The Foreign Service Journal, September 2006

little regard to merit or qualifica- tions. Unfortunately, this logical for- mula would leave Russia out in the cold to compete under the third category and is thus a non- starter. So as a compromise, I believe the U.S. should whole- heartedly support British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s proposal to add Germany, Japan and India as permanent members without otherwise expanding the Secur- ity Council’s total membership. In addition, I believe both world and U.S. interests would be served by abolishing the veto that the pre- sent five permanent members enjoy. If that is too bit- ter a pill for them to swallow, perhaps the veto could be strictly limited to action under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. Otherwise, substantive decisions could be taken by two-thirds or three-quarter majorities and by simple majority on procedural matters. However, I am quite convinced that the veto is not as important or precious as most people think. The Trusteeship Council is presently out of busi- ness, because no trusteeship territories remain to be overseen. But it could be usefully reconstituted as a Trusteeship Committee for the Environment, commis- sioning studies and producing policy recommendations relating to such “global commons” issues as pollution, fisheries, climate, the “high seas,” global epidemics and biodiversity. These changes might aid in easing more fundamen- tal secretariat reform that has so far been opposed by smaller member-states who fear that the large devel- oped countries are trying to wrest away what little influence they have. As a result, the secretariat remains top-heavy, overstaffed, reluctant to apply merit principles to promotion and recruitment, and too sub- ject to outside political pressure. The deputy secretary-general should be the chief management officer of the U.N. and be selected on the basis of demonstrated management experience. Subject to membership control of the budget process, he or she and the secretary-general himself should have a freer hand to organize the secretariat without membership micromanagement. Patience Is a Virtue At first blush I know these proposals sound impossibly rev- olutionary, running as they do against the cherished fiction of “sovereign equality.” Clearly the obstacles are daunting and resistance would be widespread, including within the U.S. But discussion and further thought may permit a more realistic appreciation of how reform would improve the operation and effectiveness of an organization which, if it did not exist, would truly have to be invented. The only alternative may be to watch a further withering away of an increasingly outdated institution. I think back to when I was a new member of the staff of the Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1950s and wrote a proposal for an international orga- nization to monitor nuclear programs to ensure that they were not diverted into weaponry. Most of my col- leagues at the AEC ridiculed the idea as naïvely vision- ary, if not actually contrary to U.S. interests. But one of the commissioners (Harry Smythe, a former Princeton physics professor and author of the famous “Smythe Report”) thought the idea was worth pursu- ing. He took it to some of his colleagues in the Eisenhower White House and the idea, to my surprise, surfaced as a proposal in President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech at the U.N. in December 1953. Shortly afterward I received a panicky call from a special assistant to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, telling me that the State Department had been handed responsibility for follow-up to the president’s speech. State had no experts on nuclear matters in those days and was at a loss about how to proceed. So my first assignment when I joined the department in January 1955 was to fill out the practical details of the idea, prepare a draft statute and serve as a principal member of the team that negotiated it into existence in 1956. Last year the International Atomic Energy Agency won the Nobel Peace Prize. It may take half a century, but sometimes it does pay to think “outside the box”! F O C U S 32 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 6 Abolishing, or at least curtailing, the veto of the Security Council’s five permanent members would serve not only world interests but our own.