For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2661
Release Date:    13 September 2000
 Secretary-General’s Annual Report Says Headquarters Support
For Peacekeeping is Still Inadequate

Calls for Greater International Cooperation
To Better Lives of Those “Left Behind” by Development

NEW YORK, 12 September (UN Headquarters) -- The past year has reminded us that the international community has not yet met its goal of working together to better the lives of people still left behind, Secretary-General Kofi Annan states in his annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the Organization (document A/55/1).  The Secretary-General observes that since last September, new wars have erupted in several parts of the world, devastation from natural disasters has increased and demands on United Nations humanitarian agencies vastly exceeded worst-case predictions.

The report covers such subjects as achieving peace and security; meeting humanitarian commitments; cooperating for development; the international legal order and human rights; and managing change. 

The Secretary-General states that, while living standards in much of the developing world have continued to improve, in many of the least developed countries they remained in decline.  This is particularly so in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS, violent conflict and, in some instances, predatory behaviour by governments and political factions have taken a heavy toll, while per capita economic assistance from the richer world has declined dramatically.

During the year, the creation of three new peace missions resulted in a tripling of the authorized numbers of United Nations peacekeepers to 45,000, the report states.  As a reaction to past events, such as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the massacre in Srebrenica in 1995, the Secretary-General established a high-level panel chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi to undertake a major review and recommend ways of ensuring that future peace operations will be effective.  The panel's recommendations for change are realistic and cogently argued, according to the report. 

However, he notes that no objective observer could doubt that the current level of Secretariat support for peacekeeping operations is inadequate, citing the example of 12,000 troops in Sierra Leone being supported by only five staff at United Nations Headquarters.  “No national government would dream of deploying a comparably sized military mission overseas with such a minimal headquarters support unit", he states.

Like other great changes in history, the Secretary-General observes, globalization creates losers as well as winners.  It is clear that no country has  developed successfully by rejecting the opportunities offered by international trade and foreign direct investment.  At the same time, engagement with the global economy alone is no panacea for rapid development, and additional measures -- domestic as well as international -- are necessary to make globalization work for all. 

During the past decade, many informal coalitions have emerged to pursue cooperative solutions to common problems, the Secretary-General noted.  These global policy networks, sometimes called "coalitions for change", transcend both geographical and political boundaries.  Recent examples include the campaigns to reduce global warming, ban landmines and provide debt relief for developing countries.  The United Nations, with its universality, legitimacy and broad mandates, has unique convening and consensus-building roles to play in such coalitions.

The Secretary-General proposed a "Global Compact" by which private corporations would commit themselves to observing good practices, as defined by the broader international community, in the areas of human rights, labour and the environment, the report relates.  Corporations have joined it because the values the Compact promotes will help create the stable and secure environment that business needs if it is to flourish in the long term.  Labour and civil society organizations have also joined, because the Global Compact also upholds their values.

On the subject of peace and security, the Secretary-General remarks that the demands made on the United Nations reflect a shift in the nature of the threats to peace and security since the end of the cold war.  Where conflicts were once driven by the ideological divisions of a bipolar world, they are now fuelled by ethnic and religious intolerance, political ambition and greed, and are often exacerbated by the illicit traffic in arms, gems and drugs.

United Nations peacemakers, peacekeepers and peace-builders around the world have begun to cooperate more closely than ever with governments and other actors within the United Nations system, with regional bodies, with non-governmental organizations and with the private sector to help create the basis for good governance and the peaceable resolution of differences between parties.  From reports on the tragedies in Srebrenica and Rwanda, clear lessons emerged, such as the importance of joint action by Member States and the Secretariat to strengthen the instrument of peacekeeping; the importance of providing adequate resources to meet mission needs and to ensure a credible deterrent capacity is maintained; the importance of preparedness for "worst-case" scenarios; and the need for more effective and timely analysis of information from the field.  The need for political commitment to initiate and sustain operations is critical. 

Referring to "the dilemma of intervention", the Secretary-General asks how the international community can respond to gross and systematic violations of human rights, if humanitarian intervention is considered an unacceptable assault on sovereignty.  He states that in circumstances in which universally accepted human rights are being violated on a massive scale, the world has a responsibility to act.

The Secretary-General recalls that in recent years the international community has agreed that preventing armed conflict is critical to achieving lasting human security.  Early warning and conflict prevention capacities have been strengthened.  The Department of Political Affairs has established a Prevention Team to identify conflict situations that may offer potential for preventive action.

