United Nations

Foreign Affairs
United Nations
Photo Gallery
Advertise with Us
Contact Us


G4's formula on UNSC expansion receives jolt

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 5: Rejecting the Group of Four countries' compromise formula, African leaders stuck to their demand for a veto-widening permanent seat on the UN Security Council on Thursday.

"Africa has come together with a consensus, which is to push Africa's case," Ethiopian Foreign Minster Seyoum Mesfin said after the decision was made at an extraordinary African Union summit. "Africa's case is to get two permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council with veto power."

The Group of Four - Japan, Brazil, Germany and India - had proposed instead that Africa get two permanent seats on the council, but no veto power.

Earlier, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had advised his fellow African leaders to compromise to advance reforms.

"The main issue before us is to decide either that Africa will join the rest of the world, or the majority of the rest of the world, in bringing to a conclusion a demand for UN reform," Obasanjo said. "Or if Africa will stand on a nonnegotiable position which will certainly frustrate the reform efforts."

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said it would be unfair to have three kinds of council members and African countries deserved the same powers as wealthy nations.

The rejection may scuttle years of work toward expanding the Security Council. There is widespread support for enlarging the council to reflect the world today rather than after World War II when the United Nations was formed.

AU, G4 agree on joint resolution for UNSC expansion

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, July 26: In a significant breakthrough, the Group of Four (G-4) and the 53-nation African Union (AU) have agreed to present a joint resolution to the United Nations on expansion of the Security Council after the African nations dropped their demand for veto rights for new permanent members.

After hectic parleys with the foreign ministers of G-4 nations comprising India, Germany, Japan and Brazil in London on Monday, representatives of the African Union agreed to drop their demand for a veto rights for new permanent members of the expanded Security Council. The G4 reciprocated by acceding to the AU proposal to add five new non-permanent members of the Security Council, making it a 26-member body. The G4 wanted to add only four non-permanent members to the UN body.

Diplomatic sources informed that India, represented by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, played a critical role in resolving the deadlock between Africa Union and G-4 during the daylong discussion in London. India used its traditional close and friendly ties with Africa, sources said.

The two blocs had earlier floated rival resolutions calling for an expansion of the Security Council. While the G-4 framework resolution had asked for the number of seats to be increased from 15 to 25, with six new permanent members, the AU wanted 26 seats.

A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said the 26th seat should be a non-permanent member's seat, which will be floated among the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean States.

The spokesman said these changes would be incorporated into a joint AU-G4 resolution on the understanding that continued support by AU and G4 co-sponsors as well as supporters was ensured, with a view to adopting the resolution, if possible by the end of the month.

"We all want the UN reforms to go forward. We have also agreed not to press for veto. There is an agreement that the African Union would meet at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the way forward," according to Adeniji Oluyemi, Chairman of African Union Group and Foreign Minister of Nigeria. Besides India's Minister Natwar Singh, Foreign Ministers of Japan, Germany and Brazil Nobutaka Machimura, Joschka Fischer Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, respectively, represented the G4.

A spokesman of the African Union said everyone had accepted the objective that the United Nations system must be changed to make it more functional, more representative, more reflective of the reality and more democratic. "We cannot amend the UN charter unless we have 128 members -- two thirds of 191 member UN General Assembly -- supporting our resolution.

"In the game of numbers G4 have 32 countries supporting them. African Union has 53 countries. Altogether the two groups have 85 countries -- still a shortfall of 43," he said. We are committed to working together with all countries in the world so long as we have a group which is prepared to work with us. We shall work with them. G4 has shown a clear indication that they are ready to work with us. We are not excluding any group. We are already working with other groups because reform of the Security Council is a matter concerning all countries in the world, not just for G4 and African Union," the spokesman said.

India expresses optimism on getting UN support

NEW DELHI, July 11: The G-4 draft resolution at the UN General Assembly for its expansion gets formal introduction on Tuesday even as India expressed optimism of getting two-thirds majority in the 191-member Assembly and the nod for its permanent membership in the Security Council.

India's External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, said "We are looking at it in a very realistic and balanced way. I am also cautioning against any premature euphoria. You can not rule out any last minute hitch and the status quo being maintained. I am only practicing sagacious diplomacy. Diplomacy provides hope not salvation.But it will be a great pity if the UN structure put together in 1945 is not reformed in 2005 and human kind will not forgive us."

Mr Singh said the G-4 London Declaration adopted in London on Friday would be formally introduced in the General Assembly by Brazil Tuesday. The meeting in London was attended by Foreign ministers of Brazil, Germany, Japan and India and also the Foreign Minister of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his capacity as a member of the core group of the follow-up mechanism on the reform of the UN, established by the African Union.

He said the differences between G-4 and the African group would be ironed out in the next two to three days. African group wants the Veto power for the new members while G-4 is in favour of postponing the Veto issue till 2020. The second issue which the two groups have to sort out is the strength of the expanded Security Council. While G-4 have agreed for increasing the strength to 25, the African group wants it to be 26.

On the other side, the so-called 'Coffee Club' comprising Mexico, Argentina, Italy, South Korea and Pakistan is against expanding the permanent membership but is in favour of increasing the non-permanent members. Mr Singh, who will attend the G-4 foreign ministers' meeting in New York on 17th July said "the debate, tabling of the resolution and possible vote" would be held this month itself.

Even after the resolution gets two-third majority in the Assembly, it has to be approved by the five permanent members. "Theoretically anyone can veto it, but it will be too embarrassing for any country to do so after it gets the approval of two-thirds of the Assembly," he said. He said the entire picture would be clear by July 16.

India may not push for early voting on UNSC resolution

NEW DELHI, July 9: India and other G-4 countries may not prematurely push for an early voting on their framework resolution for expansion of the UN Security Council tabled earlier this week, official sources have indicated.

The resolution calls for increasing the membership of the Security Council from 15 to 25 with six new additional permanent seats of which two will go to Africa.

India's External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, has said there was time till September to deliberate on the issue of seeking a vote and further discussions would be held on it.

All the four countries have decided to support one another for permanent membership of the Security Council and stick together in seeking the support of the 191-member UN General Assembly.

Blasts Rock Kosovo Capital, Hit U.N. HQ

PRISTINA, July 3: At least three blasts rocked the center of Kosovo's capital on Saturday, and one targeted the U.N. mission headquarters.

At least three U.N. vehicles set ablaze in the parking lot of the U.N. mission headquarters in Pristina. There were no immediate reports of any injuries after at least three near-simultaneous blasts, said Hua Jiang, chief U.N. spokeswoman.

