The former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has appealed for urgent reform of the global multilateral institutions to provide ‘fair and lasting solutions’ because the world’s most pressing challenges could only be overcome through multilateral solutions.
Addressing a ceremony in Oslo to mark the 50th anniversary of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI) in January, Annan noted: ‘Our futures, our prosperity and security, are wrapped up together more than ever before. No country, no matter how wealthy or powerful, can any longer stand on its own.’
In a wide-ranging speech entitled Multilateralism ‘ Today’s Imperative, Kofi Annan said: ‘Cooperation is no longer a choice but a clear imperative.’
Outlining a series of challenges requiring a collective response, he welcomed the Group of 20’s (G20) efforts on the financial crisis as the start of a process to involve a far wider range of countries in global decision-making.
He called for urgent reform of the world’s multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, to ensure a greater voice for the developing world and warned that climate change would affect every country and could only be tackled by all nations acting together.
Annan acknowledged President Barack Obama’s ‘historic inauguration’ and stressed the new opportunity the Obama Administration could provide. ‘America will by all accounts re-engage with the international community in a much more positive way and we all hope that President Obama will provide the impetus for re-invigorated multilateralism,’ he said.
Calling for urgent action in 2009 to address climate change, Annan stated: ‘The solution to climate change, like the solution to all the global problems we face, must be driven above all by fairness. We need a g enuine and universal agreement, starting in Copenhagen later this year, to provide the foundation for a wide-ranging change in behaviour.’
Highlighting what can be achieved when a multilateral approach to problem-solving is applied, Annan described the resolution of Kenya’s political crisis at the beginning of 2008 as ‘a wonderful example of what is possible when there is political will, unity of purpose and the determination to stay the course in spite of obvious difficulties’.
Paying tribute to the work of the NUPI during the past 50 years, the former UN boss said: ‘NUPI has made a major contribution to our understanding of the challenges the world faces. I wish you many more productive years ahead.’
NUPI was established by the Norwegian Parliament in 1959. Its aim is to contribute to greater awareness and insight concerning international issues, through research and the dissemination of information. It will host a series of events in 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary. www.nupi.no