Reflections on the UN at 70.

Author:Annan, Kofi A.
Position:The United Nations at 70

Seventy years ago, world leaders gathered in San Francisco to sign a unique and historic document--the Charter of the United Nations. In the name of "We the peoples", they charted a path to a world where faith in the dignity and worth of the human person would be reaffirmed.

In the seven decades since, the world has been transformed by new technologies, by the forces of globablization, and not least, by the accomplishments of the United Nations itself. Driven by the spirit of international cooperation and multilateral diplomacy that lie at the heart of the Organization, millions have been lifted out of abject poverty, protected from the violence of armed conflict, or sheltered from the devastation of natural disasters.

It has inspired, innovated, and catalysed; the Millennium Development Goals became a revolution in international affairs, placing poverty in all its guises at the top of the international agenda for the first time. The establishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has helped save the lives of millions and provided a new template for effective international cooperation. The International Criminal Court and the rise of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect redefined the notion of State sovereignty and offered hope to the victims of the most heinous crimes.

The United Nations, with its rules and institutions, is at the heart of the international system. They encourage States to prevent or settle disputes peacefully--one of the reasons that fewer people than ever before die from armed conflict. The United Nations speaks for the voiceless, feeds the hungry, protects the displaced, combats organized crime and terrorism, and fights disease across the globe.

And these are just the headline-grabbing achievements. Seventy years on, the work of the Organization touches every corner of the globe. Of no less importance, for example, is the fact that more multilateral agreements and treaties have been developed at the United Nations in the past six decades than in all of human history, and each addition to this body of international law binds our global community closer together.

Many of these accomplishments are due to the courageous and resourceful staff of the Organization, who dedicate themselves to humanitarian principles and work tirelessly in the most dangerous and desperate places on...

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