Top Annan aide says Bolton could help UN

Posted in UN , Other | 14-Mar-05 | Author: Brian Knowlton| Source: International Herald Tribune

Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, talks about the organization during the taping of FOX News Sunday at the FOX studios in Washington Sunday, March 13, 2005.
WASHINGTON The man chosen by Secretary General Kofi Annan to help address critical problems facing the United Nations said Sunday that the Bush administration's choice of John Bolton, a blunt critic of the UN, as ambassador to the world body could actually help in these efforts.

Mark Malloch Brown, whom Annan chose in January as a trouble-shooting chief of staff, was asked on Fox News about a long list of challenges facing the UN, and acknowledged their gravity.

But he said that if the tough-talking Bolton could "corral" UN critics in Congress and in the administration and then bring to the world body an agreed-on package of clear and concrete proposals, "then that's good news for us."

Malloch Brown acknowledged that the world body had lost the confidence of many Americans; a Fox News survey showed a drop in three years from 42 percent approval to 32 percent. But he added that any move to force Annan from office prematurely would be viewed by much of the world as an "inappropriate political assassination."

An interviewer asked Malloch Brown about problems, some still under study, that had made last year what Annan termed an "annus horribilis": They include the Iraq oil-for-food scandal implicating Annan's son; the sexual harassment allegations against Ruud Lubbers that brought his resignation as high commissioner for refugees; and reports that UN peacekeeping troops in Congo, Burundi and elsewhere had sexually abused young girls.

He said the scandal over peacekeepers was "devastating." While the problem was in some ways "as old as soldiering itself," he said, those guilty of abuses would be punished. The peacekeeping forces were "stitched together" and underfunded, and needed to be remade with behavior standards like those in the U.S. or British armies.

Malloch Brown defended the pace of UN action over Lubbers. While Annan's office had been aware of harassment allegations since July, he said, an international attorney had determined that they were unlikely to stand up in court.

Lubbers was a widely respected former Dutch prime minister, Malloch Brown noted, and the allegations had not at first appeared sufficiently solid to merit damaging the reputation of a man "of this distinction."

Lubbers resigned last month under mounting pressure, denying the charges and complaining that "insult has now been added to injury." The resignation was seen to reflect the forceful approach Malloch Brown had promised when he left the UN Development Program to become Annan's chief of staff.