News Release

As the United Nations Summit Kicks Off

The United Nations World Summit will take place from Sept. 14 to 16. It is expected to be the largest-ever gathering of world leaders, with more than 170 heads of state to be in attendance.

JAMES PAUL
Paul is the executive director of the Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors policymaking at the United Nations. He said today: “U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has tried to nudge U.N. member states into yet another reform of the world body. The initial proposals from Annan were clearly designed to please the U.S. and to ignore or minimize subjects — like U.N. budget increases, disarmament, environment and poverty — that would have raised red flags in Washington. A lengthy but cautious text was finally cobbled together, though poor countries were angry at how little spoke to their needs. Then, at the last minute, Washington decided to demand massive changes in the text, a move that further embarrasses the U.N., pressures Annan and spits in the eye of 150 visiting heads of state.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Zunes is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. He said today: “After years of pushing for major reforms in the United Nations, the United States is now sabotaging the U.N.’s most ambitious reform efforts to date on the eve of the biggest-ever summit of world leaders. The real agenda by the Bush administration appears to be geared toward undermining the authority and legitimacy of the world body and abandoning international commitments to end poverty, protect the environment, defend human rights, and prevent war. What is at stake is nothing less than the post-World War II international system in favor of what amounts to a U.S. imperial order.”
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NICOLA REINDORP
GRACE MUKAGABIRO
Reindorp is the head of Oxfam’s New York office. She said today: “In the latest draft deal [for the U.N. World Summit], only the agreement on government’s responsibility to protect civilians from future genocides, ethnic cleansing, and mass killings is a real step forward. On overseas aid, the draft simply repeats past agreements, delivering nothing new. All wording on small arms has been removed. The previous wording calling for increased humanitarian aid has been dropped. … On all issues but stopping genocide, governments appear to be on their biggest ever recycling drive — hours of negotiations have resulted in a repetition of existing commitments at best.”

Mukagabiro is Oxfam Rwanda Program Coordinator and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide; her husband and most of her family were killed.
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IAN WILLIAMS
Author of the book The U.N. For Beginners, Williams said today: “Security Council reform is dead, which may not be a bad thing. In reality, it is not the U.N. Charter that needs reform — but what use the member states put it to. The Summit offers a rare chance to trade off North-South concerns. In return for a serious commitment to already pledged Millennium Development Goals, such as moving to 0.7 percent of GDP for overseas aid, the North would get a working definition of terrorism, a working Human Rights Council, and a definition of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ [civilians] that could avert future Cambodias, Rwandas and Darfurs. … Much of this agenda needs positive action by member states as much as organizational reform of the United Nations, and at the moment that may depend on whether delegations are prepared to face down the U.S., which has teamed up with some unsavory allies to thwart real reforms and disrupt the implied trade-off.”
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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