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Farewell to Kofi Annan


St Vincent and the Grenadines as a nation holds firm to our obligations and purpose as stated clearly in the Charter of the UN, which is to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and, to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.

Mr Annan first accepted the role of Secretary General on January 1, 1997 by appointment of the Security Council. As he approached the end of a second term and tenure marked and defined by the use of his independence, impartiality and integrity he will be remembered for his attempts in preventing international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The office of Secretary-General is an integral part of this world body and it is not only a symbol of the United Nations ideals, but a voice for the interests of the world’s people, in particular the poor and vulnerable in its attempts to solve the world’s most convoluted issues.{{more}}

By way of background, Mr Annan a multi-lingual Nobel peace prize recipient, author and graduate of the Macalester College in the US and Graduate Institute of International Studies, Switzerland, his career with the United Nations began in 1962, through the World Health Organization.

He continued as an Assistant Secretary-General in three consecutive positions namely, Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator from 1987 to 1990, Programme Planning, Budget and Finance, and Controller from 1990 to 1992, and Peacekeeping Operations from March 1993 to February 1994.

Annan was thereafter an Under Secretary-General until October 1996.

It is this remarkable achievement that is worthy not only of a retrospective appreciation and acknowledgement, but as a continuing member state of the United Nations, we must eagerly look forward to, and embrace, that there is much still to be done in the common struggle for development, security and human rights.

During his 10-year tenure, he experienced the bombing of Iraq in 1998, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) assault to liberate Kosovo from Yugoslavia and the terror in East Timor. More recently, terrorist assaults on the World Trade Centre, the consequent attack on Afghanistan, the growing war against Iraq, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to mention a few, are some of the urgent international predicaments he has had to intervene.

Nevertheless, it is apparent that one of Annan’s greatest challenges may be properly estimated to be his exchanges with a United States administration that practically dismissed the UN as an irrelevance while it led an invasion of Iraq, and then enlisted the UN’s support in the aftermath.

For Annan, as well as the UN, this was a crucial test.

Annan’s view was made clear when he cautioned the US in this statement, “For the UN the issue should be disarmament.

Regime change is not our policy.” Whether regime change has attributed to President Bush’s administration more than they bargained for is a circumstance which is presently unfolding. Hence, if the post of Secretary General is to receive the level of respect accorded to it on paper then there needs to be a rethinking of the power structures within the UN.

This may be something that future leaders may consider revisiting.

In his final message the Secretary-General cautions that there is yet a lot to be done specifically in making steps forward to reach all eight of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, closing the gap between the rich and the poor and preventing people from facing atrocities, repression and brutal conflicts.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is doing its part in moving forward and making a reality the Millennium goals. We see significant strides being made in the areas of poverty alleviation, the achievement of universal education, promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, the development a global partnership for development among others.

The modus operandi left for us by Annan is that, “Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and the deadline.

It takes time to train the teachers, nurses and engineers; to build the roads, schools and hospitals; to grow the small and large businesses able to create the jobs and income needed. So we must start now. Nothing less will help to achieve the Goals.”

Indeed, Mr. Annan has served, and his successor Ban Ki Moon of The Republic of Korea has been already appointed on October 13 this year, the mission of the United Nations still remains, and we as a nation must continue playing our part.