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Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration

Report of the Secretary-General

2 September 2003

This report was first posted on the UN website:
[Complete report - 138Kb ~ 1 min (37 pages)]     [ Share with a friend  ]


A major disaster befell the United Nations on 19 August 2003, when 15 United Nations staff members and seven others were killed and well over 100 wounded in a bomb attack on our headquarters in Baghdad. That disaster deprived the international community of some of its most talented servants, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was serving as my Special Representative for Iraq. While the full implications of the attack have yet to be thought through, they clearly involve important issues relating to the kind of mandates entrusted to the United Nations by its Member States and our capacity to carry them out.

The body of the present report was written before that event, and it is in any case not a report on the United Nations as such, but rather on the distance travelled by humanity as a whole towards — or away from — the objectives set for it by the world leaders who met in New York in September 2000. Nonetheless, I find it essential to begin by referring to the attack of 19 August, because I see it as a direct challenge to the vision of global solidarity and collective security rooted in the Charter of the United Nations and articulated in the Millennium Declaration. Its significance thus reaches beyond the tragedy that affects us personally, as individuals, or even institutionally, as an Organization.

Indeed, I see the attack as the latest in a series of events that led me to give this report a different form from that adopted last year. Even before the tragedy, I felt that a simple progress report could hardly do justice to what we had lived through in the last 12 months. In the area of peace and security, in particular, the consensus expressed or implied in the Declaration now looks less solid than it did three years ago. In the area of development, by contrast, a stronger consensus has been forged, but grave doubts remain as to whether Member States are sufficiently determined to act on it. And in the area of human rights and democracy there is a danger that we may retreat from some of the important gains made in the previous decade.

I think it necessary, therefore, under the three above-mentioned headings, to evaluate not only the progress made, or not made, but also the obstacles encountered, and to re-examine some of the underlying assumptions of the Declaration. We can no longer take it for granted that our multilateral institutions are strong enough to cope with all of the challenges facing them. I suggest in my conclusion that some of the institutions may be in need of radical reform.

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