Published on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 by the Guardian / UK
Annan Bows out of UN with Attack on Bush
· Secretary general accuses US of human rights abuses
· Washington 'abandoned its ideals' in war on terror
by Suzanne Goldenberg
Kofi Annan yesterday used his final speech as the United Nations secretary general to deliver a parting shot at the Bush administration, accusing the US of committing human rights abuses in the name of fighting terror.
After three years of increasingly vocal opposition to the war on Iraq, Mr Annan's speech yesterday amounted to a broad condemnation of the neoconservative ideology guiding America's foreign policy under George Bush - a clear break with protocol for a departing UN chief.
In his most explicit rebuke, Mr Annan said America had sacrificed its global leadership on human rights because of its methods in the war on terror. "When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused," Mr Annan said, according to a prepared text of his remarks released by the UN.
The broadside is merely the latest sign of Mr Annan's anger at the administration since US forces invaded Iraq in March 2003 without the approval of the security council. Earlier this month, he upset the White House by saying that many Iraqis believe they were better off under Saddam Hussein, and he has said he does not believe the country can rebuild on its own.
Mr Annan has also had an antagonistic relationship with the US ambassador, John Bolton, who has been a vociferous promoter of the idea that Washington should use the UN mainly to promote its national interests. Mr Bolton is also leaving his post, expecting that he would not be confirmed by a Democratic Congress.
Mr Annan hands over to the South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon on December 31 after 10 years at the UN, and his speech was a sermon on the importance of multilateral institutions. He offered his critique in the guise of a primer on international affairs, speaking on global responsibility, the rule of law, and mutual accountability for rich and poor nations.
The Mr Annan's speech was delivered during a visit at the Harry Truman presidential library in Independence, Missouri.
"When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose - for broadly shared aims in accordance with broadly accepted norms," Mr Annan said.
He said the security council was not a platform to act out national interests, but a management system for the world community, and said it was folly to believe security rested solely on military strength. "No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others." He also called for expansion of the security council - which Washington opposes.
It is unlikely that Mr Bush will take kindly to the advice. Although Mr Annan was given a farewell dinner at the White House last week, Mr Bolton told reporters that "nobody sang 'Kumbaya'".
Mr Annan, told of Mr Bolton's comments, joked in return: "Does he know how to sing it?"
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