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BS: Future of the UN

24 Sep 03 - 12:01 PM (#1024338)
Subject: BS: Future of the UN
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar

Sorry to do this in the form of a cut-and-paste, but it's the only form in which I can do it.

Here are the thoughts of Kofi Annan on the future of the UN. Can we discuss the topic in a constructive mode without recourse to transatlantic invective and black helicopters?

New York, 23 September 2003


Thank you Mr. President, Your Majesty, Distinguished Heads of State and Government. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The last twelve months have been very painful for those of us who believe in collective answers to our common problems and challenges.

In many countries, terrorism has once again brought death and suffering to innocent people.

In the Middle East, and in certain parts of Africa, violence has continued to escalate.
In the Korean peninsula, and elsewhere, the threat of nuclear proliferation casts an ominous shadow across the landscape.

And barely one month ago, in Baghdad, the United Nations itself suffered a brutal and deliberate assault, in which the international community lost some of its most talented servants. Yesterday it was attacked again. Another major disaster was averted only by the prompt action of the Iraqi police, one of whom paid with his life.

I extend my most sincere condolences to the family of that brave policeman. And my thoughts go also to the nineteen injured, including two Iraqi UN staff members. I wish them all a rapid recovery. Indeed, we should pray for all those who have lost their lives or been injured in this war – innocent civilians and soldiers alike. In that context I deplore – as I am sure you all do – the brutal attempt on the life of Dr. Akila al-Hashemi, a member of the Governing Council, and I pray for her full recovery, too.

Excellencies, you are the United Nations. The staff who were killed and injured in the attack on our Baghdad headquarters were your staff. You had given them a mandate to assist the suffering Iraqi people, and to help Iraq recover their sovereignty.

In future, not only in Iraq but wherever the United Nations is engaged, we must take more effective measures to protect the security of our staff. I count on your full support – legal, political and financial.

Meanwhile, let me reaffirm the great importance I attach to a successful outcome in Iraq. Whatever view each of us may take of the events of recent months, it is vital to all of us that the outcome is a stable and democratic Iraq – at peace with itself and with its neighbours, and contributing to stability in the region.

Subject to security considerations, the United Nations system is prepared to play its full role in working for a satisfactory outcome in Iraq, and to do so as part of an international effort, an effort by the whole international community, pulling together on the basis of a sound and viable policy. If it takes extra time and patience to forge that policy, a policy that is collective, coherent and workable, then I for one would regard that time as well spent. Indeed, this is how we must approach all the many pressing crises that confront us today.

Three years ago, when you came here for the Millennium Summit, we shared a vision, a vision of global solidarity and collective security, expressed in the Millennium Declaration.

But recent events have called that consensus in question.

All of us know there are new threats that must be faced – or, perhaps, old threats in new and dangerous combinations: new forms of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

But, while some consider these threats as self-evidently the main challenge to world peace and security, others feel more immediately menaced by small arms employed in civil conflict, or by so-called "soft threats" such as the persistence of extreme poverty, the disparity of income between and within societies, and the spread of infectious diseases, or climate change and environmental degradation.

In truth, we do not have to choose. The United Nations must confront all these threats and challenges – new and old, "hard" and "soft". It must be fully engaged in the struggle for development and poverty eradication, starting with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; in the common struggle to protect our common environment; and in the struggle for human rights, democracy and good governance.

In fact, all these struggles are linked. We now see, with chilling clarity, that a world where many millions of people endure brutal oppression and extreme misery will never be fully secure, even for its most privileged inhabitants.

Yet the "hard" threats, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, are real, and cannot be ignored.

Terrorism is not a problem only for rich countries. Ask the people of Bali, or Bombay, Nairobi, or Casablanca.

Weapons of mass destruction do not threaten only the western or northern world. Ask the people of Iran, or of Halabja in Iraq.

Where we disagree, it seems, is on how to respond to these threats.

Since this Organisation was founded, States have generally sought to deal with threats to the peace through containment and deterrence, by a system based on collective security and the United Nations Charter.

Article 51 of the Charter prescribes that all States, if attacked, retain the inherent right of self-defence. But until now it has been understood that when States go beyond that, and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an "armed attack" with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group.

Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, States have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other States, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.

According to this argument, States are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.
This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last fifty-eight years.

My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification.
But it is not enough to denounce unilateralism, unless we also face up squarely to the concerns that make some States feel uniquely vulnerable, since it is those concerns that drive them to take unilateral action. We must show that those concerns can, and will, be addressed effectively through collective action.

Excellencies, we have come to a fork in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded.

At that time, a group of far-sighted leaders, led and inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, were determined to make the second half of the twentieth century different from the first half. They saw that the human race had only one world to live in, and that unless it managed its affairs prudently, all human beings may perish.

So they drew up rules to govern international behaviour, and founded a network of institutions, with the United Nations at its centre, in which the peoples of the world could work together for the common good.

Now we must decide whether it is possible to continue on the basis agreed then, or whether radical changes are needed.

And we must not shy away from questions about the adequacy, and effectiveness, of the rules and instruments at our disposal.

Among those instruments, none is more important than the Security Council itself.
In my recent report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, I drew attention to the urgent need for the Council to regain the confidence of States, and of world public opinion – both by demonstrating its ability to deal effectively with the most difficult issues, and by becoming more broadly representative of the international community as a whole, as well as the geopolitical realities of today.

The Council needs to consider how it will deal with the possibility that individual States may use force "pre-emptively" against perceived threats.

Its members may need to begin a discussion on the criteria for an early authorisation of coercive measures to address certain types of threats – for instance, terrorist groups armed with weapons of mass destruction.

And they still need to engage in serious discussions of the best way to respond to threats of genocide or other comparable massive violations of human rights – an issue which I raised myself from this podium in 1999. Once again this year, our collective response to events of this type – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in Liberia – has been hesitant and tardy.

As for the composition of the Council, that has been on the agenda of this Assembly for over a decade. Virtually all Member States agree that the Council should be enlarged, but there is no agreement on the details.

I respectfully suggest to you, Excellencies, that in the eyes of your peoples the difficulty of reaching agreement does not excuse your failure to do so. If you want the Council's decisions to command greater respect, particularly in the developing world, you need to address the issue of its composition with greater urgency.

But the Security Council is not the only institution that needs strengthening. As you know, I am doing my best to make the Secretariat more effective – and I look to this Assembly to support my efforts.

Indeed, in my report I also suggested that this Assembly itself needs to be strengthened, and that the role of the Economic and Social Council – and the role of the United Nations as a whole in economic and social affairs, including its relationship to the Bretton Woods institutions –needs to be re-thought and reinvigorated.

I even suggested that the role of the Trusteeship Council could be reviewed, in light of new kinds of responsibility that you have given to the United Nations in recent years.
In short, Excellencies, I believe the time is ripe for a hard look at fundamental policy issues, and at the structural changes that may be needed in order to strengthen them.
History is a harsh judge: it will not forgive us if we let this moment pass.

For my part, I intend to establish a High-Level Panel of eminent personalities, to which I will assign four tasks:

First, to examine the current challenges to peace and security;

Second, to consider the contribution which collective action can make in addressing these challenges;

Third, to review the functioning of the major organs of the United Nations and the relationship between them; and

Fourth, to recommend ways of strengthening the United Nations, through reform of its institutions and processes.

The Panel will focus primarily on threats to peace and security. But it will also need to examine other global challenges, in so far as these may influence or connect with those threats.

I will ask the Panel to report back to me before the beginning of the next session of this General Assembly, so that I can make recommendations to you at that session. But only you can take the firm and clear decisions that will be needed.

Those decisions might include far-reaching institutional reforms. Indeed, I hope they will.

But institutional reforms alone will not suffice. Even the most perfect instrument will fail, unless people put it to good use.

The United Nations is by no means a perfect instrument, but it is a precious one. I urge you to seek agreement on ways of improving it, but above all of using it as its founders intended – to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to reestablish the basic conditions for justice and the rule of law, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
The world may have changed, Excellencies, but those aims are as valid and urgent as ever. We must keep them firmly in our sights.

Thank you very much.

24 Sep 03 - 12:33 PM (#1024361)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,pdc

A man to admire very much.

