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Canada Calls for Action to Further UN Reform

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin called for efforts to reform the United Nations so that the world body could do a better job in promoting security, development and human rights when he addressed the UN summit on Friday.

He said Canada cannot conceive of a world succeeding without the United Nations, but stressed the urgent need to carry on reform of the world body. The United Nations is at a crossroads, to achieve lasting and effective reform, it must thoroughly reform its administration, he added.

He said member states need expanded guidelines for Security Council action to make clear its responsibility to act decisively to prevent humanity's attack on humanity.

He hailed the "Responsibility to Protect" as a guideline that seeks rules to protect the innocent against appalling assaults on their life and dignity, and said it does not bless unilateral action, but favors clear, multilaterally-agreed criteria on what the international community should do when civilians are at risk.

On development issues, the Prime Minister said donor nations must do more, and they have begun to do so, by increasing their development assistance budgets and accelerating the pace of disbursements, as well as forgiving old debts.

But he noted that more consistent policies are needed. "How can we talk about development as we chase poor farmers from their land because of their inability to compete on their own agricultural export markets, which are over subsidized by rich countries!"

"What good comes from lamenting the lot of the poor while seeking to sell as many weapons as possible to as many developing nations as possible? How can we preach the virtues of free trade while preventing market access to least developed countries?" he asked.

Developing countries, he noted, must do more as well. True development will not take place until local populations have the confidence to invest their own energy and resources into making a better future for themselves.

Reform efforts on security and development will ultimately fail unless they are grounded in respect for individuals, their rights, their cultures, traditions and beliefs, Martin said.

He said the status quo and too often empty rhetoric must make way for a new and pragmatic multilateralism measured by concrete results, not simply by promises. He urged world leaders to rise above narrow national interests and act responsibly to meet challenges facing the world today.

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2005)

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