12 January 1996

Press Release


19960112 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Following is the text of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's Cyril Foster Lecture at the University of Oxford, to be delivered on Monday, 15 January:

Vice-Chancellor, Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you Vice-Chancellor for this kind introduction. I should also like to express my gratitude to Professor Adam Roberts and the members of the Committee for Cyril Foster and Related Funds for arranging this opportunity for me to be here.

A lecture of Oxford is the realization of a dream for a former professor like myself. As Secretary-General, I am also conscious of being part of a tradition of speakers at the Cyril Foster lecture. Some years ago my predecessor Javier Perez de Cuellar spoke on a related topic. His inspiration, in the preparation of this lecture and in my work at the United Nations has been most useful.

As the twenty-first century speeds towards us, a new dialectic has begun. The world is in the grip of two vast and opposing forces: globalization and fragmentation.

Globalization is generating an array of problems. Financial flows of vast magnitude sweep across the world. Alarming environmental events expose the planet to permanent damage and spur massive movements of peoples. Transnational criminal activity grows. Even the powerfully positive global communications revolution generates pressures which our institutions were not designed to address.

And there are the forces of fragmentation. Rising insecurity and unmet needs on a national scale are leading people everywhere to seek refuge in smaller groups. This can promote the healthy development of civil society -- as evidenced by the proliferation of citizens' groups and non-governmental organizations acting in pursuit of public purposes. But fragmentation also can breed fanaticism, isolationism, separatism, and the proliferation of civil conflict.

The United Nations can help deal with the dialectic of globalization and fragmentation, and help solve the problems it creates, now and in the future.

But the United Nations cannot fulfil this new role if the present trend continues. The United Nations is trapped by a second dialectic. The problems of globalization and fragmentation have caused vast responsibilities to be given to the United Nations. But the United Nations has not been given the political, military, material and financial resources required to accomplish the tasks imposed.

- 2 - Press Release SG/SM/5870 12 January 1996

In the context of the first dialectic -- globalization and fragmentation -- the Secretary-General has one overriding responsibility. It is to heighten international awareness that globalization brings with it some major problems.

Globalization of the world economy is failing to reach all peoples; too many are excluded or unable to find access to the prosperity it offers. At the same time, the market economy that is the engine of this vast movement is, by its very logic, driving large numbers of people -- in developing, transitional and developed countries alike -- into conditions of deepening poverty and despair.

As Secretary-General, I have placed great importance on international conferences as a way to raise the world's consciousness about these problems. International conferences are not a new idea; they played a part in the diplomacy of antiquity. But the continuum of international conferences since 1992 is something new and different. They are linked. They are cumulative. They foster global consensus on interlocking global issues. They generate specific global commitments. And they are providing a comprehensive framework for global action in fields such as environment and development, human rights, natural disasters, population, poverty, unemployment and social disruption, the advancement of women, housing -- all drastically affected by the negative side of globalization.

The same process of globalization that is creating new problems also is contributing to new solutions, by bringing a surge of new actors onto the world scene.

Regional arrangements, non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, transnational business, academic and policy research institutions, the media -- all are taking on greater global roles. Their collective impact on world events now surpasses that of traditional international structures. One of the major tasks of the Secretary-General is to increase common understanding of the importance of these new actors and to seek ways in which each may find its special place within a coherent international community of the future.

In the context of globalization, the need to revitalize international law and to promote its progressive expansion has taken on even greater urgency.

The United Nations, provides the forum and the mechanism for the advancement of international law. All Member States should accept the general jurisdiction of the World Court without reservation. I have called attention to the power of the Security Council under Articles 36 and 37 of the Charter to recommend that Member States submit disputes to the International Court of Justice. I continue to urge that the Secretary-General be authorized by the General Assembly, pursuant to Article 96 of the Charter, to turn to the Court for advisory opinions.

The next step must be the expansion of international jurisdiction. New global problems such as transnational crime, uncontrolled migration, and the

- 3 - Press Release SG/SM/5870 12 January 1996

rights of ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic minorities all require the benefit of international law.

