Mr. Bailey is a freelance
journalist and television producer in Washington, D.C. He is
author of Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological
Apocalypse (St. Martin’s) and The True State of the Planet
"The survival of civilization in something like its present form
might depend significantly on the efforts of a single man," declared
The New Yorker. The New York Times hailed that man as the "Custodian
of the Planet."
is perpetually on the short list of candidates for Secretary General
of the United Nations. This lofty eminence? Maurice Strong,
of course. Never heard of him? Well, you should have. Militia members
are famously worried that black helicopters are practicing maneuvers
with blue-helmeted UN troops in a plot to take over America. But the
actual peril is more subtle. A small cadre of obscure international
bureaucrats are hard at work devising a system of "global governance"
that is slowly gaining control over ordinary Americans’ lives.
Maurice Strong, a 68-year-old Canadian, is the "indispensable man"
at the center of this creeping UN power grab.
Not that Mr. Strong
looks particularly indispensable. Indeed, he exudes a kind of negative
charisma. He is a grey, short, soft-voiced man with a salt-and-pepper
toothbrush mustache who wouldn’t rate a second glance if you passed him
on the street. Yet his remarkable career has led him from boyhood
poverty in Manitoba to the highest councils of international government.
Among the hats he currently wears are:
Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Advisor to World Bank President James Wolfensohn
the Earth Council
the World Resources Institute
of the Council of the World Economic Forum
Toyota’s International Advisory Board
As advisor to Kofi Annan, he
is overseeing the new UN reforms.
Yet his most prominent and
influential role to date was as Secretary General of the 1992 UN
Conference on Environment and Development -- the so-called Earth
Summit -- held in Rio de Janeiro, which gave a significant push to
global economic and environmental regulation.
"He’s dangerous because
he’s a much smarter and shrewder man [than many in the UN system],"
comments Charles Lichenstein, deputy ambassador to the UN
under President Reagan. "I think he is a very dangerous ideologue,
way over to the Left."
"This guy is kind of the global Ira Magaziner," says Ted Galen
Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies
at the Cato Institute. "If he is whispering in Kofi Annan’s ear this
is no good at all."
Strong attracts such
mystified suspicion because he is difficult to pin down. He told
Maclean’s in 1976 that he was "a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in
methodology." And his career combines oil deals with the likes of
Adnan Khashoggi with links to the environmentalist Left. He is in
fact one of a new political breed: the bi-sectoral entrepreneur who uses
business success for leverage in politics, and vice versa.
Strong started in the oil business in the 1950s. He took over and
turned around some small ailing energy companies in the 1960s, and he
was president of a major holding company -- the Power Corporation of
Canada -- by the age of 35. This was success by any standard. Yet on
more than one occasion (including once in Who’s Who), Strong has
been caught exaggerating. He claimed, for instance, to have forfeited a
$200,000 salary when he left Power. The real figure, said a company
officer, was $35,000. Why this myth-making? Well, a CEO is just a CEO --
but a whiz-kid is a potential cabinet officer.
And it is in politics that Strong’s talents really shine. He is the
Michelangelo of networking. He early made friends in high places in
Canada’s Liberal Party -- including Paul Martin Sr., Canada’s
external-affairs minister in the Sixties -- and kept them as business
partners in oil and real-estate ventures. He cultivated bright
well-connected young people -- like Paul Martin Jr., Canada’s
present finance minister and the smart money’s bet to succeed Jean
Chretien as prime minister -- and salted them throughout his various
political and business networks to form a virtual private intelligence
service. And he always seemed to know what the next political trend
would be -- foreign aid, Canadian economic nationalism,
In 1966, by now a Liberal favorite, Strong became head of the
Canadian International Development Agency and thus was launched
internationally. Impressed by his work at CIDA, UN Secretary
General U Thant asked him to organize what became the first Earth
Summit -- the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. The
next year, Strong became first director of the new UN
Environment Program, created as a result of Stockholm. And in 1975,
he was invited back to Canada to run the semi-national Petro-Canada,
created by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the wake of OPEC’s
Petro-Canada was a sop to Canada’s anti-American Left, then
denouncing American ownership of the country’s oil companies. Strong
talked a good economic-nationalist game -- but he himself was a major
reason why Canada’s oil companies were U.S.-owned. Ten years before,
while at Power Corporation, he had enabled Shell to take over the only
remaining all-Canadian oil company by throwing a controlling block of
shares in its direction. As Maclean’s wrote, he now returned "amid
fanfares" to rectify this.
