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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

24. Reform of the UN, the Millennium Development Goals
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  President. – The next item is the statements by the Council and the Commission on the reform of the United Nations and the Millennium Development Goals.

 
  
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  Douglas Alexander, President-in-Office of the Council. Mr President, two weeks ago at the 2005 World Summit, our Heads of State and Government met to decide how the international community, through the United Nations, should tackle the world's most pressing problems: the interrelated challenges of development, security and human rights.

The decisions they took after two years of debate and consultation, now enshrined in the so-called outcome document, set the United Nations agenda for the years ahead. The challenges to the world's security and prosperity have been starkly and comprehensively set out by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the United Nations Millennium Project, and by Kofi Annan himself in his In Larger Freedom report. All concluded that until we took urgent action to address poverty, disease, environmental degradation and social injustice, we would not be able to prevent or resolve conflict. We would not be able to build peace, and without peace and security, development cannot take hold. Neither is possible without respect for human rights.

These, as all the Members of this Parliament will know, are not new concepts. Indeed the United Nations was created 60 years ago to build peace and security throughout the world. But the world is very different 60 years on. Through technology and communication, countries are more closely bound together than ever before. That means too that the impact of conflicts and disasters is increasingly global in its reach. We all, therefore, have an overriding interest in working together to secure peace and build prosperity.

Some, I know, were disappointed and frustrated by the results of the World Summit. Many felt that the commitments made did not go far enough. Reaching a consensus amongst 191 nations was never going to be easy. We know that only too well from our own experience with 25.

So we should take heart from the fact that the far-reaching commitments made by G8 leaders in July to increase aid, to reduce debt and to expand trade have essentially been safeguarded at the United Nations summit. As Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General said, and I quote directly, 'taken as a whole, the [UN summit] document is still a remarkable expression of world unity on a wide range of issues'.

Our task now is to ensure that the agreements are implemented. As my Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said in New York, if we start implementing with urgency the agreements on doubling aid, on opening up trade and establishing fair-trade rules, on debt relief, on HIV/Aids and malaria and on conflict prevention and stopping genocide, we would have more democracy, less oppression, more freedom, less terrorism, more growth, less poverty.

I am proud that the European Union was at the forefront of efforts to reach consensus on all of the issues under debate. We had many priorities for the summit across the four so-called clusters of development, peace and collective security, human rights and the rule of law, and strengthening the United Nations.

I believe that the conclusions reached at the summit set us out on the right path towards improvements in all of these areas, as long as the momentum is sustained and as long as we act now. The interest and commitment shown by Members of this Parliament towards improvements in these areas is truly admirable and was demonstrated in the expertise of the European Parliament delegation who attended the summit, led by co-Chairmen Nirj Deva and Michel Rocard.

The summit secured firm and unambiguous commitments from both donor and developing countries on what is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals. It strengthened the partnership between developed and developing countries set out at Monterey and consolidated all the achievements of this year so far. It broadened the consensus around the commitments established back in July at the Gleneagles summit to 191 countries, in particular the need to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Goals in Africa and to make international progress once again on climate change. It also agreed, as set out clearly in the outcome document, that development must be sustainable and take account of its impact on the global environment.

Under the UK's Presidency, the European Council has continued to press for more international action to increase development aid in the fight against poverty and deprivation. We, the European Union, are already easily the world's largest aid donor: 80% of the extra USD 5 billion of aid pledged at the G8 summit in Gleneagles will come from Europe.

We have also made a historic commitment to double aid to Africa by 2010. We have spearheaded the important agreements reached this year to reduce debt and launch global immunisation programmes against illnesses and diseases in the poorest countries.

There has of course been criticism that not enough progress was made on trade, back at that summit in July. But it will ultimately be through the Doha Development Round that the international community can and must deliver real gains for poor countries by abolishing export subsidies and reducing all barriers to trade, including trade-distorting domestic support. We will work as hard as we can to ensure that political leaders focus on getting results at the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December and indeed focus on these issues before the December Hong Kong ministerial meeting.

As my Prime Minister has said, if we end up with a failure in December, that will echo right round the world. To make progress on development we need peace and security. As Kofi Annan set out in his document, In Larger Freedom: 'We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.'

The summit agreed to establish a new peace-building commission, which will bring together United Nations member states, UN agencies and the international financial institutions to close a critical gap in the UN's ability to help countries emerging from conflict to make that vital transition to long-term stability and avoid relapsing into war. You know, as Members of this Parliament, that the European Union is committed to meeting the summit deadline of establishing the commission by the end of this year.

More could have been said in the summit document regarding terrorism. The strong condemnation of terrorism 'in all its forms and manifestations' was certainly a welcome political statement. But we must now work on fulfilling our pledge to conclude the comprehensive convention on terrorism by September 2006. That will mean agreeing on a legal definition of terrorist acts, something that all of our governments have a real interest in securing. Despite the summit's failure to reach agreement on measures for non-proliferation and disarmament, I can assure Parliament that we will continue to work to move forward the agenda on these important issues.

Ensuring respect for human rights lies at the very heart of the United Nations mission. We are fully supportive, therefore, of the creation of a new human rights council to replace the maligned Commission on Human Rights. We must urgently agree on its size, its mandate and composition so that it can begin its work and ensure that human rights are once again at the core of all UN activity.

Perhaps the decision of greatest significance to emerge from that summit was the agreement on 'the responsibility to protect' – a political commitment that the international community has a duty to act when states cannot or will not protect their populations from the worst atrocities: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is an important recognition that in today's world we cannot fail to act when vulnerable populations face these terrible atrocities.

We must also work to strengthen the United Nations Secretariat, to make it a more effective and efficient body. We should begin by encouraging Kofi Annan to use the executive powers he already holds to effect change from within the organisation. But we, as member states, also have a key responsibility to ensure that the United Nations is structured and equipped to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. The European Council welcomed the commitments to reform the main UN bodies, including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council. If the UN is to be effective it has to work collectively with all of its members. That means winning their support. UN organisations must therefore be representative, open and efficient.

We will continue to work on improving the effectiveness of the General Assembly and Ecosoc in particular. We particularly welcome the mandate given to the Secretary-General to consider longer-term reform of the UN's development, humanitarian assistance and environment organisations so that their work is better managed and better coordinated.

To be effective the United Nations must have the resources that it needs, but it cannot afford to waste funds on inefficiency and duplication of effort. The European Union fully supports the long-standing principle of budgetary discipline. We are therefore seeking to adopt a budget for the next financial year that will enable the Secretary-General and the United Nations to deliver what its members ask and expect, including under the new mandates agreed at the summit in New York.

The key to the success of that 2005 Millennium Review Summit and the UN's reform programme in general is, of course, implementation. Some of the proposals will be explored in the Committee of the General Assembly, in session from now until the end of this year. Others will be taken forward independently. The European Union will again be at the forefront of this process. We, as United Nations member states, are responsible now for turning words into action.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner , Member of the Commission. Mr President, I was proud to be at the Millennium Summit and at the ministerial week that followed. It was the biggest gathering of world leaders ever seen and I hope it will usher in a new era of international cooperation. Despite all the criticism – which I myself also made – we must clearly state that the United Nations lies at the bedrock of modern world order.

