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On World Summit's second day, UN reform, development goals top agenda

On World Summit's second day, UN reform, development goals top agenda

Group photo of leaders attending World Summit
The United Nations World Summit, the largest-ever gathering of Heads of State and Government, went into its second day today with leaders stressing the need for UN reform, the fight against terrorism, and further effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of slashing a host of socio-economic ills by 2015.

Opening the morning session President Ismail Omar Guellen of Djibouti praised "the catalytic leadership and tenacity" of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in pushing for reform to ensure the UN remain relevant for coming generations and noted the role of the MDGs as a global partnership to reduce poverty, improve health, promote peace and human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was "a need to adjust this Organization to the new historic realities" and said his country "intends to increase its participation both in international crisis response action and in promotion of development and progress." He said terrorism posed the main threat to human rights, freedoms and sustainable development and the UN and its Security Council must be the main centre for coordinating international cooperation.

President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia called for "collaborative efforts between the developed and developing countries to accelerate global efforts" to achieve the MDGs and applauded recent efforts to provide more resources for development, including debt relief.

Ecuadorian President Alfredo Palacio said the MDGs are "a minimal, not a maximal agenda, a starting point, not the end. This basic commitment must be assumed by all the governments of the world."

President Francois Bozizé of the Central African Republic (CAR) stressed the need for solidarity in the battle against poverty and for more active solidarity among Member States to promote peace, development, security and the rights of man.

President Branko Crvenkovski of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said his country was strongly committed to the full implementation of the MDGs at the national level and the fight against international terrorism remained among a top priority.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani joined his voice to the call for reform in a way that strengthens the UN’s role in keeping international security, and also achieves international cooperation in the economic, cultural and social fields. “Iraq is facing one of the most brutal campaigns of terror at the hands of the forces of darkness, he said, adding that the country’s war on terror requires diverse international help.

For his part, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus said it was "high time for the UN to put and end to internal corruption scandals and get down in deed to address the anguish and misery of the world."

Chilean President Ricardo Lagos underlined the urgent need to achieve the MDGs and said the Summit's outcome document, while not meeting all expectations, is a starting point on the on the road to changes needed by the UN.

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia noted that much more need to be done to achieve the MDGs and he hoped that "together we will work towards achieving this noble mission with a strong, reformed and revitalized United Nations at the centre."

President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali underlined his country's commitment to the MDGs and stressed that five years after the UN Millennium Summit which gave rise to them, and despite progress, large numbers of people in African countries live in extreme poverty.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva urged "immediate and courageous steps" to expand the resources available to fight poverty and hunger. "If developed countries attain the required strategic vision, they will realize that this new posture, this additional effort is not only fair; it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, I fear that international peace and security will remain a mirage," he said.

Seychelles' President James Michel called for a stronger and more effective UN, practical and result-oriented, with less bureaucracy and a new ethics based on a human-centred strategic vision of what development is. He advocated the central role of the General Assembly as the chief deliberative policy-making and representative organ.

President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi said his country knew it could continue to count on the support of the international community as it recovered from decades of civil conflict and sought to boost its education system and build schools throughout its rural areas.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said the UN, "as the core of the collective security mechanism, plays an irreplaceable role in international cooperation to ensure global security. Such a role can only be strengthened and must not in any way be weakened," he added. The UN should take concrete measures to implement the MDGs, he said, adding that international terrorists, ethnic separatists and religious extremists remain rampant.

San Marino's Captain Regent Antonio Gasperoni said that more than ever the world needs multilateralism and the UN is its best expression. He regretted that development brought by globalization only touched a fragment of the world's population, while the remaining part has solely experienced the most negative impacts.

President Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires of Cape Verde said while perhaps not all the UN's goals and purposes had been attained, everyone was indebted to it. The global community must give priority to perfecting the UN to ensure better democratic, participatory and effective governments and to guarantee greater human security.

Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia, said that since his country's "Rose Revolution" democracy was on the rise internationally, as were development and prosperity. "But neither would be lasting without peace and stability. And for that, a stronger, more effective UN was needed."

President Ludwig Scotty of Nauru stressed the importance of the MDGs and urged development partners and international financial institutions to "understand our dire need."

President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo appealed for a significant increase in funding to help African countries meet the MDGs, and he called for "action while there is still time."

Mongolian President Nambar Enkhbayar declared that for its faults the UN has proved indispensable, preventing wars, feeding the hungry, ending colonialism and helping nations to develop. "The UN is our common house, common cause and common future," he added, stressing "effective multilateralism with the UN at its heart."

South African President Thabo Mbeki charged that there has not been adequate progress in development or UN reform during the last five years, because of "the widely disparate conditions of existence and interests among the Member States of the UN, as well as the gross imbalance of power that define the relationship among these Member States."

Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, explained the lack of progress another way: "The international community is generous in setting goals, but parsimonious in pursuing them," he said, calling for greater efforts to mobilize the resources necessary to meet the MDGs.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, then noted that despite the need for greater effort to defeat extreme poverty, "the past five years have in fact demonstrated that even for countries such as Ethiopia, most of the MDGs are demonstrably achievable," given optimum mobilization of domestic and international resources.

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas, said failures to achieve the MDGs should not be used to discredit areas where progress is being made, and called for a "resolve to move forward by recommitting to do what is right and in the best interest of the collective agenda of this Organization."

In a similar tone, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia said that "a global partnership between rich and poor countries should be based on mutual respect and trust, shared responsibilities and transparency."

Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, also renounced any attempt to place blame for failures to achieve the MDGs. Instead, he said, States should "come together to review the past, to take stock of the present and move forward in unity of purpose."

Welcoming many proposals of the outcome document, Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam of Mauritius stressed that emphasis should be placed on promoting trade as an engine for growth and development.

At the same time, Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili of Lesotho hoped that the Summit "will give HIV and AIDS the same level of attention and concern as it does to global security."

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, said to relieve suffering due to disease, poverty and war, it was crucial to strengthen the UN. He announced his country's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the 2009-2010 term.

Jiri Paroubek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, said that in terms of moral imperatives, "there can be no question as to whether this Summit should deal with development or with security – it must tackle both."

"An extraordinary effort" on both fronts is needed for Africa to succeed in meeting the MDGs, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, and a reformed UN is crucial to facilitate that effort.

However, according to Prime Minister Percival James Patterson of Jamaica, "the most important reform is not in the institutions and structures. It is the policies and actions of Member States which determine our success or failure."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi affirmed that the UN's efforts must be backed up by a consensus of Member States, and active participation in peacekeeping missions to counteract the dire effects of conflicts.

From the experience of his country in meeting MDGs ahead of time, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, concluded "it will be our collective wisdom and determination that will help us forge ahead in shaping a better future."

Describing the difficulties and possibilities brought about by the disengagement from Gaza, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel voiced hope that the "60th anniversary of the UN would bring a fundamental change and improvement in the approach of the United Nations, its organizations and institutions, towards the State of Israel."

Guinean Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo said his country had resolutely committed to attaining the MDGs but progress was stalled by continued instability in the area and erratic aid flows. Increased resources and debt relief were therefore needed.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin then appealed for "an Organization that mobilizes the determination and energy of one and all" to combat terrorism. Operational cooperation was important, he said, but "complying with the rule of law and setting a democratic example are our best weapons."

Finally, Foreign Minister Petrus Compton of Saint Lucia noted the emergencies that have deflected resources and energy from achieving the MDGs, and Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic of Serbia and Montenegro "fully supported the concept of a new collective security, ban on nuclear arms proliferation, production, trade and use and the establishment of a Peace-building Commission, Human Rights Council and Natural Disaster Relief and Environment Protection Funds" to achieve the development Goals.