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UN General Assembly approves scaled-down reforms

Source: PTI
September 14, 2005 15:15 IST
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The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously approved a scaled-down reform agenda to be submitted to world leaders at the UN summit, after weeks of bitter wrangling over the contents in the package for change.

The 35-page document, adopted amid loud cheers from delegates on Tuesday, at a session of the outgoing 59th General Assembly, is a much watered-down version of UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's blueprint to reform the world body on its 60th anniversary.

The original statement represented an ambitious plan for trying to balance the concerns of great powers over security, human rights and management efficiency, with the developing world's needs for increased assistance and measures to cut poverty. However, virtually every section underwent severe cuts in the end.

The draft document had two important ommissions - non-proliferation and disarmament, Annan said. Other proposed reforms, which proved contentious, were the creation of a new human rights body, the definition of terrorism and UN managerial reforms.

Though the document condemns terrorism 'in all forms', language saying that making targets of civilians is unjustified was deleted in exchange for dropping language exempting movements to resist occupation. A visibly relieved UN chief said, "The good news is that we do have an outcome to the document."

 "Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted and with 191 member states, it's not easy to get an agreement," he said, adding, "All of us would have wanted more, but we can work with what we have been given and I think it is an important step forward."

The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said that the US was satisfied with the outcome, which he said matched the limited hopes he had for the document.

While 16 pages focussed on development, outgoing General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said there was no political will among richer countries to help Africa on a massive scale with a plan similar to the US Marshall Plan, which helped Europe recover after World War II.

The document also failed to give Annan the authority to move jobs and make management changes that the US, the European Union and others sought. Cuba's UN delegate, Abelardo Moreno, raised objections about what he called 'distortions' added to the text. "First of all we are of the view that the negotiating process that is taking place was one characterised by a lack of transparency and sensitivity," he said.

Complete coverage: Prime Minister at the UN

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