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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
What should the UN be debating?
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
The UN General Assembly debate kicks off this week in New York. The leaders of 192 nations will try to hammer out solutions to the world's problems and get each other to commit to some form of action.

On the agenda are international peace and security, the development of Africa, economic growth, sustainable development, humanitarian aid and terrorism.

But the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has in the past criticised the work of the assembly, accusing it of not focusing on the "major substantive issues of the day", and of passing watered down resolutions.

Does the UN General Assembly have any real power? Should the debates be taking place at all? What should the UN be debating? Can such a large meeting yield results and agreement?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

The UN should debate on how to unite the whole world; I mean teachings of love, peace, tolerance, and nature protection. When people understand this, the world will become a place to be.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Cameroon

Evidently, the UN is increasingly becoming irrelevant in our world of today. I'm deeply frustrated with the UN since they are much like a backing dog that can't bite. Is the UN out to serve the entire membership or to please the permanent members? Darfur, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine etc are just proofs of the UN's inability to do what it ought to be doing. Aren't we gradually returning to the archaic ways of the League of Nations? For the UN to survive, it has to work extremely hard to address the issue of its credibility; lot's of people no longer have faith in the UN and her institutions. At times I really wonder if the secretary general of the UN has the powers that he should have or whether he is being manipulated by some "big powers" for their personal interests.
Chi Primus, Cameroon

The main thing this body always preaches is democracy. I think it's time they debate why it is that only nations with permanent seat dictates the pace. Can't there be equal rights among member states?
Garland Orhue Ogiegor, Nigeria

The UN should talk about how funds given to african countries are spent by their governments and how they can help africa develop its own raw materials into finished goods.
Lionel Nwana Mutengene, Cameroon

Whether UN is debating or not it has failed Africa. Poor governance, HIV/AIDS,corruption, poverty, wars etc are some of the things UN should help to eradicate in Africa. If the UN can set up a good political platform in Africa, peace will reign worldwide. The reforms of UN should be unbeatable by any of such powers like US,Britain etc.
Eric Mbumbouh, Cameroon

I think the UN should be debating political instabilities in Africa like the Zimbabwe situation. Why wait until thousands of innocent civilians are killed to take action? Like the rwanda genocide, the sudanese situation. Personally I think the UIN is just a figure head without any real power because if it did , one of the worst dictators in the world wouldn't still be clinging to power at the expense of us innocent Zimbabweans, the problem with the UN is that they discuss how bad things are, and how human rights abuses are taking place and then they write about it and that's it. The UN is not yielding any results which we can see.
Siphosethu, Botswana

I think the UN should debate on the plight of suffering people in the developing world.The debate must involve issues such as AIDS, democracy, conflicts, racially driven inequalities and education. Debate should expose African despots like Robert Mugabe.These despots suppress their powerless people using security agents and yet the UN has human rights bodies which continue to be without truth.
Isaac Chaza Makuwekuwe, South Africa

With countries like the US & Britain who hold the UN in their palms with veto powers, what do you see left in the hands of the UN General assembly? It is there just by name.The powers of the UN general assembly have been hijacked by the major powers at the international arena. Any decision that goes against the wishes of the super powers is as good as nothing at all. Its unfortunate but thats the best of what we got from that arrangement after the Second World War.
Swem Theophilus, Nigeria

The UN General Assembly as we all know does not have any real power.The GA is made up of states and the most powerful control it. For instance at this time when everyone wonders who will replace Koffi Anan, attention is geared towards the individual who will be able to work with Washington. However it is important for the debates to be taking place. It is eminent the peace, development, good governance talks, amongst others, will one day become practical.
Lizette Betanga, Cameroon

Is the UN General Assembly truly a debating forum? If so, why didn't the UN encourage the debate between Ahmedinejad and Bush. If these guys can argue their points head-to-head for the public to witness, the truth will no doubt be revieled and maybe policies would start to change. Of course, the issues of Darfur, Iraq, and Afghanistan remain pressing. Peace, security and socio-economic development in Africa also needs greater attention and support.
David Saccoh Wright, United States

I am certainly fed up with them. They end at discussions. They have discussed a lot and i think time has come for them to act on those issues already discussed. Actions speak louder than words, isn't it?
Nshom Ernest Bah, Cameroon