The second blast detonated near the building of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, which is a block away from the U.N. compound.

The third blast went off near the Kosovo government building which also houses the province's parliament and damaged it slightly, said Jiang. She did not say what caused the blasts.

Police sealed off the areas after the explosions.

Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. mission and patrolled by NATO-led peacekeepers since 1999 after the alliance's bombing of Serb forces waging a crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

The province remains disputed between its ethnic Albanian majority who want it to become independent, and Serbs demanding it remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced former Yugoslavia.

Talks to determine its future status will take place later this year, if the province reaches standards including those on democracy, rights of minorities, and rule of law.

U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan last month appointed a senior Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide to evaluate progress and report back to him by the end of summer. Eide arrived in Kosovo on Friday, on his second fact-finding visit since his appointment.

UN marks 60th anniversary of Charter

UNITED NATIONS, June 30: With solemn music and pleas for urgent reform, and expressions of pride in the past and hope for the future, the United Nations held a special commemorative session in the General Assembly Hall at its headquarters in New York to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of its charter.

"The words we have just heard -- the words of the preamble to our charter -- are engraved on the collective memory of mankind," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday, following a reading of the preamble by the U N tour guides and a musical presentation from the United Nations singers.
"Over 60 years, the United Nations has striven to redeem those pledges," he added, reviewing the successes and failures of the organisation in keeping and building peace, protecting human rights and promoting respect for justice and the rule of law.

He said that in a new century, the United Nations faces new threats and challenges, but also new opportunities, with the "better standards of life in larger freedom," as mentioned in the charter, now within humankind's reach. To reach them, he said, the organisation must advance on all three fronts -- development, security and human rights.

General Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said 60 years after coming into force in October 1945, the charter has not lost either its force or the relevance of its vision, and continues to guide the action of the organisation. "This commemoration is then a new occasion to reaffirm our dedication to the goals and principles of the charter of the United Nations, in promoting development, in rejecting war as a way of settling differences between nations, and in condemning without reservation all violations of the most basic human rights," he said.

The UN Charter was signed on June 26, 1945 by 50 nations in San Francisco. Its preamble reads as follows:

"We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom - "And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples - "have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.

"Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organisation to be known as the United Nations."

Veto dropped in draft for new U.N. Council members

UNITED NATIONS, June 9: Germany, Japan, Brazil and India on Wednesday dropped the right to a veto for new permanent UN Security Council members in their revised draft resolution to expand the 15-member prestigious body.

The four nations, contenders for permanent council seats, want the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a framework resolution as early as this month that would add 10 new members to the council, six permanent members and four non-permanent ones. The council currently has five permanent members, which would keep their veto power, and 10 non-permanent members rotating for two-year terms.

"On the veto, it has become clear that the question of its extension to the new permanent members is best dealt with by the general membership" in a review 15 years after the proposed changes come into force, said a covering letter to the new draft resolution by the four nations who want permanent seats in a new expanded Security Council.

Consideration of the veto is now postponed until a review in 15 years. France, one of the current five Security Council permanent members, on Wednesday announced it would co-sponsor the resolution.

The new draft resolution was circulated to 191 General Assembly members, who must vote by a two-thirds majority to expand the council after 12 years of debate. The effort was given new momentum this year by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as part of his overall reform of the world body.

Annan argued that the Security Council, which rules on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping operations, still reflects the balance of power at the end of World War Two.

The second step, which needs another resolution and also a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, is to fill in the names of the contenders for permanent seats, which will include two nations from Africa.

And the third step involves a change in the U.N. Charter, which must be approved by two-thirds of the legislatures around the world, including the current five veto-wielding Security Council powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. Should two-thirds of the world's nations approve the changes, a veto by the five would prove embarrassing.

Japan, diplomats said, was considering delaying a vote on the framework resolution from June to July, to make sure enough countries were supporting it. But German envoys said Berlin opposed this.

Diplomats speculate the four contenders have about 100 votes and needed another 30 or so for the initial resolution. Should a second vote take place on who should fill the seats, the envoys said Germany faces the least opposition while Muslim nations are expected to organize against India.

Among the current five council powers, France and Britain support the candidacies of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil as new permanent members. China opposes any seat for Japan and Russia's position is unclear.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been organizing teleconferences with her counterparts among the five, has said Washington supports Japan. But adding only Japan in the council would be defeated easily in the General Assembly, which wants seats for developing nations.

A second plan is favored by Italy, Algeria, Mexico, Canada, Pakistan, South Korea, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and others. This group has not put down a resolution and also calls for expanding the council from 15 to 25 members. This proposal has no permanent seats but longer terms for some non-permanent members.

UN urges 'green' planning for burgeoning cities

OSLO, June 5: The United Nations urged better "green" planning for burgeoning cities on Sunday, annual World Environment Day due to be marked by rallies, tree-plantings and clean-ups from Australia to Zimbabwe. By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world's population would live in cities, up from almost half now and just a third in 1950, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. The growth poses huge problems, ranging from clean water supplies to trash collection.

"Already, one of every three urban dwellers lives in a slum," he said in a statement. "Let us create green cities," he said, urging better planning and investment in everything from sanitation to public transport. Annan said city planning was often haphazard, especially in poor nations where urban growth was likely to be fastest. Unless city planning improved, the U.N. goal of halving poverty by 2015 would not be met, he said.

Activists around the world mark June 5, the date of the first environmental summit in Stockholm in 1972, as the U.N.'s World Environment Day. In San Francisco, the main host of the event, mayors from more than 50 cities including Shanghai, Kabul, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Rome and Istanbul plan to sign up for a scheme setting new green standards for city planning.

Kofi Annan puts on an umpire cap

UNITED NATIONS, May 22: In an effort to bring about a compromise on the issue of expansion of the UN Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan has called a joint meeting on Monday of G-4 countries, including India, and another group led by Pakistan and Italy.

Annan, diplomats say, apparently decided to call the joint meeting of the 'Group of Four' (G-4), comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, which are seeking permanent membership of the Council, and the 'Uniting for Consensus' (UFC), led by Pakistan and Italy, after UFC sought his intervention to bring about a compromise.

But it was unclear whether UFC would be flexible on its demand that there should be no expansion in the permanent membership of the Council. Major concession by one of the groups would be needed for Annan's efforts to succeed as fundamental differences exist between them with G-4 seeking expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories and UFC in non-permanent category only.

