ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN UNITED KINGDOM, 17 - 22 JUNE
Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in London from the Middle East on Sunday evening, 17 June 2001.
On Monday his only meeting was with his Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen.
The Secretary-General travelled from London to Oxford on Tuesday, where he gave the Cyril Foster Lecture at Oxford University on "Why Democracy is an International Issue".
In his speech, the Secretary-General argued that mature democracies are less likely to wage war than undemocratic governments. But democracies' reluctance to fight, he said, could also be a handicap, citing their reluctance to stand up to Nazi Germany at an early stage as well as their unwillingness today to contribute to peacekeeping missions.
"Democracy is practised in many different ways," he said, "and none of them is perfect.
"But," he went on, "at its best it provides a message for managing and resolving disputes peacefully, in an atmosphere of mutual trust. And nothing destroys that atmosphere more corrosively than fear and intolerance, combined with injustice and discrimination."
He was critical of the current tendency towards xenophobia in Europe. "Political manipulation of fear of foreigners," he said, poses "the greatest threat to democracy.”
"Immigrants, instead of being welcomed for the contribution they make to a productive economy and a diverse society," he argues, "are too often portrayed as a threat, and procedures aimed at detecting 'bogus' asylum-seekers result in the harassment or detention of bona fide refugees."
He also called for greater democracy, not only in the Security Council, but in international financial and trade institutions, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.
"I suggest that we would live in a better and fairer world -- indeed a more democratic world --," he asserted, "if, in all those places, greater weight were given to the views and interests of the poor."
He concluded by saying that the General Assembly's authority would be greatly strengthened when all its member governments "were clearly and unmistakably representative of the peoples of the world, in whose name the United Nations was founded".
In his speech the Secretary-General also drew attention to World Refugee Day, which would take place the following day, and recalled the poster showing Albert Einstein with a bundle of clothes on his back and a caption reading, "A bundle of belongings isn't the only thing a refugee brings to his new country" (see SG/SM/7850).
He then took questions from the audience for nearly half an hour.
In the evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead.
On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General was given the cap and gown of a Doctor of Civil Law before joining the procession from Balliol College to the ceremonial centre of the University, the Sheldonian Theatre, where the Encaenia, or commencement, was to take place.
The Secretary-General was introduced by the Public Orator, Jasper Griffin, who said, in Latin, "Mr. Annan is not a man to shirk problems which are either arduous or dangerous and he is conspicuous also for his readiness, if something goes wrong, not to take refuge in the all-too-familiar pattern of bureaucratic obfuscation, of evading responsibility, and of leaving any criticism to be faced by subordinates.
"He is outstandingly candid and sincere, and he has constantly encouraged his organization to improve its performance," the Public Orator continued. "I present a generous champion of the poor, a far-sighted partisan of justice, and a tireless advocate of peace."
The Chancellor then awarded the Secretary-General an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
Mr. Annan later attended a luncheon hosted by All Souls College at Oxford, after which he met briefly with some students of international affairs at
St. Anthony's College, the head of which is Marrack Goulding, the former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
The Secretary-General returned to London in the late afternoon to prepare for a series of official meetings the following day.
On Thursday morning, 21 June, the Secretary-General met with United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair and discussed in great detail the situation in the Middle East following the Secretary-General’s recent visit to the region. Their talks also touched on Iraq, the Balkans, the proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund, economic assistance to Africa and progress in Sierra Leone.
To the press afterwards, the Secretary-General said he described to the Prime Minister the mood in the Middle East as the Security Council debates a revision of the Iraq oil-for-food programme.
Asked whether the effort would die if the Council did not meet the deadline of 3 July, the Secretary-General replied, “I don’t think so.”
“The assistance to the Iraqi people is essential,” he added, “and so they will find a way out”.
The Secretary-General then went to Marlborough House to meet with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Donald McKinnon. Mr. McKinnon briefed the Secretary-General on Commonwealth activities in Fiji and on land reform in Zimbabwe. They also touched on the situation in West Africa, including the proposed special court for Sierra Leone, the United Nations Conference on Racism and United Nations efforts to combat AIDS.
Back at his hotel, the Secretary-General had the opportunity to meet privately with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amré Moussa, who was in town.
He then went to Lancaster House for a working lunch with Claire Short, the United Kingdom Secretary for International Development. Their wide-ranging discussions included Sierra Leone, neighbouring Guinea and Liberia, peacekeeping training and rapid reaction, the architecture of the proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, peace efforts in Burundi, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Racism, the forthcoming United Nations report on financing for development, the General Assembly’s planned special session on children, and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan along with the problem of security for humanitarian workers.
The Secretary-General then met with Geoffrey Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence. The Secretary-General first raised the issue of the training of African troops for peacekeeping in Africa by the United Kingdom and other advanced military powers. He also brought up the Brahimi report on overhauling United Nations peace operations, especially the role of well-trained police, as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s plans for sending troops to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Secretary-General also asked for United Kingdom support for the economic reconstruction of East Timor.
They discussed Sierra Leone in some detail. The Secretary-General then asked about the future of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the related issue of neighbouring Kosovo.
They talked of the impact on United Nations peacekeeping of the European Union's development of a rapid reaction capability.
The Secretary-General and his wife then went to St. James' Palace for a private meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.
In the evening, he had a half-hour private meeting with the new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Jack Straw, after which the Foreign Secretary hosted a dinner in the Secretary-General's honour.
On Friday morning, the Secretary-General addressed some 75 top corporate leaders from the United Kingdom at a breakfast hosted by Sir Ronald Grierson, adviser to the management consultancy firm of Bain & Company.
He made two appeals. First he called for corporate support for the nine principles of his Global Compact for the voluntary respect of core standards on human rights, labour relations and the environment. Second he asked for their backing in his Call to Action in the global battle against HIV/AIDS and invited them to contribute to a Global AIDS and Health Fund.
“You can play an almost revolutionary role,” he said. HIV/AIDS affects business, he argued, it causes costs to expand and markets to shrink, and contributes to political instability. He called on the companies to support their employees and their families by providing voluntary testing and counselling on AIDS.
He took a number of questions from the executives.
He returned to New York later that day.
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