The outcome – as my colleague has mentioned already – has been mixed, but the glass is half full and not half empty. The European Union was very ambitious and took the lead, together with President Jean Ping of the United Nations General Assembly. In the end, we could not achieve everything we wanted. That is normal at multilateral gatherings. One has high ambitions but in the end one has to compromise.

Having said that, there are a number of very important achievements and other matters on which we were disappointed. What were the achievements? For the Commission it was remarkable to have the Millennium Development Goals enshrined in the Millennium Declaration. That was thanks to my colleague Mr Michel. I am happy to say that the European Union has set the example with 0.56% up to 2010 and 0.7% up to 2015. That showed that other colleagues, especially from the developing countries, were very happy about it. This reaffirmation of acknowledgement of the Millennium Development Goals as a galvanizing framework for development efforts has been achieved for the first time at an intergovernmental level.

The second great achievement was the endorsement of the principle of responsibility to protect populations from atrocities. This was a major success because it redefines the concept of sovereignty as a positive concept, putting human beings at the core of security concerns. That should enhance the credibility of the international community, and the United Nations means to act in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. I come from a country close to the Balkans and remember the Kosovo intervention. That intervention has in a way triggered this new development of international law and, for the first time, this enshrining of the development goals.

The third achievement was the Peace-building Commission, which is an important concrete result that should make the international community’s response to the needs of countries dealing with the aftermath of conflicts more effective and coordinated. The Commission has been working with all the same factors, from humanitarian efforts to reconstruction efforts and institution building, to trade and all questions surrounding democracy and human rights; from military peacekeeping missions to election observation missions. All that will now be coordinated in the Peace-building Commission and we therefore feel that the Commission there has to have its place at the table.

There are other matters on which I personally was disappointed. The first of these relates to the Human Rights Council. It was more of a name change than a real achievement, but at least the principle has been accepted and we hope that together we can work to make the new human rights architecture a better, more crucial one, together with the new President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson. It is important to have a strong, credible, standing institution comprising Member States that have a human rights credit.

On the other hand, there were some positive steps on human rights, such as the doubling of the budget for the Human Rights Special High Representative, which opens up the possibility of direct action in the field. I also note with encouragement that the summit outcome contains a resolution to 'strengthen the United Nations human rights machinery with the aim of ensuring effective enjoyment by all of human rights'.

Another negative point was the whole question of disarmament. It was described by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as nothing less than a disgrace. We clearly have to go on working on that very important item.

There are two further questions, one of which is the environment. Environmental sustainability is instrumental in our fight against poverty, for stabilisation and for greater security. Especially now, with the tsunami, Katrina and Rita, and floods in the European Union, a real United Nations environmental organisation would have been the right response by the international community.

Finally, a word on the United Nations management reforms. I think it is very important that the Secretary-General not only has accountability and responsibility, but also gets the authority to lead this management reform and be able to implement it.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Francisco José Millán Mon, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (ES) Mr President, I agree with Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner that the results of the New York Summit are diverse and heterogeneous, containing both positive and negative results.

In any event, I feel somewhat relieved at the final document of the Summit because I well remember that, two years ago, the international community was very divided and the United Nations was in a situation of deadlock. Furthermore, just hours before the Summit opened, it seemed that it would be difficult to achieve a final document which contained anything more than mere general points.

Fortunately, it has been possible to reach an agreement on a document that contains some substantial achievements, though it also unquestionably contains shortcomings and failures.

I would like to stress — as the Commissioner has done — that, for example, the Summit has achieved a significant reaffirmation of the Millennium Development Objectives.

With regard to security, my diagnosis is the same: the lack of any result with regard to non-proliferation and disarmament is regrettable.

In the field of combating terrorism — such an important issue — I believe that there has been very little progress. We have not even been able to produce a minimal definition of the act of terrorism with which the international community could agree. The positive aspect, however – as has already been mentioned – is the creation of the Peace Consolidation Committee.

With regard to the reform of the United Nations, I do not believe that anybody is surprised about the failure of the reform of the Security Council. In the international community there are profound and apparently insurmountable differences in this regard. We in the European Union lack a common position. The only thing I want to stress here is that the majority of this Parliament, in its Resolution of June of this year, expressed its support for a European Union seat.

In another great area – human rights – I am pleased — as the representative of the Council and the Commissioner have pointed out — about the recognition of the international community’s right and duty to provide protection in the event of genocide. But in this same field of human rights, regrettably, the only decision adopted has been to create the Human Rights Council, without any further detail. I therefore very much fear that the negotiation on defining the Council’s mandate, its members and the method of election is being seriously delayed.

In short, I believe that there remains much to be done, but the truth is that, following the Summit — and I am drawing to a close, Mr President — there is now a basis on which to continue building. The 60th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations offered a good opportunity to bring the international community back together and bring it into line with the challenges of the new century.

I hope that the steps taken may be translated into progress during this very decisive year.

 
  
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  Glenys Kinnock, on behalf of the PSE Group. Mr President, I wish to begin by welcoming the President-in-Office – who, I know full well, is a very committed internationalist himself – to this debate. I thank the Commissioner for the support she gave us in the delegation that attended the summit in New York.

As you have all mentioned, NGOs and others have been somewhat critical of the Outcome Document of the summit. However, I would argue, as you have done, for a more measured approach in the assessment that we make and would agree that we should describe it as a glass half-full. I also believe that exaggerated accusations of failure will not help to create the right incentives for policy makers to take risks and take action.

In the Outcome Document there are strong commitments on how we should meet the MDGs by 2015. However, one of the things I regret is that global target 8 is not strong enough to ensure that countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada or Italy are not let off the hook and to keep pressure on them to do the same as the European Union has done. Promises of 0.7% are simply not enough and, therefore, we need to see action from these countries and others.

I also welcome – as I am sure the President-in-Office does – the strong reference in the document to the need for innovative sources of finance to be sought in order to meet the MDGs.

I also believe that the endorsement given by George Bush to the MDGs represents significant progress – perhaps the best progress of the week. Perhaps self-interest is pushing the United States along that multilateral road that many of us believe it is not prepared to take.

I am also keen to acknowledge that in the Outcome Document they make a very clear link between security, development and conflict resolution in the measures that they take. It also clearly identifies the responsibilities of both developed and developing countries. The EU development policy statement is now the appropriate vehicle for us to move this forward and to show that we firmly believe in the need to rebuild, in Europe and elsewhere, that strong sense of unity, purpose and action. The document is also strong on governance and the rule of law, which are very important aspects of our work with developing countries.