UFC Envoys met Annan on Friday and diplomats said they complained that G-4 countries are using his name to promote their viewpoint. UFC envoys were apparently referring to Annan's remarks that consensus is preferable but should not be used to block the expansion of the 15-member Council. The G-4 also advocates similar position but the UFC wants expansion to take place only on the basis of consensus.

US to consider G-4 proposal for permanent seats in UNSC

WASHINGTON, May 19: The United States has said it was ready to consider the proposal made by India and three other G-4 countries, seeking permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council, but so far it has endorsed only Japan's bid.

In the wake of a draft resolution circulated by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - known as G-4 - calling for expansion of the UNSC from 15 to 25 members, State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said Washington has so far not formulated its decision on the issue and it was imperative to move forward on the basis of a "broad consensus."

"As far as the Security Council itself, let me remind you, the only nation that we have endorsed is Japan. Our support does not indicate support for any particular option and we'll consider the various proposals that are out there, including the so-called 'Group of Four' that's been discussed," he said.

"But we've made no further judgements about who else should or should not be added to the Council, nor have we taken a position pro or con on any of these specific proposals at this point," he added. He said the US will discuss various proposals put forward by countries and groupings on the issue.

"As we've said, we're talking about all the various proposals that are out there. There are other groups of countries that are putting forth ideas. We'll discuss these with the different countries. We'll discuss these with others. But at this point we've not taken a position on any of these particular proposal," he added.

US rejects German bid for UNSC seat: report

WASHINGTON, May 19: The United States has apparently rejected Germany's bid for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council, which is also sought by India, Japan and Brazil, according to a Congressional staffer's memo.

Secretary of State Condoleezzaa "Rice appeared to rule out supporting a permanent Security Council seat for Germany during a meeting with leaders of the Congressional Task Force on the UN," according to the confidential memorandum of the private meeting, 'The Washington Post' reported Wednesday.

The memo was written by George Ward, Executive Director of the Congressional task force on the UN, who was present at the meeting of former House of Representative Speaker Newt Gingrich (Republican) and former Senate majority leader George Mitchell (Democrat) with Rice where the matter was discussed earlier this month, the paper said.

G-4 resolution on UNSC reform detrimental: China

BEIJING, May 18: China on Tuesday said a draft resolution circulated by Germany, Japan, Brazil and India on the UN Security Council expansion will be "detrimental" to the process of reforms in the world body, reports Xinhua. "To take such a move hastily will only intensify contradictions," said foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan, citing that great divergence remained among UN member countries.

Germany, Japan, Brazil and India, known as the G-4, on Monday circulated a draft resolution, proposing to give the four countries permanent seats in the Security Council along with two African countries.

"There is still a very large gap between the positions of many countries and the core content of the draft resolution," Kong said. He said China hoped all relevant parties can start from the overall and long-term interests of the UN and its member countries, follow the stipulations and spirit of the UN Charter and carry out extensive and in-depth consultations so as to push for a common consensus among all countries. Kong also reiterated China's stance on the UN Security Council reform, saying that China supported the reform of the Security Council.

India, other G4 nations unveil UNSC draft resolution

UNITED NATIONS, May 17: India and three other countries demanding permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Monday circulated a draft resolution, calling for expansion of the Council from 15 to 25 members, with six new entrants having veto powers and four alternating members.

The draft resolution unveiled by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan - known as G4 - said the new entrants should have the "same responsibilities and obligations" as the current permanent members, including veto power over UNSC resolutions, sources said.

The text, circulated to diplomats from more than 70 countries at a meeting in United Nations, however, made it clear that the differences over veto power should not be a stumbling block in the way of expansion of the Security Council. The Council should be expanded to better reflect contemporary world realities, the draft said, a day after New York Times reported that US has signalled it will not support the quest of G4 nations for permanent seats in the UNSC unless they give up their demand for veto power.

The four have decided to move a framework resolution in the UN General Assembly in June, before which they expect to muster required numbers in their favour -- two-thirds of the 191 UN members. Diplomats said there was no dilution in their original stand that new permanent members should have veto powers.

There have been reports that Japan, Germany and Brazil might agree to permanent membership without veto, but India was known to have never wavered from its stand on the issue.

Dawood on UN's most wanted list

UNITED NATIONS, May 9: The United Nations has named Dawood Ibrahim, underworld don and the alleged mastermind behind the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, in the wanted list of individuals having links with Al-Qaeda.

According to the fresh list released by the UN, Dawood Ibrahim figured in the list under UN resolution 1267 which mandates all states to freeze the assets, prevent their entry into or transit through their territories.

The resolution also asks the member countries to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms and military equipments with the entitites belonging to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda organisation. The UN list has named him as an Indian citizen with his place of birth being Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and having an Indian passport -- A-333602. However, the world body has failed to locate his present location.

The underworld don, who is believed to be shuttling between the Pakistan port-city of Karachi and a Gulf country, was named by the US as Specially Designated Global Terrorist after which it decided to move the UN for freezing of his all assets.

The move by the United Nations could cause some problems for Pakistan whom India has been accusing of supporting and providing shelter to the underworld don.

Annan asks India not to press for veto powers

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, April 28: Asking India and other countries aspiring for permanent membership of the Security Council not to press for veto powers, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, on Thursday said they should strive to make the world body "broadly representative" taking into account current geo-political realities.

Rounding off his three-day visit, Annan did not rule out changes in the two options proposed for expansion of the Security Council if member States wanted it. "Let's not get too involved with vetoes. Enlargement without veto will itself be a major step forward as the Security Council will get different viewpoints which most countries are not able to present at the moment," he said after delivering a lecture on the changing role of the UN here.

Speaking to newsmen shortly before his departure, Annan, who met the top Indian leadership here, was non-committal on India's claim for permanent membership of an enlarged Security Council. "I cannot as Secretary General have a preference for any of the options or express an opinion on which individual country or countries should be members of the Security Council", he said.

While the first option proposed by him provides for six permanent seats with no veto and three new two-year term non-permanent seats divided among major regional areas, the second one entails no new permanent seats but proposes a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent seat.

Annan also indicated that the next chief of the world body would be from Asia when his term ends next year. "The Secretary General is elected on a rotational basis. There is a general sense that next time it would be from Asia." The last UN secretary General from Asia was U Thant who hailed from Myanmar and served in the key slot for a decade from 1961.