According to the Secretary-General, peacekeeping has become more complicated because peacekeepers must now undertake a greatly expanded range of tasks.  Beyond interposition forces and multidisciplinary operations to assist parties to implement agreements, peacekeepers over the past year have assumed responsibility for interim administrations in Kosovo and East Timor, for example.  The assumption of these new responsibilities has required that the United Nations expand and adapt the profile of peacekeepers in the field.

Events over the past year have demonstrated how important it is to be able to deploy forces rapidly, and have revealed the constraints in the critical areas of logistics, finance and human resources.  As a result of additional and more complex mandates, the Organization faces increased demands on the same or fewer resources, the Secretary-General states.

Noting the uneven track record of sanctions, which can have negative effects on civilians and neighbouring States, the Secretary-General states that he shares the consensus view emerging among Member States that the design and implementation of Security Council sanctions need to be improved, and their administration enhanced.  Such changes would allow for a more prompt and effective response to present and future threats to international peace and security.  Future sanctions regimes should be designed so as to maximize the chance of inducing the target to comply with Security Council resolutions, and to minimize the negative effects of the sanctions on the civilian population and other States.

Addressing the subject of disarmament, the Secretary-General states that global military expenditures increased in 1999 for the first time in the post-cold-war period.  Despite some progress in the reduction of nuclear weapons, there is deep concern within the international community at the continuing risk posed by such weapons.  The results of the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons are therefore of considerable importance.  The universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the speedy negotiation of a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention are achievable goals.

In the chapter on meeting humanitarian commitments, the Secretary-General states that complex humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters have marked the past year.  Coordination of international humanitarian action has been characterized by the implementation of innovative approaches in major emergencies in Kosovo and East Timor.   

However, it had been clear for some time that the international response mechanism for internally displaced persons needs to be reviewed, he continues.  A series of reviews have been undertaken.  The central premise is that responsibility for internally displaced persons lies first and foremost with their national government.  Humanitarian agencies must cooperate with national and local authorities and other relevant actors, to support and supplement efforts on behalf of the displaced.  
Regarding the delivery of humanitarian services, the Secretary-General notes that in 1999 the World Food Programme has provided food aid to nearly 89 million people worldwide, 75 per cent of whom were women and children.  This past year, the World Health Organization has called attention to such critical global health threats as malaria, poliomyelitis, HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality, providing data that is critical for coordinated planning and implementation of assistance, both in emergencies and post-crisis reconstruction. 

In global terms there has been little change in the number of refugees, partly due to conflicts in Africa, Kosovo, East Timor and Chechnya.  In the report, the Secretary-General says that among the challenges that must be faced in the coming year are the plight of internally displaced persons; the growing tendency to deny humanitarian agencies access to war-affected areas; security of refugee-populated areas; and the safety of humanitarian staff.  Another major undertaking will be a call to reaffirm the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as the universal foundation of refugee protection.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees plans to initiate a process of global consultations with senior government representatives and refugee protection experts, with the aim of clarifying provisions for refugee protection in situations not fully covered by the Convention. 

Regarding cooperation for development, the Secretary-General’s report states that the most important development goal of the United Nations must continue to be the elimination of poverty worldwide, through the promotion of sustainable and equitable growth.  The poorest countries still find it difficult to attract private capital, and this means they will continue to rely on official development assistance.  Effective social development policies in the areas of health, education and welfare also support the growth process.  

During the last year, two clear development challenges have emerged, the report notes.  First, how can effective participation of all countries in the global trading system be assured?  Second, how can the advancement of our social and environmental objectives be integrated with economic and financial strategies?  The easing of the economic and financial crisis of the late 1990s has provided a window of opportunity to consider reforms, including the reform of elements of the international financial architecture.  System-wide discussion of these issues is continuing.  The Secretary-General attaches great importance to the High-level Event on Financing for Development, planned for 2001.  The report also draws attention to the need for reliable statistics, for better cooperation and for an improvement in the operational performance, if effective development policies are to be found. 

According to the report, the five-year review of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development committed the international community to halving the proportion of people living on one dollar a day by 2015.  The Secretary-General called on the Millennium Assembly to endorse this commitment and to commit the resources necessary to achieve it.  Above all, a new commitment on the part of developing and industrialized countries to transform paper target into concrete achievements is needed.  The report notes that poverty eradication is a complex task and states that the United Nations Development Group is currently developing practical options for country teams to implement strategies.  Any poverty alleviation strategy needs to concentrate on education, health, urbanization and effective cooperation.  

In the report, the Secretary-General details two overriding aims for sustainable development:  to meet the economic needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to also meet their needs; and to protect the environment in the process.  These challenges are compounded by the burden that continuing population growth is placing on the planet’s physical resources.  The Secretary-General reports on the important initiatives taken in this field under the auspices of the Commission on Sustainable Development, such as the upcoming 10-year review of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.  He highlights the importance of this opportunity to reassess what progress has or has not been made towards meeting the ambitious targets established by the Conference.   

The report also looks at progress made during the five-year review of the Copenhagen Summit and the five-year review of the Beijing Conference, and with regard to ageing and disability, drug control and crime prevention.  It highlights the importance of resolutions adopted by United Nations conferences and stresses that they must be followed up at country level.  National policy must benefit from the evolving international consensus on better ways of promoting human development, the Secretary-General states.

The Secretary-General expresses concern with regard to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is destroying the economic and social fabric in the countries most affected, and reversing years of declining death rates and causing dramatic rises in mortality among young people.  At the end of 1999, it was estimated that 34.3 million adults and children around the world were living with HIV/AIDS.  The report states that sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with a total of 24.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS.  The Secretary-General called on the Millennium Summit to adopt a reduction in new infections by 25 per cent among 15 to 24-year-olds in the most affected African countries as a goal.  The report also states there is a critical need for additional financing resources and development assistance.  A minimum of $3 billion per year is needed in Africa alone.

The Secretary-General’s report elaborates on the importance of bridging the digital divide, as only 5 per cent of the world’s population currently has access to the Internet.  The vast majority of the world’s population is denied the economic and social benefits that the information and communication technology revolution can offer. 

The report’s chapter on cooperation for development ends with a section on Africa, containing information on the breadth and depth of United Nations initiatives and programmes in Africa.  They include preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, electoral assistance, humanitarian and emergency relief, post-conflict reconstruction, environmental advice, support for Internet connectivity and economic and social development assistance.

Referring to human rights, the Secretary-General reports that the past year has been one of consolidation, progress and challenge.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has developed strategies to promote cooperation with regional and subregional organizations and international financial institutions.  Such cooperation is the key to developing a code of human rights and upholding it.  

The Secretary-General reports that there have been several new developments in human rights over the past year.  At its 2000 session, the Economic and Social Council established a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will advise the Council. In April, the Commission on Human Rights adopted two ground-breaking resolutions, on good governance, and on women's rights to land.  A special debate was also held on poverty and the enjoyment of human rights, which endorsed a human-rights based approach to poverty alleviation and development. 

In October 1999, the General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  As of 21 August there were 43 signatories and five ratifications of this Protocol.  Two Optional Protocols were also adopted in May to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Secretary-General outlines impending human rights challenges, including issues of trafficking in women and children, the rights of migrants, and minorities and indigenous peoples.  Racism and xenophobia will be the focus of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held September 2001. 

In its account of progress on the International Criminal Court, the report notes that, in June, the Preparatory Commission adopted the final draft texts of two instruments; on rules of procedure and evidence, and on the elements of crimes.  At its next session, the Preparatory Commission will continue discussions on a definition of the crime of aggression, and will begin considering the draft relationship agreement between the United Nations and the Court; draft financial regulations and rules; and a draft agreement on the privileges and immunities of the Court.  As of 24 August, 98 States had signed the Rome Statute and 15 had ratified it, the report notes.  This falls short of the 60 ratifications needed to bring the Statute into force.  The Secretary-General congratulates these States that have ratified the Statute for demonstrating that those who offend the conscience of humankind can no longer go unpunished. 

The International Tribunals for Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia were reviewed by a group of independent experts in November 1999, the Secretary-General notes.  They concluded that the Tribunals were reasonably effective, but proposed some 46 improvements, most of which had been implemented by April.  

Landmarks for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal over the past year included the arrest in April of Momcilo Krajisnik, former President of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, and the trial of General Radoslav Krstic, the report continues.  In general, that tribunal saw a significant increase in the rate of arrests of indicted suspects. 

The Rwanda Tribunal handed down judgements in three cases, the Secretary-General reports.  To date, it has convicted eight individuals.  

The United Nations Office of Legal Affairs played a central role in discussions between the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia on the establishment of a special court to prosecute leaders of the Khmer Rouge, according to the report.  That Office has also been entrusted with the establishment of an independent special court for Sierra Leone (Security Council resolution 1315 of 14 August). 

The Secretary-General stresses that establishing the rule of law in international affairs is a central priority.  Treaties are one of the two main sources of international law and the Secretary-General launched a campaign during the Millennium Summit to promote the signing and ratification of, and accession to, treaties of which he is the depository.  As of 25 August, 69 States had responded to his request to ratify treaties.  However, it is not enough, the Secretary-General continues, for States to consent to be bound by treaties.  They must also respect and implement the obligations that the treaties embody. 

