible things happen to other people," that would be a real threat to the human race, because then we wouldn't react to a whole variety of things—poverty, disease, terrorism—that might otherwise need to be reacted to.


BRUCE JONES: I'm really glad you went first. It's a lot more cogent than what I was going to say. I'll give you two quick answers.

One comes from how we try to answer the question in the panel. We actually tackled this question about "can you draw a definition here," which means that you recognize that some events, like traffic accidents, which kill a lot more people than war, are different in character than wars.

What we came up with was the following: We said that any event or process that leads to large-scale death or lessening of life chances and undermines states as basic units of an international system is a threat to international peace and security. What we were trying to do, in essence then, is to kind of marry the concept of state security and the concept of human security, so that not just every threat to human security constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It's where they cross with threats to state integrity and threats to the existence of states as components of the international system that the international community ideally gets engaged. That doesn't detract from anything that Bob just said. I'm just giving you a sense of how we tried to tackle it.

There is, of course, an entirely different answer to the question of when does a threat rise to the level of international concern, and that is when it affects somebody with power. I don't think we should pretend that that's not a really important part of the answer. It is an important part of the answer, and it's an important part of the answer because it's real. You know, the United Nations responds more quickly to civil war in Europe than it does to civil war in Africa; the United States responds dramatically quickly to a terrorist attack on the United States and dramatically slowly to genocide in Darfur. The relationship between power and response is an important one.

But I'm going to say something unpopular, which is that it should be an important one— not in the cases I just used, fairly self-evidently, or I hope self-evidently—but I do think that there is reason to think that a security threat to a hegemonic actor is intrinsically a threat to international peace and security. I would define hegemonic actor very broadly in this sense, in the sense of states that make substantive contributions to the successful maintenance of international peace and security. If you substantially detract from one of those states' capabilities to keep financial markets working, to mount international peacekeeping operations, to regulate international order in a variety of senses, you diminish security across the board. So there is some logic to why threats to the most powerful are treated differently than threats to everybody else.

It is unfair, but it is true, that the fundamental collapse of Botswana would have a different effect on the world than the fundamental collapse of the United States or India or China. It just would. That may not be fair, but it is real. So that's part of the equation.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Let's push forward with a question about institutions. Ambassador Sen, go ahead. Please do.

NIRUPAM SEN: I agree with much of what has been said. I would just like to add a couple of points.

The first, of course, is that as Bruce said, the threat to the integrity or to the strength of states, that which undermines the state order, is clearly a threat. The question of human security and the points made by Dr. Keohane are also threats.

But what I would like to add—and this was implicit in what Dr. Keohane said, although I don't know if he said it overtly—is that, apart from the scale or the effects, the nature of the act also is very important, provided there is a certain minimum scale. There is a significant scale, but it need not be on an overwhelming scale for it to be a threat. For instance, many terrorist attacks, as Dr. Keohane said, affect a small number of people. Unlike, let us say a war, which also affects innocent people—even if it is waged within the existing Christian paradigm of Just War—you might still kill a lot of innocent people. But the point is that you are not doing it intentionally. So the concept of intention, which was I think in your point, I think is very, very important. If you are really killing innocent people intentionally, then the nature of the act, the intention, provided there is a certain scale— obviously, if somebody goes to Brooklyn and kills someone intentionally, it's not a significant threat—but if there is a certain minimum scale, then intention makes it very important as a threat.

The second thing, of course—and this is the implication of the logic of what Dr. Jones said—is that, irrespective of the security interests involved, or the strategic interests of a particular powerful state, and irrespective of it being even a threat to peace in the classical sense—because, obviously, if you let the Somalis starve, or if you let the Rwandans be murdered through a genocide, it is not really a threat to international peace and security, in terms of classical concepts. But the point is that this is something that shocks.

And, incidentally, that is one of the reasons why there was no intervention to save the Rwandans. This comes through very clearly in, for those who are interested, an article written by Ibrahim Gambari, who is today the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs in the UN, who says that actually the way to tackle it is not only through the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine and what comes through it, but through a reform of the United Nations. Because there were countries, like South Africa—it was inconceivable that nothing would have been done about Rwanda. That's just an example. Coming back to this, the thing in international law, in which you have [inaudible], a simple phrase he uses, that would shock the conscience of mankind, I think that is a very important factor in assessing whether a threat is in fact really a threat, a global threat. So this is what I want to add.

PAIGE ARTHUR: In the interest of time, I'm just going to skip one of our questions and move on to a discussion of institutions, because one of the things that Ambassador Sen made mention of in his opening remarks was John Rawls and the issue of justice, and how it is that institutions should be organized in order to be just. It also pertains to the issues of legitimacy and trust that Ambassador Soderberg and Professor Keohane have raised.