The UN debate should be based on the speedy development of the African countries and proper elections of African leaders into positions of trust for Africans to have a good life like americans and europeans.
Stella Pepple, Nigeria

Help African countries sustain their economies to recover from collapse so as to control national growth.
Malesy Sakala, Haiti

The UN should debate as to who should be a member or not. All those who do not respect humanity, have corrupt leaders and run by dictatorship should be expelled. Those who have not apologised for their WWII war crimes must be tossed out. Those who sell child labour and sell their women as prostitutes should be dismissed. Any nation where there is no freedom of speech must be eliminated from the UN. Those who do not recognise the rights of their minority citizens must be banned. Those nations who cultivate terrorism and nationalistic militants should be excused. That leaves us with no UN.
Gedion, United States

In order for their meeting to have meaning, the general and the group of ... what ever they call themselves, should leave behind topics such as global security, poverty and democracy because they cannot solve these problems. Instead, they should focus on spreading their technology to third world countries, which is possible, so that there will be even development, not just even democracy.
Ramsey Abaessien, Nigeria.

We are worse off with leaders like Mugabe. They should debate the Zimbabwe crisis of leadership to avert problems such as those in Iraq or Darfur.
Rudo, Zimbabwe

I doubt what the UN wants to debate. Are they out of solving pressing problems or debating?. This was how the League of Nations failed in the twenties hoping to give way for the UN to correct these enormous errors. Frankly speaking, no continent(s) in the world is facing problems like the deadly African continent. Look at situations in Sudan, DRC, Ethiopia Somalia,Uganda, even Cameroon where people want their rights, just to name a few of them. I think Kofi Annan and other African countries can't do anything because of their position as minority, a situation which happens every where. Annan is just acting as an adviser not as a secretary general because none of his decisions can be affordable. I think if the UN wants to debate on issues, they should be looking on issues such as Western influence on African countries, a situation where one person remains in power for life making it a kingdom of its own. This is how I know Kofi Annan failed stupidly to resolve issues in Africa and other continents. When the US, Britain, France, Germany and the rest are talking about issues on Africa, they should first think of the advantages they are gaining in African countries and bring point that will favour the africans instead.
Magprince Johnson, Denmark

The era of the UN has come to an end - in fact I think it is way overdue. The UN must seek to restructure and re-evaluate it's purpose and policies.
Michele, Canada

The Term United Nations is a misnomer. There is no unity. Hence the UN should go home. People are dying in Darfur and what does the UN have to offer? Debate?
Thomas, United Kingdom

I don't think the UN have any proper agenda. They're following everyone else- they shouldn't be creating a forum for debate. I forsee a greater failure for the UN because I am sure no agreement will be reached at this meeting. For the UN not to collapse like the League of Nations, debates should be far from their agenda of tomorrow's meeting. I think the UN should be implementing what is on their paper rather than debating, for they have a lot of pressing problems in front of them- instead they should be solving these problems. I deeply regret seeing Mr Annan to leave his office without solving at least a single crisis in africa. Well that is Africa- lets wait and see.
Acha Andongse, Cameroon

The General Assembly should not talk the talk, but walk the walk.The problems confronting the world are so visible, the UN should debate on how it can be more efficient, effective and powerful enough to mitigate these problems and not waste time talking about these problems.
Ouborr Kutando, Ghana

The United Nation has done a lot to stop destruction in Africa, and we all appreciate the hard work. I think what the U.N should focus on is the political parties in africa. If you take a look at any african country, there are six or more ruling parties just to rule a small country I think the UN should allow two ruling parties.
Almamy Shyllon, United States

I think if any debate should take place at the UN, it should either be about re-structuring the voting system where 1 vote is equal to 99 or more. The power of veto should be removed or they should talk about disbanding. It is another body that has outlived it's usefulness and has been hijacked by the US.
Ono Orogun, England

The problem of Darfur should be among top priorities during this gathering. There is a humanitarian crisis in the troubled region of Darfur. If the UN doesn't take action, another genocide can occur.The UN General Assembly should decide a deployment of an international peace keeping force there- even by force.
Marcel Ngomdum, Cameroon