You have mentioned the Peace-building Commission – which is very important – and peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building. I regret that the Human Rights Council is now going into the General Assembly, where it will be subject to wrangling and horse-trading. Therefore, again, the European Union has a role to play in pushing this forward in a positive way.

Most of all, I welcome the fact that we now have collective responsibility to protect civilians against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and all crimes against humanity. Now we look forward to the proof that in the future the UN will be able to avoid those failures that we so tragically saw in Bosnia and Rwanda.

On reform issues, we regret that the Secretary-General will continue to be micro-managed by the member states of the United Nations.

The biggest disappointment is the failure to address the proliferation of nuclear weapons. That means that we now have a yawning gap in our international arrangements and the EU again must apply pressure to move this forward.

Finally, I wish to refer to the amendment tabled by the PSE Group on sexual and reproductive health rights. This is an important position for us to take if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goals. It underpins all those goals, particularly on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child mortality. I trust that this Parliament will reinstate this in the text; that we will commit ourselves, as we did in the vote on my report on the Millennium Development Goals, to this important aspect. This Parliament should then subsequently support the international legitimacy of the UN. In 1945 the stakes were high for the policy makers; the stakes are high now, but the reasons for moving forward are just as great as they were then.

 
  
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  Alexander Lambsdorff, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we Europeans agree that the world needs the United Nations; and moreover, that it needs the United Nations to be strong.

Rarely in its sixty-year history has the UN been so much the focus of public attention; rarely were reforms as important or necessary as this year.

The ultimate achievements of the Outcome Document are unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, my group, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, is of the opinion that the progress made is to be acknowledged, whilst things we failed to achieve are to be discussed even more intensively than before.

The glass is half full. The EU now has the task of helping to fill it to the brim. Parliament, in particular, must see the result of the Summit as an opportunity. We view Parliament as a co-architect of the continuing reform process. As Members of the European Parliament, we hold the key to securing and strengthening acceptance of the UN by the people, driving democratisation of the organisation forward successfully, and in particular ensuring that millions of people have access to food, clean water and better health services.

The Millennium Development Goals must be implemented. Progress on this by Member States is unsatisfactory. The Outcome Document of the Summit does not lay down a precise timetable to hold the Member States to their commitments. This is disappointing. On the other hand, as Mrs Kinnock mentioned, there is the endorsement by the USA of the Millennium Development Goals, unexpected in its clarity, which is a very positive development on which we must build. I think that we should take our friends in the USA at their word.

My group warmly welcomes the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission. This is a decision that will increase the profile of the UN in crisis regions. It must be the task of the EU to provide valuable support for the setting-up and operation of this Commission. The EU is one of the world’s leading peace-builders: as a donor, a helper and a political force. Incidentally, this must be made a great deal clearer than it has been within the UN system. We are pleased that we and the Commissioner are so unanimous on this.

An initial step, on which I should also like an opinion from the Commission and the Council, would be to combine the representatives of Council and Commission in New York and at the other UN sites.

The ALDE Group regards the promotion of democracy as another important task. The establishment of a Democracy Fund is an important step in the right direction, and further measures could include the establishment of a ‘caucus of democracies’ within the General Assembly. A parliamentary assembly should also be considered.

One thing is clear, and that is that the reform of the UN is not complete and must be continued consistently. This applies in particular to the Security Council. Kofi Annan’s proposals are well-known. It is now up to the General Assembly to decide on one by the end of the year. In addition, we in Parliament maintain the vision of a permanent seat for the European Union as soon as the political, legal and constitutional conditions for this are met. This is emphasised once more in our resolution, which is to be put to the vote tomorrow.

We cannot afford to let the UN be a second-tier player; it must take centre stage. For only the UN has the potential to overcome the challenges of our time through a multilateral approach and on a global scale. Parliament must support it on this path, as we need a strong United Nations. Incidentally, I believe that we should be conducting this debate in Brussels and not in Strasbourg.

 
  
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  Frithjof Schmidt, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, Minister, ladies and gentlemen, it must be said without equivocation that the United Nations has just missed a historic opportunity for systematic reform. The result is disappointing, and the good groundwork by Kofi Annan has not been transformed into real success.

The reform has failed in four key areas. There will not be any reform of the Security Council that produces genuine regional representation. There is no plan for disarmament or non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Plans to create a UN Environment Organisation were unsuccessful. I should like to add that, particularly in the face of the challenges of international climate policy, that is a very serious omission. We do not have any real instrument for United Nations policy in this field. Attempts to further develop the Economic and Social Council – particularly in the face of the great challenges that we face with regard to development policy – were also unsuccessful. The phrase ‘the end of one reform is the start of the next’ is therefore true today.

Nevertheless, there has of course been some progress that we can use as a starting point. The establishment of a UN Human Rights Council is a good thing, even if its composition is not yet clear. The doubling of the resources of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is also good. Another positive development is that there will be a Peacebuilding Commission. It is good that the Millennium Development Goals have been reaffirmed and that various action programmes and solidarity funds are being set up.

What emerges from this is a specific challenge for the European Union, and so I wish to call on the Council and the Commission to present a precise action plan for the specific financial and organisational contribution of the European Union to the implementation of these measures. The aim now, in the wake of the Summit, is to back up the rhetoric of the United Nations with specific, material support.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (PT) I, too, should like to say that the glass is half full, but we all know that this is not true. The summit was a failure. Whilst the summit did reaffirm the modest Millennium Goals, it was prevented from turning words into action. Somebody stopped the donating countries from making commitments in terms of financial support based on clear targets. What we are actually left with is a glass full of words and a hand full of nothing.

The Assembly also trotted out well-intentioned words against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but a number of people placed barriers in the way of a disarmament strategy. Without such a strategy, the nuclear club will inevitably continue to proliferate. The Assembly also sought to reform the United Nations, but somebody pulled out all the stops to ensure that everything remains as it is. That somebody has a name: John Bolton, the official voice of the empire in the United Nations.

Commissioner, you mentioned ‘Katrina’. The New Orleans tragedy and the New York failure share a common thread – the North American administration. In New Orleans the rule was simple – if you had a car you got out and if you did not, then tough. In the emperor’s ideal world this is the way it works. Washington does not wish to know about the poor, because it does not even deal with its own. As far as the White House is concerned, the poor are quite simply a waste of time and money.

Mr President, my group will be voting for this resolution, because, however unambitious it may be, it does represent a step in the right direction, and because we need a strong United Nations and will do everything in our power to make the United Nations strong. Let us be clear, however. We will only have a credible United Nations when Europe and the rest of the world sends Washington the right signals. Harsh words were spoken today about Turkey. I should like to see the same stringent standards applied to Washington.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. (SV) Mr President, the June List is a friend of the UN and believes that the UN can be given ample ability to contribute constructive solutions to international conflicts. We do not, however, believe that the EU and its Parliament should dictate how the UN should work and what its goals should be. The debate on the UN’s future should be conducted between the UN’s member states and in international contexts broader than the European one. We are critical of the proposal that the EU be represented by a single seat on the UN Security Council. Nor do we support Parliament’s desire to set up common EU delegations at the various headquarters of the UN. The EU Member States have different views on the issues dealt with by the UN and its Security Council.

