Back in New York after a comprehensive trip to the Middle East, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan joined the start of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly. As members prepared to elect his successor, Annan used one of his last press confe
“Throughout my visit, almost every leader I met felt that Lebanon was a wake up call and we should really focus on stabilising the situation in Lebanon and relations between Lebanon and Israel, but not stop there, to build on there to deal with other conflicts in the region,” he said. Annan also spoke of other “urgent tasks” on the UN agenda, including the situation in Dafur, drawing comparisons with Rwanda, challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Iranian nuclear dossier – an issue which has divided the security council. He spoke of mistrust on both sides of the nuclear standoff. The West and Iran wanted to establish confidence, he noted, adding that the best solution was a negotiated settlement.Annan said he was satisfied that under his authority, the UN had established pillars that could support the organisation’s work – ideas of peace and stability, human rights law and good governance. Key members were coming under pressure behind closed doors to agree on a high-profile successor. The selection process is due to restart with a vote on Thursday. Candidates include Jordan’s ambassador to the UN and South Korea’s foreign minister. With time running out after months of lobbying, choosing a strong leader winning broad support will be crucial for the future. Many say the UN needs leadership that can be resolute in its missions while appealing to differing interests.