22 March 2005
Secretary-General Presents Report In Larger Freedom to General Assembly, Outlining Ambitious Plan for United Nations Reform
Says Package Gives Equal Weight to Organizations Three Great Purposes Development, Security, Human Rights Underpinned by Rule of Law
NEW YORK, 21March (UN Headquarters) -- Introducing his report -- In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all -- to the General Assembly this morning, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Member States to adopt this year a package of specific, concrete proposals to tackle global problems and enable the Organization to better respond to current challenges.
He said the comprehensive strategy he was proposing gives equal weight and attention to the three great purposes of this Organization: development, security and human rights, all of which must be underpinned by the rule of law. The report was called In Larger Freedom because he believed those words from the Charter conveyed the idea that development, security and human rights went hand in hand. The cause of larger freedom could only be advanced if nations worked together; and the United Nations could only help if it was remoulded as an effective instrument of their common purpose.
Describing the report (document A/59/2005 and available at www.un.org/largerfreedom), divided into four main sections, he said the first part, entitled Freedom from Want, proposed specific decisions for implementing the bargain struck three years ago, in Monterrey, between developed and developing countries. He asked every developing country to adopt a comprehensive national strategy bold enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and to mobilize all its resources behind that strategy, as well as improve its governance, uphold the rule of law and combat corruption.
And he asked every developed country to support those strategies by increasing the amount it spent on development and debt relief, and doing whatever it could to level the playing field for world trade. Specifically, he asked developed countries to complete the Doha round of trade negotiations no later than 2006; give immediate duty-free and quota-free market access to all exports from the least developed countries; and reach, by 2015, the target of spending 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product on official development assistance.
He stressed that development must be sustainable, saying that all efforts would be in vain if their results were reversed by continued degradation of the environment and depletion of natural resources. While pleased that the Kyoto Protocol had now entered into force, he noted that it was extended only until 2012, and that some major emitters of carbon remained outside it. He asked all States to agree that scientific advances and technological innovation must be mobilized now to develop tools for mitigating climate change, and that a more inclusive international framework must be developed for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012, with broader participation by all major emitters and both developed and developing countries.
He also recommended that Member States consider building on one of the Organizations clear strengths, by setting up a $1 billion voluntary fund to allow it to bring rapid and effective relief to the victims of sudden disasters, whether natural or man-made. The Organization had been able to do that after the recent tsunami thanks to the rapid response from donors, but it should be ready to do it whenever and wherever an emergency occurred.
In the second part of the report, entitled Freedom from Fear, he asked all States to agree on a new security consensus, by which they committed themselves to treat any threat to one of them as a threat to all, and to work together to prevent catastrophic terrorism, stop the proliferation of deadly weapons, end civil wars, and build lasting peace in war-torn countries. Among his specific proposals, he asked States to complete, sign and implement the comprehensive convention on terrorism, the convention on nuclear terrorism, and the fissile material cut-off treaty.
In the third part of the report, entitled Freedom to Live in Dignity, he urged all States to agree to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and democracy in concrete ways. In particular, he asked them to embrace the principle of the Responsibility to Protect as a basis for collective action against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity -- recognizing that that responsibility lay first and foremost with each individual State, but also that, if national authorities were unable or unwilling to protect their citizens, the responsibility then shifted to the international community; and that, in the last resort, the United Nations Security Council might take enforcement action according to the Charter.
In the final part of the report, on Strengthening the United Nations, he set out proposals for making the Organization the instrument through which all its Member States could agree on the strategies outlined in the first three parts, and help each other to implement them. First, he was asking heads of State and government to adopt a comprehensive package of reforms to revitalize the General Assembly, which had in recent times suffered from declining prestige and had not made the contribution that it should.
He also urged Member States to make the Security Council more broadly representative of the international community as a whole, as well as of the geopolitical realities of today. Member States should agree to take a decision on it -- preferably by consensus, but in any case before the September summit -- making use of one or other of the options presented in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Also, the renewed Security Council should make clear, in a resolution, the principles by which it intended to be guided when deciding whether to authorize or mandate the use of force.
He also made proposals for enabling the Economic and Social Council to play the leading role that should be expected of it, in making and implementing coherent United Nations policies for development. In addition, he asked Member States to create a new Council to replace the present Commission on Human Rights, whose capacity to perform its tasks had been undermined by its declining credibility and professionalism. The Human Rights Council, he suggested, should be smaller than the Commission, and elected directly by two-thirds majority of the Assembly.
The report also contains far-reaching proposals for the reform of the Secretariat, which must be more flexible, transparent and accountable in serving the priorities of Member States, and the interests of the worlds peoples; and for introducing greater coherence into the work of the United Nations system as a whole, especially its response to humanitarian emergencies and its handling of environmental issues.
The main message of the five-year progress report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, he said, was that the aims of the Declaration could be achieved, but only if Member States were willing to adopt a package of specific, concrete decisions this year. He hoped world leaders, when they arrived at the United Nations for a summit meeting in September, would be ready to take the decisions that were needed, and adopted them as a package.
General Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) added that it was incumbent on the Assembly to examine the report and to take the urgent decisions required for a decisive advance towards the realization of a world free of hunger and fear, that was more sure, free and just and that was based on the rule of law. Pointing out that the time remaining before September was very limited, he said now was the time for joint action.
The Assembly, he said, would define the terms of reference for the decisions that would have to be taken in September and would launch general and thematic consultations from 6 April. The thematic consultations would be lead by 10 facilitators corresponding to the different sets of questions raised by the Secretary-General and a detailed plan for the consultations would be presented to Member States in the coming days.
The next meeting of the Assembly will be announced in the Journal.
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