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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 12:18 GMT
Is Kofi Annan pulling his weight for Africa?
The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has been accused of not doing enough for the continent of his birth.
So is that enough? Should Kofi Annan be doing more? Is his African origin a help or a hindrance in fighting for Africa within the UN? Or should the Secretary General make no extra effort for the region of his birth?
I expected Kofi Annan to be a catalyst for positive development in Africa as was Mr Peres De Cuilar during his term to Latin American countries. Our Annan seems a bit shy to push forcefully the African agenda!
Kofi Annan is not responsible for the problems in Africa. Being an African does not imply that he should devote all his attention to Africa. Those who think that he is not doing enough for Africa, are uninformed of diplomatic protocol.
When Kofi Annan was elected as Secretary General of the UN, The Saharawis had high hopes. Here was an African who had a lot of experience in the UN system and particularly in peacekeeping. He immediately showed interest in our cause. He appointed former US secretary of State, James Baker as his special envoy for Western Sahara. He himself visited the region and the Saharawi refugee camps.
But unfortunately three years later nothing has happened so far. Our hopes are waning, our frustration and disappointment are increasing. We wonder why was the interest shown towards Kosovo, East Timor and others not given to Western Sahara. Have we not suffered enough already or is it that our case is not so attractive?
Al Ansari Boukanbour, Western Sahara
One fundamental mistake often made is the assumption that one person can unilaterally change the course of events. As mush as people of capacity and high position, like Kofi Annan, can impact events, they need a good support system to do so. Annan can't move the UN in a direction opposite to those of the permanent members of the Security Council (US, France, Britain, Russia, and China). He has the voice, but not the muscle to make good on what he may really want to do. That said, it's then obvious that he's dependent on the good will (or lack thereof) of the permanent members of the council.
The problems that we have in Africa should not be solved by any outsider. It should be solved by us. I don't blame Kofi for not involving himself in his birth country problem, Africa is just another poor country to him and he is probably grateful he doesn't suffer like others. Any way let's please come together and solve our own problems and forget Annan--who needs him anyway....
It takes one woman to have a child and a whole village to raise that child. And Kofi Annan knows this too well. He has a responsibility towards his post but even more so to the hands that fed him and tended him as a child. I believe his terms should have a special bias towards Africa or else his presence in the UN loses its whole value. He should decide to be a man and make demands and if not answered should resign because that is what it means to be a man.
So Kofi, be a man.
Kofi Annan is not pulling his weight for Africa. Why should he? Mr Annan is just a top UN bureaucrat who works according to the UN charter. He has little or no power.
For the UN to have major influence on world events, the UN must be reformed.
More countries should be added to the UN permanent security committee to include representatives from all continents. The veto vote should be removed.
Mechanisms of financing the UN must be reviewed to reduce influence of one country.
UN Secretary General Should be selected among retired respected world statesmen and women (e.g.Mandela, Carter).
Kofi Annan will help those who help themselves but he knows very well how the corrupt leaders in Africa misused the public funds and without caring for the plight of the masses. The colonial powers should come back and take over these states.
I don't think Annan cares much for Africa. Mother Africa has lost 11 million people to HIV and the rate is increasing even faster but I didn't see Annan addressing this issue enough. You know there are drugs in the western world that greatly helped HIV patients live longer and better but these drugs are too expensive to save the black soul and Annan seams to accept that.
A continent is on the verge of extinction and who else can fight to solicit the west to give away these drugs for free better than Annan. I am afraid that HIV will be as catastrophic to Africans as influenza was to native Indians. Therefore I want Annan out of the UN so history can fully blame and hold the west accountable for giving a deaf ear.
Hailu Teferi, Ethiopia
A UN leader should treat all nations equal, regardless of his origin. And that was all Africa needed/need, African nations chose Mr. Annan, because leaders before him failed to pay attention to the continent's problem.
Kofi Annan has tried to help all people from Serbia to Somalia. He is only one man. A lot of the problems in African, the continent, are of our own making. We should stop looking for other people to solve our problems. Kofi Annan is not the man shooting other Africans, stealing from the already poor people purse.
We should look at ourselves for solutions. Kofi Annan is supposed to represent the globe not the continent.
