Bahai News - U.N. Summit Ends with Bold Goals, Little Peace
U.N. Summit Ends with Bold Goals, Little Peace
Friday, September 08, 2000
By Paul Taylor
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A unique U.N. Millennium Summit
ended on Friday by adopting ambitious goals for the United
Nations to strengthen peacekeeping and reduce poverty, disease
and illiteracy in the 21st century.
But three days of set speeches, round tables and
closed-door diplomacy by the largest gathering of world leaders
in history yielded scant progress toward resolving conflicts
and defuse tensions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
A Millennium Declaration, adopted by acclamation, pledged a
renewed drive in pursuit of peace, security, disarmament and
the eradication of poverty, especially in Africa.
"We are determined to establish a just and lasting peace
all over the world in accordance with the objectives of the
Charter," the roughly 150 kings, presidents and government
They endorsed targets set by Secretary-General Kofi Annan
to halve by 2015 the 22 percent of the world's population
existing on less than $1 a day, and halt and reverse the spread
of AIDS, malaria and other major diseases by that date.
The most practical measures adopted call for a radical
overhaul of chronically underfunded and overstrained U.N.
peacekeeping operations to provide better trained and equipped
troops faster to defuse conflicts and prevent massacres.
The summit's co-chairs, presidents Sam Nujoma of Namibia
and Tarja Halonen on Finland, hailed the birth of a new spirit
of global solidarity in the world organization, but Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez cautioned: "Many of our peoples are at
the gates of hell."
On the sidelines, President Clinton's bid to break a Middle
East peace deadlock appeared to be foundering and Africa's
troublespots defied diplomatic efforts at resolution.
The final hours of the sprawling conference mirrored the
ebbing months of Clinton's presidency -- full of bold ambitions
for peace and world economic development but with few solutions
to stubborn regional conflicts.
The president vented frustration at his unsuccessful
efforts to bridge the gap between Israel and the Palestinians,
telling Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern during a photo
session: "This Middle East thing -- it's maddening."
Clinton also sought with little success to promote a peace
dialogue between China and Taiwan in his first meeting in a
year of bumpy relations with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
In an exchange described as frank but friendly, they aired
differences over Taiwan, religious freedom in China and Tibet,
and U.S. missile defense plans.
AFRICA'S PLIGHT TO THE FORE
African leaders expressed satisfaction that they had pushed
their continent's life-and-death struggle with poverty, disease
and war higher up the world's agenda -- at least momentarily.
Led by South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun
Obasanjo, they made impassioned pleas for debt relief, funding
to combat the scourge of AIDS and an overhaul of U.N.
institutions to cope speedily with crises and conflicts.
But hardline stances by the protagonists dashed any
prospect of a diplomatic resolution to the long-running war in
the Democratic Republic of Congo and to Zimbabwe's violent
campaign of land seizures from white farmers.
President Robert Mugabe unleashed an anti-colonial tirade
against critics of Zimbabwe's land reform program, seeming to
slam the door on efforts by Annan to mediate an end to the
crisis that has killed at least 31 people since February.
Growing concern among both industrialized and developing
countries at soaring world oil prices was another theme on the
sidelines of the summit.
On the eve of important meetings of OPEC countries, Annan
expressed concern at the potential effect on the world economy
of high energy prices and urged producers to be "especially
sensitive" to the impact of their decisions.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat returned home without
meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to attend a session
of the Palestinian Central Council on Saturday, expected to
authorize him to delay the declaration of a Palestinian state
on Sept. 13 to allow time for further talks with Israel.
A Palestinian official said low-level negotiations would
resume soon, but such talks have rarely yielded breakthroughs
and the sides are still deadlocked on control over Jerusalem,
which thwarted an agreement at the Camp David summit in July.
INDONESIA UNDER SCRUTINY
The start of the summit was overshadowed on Wednesday by
the savage killing of three U.N. refugee workers in West Timor
by Indonesian militiamen hostile to the independence of East
Timor, dramatizing perils facing U.N. staff in crisis spots.
As the summit ended, the Security Council was debating a
toughly-worded resolution that would demand Indonesia take
action to disarm the militias and send a U.N. fact-finding
mission to West Timor.
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, whose shaky hold
over his sprawling country and its armed forces was exposed by
the incident, told reporters the situation was now under
control and "very good" in West Timor.
But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard
Holbrooke, told reporters it was unclear how much control Wahid
had over the military. He said it was the responsibility of
Indonesia to end what he called the terrorizing of East
Timorese refugees in camps in West Timor.
©Copyright 2000, Reuter
Page last updated/revised 090900
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page