A U.N. summit marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations opened Wednesday with an appeal for collective action to prevent conflict and genocide and to protect human rights.
Facing over 150 world leaders, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, the summit co-chair, warned that millions of lives will be lost if significant steps aren't taken now to fight global poverty "and we will pass on a more unfair and more unsafe world to the next generation."
"We the heads of state and government owe this to coming generations," he was quoted as saying by the AP. "We cannot afford to fail. We need to find collective solutions based on the rule of law and for this we need a stronger United Nations."
The 35-page document isn't the sweeping blueprint that Secretary-General Kofi Annan envisioned to tackle poverty and overhaul the world body to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Instead, it is a text that was continuously watered down during intense negotiations to win support from all U.N. member states.
Nonetheless, Annan and many ambassadors who spent day and night over the past week trying to reach agreement on hundreds of contested passages were relieved that there was a document for their leaders to approve.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the General Assembly approved the draft. A visibly relieved Annan arrived at a long-delayed press conference and told reporters: "The good news is that we do have an outcome document."
"Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted and with 191 member states it's not easy to get an agreement," Annan said. "All of us would have wanted more, but we can work with what we have been given, and I think it is an important step forward."
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who played a key role, was similarly upbeat.
"We did not get everything we wanted," he said. "We had to compromise ... (but) it's a good beginning."
While 16 pages focused on development, outgoing General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said there wasn't the political will among richer countries to help Africa on a massive scale with a plan similar to the U.S. Marshall plan which helped Europe recover after World War II.