Paula Josiah, Kenyan in USA
Let's be straight folks, Kofi Annan is a puppet in western hands. He can't disappoint his masters or else he'll be fired like Boutras Ghali. The dark continent needs to stand on its feet as no-one else is gonna help it to do so. We need to do away with slavery both mental and physical - we should stand up to our right place in the world.
Some people are born to criticise, instead of encouraging the person who is trying to do his best like Mr Annan. Those Africans who are blaming Mr. Annan's performance should be ashamed because all they do is talk about what others can and should do for them but not what they can do for themselves.
Kofi Anan is nothing other than a nuisance to Africa. He hasn't done anything serious to save the carnage in Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and last but not least Somalia. The advice I have for him is that, he should not allow the Americans to run his office. He is Sec Gen of the UN and not the US.
I think the blame is not on Mr. Annan but the western countries. He is just a UN representative who is doing his job. The West does not want to help Africa to develop because it's not their main interest. We can see the help that Bosnia, Kosovo, and other eastern European countries received but not Africa.
The problem with Africa belongs with the Africans. Some say the US is to blame for selling weapons to Africa. Poppy-cock more people were killed in Rwanda with knives then M16s. You hot shots from India better check out the weapons being used in Africa's civil wars - they look like AK 47s supplied from India's good buddy Russia.
You give the US too much credit for the wrongs done to Africa. We've only been a world power for a little more than seventy years and only because the Euros dragged us into their wars. So Africa get a life and quit being beggars like India!!
Kofi Annan should use his high profile position to expose the origins and the catalyst in Africa's many devastating civil wars. Kudos to the UN for exposing the sanction busters in Angola, but why have they not done the same for Sierra Leone, i.e. exposing the conspiracy by Liberia, Burkinafaso, Ivory coast and their foreign cohorts that has directly led to the deaths and mutilations of hundreds of thousand Liberian and Sierra Leonean citizens. Perhaps, it's because unlike Angola, Sierra Leone does not have oil which the western powers crave.
Africans, I'm sorry to say are their own worst enemies. I don't see what Mr. Annan got
to do with this. If he must be worth his office, he must be seen to be impartial. Nothing
more, nothing less!
Kofi Annan is Secretary General of the UN, serving all member countries. He should be seen to be attending to problems in all continents not just Africa. The reason Africa appears not to receive its fair share of UN support has to do with the Western powers that control the allocation of resources. If the US does not like a particular UN program they, and their allies, withhold their money and there is nothing much Mr Annan can do. Africa must learn to deal with its problems. The best Kofi Annan can do for Africa is to help the continent to build the capacity to deal with its problems. But will Africa and its leaders listen to advice?
Mr. Annan has shown his true colours. He is a career diplomat and a consummate politician. When the former UN Secretary-General was "persuaded" to step down, the UN - the ultimate example of global bureaucratic futility - dressed-up their puppet du jour and voila....Kofi Annan.
Mr Annan long ago left the African family for a Swedish wife, and I'm not sure what else he has tossed aside along the way? Suffice it to say that when Rwanda and Burundi descended into barbarity and utter anarchy, guess who was head of Peacekeeping operations at the UN? The lovely organisation that did absolutely NOTHING. That great world body which just stood by and watched, as millions were slaughtered? - you guessed it, the wonderful Mr. Kofi Annan......just what the West has always wanted in a "leader".
H. Muhero, Tanzania
First of all why is that we Africans like to complain and expect others to solve our problems. Kofi or the US are not interested about Africa's problem. Kofi is just a puppet for the US.
My point here is that do not expect any one to solve our problem. Just stop pointing fingers and try to solve our stupid problems.
I Think one of the important things Kofi Annan can do for Africa before his term is over is expose those governments and leaders of Africa who are doing more damage than benefit to their nation. We Africans have significant numbers of qualified people with vision and integrity to lead us and we deserve better.
As far as Annan's performance on his job so far, I am very pleased with it. It is now time for him to have the courage and valour to stand up for the truth and call "A Spade" "A Spade" and expose our so-called leaders who they really are.
The gentleman is doing a good job. Some people want you to not only point them the right path but also give them a car free. Africa has a lot of problems but most of those problems are home bred. Africa is for the Africans and they must learn to build from nothing something tangible and stop demanding from the UN leader more than he should be giving.
Why don't we just let him work on
where the problems are? That seems
the most sensible option to me!
