US Congress condemns UN

The United States House of Representatives has voted to condemn the Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements by 342-80 and was critical of the Obama administration for not vetoing the resolution.

Bizarrely they also said that the US should oppose and veto any future resolutions “that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel”. That a country can take a non-negotiable position regardless of the merits of any future resolution, and can veto everything, is a fundamental weakness of the UN – and of the US.

The US seems to be threatening the UN’s existence unless it becomes US compliant.

Politico: House condemns U.N. over Israel settlement vote

The House voted overwhelmingly to rebuke the United Nations for passing a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction, a bipartisan slap that also targets the Obama administration while signaling a rocky road ahead for U.S.-U.N. relations under soon-to-be-President Donald Trump.

The U.N. Security Council voted 14-0 to condemn Israeli settlements on Dec. 23, despite vigorous opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Trump, both of whom demanded that the United States exercise its veto.

The House measure, which passed 342-80 on Thursday, is likely to be followed by a similar, largely symbolic non-binding resolution in the Senate.

And there is talk in the US of throwing their money out of the UN cot case.

Some U.S. lawmakers already are saying they want to go further in the coming months by stripping the United Nations of U.S. funding.

So they will only support the UN if they get their own way? This is pathetic, especially of a super power that should support the principal of UN votes on international issues regardless of them getting what they want.

Perhaps the UN should be based somewhere other than the US.

“The United States Government should oppose and veto future United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel,” the House measure states. It also demands that the U.N. repeal or fundamentally alter the measure it passed.

It is ridiculous to state a position on any future resolutions involving Israel. As the US has veto power this is basically trying to say that the UN shouldn’t deal with any issue involving Israel.

And demanding that the UN should repeal a resolution that passed 14-0 is just plain nuts.

If the US tries a counter resolution once Donald Trump takes over it is unlikely to succeed as it would need a reversal of a majority of countries in the Security Council (the membership has changed since 1 January) and would need agreement of all of the other four permanent members. That’s unlikely to happen.

Trump’s decision to weigh in came at the behest of the Israelis, and it was unusual in the sense that during presidential transition periods the incoming commander-in-chief typically defers to the sitting president on policy decisions.

But Trump has been trying to meddle early on a number of issues, it seems to be his way. The UN may be at serious risk of becoming more dysfunctional with the US under Trump’s presidency.

That there were several dozen Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, who voted against the resolution will be seen as a victory in some corners, including among left-leaning Jewish activists who took comfort in the fact that rival resolutions with softer language had also been proposed.

A minor victory if any.

Nonetheless, that so many Democrats and Republicans joined to condemn the U.N. resolution once again underscored the depth of the bipartisan support for the Israeli government in Congress.

And that underscores the impotence of the UN on Middle East issues. Entrenched side taking means little of value will ever be done.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who chairs a key appropriations subcommittee, has vowed to “suspend or significantly reduce” that America’s contribution to the United Nations, which amounts to about 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.

If the US doesn’t get what it wants it won’t continue it’s support.

If the US pulls it’s support it should also lose it’s permanent member status.

And if the US won’t support the fundamental principals of how the UN works – democratically albeit flawed due to the extraordinary voting power of the permanent members – then the UN should consider relocating out of the US.

“I think we have to participate in the United Nations, but I’m very disappointed in our lack of our exercising our rights at the United Nations, or exercising them properly,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, adding that he is interested to hear the details of Graham’s proposal and is “inclined to be supportive.”

So their grizzles should be directed at themselves, the United States, rather than directing their petulance at the UN that operated as it is designed to do.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, meanwhile, said “there are certain elements of the U.N. we want to keep.”

They want to keep the bits that allow the US to get it’s own way, and eliminate the bits that don’t do what the US wants? This is pathetic posturing. The world is bigger than the US, and the UN should be too.

The US-UN relationship is likely to deteriorate.

Trump has expressed skepticism about the nature and role of the United Nations over the years, in line with his suspicion of multilateral organizations more broadly.

The president-elect spoke Wednesday morning on the phone with the new U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, according to transition officials who did not give details of the conversation. Guterres previously led the U.N. agency that helps refugees and has been a passionate advocate for that cause; Trump has insisted the U.S. should not accept any Syrian refugees, putting him at odds with U.N. priorities.

