UN General Assembly President says that the crisis in the UN shouldn't beoverplayed

Jan Kavan, photo: CTK

One of the losers in the US-led war against Iraq is without doubt the United Nations, after its failure to push for a diplomatic solution. As the war draws to a close, the UN is once again trying to find a role, this time in the rebuilding of the country. One of the organization's key players is the former Czech foreign minister, Jan Kavan, now president of the UN General Assembly that brings together all 191 members. Just before leaving Prague for New York on Wednesday afternoon, he spoke with Radio Prague's David Vaughan. He argued that the crisis in the UN is exaggerated.

Jan Kavan,  photo: CTK
"What the United Nations is now correctly preoccupied with is to respond to this so-called crisis by stressing the need to play a key role - if I used the phrase of prime minister Tony Blair, in the post-war reconstruction, both economic and political, and it seems that - on that task - most if not all the member states could unite. This seems to me to be a very significant, meaningful contribution to patching up the quarrel and helping to reunify the United Nations."

And from your own position as president of the General Assembly, what would you like to do to help towards this process?

Jan Kavan and Benita Ferrer-Waldner,  photo: CTK
"It seems to me that the United Nations needs to approach the need to reconstruct Iraq and help it to become free, democratic and independent, and run by bodies that are elected by the Iraqis. All that the United Nations can do based on its own experience in Kosovo, Afghanistan or East Timor, and it seems to me that the president of the General Assembly should contribute to it by blunting the edges of some of the more emotional approaches of some member states and trying to work towards a workable consensus."

If it happens that an administration is set up in Iraq without UN involvement, do you think then that the UN will be in crisis?

"Again, I don't think the UN will be in crisis because the UN is involved in so many other activities, which cannot be reduced just to questions of peace and security. However, I do believe that a compromise will be reached, because most countries believe that the UN should play a key role, as prime minister Blair says, a vital role, as president Bush said, in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, and therefore that the UN will not be ignored once the hostilities stop. I would find that very, very surprising indeed."