Sometimes, national authorities refuse to respect their obligations under international law, he notes, and more frequently, authorities lack the necessary expertise or resources to ensure that their obligations are implemented.  The United Nations is providing governments with assistance to apply international law, and the Secretary-General has requested that every part of the United Nations system consider what might be done to promote the application of international law and to increase awareness about it. 
 In addressing the subject of managing change, the Secretary-General notes that the United Nations faces many difficulties in its various programmes, but that none is greater than that of communicating what its goals are and how the United Nations goes about achieving them.  To address this, the Department of Public Information has developed a public awareness campaign known as "United Nations works", to focus attention on the principal challenges of the twenty-first century, especially those relating to economic and social development.

 Internet technology has become the most dynamic force in the communications revolution, the report notes.  The United Nations Web site at present receives more than 400 million hits per year, as a result of improved content and design, and now includes text in all six official languages.  Moreover, it now has the capacity to handle live Webcasts.

 Mobilizing public interest in the activities of the Organization can be facilitated by major promotional campaigns, specifically those generating significant media coverage.  Such a campaign concerning the Millennium Summit and Assembly engendered unprecedented attention from the world's press and media.  Teleconferencing, videoconferencing and Webcasting were used for this event.

 Public information continues to play a key role in United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Its role is to explain the Organization’s goals and achievements in the field.  "Rapid-deployment" information teams have been instrumental in expanding public awareness of peace missions.

 The Public Information Department has also used its technological expertise to build partnerships, notably with 1,600 non-governmental organizations, the report states.  The United Nations continues to provide training programmes for broadcasters and journalists from developing countries and for Palestinian journalists.

 Another important initiative is the implementation of a 24-hour global news cycle for reporting on United Nations activities.  The Web-based United Nations News Centre now provides news updates throughout the day, and United Nations Radio is now producing 15-minute news bulletins in all six official languages.  By year's end the radio bulletins will be accessible from the United Nations Web site, and the Secretary-General expects that a similar television service will be available on the Internet by 2001.

 As digital information technology develops, the Secretary-General continues, the problem of replacing the dated communication infrastructure at Headquarters becomes more intense.  Without major capital investment the possibility of obsolescence looms large.  

At the regional level the United Nations Information Centres remain a critical source of information away from Headquarters, the report notes.  Thirty-four Centres now maintain Web sites, while such projects are pending in others.

 The Secretary-General explains that the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Web page received 1.5 million hits in 1999.  United Nations publications, such as Africa Recovery, Development Business, the United Nations Chronicle and the Yearbook of the United Nations, are also now available on-line.  Sales of United Nations publications have also increased as a consequence of greater exposure on the Internet. 

 Although these ventures into advanced technology have improved United Nations communications, the Secretary-General notes, current resources are not adequate.  Contributions from individual Member States have supported certain programmes, but more is needed.  The private sector has also helped to fund underfunded programmes.

 The United Nations has substantially benefited from the philanthropy of Ted Turner, the Secretary-General reports.  Mr. Turner’s efforts on behalf of the Organization have supported United Nations projects on AIDS prevention, electrification in rural India and biodiversity conservation in the Galapagos, among others.

 Research networks set-up by the United Nations University have analysed the relationships between information technology, poverty and economic growth, the Secretary-General reports.  It is important that developments from the University are communicated to other research arms of the Orgaization, and a proposal for improving such communication was proposed at the annual Geneva research and policy dialogue, officially inaugurated in 2000.

 Civil society organizations are becoming increasingly significant partners in implementing and delivering United Nations programmes.  Moreover, they remain catalysts for social change, often spreading their message via the Internet.  The Millennium Summit relied on input from civil society to develop its global programmes and message.

 Within the Secretariat, human resources reform has been ongoing, the Secretary-General reports.  These are aimed at creating an "organizational culture that is responsive and results-oriented".  His reform package places special emphasis on accountability; mobility; recruitment, placement and promotion; and contractual mechanisms.

 Among other institutional changes the Secretary-General discusses in the report are the capital master plan for the renovation of the United Nations Headquarters complex; the restructuring of the procurement process by relying upon Internet technology; the simplifying and streamlining of United Nations rules and procedures; results-based budgeting through the application of performance indicators; and improving management and productivity.

 The report notes accomplishments from the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the International Law Commission, the Office of Legal Affairs, the United Nations Office for Project Services, and the Office of Internal Oversight Services.

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