Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 14 March 2005
Blurb: Last week, the UN Secretary General presented a “five D’s” plan to combat terrorism. The UN and Kofi Annan are themselves coming under pressure, especially from the United States. And last week the developing countries also showed their displeasure over the process of nominating the next head of UNCTAD.
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, made an important speech last week on how to fight terrorism. It was one of the most interesting speeches the embattled UN leader has made in recent weeks, giving comprehensively treatment to this urgent problem.
The UN and the Secretary General himself is coming under pressure, especially from some politicians and parts of the media in the United States.
Annan presented a five-point
strategy (which he called the “five D’s”) for the UN to fight terrorism:
dissuading the disaffected from choosing the tactic, denying terrorists
the means to carry out attacks, deterring state support, developing state
preventive capacity and defending human rights in the struggle against
Dealing with each of the five
D's, Annan said that all sectors of society must play their part in dissuading
disaffected groups who choose terrorism because they think its tactics
are effective and people in whose name they claim to act will approve.
Annan’s son was working in a company that was involved in the programme, and this has given the investigators reason to question the Secretary General himself. Some politicians in the US who do not like the UN nor Annan had even called for his resignation.
However, a large number of countries rallied to his support, and the European governments in general also seem to support him.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the attacks on Kofi Annan intensified after he made two courageous statements last year. The first was during a BBC interview in which he suggested that the US-UK led war in Iraq was not legal.
The second was a letter he wrote to the United States urging it not to embark on an attack on the Iraqi town of Fallujah. The US bombed and attacked Fallujah anyway, in an operation that led to over a thousand Iraqi deaths.
The UN Secretary General has now revamped his cabinet, with the removal of some senior staff and the appointment of Mark Malloch Brown (the chief administrator of the UN Development Programme) as head of staff and chief spokesperson.
He appointed a former US agriculture secretary as head of UNICEF, another big UN agency. Some analysts concluded Annan was trying to please the US administration with these appointments.
Then on 28 February, Annan
announced he had nominated Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former Thai deputy
premier and the present World Trade Organisation director general as
the next Secretary General of theUN Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD). The nomination has to be confirmed by the UN General Assembly.
This time it was the developing countries that got upset with Kofi Annan. They consider UNCTAD to be a special agency created to serve their economic interests. Yet the Group of 77 (the umbrella body of the developing countries) and its members were not consulted before Annan announced Supachai’s appointment.
It could also be that diplomats of some developing countries have been disappointed with Supachai’s performance at the WTO. They think he has not lived up to the expectation that he would champion the development cause in that body. There are concerns he may not be able to do the needful job of reviving the morale and status of UNCTAD.
It came as something of a shock when the Group of 77 conveyed to Kofi Annan that they could not at this stage endorse his nomination of Supachai. On 8 March, when the UN General Assembly met to consider the appointment of the UNCTAD chief, the President announced instead that the discussion would have to be deferred.
The postponement was due to
a request made by the G77 to Kofi Annan, following a G77 meeting at which
countries expressed dissatisfaction with the process by which the nomination
had taken place.