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Goff-Annan Meeting Canvasses UN Reform Needs


Goff-Annan Meeting Canvasses UN Reform Needs

Reform of the United Nations, and its ability to intervene to protect victims against fundamental abuses of human rights were on the top of the agenda at a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York today.


Images courtesy NZ Govt: Phil Goff meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York, 23 September 2004.

“Nearly 60 years after its formation, there is widespread agreement about the need for far reaching reform of the UN, but less agreement about what shape that reform should take,” Mr Goff said.

“Last September Kofi Annan launched a High Level Panel to assess current threats and challenges to international security, and changes necessary to respond effectively to these challenges.

“I discussed with the Secretary-General our expectations that the Panel’s report needed to be a bold rather than cautious document. Indeed I had conveyed that view directly to the Panel when I had appeared before them earlier in the day.

“I expressed New Zealand’s view that reform of the top UN body, the Security Council, was critical. Permanent membership of that Council reflects the world’s power structure as it was in 1945. Major changes in the world since then needed to be reflected in a restructured body for it to be representative, and thus to have credibility.

“We also discussed the need for the United Nations to respond more effectively to humanitarian crises when the Government of the country in which the crisis exists is unable or unwilling to act.

“While national sovereignty is an important consideration, I said New Zealand believed that there are occasions when the overriding concern must be the responsibility to protect large numbers of people when they are threatened with murder, rape and starvation.

“It remains a matter of concern to New Zealanders that over the last decade, 800,000 people were brutally slaughtered in Rwanda and over 7,000 killed in Srebrenica in cold blood, while the world stood by.

“In Darfur, an estimated 10,000 people have died or been killed each month, without effective protection being provided by the Government of Sudan.

“I congratulated Kofi Annan on his statement on Darfur and urged him to support adoption by the UN of the principle of responsibility to protect, overriding national sovereignty in those circumstances.

“We also agreed on the need to protect United Nations personnel around the world, and I said New Zealand would support the Secretary-General in this.

“The bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and the loss of 21 lives demonstrates how vulnerable UN staff are in operations such as Iraq,” Mr Goff said.

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