This is the question: When it comes to the significant rise of nonstate threats, how does this qualitatively change the concrete ways that collective security should be managed, and particularly as it concerns the way that current international institutions are set up? By this, I mean who ought to participate in discussion and decision-making—very important questions at the UN right now? How should resources be allocated? Questions such as that. These are issues of basic institutional structure. I was hoping to get both Professor Keohane and Ambassador Sen to comment on them.

ROBERT KEOHANE: I would say a few things, briefly.

It seems to me that three things are particularly needed for the UN, which is my focus. One is a greater capacity for decisive action. That certainly means more authority for the Secretary General, in my view, and a possible reform of the Security Council that would make more decisive action more likely.

Secondly, I think—and this may be more controversial—there should be a privileged status in the organization for democracies that respect human rights. It's not morally the same. The opinion of a democratic government, democratically elected, has more moral weight than the opinion of an autocratic government not democratically elected. It seems to me there should be in the UN a greater reflection of that higher status for democracies.

Thirdly, to repeat what I said earlier, we need to have more systematic accountability at all levels on the basis of publicly known standards. It seems to me that either the United Nations will gain more capacity for decisive action coupled with accountability, or it will be weakened by a combination of unilateralism, "coalition of the willing" on the one hand, or more reliance, as was mentioned by Paige at the outset, in terms of Ruth Wedgewood's op-ed piece in The Times, on other organizations—regional, intergovernmental, transgovernmental, transnational, or NGOs.

So I think the UN is at a point where it either has to be more able to act decisively on these important issues or it will find itself bypassed. And it is being bypassed on a number of issues because it is seen as a source of deadlock. I was at a talk today at Princeton by Paul Volcker about the Oil for Food scandal. Volcker, it seems to me, although in general he supports the UN, is quite pessimistic about its ability to take action that is decisive and to be held accountable.

The second implication of my comments is that democracies ought to act more coherently. The notion of a coalition of democracies or a caucus of democracies inside the UN should be revised. I believe—this is even more controversial, but already an article appeared in the Carnegie Council's Journal—I think that democracies should when the UN is deadlocked be authorized by a supermajority to authorize force against threats.

Finally, the UN bureaucracy, and networks like those that managed the Oil for Food program, as well as the United States, lack certain accountability [inaudible].

NIRUPAM SEN: I think I would agree with what Professor Keohane has said about the role of democracy. In fact, this has already been developed, because there are two things that the UN has done. Some of the achievements of the UN I find don't get as much publicity, as the mistakes of the UN.

Number one, there is a community of democracies which is very active in the UN. Secondly, in the Outcome Document we took a decision to set up a Democracy Fund for capacity-building, for helping democratic forces, and which would really help create the kind of world where many of these threats would be mitigated.

They cannot entirely be resolved, but certainly they would be mitigated, or at least their consequences mitigated. There have been very generous contributions to this Democracy Fund. The decision to set it up was taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush during the visit in July. Thereafter, in September, at the Summit, they both inaugurated this fund jointly.

So I think there are steps already being taken in this direction. That is one.

The other is that I agree entirely on the question of accountability. There I broadly agree with the general concept of accountability as put out by Professor Keohane, except that I would begin, not with a point of agreement, but, with great respect, on a slight point of disagreement on the implications of the Volcker Committee Report.

The Volcker Committee investigated the Oil for Food program. Now, that was run entirely by the Security Council. The Security Council really confused the lines of authority and responsibility in the Secretariat. They set up the so-called 6-6-1 Committee to run the Oil for Food program, and the Permanent Five in the 6-6-1 Committee actually frequently bypassed the Committee itself and, together with the Secretariat, took positions.

So this is a case for reforming the Security Council; it is not a case for reforming the UN as a whole—which doesn't mean it shouldn't be. I firmly believe that the UN as a whole should be reformed, and reformed quickly. But all I am saying is that the logic of the Volcker Committee doesn't point in that direction.

Another thing is that the logic of the Volcker Committee doesn't point in the direction of strengthening the authority or flexibility of the Secretary General or the Secretariat, because, quite clearly, anyone who is familiar with the General Assembly programs can see that this was not a program that was run by the General Assembly. The General Assembly's programs are run quite differently.

In fact, the moral of the story, as far as this program goes, is that in fact there should be no flexibility and no greater authority of the Secretary General, that they should be in fact more sternly accountable to the General Assembly even than they are. That is the logical implication of the Volcker Committee Report. So I wouldn't necessarily use the Volcker Committee Report.

This doesn't mean that I believe that the Secretary General should not have greater authority and flexibility; within a framework of accountability, he should. There again, certain things are being done. Action has already been taken on the whistle blowers, on financial disclosure. The General Assembly is going to get from him proposals on an ethics office, on an independent audit advisory board. And certainly, there is an agreement in principle on many of these issues included in the Outcome Document.

So I would not be so pessimistic about the UN bureaucracy or the UN Secretariat. Quite clearly, there were cases of corruption and so on, but those have existed in every institution from the beginning of time. The whole point or the problem really of the existence of Good Samaritans is that it presupposes the existence of thieves. So, quite obviously, this is not a phenomenon that is limited to the UN.

