UN agrees on reform document

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

United Nations headquarters, New York City.

A deal to reform the United Nations has been signed at the end of a summit marking the organisation's sixtieth anniversary.

The summit was the largest gathering of heads of state ever, with over 150 in attendance. During its three days, Syria was the only one of the 191 represented nations not to address the General Assembly.

The Secretary General, Kofi Annan, had put forward a wide-ranging set of reform proposals encompassing poverty, war, genocide, and reform of the organisation itself.

Of the reforms that got through the intense diplomatic negotiations, Responsibility to Protect is one of the most significant. Rather than waiting for genocide to be demonstrated, the international community has now agreed to act in cases of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. A peacebuilding commission is also to be established by December 2005.

The opinions expressed by participants varied, with Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez condemning the document as having been "conceived in darkness". In stark contrast, United States ambassador, John R. Bolton, praised the document.