The world has rarely needed the United Nations as much as it does today, particularly in dealing with global dangers such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said tonight in Washington, D.C.
“The threats and challenges we face require as never before multilateral cooperation if they are to be dealt with successfully,” the Secretary-General said, according to the text of his prepared remarks to the UN Association of the United States International Visionaries Award Dinner.
Mr. Annan pointed out that the negotiations leading to the adoption last Friday of a new Security Council resolution on Iraq showed what a central role the UN can – and must – play in the quest for a world free from the threat of weapons of mass destruction. “In short, the UN played its proper role as the only universal instrument of global cooperation,” he said.
Just as important will be the broader effort to fight terrorism, and the defeat of those forces of hatred, distrust and repression that enable it, Mr. Annan added. “Terrorism is a global threat with global effects; its methods are murder and mayhem, but its consequences affect every aspect of the United Nations agenda – from development to peace to human rights and the rule of law,” he said.
The United Nations, therefore, has a clear obligation to deal with this global threat, “an indispensable role to play in providing the necessary legal and organizational framework within which the international campaign against terrorism can unfold,” the Secretary-General said.
Mr. Annan warned, however, that just as terrorism must never be excused, genuine grievances must also never be ignored. Although it might detract from the justice of a cause when a few wicked men commit murder in its name, it does not make it any less urgent that the cause is addressed, the grievance heard, the wrong put right. “Otherwise, we risk losing that most central of wars – the war for the hearts and minds of much of mankind,” he said.
“As the United Nations unites to defeat terrorism in the months and years ahead, we must act with equal determination to solve the political disputes and long-standing conflicts which generate an atmosphere conducive to support for terrorism,” the Secretary-General said. “To do so is not to reward terrorism or its perpetrators; it is to deny them the opportunity to find refuge or recruits, in any cause, any country. Only then can we truly say that the war on terrorism has been won.”