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U.S. Repeats Vow to Veto Boutros-Ghali

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a move Monday that left the United States alone in the U.N. Security Council, the Clinton administration repeated its vow to block the reelection of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to a second five-year term.

Although the 15-member council postponed a formal vote on renominating him until today, it was apparent Monday that U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright will have to exercise America’s rarely used veto power against the Egyptian diplomat. U.S. officials say they expect today’s vote to go 14 to 1 in favor of Boutros-Ghali; as one of five permanent Security Council members, the United States can single-handedly kill any council action.

A U.S. veto is expected to open the door to other candidates for the job. They have declined to come forward in deference to Boutros-Ghali, 74. Preference is expected to be given to candidates from Africa. Boutros-Ghali is the first secretary-general from that continent.

Albright, at the U.N., declined to speak to reporters Monday.

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But a senior U.S. official repeated arguments the administration has made since the decision to veto Boutros-Ghali was leaked to the press in June: that “fairly or unfairly,” he has become a symbol of all that is wrong with the world body and that the only way to rebuild American public confidence in and congressional support for the U.N. is with a new chief executive.

“We are determined to do all we can to get the best secretary-general to lead the U.N. into the 21st century,” the official said. Boutros-Ghali’s successor should largely focus on reforming the U.N. and reducing its costs, the official added.

Earlier this year, the United States sought to negotiate a year’s extension for Boutros-Ghali, to permit him what the U.S. official called a graceful way out. But he refused the offer, and the administration went public with its opposition. On Monday, the official characterized this as Boutros-Ghali’s “putting his own situation above the interests of the organization.”

Still, diplomats from other countries made it clear Monday that the vote on the secretary-general has become less a referendum on Boutros-Ghali than a way to express resentment of the United States’ seeming to dictate to the rest of the U.N. even while falling more than $1 billion behind in its dues.

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Under the U.N. Charter, the Security Council nominates a secretary-general, and the General Assembly, made up of all 185 member nations, ratifies the choice.


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