Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke of the lessons he had learned while working for the United Nations Wednesday evening in the Coors Events Center.
The crowd welcomed Annan with a standing ovation as the Ghana-born diplomat began his speech. His talk mentioned the five most important things he had learned while working for the United Nations and then answered four prepared questions.
The first lesson Annan spelled out was that the world has a collective responsibility for the security of everyone in the world.
“No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others,” Annan said.
Lesson number two was that the world also is responsible for each other’s welfare. Annan said that it’s not realistic for some countries to gain from globalization while billions of other people are suffering. Global solidarity is, however, realistic. Annan pointed out that the Indian Ocean tsunami relief efforts were very effective.
The third lesson that Annan learned was that security and prosperity ultimately depends on human rights and law.
“The U.S. has given the world a democracy to which everyone is subject to the law,” Annan said.
He then went on to say that using military force is only legitimate when it is done for the common good and that every nation should reject the license to do as they please.
When Annan listed the fourth lesson, governments should be accountable for their own actions, the crowd applauded. Annan said that states trying to ignore their actions, be they national or international, are hiding their heads in the sand.
The last lesson, multilateralism within the United Nations, was derived from the previous lessons, Annan said. Annan stated that the United Nations might be the only organization in the world today that can bring the world together. However, inherent problems within the United Nations do exist. The Security Council needs to be reformed. Annan suggested that the Security Council reflects the 1940s and not today. Other nations need to be represented on the council, or else tensions will continue to mount.
“I appreciated his promoting of the global community, but otherwise it’s just talk,” said Matthew Potempa, a junior anthropology major.