Blair reveals plan to shake up way the world is run
Tony Blair will urge world leaders today to put the ructions of the Iraq war behind them so that they can rebuild outdated international institutions and unite behind Nouri al-Maliki’s new Government in Baghdad.
In a speech at Georgetown University, the Prime Minister hopes to restore his reputation as a believer in multilateral solutions after US and British troops invaded Iraq without the express authority of the United Nations.
Mr Blair’s arrival in Washington last night for talks with President Bush comes after his visit this week to Baghdad.
Downing Street and the White House have emphasised that there is little prospect of an early withdrawal from Iraq. Mr Blair will say that Mr alMaliki’s Government had made clear that it wants coalition troops to remain, at least in the short term.
At a joint press conference last night, the Prime Minister called on the rest of the world to support the fledgeling democracy and pledged to “stand firm with them in defeating these forces of reaction”.
Standing beside Mr Blair, President Bush admitted that “setbacks and mis-steps” had been made in Iraq, but he refused to be drawn on the date of troop withdrawals.
The Prime Minister’s visit comes against a backdrop of frustration on trade talks, the Middle East peace process and possible UN sanctions on Iran.
He will set out proposals to reinvigorate the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G8 among others so that they meet the challenges of the 21st century. He will argue that this means making them more transparent and representative, and better able “to take on hard issues” such as Iraq.
The Bush Administration has been sceptical about international deals on issues such as climate change and the Middle East. The Prime Minister is expected to say today: “Acting multilaterally should always be our preference. Big countries fought not to duck big issues and make them worse.”
Downing Street believes that this is a good time to “test the water” in America on climate change because rising oil prices and fears about the security of supply have served to “concentrate the minds” of the US Administration.
Although there is little prospect of Mr Bush signing up to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the US is interested in practical measures such as promoting the use of new technologies that produce less carbon dioxide.
The World Bank, the IMF and the UN were all set up in 1945. Mr Blair will say that globalisation has since made the world a very different — and more interdependent — place.
In his speech Mr Blair will echo recent remarks by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, who has called for the IMF to “focus more on crisis prevention as well as crisis resolution” by extending its monitoring role to developing economies.
The Prime Minister believes that the custom by which the IMF is always headed by a European and the World Bank by an American should be scrapped. Mr Blair also supports proposals, blocked by America and China, to expand the UN Security Council to include Germany, Japan, India and Brazil as well as representatives from Africa, while strengthening the powers of the Secretary-General.