Press Releases

    SG/SM/8488
    14 November 2002

    "WORLD HAS RARELY NEEDED THE UN AS MUCH AS IT
    DOES TODAY", SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS GUESTS
    AT VISIONARIES AWARDS DINNER

    NEW YORK, 13 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) International Visionaries Awards Dinner, Washington, D.C., 12 November:

    It is a special privilege for me to join such trusted and loyal friends of the United Nations this evening, and I am deeply honoured to receive this award.

    You are all -- every one of you -- playing an invaluable role in advancing our cause, and making it a force for peace and prosperity around the world. The UNA-USA is a vital partner in our efforts to bring the United Nations closer to the peoples we serve -- making our Organization more present, more relevant, and more valuable to their lives. Through your work and outreach, your advocacy and your tireless support, you renew the United Nations and ensure that we draw strength from the grass roots of our membership.

    The world has rarely needed the United Nations as much as it does today. The threats and challenges we face require as never before multilateral cooperation if they are to be dealt with successfully -- cooperation in areas such as weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; cooperation of the kind we have just witnessed in the negotiations leading to the resolution on Iraq adopted last Friday. Let me here pay tribute to United States Permanent Representative John Negroponte and all his colleagues on the Security Council for the dogged determination they showed in hammering out an agreement that is both strong and unanimous.

    Friends, let me say that Friday was a special day, a very good day for the United Nations. It showed what a central role the United Nations can -- and must -- play in the quest for a world free from weapons of mass destruction. In short, the United Nations played its proper role as the only universal instrument of global cooperation.

    The Security Council resolution sets out in clear terms Iraq’s obligation to cooperate with the United Nations in ensuring the full disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction. It leaves no doubt as to what these obligations are, nor as to how they must be fulfilled. Iraq now has a new -- and final -- opportunity to comply with all the relevant Security Council resolutions.

    This is just a beginning. This is a time of trial -- for Iraq, for the United Nations and for the world. The goal is to ensure the effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq in compliance with Security Council resolutions and a better, more secure future for its people. How this crisis is resolved will affect greatly the course of peace and security in the coming years in the region, and around the world.

    Just as important will be the broader effort to fight terrorism, and defeat those forces of hatred, distrust and repression which enable it. Terrorism is a global threat with global effects; its methods are murder and mayhem, but its consequences affect every aspect of the United Nations agenda -- from development to peace to human rights and the rule of law.

    No part of our mission is safe from the effects of terrorism; and no part of the world is immune from this scourge. By its very nature, terrorism is an assault on the fundamental principles of law, order, human rights, and peaceful settlement of disputes upon which the United Nations is established.

    Our United Nations, therefore, has a clear obligation to deal with this global threat. The United Nations has an indispensable role to play in providing the necessary legal and organizational framework within which the international campaign against terrorism can unfold.

    The Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) established by the Security Council, for instance, has become an important vehicle for international cooperation on counter-terrorism, calling for the effective implementation of the 12 international anti-terrorism conventions. Through its work, the CTC is helping to strengthen global capacity in this field, by means of a coordinated programme of needs-assessment and technical assistance. I have also asked United Nations agencies and programmes to assist in any way they can in the task of countering terrorism and conditions that allow it to thrive.

    Just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored. True, it detracts from the justice of a cause when a few wicked men commit murder in its name. But it does not make it any less urgent that the cause be addressed, the grievance be heard, the wrong put right. Otherwise, we risk losing that most central of wars -- the war for the hearts and minds of much of mankind.

    As the United Nations unites to defeat terrorism in the months and years ahead, we must act with equal determination to solve the political disputes and long-standing conflicts which generate an atmosphere conducive to support for terrorism. To do so is not to reward terrorism or its perpetrators; it is to deny them the opportunity to find refuge or recruits, in any cause, any country. Only then can we truly say that the war on terrorism has been won.

    In all these areas and many more -- from development to human rights to protecting the environment -- the United Nations will only be as strong and effective as Member States and you make us -- with your support and your initiative. I am grateful for all that you do, and look forward to many more years of collaboration.

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