16/09/2003

UN has endured a 'trying' year, says Annan

The past year has been a "trying" one for the UN in terms of peace and security, with the war in Iraq severely testing the principle of collective security and the resilience of the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said in his annual report.

In his report, Mr Annan acknowledged the extreme pressure that the world body has been under – particularly in terms of the Iraqi weapons programme and the spat between security council members in the run up to the US-led conflict in the region.

"Rarely in its fifty-eight-year history have such dire forecasts been made about the United Nations," the Secretary-General said in advance of the next session of the General Assembly, which opens tomorrow.

"The United Nations will emerge strengthened if we make a measured appreciation of what happened, think about the sort of organization we want in the future, and start making the necessary changes."

Recounting the various peace operations of the UN, the Secretary-General noted that peace agreements by themselves mark only the first step in brining lasting peace and prosperity to war-torn societies. "Countries emerging from civil strife must find their own paths to humane governance and national reconciliation, but international assistance will often be necessary," he said.

Mr Annan also paid tribute to his Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who, along with 21 others, was killed in a bomb blast at the UN office in Baghdad on 19 August.

"This was the most deliberate and vicious attack against the United Nations in its history," Mr Annan said.

"Those extremists who killed our colleagues have committed a crime, not only against the United Nations, but against Iraq itself."

In addition to peace and security, the Secretary-General highlights issues such as refugee, HIV/AIDS and sustainable development as areas for greater partnership.

"The United Nations is not an end in itself," the Secretary-General said.

"Rather, it is an instrument for achieving common ends. The strength and effectiveness of the Organization depends on the active support of its Member States and their policies… In calculating their national interests, they should give due weight to the value and importance of a just and stable world order."

(gmcg)

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