Fragmentation runs counter to globalization. There can be a positive dimension to this process, as powers are devolved, as participation widens, and as democratization becomes more possible. But the dangers of fragmentation are immense, and require urgent action. Fragmentation has produced an upsurge in confrontation and conflict.

Preventive diplomacy, conducted early in a dispute, can ease tensions and resolve problems before they erupt into armed conflict.

The distinctive role of the Secretary-General lies in the quiet practice of preventive diplomacy. As an impartial figure with a global mandate, relatively unencumbered by political or bureaucratic pressures, and without the desire or compulsion to publicize his role, the Secretary-General can do a great deal behind the scenes to help parties find a way to settle their differences before their confrontation becomes public. While many solutions involve mutual accommodation and compromise, others may require one side to give more than the other. In such cases, the ability to resolve an issue early and privately can be the key to preventing bloodshed.

The forces of fragmentation can cause a State -- particularly the poorest States -- to fail, leaving its people without a government to protect them from chaos. With many among the international community inclined to turn inward after decades of global ideological confrontation, it is all too easy for governments, in the virtual absence of public pressure, to consider such conflicts as not in their national interest, and to see no reason for action, direct or indirect.

Lives lost in one place seem to matter less than lives lost in another. War in one country may get enormous attention, while war in another may be virtually ignored. Violations of the rights of one people arouse far more concern than violations of the rights of another. As a result, some of these conflicts are "orphans", deprived of international attention and concern.

The Secretary-General has a moral responsibility to call the world's

attention to these orphan conflicts, and to point out the ultimate consequences for international peace and security of allowing the disease of civil conflict to rage unchecked across wide areas of the world.

Fragmentation also compels the Secretary-General to play a role in the field of disarmament. This is because a tidal wave of weapons is increasing fragmentation in the poorer countries of the world today.

Macro-disarmament is a vitally important undertaking for the future of international peace and security. But it must not be done at the expense of micro-disarmament -- action to control and reduce the massive production, transfer and stockpiling of light weapons around the world.

- 4 - Press Release SG/SM/5870 12 January 1996

Paradoxically, micro-disarmament is resisted by both suppliers and recipients. The richest countries, which possess major weapons, enthusiastically advocate non-proliferation, but lack interest in stopping the spread of light weapons -- because they are the primary manufacturers and suppliers of such arms. The poorest countries, which lack major weapons systems, are also enthusiastic for macro-disarmament for they have no hope of acquiring such systems -- but lack interest in micro-disarmament -- because the possession of vast arsenals of small arms is essential to the survival of their regimes.

The most horrible of these weapons are land-mines. Land-mines are intended to devastate entire populations and destroy the prospects for development for decades. As Secretary-General, I have called urgently for an international convention on land-mines, to totally ban the production, stockpiling, trade and use of all mines and mine components.

In the context of the second dialectic -- demands and resources -- the demands being placed upon the United Nations continue to increase. We cannot solve all the world's problems. But we can solve some of the world's problems. Deciding when to act and when to refrain presents a profound ethical dilemma. But at present such decisions are not being made on the basis of ethics, but on the basis of pure power politics.

The Secretary-General stands at the centre of this dilemma. On the one hand, the necessity for choice is a practical reality of international life. On the other hand, the United Nations is the world Organization; its outlook must, by definition, be universal. The United Nations has no grounds on which to choose to respond to one Member State's request for assistance while denying the request of another.

The necessity of choice cannot be put aside, but neither can the duty of responsiveness to all in need. The Secretary-General must take a role at the centre of this dilemma of realism versus responsibility.

The Secretary-General can deal with the problem of increasing demands on the United Nations in several ways. First, by decentralizing and delegating,

so that all parts of the Organization are utilized to their full extent. Second, by mandating regional organizations to act as surrogates of the United Nations. Third, by encouraging ad hoc arrangements, such as the group known as "The Friends of the Secretary-General" which worked so well in El Salvador. And fourth, by collaborating with non-governmental organizations.

