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UN reform document: Annan unhappy with member states

By Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations
Last updated on: September 14, 2005 19:13 IST
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United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday said that the inability of the 191-member states of the General Assembly to agree on the issues of non-proliferation and disarmament as part of drafting a blueprint for better global security and development is a disgrace.

"The big item missing is non-proliferation and disarmament (and) this is a real disgrace," Annan said at a news conference at the United Nations on Tuesday afternoon referring to the draft document to be produced before the heads of states governments during the three-day world summit beginning Wednesday. The document was expected to reflect the original goals and ideals generally agreed upon by nations during the millennium summit in 2000.

But with perceived conflicting national interests and as some commentators said the tendency of some members to fight in their respective corners and refusal to meet halfway, the GA Tuesday adopted a watered down version of the original 39-page draft summit document, deciding to defer discussions and resolution on as many as 50 items on the agenda, including important ones like the non-proliferation and disarmament as well as UN management reform.

"There is no doubt that the draft document will not have all details and would be much less comprehensive than the original one," diplomatic sources told ahead of the finalisation and agreement of the draft.

On Tuesday, Annan admitted that the world body has failed twice this year -- at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference and on Tuesday. "I hope the leaders will see this as a real signal for them to pick up the ashes and really show leadership on this important issue when we are all concerned about weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that they may even get into the wrong hands," he said.

"I will appeal to the leaders who are coming to the United Nations in the next few days to really step up to the plate and accept the challenge and show leadership on this issue," he added.

Annan, however, was not prepared to dismiss the agreement on many of the millennium goals in the document as a total failure. "Obviously, we didn't get everything we wanted, and with 191 member states it's not easy to get an agreement," he said. "With this huge number of member states, it has been difficult, but I think it is a success. We've got a good document. It's not everything we wanted, and I think we can build on it and we can really do a lot with it," he said.

The secretary general expressed hope that the heads of states and governments will approve and endorse the document. "The challenge is implementation, moving ahead and working together to implement it and pressing ahead for agreement on those issues where agreement has been elusive up to till today. But we have not given up on those either," he said.

During the conference, Annan was repeatedly asked if he saw the draft document as a failure after he had appealed to leaders for bold decisions, and not to 'cherry pick' among the proposals contained in his report in March 'In Larger Freedom: Towards development, security and human rights for all'.

"I will not dismiss it as easily as you seem to have, indicating that they (the document drafters) have not achieved much," he said in response to a question.

"I would have wanted more. All of us would have wanted more. But we can work with what we have been given and I think it's an important step forward and we all have to make sure that in translating it into practical and functional terms that we do all our best to really make sure we are giving the organization the effective structure it needs to work," he said.

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Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations