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Frames No Frame



by Joan Veon
Read: "Agenda for Peace" by BB-ghali

JV; If the S/G said in his speech that we need to have partnerships. I have known of this since 1996 can you comment on the changes be made to bring in the multi-stakeholders?

AG: Partnership is a very lose term and in a law firm, you have senior, jur and semi-partners. The question really is "What kind of partners?". It is a recognition of the role which partners play, commitment to each other, and truly understanding what the competancies which each other brings to the table and a question of consistently being there for each other. If you analyze partnering arrangements so far, all that can be said is that we are at the starting point. There has to be a clear recognition by all concerned that if you are seriously interested in fulfilling the UN's purposeprimary purposein Chapter 7 of the Charterpromotion of intl' peace and securityin today's world the changing role of armed conflict which is civil wars and internal wars rather than wars of aggression across frontiers, but the key is going to be job creation and no one is going to create those jobs except the private sector and the private sector is not, here is the point, not going to be induced to come in if they are treated like junior partners.

JV: From your prespective of the growing position of TNCs in the world today what is the how do they view their changing role? Do they see it changing? We went from national to international now to transnational as a result of the complexity.

AG: Do you mean their commitment to going into a place that is economically and politically troublesome but in which they may create some societal benefits? Are you asking if corporations have changed in looking at criteria other than the profit motive as a reason for going in? VEON: Yes

Gerson: The best study on this was done in the Harvard Business Review by Dr. Elizabeth Ross Kanter (June 99) and she concluded that in the US there is a genuine interest in many different corporations to making sure that the corporation engages in real change in activities wherever they go. This is a change and it is beginning to translate overseas. There is a lot of potential within the multinational business community for getting involved in areas where they can make a critical difference in helping countries make the transition to peace because there is the interest. The next step is to enter into a dialogue with them that involves governments and international institutions and civil society in order to figure out ways in which they can be induced. Partnership means sharing risk. If you put all o fthe burden on a corporation to go in and create a factory, it was nice that you did this but it was just blown up by terrorists and what we are to do. They are not going to go in. So political risk insurancesharing the burden that is a key component.

JV: What do you see with regard to corporationsnow entering the political arena in a new way, becoming peacekeepers or negotiators of peace?

Gerson: So fare that hasn't taken place except on a superficial scale. So far we have the chairman of American Express going to Columbia. In order to really have the business community fulfill its potential and have us tap its potential, it means that they have to have a share in decision-making about the politics of peacemaking as determined by international institutions. They have to have information abourt what is going on, comment on it to see if the peace strategies make sense, the UN has to be willing to share that information with leaders of the business community in a regular systematic way. That can only be done if you create a new institution. That is why the council on Foreign Relations Study which I headed recommended the establishment of a new institution called, "Peace Transition Council" which would include representatives of the United Nations, the World Bank, civil society, government and the private sector tapping into their respective centers of energy and creating new synergies.

Veon: How would that fit in with the organs and entities which are already there. What would it be equal to?

Gerson: There is nothing in the U N Structure itself because what you have is the UN, World Bank , interagency agencies, but there is no entity which involves the private sector and is willing to give them responsibility. What I am talking about is considering privatizing peace functions which have been traditionally reserved for governments or for international institutions. This includes peacekeeping. As soon as you mention this people say you are talking about mercenaries and I say "No, we are talking about mercenaries as a perjartive ring" . Privatization doesn't mean that the government or international institutions give up control, they continue to regulate but it means outsourcing , it means allowing these people which have competence in the field and security to continue to perform their job. Sierra Leone is a good example. There was a private South African Group, "Executive Outcomes" which did a lot of the policing functions there and made a profit doing it and they did a better job than UN peacekeepers when they went in. So , I think we are seeing a movement, and there are entitiesinstitutional entitieswhich are trying to stop that movement. The movement is "empowerment" and it can be summed up in many respects by the term privatization. It began with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the planned economy when you had the realization that "Look, governments are not necessarily best equipped to run the world or to run large industrial concerns such as telecommunications or the hotel industry", all of this can be privatized. Tat was the first stepthe privatization and economics. Then came privatization and the justice system. We have a whole set of new laws where individuals can now bring law suits against foreign governmentsthis all goes with globalization and a sense of empowerment to the individual that the individual has a role to play.

The third areas which has yet to be tackled is the area of peace. We talking about privatizing peace functions which are considered to be within the exclusive domain of governments or international institutions but it needn't be. We can curb the size of the UN and perform the same functions they perform more efficiently if we begin to think in these terms. We are dealing with models that were formulated more than 50 years ago and we have never changed those models. All we did was leave the model of the UN in mothballs for 50 years until the end of the Cold War and went back to technology and concepts which are outdated.

VEON: The UN is changing and the idea of bringing in partnerships and partnering with civil society, partnering with corporations, with NGOs and the spiritual communitythat in and of itself, I think, is rather revolutionary because it merges areas that used to be a hands off areait is a new area of governance.

