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US Senator backs Annan’s UN reform agenda

US Senator backs Annan’s UN reform agenda

Emphasizing the importance of the United Nations in today’s interdependent world, a key United States senator today voiced support for the reform agenda put forward by Secretary-General Kofi Annan while calling for stepped-up global action to address problems associated with nuclear weapons and climate change.

Addressing an event in the Security Council, Richard G. Lugar, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that panel is “united in its belief that an effective United Nations is a vital component to addressing the trans-national problems confronting each of its Member States.”

He urged 10 reforms which largely mirror proposals put forward by the Secretary-General, and lauded the UN leader for “his vocal advocacy for a constructive reform agenda.”

Mr. Lugar acknowledged that many of the proposed reforms have already been initiated, including the funding of an Ethics Office, the establishment of a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation by UN personnel, the strengthening of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and the creation of a whistleblower protection policy.

Echoing the Secretary-General, he urged replacing the discredited Human Rights Commission with a more effective Human Rights Council, now under discussion in the General Assembly.

The US Senator also called attention to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pointing in particular to the devastation that would be wrought should nuclear arms fall into the hands of terrorists. “We must perfect a worldwide system of accountability for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons,” he said. “If a nation lacks the means to participate in this effort, the international community must provide financial and technical assistance.”

Mr. Lugar pointed out that the US and the Russian Federation have been closely cooperating on the nuclear arms issue – an initiative that just a quarter century ago would have seemed impossible. “Similarly, from the vantage point of today, few observers would predict that the international community would eventually participate in dismantlement operations in North Korea or, perhaps, Iran,” he said. “The future is not clear in these states, but if a peaceful outcome is to be secured and weapons of mass destruction are to be eliminated, we should not rule out such extraordinary outcomes.”

He called for a decisive response to nations that are violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or other international arms agreements, and warned that if Iran does not comply with UN resolutions and arms agreements, “the Security Council must apply strict and enforceable sanctions.”

Concerning climate change, he called for the US – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouses gases – to take the lead role in reducing them. “I have advocated that the United States must be open to multi-lateral forums that attempt to achieve global solutions to the problem of greenhouse gases,” he said, calling for Washington to head talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He also voiced hope that “the UN and the Security Council will elevate the importance placed on dialogues about energy.”

In the discussion that followed, numerous participants commented on Mr. Lugar’s proposals and ways of strengthening the UN to meet the challenges ahead.

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