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UN From Helping To Resolve Conflicts – Annan

Reform Debate Should Not Distract UN From Helping To Resolve Conflicts – Annan

New York, Jul 18 2005

Even in the midst of a far-reaching debate on organizational reform, the United Nations would not be distracted from certain urgent tasks, particularly the need to resolve protracted conflicts and ensure that countries in difficult transitions received the support they needed, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a world conference in Iran on UN renewal.

No reform proposals, “however important,” should keep the UN from working for peace and stability based on democratic self-government in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as many other countries, and for a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis, he said in a message, delivered by Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications to the two-day International Conference on UN Reform, which opened in Tehran yesterday.

"Iran has an important contribution to make to the solution of many of these problems, as well as to our collective global response to global challenges," Mr. Annan said, noting that the reform package he outlined in his Report “In larger Freedom” was of vital interest to Iran as to other countries in the region.

He stressed the importance of a culture of peace and the need to build and strengthen it at both the national and international levels and noted that the UN would continue to support efforts to promote a dialogue among civilizations. “We must educate ourselves and our societies to go beyond stereotypes of each other, and to avoid simplistic categorizations that exacerbate misunderstandings and prevent real problems being tackled,” he added.

Noting that any culture of peace is threatened by resort to terrorism, Mr. Annan said that phenomenon did not emanate from any particular religion or ideology nor was it directed only at certain countries or people. He said that all must agree how to define it and adopt a comprehensive convention outlawing it in all its forms, stressing that "while I am fully aware of the sensitivities and concerns that exist on this issue, I believe we must be able to agree that the legitimate fight of a people to resist foreign occupation does not and cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians and non-combatants."

Touching upon other issues highlighted in his reform agenda, he stressed that respect for human rights should include acknowledgement of the responsibility to protect civilian populations form genocide, ethnic cleansing and other such heinous crimes. On the use of force by states, he acknowledged that this was a "point of great sensitivity for Iranians, since the Security Council failed to take such measures when Iran was attacked in 1980, and Iran was left to exercise its right to self-defence on its own."

ENDS

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