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UN NEWS: Security Council And UN Summit News

From the UN NEWS service...

- Security Council facing "crisis of credibility," Annan tells summit meeting
- Security Council leaders resolve to strengthen UN peacekeeping
- On day two of Millennium Summit, world forum on "right track"
- At 2nd Millennium Summit round table, leaders define key global problems
- Nigerian President, rock star Bono present Annan with petition on debt cancellation

Security Council facing "crisis of credibility," Annan tells summit meeting


7 September -- Addressing a summit meeting of the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said there was a "crisis of credibility" facing the United Nations and called on the leaders present to give the world body the tools it needs to work effectively.

"We all know that the time has come to truly enable the United Nations to succeed in its mission for peace," Mr. Annan told the Council, which met today at the level of heads of State and Government in conjunction with in the UN Millennium Summit. Recommendations to do this were outlined in the recent Report on UN Peace Operations, he said, pledging to "make those changes for which I am responsible" and urging the Council to do the same. While UN peacekeeping could not be the answer to every conflict, the Secretary-General said, "where we are the answer -- where only our unique universality and legitimacy can help a wounded and abandoned people return to a life of peace and dignity -- we must be given the means to make the difference between life and death."

All 15 members of the Security Council are scheduled to take part in the debate, including nine presidents, five prime ministers and one foreign minister.


Security Council leaders resolve to strengthen UN peacekeeping

7 September -- Meeting at the level of heads of State and Government for only the second time in its history, the Security Council today resolved to strengthen the central role of the United Nations in peacekeeping, and pledged to take concrete steps to achieve that goal.

After holding an extended debate in which 9 presidents, 5 prime ministers and 1 foreign minister took part, the 15-member Council voted unanimously to adopt a Declaration on ensuring an effective role of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace, particularly in Africa. In the five-part Declaration, the Council pledged to enhance the effectiveness of the UN in preventing conflict at all stages -- from prevention to settlement to post-conflict peace-building. It also reaffirmed its commitment to give equal priority to the maintenance of peace in every region of the world.

Focusing on Africa, the Council reiterated its determination to give special attention to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development on the continent, and to the "specific characteristics of African conflicts." It also emphasized the importance of continued cooperation between the UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and African subregional organizations in addressing conflict in Africa.

The Council said it was determined to strengthen UN peacekeeping operations by adopting clearly defined, credible and achievable mandates and by including in those mandates measures to ensure the safety of UN personnel and -- where feasible - civilians. The Declaration also stressed the need to help the UN obtain trained and properly equipped personnel and to strengthen consultations with countries contributing troops.

The Council agreed to support the upgrading of UN capacity for planning, establishing, deploying and conducting peacekeeping operations. It also agreed to "the provision of a more up-to-date and sounder foundation" for financing those operations.

Welcoming the recent Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations, which put forward a number of specific reform proposals, the Council decided to consider its recommendations "expeditiously."

Also by its Declaration, the Council called for effective international action to prevent the illegal flow of small arms into areas of conflict, and decided "to continue to take resolute action in areas where the illegal exploitation and trafficking of high-value commodities contributes to the escalation or continuation of conflict."

The Declaration also underscored the critical importance of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and emphasized that such programmes should be integrated into the mandates of peacekeeping operations. The Council said it was determined to continue to sensitize peacekeeping personnel in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS.

On day two of Millennium Summit, world forum on "right track"

7 September -- The United Nations Millennium Summit entered its second day of deliberations on Thursday with over 60 leaders from around the world scheduled to address the forum in plenary meetings, while informal discussions will take place in interactive round tables.

"Never have so many heads of State and government been in the same room at the same time," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday at a welcome lunch for the dignitaries. "I hope this unprecedented assembly of leaders will also set a new record in leadership. From what I saw and heard this morning, we are on the right track."

Reminded of an African proverb - "even the longest journey begins with just one step" - Mr. Annan told the world leaders they had the ability to transform the lives of the world's 6 billion inhabitants, and said that the Summit represented "the first and decisive step on a new journey we undertake together."

Over the course of the three-day Summit, participants are also taking part in round table discussions designed to allow for more informal and open discussion, with one such forum held yesterday and two meetings scheduled for today. The four events are chaired by the leaders of Algeria, Poland, Singapore and Venezuela, respectively.

Also today, UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, will organize an interactive forum on girls education for the spouses of the Heads of State and Government participating in the Summit.

Worldwide, the Summit has gathered great interest, as evidenced by the number of "hits" on the UN's web site. While normal days attract between 500,000 and 800,000 visitors to the site, Monday gathered 2.7 million hits and Tuesday 2.2 million, according to the Summit's spokesperson.

