Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Having faith in the United Nations

I loved this article written by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Because I can't disclose the full article, here are a few excerpts that I particularly liked:

"I believe profoundly in the importance of that task, because a strong U.N. is of vital importance to humanity.

When the appalling disaster of the tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean...everyone, including the U.S., agreed that the U.N. should take the lead...First, the U.N. had the necessary skills...But second, and even more important, everyone was willing to work with the U.N.


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Indisputably, the war in Iraq two years ago caused many people on all sides to lose faith in the U.N. ...And yet, when the U.S. and its allies wanted an Iraqi body with broad national and international support to help them run the country, they turned to the U.N. and my special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, for help and advice.

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Last year, when the Coalition wanted to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government, they turned again to the U.N. for help...Both Iraqis and Americans also turned to the U.N. for help in organizing last month's elections.

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Anyone who attacks the U.N. for failing to serve the global interest should, as part of that exercise, critically examine the decisions of each nation within the body. They will find that there is plenty of criticism to go round. But they should also remember that the U.N., like the U.S. and other great democracies, is a work in progress

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I am the first to admit that real and troubling failures -- ethical lapses and lax management -- have been brought to light. I am determined, with the help of member states, to carry through the management reforms

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The U.N. cannot expect to survive into the 21st century unless ordinary people throughout the world feel that it does something for them -- helping to protect them against conflict (both civil and international), but also against poverty, hunger, disease and the erosion of their natural environment."