After a couple of years, Strong left Petro-Canada for various
business deals, including one with Adnan Khashoggi through which
he ended up owning the 200,000-acre Baca ranch in Colorado, now a
"New Age" center run by his wife, Hanne. (Among the
seekers at Baca are Zen and Tibetan Buddhist monks, a breakaway order of
Carmelite nuns, and followers of a Hindu guru called Babaji.) Not for
long the joys of contemplation, however. In 1985, he was back as
executive coordinator of the UN Office for Emergency Operations in
Africa, in charge of running the $3.5-billion famine-relief effort
in Somalia and Ethiopia. And in 1989, he was appointed Secretary General
of the Earth Summit -- shortly thereafter flying down to Rio.
Strong’s flexibility, however, must not be mistaken for
open-mindedness. His friends, his allies among Canadian Liberals, his
networks in the UN and the Third World, even his long-term business
partners (like the late Paul Nathanson, wartime treasurer of the
Canadian-Soviet Friendship Committee) all lean Left. He has said the
Depression left him "frankly very radical." And given his ability to get
things done, the consistency of his support for a world managed by
bureaucrats is alarming.
As Elaine Dewar wrote in Toronto’s
Saturday Night magazine:
It is instructive to
read Strong’s 1972 Stockholm speech and compare it with the issues
of Earth Summit 1992. Strong warned urgently about global
warming, the devastation of forests, the loss of biodiversity,
polluted oceans, the population time bomb. Then as now, he invited
to the conference the brand-new environmental NGOs [non-governmental
organizations]: he gave them money to come; they were invited to
raise hell at home. After Stockholm, environment issues became part
of the administrative framework in Canada, the U.S., Britain, and
IN the meantime, Strong
continued the international networking on which his influence rests. He
became a member of the World Commission on Environment and
Development (the Brundtland Commission). He found time to
serve as president of the World Federation of United Nations
Associations, on the executive committee of the Society for
International Development, and as an advisor to the Rockefeller
Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund. Above all, he served on the
Commission on Global Governance -- which, as we shall see, plays a
crucial part in the international power grab.
Sometimes, indeed, it seems that Strong’s network of contacts
must rival the Internet. To list a few:
Vice President Al Gore.
World Bank President
James Wolfensohn, formerly on the Rockefeller Foundation Board
and currently on the Population Council Board; he was Al Gore’s
favored candidate for the World Bank position
James Gustave Speth,
head of the Carter Administration’s Council on Environmental
Quality, crafter of the doomladen
Global 2000 report, member of the
Clinton - Gore transition team; he now heads the UN Development
formerly Secretary General of the (British) Commonwealth, now
Co-Chairman of the Commission on Global Governance
President of the World Resources Institute -- which works closely
with the World Bank, the UN Environment Program, and the UN
Development Program -- and Co-Chairman of the President’s Council on
former Swedish prime minister and Co-Chairman of the Commission on
But Strong is no
snob; he even counts Republican Presidents among his friends. Elaine
Strong blurted out that
he’d almost been shut out of the Earth Summit by people at the State
Department. They had been overruled by the White House because
George Bush knew him. He said that he’d donated some $100,000 to the
Democrats and a slightly lesser amount to the Republicans in 1988.
(The Republicans didn’t confirm.)
I had been absolutely
astonished. I mean yes, he had done a great deal of business in the
U.S., but how could he have managed such contributions?
Well, he’d had a green card. The governor of Colorado had suggested it
to him. A lawyer in Denver had told him how.
But why? I’d asked.
