There is still some way to go on the road to reform – that was the UN Secretary General’s assessment in his keynote address to a summit marking the 60 anniversary of the world body. The organisation has struggled to come up with a blueprint to achieve its main goals – primarily to rid the world of poverty and war. Koffi Annan acknowledged breakthroughs in a number of areas but said there was still much to be done.
“Let us be frank with each other, and the peoples of the United Nations. We have not yet achieved the sweeping and fundamental reform that I and many others believe is required,” he told the assembled leaders.” Annan said the UN’s biggest failing was the inability to find agreement on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. In his speech, US President George Bush placed strong emphasis on the need for cooperation on terrorism. Among other issues he spoke about efforts to reduce world poverty and combat diseases like AIDS and malaria. He made an important announcement about trade. He said: “Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: the US is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services if other nations do the same.” The three-day conference has been described as the largest-ever gathering of world leaders, with some 150 heads of state and government in attendance. It comes against a backdrop of corruption scandals within the UN and sharp division among its members. A successful summit would go some way to helping the UN overcome its problems.