Meanwhile, parallel to the Millennium Summit, the UN Security Council will hold a top-level public meeting this afternoon on the role of the Council in peacebuilding, particularly in Africa. Presided over by President Alpha Oumar Konaré of Mali, the discussion will be held at the level of head of State or Government, with representatives from the Council's current membership - Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.


At 2nd Millennium Summit round table, leaders define key global problems

7 September -- Meeting for the second round table discussion of this week's Millennium Summit in New York, 34 world leaders shared their viewpoints on issues ranging from violence to poverty, as they tried to define the most pressing problems facing the world today, according to the meeting's chairman.

After the discussion, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told a United Nations news conference that the interactive meeting he had chaired this morning was "one of the most interesting debates" he could remember. He said the participants had focused their three and a half hour discussion on the problems shared by the international community -- poverty, disease, violence, and the lack of democracy and human rights in many parts of the world - and had stressed the importance of cooperation in tackling global challenges.

"When we speak [about such issues], it is not easy to have one answer, but international responsibility and the feeling that we should work together and integrate our efforts to solve the problems, I think this is the real message of my round table," he said.

When asked by a journalist what the Summit's participants needed to do in order to avoid the meeting becoming the "Summit of Lost Possibilities," President Kwasniewski said there needed to be a concept of how to integrate the least developed countries. "I think the Millennium Summit can be a breakthrough in the history of the United Nations if, after many statements, we have action, real efforts and results," he said, adding that this was a challenge not only for the UN's Secretary-General, but more importantly for Member States who should understand that "words are words, but efforts are a different story."

In the search for solutions to global dilemmas, many leaders differed in their approach, President Kwasniewski said. For some, the developed countries had a crucial role to play. For others, it was a shared responsibility. According to the Chairman, it was not easy to find a "simple recipe" for such complex global problems. But the main outcome of the discussion, he said, was that the participants had defined a common list of problems on which to focus and reaffirmed their belief in the UN's role in helping countries to reach compromise on global dilemmas. "This [role] was the foundation of the creation of the UN 55 years ago and the Organization has lived up to this difficult task," he said. "In this regard, the Millennium Summit has proven that the UN is very necessary."

Asked whether the round table was a consciousness-raising exercise about issues that have been discussed for over 50 years, rather than a vehicle for genuine political progress, President Kwasniewski said he had a different impression of this morning's meeting. "Of course, it's easy to say that if we speak about violence, poverty, the lack of human rights, it's a discussion that has been going on in this building for 50 years," he said. "That is true. But if you see how far we are compared to these goals, […] we are closer to finding good solutions."

"I come from Poland," he continued, "and Poland has been an example over the last 11 years that it is possible to change everything - political systems, economic systems, social life, so maybe this is why I'm optimistic that the world can change. It all depends on our efforts."


Summit Treaty Signings Strengthen the Rights of the Child

7 September -- The rolling treaty signing ceremony continued throughout the second day of the United Nations Millenium Summit with the two new protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child continuing to pick up the most signatures.

By Thursday evening, the protocols, which seek to prevent children under the age of 18 from participating in armed conflict, and to eliminate child prostitution, the sale of children and child pornography, had each been signed by some 40 heads of State.

Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, said that the ceremony had "shown that together we can join hands and move mountains."

"We must now lean ever more heavily on armed groups that abuse children as combatants. We must also address the political, social and economic factors that help facilitate such exploitation. Thirdly, we must mobilize the necessary resources to pursue more effective programmes of demobilization, disarmament and social rehabilitation," Mr Otunnu said.

Another protocol, The Optional Protocol to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has received 11 signatures and four ratifications, taking the total number of ratifications to nine, just one less than the 10 it requires to enter into force. The protocol would allow individuals who feel their rights under the Convention have been violated, to petition the CEDAW Committee directly.

So far during the Summit, there have been 157 treaty actions from 40 countries on 22 different Treaties, Conventions or Optional Protocols.

Nigerian President, rock star Bono present Annan with petition on debt cancellation

7 September -- The President of Nigeria and the lead singer of the rock group U2 today presented the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan with a record breaking petition, which calls for debt cancellation.

The petition, containing 21.7 million signatures, was delivered by President Olesugun Obasanjo and rock star Bono at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. It calls on the "Group of Eight" countries to cancel debt owed to them by the world's poorest nations. President Obasanjo and Bono were joined by members of the "Jubilee 2000" campaign who collected the petition.

In accepting the petition, the Secretary-General praised the campaign for its efforts, saying that the record number of signatures was a sign that "the world had awoken, and our consciences are pushing us to go out and help those in need." He added that we are in "a new world, where governments, NGOs, individuals and corporations come together to tackle our common problems."

Bono in turn congratulated the Secretary-General for putting the emphasis of the Millenium Summit on people rather than governments.


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