But I am in strong agreement with Professor Keohane on this question of accountability across the board. But here, if you look at it, the locus of power, the locus for decisions on the use of force, is the Security Council, and in the Security Council there is no real accountability. There are Charter limitations on how they are to use their power and for what purposes. But if they infringe on the Charter, as has been the case in any number of instances, then they cannot be held accountable. There is nothing in international law which can achieve that.

Now, all of us know, whether in India or in the United States, that there has to be judicial review. The Charter is a kind of constitution. You have a Constitution, and the Supreme Court should have the power of judicial review whether a certain action of the Executive is in violation of this Constitution or not. That is the whole point of Madison v. Marbury, the famous judgment of Justice Marshall.

And incidentally, in the 1940s draft programs for setting up the UN, if you look at those draft programs in the U.S. government, the Security Council was called the Executive Committee, with the implication being that the General Assembly [inaudible] legislature.

Now there is no way that the General Assembly can exercise their authority if the Security Council doesn't do what the Charter says it ought to do. There is no way it can be held accountable.

You may say the International Court of Justice. Well, the International Court of Justice certainly is not bound by the Liffey pendans [inaudbile/phonetic], unlike the General Assembly, as shown by the American hostages in the Iran case or the agency Continental Shelf cases. And, certainly, as is clear from the Namibia case, as also from the Lockerbie case, it has a [inaudible] part of judicial review, but that is limited only to contentious proceedings or to the very few advisory opinions that are sought. It cannot [inaudible] carry out judicial review through a country applying for it.

In other words, the Security Council is in need of that judicial review because the actual functions have gone far beyond the Charter. It is now dealing with boundaries, it is setting up tribunals, such as imposing reparations, and none of the things that the Security Council was really mandated to do in the Charter.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Are you proposing a separate body for judicial review?

NIRUPAM SEN: No. What I am saying, therefore, is how do you carry this out, because the only way you can carry this out is through actually a reform of the working methods of the Security Council and an enlargement of the Permanent [inaudible] reform of the membership. That is the only way through which checks and balances can be reintroduced, which is the nearest you can get to a judicial review. There is no other way.

Even if a country, let us say, wants to protest against an action that maybe, let us say, is against the preemptory international law of jus cogens, it cannot do that, because if it protests it will have sanctions imposed on it. Even if it were to theoretically leave the United Nations, the Charter means that it is still bound by what the decisions of the UN are. It cannot escape those decisions. So, therefore, that reform is necessary.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Why don't we flesh some of these ideas out by talking about concrete cases?

NIRUPAM SEN: Yes, please.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Although I think Ambassador Soderberg wanted to make a comment about this. Were you raising your hand?

NANCY SODERBERG: Yes. I just had an overall comment. I think, just on the issue of institution, the dirty little secret about the United Nations that no one ever talks about is that the vast majority of nations are not prepared to cede authority to a Security Council, General Assembly, whoever, for the potential invasion of their sovereign territory as they would define it. There are a number of countries—the United States and some developing countries are probably the worst defenders of this—that do not want to cede authority. So if you watch what really happened at the World Summit, the U.S. was nitpicking on one level and the other was nitpicking on the other level. So the Member States do not want to have the UN have enough authority to decide to intervene.

On this idea of Security Council reform, the UN Security Council is not particularly legitimate right now because it doesn't represent the world of today; it represents the world of 1945. But adding Brazil, India, Germany, Japan, and some combination of the two or three most credible candidates for Africa—Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa—does not mean that they are going to intervene any more forcefully in Darfur. It probably means they are going to intervene less forcefully. They had enough trouble keeping the Algerians and Pakistanis, much less the Chinese, from objecting to that. So the idea that it is just a simple matter of reform, that you give the UN a little more authority, is fantasy land.

How do you deal with that in the short term? I think you strengthen regional institutions. If you had an A.U. [African Union] that actually could function, had a regional force that could have gone into Darfur, you wouldn't have cared what the Indians and Pakistanis and Algerians thought about Darfur. So I think if this particular paragraph happens to be on the institutional reform, then we need to strengthen the regional organizations that understand the threats to their own regions, until the rest of the world rises to the level that the General Assembly will actually be able to function.

The Oil for Food scandal isn't the UN or Benon Savan. It's the Security Council, and particularly the P5. They knew exactly what was going on. It's like that line from "Casablanca," when Claude Rains goes into Rick's Caf? and is shocked that there is gambling going on. I mean everybody knew what was going on.

To tell you the truth, if we were presented with the same deal again, we'd take it, because it kept Saddam Hussein in a box. It was a messy deal. It's awful to make deals like that. But we did it. And guess what? He didn't have weapons of mass destruction, which was our primary concern. Now, there's the other side of it, the humanitarian side, and others.