Annan noted that already a candidate has emerged from Thailand. Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, with the support of the ASEAN grouping, has announced his candidature

Anann also sought India's "active support" to the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. He urged the country to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). "People in developing countries are all too likely to be the first victims of nuclear weapons if we do not soon make progress both in disarmament and in halting proliferation," he said delivering a lecture here on the changing role of the United Nations.

"I hope India will set an example by rapidly adhering to the convention, and will soon sign and ratify the CTBT, as well as giving active support to the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty," Annan said. India has refused to sign the CTBT terming it as discriminatory. The fissile material cut-off treaty seeks to ban production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

He said India had made an "enormous" contribution to the world body over the years through the efforts of its Government, scholars, soldiers and international civil servants. "India's has been one of the most eloquent voices helping to shape the UN agenda on behalf of the developing world. And the experience and professionalism of your armed forces has proved invaluable, time and again, in UN peacekeeping operations in which over a hundred Indian soldiers have given their lives," he said.

Annan also took note of the positive strides made in Indo-Pak ties, and said that discussions could be held with the two countries on the role of UN military observers stationed on either side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. "We are extremely pleased that India and Pakistan are making steady and truly remarkable progress in their bilateral dialogue," he said adding the UN presence was all part of these efforts. "Obviously, we need to discuss with parties concerned as the developments evolve on how we handle our presence and role of observers-what it should be," he said.

uring his parleys here with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, Annan was apprised of the developments in Indo-Pak ties as also the outcome of the recent visit of President Pervez Musharraf. Annan also lauded India and China for forging a strategic partnership which he felt would have a "salutary effect" on large parts of the world.

India to study UN panel report

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 3: India on Friday said that it would study and examine the report of the Panel established by the UN Secretary General, often referred to as the UNSG's panel on 'Threats, Challenges and Change". The report has a fairly detailed examination and analysis of some of the contemporary problems and challenges confronting the international community and how to respond to them collectively under the UN.

"In the weeks to come, the report and the recommendations of the Panel will be examined in capitals, including by us," according to a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.

He said "India acknowledges that many of the challenges facing the world today are global in character and requires a collective response. This was an underlying theme in Prime Minister's address to the UNGA earlier this year. We believe in the validity and the utility of the multilateral system. The U.N. is at the center of such a system."

The spokesman said the Panel has a number of recommendations on institutional changes and New Delhi would study them. "The necessity and the urgency of UN reforms, including that of the UN Security Council, are widely accepted. The Panel has supported the idea of the UNSC expansion but has stopped short of a definitive recommendation on new permanent members. It is now for the member-states of the UN to take this idea forward in the coming year."

There were other recommendations on a host of issues - legitimate use of force, terrorism, peacekeeping, peace building, WMD proliferation, human rights, among others. "All these will be subject to detailed scrutiny and discussions. India will continue to take an active and constructive part in these discussions at the U.N. and elsewhere," he added.

Panel for major UN reforms

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 2: A 16-member panel appointed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has prepared a report calling for major changes in the world body. The report was formally handed to Annan on Thursday in the United Nations. New Delhi has been calling for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including the Security Council.

The panel's chair, former Thailand prime minister Anand Panyarachun, says the 95-page report "puts forward a new vision of collective security, one that addresses all of the major threats to international peace and security felt around the world". Lt General Satish Nambiar of India, who served as head of mission of UN forces in former Yugoslavia, was one of the members of the panel.

The recommendations on 'Threats, Challenges and Change' are the results of a year of deliberations by the panel following its appointment in November 2003. The report says far-reaching changes are necessary to boost the UN's ability to deal with future threats caused by poverty and environmental degradation, terrorism, civil war, conflict between states, weapons of mass destruction and organised crime, among others.

The report affirms the right of the states to defend themselves, even pre-emptively when an attack is truly imminent, and says that in cases involving terrorists and WMD, the Security Council may have to act more proactively and more decisively than in the past.

The panel also endorses the idea of collective responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing and comparable atrocities, saying that the wider international community should intervene -– acting preventively where possible –- when countries are unwilling or unable to fulfil their responsibility towards their citizens. The panel, however, says that if force is needed, it should be used only as a last resort after authorisation by the Security Council.

The report also calls for universal membership for the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights. Such a move will underscore the commitment of all members to the promotion of human rights, and may help focus attention back on substantive issues rather than indulging in politicking that currently engulfs the commission.

Another way to improve the UN, the panel says, is to carry out a one-time review and replacement of personnel, including through early retirement, to ensure that the UN secretariat is staffed with the right people to undertake the tasks at hand.

Also included in the recommendations are proposals to strengthen development efforts, public health capacity and the current nuclear non-proliferation regime, which the panel says is not as effective a constraint as it was previously because of the lack of compliance, threats to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a changing security environment and the diffusion of technology.

India facing grim HIV epidemic in many states: UN report

NEW DELHI, Nov 23: India is experiencing serious HIV epidemic in several states, according to a new UN report. Officials of the international body, however, lauded government efforts in the direction of surveillance to get right estimates and make a beginning on the treatment front. The report by UNAIDS and WHO, which recognised drug use injections as playing a bigger role in India's epidemics than previously thought, said that in parts of India, Myanmar and China, inadequate prevention efforts allowed HIV to filter from people with the highest-risk behaviour to their regular sex partners.

Meanwhile, the National AIDS Control Organisation said that it would release its revised figures on estimated number of people living with HIV and AIDS in mid-January next year. "Latest estimates show that about 5.1 million people were living with HIV in India in 2003. Serious epidemics are underway in several states," the report said.

"In Tamil Nadu, HIV prevalence of 50 per cent has been found among sex workers, while in each of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Nagaland, HIV prevalence has crossed the one per cent mark among pregnant women," it said. The HIV prevalence in antenatal clinics in Imphal and Churachand in Manipur had risen from below one per cent to over 5 per cent with many of the women testing positive, appearing to be the sex partners of male drug injectors, it said. While most surveillance sites for injecting drug users were in the northern states, other parts of the country had also yielded troubling evidence, the report said.

Music can make the world a more harmonious place: Annan

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 9: Music can bring people together to make the world a more harmonious place, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has said. "From the first lullaby sung to us as newborn babies, music provides the 'soundtrack' of our lives," Annan said on Monday as he hosted the latest in a series of talks on issues outside the normal range of UN topics and on matters at the forefront of both the humanities and natural sciences.

"So much so that I think many of us take it for granted, just as we do the soundtrack of a film, which we often hear without listening to it. That is, we enjoy the film without realising how much the music conditions our reaction," he added while introducing Prof. Leon Botstein, Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York.

Observing that music both shapes and reflects society, the UN chief described the art of music as a gift from God, saying: "Dancers follow its beat; protesters use it to find their voice. It can promote ideals like peace and solidarity, but it can also prepare armies for battle. It is part of almost every important personal and collective moment."

The Secretary-General said in a world of diversity where often values clash, music "leaps across language barriers and unites people of quite different cultural backgrounds."

UN Security Council direction to curb terrorism

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8: Asserting that terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances, the UN Security Council has unanimously voted a resolution asking all countries not to give safe haven to terrorists and prosecute any person helping financing, planning or commissioning of terror acts.

Pakistan had initially objected to the formulation that ``terrorism is justified under no circumstances, political or religious,'' but finally supported the resolution. The 15-member Council asked all States to prosecute any person who helps in financing, planning, preparing or commissioning terror acts.

The Russian drafted resolution also establishes a working group comprising all Council members to make recommendation on practical measures to be imposed on individuals, groups and entities involved with terrorist activities other than those associated with the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

PM calls for inclusion of India in the UNSC

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Sept 4: The Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has made out a strong case for India's inclusion in the United Nations Security Council to represent the present international order. Addressing his maiden press conference here on Saturday, Dr Manmohan Singh said it was not a "very healthy development" that a country like India, having a population of over one billion had no voice in the world body."

The Prime Minister said New Delhi believed that new international order should reflect the voice of India. In this connection, he noted that India's candidature for the Security Council had received the support of Japan and Germany. "This is an essay in persuasion...we are making progress in our effort to secure a permanent seat for India in the UN," he added.

POLL REFORMS: Dr Manmohan Singh also favoured a consensus among all political parties to evolve a mechanism to prevent the entry of tainted people to legislatures. "All political parties must sit and agree on electoral reform to ensure that so called tainted people with criminal backgrounds do not get elected," he said.

Observing that the "problem had to solved at the roots," he said political parties should evolve a mechanism which will not allow such people to get elected. If tainted people could get elected to Parliament, they would also get inducted to the ministry, he said adding that the way to avoid criminalisation of politics he said, adding that there was some "inconsistency" there.

Asked about "cleansing" of various departments from RSS elements, the Prime Minister said that he was against education being made "a prisoner of ideology or excessive bureaucratic dominance". Depoliticisation of educational institutions and granting of maximum possible autonomy to them was high on the agenda of the government, he said adding that freedom should be given to institutions to manage their own affairs.

Regarding electoral reforms, Dr Singh said an all-party conference on electoral reforms would be convened to "forge a consensus on all aspects of electoral reforms". He said the "malady" of criminalisation of political processes "must be nipped in the bud, at the electoral stage, if we seriously wish to deal with its consequences for governance".

In a veiled attack on BJP for stalling proceedings in Parliament, the Prime Minister said "every political party has a right to seek power, but once the people's verdict is in, the winner must govern. This is the sacred responsibility the electorate has given us and we will fulfill it".

In this connection, he said the political parties needed to evolve a new code of conduct to ensure smooth proceedings of Parliament that represents the sovereignty of the country. It was most unfortunate and undemocratic that Parliament passed the Finance Bill this year without adequate discussion, he added. The Parliament session suffered a lot of disruption and adjournments and could not function properly.

"We have to get over such tendencies that undermine the Parliamentary proceedings and debate... we have to maintain a quality of discussions," he said. The Prime Minister said he had a discussion on what had happened in the outgoing budget session of Parliament with his predecessor A.B. Vajpayee yesterday.

Mr Singh said he had also admitted that disruption of Parliament proceedings was not conducive to the democratic set-up of the country. Dr Singh said Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had at his own level taken up the issue with the Opposition leaders with an emphasis that such incidents should not recur in Parliament.

UN declares 2004 the International Year of Rice

By Deepak Arora

In a major effort to spotlight a commodity whose production is failing to keep up with population growth, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has declared 2004 the International Year of Rice. "Almost a billion households in Asia, Africa and the Americas depend on rice systems for their main source of employment and livelihood," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in launching the Year, the slogan for which is "Rice is life."

While the world's population was continuing to grow, however, land and water for rice production were diminishing and "its production is facing serious constraints," he said.

"The Year of Rice will act as a catalyst for country-driven programmes throughout the world," he said. "We aim to engage the entire community of stakeholders, from rural farmers to the scientific institutions that mapped the rice genome, in the mission to increase rice production in a manner that promotes sustainability and equity." Rice is the most rapidly growing food source in Africa and has a major influence on human nutrition and food security all over the world.

"About four-fifths of the world's rice is produced by small-scale farmers and is consumed locally. Rice systems support a wide variety of plants and animals, which also help supplement rural diets and incomes. Rice is therefore on the frontline in the fight against world hunger and poverty," the FAO Director-General said.

As many as 44 UN Member States submitted last year a proposal to declare the Year. The proposal noted a "pending crisis" in rice production even though rapid increases in the last three decades had contributed significantly to improving world food security. Of the 840 million people still suffering from chronic hunger, over half lived in areas dependent on rice production for food, income and employment, it said.

FAO Assistant Director-General Michel Savini, speaking at a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York held in conjunction with the launch of the Year, said the decision to dedicate next year to rice was an indication of the important role its sustainable production could play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals on the eradication of hunger and poverty.

Rice was a staple food for more than half of the world's population and it provided 20 per cent of the world's dietary supply, as opposed to just 19 per cent for wheat and 5 per cent for maize, Mr. Savini said. However, even as the world's population continued to increase, rice production was competing for land and water with other users such as urban development.

Almost one billion households in Africa, Asia and the Americas depended on rice production systems as their main source of employment and livelihood, he added, and he hoped that the Year would act as a "catalyst" for countries to increase their production of the commodity in a "sustainable way that would benefit farmers, women, children and especially the poor."

Universal press freedoms must be enjoyed by the Internet: UN official

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS: The Internet deserves to have the same universal freedoms and regulations as already apply to the rest of the media, according to Mr Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

Addressing the UN General Assembly's Economic and Financial Committee in New York on October 23, Mr Tharoor said it is only logical that governments give the Internet the same boundaries as more traditional media. The UN official. He said it would be a mistake when regulating the Internet to extend any restrictions beyond the reasonable protections for privacy and against abuse by criminals and terrorist groups.