"Because I wanted
influence in the United States."
So Strong gave
political contributions (of dubious legality) to both parties;
Bush, now a friend, intervened to help him stay in charge of
the Rio conference; he was thereby enabled to set a deep green agenda
there; and Bush took a political hit in an election year. An
instructive tale -- if it is not part of Strong’s mythmaking.
Most of Strong’s friends are more obviously compatible, which may
explain why they tend to overlap in their institutional commitments. For
example, James Wolfensohn (whom Strong had hired out of Harvard
in the early Sixties to run an Australian subsidiary of one of his
companies) appointed him as his senior advisor almost immediately upon
being named chairman of the World Bank.
"I’d been involved in...
Stockholm, which Maurice Strong arranged," says Wolfensohn,
who, more recently, has been credited with co-drafting (with Mikhail
Gorbachev) the Earth Charter presented for consideration at the Rio
+ 5 meeting in Brazil earlier this year.
As head of the Earth
Council, Maurice Strong chaired that meeting. It’s not a conspiracy, of
course: just a group of like-minded people fighting to save the world
from less prescient and more selfish forces -- namely, market forces.
And though the crises change -- World War II in the Forties, fear of the
atom bomb in the Fifties, the "energy crisis" in the Seventies -- the
Left’s remedy is always the same: a greater role for international
agencies. Today an allegedly looming global environmental catastrophe is
behind their efforts to increase the power of the UN. Strong has
"If we don’t change, our
species will not survive... Frankly, we may get to the point where
the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization
Apocalypse soon -- unless
international bodies save us from ourselves.
LAST week, Secretary General Annan unveiled Maurice Strong’s
plan for reorganizing the UN. To be sure, the notoriously corrupt
and inefficient UN bureaucracy could do with some shaking up. Strong’s
plan, however, mostly points in a different direction -- one drawn from
a document, Our Global Neighborhood, devised by the interestingly
named Commission on Global Governance.
The CGG was established in 1992, after Rio, at the suggestion
of Willy Brandt, former West German chancellor and head of the
Socialist International. Then Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
endorsed it. The CGG naturally denies advocating the sort of thing that
fuels militia nightmares.
"We are not proposing
movement toward a world government," reassuringly write Co-Chairmen
Ingvar Carlsson and Shridath Ramphal, ". . . [but] this is not to
say that the goal should be a world without systems or rules."
Quite so. As Hofstra
University law professor Peter Spiro describes it:
"The aim is not a
superstate but rather the establishment of norm-creating
multilateral regimes . . . This construct already constrains state
action in the context of human rights and environmental protection
and is on a springboard in other areas."
The concept of global
governance has been fermenting for some time. In 1991,
the Club of Rome (of which Strong
is, of course, a member) issued a report called The First Global
Revolution, which asserted that current problems,
"are essentially global
and cannot be solved through individual country initiatives [which]
gives a greatly enhanced importance to the United Nations and other
Also in 1991 Strong
claimed that the Earth Summit, of which he was Secretary General, would
play an important role in,
strengthening the United Nations as the centerpiece of the emerging
system of democratic global governance."
In 1995, in Our Global
Neighborhood, the CGG agreed:
"It is our firm
conclusion that the United Nations must continue to play a central
role in global governance."
Americans should be worried
by the Commission’s recommendations: for instance, that some UN
activities be funded through taxes on foreign-exchange transactions and
multinational corporations. Economist James Tobin estimates that
a 0.5 per cent tax on foreign-exchange transactions would raise $1.5
trillion annually -- nearly equivalent to the U.S. federal budget.
It also recommended that "user fees" might be imposed on companies
operating in the "global commons." Such fees might be collected on
international airline tickets, ocean shipping, deep-sea fishing,
activities in Antarctica, geostationary satellite orbits, and
electromagnetic spectrum. But the big enchilada is carbon taxes, which
would be levied on all fuels made from coal, oil, and natural gas. "A
carbon tax," the report deadpans, ". . . would yield very large revenues
indeed." Given the UN’s record of empire-building and corruption, Cato’s
Ted Carpenter warns:
"One can only imagine
the degree of mischief it could get into if it had independent
sources of revenue."
Especially significant for
the U.S. was the CGG’s proposal for eventual elimination of the veto
held by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The
Commission knew that the current permanent members of the Security
Council, including the U.S., would not easily surrender their vetoes,
and so it recommended a two-stage process.
In the first stage, five new permanent members (without a veto) would be
added to the Security Council -- probably Japan, Germany, Brazil, India,
and Nigeria -- along with three new slots for non-permanent members. But
the real threat to U.S. interests is the second stage:
"a full review of the
membership of the Council... around 2005, when the veto can be
These plans are advancing.
In March, the president of the UN General Assembly, Razali Ismail
of Malayasia, unveiled his own formula for reforming the Security
Council. It closely tracks the CGG’s proposals. In particular, Razali
proposed "urg[ing] the original permanent members to limit use of the
veto . . . and not to extend [it] to new permanent members." He wanted
to make the veto "progressively and politically untenable" and
recommended that these arrangements be reviewed in ten years.
In July the State Department compromised -- accepting five new Security
Council members but remaining silent on the veto. It plainly hopes that
the veto issue will go away if the U.S. concedes on enlarging the
Council. Yet the CGG’s report makes clear that we are facing a rolling
agenda to expand the power of UN bureaucrats. The veto issue may be
postponed for ten years -- but what then?
"This is an initiative that should be resisted by the United States with
special vehemence," says Ted Carpenter. For if the veto were
eliminated, the United States would face the prospect of having other
countries make key determinations that affect us without our consent.
The Commission also wants to strengthen "global civil society," which,
it explains, "is best expressed in the global non-governmental
movement." Today, there are nearly 15,000 NGOs. More than 1,200 of them
have consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (up
from 41 in 1948). The CGG wants NGOs to be brought formally into the UN
system (no wonder Kenneth Minogue calls this Acronymia).
So it proposes that representatives of such organizations be accredited
to the General Assembly as "Civil Society Organizations" and
convened in an annual Forum of Civil Society.
But how would these representatives be selected? This June, the General
Assembly held a session on environmental issues called Earth Summit +5.
President Razali selected a number of representatives from the
NGOs and the private sector for the exclusive privilege of speaking in
the plenary sessions. "I have gone to a lot of trouble with this,
choosing the right NGOs," he declared. So whom did he choose?
executive director of Greenpeace, to represent the scientific and
the president of the International Union for the Conservation of
"from the farmers, I
have chosen an organic farmer, Denise O’Brien from the United
States, who is a member of the Via Campesina."
In what sense are these
people "representative"? Whom do they represent? Were the head of the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the chairman of Toshiba, and the president of
the Farm Bureau all too busy to come talk to the General Assembly?
Another example of how this selection process operates was the "great
civil society forum" convened at the behest of Strong’s Earth Council
and Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International this
past March. Some five hundred delegates met, supposedly to assess the
results of the Earth Summit, but in reality to condemn the "inaction" of
signatory countries in implementing the Rio treaties. The delegates were
selected through a process based on national councils for sustainable
development, themselves set up pursuant to the Earth Summit. Membership
in these councils means that an organization is already persuaded of the
global environmental crisis. So you can bet that the process did not
yield many delegates representing business or advocating limits on
This kind of international gabfest is, of course, a sinister parody of
"Very few of even the
larger international NGOs are operationally democratic, in the sense
that members elect officers or direct policy on particular issues,"
notes Peter Spiro.
"Arguably it is more
often money than membership that determines influence, and money
more often represents the support of centralized elites, such as
major foundations, than of the grass roots."
(The CGG has benefited
substantially from the largesse of the MacArthur, Carnegie, and Ford
"a paradox of our time .
. . that effective governance requires control being simultaneously
passed down to local communities and up to international
Paradoxically or not, the
voters hardly appear in this model of governance. It bypasses national
governments and representative democracy in order to empower the sort of
people who are willing to sit in committee meetings to the bitter end.