But I think if you're going to talk about institutional reform of the UN, you have to kind of come down to earth and look at the realities of where the world is. It is 191 countries that define what the UN is. Most of those countries do not want to [inaudible] to the UN, unless it's their particular pet issue, but they're not willing to cede the larger authority that would make it effective. That's not just the United States. It's a number of other countries that fear greatly infringements on their own sovereignty.

ROBERT KEOHANE: The implication of that, though, is very bad for the UN, because power will flow elsewhere.

NANCY SODERBERG: It's happening.

ROBERT KEOHANE: It's happening.

NANCY SODERBERG: You know, versus what? I mean it's as if the UN were competing for some other perfect body out there. The League of Nations didn't work so well either, so we had to reinvent it. If you get rid of this UN, you'll just end up reinventing another one.

So you take the state of the world as it is and accept it for what it is, keep the pressure on moving forward, but come up with interim solutions. You know Tip O'Neill's famous comment, "all politics are local." Most of these decisions are better made at the local level.

If you had a functioning A.U. that could have responded—I mean the cynicism of having the UN Security Council say, "Oh, we're going to have the A.U. deal with this."I was in the A.U. in January, when all this was going on. It was like, "Where's the army that's going?" We only have like three people sitting there saying, "I don't know what we're going to do."

I think you have to be realistic about that. A much more effective way than worrying about who's on the Security Council would be to have an effective training of an African Force that could do that. Now, ideally, I would rather have a UN that would authorize it and solve genocide in Darfur tomorrow. But, absent that, let's come up with some concrete solution until the world rises to the level where it should be.

ROBERT KEOHANE: I think there's a lot to that, but Ambassador Sen has a very strong point he made earlier just parenthetically. The UN doesn't get credit for its accomplishments and it gets a lot of blame for its faults, or sometimes the faults, as in the case—I agree—Oil for Food or the P5 principally.

It seems to me there's a systematic reason for that. It is national politicians who have the ties to domestic publics and who have the bully pulpit in general. So if something goes right, what they're good at is taking credit. If something goes wrong, what they're good at is handing out blame somewhere else. They're the ones who decide.

President Clinton gave the blame to the UN about Somalia, which was really deserved right in his own office. He was able to blame the UN.

There is a systematic sense in which the UN is deprecated. For example, I have been very struck that in the press of January of this year, there was tremendous concern that there would be a second wave of disease and cholera after the tsunami; and there hasn't been, because the UN relief effort was extraordinarily effective at coordinating. Talk about global cooperation. That's an extraordinary example, and, as far as I can tell, much better coordinated than the U.S. Katrina relief was. And yet it's a non-story. We heard very little in the press about it. Since there is no cholera epidemic, the UN gets no credit in the press for this. If there had been one, it would have gotten terrific blame.

So the UN isn't politicized enough. It doesn't have enough political ties with publics to get its message out and to hand out praise to itself and blame to others. It just gets the blame itself.

NANCY SODERBERG: It's also very hard. I work for the International Crisis Group, which is supposed to prevent conflicts. Well, if you prevent a conflict, how are you going to prove it, because nothing happens?


NANCY SODERBERG: So how are you going to measure that? For those of you who are interested in this, Andy Mack at the University of Vancouver put out this amazing study recently [The Human Security Report 2005] that showed that there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of conflicts through the resolution of conflicts, primarily through the UN. It is really the first time that anyone has tried to quantify how many lives the UN has actually saved. It is sort of, "Hello! Okay, all this has been going on and nobody has developed [inaudible] to go with it." It's an amazing compilation of the successes of the UN. Iit's not all the UN, but it's primarily the UN in there. It deserves much more credit than it is getting.

NIRUPAM SEN: I agree with that. It's like that old joke, that somebody says he's doing something "to scare away the elephants." The other person says, "There are no elephants." And he replies, "You see how effective it is?"

But apart from that, the UN doesn't get credit for conflicts that it has ended, where there is very clear evidence. There are any number of success stories, from Sierra Leone to East Timor, and yet they do not get the kind of publicity they should get.

But I would somewhat disagree with you, Ambassador Soderberg, on the question of the Security Council, not from any other angle, but simply that if you take concrete examples. I mean, take the tsunami. Now, there were enormous logistical and military facilities that were put there by Australia, Japan, and India. Without that, the UN could not have succeeded, initially to clear the wreckage and so on.

NANCY SODERBERG: Logistical is very different than political obstacles. The political obstacles are the tough ones.

NIRUPAM SEN: I am going to the political also. But even to begin with the concrete, the logistical. Then take the story of the UN Security Council and Ethiopia and Eritrea today. Why do you think the UN Security Council is so helpless and is not able to enforce its writ on Eritrea, which has virtually degraded the peacekeeping capability there by 60 percent by banning helicopter flights and patrolling? The UN Security Council is helpless because it simply is not able to put troops there. Now, if there were countries that could put troops there, if there were countries that could finance that, then it wouldn't be exactly as helpless as it is.

