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Political and Security Affairs:
The Security Council, with strong U.S. participation, achieved some notable successes in 1999 responding to threats to international peace and security. In December, after months of intensive discussion, the Security Council adopted a resolution that reaffirmed Iraq's obligations under previous resolutions and detailed the Council's expectations regarding monitoring and verification of weapons of mass destruction, Kuwait issues, and the sanctions regime. In addition, the Council adopted two Oil-for-Food renewals, and the United States worked for effective implementation of this program, the UN's largest humanitarian effort, in order to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. Billions of dollars worth of goods have flowed to Iraq under “Oil-for-Food,” improving the humanitarian situation in the country considerably.
In a referendum held under Security Council supervision, East Timorese rejected continued association with Indonesia. The Council responded effectively to halt subsequent violence in the territory. The Security Council also established an international civil administrative presence in Kosovo after NATO air attacks halted Serb ethnic cleansing in the province. The Council imposed sanctions on the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan for failure to turn over for prosecution international terrorist Usama bin Laden. A Security Council presidential statement acknowledged Libya's surrender of the two PanAm 103 bombing suspects in April for trial in the Netherlands. The United States supported continued arms embargoes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and several other countries, and backed efforts to energize sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
The Security Council also experienced some frustrations, particularly on African issues. Despite UN reconciliation efforts, fighting continued throughout 1999 in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and, to a lesser extent, Ethiopia and Eritrea. A multidisciplinary UN operation was established in the Congo in the wake of the Lusaka agreement and the UN presence in Freetown was increased, but ceasefires have not held. In Angola, the Council allowed the mandate for the UN Observer Mission in Angola to lapse as fighting between government and UNITA rebel forces intensified. The UN Preventive Deployment Force, the successful preventive deployment mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, ended when China vetoed its proposed extension just as the Kosovo crisis worsened. Although the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara completed the identification of voters for the Western Sahara referendum, disagreements over applicant appeals once again stalled the settlement process indefinitely.
Overall, UN peacekeeping supported U.S. interests in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and elsewhere around the world. The size and number of UN peacekeeping operations was on the increase, with over 18,000 civilian police, military observers, and troops deployed in 18 missions at year's end. Several new missions were initiated, including large-scale transitional administration missions in Kosovo and East Timor, and the mission in Sierra Leone was expanded. When these missions are fully deployed, they will double the 14,000 UN peacekeepers in the field at the beginning of 1999. The United States continued to apply clear criteria in decision-making on UN peacekeeping, including review of costs, size, risk, mandate, and exit strategies. The United States also continued to work with the United Nations and other countries to improve the civilian police aspect of peacekeeping, which was increasingly in demand.
The Security Council held an increased number of thematic sessions, with resolutions adopted on the harmful impact of armed conflict on children, protection of civilians in armed conflict, and terrorism. In the 54th General Assembly, no formula could be found for a positive resolution agreeable to both Israelis and Palestinians. General Assembly consideration of Security Council reform remained at an impasse. Economic and Social Affairs:
Economic and social issues at the United Nations are considered both in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council as well as in a range of regional and specialized commissions. Economic issues debated in 1999 included globalization, external debt crises, poverty alleviation methods, and African development. In each case the United States sought balanced resolutions identifying best practices available to countries undergoing economic challenges.
In the social arena, the United States supported resolutions in the General Assembly on several human rights issues, social development, crime prevention, international narcotics, advancement of women, and protection of children. Thematic resolutions at the UN Commission on Human Rights allowed the United States to demonstrate strong support for civil and political rights and elimination of discrimination based on race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Two resolutions introduced by the United States passed overwhelmingly-one on the former Yugoslavia, the other on Promotion of the Right to Democracy. Other resolutions condemned human rights violations in Kosovo, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, and Burma.
At the Commission for Social Development the United States joined consensus on resolutions adopted on the International Year of Older Persons and on youth programs. A priority theme of the commission was “social services for all.” At the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the United States sponsored a resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and cosponsored a resolution reaffirming the rights of women and girls infected by HIV/AIDS. The CSW also began preparations for a five-year follow-up to the Beijing World Conference on Women. U.S. participation in the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice included negotiations on a convention to combat transnational organized crime.
Development and Humanitarian Relief Activities:
The multilateral development organizations of the UN system continue to make important contributions to international efforts to address sustainable development and broad-based growth, poverty alleviation, child and gender issues, good governance, and global food security. An important area receiving increased attention is the question of how best to move countries that have suffered conflict or crisis back to normality. These efforts are compatible with broad U.S. goals, furthering U.S. interests around the globe.
