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Kofi Annan Proposes United Nations Reforms

I'm Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has presented a major plan to reform the U.N. Mister Annan presented his plan Monday in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly. His report is called “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All.”

It proposes expanding the Security Council and changing the Human Rights Commission. It also includes ideas for defining and fighting terrorism and establishing new rules on when to use military force.

Mister Annan said his plan gives equal importance to the three great purposes of the U.N. -- development, security and human rights. The secretary general’s report is based on two earlier studies. One was done by a committee he appointed last year to propose U.N. reforms. The second study was about how to meet goals set five years ago for reducing world poverty in half by twenty fifteen.

Mister Annan’s plan has four main parts. The first three parts list the most important goals in development, security and human rights. The fourth part proposes changing the U.N. into what Mister Annan calls a more effective instrument for carrying out those goals.

The secretary general said expanding and strengthening the Security Council was at the top of his list of reforms. He urged the U.N. to make the Security Council more representative of the international community. Two proposals under consideration would increase the Security Council from fifteen to twenty-four members.

He also proposed replacing the Human Rights Commission with a smaller council whose members would be chosen by the General Assembly. Mister Annan said that the present commission has members whose purpose is not to strengthen human rights.

Mister Annan urged rich countries to increase financial aid and debt forgiveness to poor countries that govern responsibly.

The secretary general also urged the U.N. to approve agreements against terrorism and to halt the spread of materials needed to make nuclear weapons. He said terrorism is not an acceptable or effective way to support causes.

Mister Annan also urged the Security Council to guarantee that there would be no more disputes like the one that divided members over whether to go to war in Iraq. He said the Council should establish rules for deciding whether to use force.

Mister Annan urged world leaders to accept all of his plan and not just some parts of it. However, reports said the United States and other countries have criticized parts of the proposal.

U.N. officials say the proposal is a starting point for an international debate on how to make the organization more important in the twenty-first century. The proposal will be the subject of a gathering of government leaders at the U.N. in September.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Shelley Gollust. I’m Steve Ember.