Sweden, for example, has played an important role in the UN as a bridge builder between poor and rich countries, as a mediator and as a promoter of disarmament. What this shows is that small countries too have an important role to play in the UN and in international politics. We fear that the small countries’ voices would not be heard if the EU were to speak with one voice in UN contexts. Which of the EU’s 25 voices would then be heard from this single seat? If it were the case that the EU could speak with a single voice in UN contexts, why then are the United Kingdom and France defending their present permanent seats on the Security Council? Why is Germany trying to obtain a seat on the Security Council? The truth is that the EU Member States have no uniform view on international political issues. This has become evident on quite a number of occasions, especially in connection with the United States’s intervention in Iraq. Let us affirm our many-faceted continent and let us work to ensure that all voices are heard in the debate.

Applause

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere, on behalf of the UEN Group. – (LV) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, following lively debates, in May the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the reform of the UN. As part of that resolution, Parliament called on the UN to keep its promises, to provide assistance to developing countries, to reach agreement on a common definition of terrorism, to adopt an action plan for the prevention of genocide and also to reform the Security Council, which still continues to reflect the post-war world order. Of these tasks, none has been achieved. On the contrary, the few agreements that have been reached are hedged about with compromises and will in all likelihood not be properly effective. On the issue of UN reform there are currently more failures than achievements.

This outcome gives rise to the question of whether the European Union is a strong global player. The answer is obvious. The European Union has not worked effectively enough. I would therefore like to call on the European Commission to evaluate the results of UN reform from the European Union perspective, and also to reflect on how to coordinate future activities with other countries, so that the decisions we take do not remain merely resolutions. In such circumstances it is important to assess whether the UN is capable of reforming itself at all, or whether perhaps a new organisation of a similar type is needed. That is further in the future, however. Right now it is important to draw up a strategy on how to achieve the goals that have already been set, so that the UN may work effectively to achieve security and prosperity in the modern world.

 
  
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  Irena Belohorská (NI). – (SK) Everybody agrees about the need to reform the United Nations. The only problem is the shape that this reform should take. We agree that the UN system is much too complex and should be streamlined. I believe, however, that the biggest problem is not the reform of UN bodies, but the inability of UN members to reach political agreement, due to fundamentally opposing views concerning the work of the UN as such. Some members would like to see a strong UN, while others oppose such aims; it is precisely this that prevents agreement.

I am, however, more concerned about the UN commitment to reaching the so-called Millennium Development Goals, that is, to reduce poverty by half, to fight hunger, malaria and other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and to ensure respect for human rights, especially the rights of women. Although the UN has pledged to fulfil these objectives by 2015, poverty has still not been reduced, and in fact it is increasing. It is estimated that if we continued working at the current pace, it would take one hundred years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In September I was the only member of an EU institution taking part in a women’s rights conference in China. It was the so-called Beijing +10 Conference. The Conference was held for the first time in 1975 and has been repeated every ten years since then. It is interesting that, since 1995, no country in the world has been able to organise a fifth conference on women’s issues. I find myself wondering whether the European Union is interested in information on how the declarations that we have co-signed are implemented, and how assistance provided to some countries by the European Union, especially in the form of financial help, is used.

If we want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, financial assistance must be more than doubled. The European Union, as an important donor, must monitor the way in which this assistance is used. It must ensure that this assistance is not abused by being allocated for other purposes, and that the recipient country respects human rights. If there is no respect for human rights, financial assistance should be withdrawn. If, however, we fail to participate in conferences and do not learn about the kind of problems that arise during implementation, our assistance, intended to purchase medications and to build schools, may instead be used to purchase weapons or to recruit child soldiers.

 
  
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  Nirj Deva (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I wish to thank the President-in-Office and Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner for the excellent work they have already done at the UN. I was privileged to co-chair the delegation to the UN with my distinguished colleague, Michel Rocard, the former Prime Minister of France.

We need a United Nations which reflects the shared values of ordinary people and which delivers them. Today we live in a global market full of images. The tsunami in Indonesia, the floods in New Orleans and terrorism in London become local events: local in my village, in my reality, in my home and among my friends. This is 'unity through diversity', not 'one-size fits all'. How can the UN exist in this brave new world and still be relevant? The UN has no legislative powers, nor is it a world government. It is merely an organisation that delivers. The best thing to have happened to the United Nations, in hindsight, is the United States suddenly having become more serious about its delivery capability.

Business as usual is therefore no longer an option and Messrs Ping and Annan have done excellent work in starting the process of reform. Excellent work is already being done by the UN's specialised agencies such as the WHO, UNDP, the World Food Programme, the IMO and the ICO, but even here there is scope for an in-depth review to ensure best value for money and the highest quality of management.

Those organisations may be delivering, but the UN process itself in New York is not. That must change. We should limit the process in New York and instead focus on UN agencies as outputs. We need to draw upon best-practice in government and large corporations. A long-range planning group should be established to predict crisis situations well in advance.

Poverty, disease, conflict and despair are often the result of poor national governance. We should help to increase capacity and give aid to those who can use it wisely.

I am pleased to announce that the European Parliament, through the Committee on Development and Cooperation has already proposed that an amount of around EUR 2 million be allocated under the budget for quick-win impacts and also, following a meeting with the Commissioner in New York, for the Peace Building Commission.

An effective system of international governance and justice is one that brings to justice those who have committed crimes against humanity. We also have a right to protect. UN peacekeepers must be better trained, and under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, they could have right of enforcement powers for conflict resolution.

Mr President, I wish to say that this has been a very important and excellent debate. Thank you.

 
  
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  Jo Leinen (PSE). – (DE) Mr President, the United Nations Summit was not a failure, but I do agree with many of my fellow Members that it was disappointing. Nevertheless, thanks to the commitment of Europe and of many developing countries, tangible results did emerge. It is to be hoped that the General Assembly produces yet more progress in the coming months.

The greatest disappointment, as far as I am concerned, is the absence of a commitment to global disarmament. Mankind spends EUR 1 000 billion per annum on arms and EUR 60 billion on development aid. If someone from another planet were to look down on this earth, he would think that mankind wished to destroy itself and had no desire to survive. I would ask the Commission and the Council, therefore, what Europe is doing to ensure that an initiative is taken to make good this deficiency in the field of disarmament – particularly of weapons of mass destruction? I also think it a shame that hardly any success was achieved in reforming the bodies of the UN. The role of the Secretary-General has hardly been strengthened at all. The General Assembly has been unable to reform itself, and the Security Council is a pure anachronism. In this regard, an astonishing fact is that the African Union apparently functions better than the European Union. The 53 African states had specific ideas on which countries from their continent should sit on the Security Council. Europe is divided on this and perhaps even contributed to the failure to expand the Security Council. Hence, I would also ask the Commission and the Council what Europe is doing to remedy this fault.

