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UN: Annan - World must forge post-Iraq unity

World must forge post-Iraq unity, rich states must help poor – new Annan report

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  • Launching his latest progress report on goals set in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for renewed world unity on security issues after the Iraq war, increased momentum if global development targets are to be met and rededication by rich countries to fulfil their pledges to the poor.

    The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education, all by 2015, can still be reached by the deadline if during the remaining 12 years “we maintain and increase the momentum of the last three years,” Mr. Annan said at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York to launch his report, formally titled Report on the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration 2003.

    “But it depends on Member States being really determined to act on the commitments they have made,” he added.

    On peace and security, Mr. Annan said: “I am not even sure whether the consensus and the vision that the Millennium Declaration expressed are still intact…We seem no longer to agree on what the main threats are, or on how to deal with them.” He added that he felt the UN system was not working as it should, and he has asked world leaders to come to the world body’s annual debate armed with good ideas on how to make it work better.

    The report begins with a reference to the “major disaster” which befell the UN on 19 August, when a terrorist attack on its Baghdad headquarters killed 22 people, including the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

    The attack was “a direct challenge to the vision of global security, rooted in the United Nations Charter,” which inspired the Millennium Declaration adopted by all world leaders at the Millennium Summit exactly three years ago, Mr. Annan says. It was the latest in a series of events which make the consensus they then expressed on world peace and security look “less solid than it did three years ago,” he adds.

    In the chapter on peace and security, the longest in the report, he warns that “the international security architecture…must be able to adapt to the needs of our time,” but notes a worrying lack of consensus about what those needs are. While some States focus primarily on terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, “for many around the globe, poverty, deprivation and civil war remain the highest priority.”

    Mr. Annan says it is “vitally important that the international community not allow the differences of the past months to persist, and that it find unity of purpose around a common security agenda,” which, he adds, “can only be achieved if States, in pursuing their national interests, show understanding and respect for global realities, and for the needs of others.”

    The common security agenda, he continues, “should reflect a global consensus on the major threats to peace and security, be they old or new, and on our common response,” and “should not shy away from the need to improve and, where necessary, change the structure and functions of the United Nations and other international institutions.”

    The Security Council needs to “regain the confidence of States and of world public opinion,” Mr. Annan says, and will be better able to do so “if it is perceived to be broadly representative of the international community as a whole and of the geo-political realities of the contemporary world.” He hopes, therefore, that Member States will redouble their efforts to reach agreement on enlarging the Council’s membership.

    In the chapter on development, Mr. Annan places particular emphasis on the need for developed countries to meet their commitments to the developing world in the areas of trade, debt relief and aid. The success or failure of all the MDGs hinges on this, and developed countries should agree on time-bound deadlines for fulfilling their pledges, comparable to the 2015 target for outcomes such as halving extreme poverty and hunger.

    In the chapter on human rights, democracy and good governance, he says “there is a danger that we may retreat from some of the important gains” made during the 1990s, as human rights come under pressure both from terrorism and from the methods used by countries to fight it.

    The report concludes with a chapter on “reinforcing multilateral institutions” in which Mr. Annan calls for “a hard look” at the existing architecture of international institutions and, in particular, a review of the principal organs of the UN itself – not only the Security Council but also the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and perhaps even the Trusteeship Council.

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