United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged members
of the world's political and business elite to refocus their
attention on development issues that have been overshadowed
by the Iraq war and the U.S. drive to defeat terrorism. Mr.
Annan also warned the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,
that security threats and economic dangers have put the international
order in jeopardy.
Mr. Annan said "it is time to rebalance the international
agenda to prevent terrorism and the war against it from exacerbating
cultural, religious and ethnic dividing lines."
He wants a renewed focus on the United Nation's goal of
reducing the number of people living in poverty throughout
the world by half over the next decade.
Although he says he recognizes that rich countries are justifiably
preoccupied with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,
he says the world community must also protect millions of
people from the more familiar threats of poverty, hunger
and deadly diseases.
"In the past year or two, the war in Iraq and other events
caused our attention to drift dangerously away from them.
It is time to rebalance the international agenda," he said.
Mr. Annan implored rich countries to eliminate subsidies
to their farmers, a practice that he says badly hurts farmers
in poor countries.
His message came just as officials from more than a dozen
countries used the Davos meeting to explore ways to restart
global trade talks that fell apart last year, partly over
the issue of agricultural subsidies.
The secretary-general appealed directly to his audience
of mostly corporate executives to use their influence with
governments to bring about freer trade.
He also urged efforts to rebuild the international collective
security system to prevent the world from falling back into
what he called brute competition based on the laws of the
Mr. Annan also warned that excessive concentration on the
fight against terrorists and other security issues threatens
to undermine human rights and civil liberties.