24 Sep 03 - 01:00 PM (#1024372)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Bobert

The future of the U.N. depends largely on the US's support and cooperation.

It should be noted that the last word spoken by Resident Bush in yesterday's speech was "together". This was uttered just before he walked out on the assembly and never heard one word of Kofi Annan's speech!

Go figure?

Well, you have to credit where credit is due and its no secret that the Bush administration is completely consistent in its arrogance and unilaterialism.

Boy, it will be nice when these folks are out and we have folks in who have *a clue* about diplomacy.


24 Sep 03 - 01:05 PM (#1024377)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Rapparee

Well said and well put.

24 Sep 03 - 02:13 PM (#1024423)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: artbrooks

The UN has survived many challanges...I expect that it will survive George W. Bush.

24 Sep 03 - 02:24 PM (#1024435)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Ebbie

This is a speech, in my estimation, that will long be referred to. The cadences remind me of the Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln. The issues it deals with are no less important than the issues in Lincoln's day.

My view is that we have to have a body of united nations . We must have a body where nations can meet and together construct plans and remedial actions. If this current United Nations body is disrespected and disbanded, we will need to create another. So we might as well work with what we have.

Bobert, I thought Bush left the hall before Chirac of France spoke? Rather than Kofi Annan. Bad enough that way- but if he did leave before the Secretary General spoke, that would be intolerable.

24 Sep 03 - 02:38 PM (#1024451)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: McGrath of Harlow

Not intolerable, just predictably discourteous, both to the rest of the world, and to his fellow-Americans who are put in such a bad light by the man representing them.

Now the interesting thing would be whether it was a pre-planned gesture of contempt, or was he sulking because his own speech went down so badly.

Here's cartoonist Steve Bell's take on it.

24 Sep 03 - 03:11 PM (#1024480)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,pdc

Bobert, you said: "The future of the U.N. depends largely on the US's support and cooperation."

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I think I would have agreed with that statement, despite the fact that the US had not paid its UN dues for years (billions of $ owed); the US at that time was still the only superpower in the world, and as well, had international sympathy for the 9/11 attacks.

Now, however, the playing field has changed considerably, I think. Bush not only went to war against the wishes of the UN, he did so with contempt, stating that the UN could become irrelevant, and invading on the basis of lies. He has cost the American economy billions and billions of dollars for a war he has no way of exiting, has taken the US from a surplus to a record deficit, is the only president since Woodrow Wilson (I believe) who has net job losses during his term, and has ignored domestic issues utterly.

Bush has also lost the confidence of the American people.

I think that when the US speaks now, the world no longer jumps. While Bush is at the helm, when the US speaks, much of the world laughs.

Under Bush's "leadership," the US has become, as it well ought to have, just another country.

I hope so.

24 Sep 03 - 03:18 PM (#1024486)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: katlaughing

I really don't think we can wait until the next election to oust the shrub and his cronies...the impeachment process really needs to get in high gear. I understand there will be a march on D.C. in October, the 25th, I think.

This is a brilliant and important speech. I can only hope the rest of the world prevails and that the U.N. survives despite the supreme idiot in the white house.

Thanks for posting it,


24 Sep 03 - 03:33 PM (#1024503)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: McGrath of Harlow

Here's the text of Kofi Annan's speech in full on the BBC site - I think it's a bit easier to read there than when posted here - and it's also got a button to push if you want to email the page to anyone.

24 Sep 03 - 04:03 PM (#1024521)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Don Firth

". . . ignored domestic issues utterly."

I'm not so sure. By increasing the deficit through tax cuts and the cost of this illegal war, he has an excuse to take an already much too porous social safety net and rip it to shreds by claiming that the government can't afford it. I think this was part of the plan all along.

I never though it was even possible to feel the level of disgust I feel toward Bush and his cabal.

Don Firth

24 Sep 03 - 04:28 PM (#1024540)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,pdc

Good point, Don Firth - I hadn't thought of it. I was looking more at the schools situation (Leave No Child Behind has never been funded); at the highways, bridges etc. falling to bits (he is rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure including putting in a system of zip codes(!)),
at the unemployment rate, at the huge increase in outsourcing by large corporations (including the Republican fundraising campaign!), and all those sorts of issues.

