Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 17:50:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Update # 2: UN Secretaryship Issue: An Urgent Call for Action to Override US Veto
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UN Secretaryship Issue: An Urgent Call for Action to Override US Veto

From Ibe Ibeike-Jonah, 2 December 1996

Last week, the United States vetoed the re-election of the incumbent UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for a second term. This action is unprecedented in a number of ways. Since the inception of the United Nations, every sitting Secretary-General has traditionally been re-elected for a second term. Boutros-Ghali, the first African to occupy the position, has done remarkably well in comparison to his predecessors. He enjoys the overwhelming support of the UN member countries including a super majority in the Security Council. When his nomination was brought before the Security Council last week, the vote was 14 to 1 in his favor. The action of the United States—a dead-beat member of the UN, also epitomises the arrogance of power in this unipolar hegemonic order. Mr Boutros-Ghali, who has brought integrity and credibility to the office of the Secretary-General, is being made a scape-goat of American domestic politics.

This is the time for anyone who firmly believes in democracy to speak up and to call on the UN General Assembly to override the US veto, for what is at stake is not Boutros-Ghali, but the principle and operation of democracy at the level (the highest gathering of humanity) that really matters. One country should not be allowed to decide for 184 others. Read and append your name to the letter below or directly contact the President of the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Razali Ismail (Ph: 212 986-6310, Fx: 212 490-8576), to urge action on this matter.

And remember, as Margaret Mead admonished: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, commited people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”

Note: if you are among the 200 individuals and organizations who signed the earlier succesful petition to the OAU Heads of States meeting in Cameroon (July 1996), please indicate if you would like to be included in this.

Ibe Ibeike-Jonah

November 26, 1996

H.E Mr Razali Ismail
President, UN General Assembly
United Nations Plaza
313 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Ambassador Razali:

At the end of the cold war, people of the world breathed a sigh of relief that the mindless superpower rivalry which hitherto paralyzed the United Nations was finally over. They yearned for a new order where countries, both big and small, acting in concert and in good faith through the instrumentality of a re-energized United Nations, unshackled from the arrogance of power that was conspicuously manifest in the by-gone era, tackle, with civility, the issues of our time. This is why we view with utmost disgust, outrage and indescribable dismay the decision of the United States to thumb its nose on the rest of the world and the era of renewed optimism of countries working together by its denial of a second term for Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the United Nations Secretary General, through use of a questionable veto on Tuesday November 19, 1996. Indeed, this is the first time a veto has been used since end of the cold war.

Till date, the United States—which enjoys unprecedented power and influence in the United Nations system even as it continues to default on its appraised dues, leading to a situation now aptly described as “super-representation without taxation”—has not given any credible reason(s) nor made a cogent case for blocking Boutros-Ghali's re-election. A catalogue of official and unofficial non-cogent reasons have been presented: that Boutros-Ghali has stood against reform; that he has not dined with celebrities in New York; that he has not made a good impression on some sections of the American press (i.e not playing the media show) and some in the American congress. These are half-baked post-facto rationalizations of the scapegoating of Boutros-Ghali for American domestic, presidential election politics, namely to innoculate against unfounded charges of foreign policy bungling.

For the record, Boutros-Ghali had implemented far-reaching reforms of the UN Secretariat, cutting staff, streamling procedures and bringing the budget under control for the first time. In addition, he clearly came with a vision: through his agenda for peace initiative, he had utilized preventive diplomacy to try nipping in the bud some incipient conflicts worldwide, and had also championed development initiatives. He has been outspoken, independent and even a tough critique of himself, qualities clearly needed for the United Nations highest office. He has remarkably done quite well under the circumstance in comparison to his predecessors.

These are, however, beside the point. At issue is the principle and operation of democracy in the forum that really matters. How can we talk of democracy and impress upon the rest of the world to embrace democracy when at the highest level of gathering of humanity one vote (that of the United States) weighs more than 14 (the vote of council members in favor of Boutros-Ghali), and if unchallenged weighs more than 184 (the other countries of the world). The lack of flexibility by the United States on this matter bespeaks weakness for a super-power, especially after respected world leaders like President Nelson Mandela, President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, among others, had written to President Clinton urging him to rescind his decision. Aides to Clinton, as reported by The New York Times (November 20, 1996 p. 1), even denied Boutros- Ghali the opportunity to personally present his case saying they do not consider the Secretary-General of the United Nations important enough to merit a chat with Clinton. UN Secretary- General not important enough? This is unacceptable arrogance! Ambassador Madeleine Albright's (the United States' UN Rep) statement that the US will not pay its debt to the United Nations if Boutros-Ghali is re-elected amounts to a blackmail.