What are the dangers involved? There is the danger that a multiplicity of actors cannot be coordinated. There is a danger of overreliance upon one State or group of States. There is a danger that authorization could serve to strengthen a particular power's sphere of influence. And there is a danger that overuse of authorization and delegation will damage the image of the United Nations; that the public will fail to understand why the United Nations itself does not act.

- 5 - Press Release SG/SM/5870 12 January 1996

As for mandates given to the United Nations itself, the Secretary-General must insist that they be clear, be realistic, and be backed by the human and material resources required to complete the assigned task successfully. Nothing would be more detrimental than to permit a continuing pattern of disparity between responsibilities and resources that would doom the United Nations to repeated failure.

Thus, the Secretary-General urgently must deal with the problem of resources. There are three areas for action: emergency financial measures; organizational reform; and the search for long-term financial stability.

As Secretary-General, I have taken every conceivable step to acquire urgently needed funds. I supported a wide variety of financial measures proposed by my predecessor to deal with the cash-flow problem. I convened the Independent Advisory Group on United Nations Finances which produced the Volcker-Ogata Report. I put forward a bond issuance proposal to the Group of Seven industrialized nations. None of these proposals have been adopted. At the same time, I have carried out a series of stringent budget-cutting measures: I have reduced the number of Secretariat posts; supported an inspector-general for internal oversight; consolidated 13 offices into three departments; curtailed travel, established accountability standards, strengthened managerial training, simplified regulations, cut the regular budget to nearly no-growth, and proposed a new budget reduced by 4.2 per cent. These cuts have succeeded, but the scale of possible savings is tiny in relation to the magnitude of the crisis. And, the financial gymnastics this crisis has required me to undertake cannot long be maintained.

With long-term change in mind, I have, since entering the office of Secretary-General, committed myself to a mission of continuing reform of the Secretariat. The job is not complete, nor will it ever be. The Secretary- General must place great weight on management, administrative and structural reform as a perpetual responsibility.

The main arena for reform, however, lies in the intergovernmental machinery

of the United Nations. The objective must be not only to gain greater efficiency, but to promote the democratization of the United Nations system. The composition of the Security Council, and its relation to the other principal Organs, will be at the heart of this endeavour. The decisions are for the Member States to take; indeed the Secretary-General properly is constrained from speaking too specifically on this question. But one of the great roles of the Secretary-General, now and in the years to come, will be to promote the process of democratization not only of the United Nations but of international relations as a whole.

As the immediate financial emergency is addressed, and system-wide reform is pursued, it is time to seriously address the need for a United Nations that can operate on a secure and steady independent financial foundation.

- 6 - Press Release SG/SM/5870 12 January 1996

Measures for consideration could include: a fee on speculative international financial transactions, a levy on fossil fuel use (or its resulting pollution); earmarking a small portion of the anticipated decline in world military expenditures, utilizing some resources released by the elimination of unnecessary subsidies; resources generated from a stamp tax on international travel and travel documents, or a levy on global currency transactions. Finding the right formula will be a project of vast importance for the future of the international community. It will be the role of the Secretary-General to bring this project to successful fruition in the twenty-first century.

These are the two dialectics as I see them. Globalization and fragmentation characterize the world at large. Growing demands and diminishing resources affect the United Nations specifically. The role of the Secretary- General will be absolutely central to the resolution of these issues and to creating a synthesis whose shape we can as yet only envision.

Nothing is more precious to the United Nations than its reputation. That reputation rests on four pillars: impartiality, equity, efficiency and achievement. A fifth, and indispensable principle, is independence.

If one word above all is to characterize the role of the Secretary-General it is independence. Article 100 of the Charter is "the one-hundredth Psalm" of the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General must be prepared to stand up to any pressure, any criticism, and any opposition in defence of the Charter's call upon all Member States to respect the "exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the Staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities".

The words of the Charter mean that the Secretary-General's loyalty must be international and nothing but international; that the international civil service must be a real civil service; and that the Organization's integrity must be always sustained. Independence is the key to all these objectives.

Thank you.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.