Hvad vi kan forvente af 2011

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Hvad vi kan forvente af 2011

En amerikansk kongres med Republikansk flertal, der allerede signalerer nedskæringer i budgetterne til FN-programmer; spændinger i Sikkerhedsrådet, som magter som Indien, Sydafrika og Tyskland påbegynder deres medlemsskab; spørgsmålet om Sudan - for ikke at nævne spørgsmålet om et selvstændigt Palæstina; Hariri-tribunalet i Libanon; og hvorvidt det lykkes at få diplomatiske forhandlinger i gang mellem Nord- og Syd Korea. Dét er blot nogle få af de udfordringer, der venter for diplomater og ngo'er i FN's gange i 2011, i følge Colum Lynch' analyse i bloggen fra og om 'Turtle Bay'

The difficult year ahead at Turtle Bay

The year 2010 got off to an awful beginning for the United Nations, with the breakdown in climate talks at Copenhagen shaking confidence in multilateral diplomacy, and a devastating earthquake in Haiti that wiped out the country's leadership and decimated the U.N. mission there. 2011 seems like it will be equally difficult, as the assembled diplomats of Turtle Bay prepare to struggle with disputed elections, intransigent member states, and multiple nuclear crises. Here's a less-than-cheerful New Year's guide to some of the biggest challenges on the U.N.'s horizon.

The return of Congressional oversight

For two years, the U.N. has been the beneficiary of a policy of benign neglect on Washington's Capitol Hill, where a Democratic Congress has pretty much left it to the Obama administration to chart its own course at Turtle Bay. Those days are coming to a swift end. An emboldened Republican majority, led by the new chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Ileanna Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), has already signaled an interest in reviewing U.S. financial support for U.N. programs, citing the need for belt tightening. A Cuban-American lawmaker from a heavily Jewish district, Ros Lehtinen can also be expected to use her position to shore up Israel's conservative prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and to ratchet up pressure on Iran, and the Palestinian Authority. In February, 2009, she introduced legislation to cut U.S. funding for the United Nations and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which is responsible for providing relief to more than 4 million Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East. Lehtinen's intransigence could complicate the Obama administration's efforts to ensure funding for new and enlarged U.N.-backed peacekeeping missions in Somalia and Ivory Coast.

Ban Ki-moon II

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at his year-end press conference that he will soon definitively announce whether he will be running for a second five-year term in 2011, but he's already been hinting for months that he wants to remain in the job through 2016. Ban's tenure has been a disappointment to many key pro-U.N. constituencies, including human rights groups, progressive intellectuals, and conflict resolution organizations. The New York Times editorial page scolded Ban for failing to raise concerns about China's human rights performance during a meeting with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, and counseled Washington to rethink its plans to back Ban for a second term. But Ban has managed to maintain sufficient support from key U.N. member states, particularly the powerful permanent five members of the Security Council -- the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain -- to ensure smooth sailing for a second term. Some of the criticism has been dismissed by Asian governments, principally China and South Korea, as biased towards the organizations first Asian leader since the 1970s. A top Indian official, meanwhile, said that New Delhi would support a second term for Ban. That has dissuaded contenders from throwing their hat into the ring. Shashi Tharoor, an Indian novelist, politician, and former U.N. official who ran second to Ban in his 2006 bid for secretary general, was asked whether he had plans to consider a second run. "None whatsoever," he wrote on his Twitter account @ShashiTharoor. "That train has left the station."

Rising tension in the Security Council

The U.S. will confront the toughest, most powerful, assemblage of world powers in the U.N. Security Council in 2011 with India, South Africa, and Germany beginning two-year terms that they hope will lead to permanent membership on the council. (Brazil will start its second year on the council). The new composition will reinforce the council's voting bloc that emphasizes sovereignty issues and is led by China and Russia. That will make it more difficult for the U.S. and European powers to use the U.N.'s prime security to enforce human rights or to weigh in on disputed national elections, as they did last month in Ivory Coast. The council is also likely to see more protracted negotiations on most issues -- from North Korean aggression, to the Iranian nuclear program -- as the newly emerging middle powers demand a greater say in managing the major crises of the day. On the upside, the trend may give Security Council agreements greater international legitimacy and credibility, making it more difficult for countries to ignore its edicts. In that vein, the Wall Street Journal reported a story Wednesday claiming India, Iran's largest trading partner, has begun to more rigorously enforce sanctions against Tehran.