The often divergent interests of the members of the General Assembly make it an inadequate forum for hammering out practical solutions to world problems. That said, the genocide in Darfur must be front and centre on the agenda. How can such impunity be allowed to rest on our conscience?
Eddie Mandhry, Kenya

UN,stands for united nations, it is about all the nations in the world and not only America and Europe, How can the UN save the world when they seem to discriminating the people from Middle East? How can poverty be eradicated in Africa if Zimbabwe and Sudan are not part of America and Israel which owns the so called United Nations. The UN is really out of focus and are being controlled by powerful nations. The world will continue to suffer in the presence of United Nations. Maybe its time for someone else to take on the UN. Kofi Annan should resign.
Monica Oguge, Mombasa, Kenya

Every time I am on the BBC network on my old transistor radio, I am only met with news of death, bombings, destruction and wars in various parts of the world. Africa and the Middle East being the worst affected. Thanks to the UN. This leaves me with no more to imagine than that the United Nations has outlived it's relevance, and should be done away with outrightly! . Of what use is the UN to humanity since it has become the source of the various wars and outrages in various parts of our delicate world? The United States of America in particular and other permanent members have hijacked the UN- it as an instrument of oppression, same which the so called 'third world' can no longer bear. Africa needs freedom from colonialism and its manifestations through UN organs like the IMF, World Bank and the security council. If the UN which ousted the League of Nations because it sought to end a war, has enlisted itself in a more dreaded war than both world wars combined, then it has outgrown relevance and should be scraped. What has president Bush got to say about the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afganistan, which have escalated to full blown civil war crisis. He has no moral justifications to muss a word on the issue at the General Assembly, since his foolhardy stubbornness started it all. Let him and his slave allies just shut up and face the fact.
Solomon Apenja, Nigeria

The UN is losing its power, there is no need for any debate when some of its members do not respect a Union that they belong to. UN is not having the moral power it should have over the world. All these debates that are taking place in the UN, would not change anything when some member states feel less important because as small as they are their voice are not heard and they are not respected.
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso, Ghana

I think the UN General Assembly should be given more power to stem acts of aggression by member states. As much as terrorism is detestable; invasion and forceful occupation of other sovereign states is depressing. The UN should have sufficient power to pass resolutions to remove immoderate leaders in the Middle East, Africa or the West. It is a peacekeeping organisation.
Richard Okech, Kenya

The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has in the past criticised the work of the assembly, accusing it of not focusing on the "major substantive issues of the day", and of passing watered down resolutions..." This statement by Kofi Annan is very correct. The UN should get rid of this 5-members permanent veto wielding powers at the expense of the rest of the world. All members must be equal. Nothing like democracy as UNO is presently constituted. The rich countries are misusing the poor countries as they want. UNO should stay, debates should continue, irrelevant, injustice and big-boss mentality must stop forthwith.
Adigun Olosun, Ostbevern, Nigerian

What Africa needs is not new modes of technology and industry in general, but rather new modes of agro-technology and industry.The U.N should look into ways Africa can be helped to reap big from this activity to which she enjoys most natural advantages. Farming is what most of Africa is most keen to discuss.
Ntumwael, Uganda

Yes, I think the UN can solve the world problems to an extent. It is required that the structure of the UN changes to represent specific problems that face different countries; there are some problems which are undoubtedly international but one should recognise that some problems are specific to countries. It is therefore crucial for the UN to represent all five continents including Africa. There should be no permanent members because this allows other countries to dominate the process of decision-making within the UN
Sabelo, South Africa

I would rather have the UN debate issues that are geared towards regulating the political situations in Africa. Knowing it or not, this is the main stumbling block for Africa's development. Presidential term limits will be quite important an issue to be discussed.
Kemocham, The Gambia

I think the UN should be debating about the Iraqi economy, the Iraq dinar is really undervalued and should be revalued. It would give the Iraqi people back some of their buying power and maybe tear poor people away from becoming insurgents for $50 so they can feed there families
Pearse Donnelly, United Kingdom

The UN should be disbanding not debating. they are useless.
William Frost, United States

The UN should go through a metamorphism since it has lost its main objective. With time the UN no longer has the power that it was endorsed with after Second World War. It needs to re-draft its policies.
Valerian Atieno, Kenya

