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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
A lack of will
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

In an interview to be broadcast by the BBC's Panorama programme the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Kofi Annan, admits that history's judgement on the UN for its handling of the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan may well be harsh.

Responding to questions from reporter Fergal Keane for "Never Again" about how the UN's response to the situation could be seen as not just a failure at the beginning but repeatedly, Annan admits that

"... There's a measure of justification in that because it wasn't only just a humanitarian aspect but also trying to get even assistance to the people in terms of security."

Questioned on the declaration by world leaders following the Rwandan genocide that they would learn the lessons and that they would never again delay and argue while innocent people were slaughtered, he recalls a meeting two years ago:

"A young Rwandan woman asked me: 'Mr Secretary General could you assure me that we can never have another disaster like we had in Rwanda?' I had to tell her honestly I cannot give her that assurance. I hoped we wouldn't but I had to tell her I couldn't because, as I said, you need that political will and the determination to... I think we have the means, we have the resources, what is often lacking is the will to act. I hope the word 'never again' is not meaningless."

In response to Keane asking if history's judgment on the UN over the Darfur crisis will be damning, Annan admits that it is, "Quite likely. Quite likely that we were slow, hesitant, uncaring and that we have learnt nothing from Rwanda."

"Never Again" follows Panorama's award winning film "The New Killing Fields" which was broadcast last autumn and which questioned whether the events in Darfur amounted to genocide.

Panorama's "Never Again" is broadcast on Sunday 3 July 2005 at 22:15 BST on BBC One.

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