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UN Reforms Shouldn't Change Basic Values

Leaders from some 150 countries convened at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the world body's founding.


The largest-ever world gathering bears witness to the fact that the world pins high hopes on its largest multilateral organization.


Participants of the UN's annual gathering are expected to bring with them consensus on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals to give the world body a much-needed facelift, which will affect the identity and shape of our common future.


More than half a century since its establishment, the UN is in desperate need to revamp itself to better cope with the transforming global picture.


Members of the UN have increased dramatically from 52 to 191 countries since its establishment in 1945.


The giant organization is beset by inefficiency and reports of fraudulent activity.


Nevertheless, it has survived and continued to serve as a universal framework for international cooperation on many fronts.


It is promising to see the 59th UN General Assembly almost unanimously adopt the draft outcome document on UN reform and achievement of development goals, just hours before global leaders arrived for the three-day summit.


Though the final draft fell short of ambitious proposals for an overhaul of the UN set out earlier this year by Annan, the approved text at least served as a basis for reform that could be taken forward by assembly leaders at the 60th session.


It is now the duty of the world leaders to take the important decisions on the reform process of the organization and the new configuration they want to present to the world.


The stalemate surrounding its reform agenda demonstrates how challenging it is to reach consensus on how to achieve greater development, peace and security and the protection of human rights, for members of the organization.


Lack of progress resultantly occurred in the disarmament issue, which was omitted from document. Points such as the definition of terrorism and details on how to replace the existing UN Commission on Human Rights were also excluded.


There are no new funds for aid or debt relief, and the language on fair trade has been weakened. Nor has there been any movement on climate change, non-proliferation and disarmament issues.


Five years have passed since the Millennium Summit adopted a potentially historic pledge to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters and cut extreme poverty in half by 2015, but little solid ground has been gained for reaching these goals.


The UN Development Program's annual Human Development Report, sent to world leaders last week, said that under current trends, many of the poorest countries mostly in sub-Saharan Africa will be off track by an entire generation without swift and substantial improvement in aid, trade policies and national governance.


These trends must be reversed. And that is why leaders meet for the 2005 world summit. They have the historic opportunity and responsibility to turn their words into actions.


Reform will be challenging and compromises will have to be made.


But one thing is certain: The world would be worse off without the world body, whose avowed goal was and still remains to be to free succeeding generations from the scourge of war.


The key instrument through which the world of order will try to deal with threats from the world of disorder will still be the UN.


Reforms should not change its fundamental values.


Deliberations at the headquarters of the world organization should restore to the organization its credibility and plan the way for a better world for all.


(China Daily September 15, 2005)


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