I think Kofi Annan and the UN should focus more on Africa and its problems, not because it is the continent of his birth but because it deserves the attention in its own right.
I strongly believe Mr Kofi Annan is doing his very best, not only for Africa but also for all the other nations involved with the UN. As someone already mentioned it would be held against him if he did "too much" for Africa.
The secretary general's nationality should have nothing to do with solving Africa's problems. He, and no other secretary general for that matter could not have prevented the floods in Mozambique, nor could he have foreseen all at once the numerous other problems in Africa. The UN is also not made up only of African nations. I doubt that those complaining would do a much better job than he, had they been in his shoes. We Ghanaians are proud of him; we know he's doing a good job and we're supporting him all the way!
Emefa Kporku, Ghana/Australia
For me, the problem with the UN is not how much Kofi Anan is trying hard to help solve problems in Africa. The main problem is how much are those powerful states like the USA interested in helping the African cause. Whether the UN and Kofi Anan work hard to help Africa or not, in the end the so-called INTEREST of the big powers always comes first.
Let's be realistic, What is the difference between the UN and the US? NOTHING. The United Nations mainly controlled by the US...and why was Boutros Ghali the Former UN Leader fired, because the US didn't want him. Kofi Annan is just a mannequin, he will do whatever the United States tell him. There is no decision he or the organisation of which he is the leader can make. The United States must approve everything the UN does.....
Africa's problems can only be solved by ourselves. What we should do therefore is get to realise this fact and do the right thing. On the other hand hypocritical western governments who blow their own trumpets about democracy and human rights would serve us best by correcting such defects in their own camps before pointing at others.
I believe Kofi Annan is doing his best to help solve African problems. Don't forget that Africa's financial contribution to the UN is very little. So countries that contribute more money to UN control the running of it affairs.
I see a lot of people blaming Africans for the problems in Africa but few people mentions the pressure from the developed world to the poor.
We can only imagine how tough it is to lead and manage a very complex and demanding institution like the UN. Mr. Annan is doing his best, and I think that is not enough for Africa and I don't think that all the blame should be directed to Mr. Annan. We know Western Countries have a great say on what the UN does e.g. "Security Council". We all witness what took place in Kosovo, Bosnia and how prompt the Western nation responded to the conflict, and we know what happen in Rwanda, Hundred of thousands of children, elderly and women were slaughtered. So this is not what the UN leader or for that matter the UN will do for Africa. He may try but it will be very hard to convince rich and powerful countries to change their course.
I am amazed by how much emphasis is put upon one man, The fact of the matter is that western governments still colonise the third world and the so-called African leaders are all their leaders. This World Bank, The IMF and the UN are all part of this western are there to make sure they get the gold!
Kofi Annan, as head of the UN, an organisation set up by the Illuminati, does as he is told. The real rulers of this world dictate how the UN operates. Seeing as it's easier to rule countries full of famine and war, and to convince them of the necessity of the UN, they are the solution provided by the rulers to the problems created by the rulers.
Hard one to call isn't it? His actions with regard to Western Sahara, before he became Secretary General, certainly didn't seem very PRO-Africa...
Kofi Annan's job is to deal with the whole world, not just Africa. It is a tribute to his professionalism and dedication that he gives plenty of attention to other suffering parts of the world (Kosovo, E. Timor) and not just to the continent of his birth. If he had done that, he would abused the trust of the 85% of the world's people who don't live in Africa.
Africa is only one of many areas in the world where not enough is done to improve life for the poor. No matter who leads the UN, until western countries, especially the US, pay their dues and begin to take UN goals seriously it will continue to see more tragedy.
Mr. Annan has not been nearly forceful enough in pressing richer countries to pull their weight. He should be presenting UN goals much more vocally and forcefully, not just for Africa but for all of the world's poor, reminding all of us of that thus far the US especially has used (or ignored) the UN to suit its own agenda.
Peter Linds, Hong Kong
I see that most of the comments posted so far are very anti-west. The fact of the matter is that billions of pounds/dollars have been pumped into Africa over the years and for what? Corruption, tribal wars, lack of local investment, apathy and poor education are all endemic in African countries.