Working for a peaceful partition of Sudan

There is one achievement within reach next year that could easily burnish the reputation of the U.N., and renew faith in multilateral conflict resolution: the management of a bloodless transition to independence in South Sudan, which is scheduled to vote January 9 on the partition of Africa's largest country. In an effort to avert a return to civil war, the Obama administration has committed high-level diplomatic attention to the transition, participating in negotiations with the two sides over the future of the country. But sharp differences remain. Khartoum and South Sudan have yet to reach agreement on a broad range of vital issues, including citizenship in the divided Sudan, grazing rights, and control over water, oil, and other natural resources. "The referendum is sure to shock Sudan's political system," says the International Crisis Group. "The absence of a basic blueprint for the post-2011 relationship between North and South contributes to uncertainties about the political and economic future of each, risks the referendum being viewed as a zero-sum game and thus sustains fears about the smooth conduct of the exercise and acceptance of its result."

Getting tough in Ivory Coast

This West African country has been below the radar screen throughout much of Ban's tenure, but it has exploded into a major crisis since the country's long time ruler, Laurent Gbagbo, and its opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, both claimed victory in the country's November 28 national election. Ivory Coast electoral commission declared Ouattara the winner, but the Constitutional Council, headed by a Gbagbo ally, rejected the judgment, and Gbagbo has had himself sworn in as president. With Russia threatening to block the U.N.'s intervention, the Security Council did nothing at first, even as violence erupted in Ivory Coast.  But the U.S, the U.N., and West African governments have since moved to recognize Ouattara, and have stripped Gbagbo's representative to the U.N. of his diplomatic credentials.  U.N. peacekeepers will continue to provide a last line of defense for Ouattara, who has hunkered down in a hotel in the capital city, but no one yet knows what combination of diplomacy of violence will resolve the crisis.

The republic of Palestine

With Middle East peace talks at an impasse, the Palestinian authority has signaled once again that it may mount a push at the United Nations to recognize the state of Palestine.  The Palestinian authority has proposed a similar action various times in the past, but it has never followed through. This time, however, the Palestinians have already persuaded Brazil, which is serving in the Security Council, Argentina and Bolivia to back a Palestinian independence drive. Any push for a Security Council resolution recognizing the Palestinians would likely provoke a U.S. veto. But the U.N. General Assembly could take it up, providing a stage for the Palestinians to rally international opinion against Netanyahu's government.

The Lebanon tribunal

The U.N. probe into the 2005 Valentine Day's assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is set to release indictments against suspects this year, and numerous reports suggest that Hezbollah agents will be named. The charges are expected to roil politics in Lebanon, where thousands of U.N. peacekeepers are struggling to maintain a 2006 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Ban's man in Pyongyang

Prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough on the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula have looked particularly grim in 2010 as North Korea, undergoing a fragile dynastic succession, has lashed out at South Korea, torpedoing the South Korean war ship, Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, and shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two marines and two civilians. But South Korean President Lee Myung-bak raised the prospect for a diplomatic resolution, saying he would support a resumption of stalled six-nation diplomatic talks aimed at shuttering Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. Top American officials told the Washington Post and the New York Times this month that China has exerted pressure on North Korea to show restraint after South Korea pressed ahead with plans for military training exercise near Yeonpyeong. It appears unlikely for the moment that the U.N. Security Council will play a major role in managing the crisis. China has largely blocked efforts by South Korea to seek a Security Council condemnation of North Korea's attacks. Ban Ki moon, who strained to carve out a mediation role, got a boost last month when Russia introduced a proposal to have Ban send an envoy to the region to mediate the dispute. Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Washington was open to the U.N. assuming such a role. But that initiative seems to be on hold for the moment.

Kilde: http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/

UN Photo/Michos Tzovaras

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