5 April 2005

Secretary-General Appeals to Parliamentarians to Help Advance UN Reform to Meet 21st Century Challenges, in Message to Manila Meeting

NEW YORK, 4 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the 112th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, delivered by Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning, in Manila, 3 April:

I send my greetings to this 112th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and I wish to take this opportunity to ask all of you for your help in this very important year for the future of international cooperation.

In September of this year, world leaders will meet at a Summit in New York to review progress since the Millennium Declaration -- just a few weeks after the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments.

When world leaders come to New York, I hope they will be ready, willing and able to take decisions that can set our world on course to halve global poverty in the next 10 years, reduce the threat of war, terrorism and deadly weapons, advance human dignity in every land, and reform the United Nations with a speed and boldness not seen in its 60-year history.

Two weeks ago, I placed before Member States just such an agenda.  My report takes its name, “In larger freedom”, from the preamble to the United Nations Charter, to convey the idea that development, security and human rights go hand in hand.  In a world of inter-connected threats and opportunities, it is in each country’s self-interest that all of these challenges are addressed effectively, and it is in our common interest to advance on all these fronts together.

Yet, too often, we suffer from consensus without implementation, or implementation without consensus.  Both are a disservice to our peoples, and both discredit our global institutions.  In 2005, we have an opportunity to move in a new direction, and the proposals I have made are designed to help States do just that.

On development, I propose specific decisions to implement the bargain struck three years ago, in Monterrey, between developed and developing countries.  I therefore ask each developing country to adopt and begin to implement, by next year, a comprehensive national strategy bold enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015; and to mobilize all its resources behind that strategy.  And I ask developed countries to support these efforts by committing themselves, this year, to complete the Doha round of trade negotiations no later than 2006, and to reach, by 2015, the agreed target of spending 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product on official development assistance, with the increase “front-loaded” through an international finance facility.

I also ask States to agree on a new security consensus, by which they commit 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 my specific proposals, I ask all States to complete, sign and implement a comprehensive convention on terrorism, based on a clear and agreed definition, as well as a convention on nuclear terrorism, and a fissile material cut-off treaty.  And I ask them to agree to establish a peace-building commission, within the United Nations, to help countries make the transition from war to lasting peace.

I also urge all States to agree to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and democracy in concrete ways.  In particular, I ask them to embrace the principle of the “responsibility to protect”, as a basis for collective action against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; to ratify, and implement, all treaties relating to the protection of civilians; and to agree to, and within their means contribute to, a democracy fund at the United Nations to assist countries seeking to strengthen democracy.

Finally, I make concrete proposals to renew the United Nations itself.  A revitalized General Assembly would focus on major substantive issues of the day, and fully engage with civil society as recommended in the Cardoso Report -- including, of course, with organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  An enlarged Security Council would be more broadly representative of the international community as a whole, as well as of the geopolitical realities of today -- and I believe a decision on Council reform before the September summit would be in the interests of the Organization.  A rejuvenated Economic and Social Council would be more strategic in helping to make and implement coherent United Nations policies for development.  A third Council -- a new, smaller Human Rights Council, elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly and with new working methods -- would replace the present Commission on Human Rights, and give the cause of human rights the equal prominence and attention it deserves.  And a reformed Secretariat would be more flexible, transparent and accountable in serving the priorities of Member States, and the interests of the world’s peoples.

My report makes other important recommendations on issues as diverse as humanitarian response to natural disasters, climate change, migration, and the use of force.  All of these proposals must be the subject of intensive negotiations among Member States.  But I am appealing to all States to treat the proposals as a package, which strikes a careful balance between the needs and interests of the various countries and regions.

I appeal to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and to parliamentarians to help advance this agenda, by supporting your nation governments in approaching the Summit with vision and willingness to compromise, by building bridges of cooperation among parliamentarians in support of the Summit agenda, and by bringing to the attention of your constituents the important issues that are at stake.  A recent global public opinion poll showed that the world’s peoples believe strongly in effective multilateral institutions.  They hope and expect that their governments will agree to reforms that make these institutions work better, and that they will use them to meet common threats and challenges effectively.  We must listen to them.  And we must not let them down.  The United Nations must help to advance all the world’s peoples towards better standards of life in larger freedom.  September’s Summit is the chance to take decisive steps toward that goal.  And if that Summit is to be a success, parliamentarians must make their presence felt and their voices heard.

In that spirit, I send you my best wishes for the success of this 112th assembly.

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