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HOT LINKS: UN and the forces of globalization

Millennium Report focuses on harnessing the forces of globalization

3 April -- Globalization for the benefit of all is the focus of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's most comprehensive and ambitious report defining the major challenges facing the world in the twenty-first century.

The Millennium Report,( which the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly today, will be the main working document for the Millennium Summit to be held in September at the United Nations in New York. The summit is set to be the largest ever gathering of political leaders.

The report entitled "We the Peoples: the Role of the United Nations in the 21st century," calls on heads of State to spread the benefits of globalization to all people. It contains numerous specific goals and programme initiatives for the world's leaders to consider, many of which are practical recommendations for fighting poverty and disease.

The report outlines the challenges facing the world under three headings of freedom: freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom of future generations from the destruction of the environment.

The section on freedom from want ( addresses the issue of poverty, asserting that if all sectors of society worked together, then the number of people living in extreme poverty could be halved within fifteen years. The Secretary-General calls on heads of States to vow to strive for specific targets, for instance to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS within five years and to make primary school education universal before 2015. He calls for poor countries to be relieved of debt burdens, and for the removal of trade barriers that deny developing countries access to global markets.

In the freedom from fear ( section, the Secretary-General observes that today's wars are more often within than between states, and therefore the world must think of security more in terms of protecting people than territory. He calls on Heads of States to address the dilemma of intervention, saying that although he accepts the principles of sovereignty, "no legal principle - not even sovereignty - can ever shield crimes against humanity."

On the subject of conflict prevention, the report notes that sanctions are an available weapon to the Security Council, but must be better 'targeted' to minimize the suffering of innocent civilians. Disarmament had lost momentum, and efforts must be renewed. The Secretary-General proposes a major new international conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers.

The third section concerning the environment ( that hardly anyone has taken on board the severity of the situation. The Secretary-General calls for a new ethic of environmental stewardship, which should involve more scientific research, a massive increase in public awareness, and the integration of environmental costs into the economy through 'green accounting.'

A further section deals with the specific role of the United Nations ( As the private sector forges ever more powerful links across national borders, so must governments. Links must be forged not only between different governments, but also between governments, organizations and civil society. The United Nations could be both a catalyst and an instrument of this process. As concrete expressions of this, the Secretary-General proposes a number of "networks", including a plan to link up ten thousand hospitals and clinics to the Internet and provide them with the world's most advanced information on healthcare, and a proposal to create a consortium of expert volunteers groups who would travel to developing countries and provide training in information technology.

The Secretary-General also notes that the influence of the UN derives not from power, but from the legitimacy and values it represents. The reform of the Security Council would add to that legitimacy.

Finally, the Secretary-General lists six shared values, that reflect the spirit of the UN Charter: Freedom; Equity and Solidarity; Tolerance; Non-Violence; Respect for Nature; and Shared Responsibility. He urges the Millennium Summit to adopt a series of resolutions, drawn from the report, as an earnest indication of its will to act on those values.


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