Annan calls for new mindset at UN involving not just governments but

Only if the United Nations engages with the world’s peoples as well as their governments can it be useful to humanity in this century, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a plenary session of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, today.“In 1999 when I came here and called for a ‘global compact’ between the United Nations and the private sector, many of my colleagues in the Secretariat – and many representatives of member States – would hardly have been more shocked if I had proposed a compact with the devil.“It is that mindset that I have been seeking to change throughout my time in office – the mindset that sees international relations as nothing more than relations between the States and the United Nations as little more than a trade union for governments.”Mr. Annan has long argued that the UN needs to engage not only with governments but with people. “Only if it does that, I believe, can it fulfil its vocation and be of use to humanity in the 21st century,” he told the audience of hundreds of corporate executives, political leaders, scholars and philanthropists.In the areas of international law, peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian relief and counter-terrorism, the UN “is proving itself an increasingly flexible instrument, to which its Member States turn for a wider and wider array of functions,” he said.To carry out its work, the UN must engage not only with governments, but with “all the new actors on the international scene,” Mr. Annan said. “That includes the private sector, but it also includes parliamentarians; voluntary, non-profit organizations; philanthropic foundations; the global media; celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment; and in some cases, labour unions, mayors and local administrators.”Addressing the panellists – among them leaders who might be interested in succeeding him when he completes his term at the end of the year – the Secretary-General said: “Changing the mindset of the United Nations, so that it can both reflect and influence the temper of the times, is a never-ending challenge. There will be plenty more work to do in the years and decades to come.”Earlier in the day, Mr. Annan took part in a workshop on “Taking Action to End Hunger” and held bilateral meetings with a number of leaders, including President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.

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