Annan, Assembly head expect progress on rights council, other reform this week

20 February 2006 –

Despite deep differences on the balance of power in the United Nations that divide Member States, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said today they expect real progress in the creation of a Human Rights Council and other reforms this week.

“I am really hopeful that we will see real progress on human rights this week. And press ahead with management reform, the mandate review, and of course a strategy for fighting terrorism and also the resumed discussions on the terrorism convention,” Mr. Annan said at an informal Headquarters press encounter with Mr. Eliasson.

“Of course the development issue, which is of great concern to many of our members is very much on the table, and we have made good progress, and I hope we can put that to bed, as well as the strengthening of ECOSOC,” he added, concerning the Economic and Social Council.

Asked about divisions among UN Members over reform, particularly resentments by the Group of 77 developing nations toward the five permanent members of the Security Council, Mr. Annan acknowledged that there is some suspicion “that some organs are reaching out for a power grab.”

“I think all this also began when we started discussing the Peacebuilding Commission, and there was insistence that five of the seats must be reserved for them, and in fact this had also been raised with the Human Rights Council, but that was dropped.”

The General Assembly has also generally felt that its power and its influence is being diminished through reform, Mr. Annan continued.

“But I have also said that this reform would be an opportunity for the General Assembly to strengthen itself, to restructure itself, its methods of work, and become a dynamic and more active organ,” he said.

Saying he was obviously concerned that the General Assembly maintain its status vis-à-vis the Security Council and other organs, Mr. Eliasson added, “I think it is important that we respect each other's functions and powers.”

“The General Assembly is accepting this responsibility to take very important reform decisions,” he continued. “I think this is a great way, actually, of proving the standing of the General Assembly in the next few months.”

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