Past year proves need to make UN effective in meeting global challenges

“The past year has been an extraordinarily difficult one, marked above all by the war in Iraq and the events related to it,” the Secretary-General told a lunchtime meeting of the International Association of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations hosted by Ambassador Inocencio F. Arias of Spain.Those events have raised a number of wider questions about the nature of challenges facing the international community, and about the ability of the multilateral system to deal with them, he added. “Whether in combating international terrorism, alleviating poverty and hunger, stopping the spread of infectious diseases, preventing genocide, or rebuilding States after war, we urgently need to find practical ways to move forward,” Mr. Annan said. Calling attention to the need to re-evaulate existing capacities and build new ones, he recalled the appointment of a High-Level Panel to examine the threats, evaluate existing policies, processes and institutions, and make bold recommendations for change. While some have described it as a panel on UN reform, “the object of the exercise is to find a credible and convincing collective answer to the challenges of our time,” he said. “We must show that the United Nations is capable of fulfilling that purpose,” not just for the most privileged Member States but also those that are concerned with the threats posed by poverty, hunger and disease, he said. “We must understand that a threat to some is a threat to all, and needs to be addressed accordingly.”

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