Thursday, 7 September, 2000UN faces 'credibility crisis'
On the second day of the UN's Millennium Summit the Secretary-General has told the 15 Security Council countries the organisation faces a credibility crisis.
His comments came at a special open meeting of the Council, which is discussing how to strengthen peacekeeping operations, especially in Africa.
US President Bill Clinton urged the UN to beef up its peacekeeping operations and broaden its definition of what constitutes a security threat.
At the main summit session on Thursday several African leaders accused the world's rich nations of neglecting and exploiting their continent for decades, thereby condemning millions of people to a lifetime of misery and suffering.
The UN peacekeeping department has taken on heavy responsibilities in Africa, but has found struggling to carry them out effectively because of poorly trailed and equipped troops.
Mr Annan said "no amount of resolutions or statements" could alter the fact that many people in need around the world hesitated to ask the UN for help.
And he highlighted the plight of Africa, scene of many of the UN's greatest failures.
"Nowhere is your commitment more urgently needed than in the continent of Africa, where millions are suffering daily from the ravages of war," he said.
World leaders have been presented with a UN report, commissioned by Mr Annan, which recommends a complete overhaul of the peacekeeping department.
It calls for a bigger professional military staff at UN headquarters so that troops can deploy rapidly and take action in clear cases of aggression.
US President Bill Clinton told the meeting he backed the reports' conclusions.
"We ask the United Nations to act under increasingly complex conditions," he said.
"We must do more to equip the United Nations to do what we ask it to do."
"They need to be able to be peacekeepers who can be rapidly deployed, properly trained and equipped, able to project credible force," he said.
But Mr Clinton said the council should follow Washington's example and broaden its definition of what constitutes a security threat to include global killers like Aids.
"War kills massively, crosses borders, destabilises whole regions.
"Today we face other problems that kill massively, cross borders and destabilise whole regions," he said.
Lack of political will
The conflicts in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have put great strain on the UN's resources and raised serious questions about its peacekeeping role.
In Sierra Leone, 500 UN peacekeepers were taken hostage in May by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front - a debacle that led to calls for UN troops to have better training and a more robust mandate for tackling internal conflicts.
Several Western leaders have called for UN peacekeeping to be beefed up, but the Western powers are extremely reluctant to commit their forces to operations in Africa.