U.S. Envoy Tells U.N. Africa Merits Focus

By Pisik, Betsy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 21, 1999 | Go to article overview

U.S. Envoy Tells U.N. Africa Merits Focus


Pisik, Betsy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


NEW YORK - American U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke urged the United Nations to press ahead with administrative reforms yesterday and he called on the world body to focus more on Africa in 2000.

In a wide-ranging press conference that touched briefly on peace and health initiatives in Africa, the organization's role in peacekeeping, and a pair of recent reports criticizing U.N. failures to prevent massacres in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Rwanda, Mr. Holbrooke stressed the need to push through by Washington.

"The United Nations is a vast and complicated place," he told reporters yesterday at a press conference at the U.S. mission here. He specifically noted the disconnection between the Security Council and the Secretariat, and the Secretariat and the various U.N. programs working in the field.

After years of haggling, the U.S. Congress recently agreed to pay back dues of nearly $1 billion to the United Nations provided the world body carried through with reforms to weed out waste and mismanagement.

Mr. Holbrooke praised Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying "his mandate, his autonomy, his role ought to be advanced."

In particular, he said, "his role and influence over the agencies ought to be increased."

A spokesman for Mr. Annan, Frederic Eckhard, said later that the secretary-general had been improving coordination between various U.N. programs and funds, but has no control over independent U.N. agencies. These include the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency that is independent of New York.

The U.S. ambassador also said January would be "the month of Africa," in the Security Council, with open meetings to discuss conflicts in Burundi, the Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. …

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