U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday defended September's world summit against critics, pointing to new agreements to protect civilians against genocide, help war-ravaged countries build peace, and help eradicate poverty.
But Annan also acknowledged mixed results on U.N. management reforms and called it a "disgrace" that no agreement had been reached on how to deal with nuclear disarmament and the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Annan spoke at Columbia University during a conference on U.N. reform, which drew hundreds of students, scholars and some diplomats. Annan's emphasis on positive outcomes from the three-day summit at U.N. headquarters, which attracted 151 world leaders, the largest in U.N. history, dealt partly with economic and social development, which, he said "for most member states is by far the most important."
He stressed that on subjects such as increased aid to Africa, there had been major progress. He also added that trade opportunities are just as important to enabling development in poorer countries as debt relief and financial assistance. Nonetheless, he pointed out that even in areas of success, the agreement to create a Peacebuilding Commission, for instance, further action is required by member states.
Annan said the agreement to protect civilians against crimes against genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is historic "on the conceptual level." On management reforms, Annan said there had been some agreements by world leaders, including considering a proposal for a one-time staff buyout and asking for proposals for an independent oversight advisory committee.
But he said he was disappointed that world leaders couldn't agree on reforming the U.N. Security Council. Annan also acknowledged that many member states were suspicious that countries pushing for U.N. management reforms, such as the United States, were seeking to gain more leverage over his office. But he said he hoped people would realize secretaries general "are not easily pushed over", AP reports.