So there is quite clearly, even from a very narrowly considered practical, utilitarian angle a very clear case for reform.

It is much greater in terms of your point about politics, because political effectiveness is not just about doing something quickly or taking a decision quickly. In that sense, it is not like a corporate structure. In the UN, political effectiveness is about whether these decisions are optimal, whether they are perceived to be just, whether they are widely accepted, which would then minimize the use of force. You cannot do that, you cannot carry out that kind of disinterested action, unless you have a variegated structure.

If you have all the decisions taken by simply the Permanent Members, a few powerful or wealthy countries, or by a single country or a group of countries that are broadly in agreement with each other, then you cannot really have that kind of moral basis for action which would make it widely acceptable, quite apart from the fact that the decisions you were likely to take would not be optimal. So there is a clear case.

PAIGE ARTHUR: That might be a good comment to work into closing statements, because I would like to leave about fifteen minutes for questions and answers.

The concluding question is actually very relevant to what our panelists have just been discussing, which is the issue of the moral authority of the United Nations. The report of the High-Level Panel makes a number of references to the moral authority of the UN, and specifically how the UN can mobilize its moral authority for preventing harm caused by nonstate actors.

Very briefly, because we have very little time, I'm going to ask the panelists to say yes or no, whether they think the United Nations actually has moral authority right now; and, if not, what it needs to do in order to bolster that. Let's start with Ambassador Sen.

NIRUPAM SEN: Why don't we start in reverse order? We haven't heard from Dr. Jones for a long time.

BRUCE JONES: When I read this question, I was completely shocked to remember that we use the term "moral authority" in talking about the UN and the High-Level Panel. The Research Director, Steve Stedman, and I are both sort of hyper-realists. Maybe realists bugged by reality are slightly more idealist than the obverse of the U.S. domestic version of life.

I was surprised that we used the term "moral authority." I think that's the rhetoric that comes when you're talking about the UN. I don't recognize the concept of moral authority as one that has meaning in understanding how the UN can act.

I do, though, recognize the concept of legitimacy. That is the point that Professor Keohane made earlier on. Has the UN's legitimacy been eroded? Well, here again, I am a skeptic in a different sense. I started working with and around the UN in Rwanda. My first assignment was in Rwanda during the peace process. It's really hard to come out of the Rwanda experience believing that the Security Council is a legitimate body.

I then moved on to Palestine. It's even harder to come out of that experience believing the UN is a legitimate actor in a kind of moral or ethical sense. It is an effective actor in some cases. On this point I agree with the last round of discussion.

[End sound file: gap in taping]

ROBERT KEOHANE: . . . it is negligible essentially. Therefore, people react on the basis of emotion or the last headline, very uninformed.

On the other hand, most of us believe in democratic principles. Fishkin's idea on the national level—and you can apply it to the UN—is to say we should have what he calls "deliberative polling." He has brought together a number of citizens, chosen randomly, that spend a weekend to talk about a particular issue, such as electric power generation rules in Texas, or some particular set of issues. They have advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, and they are given briefing papers. After forty-eight hours, they are fairly well informed about the issue. Then they make a judgment as to how they think the policy ought to be made.

It would be very interesting if some foundation were to set up a deliberative poll, and get Fishkin do so this, for the UN. You can imagine it would be a hard job. But if you said, "Let's see what a well-informed set of people around the world, who are broadly representative of the world's population, would say about the UN and its accountability if they were brought together. It would have to be for more than forty-eight hours, but for some period of time, where they would dedicate their time. It would be interesting to know it.

What we have now is a situation where we don't have even an approximation of democratic accountability, because the only accountability is basically the powerful states and their well-informed bureaucrats who know what's happening, and they of course are invested.

NANCY SODERBERG: I think this is a very hard question to ask, because essentially moral authority is a feeling of trust by the majority of nations in the world and their people, that the institution of the United Nations represents their interests and will pursue them fairly, coming back to all of your principles. It has to embody that list of principles that you came up with.

I think you have to be honest. I'm a huge fan of the UN, but it gets mixed results today.

Again, I would emphasize that it is not necessarily Kofi Annan's fault. It's the way the world wants the UN right now. They are not prepared to give the UN the authority to do what probably all of us on this panel, and Paige, and most of the institution of Carnegie, would want. Until the world is willing to cede that power to the UN, to give it the moral authority and empower it to do so, the UN will not meet that challenge.

Now, the good news is there is no other body that has more moral authority either. You could look at various countries. I would argue that we probably had more moral authority in the years after the Cold War, from the first Bush through Clinton, than we do right now. But even so, no one nation can embody that perfect side.

How do you define moral authority? This is kind of an overwrought clich?, but it is true. It's like pornography; you can't define it but you know it when you see it. It goes with legitimacy and responsibility and all the things that we were talking about.

