National leaders addressing the United Nations Summit in New York today praised the reform plan slated to for adoption by the gathering for its success on key fronts, notably peacebuilding, but said more action is needed in the area of disarmament.
President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria welcomed the text, saying it constituted a solid basis for progress. At the same time, he warned that the UN's agenda for non-proliferation and expanded peace operations require more attention. The establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission would be a step forward in these areas. "Above all, institutional reform, including greater responsibility, is essential, and there should be zero tolerance for all abuses and corruption," he said.
Göran Persson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, praised the Summit's outcome document for its "concrete successes," but pointed out that the draft falls short in several areas. "The recent lack of progress in the area of disarmament non-proliferation is a failure," he declared. He also called for tougher action on climate change, agreement on reforming the Security Council, and increased aid to poor countries.
Heinz Fischer, the Federal President of Austria, praised the draft Summit text for its "valuable commitments" in the field of development, as well as new common understandings on peace and security, human rights, rule of law and strengthening of the UN Secretariat. At the same time, he joined Secretary General Kofi Annan in voicing concern about the lack of agreement on disarmament and nonproliferation.
In a stinging critique, Hugo Chávez Frías, the President of Venezuela, said the issue of reform was being used as a ruse for avoiding action on the real problems facing the world. He denounced the outcome document as "illegal," and called on those present to reject it. "If we're going to accept this then we are lost. Let's just turn off the lights and close the doors and close the windows."
Benin's President, Mathieu Kérékou, called for a redefinition of the concept of peace and security "in order to prevent certain abuses that we have seen in recent years." He hailed the establishment of the proposed Peacebuilding Commission and called for strengthened international action against the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. He also joined others in calling for an expansion of the Security Council with permanent representation for Africa.
"It is incumbent upon us at this historic juncture to agree on joint actions for the much-needed reform of our Organization and to give it a restored purpose," the President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, said. He called for equal attention to the fields of development, peace and security, and human rights, given their interconnectedness. He also hailed the proposed Peacebuilding Commission, saying it will "provide the long overdue answer to the need for post-conflict action."
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pointed out that "peace does not prevail automatically when a conflict ends" and endorsed the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission. The new body "must show initiative in ensuring a smooth transition from ceasefire to nation-building, and to reconciliation, justice and reconstruction," he said, adding that Japan is ready to play its part in this undertaking.
Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrimsson of Iceland welcomed the decision to establish a Peacebuilding Commission, saying it "will provide another tool which will help to create a better future for individuals and nations." If given the necessary institutional weight, the new Commission "could achieve much in establishing lasting peace following conflict."
President Samuel Schmid of Switzerland welcomed the proposed creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and said it "should be a new instrument to promote collective security, ensuring the connection between the security of citizens, the re-establishment of the rule of law, humanitarian work, and development." He further stressed that its composition must be representative of "UN members' actual contributions in those contexts."
King Mswati Iii of Swaziland said the Summit offers the UN a chance to "recast at the image of our organization and regain the confidence of the public." He stressed that the meeting's results must be translated into "positive and meaningful action if we are to make headway in achieving development, freedom and peace."
Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia said the world is in dire need of an effective UN able to promote development, peace and respect for human rights. Stressing the need to combat terrorism worldwide, he said. Saudi Arabia would this year introduce to the General Assembly a draft resolution on reviewing recommendations for creating an international counter-terrorism centre.
Albania's President, Alfred Moisiu, voiced appreciation for the UN's work in promoting democracy while stressing the need for more focused international efforts in this field.
He also hailed the creation of the UN Democracy Fund as an "effective and supportive tool for the young and restoring democracies as well as for assisting the civil society and democratic institutions."
Arnold Rüütel, the President of Estonia, supported the establishment of a Democracy Fund, and called for special protection for the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples. "The efficient performance of the UN is crucial for peace, stability and development," he said, stressing that to meet new threats and challenges, it is imperative to strengthen and improve the UN.
Ivo Miro Jovic, President of the Presidency Bosnia And Herzegovina, said his country agreed on the need for a more representative Security Council, but stressed that "it would be a pity and the whole reform process will lose its momentum if we exhaust ourselves deliberating pros and cons" of various models for reform. The bottom line, he emphasized, "is that we need a stronger, more efficient, better financed, more agile, more alert Organization to address the threats to the international peace and security of the twenty-first century."
Mozambican President Armando Emílio Guebuza said in order to advance the UN agenda, reform of the world body as a whole is essential. He commended the Secretary General's efforts to make the Secretariat "more efficient and an important component for the success of the process of reforms and the implementation of the international agenda."
Lithuania's President, Valdas Adamkus, said comprehensive reform is essential for the UN to meet the challenges of today's world. He called for "a major management overhaul ensuring greater accountability, transparency, efficiency and professionalism."