The Guardian 21 September, 2005


The battle for the UN

At every turn the triumvirate of George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard pushes the terrorism envelope to further extremes. Prior to last week’s summit at UN headquarters in New York, marking the world body’s 60th anniversary, the Blair government announced the imposition of more anti-democratic laws in Britain. They include allowing authorities to hold suspect for up to three months without charge.

The arrogance displayed by the three towards the world community continued at the World Summit. "We must send a message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder", Bush said in his address. "You must not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world."

John Howard received yet another reward for his obsequious role in the war-monger’s alliance, chairing one the four roundtable discussions at the summit. The threesome in fact wanted to hijack the world body, to line its members up in the phoney war against terrorism while the real war, the illegal one in Iraq that the international community opposed, continues on its bloody path.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan set out a series of actions at the summit, including making the UN Secretariat "more efficient, more effective and more accountable". The UN’s ongoing mandate was reviewed and its budgetary and human resources rules re-assessed and reformed. An independent oversight audit committee will be set up after a full review of UN oversight and management is completed.

"This is the way to restore the confidence of people everywhere in the Organisation’s integrity and ability to deliver", Annan said. He cited last week’s agreement to take collective action to protect civilians threatened by genocide and other crimes against humanity as "a hard-won revolution in international affairs" and a sign that "we can find collective answers to common problems".

Bush and his gang, though, aren’t after reform — they want to destroy the world body set up 60 years ago to prevent conflicts and maintain the peace.

A week before the World Summit the UN convened a meeting of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) designed to give grassroots, civil society an input into the global gathering. Over 3000 NGOs were invited to participate in three days of plenary sessions, interactive workshops and roundtable discussions, making it the most participatory NGO session in UN history.

The overall theme of the summit and NGO meeting was a five-year report card on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed to in September 2000. The UN gave itself 15 years to achieve the goals, which take up the reduction of hunger and extreme poverty, universal access to primary education, gender equality, the reduction of infant and maternal mortality rates, the reversal of the spread of HIV/AIDS, protection of the environment and the development of a partnership among all nations to achieve these goals.

The organisation’s annual Human Development Report says there has been some progress, including child life expectancy, an increase in children attending school and 130 million removed from extreme poverty. These achievements should not be underestimated, "nor should they be exaggerated", says the report.

"In the midst of an increasingly prosperous global economy, 10.7 million children every year do not live to see their fifth birthday, and more than 1 billion people survive in abject poverty on less than $1 a day", the report continues.

"One fifth of humanity live in countries where many people think nothing of spending $2 a day on cappuccino. Another fifth of humanity survive on less than $1 a day and live in countries where children die for want of a simple anti-mosquito bed net."

The report notes that the world’s richest 500 individuals have a combined income that is greater than that of the poorest 416 million people. Also that 2.5 billion people are living on less than $2 a day.

This is the inequality caused by capitalist greed — the inequality Bush and his cronies wants to spread around the globe. At this historic summit it was the collective power of the world community that prevented Bush getting unequivocal support for his agenda: the collective power the biggest imperialist nation in history wants to undermine and strip away.

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