I think until the world is willing to give up that authority and give it to the UN, you are going to have a messy UN that's not perfect. Even the best Secretary General possible cannot fulfill a moral responsibility that the world is not willing to give it.

I think you have to look through very clear glasses at what is still being debated in the UN today. They can't agree on an appropriate definition of "the use of force." They cannot agree on what a "terrorist" is. You still have the debate from the 1960s of "one man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist," a liberation theology still works. They are still arguing about whether to get on the new Human Rights Council you have to actually respect human rights. What planet are we living on here?

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference was an abomination. The word "disarmament" doesn't even appear in the World Summit document—and that's not because Kofi Annan didn't put forward a pretty good offer. He put forward the plan for the future of this world. Unfortunately, the world said, "No thanks, we're not ready for it." So ten years, five years, twenty years, fifty years from now, when the world gets its act together, they are going to come back to that document. I'm not saying that because Bruce Jones is on this panel or Ed Mortimer is sitting at the back, who did enormous work on it, but it is the truth.

I think the UN itself can have the moral authority that it lacks today, but only if the world is willing to give it. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen in my lifetime of working at the UN and following it, but hopefully in the not-too-distant future it will occur.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Thanks. Ambassador Sen?

NIRUPAM SEN: I'll try to be brief. First, I think, with all respect to Ambassador Soderberg, if you are a friend of the UN, then I would like to know what an adversary would be like.

But the thing is this. I have to begin at the beginning. Although I agree with Professor Keohane largely, it is a question of legitimacy; and there is a distinction between legality and legitimacy also, because legitimacy is a wider political concept.

But I think moral authority is a little more than legitimacy, because, as in a country, a government which is democratically elected is a legitimate government, but through its policies over a period of time it may lose most of its moral authority. So I think there is a clear case for using these separate categories.

Does the UN, therefore, really have moral authority? Now, quite clearly, it has legitimacy, because it is the only universal organization that exists. The Charter is the constitution, if you like, of the world. It is the foundation of international law in that sense, overarching international law.

But the question is, any organization, whether it is a Buddhist sangha or a Catholic church or anything, or a government, or the UN, over a period of time, what happens is that it tends to defend itself and its privileges rather than the ideals that created it in the first place. This is a perfectly natural evolution of all organizations.

Now, therefore, it has a moral authority by virtue of the legitimacy it has. But it has to renew itself and reform itself to once again recapture that moral authority or a greater moral authority. That is what I would submit it is in the process of doing.

Now, the question of disarmament, which was raised by Ambassador Soderberg. The reason why disarmament doesn't figure in the document is very simple. In the final stages of the negotiations, which I was a part of, both in the Group of 30 and the Group of 15, we had agreed on disarmament and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; but the point is that disarmament was objected to by certain countries that didn't want disarmament.

Now, there is a strong ethical basis, that if you are going to have something on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, then you have to also consider the fact that the use of nuclear weapons by those who have nuclear weapons—after all, India is a nuclear weapon state, so it is not a case of the coal calling the kettle black. But the point is that the possession of nuclear weapons actually means that you are infringing the fundamental principles which are mentioned in the High-Level Panel Report and also of Just War.

This is where I think the High-Level Panel Report didn't go far enough in condemning the use of nuclear weapons, which is that through nuclear weapons you are really infringing the rule or proportionality; you are infringing the rule of minimal use of force; you are infringing the rule of discrimination, discriminating between civilians and noncivilians, because you are putting civilians at risk through the nuclear doctrines that you have.

So it was quite legitimate for those who wanted to support nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction to have a strong opposition to disarmament. That is the reason it was not there. But it doesn't mean that we are not working on that, because, quite clearly, it is one of the success stories of the UN, that you simply don't just have the 1540 Resolution of the Security Council on nonproliferation. You really have a multilateral treaty, which was negotiated in the Sixth Committee on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Similarly, today we are also negotiating a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We have agreed on a definition of terrorism. The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is not held up because of the definition of terrorism. The definition of terrorism is well-established. The Comprehensive Convention is not even held up because of a reference to self-determination. Self-determination it has been agreed would figure in the Preamble to the Convention.

It is held up because of the clause on international humanitarian law. Because of the clause on international humanitarian law, that that which is criminalized by international humanitarian law can be criminalized by the Convention, but that which is not an offense under international humanitarian law cannot be criminalized by the Convention. That is the clause.

The United States does not want to accept that clause, and that is why it does not want to pressurize the two or three holdouts that are still there, like Pakistan or Syria or Egypt. There are not very many holdouts. Everyone really accepts this Convention. But it doesn't want to pressurize them because how can it pressurize them to accept something that it itself doesn't accept? It doesn't accept that because, I think, there is an over-great fear among the State Department lawyers that the U.S. troops would be held up and so on under that. But we have no fear because both India and the United States are signatories to the Geneva Convention, not to the additional protocol.

