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Annan Calls on World Leaders to Adopt Sweeping Changes to UN

  • Kathie Scarrah

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan wants to make the United Nations more powerful. He unveiled a list of recommendations that would realign the world body by giving equal weight to development, security and human rights issues, changes he says are essential for the 191-member body to deal with the realities and global threats of the 21st century. He explained the proposals to reporters.

"It is aimed at making sure that the commitments made to fight poverty are really carried out in a way that brings results. It is aimed at healing the wounds in the international community left by the Iraq war. And it is aimed at restoring the credibility of the United Nations as a leader in the worldwide struggle for human rights," says Kofi Annan.

Earlier in the plenary session, Mr. Annan spoke of the need for reform.

"I also make far reaching proposals for the reform of the Secretariat, which must be more flexible, transparent (and) accountable in serving the priorities of member states and the interests of the worlds peoples," says Mr. Annan.

The secretary-general recommended creating a Human Rights Council which would replace the Commission on Human Rights based in Geneva, Switzerland. That commission has been criticized for allowing countries to use their membership to protect one another from condemnation for alleged human rights abuses. Secretary Annan also recommended enlarging the Security Council by adding at least six nations to the 15-member council. Both proposals may not be widely endorsed by all member nations. Mr. Annan is insisting his proposals be considered as a whole, not individually.

"The temptation is to treat the list as an a la carte menu and select only those you especially fancy. In this case, that approach will not work," he said.

The secretary-general's additional recommendations include a democracy fund to provide expertise to nations seeking to establish or strengthen their democracies. He also recommended that the Security Council adopt resolutions specifying when to use military force and defining terrorism.

The timing of Secretary Annan's report was questioned, as it was unveiled just days ahead of a report looking into the oil-for-food program and any involvement in that scandal by the secretary-general and his son, Kojo. The secretary-general believes he will be cleared of any wrong doing in that scandal and insisted his report, was released six months ahead of the annual U.N. General Assembly to give world leaders the time they need to review his recommendations.

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