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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

21 December 2005

Annan Highlights United Nations' Successes in Difficult Year

Focus in 2006 will be on fighting poverty, achieving security, making reforms

By Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Despite a difficult year that included the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, events in Lebanon, the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program investigations, the 2005 U.N. Summit has made important strides in many areas, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

In an end-of-year assessment at the United Nation’s New York headquarters December 21, Annan said that, for the first time, the organization was able to identify and agree on broad definitions of five current threats: poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation; armed conflict within and among states; organized crime; terrorism; and weapons of mass destruction. 

Another important achievement, he said, was the linkage established between development, security, human rights and the rule of law.

“Delegates went away with the understanding that you cannot have development without security, and you cannot have security without development.  And you will enjoy neither unless there is respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he said.

Progress toward peace and security also was made, he said, through the acceptance by all members of the principle that they have a responsibility to protect their citizens from war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide. 

Annan said he hoped the world body would follow up on its December 20 action creating a Peacebuilding Commission by agreeing to establish a new human rights council that would be both effective and impartial, before the human rights group resumes its work next March. (See related article.)

In 2006, the last year of Annan’s second term as secretary-general, the focus, he said, will be on fighting poverty and disease, promoting peace and security and U.N. reform.

He acknowledged not all expectations had been met yet, but said he would put forward a package of needed management reforms in February 2006, and appealed to member nations not to create a financial crisis by holding up the budget over political disputes.   A lack of agreement on the budget, he said, “will jeopardize not only reform, but the ongoing activities of the organization.” 

The United Nations, Annan said, must begin receiving its assessed dues in January 2006.

“I have appealed to the member states to maintain the pressure on reform, yet at the same time approve a budget that will allow us to continue our ongoing activities whilst we press ahead with reform,” he said.

The United States has suggested a three-to-four month interim budget be adopted now, rather than the full biennial budget, so that new priorities – including management reform – are reflected in funding needs and assessments.  State Department officials also have said they are open to other mechanisms that would ensure implementation of management reforms early in 2006. (See related article.)

Asked by reporters what he saw as the big issues of the coming year, Annan responded that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction would be major concerns as would the broader Middle East – Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, and the Palestinian-Israeli situation.  “I dare say we should also keep a very close eye on Sudan, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.

For information on U.S. policy and activities at the United Nations, see The U.S. and United Nations Reform.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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