My final point concerns the democratisation of the UN. Sixty years on, this cannot be a matter for governments alone. We need a parliamentary component. The Inter-Parliamentary Union is all very well, but it is not enough. A parliamentary assembly will be necessary sooner or later, because EU civil society is better placed than the citizens’ chambers in the UN, and this situation cannot continue.

 
  
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  Lapo Pistelli (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, my friend and colleague Mr Lambsdorff has already spoken on behalf of the group and poked fun at me, on behalf of the Liberal component of the group, by describing the glass as half full. It is up to me, perhaps because I belong to the Democrat component of the group, to try to reflect a little on the empty half of the glass.

We have all experienced a contradiction in recent weeks: interest around the world has been growing as never before in the role of the United Nations and the role of Europe. It is a big question, but whenever we have a chance to respond to that growing expectation, we fail to achieve a result.

The document we approved in the United Nations was not one with which to start reflecting on the UN: it was to implement a debate that was already two years old. We realise, however, that between August and September a number of difficult topics disappeared from the table; others were only confirmed in principle, and we stopped there; and yet others were put off until subsequent negotiations. That is how things stand.

There has been no reform of the Security Council, no progress on the relationship between disarmament and non-proliferation, and no clear condemnation of terrorism, although there has been a vague definition of terrorism. A body like the Human Rights Council exists only in principle. Even what has been presented as a great step forward, that is, the new ‘right to protect’ rule, says, as one realises if one reads it carefully, that the Security Council will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis, which means that we are in the same position as before Rwanda.

Nothing has changed. We have said that there is a principle, but on every occasion we have to establish whether it applies in that case. What does all that mean? It means that, even though we have reiterated the Millennium Goals, we have missed an opportunity. The document is rather like our work in Europe: we are not in crisis, our bureaucracy works, and we produce documents. We make thousands of decisions, but they are often decisions that the people do not expect from us, and we are unable to make the decisions that they do expect from us.

That is our problem. A 35-page document that removes the most difficult items is not a successful document: it is a document that drowns its difficulties in a sea of pages. Therefore, all that I want to say is that this Summit has, instead, shown the extent to which Europe today needs to count as a political unit, a single political unit, within which we have commercial weight because we have a single will. We have a role in the world; in situations where we are split into 25 parts we do not, or we have much less of a role than we think.

We are in the middle of a pause for reflection after the referendum defeats. Let us not turn this pause for reflection into a Mexican siesta; let us wake up a little before then.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE). – (ES) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, let us not beat about the bush: the Summit on the reform of the United Nations was, generally speaking, an enormous disappointment for those of us who believe in that institution and, above all, in its founding principles.

The Summit ended — this is true and it has been said — with certain positive commitments, but certain key aspects were left out — as has also been said — such as the reform of the Security Council, for example.

The proposals presented for discussion by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, were good and reasonable, but they were also urgent and they should have been supported, and I therefore regret – and this is the only way I can put it – that the European Union has given in to pressure from the United States, thereby spoiling what should have been an historic opportunity.

Particularly worrying is the lack of commitments to improve and strengthen global governance in relation to ecological, social and economic issues, but also the withdrawal of the conclusions of the chapter relating to disarmament and non-proliferation. And neither is anything said on such an urgent and necessary issue as the adoption of an international arms treaty, the proliferation of arms being the main cause of many deaths in the world.

For all of these reasons, I must call on the Council and the Commission from now on to have the courage and daring to defend these principles by means of concrete measures and, as Mr Schmidt has said, an action plan that clearly defines what the European Union’s position should be, so that we do not – I would insist – give in once again to pressure from the United States.

 
  
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  Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL).(DE) Mr President, we are now debating how full the glass is. I must be frank and say that the glass is almost empty; there is nothing to drink – and this should be a commonly accepted fact.

This United Nations Summit was an all-round failure. What was planned was not achieved. A very good illustration of this is the change in this outcome resolution, when one compares its original appearance with the way it has ended up – only a thin paper now remains.

I am pleased on one count, however: that it was not adopted. The reason is that it concerns the proposals of the High-Level Panel that presented a report to Kofi Annan. This Panel wanted to anchor a concept of pre-emptive war in the United Nations, and would have destroyed the basic idea of the United Nations in so doing. There is no longer any specific reference to the concept of pre-emptive war; only an allusion to it remains, in paragraph 92. I am very glad that this change was made.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner says that this was, in a way, triggered by the Kosovo war, but that is exactly where the problem lies. That war constituted a violation of international law, and that is exactly what we want to avoid. International law should not be violated.

 
  
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  Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM). – Mr President, the United Nations evolved from various initiatives to bring the countries of the world together to promote true peace through the recognition of the dignity and worth of the human person and the value of the community – local, national, and global – in protecting the person. In many ways over 60-plus years the UN has accomplished this vital mandate. However, in recent decades there has been increasing criticism of the way the UN does business, the way it spends its money and the type of results it is getting or not getting.

The Millennium challenge is enormous and it will take a functional UN to meet it. Reform is nothing to be ashamed of. Even the tidiest house needs a spring-clean. Every organisation needs to step back and review its methods. I think the example of UNICEF is a good place to start in understanding the desperate and urgent need to reform the UN.

Jim Grant led and largely created UNICEF, the UN response to children, until he died in 1995. UNICEF justifiably earned the respect of countries and agencies everywhere for its programmes of oral rehydration, breastfeeding promotion, and primary education. UNICEF was in touch with the real needs of real children. Over the ten years since Mr Grant's death, UNICEF seemed to become a vehicle not for promoting children, but a political agenda focused on women's rights, which was not the appropriate place: it was a children's agency.

Ms Bellamy, who directed UNICEF after Mr Grant, was forced to resign last year. Although criticism was building over nine years of her tenure, the UN structures as they have evolved did not allow any internal investigation of UNICEF. Only from the outside did an accumulation of critics and a growing scandal about the neglect of children's programmes eventually force her resignation. Last year, amidst the final crescendo, publications such as The Lancet were reporting that UNICEF's failure to develop a coherent strategy for child survival and its shortcomings were contributing to 10 million child deaths per year. For an organisation to tolerate this, such a publicly known problem, shows it needs reform.

There is no disgrace in reform. No, there is only disgrace in resisting reform where it is needed. Success will come when we realise that the UN is an ideal that needs to be fostered and that we need an efficient organisation that can serve these ideals.

 
  
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  Koenraad Dillen (NI). – (NL) Mr President, General de Gaulle used to refer to the United Nations as le Machin. Today, now that the 60th anniversary of the UN seems to have ended up in a performance reminiscent of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, we can honestly ask ourselves whether the wise words by the former French Head of State do not hold true today. Indeed, it took weeks and weeks to discuss a 35-page document that ultimately – for let us call a spade a spade – is not much more than a vague declaration of intent.