Those who have better things to do -- businessmen, workers, moms --
would be the losers in the type of centralized decentralization
envisioned by Worldwatch. The result would be decisions reached
by self-selecting elites. In domestic politics, we have a name for such
elite groups -- special interests.
ANOTHER CGG recommendation is that the old UN Trusteeship Council
"be given a new mandate over the global commons." It defines the
global commons to include the atmosphere, outer space, the oceans
beyond national jurisdiction, and the related environmental systems that
contribute to the support of human life. A new Trusteeship Council would
"the management of the
commons, including development and use of their resources... [and]
the administration of environmental treaties in such fields as
climate change, biodiversity, outer space, and the Law of the Sea."
It is hard to see what this
expansive definition would exclude from the jurisdiction of the
Trusteeship Council. Biodiversity encompasses all the plants and animals
on the earth, including those that live in your backyard. Will UN troops
swoop in to stop you from cutting down trees on your property? Doubtless
not. But a recent case near Yellowstone National Park may be a foretaste
of how international agencies can meddle in U.S. domestic affairs.
Yellowstone has been designated a "World Heritage Site." These Sites are
natural settings or cultural monuments recognized by the World
Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having "outstanding
universal value." Sites are designated under a Convention ratified by
the U.S. Senate in 1973, and it is possible to place such sites on a
"List of World Heritage Sites in Danger."
In this case, a mining company wanted to construct a gold mine outside
the boundaries of Yellowstone. The normal environmental review of the
project’s impact was still proceeding under U.S. law. But a group of
environmentalist NGOs opposed to the mine were not content to wait for
that review to take its course. They asked that members of the World
Heritage Committee come to Yellowstone to hold public hearings.
George Frampton, the Clinton Administration’s Assistant Secretary of
the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, wrote to the WHC saying:
"The Secretary [Bruce
Babbitt] and the National Park Service have clearly expressed strong
reservations with the New World Mine proposal."
"We believe that a
potential danger to the values of the Park and surrounding waters
and fisheries exists and that the committee should be informed that
the property as inscribed on the . . . List is in danger."
Four officials of the WHC
duly came to Yellowstone and held hearings. And at its December 1995
meeting in Berlin, the Committee obligingly voted to list Yellowstone as
a "World Heritage Site in Danger."
"It was, in my opinion, a blatantly political act," declared Rep.
Barbara Cubin (R., Wyo.) during congressional hearings about the
listing. "It was done to draw attention, public reaction, public
response, and public pressure to see that the mine wasn’t developed."
Jeremy Rabkin, a Cornell political scientist, agrees that the
international listing of such sites "provides an international forum
through which to put pressure on U.S. policy."
Would the mine really have endangered Yellowstone? We’ll never know. The
environmental-impact statement was never issued, and, under pressure,
the mining company accepted a $65-million federal buyout plus a trade
for unspecified federal lands somewhere else. Thus, even with no
enforcement power, this UN dependency was able to make land-use policy
for the United States.
These events prompted Rep. Don Young (R., Alaska) to introduce
the American Land Sovereignty Act. With 174 co-sponsors to date,
the Act aims to
"preserve sovereignty of
the United States over public lands and... to preserve State
sovereignty and private property rights in non-federal lands
surrounding those public lands."
Congress would have to
approve on a case-by-case basis land designations made pursuant to any
But is U.S. sovereignty really in danger? In an interview, Strong
dismissed Young’s anxieties.
"I do not share his
concern. It is no abdication of sovereignty to exercise it in
company with others, and when you’re dealing with global issues
that’s what you have to do." He continues: "If you put yourself in a
larger unit, of course, you get some advantages and you give up some
of your freedom. And that’s what’s happening in Europe, that the
states of Europe have decided that overall they’re better off to
create a structure in which they give up some of their national
rights and exercise them collectively through the Union."
