The award of the Nobel Prize for Peace to the United Nations and to its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is a cause for true celebration everywhere. But celebrations should never become an excuse for complacency. Yes, the UN has achieved much under Secretary General Annan's leadership. But the idea of the United Nations as a uniter of nations remains, in many parts of the world and for many of the world's most complex problems, more an ideal still to be achieved than a living reality.
Some of the most powerful nations in the world still do not see fully cooperating with or participating in UN affairs as in their interest. Beyond states, the world's many NGOs are growing fast and multiplying in their influence, but without formal rules to define their role in the international system. Their real power, despite Secretary General Annan's efforts to create a dialogue with them, stands outside the UN framework. Indeed, NGOs often assume tasks for which the current structure of the UN is unsuited or remains far too weak.
To assist them in their tasks, and to assure that the great global issues of the day are addressed in a forum that unites and does not divide, the UN needs to be strengthened in the fields in which NGO's are working so impressively. Such strengthening can only be achieved by a fundamental reform of the UN's internal structure.
When the UN was founded in 1945, the primary objective was to prevent the outbreak of World War III. So, at its foundation, only one powerful body was introduced, the Security Council on which the world's great military powers sat. The agenda of the Security Council was and remains power, and meeting crises, mostly with military means.