Sixty years on from its foundation, the UN’s weakness has yet again been clearly exposed. The UN’s human rights committee, so discredited by its past inclusion of such countries as Cuba, Zimbabwe and Sudan, is being replaced by a human rights council. About the composition of this new institution, or about measures to bar such countries from it, the text, however, has not one word to say. While all countries condemned terrorism, this committee failed to reach agreement on the definition of the term.

Neither did it reach consensus about the principles of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and, last but not least, the so desperately needed reform of the Security Council is being postponed once again. Seen in that context, it is really mind-boggling that Japan, to name but one example, should fund 19% of the cost price of UN peace operations, yet has no say in the decision-making process – not quite a democratic way of going about things, one might say.

 
  
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  Enrique Barón Crespo (PSE). – (ES) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the ambitious challenge of the Millennium Summit was human globalisation, human rights, peace and prosperity for the whole of humanity, and we can conclude that, fundamentally, what that Summit has achieved has been to restrain the attempts to dismantle the United Nations and to point, though with many shortcomings, to certain areas of progress.

I would like, Mr President, to mention an important one of these: the initiative of the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, who has taken on board the proposal of the Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rodríguez Zapatero, and of the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Erdogan. What we have seen this morning in this Chamber demonstrates the importance of that initiative on the alliance of civilisations.

Mr President, I would like to end by saying that we must also bear in mind that the European Union is not currently a Member of the United Nations, but it is a key member of the WTO. That is a challenge that we must face with generosity and in a multilateral spirit.

 
  
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  Paul Marie Coûteaux (IND/DEM). – (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, so, what had to happen has indeed happened. There has been no real reform of the UN, and Europe will not have a seat on the Security Council, a point on which everyone is keeping quiet even though, it has to be said, it was the EU’s main hope at the summit.

One of the consequences of this failure is that the European Union, which will not have a Foreign Minister any more than it has any kind of common foreign policy, will remain a kind of international forum with no external visibility. All of this was quite obvious, despite the balanced comments just made to us by Mrs Ferrero-Waldner, who, in passing, given that she is speaking on French soil, could have spoken in French; in any event, she is not listening to me, as she is well able to do.

If the European ‘machine’ had been a bit more realistic regarding its own importance, we could have spared ourselves these long debates into the vacuum on the so-called European seat, which will be consigned to the back of the wardrobe with the deep piles of our shattered illusions. However, we must reflect on this failure nonetheless, because it should put us on our guard, as the failure of the Constitution, or the European deconstitution, did on a larger scale, regarding the narrow limits within which our ambitions must be contained. The impossibility of reforming the UN, which was predictable, and which we did indeed predict in our previous speeches on the subject, was itself written into the conditions of international activity.

The principle that governs and will always govern international life is the pre-eminence of sovereignties. While, within states, there can be legislation that applies to all and legitimate means of coercion that can make relations between people more peaceful, at international level there is no legitimate referee, nor will there ever be, whether it is an international organisation or a state that claims to have sole responsibility for peace among nations. That is because, faced with a referee State, in reality an imperial state, just as when faced with any supranational organisation, the other states will never lose sight of their own interests, their own personality and, I repeat, their sovereignty, as my colleague Mrs Goudin said.

That does not necessarily mean that the world is a jungle: it simply means that peace is based solely on the balance between nations and groups of nations and that all international law can do is marginalise the natural games of states that, however devoted they claim to be to the cause of peace, are still heartless monsters and will never stop calculating their power.

This should therefore be a lesson to us: the multilateral framework can achieve certain things where, and only where, by some miracle, the interests of the nations happen to coincide. I hope that realism will open our eyes and that we will finally be able to see the narrowness of the framework within which our actions are confined, by the very nature of things.

 
  
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  Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez (PSE). – (ES) Mr President, I would like to make just six comments.

Firstly, I would like to condemn the actions of the United States administration, which torpedoed the United Nations in general and these New York meetings in particular. They torpedoed them by appointing Bolton as the United States’ representative in the United Nations and tabling 750 amendments to the draft final text, which the international community had spent a long time working on, negotiating and agreeing, in order to empty it of any content.

It is absurd that, when the United States finally have to make a couple of concessions, there should be so many expressions of gratitude and congratulations just because they have not entirely completed their latest attempt to remake ‘Apocalypse Now’.

Secondly, I acknowledge that the European Union’s role in the summit has been relatively commendable and positive. It has also been relatively effective, when its Member States have acted in a coordinated and agreed fashion.

Thirdly, I would like to stress that the best example of this can be seen in what is undoubtedly the most worthwhile aspect of the New York Summit: with regard to the Millennium Development Objectives, we have not moved backwards, despite some people’s efforts to do so. The European Union acted firmly and at least ensured that the commitments and the timetable approved five years ago were maintained.

Fourthly, it is regrettable that the essential reform of the United Nations failed, a point that is as illustrative as the previous one, but in a negative sense. In this respect, our Member States arrived with differing visions and the Union was incapable of expressing itself, either through its positions or by exerting any influence whatsoever, and is therefore partly responsible for this failure.

Fifthly, we are pleased that the Summit has supported Kofi Annan’s ‘alliance of civilisations’ strategy, accepting a European initiative such as that proposed by the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey.

And sixthly, we are delighted that Europe has contributed to keeping the United Nations afloat, saving it from the shipwreck that some people had been preparing for it. It is not, however, sufficient to keep the United Nations afloat, but it is essential to relaunch the organisation definitively. The European Union’s objectives must be geared towards that objective, but to that end, our Union will have to be rather more than simply afloat.

I shall end with something that an African politician said to us: ‘This world does not inspire enthusiasm, in fact it often causes disgust, but it is terrifying to think what it would be if Europe were not operating as a force for rationality, balance, a degree of coherence and, at times, solidarity’.

 
  
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  Inger Segelström (PSE). – (SV) Mr President, Council, Commission, fellow Members, ladies and gentlemen. The UN summit made clear the need for cooperation in combating terrorism, climate change, international crime and weapons of mass destruction and in dealing with migration. It made it clear that more, rather than less, cooperation is required. The Peacebuilding Commission was given a lot of scope. This is something that the European Parliament now has the opportunity to follow up. Following the initiative taken by the Swedish Foreign Minister, involving 13 female foreign ministers and Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, we now have the peacebuilding work on which to adopt a position. We must involve more women and, above all, have one woman for every man at all levels, with this equal representation enabling women and men to make better contributions. Why is this so important? Well, because, in modern wars and conflicts, the great majority of the victims are innocent women and children. In the transition from conflict to a sustainable peace, all resources and civil solutions are needed. How do we now follow this up in the EU? When the Millennium Goal was debated, it became obvious that the donor countries must be more generous. It was therefore with great delight that we learned at the weekend that debts were to be written off by 18 countries. I regret that it is only Sweden and another four countries that provide aid amounting to 0.7%. We must do better. In the year 2000, Sweden reached the level of 1%. Given how much we pour out here in the EU, we should easily be able to fill the glass.

