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General Assembly Adopts UN Outcome Document

The 59th UN General Assembly on Tuesday adopted almost unanimously a watered-down outcome document that will be submitted to the world leaders for approval at the UN summit.


The document was the result of many rounds of difficult negotiations by the core group composed of 32 UN member states. The 35-page document is supposed to galvanize global action to combat poverty and launch a major reform of the UN itself. But to reach a consensus, most of the text's details were gutted in favor of abstract language.


For instance, lack of progress resulted in the omission of disarmament in the document and a definition of terrorism and details on how to replace the existing UN Commission on Human Rights were also excluded.


The document reaffirmed the international community's commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and welcomed the inclusion of a mention of the desire by many developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their gross national product on development.


The document decided to establish a Peace-building Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body, but it fell short of specifying its formation or whether the new body will be held accountable to the Security Council or the General Assembly.


On the important issue of Security Council reform, the document does not set any timetable for the process, but request the General Assembly to review progress on the reform by the end of the year.


Speaking to reporters, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed relief over the adoption of the outcome document. "The document includes a good chapter on development. We have got the establishment of the Human Rights Council approval. We have got the Peace-building Commission approved. We also have Responsibility to Protect. We have got a definition, a statement on terrorism, as well as the Democracy Fund that has been established," he said.


But he said the big item missing is nonproliferation and disarmament, describing it as a "real disgrace." He urged the world leaders to step up their effort and meet the challenge and show leadership on this issue.


(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2005)


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