until Monday, 23 June 2003, 16:30 hours

23 June 2003


Annan's Message of Hope



Following are highlights from the address of the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan to the closing plenary of the World Economic Forum "Visions for a Shared Future" held at the Dead Sea, Jordan, 23 June 2003.


The 21st century must be one of hope, not fear, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today told world business and political leaders, gathered on the shores of the Dead Sea for an extraordinary session of the World Economic Forum.


In a strong challenge to the pessimism and defensiveness that has coloured much geopolitical commentary since September 11, 2001, Annan said that the new century must build on, and adapt, the achievements of the later 20th century, which he called "a world of increasing openness and freedom; of growing mutual confidence; above all, a world of hope" - adding that this had not happened by accident but "because, in and after 1945, a group of far-sighted leaders .. determined to make the second half of the twentieth century different from the first" had "founded a network of institutions in which different nations could co-operate for the common good", with the United Nations in a central role.

Annan warned that further violence in the Middle East was "all too likely", but urged the world community to help Israelis, Palestinians and Iraqis "put their painful past behind them". He predicted that if this happened they would look back on 2003 as "a positive turning point" in their history.


“The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly”, he said - quoting from the resolution passed last month by the UN Security Council - and went on to urge the world, "following the strong lead given by President Bush", to hold the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers to the peace pledges they exchanged at Aqaba on June 4.

Annan said the 20th century offered "two models" for the 21st: that of its first half, "when almost the entire planet was devastated by two world wars, and freedom everywhere was threatened by the rise of totalitarianism", and that of the second, "which was not perfect, by any means, but was still a vast improvement." His own vision of the future,he said, involved "humanity building on the achievements of the second half of the 20th century, adapting them, and carrying them much further".


"I see human beings caring for each other," he added, "and states sharing responsibility for the safety and welfare of all people, wherever they may live...

"I see markets that are truly free and fair.  The poor will be able to improve their lot by producing and selling, without facing trade barriers or unfairly subsidised competition.

"I see all peoples working together to care for their common home, the earth, ensuring that its riches are preserved for future generations.

"And I see decisions that affect the global interest being taken in global institutions, starting with the United Nations.  All members will respect each other’s views, and strive honestly to reach agreement."


Annan referred to the terrorist attack on New York City in 2001, and acknowledged the need for change, "including change in our institutions", when "new challenges require new responses".  But, in a veiled warning against US unilateralism, he said he hoped UN member states would "judge the value of change by the improvements it can bring in security and freedom, justice and prosperity for all". 


Recalling that he had described the September 11 attacks as "a gate of fire" to the new millennium, Annan concluded by proclaiming that "the gate of fire need not lead into a waste land". "Let our children look back on this time," he declared, "and say that here, by the shores of the Dead Sea, we entered a living land – a land of hope."

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