 
  
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  Manuel António dos Santos (PSE).(PT) I was a Member of Parliament’s delegation at the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in New York on 7, 8 and 9 September.

In my address to the 145 delegations in attendance, I reaffirmed Parliament’s recent positions as regards the reform of the United Nations and the commitment towards the Millennium Development Goals. My message was given greater resonance by the fact that previously all European Parliament resolutions on issues such as this were disclosed to the national and regional political delegations.

With specific regard to the reform of the United Nations, I told the delegates that Parliament stands four-square behind the positions adopted by the UN Secretary-General, such as his view that world security is intrinsically linked to economic and social development, respect for human rights and environmental protection. I also mentioned the need to press ahead with changes to the composition of the Security Council; I believe that the EU should eventually have a permanent seat, and that new seats should be created at the earliest opportunity enabling new countries and emerging regions to be represented.

My last point on the United Nations General Assembly was that not only should there be reform of working methods but also that there should ultimately be a proper United Nations parliamentary assembly.

My plan was to contribute to the debate with this brief overview, which will also act as the report on the mission that I am required to make to Parliament.

 
  
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  Douglas Alexander, President-in-Office of the Council. Mr President, thank you for the opportunity to respond to this debate. I thank Members of Parliament for their insightful questions and challenging comments. I will endeavour to address as many of your points as possible in my closing remarks.

At the 2005 Millennium Review Summit our heads of state and government and those of another 166 countries took up the challenge set by Kofi Annan of reforming the United Nations to make it more efficient, more effective and indeed more relevant to today's challenges. The summit outcome document, to characterise the discussion we have had this afternoon, should be seen not as a glass half empty, but instead understood for what I believe it to be: a clear mandate for further change. I believe that we all share the view that a stronger, more effective and appropriately resourced United Nations is the only way to ensure global stability and prosperity in this interdependent world.

As the European Union set out in its statement to the General Assembly on 17 September: 'Without a shared effort to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, rich and poor countries alike face a future of increased instability. Failure in UN-led efforts to tackle the threat of terrorism and proliferation would endanger the prosperity of the developing world as much as the developed. The United Nations should not be a forum for countries to push individual agendas, but one in which the international community can agree common action for the benefit of all of the world's citizens.'

That seems to me the appropriate context in which to address a number of the important points raised by honourable Members today. Mr Millán Mon, Mr Lambsdorff and Mr Schmidt raised the issue of Security Council enlargement. In relation to this issue, while European Union partners agree that the Security Council should be reformed, it is the case that there is no European Union consensus on the model. On the related issue of whether the European Union should have a seat on the Security Council, I would respectfully remind Members of this Parliament that the United Nations Charter is very clear on this point: it allows only individual member states to hold seats on the Council, not regional organisations. There is, therefore, no question of a single EU seat on the Security Council.

Mrs Kinnock paid fulsome tribute to the work that had been achieved and painted, I believe, an accurate picture of the progress that has been made, albeit against a context of much further work still to be undertaken. Her contribution is the rightful opportunity for me to pay tribute not just to her tireless efforts on this agenda over so many years – both before entering this Parliament and then thereafter – but also to the experience and expertise of so many other Members of this Parliament, which I believe has enriched the European Union's discussion of these issues and indeed Europe's voice in international fora. It will not surprise her to hear that I am indeed supportive of the references to the need for innovative funding mechanisms in relation to the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals.

In relation to her other specific question, whether Member States are already starting to roll back on their aid volume commitments, I would categorically say no. The 25 Member States signed up to collectively provide at least 0.56% of GNI by 2010 and, in the case of the EU 15, to all spend at least 0.7% of their GNI on aid by 2015. As I told the party conference I addressed only a couple of days ago, to imagine that 15 countries within Europe would make such a commitment even only a few years ago would have been a dream for many of us who have long pursued that objective.

The European Union reaffirmed that commitment in its statement at the Millennium Review Summit. The Commission and the Council will monitor progress on an annual basis. It is vital that guarantee is in place. I would also point out that the European Union is on course to exceed the targets for 2006, which is 0.39% of the EU average, set in 2002. There is no reason at this stage why we should not do so again.

The next point raised was by Mr Portas. He expressed views towards the United States with which I candidly disagree.

However, on the specific issue of non-proliferation, let me make clear the following points. It is important to reflect the fact that we all share the disappointment of many Member States within the United Nations, and indeed of many Members here in this Parliament, including Mr Leinen, about the lack of an international commitment to non-proliferation displayed in the ultimate inability of states to agree any language on these subjects. I can assure you all that although I speak for the Presidency today, the United Kingdom has worked tirelessly and literally to the last minute both nationally and in other fora representing the European Union as Presidency, to seek the best possible outcome on non-proliferation and disarmament at that Millennium Review Summit. I can also assure this House that we will continue to seek sensible and pragmatic solutions to overcome this deficit that will enhance the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Turning to the questions posed by Mr Guardans Cambó, I would respectfully say that smaller European Union countries did play a vital role in formulating the shared views of the European Union in the run-up to the Millennium Review Summit. To suggest otherwise would be a disservice to the contribution made by a number of countries other than the larger Member States of the European Union.

Mrs Vaidere then went on to question whether there was a role for a new international organisation to replace the United Nations. Again, I would say respectfully that I have to disagree with that proposal. Rather, the challenge on the basis of what I and some Members of this Parliament have made clear today is that we need to give tangible expression to the words agreed back in the United Nations Millennium Review Summit only a few days ago, and ensure that the further words that are now on paper can be translated in the weeks and months ahead into further action.

Mrs Belohorská addressed questions to the Commission about the Beijing follow-up summit. I can inform her that the European Union did not send anyone to the unofficial Beijing conference on 29 August and 1 September. The tenth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was commemorated at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2005. On that occasion the European Union was represented by the Luxembourg Minister for Gender Equality.

Mr Deva made a powerful case for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the operation of the United Nations. I believe there has been a broad consensus throughout this Parliament today on the need for that further action to be taken now.

Mr Pistelli asked – given his disappointment about the somewhat patchy nature of the progress, as he characterised it – in what areas the European Union could push further ahead for more progress to be made given the constraints of the summit's final document. I can give him the following assurances. We are encouraging interlocutors, including Kofi Annan, to move forward urgently on the reforms that are important to us, but were not included or were unsatisfactorily worded in that final Summit Outcome Document. Specifically, on the issue of management reform – about which there has been much discussion in this debate today – Kofi Annan has been mandated by the summit outcome to propose further reforms for the UN organisation and secretariat in the first quarter of 2006. We have already urged the Secretary-General to make bold proposals, not least in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal, as it is important that such steps are taken.

The European Union supports the Summit Outcome Document's strong condemnation of terrorism – a matter that was again addressed by a number of honourable Members – and its call for an effective UN counter-terrorism strategy. However, we believe the text should have gone further.

