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UN Must Retain Clear And Separate Identity In Iraq

It Is Vital For UN To Retain Clear And Separate Identity In Iraq - Annan

With Iraq expecting the United Nations to play a major role in organizing elections, drafting a constitution, reconstructing the country, and building a State based on human rights and the rule of law, the world body must retain a clear and separate identity in this effort, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

“The people of Iraq and others must see us for what we are: an impartial, independent world body, with no other agenda than to help their country in this time of need,” Mr. Annan told the Japanese Diet in Tokyo where he is on an official visit.

In a speech that ranged over the need for multilateralism in an age of interdependence and the urgent objective to “find collective responses to the threats of our time,” such as international terrorism, he said the UN remains the locus of legitimacy.

At the same time the international community must re-balance the international agenda, so that the current focus on so-called hard threats does not overwhelm efforts to confront the ever-present dangers of poverty, hunger and disease.

“After all, a world of glaring inequality and widespread misery is never going to be fully safe or peaceful, even for its most privileged inhabitants,” Mr. Annan declared.

He said the divergence of views over the war in Iraq, “coming so soon after the traumatic events of 11 September 2001 -- truly a watershed event in our perception of international terrorism – raised fundamental questions about our system of collective security.”

Such issues require identifying threats to peace early enough so that they can be addressed preferably without a resort to military force, defining when force is permissible and who should authorize it, and determining the limits of self-defence in a world of globalized terrorism and privatized proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In Iraq, Mr. Annan said the immediate task is finding a consensus on the political transition and he stressed that the “clear, united and unambiguous support” of the Security Council, which was bitterly divided on the decision to go to war, “is an essential precondition” for UN success.

The Secretary-General also paid tribute to Japan’s strong global citizenship and the economic aid it has provided, especially to Asia and Africa. “Out of the ashes of war, you have built a vibrant, prosperous democracy that is an inspiration to people throughout the world. Japan has also become a paragon of international engagement,” he said.

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