With less than two days left before the United Nations hosts the largest ever gathering of global leaders, and the Summit document still mired in discord, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today intensified his diplomatic efforts, postponing a news conference in a bid to secure a compromise of "give and take" from Member States.
"There's clearly a sense of urgency, the clock continues to tick, the negotiators, I think, have left things perilously late in light of the date of the summit which was announced well in advance and he's concerned that the work might not be done," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said when asked how serious the situation was.
"But he's definitely not given up, and as I said he's continuing to consult with Member States at various levels," both at UN Headquarters in New York and with phone calls to national capitals, he told the regular noon briefing. Despite some progress, differences still persist over producing an agreed outcome document on issues ranging from enacting UN reform to promoting development to battling terrorism.
Mr. Dujarric said "intensive negotiations" were held in the General Assembly over the weekend and were still continuing in an effort to produce the document ahead of the 2005 World Summit from 14 to 16 September, expected to be attended by some 180 heads of State or government. Meanwhile Mr. Annan put off his pre-Summit news conference until tomorrow.
Progress was made in the areas of development, terrorism and management reform, Mr. Dujarric said, but differences still exist in other areas, especially the section on disarmament and non-proliferation.
"Obviously the hard decisions are going to have to be made by the Member States but the Secretary-General has been meeting daily, if not twice daily, with both presidents (outgoing and incoming) of the General Assembly," he added.
"He's also meeting today with the chairs of the regional groups. He's been in phone contact with Member States, both at the ambassador level here and higher level in capitals, and he's trying to encourage them to make the necessary give and take that will enable us to have an outcome document for the Summit."
A General Assembly Core Group, set up by outgoing Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon, has engaged in marathon sessions over the past two weeks, and Mr. Ping is to present Member States with yet another revised version later today.
The document is intended to cover a host of proposals contained in Mr. Annan's report in March "In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all." He has repeatedly spoken of the unique opportunity offered by the Summit in this 60th anniversary year of the UN to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century.
The report contained key recommendations on poverty, security and human rights, including increasing official development assistance by developed countries to 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP).
It urged tackling climate change, noting that the Kyoto Protocol containing binding targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions only extends until 2012, and called for a comprehensive anti-terrorism treaty, defining terrorism as any act intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants and intimidate a population or coerce a government or international organization.
It also proposed the creation of two new bodies, a UN Peacebuilding Council to help countries emerging from conflict, and a more powerful Human Rights Council elected by the General Assembly to replace the current Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which critics says is politicized.
Other recommendations included establishing a democracy fund, expanding the Security Council from its current 15 members to 24 and streamlining the UN Secretariat.
If acted on, the proposals would mark the most dramatic change in the UN's functioning ever achieved at once.