For nearly a decade the United Nations has been discussing a global convention on terrorism that seeks itself to define terrorism. We want to see that definition agreed in terms that are unequivocal. It would leave no doubt what an act of terrorism is and that such acts are utterly unacceptable.

Finally, let me make this other specific point. We agree entirely with the UN Secretary-General that the lack of non-proliferation and disarmament language in the Summit Outcome Document was a significant disappointment. The European Union worked literally until the last moment to try to broker agreement on those key issues. Despite this setback, I reaffirm that the European Union will continue to seek out opportunities to strengthen the non-proliferation regime in all relevant fora.

Mr Romeva i Rueda expressed his disappointment on the Security Council. I have spoken about that already. We share, however, the disappointment that he expressed on the failure to pursue a treaty on the international arms trade. Again, I am conscious that I speak to this Parliament today representing the Presidency rather than any one individual Member State. However, I can assure him of our continuing commitment to this issue, not least because my own party was recently re-elected in the United Kingdom on an explicit manifesto commitment to try and take forward progress on an arms trade treaty.

Mrs Sinnott said that even the tidiest house sometimes needed to be spring cleaned. I certainly agree that reform has a real contribution to make to the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals and that is why we are so determined that the words of September are translated into action in the weeks and months ahead.

Mr Dillen quoted General Charles de Gaulle. I was tempted to reply in kind, but I shall resist that and leave that for another day. Instead he went on to raise the question again of United Nations Security Council enlargement and I have spoken at some length about the position of the Presidency in relation to that question.

Mr Barón Crespo raised an issue which frankly I expected we might have heard more of in the course of the debate today, which is the centrality of the World Trade Organization talks, just ten working weeks away, in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. It is hard to overstate the significance of the challenge that collectively Europe, the United States and the other representatives of the World Trade Organization face when they arrive, and in the weeks before arriving in Hong Kong. There is simply no doubt that 2005 will already be remembered as a year of real progress in relation to debt reduction and increases in aid flows, for all the reasons that I have described. The opportunity for Europe now is once again to grasp the leadership potential that is within its grasp and move actively and aggressively to try and make sure that the very development dimension to the original Doha Declaration is given expression in Hong Kong. I was heartened in that regard by the remarks of Pascal Lamy last week, in his first press conference as Secretary General of the WTO, for I believe that only by being clear as to the development dimension of the Doha round in Hong Kong, will we see the kind of progress that I believe many Members of this Parliament would wish to see made in early December.

Mr Coûteaux raised the issue of a seat at the United Nations, which I have already addressed, and Mr Martínez Martínez spoke of the United States. As I hope I have already made clear in my contribution in winding up this debate, it is with some relief that I speak on behalf of the Presidency of the European Union, rather than any other Administration, so I will leave it for others to answer for the actions of those outside the European Union.

Mrs Segelström raised the issue of terrorism and the need for more cooperation, something I wholeheartedly agree with, and heard very strongly articulated in this Parliament when Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, made a powerful case that it is not by building thicker or higher walls that we will effectively counteract terrorism, but rather by deeper and more fulfilling cooperation between the Member States of the European Union. She also made an important point in terms of gender representation in the high levels of office represented at the United Nations Millennium Review Summit. I certainly acknowledge the significance of that point and therefore respectfully suggest that perhaps the Commissioner is better qualified than I to answer it.

The final contribution came from Mr dos Santos, in which he explained his own presence at an important international meeting that preceded the Millennium Review Summit. Again, I would simply take this opportunity to reiterate the sincere gratitude, both of the Commission, I believe, and certainly of the Presidency-in-Office, for the tireless efforts of many Members of this Parliament in pursuing what was achieved in the United Nations Millennium Review Summit.

I fully accept that there is some disappointment that the Summit document ultimately did not go as far as many of us would have wished it to, but I am absolutely convinced that but for the effective action of members of the European Union, we would not have achieved the progress that we did in New York. For that, I believe, we can feel a real and genuine sense of shared pride.

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I shall be brief and just say at the beginning that we were delighted to see a parliamentary delegation in New York. I thank Mrs Kinnock, Mr Deva and Mr Lambsdorff for having been there. I must say that this was very positive because you have seen for yourselves the positive and the rather negative side of this Millennium Summit.

Many of you have mentioned seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty. The picture was a mixed one, but I think it was very important that this Millennium Summit ended with a declaration from where we can go on, and this is the most important thing.

Knowing the UN as I do – I was chief of protocol for Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1994 and 1995 – I know that it can only be as good as its member states, and as good as the member states that are ready to go for a compromise. There are 191 member states, so it is not easy for a European Union with 25 member states and some associated member states with the same positions to bring the issue forward. The European Union has done a very good job, and this has also been mentioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and many others.

It is true that in the Human Rights Council, as I mentioned at the very beginning, on the definition of terrorism for instance, we have not achieved everything. Let me just go into this question a little. I would say the clear and unqualified condemnation by all governments of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations committed by whomsoever and wherever is a very important element, and it is a strong push, given that this agreement has been negotiated for nearly ten years. There is a good chance that at this General Assembly before the end of the year there might even be a conclusion of this agreement. If this were so this would be another positive outcome.

Let me also say with regard to women's issues that I was present at the evening dinner of the women's network. I was a foreign minister, but now I am a Commissioner for external relations. It is very important to think of the other part of the population that is not yet always represented in an appropriate manner, and therefore we think women can make a special contribution to peace and to peace-building, on which we have placed particular emphasis.

I would also like to say that the issues that we have mentioned today – and the issues of dialogue and alliance between civilisations and cultures – are a very crucial item. It has been around for a long time, but now it has been mentioned as a new concept and we will certainly work and cooperate with this concept because this might bring the peoples at large again to a common understanding that there has to be tolerance on religious civilisations, but that at the same time we share common values.

On the whole I can again say that the EU is indeed the natural partner of the United Nations and both organisations have been born out of the same experience, the experience of war, and are founded on the same conviction that acting together is much better than acting alone, even if we sometimes have to compromise in order to go on. But there is a very strong commitment from our side to go on, with an excellent President of the General Assembly.

 
  
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  Alexander Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, I had asked the Commission and the Council for their opinion on when Parliament can expect the representatives of Commission and Council to be combined in New York and at the other sites of the United Nations, in order to achieve better coherence in the Union’s representation at the United Nations. I should be grateful if the Council and the Commission would respond to this.

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. – (DE) Mr President, Mr Lambsdorff, you know as well as I do that the Constitution has not yet progressed and has not been ratified. The Council Secretariat now has an office in New York; the Commission has observer status at the United Nations, and we work extremely closely together. Even so, there are at present no plans to amalgamate the two.

 
  
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  President. – I have received six motions for resolution(1) in accordance with Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday 29 September 2005 at 12 noon.

(The sitting was suspended at 6.10 p.m. pending Question Time and resumed at 6.35 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR DOS SANTOS
Vice-President

 
  

(1) See Minutes.

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