Kofi Annan Criticizes US in Departing United Nations Message
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Monday December 11, 2006
The outgoing UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, today urged the US not to set aside its ideals and principles in its "war on terror".
In his last major speech before handing over to South Korea's Ban Ki-Moon at the end of the year, Mr Annan said the UN needed far-sighted leadership from the US.
In an address at Harry Truman's presidential library in Independence, Missouri, Mr Annan praised the 33rd US president, in office from 1945 to 1953, as a model.
"More than ever today Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world's peoples can face global challenges together," he said. "And in order to function, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership in the Truman tradition."
Mr Annan, who came into his job in 1997 with the backing of the Clinton administration, infuriated the Bush White House last year when he said the US-led invasion was illegal.
In an apparent dig at the Bush administration, which went to war in Iraq without authorisation from the UN, Mr Annan said: "When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose, for broadly shared aims, in accordance with broadly accepted norms."
Possibly referring to human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, he said: "When it [the US] appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused."
However, while repeatedly praising the Truman administration, Mr Annan never mentioned George Bush by name.
"As President Truman said, the responsibility of the great states is to serve, and not dominate, the peoples of the world," Mr Annan said.
"He believed strongly that henceforth security must be collective and indivisible. That was why, for instance ... he insisted, when faced with aggression by North Korea against the south in 1950, on bringing the issue to the United Nations."
Mr Annan also called for a reform of the security council, saying its membership "still reflects the reality of 1945". He suggested adding new members to represent parts of the world whose voices were insufficiently represented.
He said the five permanent members - the US, Britain, France, China and Russia - "must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege".
"The security council," he said, "is not just another stage on which to act out national interests."