February, 1982 Home   Newsletters

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April, 1982

Waikiki 2000 - A Slide Show and a Go-See Tour
President's Message (Barbara Farwell)
Action -- Clean Air - League Involved in Controversy (Barbara Farwell)
Membership Update
We Count on Vote Counts
New Home
U.N. - Is there a Doctor in the House? (Dottie Gullicksen)
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! - National Women's History Week
League Testifies
Something for Everyone - New Publications
Proposed Honolulu Program 1982-83
Something New for Annual Meeting
Proposed By-Laws Changes
Proposed Budget 1982-83

The U.N. - Is there a Doctor in the House?

The LWV's UN observer, Edith Segall, writing in the National VOTER, and Eduardo Crawley, writing in SOUTH, a Third World oriented London monthly, expressed a growing concern for the UN in its 40th year, though they are in full agreement that the UN's basic structure and ruling principles are sound. The LWV has long recognized the UN as the best existing instrument of international cooperation and keeps its eye on the good health of the UN.

Both Segall and Crawley agree that there is good reason for concern. Feeling the loss of its superpower status in the UN, the US is taking a limited view of the UN as an instrument of US foreign policy. The US has been suffering isolation in the UN forum on its East-West stand and its Middle East voting. US clout has been diluted by the growing number of members and reduced by the increasing assertiveness of the General Assembly. The US complained bitterly about the tyranny of numbers (membership is now 156, up from the original 51). Therefore, Washington is following a strategy to separate the numbers by identifying the oil-rich OPEC states, the newly industrialized countries (now new babes in the free-market), and the least developed countries.

The member states are also not abiding by their commitment to use the UN consistently. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim feels this is the reason for the ills of the UN.

But Third World member states avoid appealing to the UN because of superpower politics and the 5-nation veto which may be politically obsolete. The LWV believes in the UN holding to its principles of universal negotiations on problems of global interdependence. The member states, in not abiding by their commitment to appeal to the UN, reduce the UN's effectiveness as mediator.

Related to these problems is that of cost. Costs of the UN soar and efficiency decreases with too many agencies, too many programs, too much talk. Segall bemoans the empty rhetoric of general debate continuing ad infinitum, and says that even the UN's best friends know it lacks budgetary discipline. Crawley cites the waste of money in having so many agencies and points out that countries of the "South" need to have some of their "brains" returned to them from the UN. The Reagan administration exerted some pressure in the UN's budget area by putting a freeze on contributions to the specialized agencies.

In middle age, the UN has perhaps grown overly fat and many feel has lost its direction, but it has a strong, healthy structure and can be put in good condition and on its way again.

Dottie Gullicksen

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