Annan calls Summit draft good although it does not have everything he wanted

Kofi Annan briefs journalists on final draft

13 September 2005 – Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the final draft of a declaration for the World Summit opening tomorrow at United Nations Headquarters in New York as a good instrument he could work with, although he did not get everything he wanted, but he deplored the omission of non-proliferation and disarmament issues.

"Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted, and with 191 Member States it's not easy to get an agreement," he told a news conference, citing on the plus side items on development, a peacebuilding commission, a new Human Rights Council, terrorism and the establishment of a democracy fund, while at the same calling some states spoilers.

"The big item missing is non-proliferation and disarmament. This is a real disgrace," he said speaking just minutes after the General Assembly, virtually unanimously approved a resolution sending the draft outcome document to the Summit, which is expected to be the largest ever gathering of global leaders.

"We have failed twice this year. We failed at the NPT and we failed now," he added, referring to a review conference in May on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that ended without substantive agreement.

"And I hope the leaders will see this as a real signal for them to pick up the ashes and really show leadership on this important issue when we are all concerned about weapons of mass destruction and possibility that they may even get into the wrong hands.

So I will appeal to the leaders who are coming here in the next few days to really step up to the plate and accept the challenge and show leadership on the issue," he said.

Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked if he saw the draft document as a failure after he had appealed to leaders for bold decisions, and not to 'cherry pick' among the proposals contained in his report in March 'In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all.'

"I will not dismiss it as easily as you seem to have, indicating that they [the document drafters] have not achieved much," he told one questioner. "I would have wanted more. All of us would have wanted more.

"But we can work with what we have been given and I think it's an important step forward and we all have to make sure that in translating it into practical and functional terms that we do all our best to really make sure we are giving the organization the effective structure it needs to work," he added, calling it a success.

At another point he said he would have preferred stronger language, adding: "The process was not easy. There were governments that were not willing to make the concessions necessary. There were spoilers also in the group. Let's be quite honest about that."

He said he had tried to get them to understand that in an interconnected world they need to look at issues in much broader terms rather than narrow national interests and that the collective interest is also the national interest. "I must say that during the process in the last couple of weeks I think some delegations focussed on the trees and missed the forest."

He repeatedly returned to the theme of how difficult it is to reach agreement with such a large membership. He recalled that when he first became Secretary-General in 1997 he was accused of not reforming the UN in six weeks. The Russian ambassador asked him then at a Security Council lunch: "But what are you complaining about, you've had more time than God?

"And I explained to him that God had one big advantage. He worked alone without a General Assembly and Security Council and the committees," Mr. Annan said.

Related Stories





In-depth Interviews