Now, under the Geneva Convention, there are enough safeguards. Firstly, the government has to declare the situation to be a conflict situation. Second, those who are fighting you have to have an insignia, a uniform, a leadership—you know, a ragbag bunch of terrorists cannot claim the protections of that humanitarian law. And, most important of all, under humanitarian law and the Comprehensive Convention, killing of civilians is an offense under both.

So it is not things like definitions that are holding it up.

NANCY SODERBERG: It's that big elephant in the room.

NIRUPAM SEN: So it is not that. And we hope to make progress. I think, similarly, there are [inaudible] measures, which is that we are now in the process of setting up a [inaudible] Commission. On responsibility to protect, incidentally, a lot of progress has been made. Similarly, on the Human Rights Council the discussions are not going too badly.

There is room for pessimism in terms of not being able to meet deadlines, yes I agree. But if there is a certain give and take, particularly in terms of not insisting on a narrow control by a few powers over the Security Council, in terms of letting the differences that were repressed in the negotiations in the Outcome Document to come into the open, in terms ultimately of not being afraid of democracy.

After all, on the one hand, you have the Democracy Fund. You want to plant the flag of democracy all over the world. Then why should you be afraid of elections? Why shouldn't the Organization Committee of the [inaudible] Committee be elected freely? So I think progress can be made and will be made.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Thank you. We have about ten minutes for a few questions from the audience.

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: I am from Mali originally. My question is to Ambassador Sen. You mentioned poverty as one of the most important threats facing us today and in your introduction, you mentioned about IMF as part of the problem in dealing with poverty in sub-Sahara. If so, what do you think the IMF should do in order to reduce or to alleviate poverty in the sub-Sahara?

PAIGE ARTHUR: Let's take a few more questions.

QUESTION: My question is on the proposed management reforms. These reforms empower the office of the Secretary General by shifting power away from the General Assembly. The United States supports these proposals because they don't really have to go to the General Assembly to influence the office of the Secretary General. Do you think it is a good idea or a practical idea for the United States to ask for a power compromise from developing countries where, in turn, they are not [inaudible] power compromise? This is for Professor Keohane.

And also, if you could comment on the relationship of accountability, the principle of accountability, and the models that expand the Security Council in the Permanent category? What is your opinion on that, and do you think it would be a better idea if the High-Level Panel could avoid including the model that expands the Security Council in the Permanent category?

QUESTION: I was thinking about the principles that you specified at the very beginning. It seems to me that some of them imply actions that may not be mutually compatible. For example, cooperation and fairness. Cooperating implies that sometimes you have to speak to governments that are guilty of gross injustices. It is not clear to me how in cases where you have such competing priorities you would choose between doing either. Obviously, with respect to aid and global development, this implies that, as has happened in the past, aid will keep going to governments that are politically or strategically more important with respect to imminent threat. So how do we resolve this conflict?

PAIGE ARTHUR: Why don't we do those three and see how we are on time?

NIRUPAM SEN: I will respond to you, sir, and also to the lady, since the question was addressed, I presume, to the panel as a whole. I think on the IMF, one of the strategies that also figures to some extent in the Outcome Document, which has been done by the UN, and which is part of the Jeffrey Sachs Report which he wrote on the famous Millennium Project, concentrating on Africa but also on other developing areas of the world, is that the IMF should also be part of the national donor strategies. That instead of imposing a structural adjustment policy on the government which narrows its policy space, the poverty-reduction programs of that government should be incorporated in what the IMF does with respect to that particular country. So that is the way it can do this. That is one aspect.

The second aspect, however—and I pointed out the other two aspects in what I said—is also that the IMF is itself in need of fundamental reform because of the development of the quotas that was done in 1945. Therefore, there is a really strong paragraph in the Outcome Document on increasing the voice and participation of developing countries in the IMF, which means basically a quota and trade reform in the IMF. So that's the second thing.

Unless you have this fundamental reform within its structure itself, it would remain a kind of paramilitary of finance capital. I mean it wouldn't really be able to do very much good.

And also, it is a question of restoring the IMF to what it was. If you remember, when the IMF was set up in the days of Lord Keynes, the Bretton Woods institutions, they were committed not to really exchange rate [?] management and to maintaining high levels of employment. That is Keynesian demand management. The present thing which they have got, these wide-ranging conditionalities, were not a part of the original mandate of the IMF.

Again, it's a cooperative institution. Why should it charge interest rates higher than the marketplace, or equal to the marketplace? Why not lower?

These are some of the issues that are being addressed both through modern pressure and resolutions from the UN, including the Outcome Document, as well as work which has now begun in the Development Committee of the IMF itself. So that is the answer to your question.

On the question of cooperation, I think the point is that it is not a question of cooperation with a government which is a gross and systematic violator of human rights. I don't think anybody is suggesting that. The point of cooperation is that no one country or group of countries can attack a country, either in terms of logistical or military resources if indeed force is required, or in terms of diplomatic or coercive diplomacy if the force of diplomacy is required.

