Agreement Reached On U.N. Pact

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan during a conference devoted to the so-called Global Compact, a voluntary charter of rules of ethics for businesses, Tuesday June 14, 2005 in Paris. AP

The 191-member U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a watered-down document for world leaders to approve at a U.N. summit, shedding many of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's most ambitious goals after weeks of bitter debate.

The compromise 35-page document is supposed to galvanize global action to combat poverty and launch a major reform of the United Nations itself. But to reach a consensus, much of the most progressive language in the text was gutted.

A definition of terrorism and details on how to replace the discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights will not be included. U.S.-led efforts to overhaul U.N. management have been diluted, while nuclear nonproliferation likely won't be mentioned at all.

CBS News reporter Charles Wolfson reports that Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns called the negotiations "an extraordinarily difficult process," but said "this is a very good start."

"It's not a complete 100 percent of everything we wanted but it's a good beginning," Burns said. "The U.S. didn't get to dictate this document."

Diplomats called the document a breakthrough after so much debate. Several were pleased with the creation of a peacebuilding commission and a long section on development. That includes a mention of the desire by "many developed countries" to spend 0.7 percent of their gross national product on development aid.

"Don't expect Rome to be built in a day, it wasn't," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said. "Against the difficulty of this negotiation, it's complexity, this is a very substantial gain."

Several nations were angry with the way the document was pushed through the General Assembly before it was translated from English into the five other official U.N. languages, a violation of U.N. protocol. That gave ambassadors little time to review it.

"This process is a clear violation of the most basic elements governing democratic processes," Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said from the floor after the vote.

With some heads of state already in New York for Wednesday's opening of a three-day U.N. summit, the diplomats were running out of time for producing a substantive document for world leaders to adopt.

Annan says the United Nations needs revamping if it is to meet the challenges of the 21st century. He came out with a list of recommendations in March that General Assembly President Jean Ping turned into a draft summit document in June. It has gone through numerous drafts.

"This is the largest gathering of world leaders in the U.N.'s history," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk, "and it is a great opportunity to find common ground, but reform is on the agenda because changes are needed to make the organization work."
  • Joel Roberts

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