Gerson: it is not totally new. It really began in 1992 with the publication by B-B Ghali, "Agenda for Peace" in which he made the argument at the timewhich he was severely criticizedand I criticized him too because I was in the Reagan Administration as Counsel to the UN DelegationIt was based on the idea of peace building because previously the UN was involved in peacekeeping where the beligerants had separated and got involved in a few places in peace making but peace building which is creating institutions of good governance, enabling societies to solidify the gains they had made earlier. This was all new. Once legitimacy was given to the idea of peace building, it became recognized that the builders are the people on the ground who know it best, that is civil society. Once you go beyond creating institutionsgood governance, courts, administrative tribunals, to also creating factories, then you realize that you have to have partnerships with the private sector. The evolution of the idea is 1992 and we had a very bad experience in Somalia and Cambodia and peace building got a bad name and of course, BBGhalai was severely opposed by the Clinton administration which fought his second term but now his ideas are back in vogue and if you talk to Kofi Annan, he will tell you that he fullys supports the plans of his predecessor.

VEON: Why did they fight BBGhali? I thought he was brilliant.

Gerson: The Administration fought BBG for a number of reasons. First the S/C was always conceived by the great powers as their providence and the S/G had a role to play occasionally if he was called upon. They didn't want him setting the agenda, they the big powers wanted to set the agenda and they saw him as being overly ambitious. Secondly we did have a fiasco in Somalia and many blamed BBG for it. Third on a personal level, bad relationships developed between him and the Administration as well as Congress because he did have an abrasive, aggressive style.

Veon: Who at this point is supporting your idea of the Peace Dividend. You mentioned the CFR, what about corporations?

Gerson: It is in a embryonic stage. What the CFR did in 1992 pursuant to a grant from the WB is to set up a study group which I chaired called, "Study Group on Partnering" The emphasis was to bring the UN and WB together but during the course of those discussions it became very apparent that the UN and WB came from such different cultures that it became apparent even tho their officials might work together or they might merge offices in East Timor, that was only in a formal sense but deep down the division between them philosophically and culturally were too great and that you needed an intermediary. Then we began to think in terms of the private sector. With a number of CEOs of significant businesses in the US it was corporate leaders who suggested the idea that they were ready to play a greater role if we were ready to undertake this totally new idea which we ended up calling "A Peace Transitions Council." Now idea is something is just an idea at present.

We will be putting these ideas and others together in a book which is entitled, "Privatizing Peace."

VEON: How does the PWBLF tie in with the idea to broker peace?

Gerson: The PWBLF is a very good example of what can be done and of what is not begin done in the U S. It is a collection of top business leaders who have worked very well with the NGO community in the UK , largely centered around international Alert, an NGO umbrella group,. In the U.S. the NGO community remains far more suspicious of the private sector than is the case in the UK and Europe. We saw in Seattle the attacks made on the private sector and you have government involved as well in Europe which provide grants for organizations which are involved in partnering arrangements between th e business community and civil sector. If you go back to 1992 and BBG, 1992 is the critical year: Agenda for Peace proposal and the first entry by the World Bank into the political arena by engaging in de-militarization which means you tell governments that if you have this big military you are likely to use it. It was the WB who said, we will help you find jobs for them so that was very, very important. It started in Uganda and then Rwanda before the war. You had the first effort which failed at UN-WB cooperation in El Salvador which called specifically for UN-WB cooperation. The Agenda for Peace and the concept of peace building, locally if you are going to build institutions and factories, this is not the providence of government or institutional institutions, you have to give private sector a role along with civil society.

VEON; We are at the Millennium Assembly, the rapid deployment force, where do you see//how do you see the UN structure being effective in the future?

Gerson: The critical problem of peace i s the probmel of interstate wars. In the last decade we had more than 5 million dead, many, many times that number in terms of refugees. If these conditions are not addressed the wars are going to sperad. In addressing intra-state wars, you are addressing issues of poverty, addressing issues of compromise because if you want to have peace and reonciliation, you have to compromise. You don't have a clear victor. Here they just peter outHutus against tusti. If we see something else happen on the groupthat's whya they call it peace dividendno onre is going to deliver that except civil society. Has the UN really made inroads? NO. Why not? They have to realize that they have to share power and frankly they have to realize that there is aplan for doing so. We would like to think that the proposals which Nat Colletta and I are putting in a book that we provide the first blueprint. It is the first time a Peace Transitions council has been floated and it came out of a CFR study and the next question is "Are you serious?" If you are, what is your proposal?

Veon: How long do you think before it floats?

Gerson: It depends on a number of actors: who the new president is going to be. The New president has a lot of power to get something like this going, when he addresses the GA in September because it becomes a multi-lateral effort. The UN is comprised of its constituencies. They have to decide that they need to use this idea to not only use business as window dressing and use advisory councils and all the like, rubber stamp something we have but that you have to have business involved in a sharing of power. I think it will be essential for the next president to understand that and to make a speech before the UN General Assembly to call for support of the ideaJapan. Will also make that proposal.

We need to have a product first before we lobby. The only thing we have (is the report he gave me) See that report written by the CFR

Gerson: We have corporations involved in the study groupAIG, BGAmoco, Credit Suisse, the CEO of Bristol Meyersbut we are focusing on getting our ideas in the book and distribute it to other and lobbying far beyond our capabilities.