Press Releases

          29 October 2004

    There Has never Been more Pressing Need to Engage in Constructive Debate, Heal Divisions, Secretary-General Tells National Institute of Social Sciences

    NEW YORK, 28 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks on receiving the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal on 27 October in New York:

    Thank you, Arthur [Ross], for those kind words.

    I am deeply honoured to receive this award.  Above all, I am happy to be among such steadfast friends of the United Nations.

    This is a crucial time in world affairs.  We continue to grapple with the situation in Iraq.  The people of Darfur continue to require urgent assistance and protection.  Unconscionable acts of terrorism continue to claim the lives of innocent children, women and men.  The AIDS crisis continues to kill thousands every day.  Millions continue to be afflicted by armed conflict, human rights violations, disease and dire poverty.

    I can enumerate here only a fraction of the issues facing us.  But I can say that there has never been a more pressing need for us to heal divisions and engage in a constructive debate about the future:  how to build a collective security system able to meet the threats and challenges of today -- a system in which all States can have confidence; how to forge a true global partnership for development; how to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world.  That is the serious work that lies before the international community.

    The Millennium Declaration -- adopted in 2000 by all the Member States of the UN as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century -- was a landmark document.  It captured the aspirations of the international community for a world united by common values, striving to achieve peace through collective security, and decent standards of living for every man, woman and child through a global partnership for development.

    All of us engaged in the fight against poverty, disease and environmental degradation, in the work for education and the empowerment of women, have an unprecedented global agenda in the Millennium Development Goals.  The eight Goals, drawn from the Millennium Declaration, have helped galvanize global action around critical challenges.

    But it is clear that so far, results have been uneven at best.  There is no time to lose if we are to reach the Goals by the target date of 2015.  That is where global partnerships become crucial.

    In September 2005, leaders will gather in a high-level General Assembly event for a five-year review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.  I expect this rendezvous to encourage governments to take tough decisions between now and then.

    Events over the past few years, in particular those related to terrorism and the war in Iraq, have upset the consensus behind the Millennium Declaration.

    It was with that in mind that last year, I brought together 16 eminent persons from around the world in a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  I asked them to provide me with a rigorous analysis of today’s challenges, a tough and honest evaluation of our existing policies and institutions, and recommendations for changes to make the United Nations more effective against the threats of the 21st century.  We expect the Panel’s report within the next few weeks.

    The Panel’s findings should reinforce the importance of the 2005 review.  I hope that Member States will respond with vision, goodwill and courage, and come to the high-level event ready to agree on far-reaching measures to adapt and renew the United Nations.

    Change and renewal are of course constant processes in any living institution.  But I see next year’s high-level event as more than that.  I see it as a rare opportunity to come up with collective answers to the new challenges that have come so starkly into focus over the past few years -- such as global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the great global challenges of poverty, hunger and disease.

    In this process, the role of the United States is obviously crucial.  I know I can count on many of you to help build support for what we are trying to achieve.

    I thank you for your commitment, I thank you for your support, and I thank you again for this award.  I wish you all a splendid evening.

    * *** *