Therefore, cooperation means that this country or a group of countries have to cooperate with a wide range of countries. It will require a plurilateral at least, if not a multilateral, approach to talking about the gross violations that exist in that country. So that is the meaning of cooperation. It is not one of cooperating with the country itself which is grossly violating human rights.

NANCY SODERBERG: I would just add on that point I actually think there is more of a dilemma there than Ambassador Sen referred to. He may be talking about a different aspect. But when I was in government, one of the toughest issues that I struggled with, just on a personal level, is: okay, you've got these corrupt, horrible regimes, but you want them to do something. So do you engage them to do something?

I think you have seen this very directly, the most obvious example, under the last twenty years, in all the Cold War bad deals that were made, but after that as well, for example in Saudi Arabia.

I think recently we faced a choice in Pakistan. Pakistan is not a particularly nice democratic government right now, but we work with them very closely in order to get them to cooperate with us. My own view is we didn't have to make that choice; we could have pushed both. But we didn't. Not being in government, it's hard to second-guess that decision fully, but my guess is there was probably a different choice there.

The same with Russia. Russia is moving in completely the wrong direction right now. We hadn't really said a peep about it until about six months ago."By the way, remember democracy?"

So I think in government it's one of the toughest choices you face, is that you want something from a country; how do you weigh that against the principles of dealing with them?

There's no answer to it. Every choice is different. For every one you have to weigh the pros and cons and in your gut make the decision. That's why the President gets paid the big bucks, because ultimately he's the one who has to make that balance. It is very difficult. It is one of the toughest issues in government, I think. That's a very ethical choice that you have to make time and time again. It's one of the tougher ones.

NIRUPAM SEN: If I could clarify for just one second, I meant that if you come to the point of action against a country that is doing that, then it is in that context that I said it. But Ambassador Soderberg is absolutely right. In fact, one can go beyond what she said also, that not only in certain cases do you have to cooperate for a larger purpose or for another purpose which is equally or more important, but there is an element of long-term cooperation even with that government, because in many of the cases, for instance in Croatia, it is a question of also building up the capacity in both countries to be more democratic, and capacity-building, which the Human Rights Commission does.

PAIGE ARTHUR: Could I ask Professor Keohane for two minutes on the administrative reform?

ROBERT KEOHANE: Yes, very briefly. On the cooperation question, cooperation is always power-laden. Cooperation is a power term basically. It's mutual adjustment of policy, which will be weighed by the power of the actor. So cooperation in world politics will never be fair, and if you ask for it to be fair, you won't have any cooperation. So you try to make it as fair as possible, but you don't expect to square that circle. It's not possible.

On the issue of accountability asked over here, it seems to me that it would be a good thing to increase the Secretary General's power, his authority to actually act. It would, of course, probably increase the capacity of the United States to get its way sometimes. But it would mean more authority for the UN. Right now we have a deadlock, and the deadlock is making power flow away from the UN. It's not as if the UN can hold on to power by maintaining a system which produces deadlock. If the UN is not reformed in this way, power will flow away from it. It's not an easy choice. It's not simple.

I think that expanding the Security Council would in many ways, as Ambassador Sen said, increase the breadth and perhaps the legitimacy of the Security Council, if done properly. It is not going to solve the accountability problem. I think there we agree, there have to be networks of establishing accountability. If you simply add more Permanent Members with a veto, which is, in a sense, necessarily unaccountable—it's the most unaccountable thing in the system, that states can veto action arbitrarily, with no justification needed—that will not solve the accountability problem. It might help solve some other problems.

BRUCE JONES: Very quickly on both points. On the management reform, you asked about the politics of is it wise for the United States to insist on this, and I want to pick up on what Professor Keohane said. I actually think that there is a real problem here.

I fully support the idea of management reform to increase the authority of the Secretary General, but let's look at the politics. The United States is saying, in effect, we're not really very interested in sharing power at the Security Council—and, by the way, we'd like you to give up some of the power you already have in the control of the budget and on the management side.

I substantively agree with both those positions. I just can't see how you can get anybody else to agree with them. I don't have much hope that we're going to get serious management reform in a context where the United States is as conservative as it is on some of the other policy issues at the UN. So I think there's a real issue there.

Just on the cooperation versus justice, Sergio Vieira de Mello, one of the UN's real stars, who was unfortunately killed in Baghdad in the terrorist bombing against the UN headquarters, who was our negotiator in Kosovo, Timor, and many other places, used to talk about the UN as a job in which he spent all of his time with "war criminals I have known and loved." That is just part of the reality of working in these contexts. There is this constant tradeoff between effectiveness and justice.

PAIGE ARTHUR: I want to thank our panel and I want to thank all of you for coming.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Read MoreRead Less