I think the UN has held quite a number of discussions to solve most of the outstanding issues in Africa. The need is to devise more strategies for implementing what is already on paper. The focus should be the on eradicating poverty, especially among the rural communities in Africa, peace and reconciliation in the war torn parts of African, as well as working relations with the African Union and other organisations that are working towards implementing those strategies.
Prossy Nannyombi, Uganda

The United Nations should begin an immediate reform process in the Security Council and the objective should be a full representation of all sections of the world and not a play thing for a few countries interests.
Nduka Tolefe, Netherlands

As usual instead of debating crucial issues, the politics of hatred will be portrayed. America talks, Iran answers back and Africa listens, no progress.
Hankie Uluko, Lilongwe, Malawi

I don't think there is a need to debate about Africa, we have heard all those debates in the past, those debates have no help at all, what we need now in Africa is action. We have suffered a lot and we will keep on suffering if action is not taken. It seems our white friends are interested in discussing our problems or making funny of our problems. Please, no need for debate, just bring those bags of money to us, we will appreciate. We need decent lives, like what our friends are enjoying, why should we suffer while those who can assist are available. After all those resources you are using were stolen from Africa. Long live Africa.
Allanie Njateni Mtengowanthenga, Malawi

We need implementation of decisions passed more than debates. The world body should be acting with equal immediacy regarding solutions on crisis and natural disasters in Africa as they do in Europe, Asia or other continents. It's unfortunate that funding for disasters in Africa take time to come and when they do they are always insufficient compared to other continents. The UN needs to be reformed and permanent seats for Africa should not be debated but just given as we deserve it. Considering our population and problems, Africa's crisis and disaster should not just be mentioned, debated or condemned, but acted upon without hesitation involving bodies like the African Union.
Besenty Gomez, The Gambia

HIV/AIDS and its results which are orphans!!
Gady Mwamba Museka, Zambia

The UN should be debating human rights, corruption and the way of teaching pupils at school. I'm wondering some times if it would be a better move out this union because we don't see its duties.
Lesabel Nzaba, Congo

The UN General Assembly should debate the problem of repatriation of looted Africa's wealth back to Africa. Much of Africa's stolen wealth was stolen with the active connivance of some European banks. The UN General Assembly should debate the dismantling of rigid laws in Europe that makes it extremely difficult for stolen Africa's wealth to be repatriated back to Africa. The UN should also debate how to assist Africa in eradicating corruption in government.
Anthony Okosun, United States

There should be debate about reforming the UN Security Council. Other states besides the five permanent members should have a larger say in policy.
Daniel Reiter, Netherlands

Since the UN was formed they've been debating many issues - some relevant and others irrelevant. I think what the UN needs to do more to put into practice its policies rather than spending more time debating issues. Many lives could be saved if they did so.
Unisa Dizo, United Kingdom

I don't see any need for the debate. It is just rhetoric. A lot of promises have been made in the past and were not fulfilled. There is no denying the fact that they don't know the problematic areas in the world and what needs to be done but they are dilly dallying. The most important issues to be addressed if the debate is going to go on are, bringing the war in Darfur to an end, Eradicating poverty in Africa, economic improvement in Africa, combating diseases in Africa and improving agricultural methodologies in Africa to mention but a few. It is one thing to make a promise and it is another to fulfil it. If action is not going to be taken, there is no need for the debates. It is time for the world leaders to put politics and rhetoric aside and actually do something beneficial.
Omorodion Osula, United States

If this is it's first debate they need to debate on almost everything that concerns them. If it's not the first time, the UN does not need to waste time and money debating the same things, but to try to correct mistakes. The U.N looks like it doesn't have power to put the peace where it is needed. The world has more problems than ever, the U.N is getting weaker.
Eva, Tanzania

On the issue of international peace and security, I believe terrorism should be tackled mainly from an ideological platform. The West has to radically revise its mentality towards the Middle East or else extremists will continue to thrive on the increasing discontent of the ordinary Muslim. The UN should make countries like the United States and the United Kingdom buy into my idea.
Anchang Julius, Cameroon

1. Darfur
2. Iraq
3. Afghanistan
4. UN Reform
Marybeth McKeever, United States

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