But yes, any chance to rip bigger holes in the safety net while creating one for Iraq would fit Bush to a T. Good points.

24 Sep 03 - 07:59 PM (#1024649)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Bobert


I love ya, girl, but it takes lots of money to mount a serioue impeachment process and we, ahhhh, ain't got it.

The "right winged conspiracy" that Hilary Clinton talks about that went after Clinton was well funded. Millions of bucks. Meeetings every week with agendas and goals, just like a big corporation, except the mission was to take Clinton out! One way or another!

See, rich people hate the folks who's labor made them rich and they hate anyone that these folks like. Well, Clinton was a jerk, allright, but he had the respect of the working man and therefore.... he had to go.

Now look around you and see that *working* America is now working two jobs and mom and pop are working, ahhhh, just to get by. Not so on the other end of town where the money is piling up in the accounts of the rich.

So don't look fir *working* America to find the kind of money that the rich came up with to chase Clinton around the table fir 8 years that it takes to mount a serious impeachment...

Ain't gonna happen.... Might as well just get ready to knock on lots of doors next year.

And don't worry too much about the Green Party. Most of us understand that America can't survive another four years of the Bush regime and will be a' knockin' with you...


24 Sep 03 - 08:13 PM (#1024656)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: McGrath of Harlow

it takes lots of money to mount a serioue impeachment process...

Well it doesn't. It just needs politicians who are honest and honourable, and ready to do what they are being paid to do already. Shouldn't cost a penny.

Of course...

24 Sep 03 - 09:16 PM (#1024679)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Bobert

And then McGrath woke up....

25 Sep 03 - 12:33 AM (#1024683)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: katlaughing

Tell that to Ramsey Clark, Bobert, at least someone is willing to try. If we all thought as fatalistically as you write, sometimes, we'd all just give up and do nothing, which , of course, would suit the shrub to a T! (And, I still loveya, too!**bg**) I am grateful that the Greenies are getting it, though sorry to see a third party fall away...had I thought they had a chance, I would've been as green as Kermit the Frog last time.

Dissent, dissent, and dissent, again!

25 Sep 03 - 02:37 AM (#1024710)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: The Fooles Troupe

After Bush telling the UN that they were "irrelevant" and telling them to bugger off cause the US didn't need any help, then boasting to the Iraqis to "bring it on!", I for one will be advising my Aussie politicians to wait and see just how big a set of balls the US Government really has...

Of course, Bush knew that it wasn't his life he was laying on the line when he said "bring it on!"

There was a TV doco on teh ABC about just how anti-war the families of the military are at the moment, and just how much they are saying that they were lied to, and it was all for oil..

I must admit I was mistaken. I thought that the situation in Iraq could not get to the sort of mess Vietnam did. I was wrong.

This time, it is not the young students making the fuss. I was right on that. I admit suprise that the familes of the military are not toeing the corporate line. Puzzles me somewhat...

BTW, is the US still in debt with regard to its contributions to the UN to the tune of the billions of dollars it was some years ago?

Incidentally, Israel made a similar "pre-emptive" strike against an alleged nuclear site some years ago.... now where was it? :-)


25 Sep 03 - 01:44 PM (#1024789)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN

FWIW, the Israeli government bombed Iraq in '81, as I recall. There is a book out called "The Day Israel Saved The World". France and Germany, in the past 20 years, gave Saddam a great deal of nuclear technology as well as help with chemical and biological WMDs.

Kofi Annan was personally in charge of distributing the money in the "Oil For Food" program, and directed much of the three billion to himself and other third world dictators, warlords and terrorists.

I believe the UN "bill" was not payed by Clinton and had to be covered by the Bush administration. Also brings up point as to the amount of money we are charged: any amount the UN asks.

Similarities between Viet Nam and Iraq are minimal, unless you feel that they are both wars and you oppose all wars. That is certainly fair. We cannot conduct our type of conventional combat in a jungle, but Iraq is perfect. We can see everything except what is underground. Our total casualties in Iraq look a weekly toll from Viet Nam.