This is why we, the undersigned people of the world, strongly implore you not to cave in to blackmail and to request that you bring the issue of Boutros-Ghali's re-election to a vote in the General Assembly. Let the Assembly decide this matter, as it should on principle. Save the world from blackmail, hypocrisy and arrogance! To do otherwise will be to lend credence to show over substance, impuissance over integrity, and to strip away any pretense at promoting, encouraging and fostering the notion of democracy. The fear that opposing the United States on this matter will imperil the UN is unfounded. In any case, it is better for the UN to die on the basis of principle and integrity than at the alter of cowardice or ignoble acquiescence. How could the UN look starving Iraqi children in the eye and tell them the UN-approved sanctions is justified if this body does not take this principled stand and redeem itself.

The choice is not Boutros-Ghali or the United States, as Ambassador Albright incorrectly casts it. Rather, the choice clearly is between dictatorship and democracy, for which the United States claims to be the paragon.

We trust you will do the right thing.



(001) Ibe Ibeike-Jonah
(002) Krishna Dipankar Rao, New Delhi India
(003) Oguocha Ike, Saskachewan Canada
(004) Roger B. Sidje, Queensland Australia
(005) Rotimi Ogunsuyi
(006) Gcobane Quvile, Boston MA
(007) Dr Momoh Yakubu, Memphis TN
(008) Olapeju Aiyelaagbe, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City Iowa
(009) o. kasirim nwuke, Boston MA
(010) Titus M. Maswabi, Gaborone Botswana
(011) Dr Njuki W. Mureithi, Tokyo Japan
(012) Mirian Kene Omalu, CPMLP Univ. of Dundee, UK
(013) Ahmed Mohammed
(014) Jabulani Simbini Dhliwayo, UK
(015) Ossie Desmangles, Port au Prince Haiti
(016) Elizabeth Rugege, Maseru Lesotho
(017) Momodu Kassim-Momodu
(018) T. Khoboko, Keele UK
(019) Paul Tshell, Norway
(020) Jon W. Dana, Ithaca NY
(021) A. I. Younis, Atlanta GA
(022) G. Camynta-Baezie, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
(023) Ayotunde M. Giwa
(024) Kathy Sullivan, Manitoba Canada
(025) Myoto Liyolo, Anglia UK
(026) Egwu E. Kalu, Florida
(027) Alex Offor, Finland
(028) Mark K. Aggrey
(029) Dr Alioune Cissoko, Providence RI
(030) Leapetswe Malete, MSU Michigan
(031) Sama A. Mondeh
(032) Dr Hakeem K. Johnson, Denmark
(033) Adesola Amolegbe
(034) ED Mabaya, Mutare Zimbabwe
(035) Frederick Amoako Addison, Ithaca NY
(036) Gboyega Omotoye
(037) Felix Pokane Molumeli, Maseru Lesotho
(038) Wim Klunne
(039) Dr Alan Barnard, Edinburgh Scotland
(040) Isa Sama, Lancaster UK
(041) Shehu Othman, Oxford UK
(042) Morrison Chakane, Northwest Region South Africa
(043) Lidia Felix, London England
(044) James Krobea Asante, Helsinki Finland
(045) Tony Oguntuase, New Brunswick Canada
(046) Ruffus Sha’ato, Kingston ON, Canada
(047) Dr Timothy A. Ijir, Corvallis OR
(048) William Addai
(049) Nuku Ofori, Temple University School of Law
(050) Mabengo Ve-Wenda Gustave, Columbia Missouri
(051) Prof. Dinesh Mohan, Indian Inst. of Tech., New Delhi India
(052) Daniel E. Dodor, Okinawa Japan
(053) Araz Mekhtiev, Baku Azerbaijan
(054) Dr Ganiyu A. A. Jaiyeola, Syracuse NY
(055) Dr Felix C. Anyaegbunam, Trieste Italy
(056) Malik Mohammed Al-Wardy, Cornell University Ithaca NY
(057) Ayodele Ayetigbo, MD USA
(058) Zechariah Zakes Nkele, Cardiff UK
(059) Mbokeni Manyothwane, Gaborone Botswana
(060) Eddie Muendane, Newfield NY
(061) John Schmidlapp, Rochester NY
(062) Francis Oruogho Akenami, Finland
(063) Stephen Mugo, Ithaca NY
(064) Robert Kafakoma, Oxford England
(065) Yohane Khamfula, York England
(066) Hector Sikazwe, New Castle England
(067) Makhumbira Munthali, Toronto Canada
(068) Samuel Manda, Hamilton New Zealand
(069) Denny Kazembe, Alberta Canada
(070) Janet Karim, Blantyre Malawi
(071) Dixie Banda, Alberta Canada
(072) Oluyemisi Sunmonu, Baltimore MD
(073) Marie Williams, Baltimore Maryland

All 51 Vice-Presidents of the UN General Assembly
All Permanent Representatives of Countries (185) to the UN