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UN Braces Itself for New Challenges

The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the world on Monday his ideas about would-be "operations" of his 60-year-old organization in New York. 

They are expected to energize the UN.


Annan introduced to the General Assembly a comprehensive deal to tackle poverty, security threats and human rights issues.


At the same time the UN will be overhauled through a set of recommendations slated for action by national leaders when they gather to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body in September.


Monday heralded the beginning of formal deliberations on UN reform in the international community.


Taking its name from a phrase in the UN Charter, the report In Larger Freedom marks the culmination of a process Annan has initiated to realign the world body to better respond to today's pressing challenges.


If acted on, Annan's proposals -- ranging from a new line-up of 25 members for the Security Council to the establishment of a new Human Rights Council and democracy fund -- would produce the most dramatic change in the world body's functioning ever achieved in one go.


Established in 1945 by the victorious allies after World War II, the UN demonstrated the thinking of these powers on how best to organize the world to prevent the outbreak of another world conflict. The UN Charter and the UN system were products of the time.


Wars, rivalries, suspicions and intrigues have time and again challenged the world body and its credibility in the past six decades. It has survived and continued to serve as a universal framework for international cooperation at all fronts.


Conditions have changed since 1945. Membership of the organization has grown from 51 to 191. Security has taken on a new meaning, with non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields becoming threats to peace and security.


The scope of UN activities has been broadened far beyond the original intent. The world has changed and from many quarters has come the call to rethink the premises and structure of the UN, to bring them up to date.


We are concerned at unilateral actions taken by some countries and at the evident decline in the commitment to obligations under the UN Charter.


There is a sense of urgency regarding the organization's future. It needs to be altered to keep up with changing circumstances.


But whatever changes may happen to the world body, its basic ideals should be honored and upheld.


The UN is the foremost embodiment of multilateralism. No single nation or even group of nations today can expect to find solutions to the world's problems. Nor are many problems amenable to solutions in isolation. Global problems require global institutions and global solutions. This role and duty can only fall on this organization.


Explaining his report to the General Assembly on Monday, the secretary-general said it was for "healing the wounds in the international community left by the Iraq war" and "restoring the credibility of the UN as a leader in the worldwide struggle for human rights."


It is time to restore to the organization its credibility and the important role of eradicating poverty and all the ills associated with it for a better world for all.


Annan's proposals were wrapped in a package for debate by member states for six months. The possibility remains shaky that national leaders will bring with them a consensus on Annan's proposals when they observe the UN's 60 birthday.


As the debates start to take shape, we can only hope that the wheel of change will move in the right direction.


(China Daily March 23, 2005)

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