Secretary General Kofi Annan has unveiled a sweeping plan to reform the United Nations and sharply increase its authority in world affairs. The proposal is being offered as a starting point for an international debate that will culminate with a summit of heads of state and government in September.
Mr. Annan outlined a broad vision for change in a report to the U.N. General Assembly. Among other things, it includes ideas for expanding the Security Council, restructuring the widely-criticized Human Rights Commission, settling a debate over the definition of terrorism, and establishing new rules on when military force should be used.
The secretary-general laid out his vision Monday in an address to the General Assembly.
"What I am proposing amounts to a comprehensive strategy. It gives equal weight to the three great purposes of this organization -- development, security and human rights, all of which must be underpinned by the rule of law," he said.
The secretary-general's report is a refinement of two earlier studies. The first was done by a high-level panel he appointed last year to make recommendations on U.N. reform. The second involved recommendations on how to meet goals set in the year 2000 for cutting poverty in half by 2015.
The report presented to the General Assembly is divided into four main sections. The first three set out priorities in the fields of development, security and human rights. The fourth is a plan for transforming the United Nations into what Mr. Annan calls "a more effective instrument for pursuing those priorities."
In his address to the assembly, the secretary-general placed expansion and strengthening of the Security Council at the top of his list of recommended reforms.
"First, I urge member states to make the Security Council more broadly representative of the international community as a whole, as well as of the geopolitical realities of today," said Mr. Annan.
Mr. Annan also urged the Security Council to ensure that there would be no more disputes like the one that divided members over whether to go to war in Iraq.
"And I suggest that the renewed Security Council should make clear in a resolution the principles by which it intends to be guided when deciding whether to use force," he added.
Mr. Annan urged the world leaders to consider his 63-page proposal as a single package. But U.N. officials have underlined that the document is being offered as a starting point for an international debate on how to make the world body more relevant for the 21st century.
That debate is expected to culminate in approval of a reform package at a gathering of heads of state and government in September, marking the organization's 60th anniversary.