United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that despite fears of a breakdown in international order, some of which he shares, "I believe profoundly that the United States and the United Nations need one another."
"The relationship must be seen as one of productive interdependence," Mr. Annan told an audience at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was delivering the ninth annual HJ Heinz Company Foundation Distinguished Lecture and was given an honorary degree.
"There is a widespread fear in the international community that some of the key assumptions on which international order has been based since 1945 may be breaking down. The war in Iraq upset a great many people because they saw two permanent members of the Security Council taking military action without the support of the council as a whole, or of the wider membership of the United Nations," he said.
"I myself share those concerns," he added.
Mr. Annan reminded the audience that he had told the General Assembly last month "it is not enough to denounce unilateralism, unless we also face up squarely to the concerns that make some States feel uniquely vulnerable, since it is those concerns that drive them to take unilateral action."
And, he added today, "It is up to all those who believe in a collective system of security to show that these concerns, such as the fear of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, can still be addressed more effectively through collective action."
“I believe profoundly that the United States and the United Nations need one another. The United States needed the United Nations as an instrument to pursue peace in Cambodia, Mozambique, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, East Timor and many other war-torn countries. I doubt if any nation – even the United States – would have been willing or able to shoulder these burdens on its own. But equally, the United Nations could never have played the role it did in all these countries without the United States. The relationship must be seen as one of productive interdependence.”
Noting that the United States had sought, and achieved, an agreement in the Security Council on Iraq, the Secretary-General said, "I believe it did so because it recognized the need to engage with others and listen to their concerns - in a forum whose legitimacy is recognized and where responsibility is shared."
Mr. Annan also said there were many other such examples. "Can any one nation by itself tackle the problem of global warming or protecting the environment? Can any one nation advance the cause of human rights and bring to justice those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity? Can any one nation by itself win the war on terrorism or prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction or stop the trafficking in illegal drugs?" he said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Secretary-General received a check for $10,000, presented by a group of children on behalf of Heinz employees, for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to support its work to provide youngsters with safe and balanced nutrition.
After that, he attended a luncheon with the city's political, academic, business and community leaders. Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy presented him with the keys to the city.