Kofi Annan's job is not fighting for Africa, that is what the OAU is for. Africa has to stop being a beggar and start being responsible for all the tings that happen on this continent. I would be very disappointed if Kofi Annan would focus on Africa just because he is born here.
I think that Kofi Annan will be condemned if he shows bias towards African States and equally criticised if he treats them like any other developing state.
He is probably attempting to walk a very thin line in treating all UN member states equally. How much do we hear about the regular day to day business he conducts anyway? Let us not be too eager to pick leaders apart...a least he chose to be involved, many "good" people opt out of such responsibility.
Pat van der Veer, Nova Scotia, Canada
The office of the Secretary General of the UNO is expected to be above board. However, Kofi Annan was appointed on the grounds that he is African and most African states had voted for him not without the expectation that he would at least channel some resources towards alleviating the enormous problems in Africa.
Mr Annan is a man burdened with a global consciousness that has been thrust upon by the times. If 67% or the problems he must deal with arise from (and in) Africa, he does well to highlight them but it is the wider responsibility of the international community (the 'family' of nations) to help address them and not to expect that one man can initiate solutions.
Mr Annan, please do not forget Sudan. Children and elderly people are dying day and night from hunger, disease and bombardment by the NIF government in Khartoum. If you can go and see the Serbs and the people of Chechnya why not the people of Southern Sudan? Please do not forget the people of Southern Sudan. Try to do some thing.
Friday Michael Arona, Egypt
It is only the 'black man' that can save himself for himself, not UN, USA or Britain. The sooner we Africans understand that there can never be any true salvation from a 'foreign land' (does not matter who the trumpeter is), the better.
Whatever Kofi Annan does, there will people (Africans or Westerns) who will be unhappy. I do not think being a UN Secretary is an easy job. At least he (Mr Annan) is trying his best.
He's been called a puppet and sitting on the fence, but the bottom line is that he probably has less powers than the Queen. The post Secretary General is a token role with very little powers, the real powers lie with the five permanent members of the security council. Finally as Secretary general he should not show any particular bias towards Africa, no more than Asia, Europe and every other continent.
How can Mr Annan even begin to think of favouring Africa, when he is tied to a bureaucratic organisation like the UN, which is controlled by the powers that be. How can Mr A Annan favour Africa when the UN can waste millions on Commissions such as the Fowler Commission, which provides inaccurate and outdated information on an issue that is now too late to address. What a shame that a talented individual is stuck in such a situation.
Neil Magotte, France
It is easy to question how much Kofi Annan is doing to help Africa, but it is more important to ask what African leaders are doing for the continent. Stealing from the common man and looking everywhere for more to steal and plunder is a much worse contribution.
Koffi Annan was Africa's BIG HOPE. But what a joke he has become. It is unfortunate that he does not take positions of principles on issues involving Africa or poorer nations of the world. Now I understand clearly why Butros Ghali was forced out. It is true that the US and the West control the UN, but it will require men/women of principles and conviction to stand up to these powers if the UN is to ever change and become truly DEMOCRATIC.
To anyone who criticises the man I say, "try and do better in his position" It is possible but not so easy."
In his attempt to remain impartial, Annan has succeeded in being partial and responds primarily to the wealthy countries that fund the UN. Rwanda has not forgiven him and the UN for ignoring the genocide. In his recent trip to East Timor Annan made no mention of the plight of the Melanesians currently being slaughtered by the Indonesians. He continues to ignore the sufferers in the southern hemisphere
Gary D, USA
Given the constraints under which a Secretary General has to function, Mr. Annan is doing a fine job. By the very fact that he is an African, he has been able to bring some attention to the problems of the continent. To those who criticise him: just expressing anti-west feelings does not help Africa either. This man is doing something positive.
The position of the Secretary General is largely that of a figure-head. The job itself, that of a co-ordinator rather than a power-wielder. If member nations don't offer their resources, there is little he or anyone else can do about any situation. I'd rather ask why it took so many weeks for the UK, the US, and others to respond to the disasters in Southern Africa.
The position of Secretary General should be about directing efforts to any areas of the world needing attention, not just the part of the world you happen to be born in.
Kofi Annan is in a difficult position. He is an African man in a position of power and world influence. As such, he can have no biases. He therefore cannot be seen to be focusing too much on Africa as this could jeopardise his position.
Kofi Annan is a puppet of the western countries and will only do things that benefit the west.
