Annan: UN intervention `everywhere or nowhere'

AS PEACE-KEEPING troops fanned out across East Timor yesterday, Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, warned that the emerging doctrine for robust international intervention to tackle human rights crimes could only work if it was applied everywhere in the same way.

Opening the last UN general assembly of this century, Mr Annan spoke of the discrepancies between the organisation's failure to act in the face of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Nato's attack on Yugoslavia over Kosovo without even a mandate from the Security Council, and most recently the dispatch of an international, UN-backed force to East Timor - but only with the prior approval of Indonesia.

If the new commitment to intervene was to retain the support of public opinion around the world, he said, "it must be, and be seen to be, fairly and consistently applied, irrespective of region or nation. Humanity after all is indivisible."

With his speech, Mr Annan immediately set the tone of an assembly certain to be dominated by the issue of where - and how - to draw the line between national sovereignty, and the right of the international community to step in to end a manifest injustice. But agreement will be anything but easy.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria - which has consistently opposed any outside "interference" to help to resolve its own bloody internal turmoil - rejected any UN intervention without the express prior approval of the government of the country involved.

The secretary general said it had been "a tragedy" that the Security Council, which was required by the UN's founding charter to defend the "common interest" had not presented a united front over Kosovo. Globalisation was making the UN more important than ever, he argued, but similar failures in future could destroy its credibility.

Mr Annan joined the French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, in making clear that the UN could do nothing without money. In a pointed reference to the US, which is up to $1.5bn in arrears on its contributions to the world body, Mr Jospin urged "all countries" to meet their financial obligations. If Washington does not come up with at least $250m by the end of the year, it risks being stripped of its voting rights in the general assembly.

Britain is earmarking a special contingent of police officers for UN peace-keeping operations. The move, announced by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to the general assembly last night, involves up to 200 men, 40 to 50 of whom will constitute a rapid response squad available for immediate deployment. It follows Britain's decision to put the equivalent of a brigade of troops on permanent stand-by for UN operations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
i100
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Partnership Sales Executive - TV

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global multi-media...

Sauce Recruitment: Account Director

£26017.21 - £32521.19 per annum + OTE $90,000: Sauce Recruitment: My client is...

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea