U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher called for sweeping reforms of the United Nations on Monday to quiet American critics intent on weakening or even quitting the 50-year-old organization.
In what amounted to a demand for radical restructuring, Christopher proposed the consolidation, elimination and streamlining of the myriad of U.N. agencies around the world and for an international network of inspectors to weed out waste and corruption in those agencies.
Christopher also called for a moratorium on big and expensive U.N. conferences.
There was no immediate response from the United Nations. But U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, toasting various foreign ministers, including Christopher, at a luncheon, said, “Now is the time to give support to those who must take the most difficult decisions for reform.”
Christopher was the most prominent speaker during the first day of the “general debate” that opens the annual session of the General Assembly.
Heads of state and government usually make the annual speeches while foreign ministers meet each other in what has been called “a diplomatic bazaar.”
But most world leaders decided to forgo their yearly chance to set down their policies on the opening of the General Assembly because they intend to address the special summit meeting of the assembly in late October, when the United Nations commemorates its 50th anniversary.
The United Nations expects to have 150 kings, presidents and prime ministers in New York then to make speeches.
Later this week, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev, French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette and British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind will address the General Assembly.
Although American presidents and secretaries of state have often called for reform of the United Nations, Christopher appeared more detailed and serious about the issue than most.