The United Nations is not independently run by its Secretary General. America and its allies have a final say. Even if Annan wanted to do more, if it is not to the general interest of America and its allies it won't happen.
Not only is Mr Annan not doing enough for Africa; in fact, he is failing the whole human society by sitting on the fence all the time. There is no such thing as neutrality between good and evil.
Before becoming UN Secretary General, he failed in Rwanda. He has been feeble in condemning the illegal, unlawful activities of the USA and UK, in flagrant violation of the UN Charter, under the cloak of 'evolving international law' in their military intervention in Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Even in a natural disaster like Mozambique, in the first few weeks, it was deafening silence from the UN. We need a UN Secretary General who seizes the initiative, in leading global action; not someone who is always watching over his shoulders for Mrs Madeline Albright's pronouncements before he opens his lips.
The UN must give attention to the problems of Somalia, because every day there are more children who are suffering for the war in Somalia, please try to do something.
If Kofi Annan showed any bias to Africa it would just as likely be held against him. The very fact that he is head of the United Nations goes some way to balance the dominance of the west over the UN.
As for 67% of the UN's problems being in Africa, how many of those are as a direct result of the West's role in the development of modern Africa?
Martin Bentley, UK
The amount of effort put in by the UN should be proportional to the scale of disaster, and not any more because it is the Secretary General's home country. But on a more general note, I have always thought that Kofi Annan was a wet blanket, never taking a strong enough stance on issues of great importance, preferring to just talk rather than act. He should be replaced at the earliest opportunity.
It is time for Africa to stop receiving foreign help and start to help itself.
Here's the guy who went to his wife and ate his dinner after being told that Tutsis are being massacred by Hutus in April 1994. And this is after he was warned not to just sit there doing anything. He knew about it, his cabinet members knew too about a possible genocide toward the Tutsis in Rwanda. I've already forgiven him because he will go to his grave knowing that a simple phone call to UNAMIR(which the Canadian general, the head of that force was expecting but never received), advising them to stop the killings, would have saved up to 700,000 people.
God bless him and his family.
Because of the undemocratic way the UN is arranged as far as veto rights, losing votes for late payment etc, it is plain to see that anyone sitting in the Secretary General's seat has to play the game by the Big Boys (G7) rules. You see how Boutros Ghali was handled and how Africa almost lost their chance to have a Secretary General because some from amongst the G7 didn't want certain people or characters in that seat.
Are we talking about Africa, a continent which is the biggest market for western arm dealers. Oh come on guys, Kofi Annan has no powers, and as for the UN. It's becoming more and more like to what we had before World War 2. It has lost its ideology, peace-keeping is no more, it's completely biased towards the US-Western countries. On top of that, whatever the western countries couldn't do with the UN, they created NATO for that, which makes a laughing stock of the United Nations.
Kofi Annan has to keep his job possibly in to a second term like everyone of us.He can not anger the rich and powerful by taking the side of the poor.
Although his ability to to takle a world problem is limited, due to to the American political totelage, yet he strives to be seen as an African Savior.
Kofi Annan is a puppet of the Western world because he chose to turn a blind eye to the crimes that Western countries commit against peoples of the so-called "third world" on an international scale. Africa has a mass of problems because the white western world refuses to own up to the major role it has played and we need to stop looking towards the colonisers. De-colonise our minds and do for ourselves. Kofi Annan has bought into and internalised the West's view of Africa as inferior because he refuses to put Africa's condition into the true and proper context of hundreds of years of colonialism, destruction, exploitation, rape, plundering and exploitation of Africa's resources which benefit the West at the expense of Africans. Annan chooses to ignore this essential fact, and anyone who does so definitely falls short of having an African centred analysis and looking out for the best interests of African peoples. Kofi
Annan does the exact opposite; he is no African, but a white man in a Black man's skin.
As I am not qualified to dispute Mr Annan's statement, I have to assume that it is correct. The problem however, is that the efforts of the UN have had no effect whatsoever on the lives of the vast majority of our people. This suggests that even if Mr Annan were to increase that figure to 100%, nothing will have changed. Therefore, the solution to Africa's problems is not within his powers, or indeed, those of the UN itself. It lies in the hands of our so-called leaders, who have consistently treated our basic needs with utter contempt.
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