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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 September 26 - October 2  > World should remember former UN Secretary General Annan’s call for multilateralism
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2018 September 26 - October 2 [WORLD]
column 

World should remember former UN Secretary General Annan’s call for multilateralism

September 26, 2018

Akahata ‘current’ column

Beside the East River in New York City is located the United Nations headquarters. In its lobby on the first floor, the portraits of successive UN secretaries-general are on display. Recent visitors to the building may notice a wreath and a bouquet placed under one of these portraits.

It is the portrait of Kofi Annan who passed away last month at the age of 80. The native of Ghana was the first UN staff member to be promoted to the position of secretary general, and he served two five-year terms until 2006. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and praised as a person who breathed new life into the international organization.

During his term in office, Annan severely criticized the aggressive unilateralism of the United States, which launched the Iraq War in defiance of the United Nations. He stressed that only an endorsement by the UN Security Council can justify any actions taken to respond to a threat to the international community.

The latest session of the UN General Assembly opened with world leaders participating. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a memorial ceremony for Annan described him as a hard-core multilateralist and underscored the importance of international cooperation. On the other hand, Guterres noted that the foundation of multilateralism is being shaken and sounded the alarm about a trend toward unilateralism.

U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a trade war against China and other countries. His forceful diplomacy with the use of sanctions and threats is fueling confrontation and hostility. Japan is also under U.S. pressure to buy more goods from the country but Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo boasts that he has a “good relationship” with Trump.

It is said that after the end of WWII, the UN headquarters was set up in New York City in an effort to prevent the U.S from going back to its policy of isolationism and to ensure its full support for the UN. In the world today, there are a mountain of problems that require global cooperation to solve. It remains to be seen how the international community will accept Annan’s call for multilateralism.
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