As a sign of United Nations resolve to propel forward Secretary-General Kofi Annan's package of reforms before a summit meeting in September, two of the envoys he has appointed to take the message to world leaders vowed today to use the "unique moment" to help enact the "bold but achievable" agenda.
"Getting the envoys here so soon after the launching of the 'In Larger Freedom' report reflects our determination to really get momentum behind this report and the package deal," Mr. Annan's Chief of Staff Mark Malloch Brown said in introducing Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas at a news conference in New York.
Their appearance came just two days after the announcement of their appointment, along with former President Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.
All four will now travel to world capitals to seek support for the reforms, ranging from greater investment in developing countries to steps to fight catastrophic terrorism through an international treaty and collective action against genocide and ethnic cleansing, which Mr. Annan has bundled together in a package to be accepted as a whole, not as an "a la carte" menu from which to choose or discard at will.
The proposals, which also include expansion of Security Council membership and replacement of the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights by a more focused body, are to be taken up at a summit from 14 to 16 September at UN Headquarters in New York, and then put before the General Assembly for formal adoption.
"While the recommendations are bold we also believe that they are achievable and I think that Kofi has provided leadership and it's now up to the General Assembly and the members of the United Nations to take up that challenge and, as has been said, we will in effect be the eyes and ears of the Secretary-General," Mr. Ahern said of his mission.
"Personally I'm quite convinced that we are at the unique moment in time as far as facing these new threats are concerned, as far as reform of the United Nation is concerned and therefore I'm very pleased to do my bit to see that we can have concrete decisions taken in September," Mr. Alatas said of the feedback he would give Mr. Annan.
Mr. Malloch Brown recognized that some details of "the broad package deal in terms of the headings that this report on development, security and human rights and the rejuvenation of the UN itself lays out" would be modified in negotiations.
"But these men are not just salesmen. They're also good listeners and they're obviously going to bring back…issues where there are problems that we need to address, where we need to find ways of either modifying things or reaching out to people to explain them better," he said.
"So they're offering us a two-way channel of communication between ourselves and the capitals and in that sense we think we'll get some real energy and political will to the negotiation process itself which will be happening here," the Chief of Staff added.
Stressing the importance of the outreach to Heads of government "to get them to buy into the importance of this moment and the importance of the wholeness of this package," he called it a "strategic bargain" in the sense of "everybody having something in it and…everybody having to put up some things that they don't like so much in it."
Meanwhile, the General Assembly began informal consultations, to run through Friday, among its membership on the reform proposals presented in the report. Beginning on 19 April, the talks will move behind closed doors and will be organized around four clusters, each focusing on one of the four major elements of the reform package: Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom to Live in Dignity, and Strengthening the United Nations.