Annan calls on womens group to help promote UN reform

Describing the two major set of recommendations to meet global challenges that world leaders will debate and decide on at the United Nations summit in September, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on a UN-affiliated women’s group to help seize the opportunity to reform the world body.Given the women’s interest in UN reform, “it could be quite some time before we again have before us such an impressive constellation of ideas, proposals and engagement. So let us act while these stars are in alignment,” he said at the thirtieth anniversary meeting of the Women’s International Forum.The Forum groups diplomats’ spouses and women ambassadors, senior Secretariat staff members and UN-based journalists.Mr. Annan said his proposals, set out in a document released in March called “In Larger Freedom,” drew on two wide-ranging reviews produced by the 16-member High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, chaired by former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, and by the 250 drafters of the Millennium Project on development, chaired by UN Special Adviser Jeffrey Sachs.“But I also took into account my own conscience and convictions and my strong sense of what the United Nations stands for and what it must mean to the world’s people. And that led me to pay special attention to human dignity, as embodied in the struggle for human rights and the rule of law,” he said.His report could be summarized as: “we will not enjoy development without security, or security without development, and we will enjoy neither without human rights,” Mr. Annan said, adding that he had tried to create an agenda of bold yet achievable decisions to be taken in September.They include expanding the Security Council, replacing the Commission on Human Rights with a smaller, more focused body, making commitments to reach long-established aid targets and concluding the latest Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, he said.“Our challenge is to get from a set of proposals to a slate of decisions. Some of my suggestions have been criticized for having opened Pandora’s Box. Others are said to have gone too far, or not far enough,” he said.Four months away from the summit, however, there should be flexibility and a willingness to respond to the needs of others, Mr. Annan said. “The bully pulpit has its place; but so does the search for common ground.” read more