While globalization has changed the challenges facing the United Nations, in today's integrated world, the UN is needed now more than ever, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, in Geneva, where he was awarded an honorary degree from the institute at which he studied nearly 40 years ago.
Delivering the keynote address at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, the Secretary-General pointed out that when the UN was founded in 1945, it was assumed that any threat to world order would come from war by one State against another. "What keeps people awake at night now," he said, "is the fear of what might be done by a handful of fanatics - perhaps armed only with box-cutters, like those who attacked the United States last September."
Even the best-organized countries were not finding globalization easy to manage, he observed. Security challenges, which encompassed economic, physical, environmental and psychological components, could make even a strong State look weak. For example, population movements bring people from different cultural backgrounds into formerly stable communities, prompting questions about how inclusive a nation should be, and what its identity should be based on.
In the age of globalization, many challenges required a global response, Mr. Annan stressed. "What is needed is a kind of ladder of institutions, rising through many steps from the village or district council to the United Nations itself," he said. "Through these institutions, individuals must be able to express their many different identities, and link up with each other in an emerging world community."
"Just as States remain relevant and necessary at the national level, so the United Nations and its Charter are more relevant than ever at the global level," he emphasized. "Fundamental principles enshrined in the Charter - sovereign equality, good faith, and the peaceful settlement of disputes - must form the core of any viable international community."
Mr. Annan, who studied at the Institute in the early 1960s, today received an honorary doctorate from the school.
Also today, the Secretary-General met with his Special Envoy for Myanmar, Ismail Razali, as well as his Special Adviser on Sports for Development and Peace, Adolf Ogi. In addition, he held a private meeting with Switzerland's Foreign Minister, Joseph Deiss.