"These measures fall under national penal law, and are not - in a national context - viewed as a threat to freedom of speech," he said in an address ahead of the World Summit on the Information Society. The summit will take place in two phases: the first will be held from 10 to 12 December in Geneva, while the second is slated for 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis.

Mr. Tharoor added that the benefits that follow a free flow of information should not be "sacrificed to meet the challenges that international communication pose to reasonable national restrictions." He reminded government representatives who will be attending the summit that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

"It is quite clear that the free flow of information is in the interests of all countries. Restraints on the flow of information directly undermine economic well-being. Global interdependence means that those who can receive and disseminate information freely have an edge over those who do not," he stressed.

Press freedom, particularly its application to new communication technologies such as the Internet, will be one of the focuses of debate at the summit.

Mr. Tharoor said affluent countries should provide financial support to ensure that the citizens in developing countries have much better and fairer access to information. He said new information technologies should also contain domestic content, allowing developing countries to maintain diversity and cultural identity.

Vajpayee slams talk doors on Pak; Says no negotiations with terror

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 25: Prime Minister A B Vajpayee has told the United Nations that India would not talk to Pakistan as long as it uses terrorism as a tool of blackmail. In the bluntest, most public rejection yet of Pakistan's attempt to force talks on the Kashmir issue, Vajpayee said, "We totally refuse to let terrorism become a tool of blackmail. Just as the world did not negotiate with Al-Qaida or the Taliban, we shall not negotiate with terrorism."

The Prime Minister prefaced the rejection by pointing out that the Pakistani President has made a public admission for the first time before the UN on Wednesday that "Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir." After claiming that there is an indigenous struggle in Kashmir, he (Musharraf) has offered to encourage a general cessation of violence within Kashmir, in return for "reciprocal obligations and restraints."

In effect, Vajpayee suggested, Musharraf was using terrorism to force India to the negotiating table. Talking to Pakistan under the circumstances would be betraying the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who had defied a most ferocious campaign of violence and intimidation sponsored from across the border and participated in an election, which has been universally hailed as free and fair, he said.

The election was an unequivocal expression of both determination and self-determination, he added. "When the cross-border terrorism stops - or when we eradicate it - we can have a dialogue with Pakistan on the other issues between us," stated Vajpayee.

Without naming Pakistan, he also implicitly criticised the international community for not extending the war against terrorism beyond Afghanistan into Pakistan. "Some of its members are themselves part of the problem," Vajpayee said in an unstated reference to Pakistan. "We are sometimes led into semantics about the definition of terrorism. The search for 'root causes' or imaginary 'freedom struggles' provide alibis for the killing of innocent men, women and children," he told the UN General Assembly.

He warned that no state should be allowed to profess partnership with the global coalition against terror, while continuing to aid, abet and sponsor terrorism. To condone such double standards is to contribute to multiplying terrorism, he added.
Taking another hefty swipe at Pakistan, which US intelligence has revealed has made clandestine transfers of nuclear weapons technology to North Korea in return for ballistic missiles purchases -- notably the NoDong missile -- Vajpayee said the UN "should be particularly concerned at the recent revelations about clandestine transfers of weapons of mass destruction and their technologies".

The Prime Minister reminded the assembly of the prospect of such weapons and technologies falling into the hands of terrorists. "Surely, something needs to be done about the helplessness of international regimes in preventing such transactions, which clearly threaten international security," he said.

He also made a case for the expansion of the UN Security Council. "For the Security Council to represent genuine multilaterism in its decisions and actions, its membership must reflect current world realities. Most UN members today recognise the need for an enlarged and restructured Security Council, with more developing countries as permanent and non-permanent members."

He said "the permanent members guard their exclusivity. Some states with weak claims want to ensure that others do not enter the Council as permanent members. This combination of complacency and negativism has to be countered with a strong political will."
He argued that the recent crisis over Iraq at the UN "warn us that until the Security Council is reformed and restructured, its decisions cannot reflect truly the collective will of the community of nations".

Vajpayee acknowledged that the "Iraq issue continues to present a major challenge to the United Nations. At this point of time, it is not very productive to linger on the past. Our thoughts and concerns should be about the suffering of the people of Iraq. It is imperative that the people of Iraq should be empowered to determine their own future, to rebuild their nation". In this regard, Vajpayee said, it is the UN that must take the lead. "This has been acknowledged both by those who had opposed military action and by those who did not seek specific UN endorsement of it."

Bush asks UN to help rebuild Iraq

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23: As more than 80 Heads of State and Government convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday for the start of the General Assembly's annual high-level debate, US President George Bush urged the international community to put aside its differences and help Iraq rebuild itself into a democracy with the "great power to inspire the Middle East."

Bush said "all nations of good will should step forward and provide that support" and added "every young democracy needs the help of friends."

In the 25-minute speech at the opening of the 58th UN General Assembly session, the US President asked the international community to support the US plan for a steady transition to Iraqi self-government. He said the international community should assist in preparing a constitution for Iraq, help train civil servants and conduct free and fair elections. "This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties," he said.

Acknowledging that some Members States opposed his decision to go to war in Iraq, President Bush said: "Yet there was, and there remains, unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations. We are dedicated to the defence of our collective security, and to advance human rights. These permanent commitments call us to great work in the world - work we must do together. So let us move forward."

Bush said the United Nations was carrying out vital work, too, in Iraq with its humanitarian operations and had a role to play in the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty, in helping to develop a constitution and conducting free and fair elections. He also called on the Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution "calling on all members of the UN to criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," enacting strict export controls and securing all sensitive material.

For his part, French President Jacques Chirac said the war in Iraq, embarked on without Security Council approval, had undermined the multilateral system. "In an open world, no one can live in isolation, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules," he declared. "Multilateralism is the key, for it ensures the participation of all in the management of world affairs. It is a guarantee of legitimacy and democracy in matters regarding the use of force."

Mr. Chirac called for the UN to oversee the transfer of sovereignty back to Iraq and mandate a multilateral force commanded by the United States. He also urged the international community to restore the dynamic of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and proposed a Security Council summit to frame a UN plan against nuclear non-proliferation. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) must dismantle its nuclear weapons programme and Iran must implement strengthened safeguards against nuclear weapons production, he added.

Annan warns UN at crossroads over issue of unilateral action

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23: The unilateralism of recent events has called into question the decades-old tradition of global consensus on collective security and brought the international community to a fork in the road, portending a moment "no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded," United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

In an address to the General Assembly on the first day of its annual general debate, Mr. Annan said the UN now had to decide whether radical change was needed in the face of this new doctrine of pre-emptive force, and announced that he was setting up a high-level panel of eminent personalities to make recommendations on issues ranging from peace and security to reform of UN structures.

