The editors of the UN Chronicle asked me to contribute an article for this issue commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. I agreed, since this is an institution unlike any other in terms of its mission, its universality and the hopes vested in it when it was created. Throughout my political career, the United Nations played an important and significant role.
I recall my address to the General Assembly in December 1988, when efforts to overcome global confrontation and end the cold war were yielding the first tangible results. Conditions were now in place for the United Nations to fulfil its intended mission--to become a platform for genuine cooperation among all Member States in their pursuit of lasting peace, conflict prevention and resolution, and solutions to global problems.
For the first time in many years, members of the Security Council were able to reach a consensus and agree on concerted effective actions, which allowed them to counter the aggression of the Iraqi regime against Kuwait. The United Nations was actively involved in settling other regional conflicts, and even the persistent confrontation in the Middle East no longer seemed insoluble. The international community and its universal Organization could now turn their attention to such global challenges as the environmental crisis, poverty and underdevelopment. The survival of hundreds of millions of people and of mankind itself depends upon finding solutions to these problems.
Today, we must acknowledge that we have fallen far short of fulfilling all the expectations raised back then. There is no doubt, however, that over the years the United Nations has accomplished much and has demonstrated many times how necessary it is to Member States and people worldwide. It was within its walls that the initiative leading to the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was launched in 2000. The Millennium Project has focused Member States' attention on the problems that must be solved if millions of people around the world are to enjoy quality of life, decent livelihoods and a measure of dignity. Importantly, specific targets were set in this regard. Although the outcomes have yet to be analysed and it is already clear that not all the Goals have been achieved, the Project as a whole has been a constructive undertaking. Poverty is gradually declining, and millions of people are gaining access to education, health care, clean water and...