Annan ‘very concerned’ accord may not be reached on World Summit document

Kofi Annan

9 September 2005 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today that he was “very concerned” that agreement might not be reached in time on a draft document for next week’s World Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and he urged “more give and take” from Member States.

With only days left before the world body hosts the largest ever gathering of global leaders, a General Assembly panel looked set to go into marathon deliberations over the weekend in an effort to produce an agreed outcome document on issues ranging from enacting UN reform to promoting development to battling terrorism.

“Serious discussions are going on,” Mr. Annan told the closing session of the 58th annual UN Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI/NGO) Conference. “If Member States are going to get a meaningful outcome, there will need to be more give and take. But the clock is ticking.

“I am very concerned that despite some signs of progress, the work may not finish on time and the deadline will be missed. Of course, I would be happy to be proven wrong,” he added in his most detailed expression of concern this week as the talks have gone down to the wire.

“Throughout the past week, I have urged ambassadors who are negotiating the outcome document to remember that in today’s interconnected world, the collective interest is often the national interest. They must negotiate with that spirit in mind,” he said, stressing the need for a balanced outcome that meets every country’s main concerns, from terrorism and non-proliferation to post-conflict reconstruction, human rights and UN reform itself.

The General Assembly Core Group, set up by Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon to draft the document for the 2005 World Summit from 14 to 16 September, expected to be attended by some 180 heads of State or government, continued its marathon sessions today and prepared for a long weekend.

Yesterday it took up the section on Secretariat management reforms, the Human Rights Council and the concept of the responsibility to protect civilians from genocide and other crimes against humanity.

These and a host of other proposals were contained in Mr. Annan’s report in March “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all.” He has repeatedly spoken of the unique opportunity offered by the Summit in this 60th anniversary year of the UN to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century.

On Wednesday he told reporters he hoped the issues would not get watered down to the point where they become meaningless. “We are getting to the wire and I would expect more give and take between the next 24/48 hours for us to be able to have a competent document to place before the heads of State and government," he said then.

Mr. Annan’s report, a kind of blueprint for the Summit, contained key recommendations on poverty, security and human rights, including increasing official development assistance by developed countries to 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP).

It called for tackling climate change, noting that the Kyoto Protocol containing binding targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions only extends until 2012, and for a comprehensive anti-terrorism treaty, defining terrorism as any act intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants and intimidate a population or coerce a government or international organization.

The report also urged the creation of two new bodies, a UN Peacebuilding Council to help countries emerging from conflict, and a more powerful Human Rights Council elected by the General Assembly to replace the current Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which critics says is politicized.

Other recommendations included establishing a democracy fund, expanding the Security Council from its current 15 members to 24 and streamlining the UN Secretariat.

If acted on, the proposals would mark the most dramatic change in the UN's functioning ever achieved at once.

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