Annan Says All Nations Must
Cooperate to Solve Problems
By CHRISTOPHER S. WREN
United Nations, Sept. 5, Secretary General Kofi Annan warned
today that the perennial problems of war, disease, poverty and pollution will never be resolved unless all countries cooperate, and he stressed that neither they nor the United Nations can accomplish the tasks unaided.
“I do not believe that the United Nations should be seen as doing everything, or that it should attempt to do everything by
Annan said.“The issues we are dealing with from the elimination of poverty to the fight against AIDS and the protection of the environment
are issues that require all hands on deck.”
He called the gathering a“defining moment for the world's leaders and for the United Nations.”The secretary general spoke at a news
conference before a three-day meeting of about 150 heads of state and
other leaders here, which its United Nations organizers are calling the largest gathering of political leaders in history.
Mr. Annan first suggested the gathering three years ago, he said,“to harness the symbolic power of the millennium to the real and
urgent needs of people everywhere.”
He said he had tried to encourage a partnership of governments, international organizations, private businesses and foundations to bring
their“collective impact”the bear on the world's ills.
“It is everyone's responsibility,”Mr. Annan said.“We will play our catalytic role. We will press. We will advocate the issues. We will
use the little money we have to help. But everyone has to do their bit.”
The meeting of world leaders here will open on Wednesday and conclude on Friday with a joint declaration, a draft of which began
circulating here on Monday.
The draft commits nations that sign it to“spare no effort to free our peoples from the scourge of war,”and to promote democracy,
expand respect for human rights and ensure access to economic
development to every country.
Other resolutions call for ridding the world of poverty, promoting education and ending the spread of AIDS.
“I think these are big issues,”Mr. Annan said.“This is also why I am challenging everyone to make a contribution. This is why I am
telling the world leaders not only to come here and approve a plan of action, but that I would expect each and every one of them to go back
home and begin to do something about it.”
When a reporter pointed out that talk of ringing in peace and ending cruelty dated back to biblical times, Mr. Annan said:“The fact that the
poor have always been with us does not mean we should not try to improve their lot and their conditions. Yes, you may think I am a dreamer,
as some have called me, but without the dream you do not get anything done.”
Closer to home, Mr. Annan was asked about prospects for expanding the 15-member Security Council, which many nations are seeking. He
said he believed that an expansion was possible, though he doubted it could be achieved this year.
On Monday, Britain proposed increasing the overall size of the council and the number of permanent members. The United States'
ambassador to the United Nations, Richard C. Holbrooke, also spoke last spring of expanding its membership even beyond 20 or 21 nations, which the United States had previously considered a maximum. Britain
and the United States are now permanent members, with veto power, as are China, France and Russia.
Some Western critics of expansion argue that too many members would weaken the council and make decisions harder. But Mr. Annan
said it ought to be possible to expand the council and make it more
democratic and representative of the United Nations.
“I reject the idea that the expansion will necessarily lead to a confused, ineffective Security Council, which fudges all issues,”he
said.“I do not think, if there is a problem of that kind, that it is necessarily one of size.”
Mr. Annan also welcomed an offer by Britain to establish a military staff college to train peacekeepers from around the world to serve with
United Nations missions, calling the idea“ something that I endorse whole heartedly.”
He also said he supported a new report recommending an overhaul of United Nations peacekeeping operations, which have stumbled in
Sierra Leone and Congo, among other troubled countries.
“If we are going to conduct peacekeeping operations, we must do so effectively,” he said.
“Otherwise, we just stand with our arms crossed. But we cannot continue to work as we are doing now.