|Urhobo Historical Society
|The Guradian On-Line - http://ngrguardinannews.com|
IN the past year I have read many attacks on the United Nations. That pains me, because I have served the U.N. all my life. I have done, and am still doing, everything I can to correct its imperfections, and to improve and strengthen it. And I believe profoundly in the importance of that task, because a strong U.N. is of vital importance to humanity.
When the appalling
disaster of the tsunami struck in the
Why? For two reasons.
First, the U.N. had the necessary skills. Its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which I formed in 1997 soon after I took office, is designed exactly for the role that was required " a light structure, not getting in anyone's way or doing their job for them, but able quickly to locate needed supplies and contact whatever organisation can deliver them.
But second, and even more important, everyone was willing to work with the U.N.: the governments and people of the affected countries, the donors, and the nonprofit organisations whose role is so essential in all emergencies, great and small. All of them recognise that the U.N. is the right body to lead, because it is in no one's pocket. It belongs to the world.
Another example of the
" a more difficult one, because of its sharply divisive political
Indisputably, the war in
And yet, when the
Last year, when the Coalition wanted to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government, they turned again to the U.N. for help. They knew that if the U.N. were involved in choosing it the new government would have a much better chance of being accepted as legitimate and sovereign.
Both Iraqis and Americans also turned to the U.N. for help in organising last month's elections. The U.N. helped to draft the electoral law and the law on political parties, to choose and train the members of the independent electoral commission and hundreds of election organisers (who in turn trained thousands of others), and to draw up the voters' lists. It was also there to give advice on the actual conduct of the election, the vote count, and the announcement of the results.
Again, we had the
" we have organised or helped organise elections in 92 countries,
including most recently
Now Iraqis have their own elected Transitional National Assembly, and will soon have an elected government answerable to it. The assembly has to draft a constitution acceptable to all Iraqis, and the government has to isolate its most violent opponents by winning the trust of groups who did not vote in the elections " mainly Sunni Arabs " and bringing them into the political process.
Here too, the U.N. can
help " and it
will. We can give expert advice, if asked, on the drafting of the
We can reach out to those groups " mainly Sunni Arabs " who stayed
away from the elections, for whatever reason, but are willing to pursue
goals through peaceful negotiation and dialogue. And we can bring
world community in a joint effort to help
Even the scars left by
past differences can
be turned into today's opportunities. Precisely because the United
not agree on some earlier actions in
I could go on. I could speak also about the 18 peace operations we have in war-torn countries around the world, and the tens of millions of homeless and hungry people, over and above those affected by the tsunami, to whom we are bringing relief. Indeed, when ill-informed critics try to cut the U.N. off at the knees, the people they hurt most are not diplomats or bureaucrats but innocent people caught in war or poverty, in desperate need of the world's help.
Some decry what they see
as a lack of
principle in U.N. decision-making, pointing to the compromises that
emerge from a body of 191 member states. Anyone who attacks the U.N.
failing to serve the global interest should, as part of that exercise,
critically examine the decisions of each nation within the body. They
that there is plenty of criticism to go round. But they should also
that the U.N., like the
Of course the U.N. is far from perfect"even if some of the recent allegations made about it have been overblown. The interim report of Paul Volcker's independent inquiry has helped put the Oil For Food programme in perspective. Some of the more hyperbolic assertions about it have been proven untrue.
Yet I am the first to admit that real and troubling failures "ethical lapses and lax management " have been brought to light. I am determined, with the help of member states, to carry through the management reforms which are clearly called for by Mr. Volcker's findings.
Even more shocking are
widespread cases of
sexual exploitation and abuse of minors by peacekeepers and U.N.
In my eight years as
had already done a lot"with the support of member states, often led by
The U.N. cannot expect to
survive into the
21st century unless ordinary people throughout the world feel that it
something for them " helping to protect them against conflict (both
and international), but also against poverty, hunger, disease and the
of their natural environment. And in recent years, bitter experience
us that a world in which whole countries are left prey to misgovernment
destitution is not safe for anyone. We must turn the tide against
hunger, as well as against terrorism, the proliferation of deadly
crime " starting, urgently, with decisions from the Security Council to
end the abominable crimes in
This September, we have a
to make the U.N. more useful to all its members. Leaders from all over
world are coming to a U.N. summit in