Latest polls in Iraq show that 92% of Iraquis are happy that Saddam is gone. Our biggest problem will be the bitter power struggle between factions, both ethnic and religious.

25 Sep 03 - 07:38 PM (#1024833)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Bobert


Care to share your sources on Kafi Annon ditrecting most of the "Oil for Food" money to himself?

And how many US administrations have been in arears with their UN bills?

And seein' as you have your thumb on the pulse of the Iragi people's thinking, what percentage are glad that the US attacked their country and now occupies it?


25 Sep 03 - 08:51 PM (#1024895)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Don Firth

The UN "bill" was not covered by the Bush administration, nor is it likely to be. The US has been stiffing the UN for years.

Ted Turner, who now and then seems to be one of the few (if any) enlightened billionaires in this country, donated one billion dollars to the UN because he said he felt that there was no sense in having that much money unless you can do something worthwhile with it (at the same time, he urged others with great wealth not to be such tight-asses and to start spreading some of it around), he felt the UN was one of the only hopes we had for the future, and he felt it was just a good thing to do. He made it clear, however, that this was a donation from him, and in no way should it be construed that it was intented for the purpose of paying off the debt the US owes to the UN. The US should pick up its own tab.

I would also like to know what documentation GUEST has that Kofi Annan is or was a "third world dictator."

Just to keep the record straight.

Don Firth

25 Sep 03 - 09:03 PM (#1024902)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: McGrath of Harlow

Being pleased some bloody politician megalomaniac is gone is not the same as welcoming the presence of an occupying army that believes in shooting before finding out what they are shooting at, and has a policy of not counting the civilian dead.

Look at this for a sample. Iraq: the reality and rhetoric

26 Sep 03 - 02:09 PM (#1025219)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: Don Firth

Good Lord! I think that about all Bush's "war on terrorism" has managed to do is create another generation of terrorists.

Don Firth

26 Sep 03 - 03:02 PM (#1025251)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,pdc

Don, I think that American foreign policy created the first wave of terrorists, as well.

26 Sep 03 - 07:28 PM (#1025377)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: The Fooles Troupe

The first acknowledged "terrorists" AFAIK were the Israelis, just after WWII, when they were trying to get Isreal created out of Palestine. And I was informed that the US was the major political force behind getting the British kicked out... :-)

And yes Don, you are right..


26 Sep 03 - 07:32 PM (#1025381)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,Frankham

Does anyone care to speculate about the validity of the polls that say the Iraqi people are happy with their US occupation? Where did these numbers come from and how?

Disraeli: "lies and damned lies and statistics"
...(and now polls).


26 Sep 03 - 08:13 PM (#1025399)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,Axis of Truth

We should be used to that. The Clinton administration stayed in power by manufacturing and manipulating polls.

26 Sep 03 - 08:19 PM (#1025402)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,petr

why dont we ask the people of Srebrenica, or Rwanda for that matter
what they think?
It wasnt until the US with Nato intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo that things turned around. ANd without a security council resolution.
LIkewise for the past 50 years of the cold war, the only time there was a UN resolution for military action was Korea, mainly because the Russian delegate walked out and there was no veto.

certainly the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodian (which ended the Khmer rouge bloodbath) was an illegal act of war without UN sanction.
and this can be said for the overthrow of IDI Amin, BOkassa etc.

the great majority of members are dictatorships, satrapies.
it may be time to scrap it, and make a confederation of democracies.
instead of an organization that makes Libya chair of human rights.

26 Sep 03 - 08:20 PM (#1025403)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: McGrath of Harlow

How do you stay in power by manufacturing and manipulating polls? Apart from the real-life poll, as in Florida.

26 Sep 03 - 08:41 PM (#1025416)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: GUEST,pdc

You stay in power by manufacturing polls, manipulating news, any way you can. When you really, really want to stay in power, you manipulate the vote. The following article is so disgusting it's hard to believe, but when you follow the links at the bottom of the article, you end up convinced, and utterly discouraged. I think we may be seeing the end of democracy in the USA.

The machines

26 Sep 03 - 09:09 PM (#1025428)
Subject: RE: BS: Future of the UN
From: The Fooles Troupe

No pdc,

You are starting to see _the public acknowledment of_ the end of ...