Magazine article UN Chronicle

Returning to the United Nations: Then and Now

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Returning to the United Nations: Then and Now

Article excerpt

After a lapse of nearly 15 years, I have returned to New York once again to represent my country at the United Nations. During the interim, I served my Government in other diplomatic assignments and as Minister for Trade, Industry, Power and Tourism in the Bhutanese Cabinet for about a decade.

A sea change had occurred. With the glaring disappearance of the other superpower-the Soviet Union-the politics of cold war in its previous manifestation no longer prevailed. Though I welcomed the end of this phenomenon, I somehow missed the earlier situation with its peculiar absurdity and bipolar rationale. At that time, the functioning of most States, and especially of the small ones in the international community, seemed somehow easier and more clear-cut. The role of the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Bhutan has been a member since 1973 and which still to a large extent is the forum for 114 countries to hammer out their positions on diverse international issues, looked markedly less important. As one Permanent Representative commented to me while campaigning for a seat in a United Nations body: "Now each delegation has to fend for itself. Each to his own." The collapse of the Soviet Union also resulted in a large number of States seeking and becoming members of the United Nations. The substantial prolife ration of membership also meant that each delegation had to deal with a larger number of other sovereign entities. This task becomes quite confounding when campaigning for seats and attending national days and other receptions-not forgetting the increased congestion of the General Assembly Hall!

Though individuals make the major difference, as is definitely the case with Mr. Kofi Annan, the role of the Secretary-General in a unipolar (or is it multipolar?) world has become much more significant and taxing on his time and energy. In this context, the appointment of a Deputy Secretary-General was the right move, though the role of this position is yet to fully crystallize. The person occupying this position should be a true deputy by giving the Secretary-General more time to deal with urgent and critical issues facing the Organization. In this way, the Secretary-General would have more time to handle the day-to-day containment of security questions and deal directly with world leaders and heads of international organizations. …

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