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U.N. Leader's Plan Draws Objections

U.S. Dissents on Rules for Use of Force

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A13

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 -- The United States and other countries Monday criticized key elements of a U.N. initiative calling for new rules governing the use of force, a treaty outlawing suicide bombers and the overhaul of the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission.

The criticism emerged hours after U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan presented his 63-page blueprint for change to the 191-member General Assembly, which will meet to consider it in September.


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan presents his report, which urges action on economic development, anti-terrorism measures and a new Security Council. (Gregory Bull -- AP)

Proposals for Change

Elements of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's report:

Security

• Nations should approve a convention against terrorism by September 2006, based on a new definition, as part of a broader strategy to prevent terrorism.

• Nations should swiftly adopt a global treaty against nuclear terrorism.

• Nations should quickly negotiate a treaty to halt the spread of the highly enriched uranium and plutonium needed to make nuclear weapons.

• Nations without nuclear weapons should be given incentives to forgo development of enriched uranium or plutonium separation facilities along with fuel for nuclear energy.

Human rights

• A Human Rights Council should be established, possibly as a standing U.N. body like the Security Council, to replace the Commission on Human Rights.

• Nations should accept the "responsibility to protect" and need for collective action in cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

• A fund should be established for countries seeking to establish or strengthen their democracy.

Development

• Rich countries should establish a timetable to earmark 0.7 percent of gross national product for development assistance by 2015.

• Poor countries should adopt a program by 2006 to cut extreme poverty in half, ensure primary education for all children and achieve other development goals by 2015.

• Nations must look beyond the 2012 expiration of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.

U.N. renewal

• The Security Council should be expanded to make it more representative of 21st-century geopolitical realities.

• The U.N. Secretariat should be streamlined.

-Associated Press

The report, titled "In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All," constitutes Annan's most ambitious effort to reconcile the gap between poor nations, who want the United Nations to devote more attention to fighting poverty and disease, and the United States and many of its allies, who are pressing for more U.N. action on terrorism.

It calls for expanding the 15-nation Security Council to 24 members by the end of the year and urges wealthy countries to dramatically increase development assistance and debt relief to poor countries that govern responsibly. In a speech to the General Assembly, Annan urged world leaders to embrace his initiative in its entirety, and not as an "a la carte menu."

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli expressed concern over Annan's call for a Security Council resolution outlining principles that would guide the council in deciding whether to go to war, including a determination of whether the military option is proportional to the threat.

Annan, who has described the U.S. invasion of Iraq as illegal, maintains that only the Security Council has the right to authorize military action against a country that does not pose an immediate threat. The United States asserts that it has the right to strike an enemy whenever it perceives a threat.

Still, Ereli said, the United States appreciates Annan's effort to change the institution and to tackle a range of politically sensitive development and security issues. He said Annan also provided a "positive emphasis on the importance of promoting freedom and respect for human rights."

Delegates from the developing world voiced concern that Annan's proposals -- particularly his call for an anti-terrorism convention before the end of next year -- go too far in accommodating the interests of the United States and other powerful countries.

Annan will travel Monday night to Algiers to try to generate support for his ideas at an Arab League summit. But Arab leaders are expected to object to his proposal that the treaty define terrorism as any act that is "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants" to intimidate a community, government or international organization.

Some Arab delegates have urged Annan to include an exemption for "national liberation movements," which would include Palestinian militants who have targeted Israeli civilians. They have also objected to Annan's appeal to drop any discussion of "state terrorism" -- a phrase that Arab states typically use to describe Israel's military policies -- in negotiations on a new terrorism convention.

"It won't be an easy issue to discuss," said Abdallah Baali, Algeria's U.N. ambassador. "You should not deal with terrorism without addressing its root causes, and its root cause is occupation."

Other U.N. envoys said Annan will also have a hard time selling Third World countries on his proposals to advocate international military intervention in countries responsible for massive human rights violations.

"That is going to be quite controversial for developing countries," said Singapore's U.N. ambassador, Vanu Gopala Menon. "We are prepared to look at it with an open mind, but there are others among the developing countries who are a bit concerned. How do you make sure this is not an excuse to interfere in countries' domestic affairs?"

Menon also said Annan's proposal to replace the 53-member Commission on Human Rights with a smaller Human Rights Council selected by the General Assembly provides no assurances that the members will have better rights records than current members do.


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