“I invite you to join me in dedicating this year this year to those three great tasks: to refocus the world’s attention and resources on the needs and fears of the poor; to strengthen our system of collective security, so that no State feels it has to face global threats on its own; and to overcome distrust and division between people of different faiths and cultures, so that we can all live together in harmony and mutual respect,” he said in the prepared text of his address on accepting the German Media Award in Baden-Baden, Germany.The jury for the prize – which is based on a poll of the editors of the country’s most important media – said the Secretary-General “stands, like no other politician, for the basic ideals of the United Nations, striving for a better organized and peaceful world.”On helping the poor, the Secretary-General recalled the pledges world leaders made in 2000 at a UN summit to halve poverty and hunger, halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases, and improve the lives of 100 million slum-dwellers, all by 2015.”Last year we let ourselves be distracted from these vital tasks,” he said. “We were concerned – and rightly so – with issues of peace and security.”At the same time, he warned that “there will be no peace and no security, even for the most privileged amongst us, in a world that remains divided between extremes of wealth and poverty, health and disease, knowledge and ignorance, freedom and oppression.”The Secretary-General said that to help repair the system of collective security, he has asked a 16-member blue-ribbon panel, which he appointed last November, to recommend ways of dealing with threats and challenges to peace and security in the 21st century. “The object of the exercise is to find a credible and convincing collective answer to the challenges of our time.”As for rebuilding trust and confidence between peoples of different faiths and cultures, Mr. Annan noted that many recent events – including the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the war in Iraq and the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians – have pushed the international community dangerously close to a “clash of civilizations.””We must resist this,” he said. “We must deal with all our fellow human beings fairly and objectively, judging them by their own individual words and actions, and not on the basis of generalizations or preconceptions about the group to which we think they belong.”Earlier Wednesday, the Secretary-General said at a press encounter that he was in touch with parties in Iraq and was still considering how best the UN can help following the request Monday by the coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council that he send a team to Iraq to assess the transition process, including elections and the proposed caucus system, before the return of sovereignty at the end of June.”Once I have completed my reflection, and we have studied the documents, I will decide how best the UN can help and I will make a decision and an announcement as to what I am going to do. But I am still considering it,” he told reporters following his meeting with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.In addition to Iraq, the two also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, UN-German relations and the Secretary-General’s high-level panel on UN change.Asked about the political situation in Iran, the Secretary-General expressed his hope that Iranians would find a way to resolve their differences so that they could hold “free and fair elections with participation of all the parties.”On UN efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, Mr. Annan said his settlement proposal was still on the table and that he was waiting to hear from all parties that they are ready to resume negotiations.”We haven’t reached the stage where I would get involved yet,” he said, adding that he expected to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Davos, Switzerland, in the coming days.More photos of Mr. Annan’s visit
Mr. Annan “has long supported Jane Goodall’s work on behalf of environmental affairs, particularly those concerning Africa, and he’s been very pleased by her work as a UN peace messenger,” a spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, said following Tuesday’s meeting.Among the issues discussed were The Jane Goodall Institute’s youth programme “Roots & Shoots” and her new book, Harvest for Hope. The Institute works with the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and its Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), an initiative launched in 2001 with the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to save those mammals and their habitat. Ms. Goodall is motivated by her conviction that individual actions, taken collectively, can be a major force for positive change. “People just think, ‘I am one person it doesn’t matter,’” she told the UN News Service, acknowledging that “if you were one person it wouldn’t – but you’re not. You’re millions, all really wanting to help.”She emphasized that the combined result of this impulse is powerful. “When you take 6 million people all saving water everyday, 6 million all saying ‘I will not buy polluted food, I won’t buy it! I don’t want my children to be made sick,’ the impact will be felt. If every individual starts acting that way, then it’s going to change the world very fast,” she said.Ms. Goodall, who travels over 300 days a year, spends most of her time developing her Institute, which is dedicated to wildlife research, education and conservation. Roots & Shoots, a youth community-centered programme with 8,000 affiliated groups in 90 countries, focuses on environmental, human community and wildlife issues. “Roots and Shoots is very much about breaking down the barriers that we erect between people of different nationalities, religions, cultures and ethnic groups, the barriers we erect between us and the natural world,” she explained.The UN’s GRASP project “is working with heads of State in Africa where there are chimps and trying to persuade them to enforce the laws which already exist to protect chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos, they are all endangered,” she said.Ms. Goodall voiced confidence that attitudes have changed. “Breaking down the barriers between us and the animal kingdom used to be seen as a sharp line,” adding that now, major scientific thinkers admit “that it’s a blurry line.”Jane Goodall was appointed Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2002, joining a distinguished group that includes former champion boxer Muhammad Ali, actor Michael Douglas of the United States, former international tennis star Vijay Amritraj of India, and Italian-born opera star Luciano Pavarotti.