It looks like Trump wants the UN to be a compliant arm of US power and decisions and preference, but he isn’t president-elect of the world.

Trump could munt the UN – without the US it would be meaningless, but it can’t bullied into compliance with US wishes either. Russia and China at least would resist this.

The US under Trump can’t dominate the UN and dominate the world and at the same time  withdraw from it’s UN responsibilities and withdraw from international trade agreements.

There could be a fundamental conflict in Trump’s aims.

Guterres in, Clark concedes

After getting three ‘discourage’ votes from the five permanent members of the Security Council – any of which could veto her – Helen Clark has conceded she is out of the running for the position of United Nations Secretary General.

Clark has congratulated former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres as the ‘clear winner’ after he received no veto votes – he got 13 ‘encourage’ votes and 2 no opinion votes.

Congratulations Antonio . Clear winner in selection for . A longtime colleague: we were Prime Ministers & UN heads together:

A formal vote is now expected soon to confirm that the Security Council will recommend Guterres.

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RNZ: Helen Clark’s bid to become UN Secretary General over

It has been as good as over for some time.

The 15-member Security Council cast secret ballots for each of the 10 candidates with the choices of encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres received 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.

“Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres,” Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters with his 14 council colleagues standing behind him.

“We have decided to go to a formal vote tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, and we hope it can be done by acclamation,” said Mr Churkin, who is council president for October.

For Mr Guterres to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly for election, the Security Council still needs to adopt a resolution behind closed doors. The resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

It seems like the appointment of Guterres is pretty much a formality now.

From the World Federation of United Nations Associations:

WFUNA Congratulates the Next Secretary-General of the UN

After the release of the results of the sixth informal Straw Poll today, and a subsequent formal vote tomorrow, it appears that the United Nations Security Council has reached a decision on a candidate to be nominated to the General Assembly to assume the position of UN Secretary-General. The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) welcome this show of unity by the Security Council.

The forthcoming nomination of H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres comes after the candidate availed himself to the openness and transparency of the new process, engaging in a number of civil society debates and dialogues.

WFUNA count upon H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres to follow through on his many commitments made during this process. In particular, we look forward to the following:

  • The reconstitution of UN Agency mandates and priorities to place the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the core work of the entire system
  • The introduction of a time-bound, clearly defined roadmap with benchmarks to achieve full gender and regional equity for high-level positions in the United Nations system
  • The commitment by the United Nations system as a whole to ensure that there is no impunity for UN forces and staff who commit sexual exploitation and abuse, and the prioritization of the protection of civilians for all UN Peace Operations
  • The integration of human rights throughout each UN agency and UN mission, a continuation of the legacy of H.E. Ban Ki-Moon’s Human Rights up Front initiative, and an institutional recommitment to mass atrocity prevention
  • A complete institutional commitment to the Sustaining Peace agenda and a recommitment to preventative diplomacy at the highest political level
  • A new mechanism and approach to foster serious responsibility and burden sharing to deal with the unprecedented refugee crisis the world is currently facing
  • Outside the box thinking to deal with the world’s humanitarian crisis that leverages new funding that does not undermining previous development cooperation resources
  • Further protection for civil society around the world and for their access and inclusion to United Nations processes
  • A commitment to the role of youth as agents for change, with the acknowledgement that Youth should be involved in decision-making at all levels
  • An attitude of independence throughout his tenure as UN Secretary-General to ensure that the international community can be supported to best deal with the many crises and issues facing the world today

If voted in by the General Assembly, WFUNA looks forward to supporting H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres in his role, and will do the utmost to work with his office and the rest of the UN system to help deliver on these promises.

More ‘discourage’ for Clark in latest UN poll

Helen Clark has edged up the rankings but has changed little in the 5th Security Council straw poll on the next UN Secretary General

Clark received the same number of ‘encourage’ votes, 6, the same as she got in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th polls (she got 8 in the 1st poll).

Her 2’no opinion’ votes in the last poll switched to ‘discourage’ in this poll, which must be a bit discouraging for Clark.

RNZ: Helen Clark seventh in latest UN poll

Former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres remains in first place with 12 votes, and former Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremić moved up to second place with eight votes.

Guterres looks to be well ahead, but a candidate only requires one veto from one of the five permanent members to hit a brick wall.

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