Nearing end of 10-year term, Annan sees cause for hope in face of global challenges

Nearing end of 10-year term, Annan sees cause for hope in face of global challenges

Kofi Annan, whose decade-long service as Secretary-General ends this year, today said he will depart hopeful for positive change in a world that faces myriad daunting challenges, from poverty and AIDS to global warming and terrorism.

“As I prepare to leave, I look at the world with a mixture of dismay and optimism,” Mr. Annan wrote in an opinion column published in The Sun of the United Kingdom.

While encouraged by new initiatives to deal with debt relief, HIV/AIDS and undemocratic regimes, he noted that the world is not on track to meet all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at addressing poverty and other global ills.

“We risk a cascade of new countries – and perhaps terrorists – acquiring nuclear or biological weapons. Even without this, terrorism continues to sow fear and suspicion between religions and races,” he pointed out. “And every day reports reach us of new laws broken and new heinous crimes inflicted on individuals and minority groups.”

A united international response is required, he said. “People need to be bound together by something more than just a global market. The strong, as well as the weak, need to agree to be bound by the same rules. Nations need to come together, not at cross purposes but with a common purpose, to shape our common destiny.”

Looking back on his own efforts to move the world in this direction by working with the UN’s Member States, he said, “We have pushed some big rocks to the top of the mountain, even if others have slipped from our grasp and rolled back.”

Working at the helm of the UN was at times “difficult and challenging” but also “thrillingly rewarding,” he said.

“And while I look forward to resting my shoulder from those stubborn rocks, I know I shall miss the mountain,” he wrote. “I yield my place to others with a real obstinate feeling of hope for our common future.”