brian carroll on Tue, 4 Apr 2000 07:59:41 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] UN's IT vision

 [this Reuter's news piece of Kofi Annan's U.N. vision for the world
 has interesting applications of network technologies. i'm supposing
 the `e-mail this article to a friend' applies to nettime-l too. bc]

Yahoo! News Story -- Annan Sets Ambitious Goals for New Millennium

By Anthony Goodman

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - In a sweeping report prepared as a blueprint for
a millennium U.N. summit, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan set course on
Monday for a 21st century born of benevolent globalization and human
solidarity, with a big boost from the Internet.

The report is studded with proposals for making good on many of the
languishing ideals of the 55-year-old U.N. Charter.

They range from halving the proportion of the world's population ---
currently 22 percent -- existing on less than a dollar a day by the year
2015, to halting and reversing by then the scourge of AIDS.

U.N. members also are called on to commit themselves to ensuring that by
2015 all children complete primary schooling and that the gender gap is
eliminated at all levels of education.

The 58-page document, presented to the 188-nation U.N. General Assembly, is
intended to form the basis of discussion for what is billed as the biggest
gathering of world leaders at a Millennium U.N. Summit set for Sept. 6-8.

``We must put people at the center of everything we do. No calling is more
noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and
children, in cities and in villages around the world, to make their lives
better,'' Annan wrote.

In the most sweeping redefinition of the world organization's mission since
its founding in 1945, Annan set ambitious goals for a planet whose
population has more than doubled since then -- from fewer than 2.5 billion
to 6 billion people.

It is also a world body, he noted, whose work habits are now dictated by
the communications revolution rather than the leisurely sailing schedules
of ocean liners that once brought diplomats to New York.

``The Internet is the fastest growing instrument of communication in the
history of civilization, and it may be the most rapidly disseminating tool
of any kind ever,'' said Annan, now in the fourth year of his five-year

Series of Initiatives Announced

Among the initiatives he announced were:

-- a volunteer corps called the United Nations Information Technology
Service (UNITeS) to train groups in developing countries how to use
information technology;

-- a Health InterNetwork to establish 10,000 online sites in hospitals and
clinics in developing countries to provide access to the latest medical

-- a disaster response initiative, ``First on the Ground,'' led Ericsson
(LMEb.ST) communications, to provide uninterrupted communications to areas
hit by natural disasters;

-- and a global network to explore new approaches to youth employment.

Despite its promise, globalization has begun to generate a backlash, Annan
said, because its benefits and opportunities appeared highly concentrated
among a relatively small number of countries, and were spread unevenly
within them.

``Thus the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization
becomes a positive force for all the world's people, instead of leaving
billions of them behind in squalor,'' he said.

Introducing his report to the General Assembly on Monday, Annan asked:
``How can we say that the half of the human race which has yet to make or
receive a telephone call, let alone use a computer, is taking part in
globalization? We cannot without insulting their poverty.''

Listing global issues under the headings of freedom from want, freedom from
fear and the freedom of future generations to sustain their lives on this
planet, he said the last was not clearly identified in the U.N. Charter
``because in 1945 our founders could scarcely imagine that it would ever be

``If I could sum it up in one sentence, I should say we are plundering our
children's heritage to pay for our present unsustainable practices,'' Annan
said, calling for the reduction of ``greenhouse gases'' responsible for
global warming.

Many of his proposals aim at attaining long-standing objectives, including
free access to markets for goods from poor countries; an expansion of
debt-relief programs for the most heavily burdened; and cooperation with
pharmaceutical companies and others to develop an affordable vaccine for

In the age-old fight against the scourge of war, Annan urged all countries
to sign and honor treaties in the fields of arms control and international
and human rights law.

He specifically referred to the statute of an International Criminal Court,
which too few countries have so far ratified to enable it to enter into
force and about which the United States has strong reservations.

Other goals include:

-- strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to conduct peace
operations -- more of which are now being launched;

-- targeting sanctions against delinquent rulers rather than innocent
populations -- an issue that has come to prominence in the case of Iraq; and

-- curbing the illegal traffic in small arms that fuel innumerable wars.

Referring to two principles that the United Nations has yet to harmonize --
and which came to the fore with the Kosovo crisis -- Annan told the
Assembly: ``National sovereignty offers vital protection to small and weak
states, but it should not be a shield for crimes against humanity.''

``In extreme cases the clash of these two principles confronts us with a
real dilemma, and the Security Council may have a moral duty to act on
behalf of the international community. But in most cases the international
community should be able to preserve peace by measures which do not
infringe state sovereignty,'' he said.

Copyright  2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited
without the prior written consent of Reuters.
Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for
any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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