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Inspired by Nobel Prize, UN resolved to meet new challenges, Annan says

Inspired by Nobel Prize, UN resolved to meet new challenges, Annan says

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
As it faced an array of daunting challenges - from Afghanistan and the Middle East to fighting terrorism, poverty and the AIDS epidemic - the United Nations found new inspiration in the Nobel Peace Prize but needed resources and the backing of Member States to fulfil its tasks, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

Speaking at a year-end news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General noted that 2001 had been an extraordinary year - for the UN, for New York, for the United States and for much of the world.

"When I said in my Nobel Lecture last week that we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire, I was thinking of what happened on 11 September," Mr. Annan said referring to the terrorist attacks against the US. He noted, however, that for Afghans, or Israelis or Palestinians or many other peoples suffering from conflict and poverty, his statement would have a different meaning.

The Secretary-General stressed that for many people in the world 2001 was not so different from 2000 or 1999 - "just another year of living with HIV/AIDS, or in a refugee camp, or under repressive rule, or with crushing poverty, or watching crops dwindle and children go hungry as the global environment comes under ever greater threat."

"[T]hose are the realities we must keep in mind even as we muster our energy and determination for the worldwide struggle against terrorism," Mr. Annan said, adding that the UN must keep working to resolve conflicts in Africa, Latin America and wherever else they blocked the essential work of economic and social development. Efforts should also continue, he said, to build on "the good progress" made earlier this year in forging a global strategy and raising awareness as well as funds in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Noting the formidable humanitarian and security challenges facing Afghanistan, the Secretary-General stressed that the people of the country had an "unprecedented" opportunity to begin anew and that this chance should not be missed by Afghans, their neighbours and the international community.

As for the dimming hopes for peace in the Middle East, he emphasized that the parties clearly could not resolve the conflict alone and therefore a concerted effort was needed to bring them back to the negotiating table.

While reiterating the UN's determination to fulfil the many complex tasks entrusted to it, the Secretary-General said the United Nations needed the resources to do its job.

"I call upon all Member States to overcome their differences, and provide the Organization with the funds we need to carry out the vital work that the world expects of us," he said after noting that the General Assembly's financial committee had still not achieved agreement on the UN budget for the next biennium.