World Summit in New York Will Mark 60th Anniversary of the United Nations

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I'm Steve Ember.  And I'm Faith Lapidus with Explorations in VOA Special English.  Today we tell about the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations.

Nineteen forty-five was a time of hope.  World War Two was ending. Many nations wanted to create a new international organization.  This organization would not attempt to govern the world.  But it would create a center for discussion, negotiation and decision about international problems.

Fifty-one nations signed a charter for the United Nations in June of nineteen forty-five in San Francisco, California.  This document was based on a desire for security, human rights and a better life for all people.  The purpose of the United Nations is to bring all nations together to work for peace and development. The U.N. came into existence on October twenty-fourth, nineteen forty-five.  United Nations Day is celebrated on that day each year.

The United Nations will observe its sixtieth anniversary with a World Summit in New York City next week.  The conference will take place from September fourteenth through sixteenth at U.N. headquarters.  More than one hundred seventy heads of state and governments are expected to attend, including President Bush.

World Summit delegates are expected to announce an international agreement as part of the sixtieth anniversary.

The document will tell how the U.N. will deal with major issues like development, nuclear weapons, anti-terrorism, human rights and U.N. reform.  In March, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan made proposals on such issues.

Mr. Annan's report contained suggestions for improving the U.N. The report is called "In Larger Freedom:  Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All."  Representatives have negotiated an agreement to be signed next week.

The document shows how the world organization can reform itself.  It states U.N. plans to meet world problems. But recently the United States has raised objections to the proposed document.  The United States has asked for many changes, including a stronger statement against terrorism.  Other nations also object to parts of the agreement.  Much of the document is based on goals for this century that the U.N. announced five years ago.

The U.N. has many organizations and employees to carry out its work. Almost three thousand diplomats meet in General Assembly working groups and committees. The General Assembly is the main U.N. group that meets to debate world issues. It includes representatives of all one hundred ninety-one member nations.  Each country has one vote. These votes are meant to influence world opinion and action.  They do not carry legal force.

The Security Council is a small group that has more power than the General Assembly. It has fifteen members. The Security Council has the main responsibility for keeping international peace and security. Its members present resolutions involving threats to peace.  Security Council resolutions can suggest methods for peaceful settlement of conflicts. They can call for economic restrictions against countries.  And they can call for military intervention. Thousands of U.N. peacekeeping troops may be deployed.

Five nations are permanent Security Council members.  They are the United States, Britain, the Russian Federation, France and China.  Any one of them can veto a resolution. Member nations elect the other ten Security Council members for two-year terms. At least nine member nations must approve a resolution for it to pass.

Secretary General Annan has proposed that the Security Council add members.  He wants the Council to better represent nations of the world.  Several countries are competing to join the Security Council.

Another important part of the U.N. is the Economic and Social Council.  It makes resolutions affecting economics, culture, education, health, and social welfare.  The council also links the U.N. with more than two thousand five hundred non-governmental agencies.  These private agencies provide technical help.

The U.N. operates several courts and a Commission on Human Rights. Secretary General Annan has proposed replacing the commission with a smaller council.  The General Assembly would choose the members.  He says the current commission includes countries that oppose human rights.

The U.N. Secretary General oversees diplomacy and policy-making.  Mr. Annan, of Ghana, was re-appointed to a second five-year term in two thousand one.

Many countries have praised his leadership.  Mr. Annan and the United Nations won the Nobel Peace Prize in two thousand one. But recently he has been accused of poor management.  He also has been accused of links to financial wrongdoing.  Kofi Annan says he is innocent.

The U.N. has several other important agencies. For example, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is currently aiding victims of fighting in Sudan and many other places.  Other major U.N. agencies include the Development Program and the Children's Fund, called UNICEF.  Still others are the World Food Program, the Population Fund and the Environment Program.

The United Nations has important offices in Canada, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America.  But its headquarters is in four main buildings along the East River of New York City.  The land and buildings are international territory.

Now we will visit the United Nations headquarters in New York. The first building you see is very tall and is made mainly of glass.  The glass catches the sunlight.  This structure reaches high into the sky.  The other three U.N. buildings have different interesting shapes.

You expect to see the flags of the one hundred ninety-one members in front of U.N. headquarters.  But the flags are not flying today.  Work crews are making much-needed repairs to U.N. buildings and property.

Inside, you pay for a guided visit through the U.N.  A guide from Japan takes you and ten others on a tour while she discusses U.N. history and international issues. Members of your group are from China, Japan, Mexico, the United States and Britain. Your guide gives information in English.  But tours also are provided in at least fifteen other languages.  The official U.N. languages besides English are French, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.

The guide explains that each U.N. member nation pays for part of the yearly budget.  The share depends on the financial condition of the nation.  The United States and Japan pay the largest amount.

You enter the huge General Assembly Hall, the largest room in the United Nations. During a meeting, this room holds more than one thousand eight hundred people.  You immediately note the central art object in the room.  It is an artistic map placed on metal that shines like gold.  The map shows the world as seen from the top, at the North Pole.  Branches of olive trees that traditionally represent peace are on either side of the circular map.  People around the world recognize this logo as representing the United Nations.  It shows the world held in the olive branches of peace.

Now you enter the room where the Security Council meets.  Artist Per Krogh of Norway created the large wall painting.  It shows a phoenix bird rising from its ashes.  The picture represents the world rebuilding itself after World War Two.

As you stand in this room, your guide lists places where U.N peacekeepers have launched successful operations.  Places like Cambodia, East Timor and Mozambique. She notes U.N. activity in two thousand two.  The world organization had deployed more than forty-five thousand troops and civilians for peacekeeping and other duties around the world.

A visitor from California comments that she is old enough to clearly remember World War Two.  She does not want to experience that again. She says that whatever its problems, she hopes the United Nations will gain all of its goals for peace in the future.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson.  It was produced by Mario Ritter.  I'm Faith Lapidus. And I'm Steve Ember.  Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Voice of America Special English

Source: World Summit in New York Will Mark 60th Anniversary of the United Nations
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