The new doctrine represented a fundamental challenge to the principles of collective security and the UN Charter, which had guided the world body since its foundation, Mr. Annan said, and he was concerned it could lead to a proliferation of unilateral and lawless use force.

While the Charter affords countries the inherent right of self-defence if attacked, "until now it has been understood that when States go beyond that, and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations," he declared.

India's chances for berth in UN SC brighten

By Deepak Arora

India's chances for getting a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have brighten after the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for an early expansion of the Council to make the 15-member body more democratic and more representative. The long due expansion of the Security Council, whenever it takes place, would also give it a greater legitimacy, especially in view of recent divisions over Iraq.

With India emerging as a major player both in economic and global security management, New Delhi is being looked upon as a permanent member of the proposed reorganization of the UNSC. It is also being felt that a country representing a billion population, nearly a fifth of the humanity, not represented in the Security Council is leading to all distortions.

India has also been one of the major players contributing towards peacekeeping troops in the United Nations. This has also enhanced its stature in the world arena. In fact, US President George Bush is also keen that India sends its troops for bringing peace and security in Iraq. India has been insisting on a greater role of the United Nations in Iraq for considering this proposal.

Several countries have supported the idea of India becoming a permanent member of the expanded Security Council. Finland is the latest nation to support India on this. Out of the five permanent members of the Security Council, France, Russia and Great Britain have already expressed support for India. The other two - the US and China - have not yet publicly expressed backed India's candidature. The US has already advocated the candidature of Japan and Germany. However, with the relations between India and the US improving day by day, Washington feels that India no longer can be ignored.

Launching his latest progress report on goals set in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, Mr. Annan, however, declined to be drawn into specifics on who exactly the new members should be, who should be permanent members with the right of veto and who should be elected for specific terms, and what regions should be represented.

Instead he noted that UN membership had almost quadrupled since the world body was founded nearly 60 years ago and yet the structure of the Council had not changed since its first day, with five permanent members with the right of veto - China, France, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States - and 10 members elected for two-year terms from the various regions of the world.

"Yes, it implies expansion of the membership of the Council and allowing other regions and other groups to be represented on the Council," he said on reforming UN institutions. "We started with 51 Member States and we are now 191 Member States.
"Yes, we are an organization of sovereign States, but the structure of the Council has not changed and I think it is about time that we took the reform very seriously. It will entail expansion in membership," he added.

Asked whether that would mean an increase in permanent membership, he replied: "It could be increase in permanent membership as well as in ordinary, elected membership."

He also said the need for Council reform was not questioned. "I think if we can reform the Council and make it more democratic and more representative, it will gain also in greater legitimacy. I think most Member States would want to see that happen," he declared.

Noting that discussion of Security Council reform had been going on for more than a decade, Mr. Annan said: "But I think that in the current climate lots of leaders have been concerned about the state of the international peace and security architecture and would want to see something done about it. I think that the Iraqi crisis brought this to the fore.

"But in tackling it this time, I hope we will be much more creative and much more daring, and look at the issue in a broader context and really try to make progress. My sense in my contacts with leaders around the world is that they seem determined to move forward. We should all put our thinking caps on and really make some creative proposals."

All the discussions on reform have considered the possibility of the creation of additional permanent seats and additional elected seats, "and I do not think you are going to get an agreement without allowing for that," he added.

US now favours wider role for UN in Iraq

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 4: The US Government has launched a diplomatic blitzkrieg at world capitals to have a wider role for the United Nations in Iraq. A new resolution at the UN would see the world body’s involvement in a multinational force and would also see it play a leading role in forming an Iraqi government.

Though the idea of the second resolution on Iraq has been moving in the corridors of the UN headquarters in New York for the past couple of months, but it seems to be heading for a reality after the Tuesday meeting of the US President, Mr George Bush and the Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell. Both seem to have agreed to move forward with a new UN resolution and expand UN role to attract badly needed troop contributions from additional countries to stabilize Iraq and more foreign contributions to help rebuild the country.

A section of the US Administration has been favouring a greater role of the UN in Iraq. With America losing more soldiers in the post-war Iraq then during the war during which the US-led forces captured Baghdad with ease, the pro-UN lobby has prevailed on the Administration to go for a multinational force. The Bush Administration is facing growing pressure to resolve Iraq's continuing instability at a time when thinly stretched US forces are struggling to halt guerrilla assaults, violent crime and a recent spurt of deadly terrorist attacks.

Powell and his aides have begun talking about the new resolution with key members of the Security Council, whose support is critical, and other nations, including India. The US has been keen for roping in Indian troops for Iraq. However, New Delhi has agreed to do so if there is an explicit mandate from the United Nations.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Ms Christina Rocca, who is arriving here next week, is expected to discuss the UN mandated force in Iraq. The recent rise in terror attacks in Mumbai and Jammu and Kashmir would also figure during her talks with the Indian officials and leaders.

On Wednesday, the US Ambassador to UN, Mr John Negroponte, circulated a draft to other U.N. ambassadors in New York, and the Secretary of State Powell described initial reactions were positive.

The resolution envisions a substantial infusion of international aid to defray costs now largely borne by U.S. taxpayers. At the same time, the administration is preparing a new budget request for $60 billion to $70 billion for reconstruction and the military operation of Iraq — nearly double what Congress was expecting, reports the Washington Post.

The US is treading with caution on the new UN resolution as it was forced to drop one seeking authority to attack Iraq five months ago. In order to avoid a repeat of that brawl, the US is engaging in quiet, behind-the-scenes negotiations on the text of the resolution, to ensure it would be agreeable to the veto-wielding permanent members and the rest of the Security Council, and to project a unanimous, internationally backed stand on what happens next on Iraq.

Diplomats say placing reconstruction under UN auspices will make it easier to garner contributions from nations that opposed the war, notably France and Germany. Belgium, too, said last week that it may be willing to donate money — if the United Nations was "playing a central role" in reconstruction. Under the UN flag, the US hopes to attract peacekeeping troops from at least India, Pakistan and Turkey.

Last week, Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage said Washington was considering the creation of a multinational force under U.N. leadership — but with an American commander — in an attempt to persuade reluctant nations to send troops to boost security in Iraq.

