Annan breaks holiday to throw weight behind reform draft for September Summit

30 August 2005

Breaking off his holiday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is returning to New York today to throw his support behind efforts to produce a comprehensive document for the September World Summit, barely two weeks before the gathering brings together nearly 180 Heads of State and Government at United Nations Headquarters.

At the same time a UN spokesperson reiterated Mr. Annan’s full support for including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Summit and said any effort to remove the eight targets that seek to cure of a host of global socio-economic ills by 2015 would hurt billions of people.

Spokesperson Marie Okabe was asked at the regular noon briefing if Mr. Annan would urge UN members to resist calls by the United States to take out references to the MDGs at the Summit, convened to discuss UN reform and the status of the MDGs, five years after they were adopted at the 2000 UN Summit.

“The Secretary-General and the United Nations stand fully behind the Millennium Development Goals, which are internationally accepted and which have the broad support of Member States and civil society,” Ms. Okabe replied.

“Any effort to eliminate the MDGs from the Summit outcome would be a step back to the global fight against poverty and for the billions living in poverty,” she added of the goals, which seek to halve extreme poverty and hunger, slash maternal and infant mortality, and increase access to health care, education, water and sanitation, all by 2015.

The announcement of Mr. Annan’s return came as the General Assembly Core Group set up by Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon embarked on a weeklong marathon of meetings to draw up a draft outcome document for the 14-16 September summit.

“He has decided to interrupt his vacation to take stock of progress towards the 2005 World Summit, and to support the President of the General Assembly in his efforts to ensure a successful Summit,” the statement said.

The Core Group will tackle seven priority issues identified by Mr. Ping: development, UN Secretariat reform, establishment of a Human Rights Council, creation of a Peace Building Commission, disarmament and non-proliferation, terrorism, and the responsibility to protect civilians under threat of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The Group took up terrorism and the Peace Building Commission yesterday, and appointed a smaller group for each of the two subjects to conduct negotiations and hammer out details on those sections. A similar approach will be followed for the other priority items as well.

Ever since he put forward in March a comprehensive plan for tackling poverty, security threats and human rights abuses while reforming the UN, in his report “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all,” Mr. Annan has spoken of the unique opportunity offered by the Summit in this 60th anniversary year of the world body.

“I am hoping that Member States will be galvanized, not only by the self-evident urgency of taking steps to deal with poverty, as well as terrorism and the spread of deadly weapons and, indeed, deadly disease, but also by a sense of the unique opportunity that this year presents,” he said in April. “Both on the development side and on the security and institutional side, there is now a widespread sense of 'if not now, when?'"