UN still plays vital role in dealing with global ills, Annan says

22 February 2005
Kofi Annan

Although buffeted in recent months by allegations of mismanagement, corruption and other scandals, the United Nations remains an organization indispensable to the international community’s ability to deal with worldwide problems such as poverty and security, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

The recent example of the UN-led tsunami relief efforts, as well as the world body’s ongoing involvement in rebuilding Iraq, demonstrate the UN’s central role in a wide range of matters, as well as its continuing importance to humanity, the Secretary-General wrote in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Annan acknowledged the UN’s imperfections and stressed the efforts he has made over the eight years of his term to improve and strengthen the organization. “I had already done a lot – with the support of Member States, often led by the US – to make the UN more coherent and efficient. Now we need to make it more transparent and accountable – not only to diplomats representing member governments, but also directly to the public.”

The Secretary-General also stressed that the UN could not expect to survive into the 21st century unless ordinary people throughout the world felt that it did something for them – helping to protect them against conflict, but also against poverty, hunger, disease and the erosion of their natural environment.

“In recent years, bitter experience has taught us that a world in which whole countries are left prey to misgovernment and destitution is not safe for anyone,” he wrote. “We must turn the tide against disease and hunger, as well as against terrorism, the proliferation of deadly weapons and crime – starting, urgently, with decisions from the Security Council to end the abominable crimes in Darfur and bring war criminals to international justice.”

He pointed to a high-level summit in September as “a real opportunity to make the UN more useful to all its members,” and noted that he would put before the assembled world leaders “an agenda of bold but achievable proposals for making the UN work better, and the world fairer and safer.”

“I know that Americans want to do that as much as any people on earth. More than any other people, they have the power to do it – if they listen to and work with others, and take the lead in a concerted effort. I believe that they will give us that lead. I look forward to September with hope and excitement,” he said.


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