THE SECRETARY-GENERAL -- COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: A FUTURE "IN LARGER FREEDOM"Philadelphia, 16 May 2005Madam President, thank you for those kind words, and thank you on behalf of all my fellow honorees for the degrees you have bestowed on us today.Fellow Graduates, my wife Nane and I are deeply honoured to join you and your proud families on this happy day. We offer each one of you our warmest congratulations.But I must admit that I am a bit apprehensive, because I know you are all looking at me and thinking: "There's no way he's going to be as good as Bono!" And you're right: the lead singer of U2 is a hard act to follow.Fellow Graduates,You have had a precious opportunity at this great university. You have explored the realm of ideas -- ideas about what is true and false, what is right and wrong, what works and what does not.As you graduate, a new phase of your life begins. The time has come to put ideas into practice. Indeed, the story of your lives will be the story of your struggle to be true to the ideas you believe in.It is the same for individual nations, and for our world.
Insight (PDF file) from the President of the United Nations Foundation on the role of the UNF: "We focus substantively on children's health, with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Some major partners of ours in that area include Rotary on polio and the Red Cross and the Center for Disease Control on measles; and we are also working on an emerging malaria issue. We work on AIDS and reproductive health issues with UNAIDS and UNFPA, focused in particular on the ability of people to protect themselves and on women's empowerment. We work on a range of environmental issues with UNDP and UNEP, and with a special focus on energy, security, and climate issues through our own Energy Future Coalition. You all may have seen a recent initiative of Frank Gaffney, Jim Woolsey, Boyden Gray and others focused on security and energy. That is an initiative that came out of these efforts. And we have a variety of initiatives on human rights and governance."
By UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2005:"Ask a New York investment banker who walks past Ground Zero every day on her way to work what today's biggest threat is. Then ask an illiterate 12-year-old orphan in Malawi who lost his parents to AIDS. You will get two very different answers. Invite an Indonesian fisherman mourning the loss of his entire family and the destruction of his village from the recent, devastating tsunami to tell you what he fears most. Then ask a villager in Darfur, stalked by murderous militias and fearful of bombing raids. Their answers, too, are likely to diverge.Different perceptions of what is a threat are often the biggest obstacles to international cooperation. But I believe that in the twenty-first century they should not be allowed to lead the world's governments to pursue very different priorities or to work at cross-purposes. Today's threats are deeply interconnected, and they feed off of one another." Full Article
REUTERS: "U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday the United States and Britain bore part of the blame in the Iraq oil-for-food debacle by allowing unsupervised oil exports that Saddam Hussein exploited.Annan, addressing a seminar on the United Nations and the media, said most of the money Saddam earned was by oil sold to Jordan and Turkey outside of the $67 billion U.N. program."
From Reuters: "Launched some 60 years ago, the commission is the U.N.'s main mechanism for monitoring respect for human rights around the world. But critics say in-fighting and its inability to act firmly in the face of clear abuse have eroded its authority.Annan has called for the commission, at present made up of representatives from 53 countries nominated by regional groupings, to be replaced by a smaller Human Rights Council, whose members would be elected by the U.N. General Assembly."
From today's WH press briefing:QUESTION: Scott, two questions. First, Paul Volcker's report on the oil-for-food scandal at the U.N. is out. And while it shows that Secretary General Annan was not directly implicated in this scandal, it suggests strongly that he was at the very least negligent in his oversight of it and obtuse about the role his own son, Kojo, played in the fraud. Should he stay or should he go?MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let me back up. We've always felt it was important for there to a full investigation of the allegations of corruption and fraud in the oil-for-food program. We appreciate the work that the Volcker Commission is doing. We look forward to seeing the final results. This is another report that they are putting forward today.There needs to be a full accounting. We have always said that it needs to be an open, transparent and full investigation. And so we appreciate the work that's been going on by the Volcker investigation. We have just received a copy of the report today. It's just been made available today. We're going to carefully study that report and look at what it says.It's also important that we continue to move forward on reforms at the United Nations to make sure that it is addressing the challenges that we face in the most effective way and that things like this are prevented from happening in the future.
STATEMENT BY TIMOTHY E. WIRTH, PRESIDENT OF THE UN FOUNDATION, ON TODAY'S INTERIM REPORT ISSUED BY THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY COMMITTEE ON THE OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM"Today's report from the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) brings us a step closer to getting to the bottom of the problems with the Oil-For-Food Program (OFFP) and the steps needed to fix them. The UN has kept its promise to fully and fairly investigate OFFP and let the chips fall where they may. Today's report makes important findings regarding the Secretary-General, his son, and his former chief-of-staff among others. But the report also makes clear that, despite some significant shortcomings on the part of the Secretary-General, the investigation did not find that he engaged in any wrongdoing.Now the most important priority for the UN and the U.S. is to work together to reform and strengthen the institution and ensure it is prepared to help confront the 21st Century challenges of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, infectious disease, poverty and more. The Secretary-General's recent report provides an excellent start on these UN reforms and we encourage the Bush Administration and the Congress to support these efforts."
New York, 29 March 2005 - Statement by the Secretary-General on the second interim report of the Independent Inquiry CommitteeI have this morning received from Mr. Paul Volcker and his colleagues the second interim report of their independent inquiry into allegations concerning the United Nations oil-for-food programme in Iraq. I thank them once again for their investigation.As I had always hoped and firmly believed, the Inquiry has cleared me of any wrongdoing. On the key issue of the award of the contract to inspect humanitarian goods entering Iraq under the oil-for-food programme, the report states clearly that "there is no evidence that the selection of Cotecna in 1998 was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the Secretary-General in the bidding or selection process."I will meet the press later today to make a fuller statement on the findings contained in the report, and to answer questions.View Report (pdf)
TranscriptU.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman Washington, DC March 28, 2005QUESTION: Oil-for-Food. This week, a new Volcker report is expected and I'm wondering, in light of the fact that this scandal has clearly been a blight on the UN during Mr. Annan's time as Secretary General, if you believe that he has been sufficiently damaged by this that he can't carry through the reforms that the U.S. is looking for.MR. ERELI: Let's wait until the next Volcker report comes out. The fact of the matter is that we've said that it's important that all the facts be known, and when all the facts be known that appropriate accountability be taken. Secretary General Annan has been a firm believer in that and so let's just -- let's see what happens and see what we find out and make our assessments on that basis.