Kofi Annan today gave his farewell address as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Annan, who has opposed the Iraq War since the beginning, criticized the Bush Administration’s global leadership, or rather lack thereof. He said that America must not sacrifice the democratic principles on which it was built while waging the war against terrorism. Annan said that “human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity,” and added that when America does not follow these principles its allies abroad become “troubled and confused.”
He also discussed the United Nations as an organization, and suggested that the UN Security Council be expanded to better reflect today’s world. Originally, when the UN Security Council was formed, the countries to which the most authority was given were the 5 original nuclear powers (United States, Britain, France, Russia and China). However, critics, in particular Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, vehemently argue that the United Nations and especially the Security Council is an irrelevant organization due to the inherent polarization of power by the North. A reformed Security Council would most certainly see inclusion of a greater number of developing nations from around the world, and most likely a reduction in the veto power of the 5 permanent members.
Annan summed up five principles that he considers essential for there to be any chance of sustainable peace: collective responsibility, global solidarity, rule of law, mutual accountability and multilateralism. When combining several or all of these aspects I see a myriad of issues that could easily be overcome, such as global warming, peace between Israel and Palestine, a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, etc.
The world would be wise to listen to the words of this acclaimed individual of peace, for remarkable men of his stature don’t come around very often. Best of luck to his South Korean successor, Ban Ki-moon, who takes the reigns January 1, 2007.