This example of the European
Union, however, worries Ambassador Lichenstein. The EU’s bureaucracy in
Brussels, he complains,
"is responsible to no
one. Governments get together -- foreign ministers, finance
ministers -- they presumably hand down the guidelines, but don’t kid
yourself, the bureaucrats are running things."
The Yellowstone case is an
example of how "feel-good" symbolism about the environment can be
transformed into real constraints upon real people imposed outside the
law, with no democratic oversight and no means of redress. Ironically,
Strong himself had a run-in with Colorado environmentalists over local
water rights. They did not have the wit to call in an international
agency against the New Age rancher -- or maybe they realized that Strong
was one property owner whose rights the UN would respect.
As troubling as the Yellowstone incident is, much greater potential for
mischief lies in a new series of "framework treaties" designed to handle
global environmental issues. Initially, the treaties called for
voluntary actions by governments and set up a consultative process. But
environmental activists like Hilary French know very well how
this process works. "Even though it can look disappointing, the
political will created [by these framework conventions] can lead to
commitments of a more binding nature," she said. This is already
declaration of principles was transparently aspirational, the 1972
Stockholm world conference on the human environment is generally
recognized as a turning point in international
environmental-protection efforts," wrote Peter Spiro.
"From it emerged a
standing institution (the UN Environment Program); weak but more
focused ’framework’ treaties followed, which in turn are being
filled out by specific regulatory regimes. The 1985 Vienna
Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer itself included no
obligations, but the 1987 Montreal protocols and subsequent
amendments set a full phaseout of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and
other ozone-depleting substances by 1996. The regime covers 132
signatories with a total population of 4.7 billion people. Between
1987 and 1991, global CFC consumption was in fact reduced by half. A
similar filling-out process is likely to occur with the biodiversity
and climate-change conventions signed at Rio."
The "conventions" that Spiro
was talking about emerged from the Earth Summit chaired by Maurice
Strong. They deal with two of the alleged global environmental
crises -- global warming and species extinction.
At the time of the Earth Summit, some scientists predicted on the basis
of climate computer models that the earth’s average temperature would
increase by 4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century because of
the "greenhouse effect." These predictions are controversial among
scientists. And as the computer models are refined, they show that the
atmosphere will warm far less than originally predicted. Furthermore,
more accurate satellite measurements show no increase in the average
global temperature over the last two decades. Finally, an important
study published in Nature concluded that even if the warming predictions
are right, it could well be less costly to allow greenhouse gas
emissions to continue to rise for a decade or more because technological
innovations and judicious capital investment will make it possible to
reduce them far more cheaply at some point before they become a
significant problem. In other words, we needn’t take drastic and costly
The process forges ahead anyway. The Framework Convention on Global
Climate Change signed by President George Bush at the Rio
Earth Summit is already beginning to harden. Initially, countries were
supposed voluntarily to reduce by the year 2000 the "greenhouse gases"
to the level emitted in 1990. Then, a year ago, at a UN climate-change
meeting in Geneva, the Clinton Administration offered to set legally
binding limits on the greenhouse gases the United States can emit. In
June of this year, at the UN’s Earth Summit +5 session, President
Clinton reaffirmed this commitment. And mandatory limits on carbon
emissions are to be finalized at a global meeting of Convention
signatories in Kyoto this December.
Estimates of the costs to the United States of cutting emissions range
from $90 billion to $400 billion annually in lost Gross Domestic Product
and a loss of between 600,000 and 3.5 million jobs. Global costs would
be proportionately higher.
Yet while the U.S. may be committing itself to limits, 130 developing
nations, including China and India, are excluded under the Framework
Convention from having to reduce their emissions, which, on present
trends, will outstrip those of the industrialized world early in the
next century. If the U.S. and other industrial countries have to limit
energy use while the Third World is exempt, many industries will simply
decamp to where energy prices are significantly lower.
If they are permitted to do so. For, as Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.,
Neb.) asked at a conference on "The Costs of Kyoto" held by the
Competitive Enterprise Institute:
"Who will administer a
global climate treaty?... Will we have an international agency
capable of inspecting, fining, and possibly shutting down American
Sen. Hagel is not
alone is his concern. In July the U.S. Senate passed 95 to 0 a
resolution urging the Clinton Administration not to make binding
concessions at the Kyoto conference.
