» Friday, May 26, 2006

UN reform

Asked if the Prime Minister would expand on the idea of having a UN Secretary General with enhanced powers and more freedom to take the initiative, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister sets out for example issues such as where if you wanted a separate budget line for an issue in the UN then you had to get the approval of the General Assembly. It was a very bureaucratic system and he spelled that out. He didn’t do so in any particular depth, since the scope of this speech was very wide ranging and whilst the UN was a part of it, it was not the focus. If anything Iraq was the main part of the speech.

Asked if the Prime Minister was considering surrendering Britain’s place on the Security Council, the PMOS said that the question the Prime Minister posed was whether it made sense for France to have a place but not Germany, or Britain to have a place but not Japan. He put forward a detailed proposal today as to how you resolved it. This was an issue which he had spoken about before. Questioned further the PMOS said that the Security Council should be more representative. That did not mean people would lose seats, that meant that the council as a whole would be representative. It was not written in tablets of stone that the Security Council had to be its current size.

What you had to do was work out a way of making it more representative. Put to him that there was a danger that more members meant you got more bureaucracy rather than less, the PMOS said that what you had to do, and this was the undercurrent of the whole speech, was to stop apologising for believing in democracy. We had to stop apologising for having an approach which actually wanted to find consensus across the international community and working out how you took things forward. He believed that should be the way things worked at the UN. There was a question about political will and so on, but he believed that if you made the Council more representative then you were more likely to get that bias. Put to him that this was not particularly new, the PMOS said that this was developing a line of thought and, he stressed, the UN was part of his speech.

Asked if the Prime Minister was considering diluting the veto powers of the permanent 5 members of the Security Council, the PMOS said that no. The Key thing was making it more representative. Asked how that could happen if a undemocratic power such as China continued to use its veto, the PMOS said that in terms of the detail of UN reform that was a matter that had to be negotiated. This was not a negotiating document. This was simply setting out why he believed we needed to move the UN and other institutions on. Initially we had to start with the reasons why he believed there was this mismatch between global institutions and global challenges. The Prime Minister recognised the difficulty of getting a final agreement, which was why he suggested that perhaps there might be an interim solution.

Asked if the Prime Minister felt the US hadn’t done enough to support the UN, PMOS said that both the UK and the US wanted a more effective organisation.

Asked about enrichment, the PMOS said that this was an idea which had been floated by the IAEA amongst others. It was a way of trying to recognise, as we did, that countries had a right to civil nuclear power. At the same time deal with the very real concerns, as reflected through the UN, when countries such as Iran didn’t obey its obligations.

Asked if the Prime Minister addressed the issue of global warming, the PMOS said that in terms of climate change, the Prime Minister had a section in his speech in which he argued that we had to address climate change because national interest was the same as global interest in terms of these whether you came at the problem form the point of view of climate change or security of energy supply, it didn’t really matter. The point was you had to deal with the issue.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed the US had done enough to support action on climate change, the PMOS said whether you came at this issue from the climate change perspective or the energy security perspective the issue was still one of advancing the technology. We needed to invest in the R&D to give companies the certainty and that was why we were pursuing the stabilisation goal.

Asked if the Prime Minister was using this speech to angle for a high profile international role once he had finished working at Downing Street, the PMOS said that people should read the speech. This was a serious analysis of global issues. Anybody who read the speech and thought otherwise must be reading a different speech from him.

Put to him that all this would come to very little unless there was a UN Secretary General in place who was receptive to this agenda and asked if the Prime Minister and the President had discussed it, the PMOS said that the focus of the discussions had been on much broader issues than that.

Asked if this reform was something that the Prime Minister felt he could see through personally, the PMOS said that that was a very thinly disguised question. This was a concern that he had expressed before, including in his speech at the UN last September. This was an issue he would keep pushing on just as he would keep pushing to make sure that the international community did everything they could. Asked who in that case would drive this agenda after the Prime Minister had left office, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister was driving it right now through his speech.

If you looked at the reaction to the first two speeches then you would find that there were plenty of people who shared the Prime Minister’s analysis. What the Prime Minister was doing was bring his experience of government and world affairs to this and outlining an agenda which he would continue to follow. He would continue to follow this agenda not just in Iraq but in the Middle East, and a large part of the discussion last night was about the Middle East., and elsewhere. If you looked at Indonesia for instance, they were facing exactly the same issues and they were very much on the moderate Muslim side and wanted to promote the same values as we did.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any view on President Bush’s assertion that he hoped the Prime Minister would still be in place when he left office in 2009, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister and the President would continue to work together to promote the global values that they had talked about.

Briefing took place at 6:00 | Search for related news

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