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World officials stress UN's leadership role

World officials stress UN's leadership role on 2nd day of General Debate

Presidents from around the globe stressed the leadership role of the United Nations in setting the international agenda, as they addressed the General Assembly this morning on the second day the General Debate of its 60th anniversary session.

“The United Nations must take on the role of a new Moses,” urged President Alfred Palacio of Equador, the first to speak this morning. In that role, he said, it must create an equitable new world order and lead migrants and other disenfranchised people to a secure future. He added that the Organization should also take the leading role in the preservation of bio-diversity, which was the “paramount goal of this third millennium.”

Nauru also looked to the UN to usher in a better world without poverty, terrorism and war, its President Ludwig Scotty said. For that reason, management reform was crucial, along with the reform of the Security Council, so that it better represented “the global family.” Much of his country’s wealth had been lost through mismanagement, he said, and so he appreciated the great importance of reforms to increase transparency and accountability.

Robert Mugabe, President Zimbabwe said the UN should not be diverted from its important role in re-establishing multilateralism by such distractions as, for example, the dragging of his country before the Security Council by the United Kingdom. “It is my hope that the Council will reject this attempt at neo-colonialism,” he said.

He also protested that black residents of the United States gulf coasts were left unprotected, while his country was the focus of UN attention. “Where are the UN-Habitat and the Human Rights Commission?” he asked, answering that they should be in New Orleans rather than his country, where they were not needed. To purge human rights and development efforts of selectivity, he supported the creation of a new human rights body under the aegis of the General Assembly.

The President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo Manrique, said that peace and security had a social and economic component. “Social exclusion is a trigger of violence and instability. It renders democracy fragile,” he said. This is why the multilateral system as a whole, with the UN in the lead, must tackle development, he added.

While each country was primarily responsible for its development, he said, each also encountered obstacles at the international level. The asymmetry that currently prevails among countries must be overcome, including unequal trade barriers, subsidies, the burden of debt, and most importantly “the absence of preferential trade conditions for developing countries.” Echoing other speakers this morning, he urged the completion of the Doha round of trade talks that focus on such issues.

While also stressing the importance of the Doha trade talks, Zambia’s President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, focussed on the demand of the African Union for two permanent seats of the Security Council, saying “the African region, considers the reform of the organization as an opportunity to correct historical injustice that stands as a dark cloud over our people.”

Tassos Papadopoulos, President of Cyprus, agreed that Africa should take priority in current international efforts “Our endeavour to make a difference there in terms of conflict resolution, peace-keeping, peace building, poverty, underdevelopment and deadly diseases will be the litmus test of the effectiveness of our commitment to meet the Millennium Goals,” he said. At the same time, there must be appropriate facilitation of negotiations to resolve long-running conflicts elsewhere, such as in his country, which was at a critical juncture.

Fradique Bandeira Melo De Menezes, President of Sao Tome and Principe stated that the basis of international security lay in the protection of people and their education toward capacity building for community development. “Nations that do not pay attention to this set of conditions could be in permanent tension,” he said. For this reason, HIV/AIDS, poverty, political crises, ongoing violations of human rights, oppression and occupation, constitute threats to human security, he added.

Toward tackling those challenges and threats, Foreign Minister Kassymzhomart Tokaev of Kazakhstan said that the World Summit had laid the groundwork for the most radical reforms in the Organization’s history. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk of Ukraine warned Member States to make sure that a lack of unity would not be a hindrance to either making reforms or to meeting goals in development and peace and security.

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