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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
UN seeks anti-terror role
Kofi Annan and his wife Nane arrive for a memorial service in New York
Annan wants action to be conducted under UN auspices
By the BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged the international community to respond to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by using the UN as the natural forum to build a universal coalition against terrorism.

He said the tragic events of 11 September struck at everything the UN stood for.

So let us respond by reaffirming the rule of law on the international as well as a national level

Kofi Annan
Mr Annan was speaking during a gathering at the UN General Assembly, which is being held at a lower level due to the continued strain on security services in New York.

In a speech to the General Assembly, Mr Annan said the UN should play a central role in the global fight against terrorism.

He urged UN member states to respond to the attacks by strengthening international peace and security and by cementing ties between nations rather than subjecting them to new strains.

Stamp of legitimacy

Mr Annan said the UN alone could give legitimacy to what he called the long-term struggle against terrorism.

US President George W Bush
Bush has made it clear he is prepared to act unilaterally if necessary
"The attack of 11 September was an attack on the rule of law - that is, on the very principle that enables nations and individuals to live together in peace by following agreed rules and settling their disputes through agreed procedures," he said.

"So let us respond by reaffirming the rule of law on the international as well as a national level."

This was a rallying cry for global consensus in the battle against a new and unknown enemy.

But Mr Annan also had a warning - the international community should not allow itself to be completely distracted by recent events.

He said urgent tasks such as the battle against HIV and Aids and attempts to lift the burden of poverty around the world should not be forgotten.

See also:

24 Sep 01 | South Asia
UN prepares for refugee crisis
16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
21 Sep 01 | Europe
EU leaders back US retaliation
17 Sep 01 | Europe
US says Russia rules nothing out
21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack heralds China-US thaw
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