News Release

Responses to “Sweeping” UN Report

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan today unveiled a report that advocates what the AP is calling the “most sweeping changes to the United Nations since it was founded 60 years ago.” The following are available for interviews:

DENIS HALLIDAY
Former assistant secretary general of the UN, Halliday said today: “The report importantly brings together the essential ingredients of success … that is, meeting Millennium Goals (2015) for tackling development, poverty, disease, education etc. together with reform of the political UN for ensuring peace and security. It is clear one without the other will not yield global results.”

Halliday, who was head of the oil-for-food program in Iraq until resigning in protest in 1998, added: “Secretary General Annan — a Washington creation — pussyfoots on USA corruption of the UN, the Charter and international law as highlighted by the illegal invasion of Iraq, threats of armed aggression against other member states (Iran, Syria, North Korea) and unwillingness to sign on to the minimalist Kyoto environmental accords. The Secretary General does however push the International Criminal Court, which has frightened those guilty in Washington into rejection. Bottom line — unless all member states begin to respect and apply international law the UN will continue to fail, and fall short.”
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PHYLLIS BENNIS
Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, said today: “Kofi Annan’s report reflects his uneasy balancing act between defending the UN Charter and international law, and giving in to U.S. pressure. Reflecting his stated view that the Iraq war was illegal, Annan’s report recognizes that ‘every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home must respect it abroad.’ The report reiterates that only the Security Council and not individual governments has the right to authorize the use of force in a war against a threat that is not imminent, demands that nuclear weapons states take special responsibility for real disarmament, and affirms that the International Criminal Court is the centerpiece of international justice.”

Bennis, who is author of the book Calling the Shots: How the U.S. Dominates Today’s UN, continued: “But ultimately, in accepting as unalterable the reality of U.S. domination and the world’s power disparities as reflected within the UN, Annan’s report shies away from proposing the kind of real reforms that could transform the global organization. Without such dramatic moves, it will be far more difficult for the UN to reclaim its role as part of a global movement actively working against war, against poverty, and for human rights.”
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IAN WILLIAMS
Author of the book The UN For Beginners, Williams said today: “Kofi Annan has unveiled what his spokesman rightly calls a ‘doable’ set of reforms for the UN, which, for example on the proposed UN Human Rights Council, are a big improvement. In an attempt to win global support he has put ‘something for everyone,’ with emphases on human rights, democracy, security and development. The proposals will be welcomed by many UN members; however, Annan may have misjudged the Bush administration by taking their professions of concern for these issues at face value.”

Williams, who writes about the UN for a number of periodicals and is a former president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, added: “While his proposals may well have appealed to those in the administration who were prepared to go along with the UN when it suited what they cynically judged to be American interests, recent appointments suggest that the faith-based faction with its reflexive antipathy to all multilateral endeavors is now dominant. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith epitomized this only this weekend by effectively lumping together the ICC and Al Qaeda as ‘various actors around the world are seeking ways to attack or constrain U.S. interests … in creative ways, such as pursuing legal or technological lines of attack.'”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167