But the climate-change treaty is not the only threat to U.S. interests.
Though Mr. Bush refused to sign the Bio-diversity Convention at
the Rio Earth Summit -- chaired, remember, by GOP contributor Strong
-- that only delayed things. The Clinton Administration signed shortly
after its inauguration. Since the treaty obliges signatories to protect
plant and animal species through habitat preservation, its
implementation could make the World Heritage Committee’s activities on
U.S. land use seem penny-ante by comparison.
MEANWHILE, how much further down the path sketched out by the CGG
will the UN reforms developed by Maurice Strong and announced by
Kofi Annan last week take us?
The most important initiative is the recommendation that the General
Assembly organize a "Millennium Assembly" and a companion "People’s
Assembly" in the year 2000. (The "People’s Assembly" mirrors the CGG’s
"Civil Society Forum" idea -- among other things, only accredited NGOs
would be invited to advise the General Assembly.) But what would these
grand new bodies actually do? The Millennium Assembly would invite
"heads of Government . . . to articulate their vision of prospects and
challenges for the new millennium and agree on a process for fundamental
review of the role of the United Nations [emphasis added]." That last
innocuous phrase is diplomatese for opening up the UN Charter for
amendment. If that happens, so could anything -- notably eliminating the
veto in the Security Council.
The Millennium Assembly would also consider adopting Strong’s Earth
Charter. For the most part the Charter reads like another feel-good
document -- its draft says that "we must reinvent
industrial-technological civilization" and promises everybody a clean
environment, equitable incomes, and an end to cruelty to animals -- but
we have seen how such vacuous symbolism can have real consequences down
the line. Inevitably, the Charter advocates that,
"the nations of the
world should adopt as a first step an international convention that
provides an integrated legal framework for existing and future
environmental and sustainable-development law and policy."
This is, of course, a
charter for endless intervention in the internal affairs of independent
Which leaves external affairs. Hey presto! In line with the CGG’s plan,
Annan/Strong urge that the UN Trusteeship Council,
"be reconstituted as the
forum through which member states exercise their collective
trusteeship for the integrity of the global environment and common
areas such as the oceans, atmosphere, and outer space."
For the time being, however,
Annan and Strong have avoided calling for global taxes or
user fees to finance the UN. One spokesman said that the issue was
simply "too hot to handle right now." What they propose is a Revolving
Credit Fund of $1 billion so that the UN will have a source of operating
funds even if a major contributor (e.g., the U.S.) withholds
contributions for a time. In short, the CGG’s blueprint for a more
powerful UN closely resembles the movement to expand the requirements of
the Framework Convention on Global Climate Change. While the
process may be piecemeal, the goal is clear: a more powerful set of
international institutions, increasingly emancipated from the control of
the major powers, increasingly accountable not to representative
democratic institutions but to unelected bureaucracies, and increasingly
exercising authority over how people, companies, and governments run
their affairs -- not just Americans, but everyone. In short, Col.
Qaddafi’s definition of his leftist Green Revolution: "Committees
If so, the future looks good for Maurice Strong. One UN source
suggested that, at the very least, he would like to be made Secretary
General of the Millennium Assembly or the People’s Assembly.
Others suspect that, even at age 68, Strong is angling to be
the next UN Secretary General.
Such eminence may help explain a puzzling incident in his early career.
Having long had political ambitions, he decided to enter the Canadian
Parliament. A candidate was evicted from a safe constituency by the
Liberal leadership, and Strong moved in. Then, with only a month
to go before the 1979 election, he suddenly pulled out of the race.
Strong’s business deals were especially complicated at the time -- he
was setting up a Swiss oil-and-gas exploration company with partners
that included the Kuwaiti Finance Minister and the Arab Petroleum
Investment Corporation -- and that is the explanation usually given. But
maybe he just decided that for a man who wants power,
elections are an unnecessary obstacle.