The French Foreign Minister, Mr Dominique de Villepin, in interview to Radio France Internationale on Monday said "this formula presents a step forward compared to the present situation." He hailed US readiness to consider allowing a UN force in Iraq as progress but insisted that Washington must also step aside to allow Iraqis to run their country with UN help.

Several nations, including Russia and France, have already indicated that they could support an UN-sponsored force under US command. Mr Villepin said "things should go better rather quickly" once the United Nations gave a mandate to a multinational force.

He was speaking just before Iraq's U.S.-backed Governing Council named 25 ministers, who will run the day-to-day work of ministries. Overall authority remains in the hands of U.S. governor Paul Bremer until an elected government is installed. In his interview, Villepin said that handing over sovereignty to an Iraqi provisional government was "the cornerstone of reconstruction in Iraq."

The US goal is to have a resolution ready for consideration when foreign leaders gather in New York toward the end of September for the annual special session of the U.N. General Assembly. The Prime Minister, Mr A B Vajpayee, will also be traveling to New York to attend the session. However, there is no official word on whether he would meet the President Bush on the sidelines of the UN meet.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, has also said the Security Council could approve a new multinational force, led by the United States as the largest troop contributor.

With the disastrous bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last week, which killed at least 23 people and injured 160, the United Nations has taken a bolder, more open role, having depended previously on a vague resolution and the personality of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the chief envoy slain in the blast.

The new US draft resolution seeks to transform the US-led coalition force into a UN-authorized multinational one under a unified command to help maintain "security and stability in Iraq" and urge the 191 UN-member states to contribute troops.

It calls on U.N.-member states to help train and equip an Iraqi police force and invite the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to cooperate with the United Nations and U.S. officials in Baghdad to produce "a timetable and program for the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and for the holding of democratic elections."

The draft asks the UN representative in Iraq to facilitate a "national dialogue and consensus building" to promote the political transition and help organize elections and ask all U.N.-member states and regional and international organizations to "accelerate the provision of substantial financial contributions" for Iraq's reconstruction.

The draft endorse the Iraqi Governing Council "as the principal body of the Iraqi interim administration" and back its efforts "to mobilize the people of Iraq" and calls on countries in the region "to prevent the transit of terrorists, arms for terrorists, and financing that would support terrorists."

UN bans smoking at its Hqs

By Deepak Arora

The United Nations, the last bastion for smokers in New York City, has officially banned smoking. However, some diplomats insist they still have the right to puff away.

The Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, issued a ban on smoking in any of the United Nations premises at the Headquarters in New York, in a bid to eliminate the risks associated with second-hand smoke. The ban came into effect from September 1.

In a bulletin to staff, Mr. Annan says the ban applies to all buildings and grounds, with the exception of the outdoor area on the public plaza at the visitor's entrance.

The ban is consistent with the tobacco control principles developed by the UN World Health Organization (WHO). Local law also prohibits smoking in all offices and indoor public places in New York.

In a follow-up directive, Head of the UN Office of Human Resources Management, Denis Beissel, warned the staff that anyone who smokes in the building could face "disciplinary action."

But Russia's UN Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, as he headed to the Delegate's Lounge for a smoke on Tuesday, the first working day since the ban came into force, noted that Annan "doesn't own this building."

UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard conceded that the United Nations might have a tough time enforcing the ban with diplomats.

"We would hope that all would comply with the Secretary-General's new policy. If it comes to staff and they break the rules, they are subject to disciplinary action. I'm not sure we have the right to discipline diplomats, but we count on their cooperation," he said.

The United Nations expects UN Security officers to do everything they can to enforce the smoking ban, Eckhard added.

Last year, New York City adopted one of the toughest laws in the US.

World must act now to provide safe water, further delay entails great risk: Annan

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 30: With more than 2 million children dying each year from water-borne diseases, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the international community to avoid further dangerous delays and move from pledges to action in order to halve by 2015 the proportion of people lacking safe drinking water and sanitation.

"Providing water services to all, especially the poor, is vital in and of itself," Mr. Annan told the International Freshwater Forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in a message read for him by Anwarul Chowdhury, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

"It is also crucial for the success of our fight against poverty, hunger and disease," he said, noting that the UN Millennium Summit pledged to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and last year's Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development vowed to do likewise for those without access to basic sanitation.

"Already, an estimated 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.4 billion have no access to adequate sanitation," he added, stressing that the quantity and quality of safe water was decreasing worldwide due to pollution, over-consumption and poor management.

"Our challenge now is to move from commitments to concrete projects," Mr. Annan said. "We must improve water productivity, particularly in agriculture, by getting more crop per drop." Regional management of watersheds needs to be strengthened since so many water sources are shared by more than one country.

"And we need better water management strategies that promote both equitable access and adequate supplies. It is not too late to prevent serious water shortages in the decades ahead, but any further delays carry great risk," he declared.

UN Geneva office pays final tribute to victims of Baghdad terrorist attack

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 29: With music, poems, photos, rededication to the principles of the United Nations and a resounding pledge to continue their unfinished mission, over 2,000 people paid a final tribute today to the 22 victims of the terrorist bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad at a memorial service held at the world body's Geneva headquarters.

"All were in the prime of their lives. All were committed to, and worked for, the cause of peace. All were killed in a nihilistic act of violence which we struggle vainly to comprehend," Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said in an address. "The people we lost were more than colleagues. They were members of our family," Ms. Fréchette added.

Stressing their legacy, the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, said: "They were in Iraq with a noble purpose, a task to perform, and a goal to reach. Their presence was a testimony to their unwavering commitment and dedication to principles of the United Nations.

"We must honour this commitment by continuing the work they began. Let us show the world that they will never be forgotten, that their work was not in vain, that we are proud of them," Mr. Ordzhonikidze declared.

"Let us show courage and resolve in the face of terrorism, and strength in our bereavement," he concluded. "Let us show the world a more determined, more united 'UN', to honour the memory of our fallen colleagues."

During the ceremony, photos were screened as a personal tribute to each victim. Present were family, friends and colleagues, Mrs. Nane Annan, permanent representatives of Member States, Swiss federal and local officials, and Adnan Pachachi, member of the Iraqi Governing Council.



Dental Implants India


Aviation | Business | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Communication | Health | India | United Nations
India-US | India-France | Entertainment | Sports | Photo Gallery | Tourism | Advertise with Us | Contact Us

Best viewed at 800 x 600 resolution with IE 4.0 or higher
© Noyanika International, 2003-2009. All rights reserved.