These organizations include the UN Development Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, the UN Children's Fund, the UN Fund for Population Activities, Habitat, the UN Capital Development Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and UNAIDS. The United States has a seat on the governing board of each of these organizations. In view of U.S. interest in the important work of these organizations, a primary U.S. goal has been to improve their operational efficiency and accountability. In this regard, the U.S. Government has continued to be successful in pushing for needed reforms in their governance, financing, and programmatic activities, as well as holding the line on the need for continuing budget stringency.
Administration and Budget:
Good progress was achieved in 1999 in the administrative and budget areas. The 1998–1999 biennium budget was maintained within the $2.533 billion budget cap established by the U.S. Congress, allowing for full payment by the United States of its remaining calendar year 1998 UN regular budget assessments. A budget of $2.536 billion for the 2000–2001 biennium—just one-tenth of one percent over the U.S. $2.533 billion targetwas approved in December. On the other hand, the overall downward trend in the scope and costs of UN peacekeeping began to reverse itself, as budgets were prepared for new missions in East Timor and Kosovo. As the non-renewable term of its first director came to an end, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) issued a report summarizing significant findings, recommendations, and actions taken in regard to 97 audits, inspections, investigations, and evaluations, and there was a continued high rate of managers' implementation of DIOS recommendations. In addition, seven reports were issued by the Joint Inspection Unit.
This was the first full year of service by several key agency leaders: Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway) at the World Health Organization (WHO), Juan Somavia (Chile) at the International Labor Organization (ILO), Mohamed El Baradei (Egypt) at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Klaus Toepfer (Germany) at the UN Environment Program .
Leadership in several other agencies was decided in 1999. Thomas Leavey was reelected as Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU); a former senior officer of the U.S. Postal Service, he was the only American heading a UN-system agency as a result of an election by a governing body. Jacques Diouf (Senegal) was reelected for a second sixyear term to head the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Kamil Idris (Sudan) became the new head of the World Intellectual Property Organization; G. O. P. Obasi (Nigeria) was reelected to a fourth five-year term in the World Meteorological Organization; and Koichiro Matsuura (Japan) became the new head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Except for UNESCO, where the United States does not have membership, U.S. officials played major roles in election campaigns in these agencies.
During 1999, the Department of State implemented its new role as the agency having primary responsibility for the relations with the UPU. As a result of this assignment, conveyed in legislation at the end of 1998, a senior official of the Department of State led the U.S. delegation to the UPU Congress in Beijing August September, while the Postmaster General served as alternate chief of the delegation. The Congress is held only once every five years. The U.S. delegation was also distinguished by the inclusion for the first time of private-sector representatives. This was part of the U.S. effort to bring more openness and transparency to UPU operations, in the same manner that the United States promotes reform throughout the UN system.
As U.S. representatives stressed reform, the need for change increasingly was being recognized in all the technical and specialized agencies. WHO and ILO in particular were restructured by their new leaders in efforts to make them more effective and efficient. Many of the agencies were considering or implementing term limits for their elected officers. Within WHO, following a 1999 decision by the directing council of the Pan American Health Organization, all of the elected posts are now established with five-year terms of office, renewable only once.
Most of the specialized and technical agencies of the UN system adopted budgets for the biennium 2000–2001 during their meetings in 1999. With very few exceptions, these budgets were adopted, in accordance with U.S. policy, with no increases over the budgets in the preceding biennium. This goal was achieved by U.S. representatives despite increasing program needs in the technical agencies, many years of nogrowth budgets, and growing complaints about U.S. policy from delegates of many other countries. The heads of agencies and delegates of other countries were pleased that the U.S. Congress acted during 1999 to adopt legislation that would make it possible for U.S. arrears to be paid. Nevertheless, the specialized agencies recognized that payment would not be possible until the WHO, ILO, and FAO took specific action to limit to 22 percent the maximum amount that any one nation is assessed and to achieve other specific reform goals related to areas such as internal oversight and program evaluation.
On substantive issues, the technical agencies made significant advances in support of U.S. policy during 1999. The ILO Conference adopted a “Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor,” and President Clinton signed the instrument of ratification at a meeting with ILO Director General Somavia. The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS gave special attention to the rapid spread of the disease in Africa, where AIDS is now the leading cause of death. WHO initiated steps toward the drafting of a framework convention on tobacco control, and it decided, for the time being, not to destroy the remaining stocks of smallpox virus so that further research could be performed.