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News and Current Affairs
United Nations or Not: from 9 September 2003
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United nationd or not?

A Difficult and Defining Moment

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The message delivered by the American President George W. Bush to delegates at the United Nations last September was stark:

"All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment... Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?"
Britain and the US were initially persuaded to take the UN route on Iraq but abandoned diplomacy in favour of war so does that mean the UN failed?


Over the past year the BBC has been given privileged access to the inner circles of the UN Secretariat.

Some of the Secretary General's senior advisers talk candidly as the crisis unfolds - as British and American forces marched on Baghdad and when the coalition established its own administration in Iraq.

Kfi AnnanThe wider issues are explored by presenter Edward Stourton in in depth interviews with leading players, including Secretary General Kofi Annan and key members of the US, British, French and German governments and administrations.

The United Nations Charter, drawn up after the Second World War, laid down what the UN was for: "to maintain international peace and security" and "to bring about by peaceful means... adjustments or settlement of international disputes."

A Difficult and Defining Moment

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  • But that was long ago - at the start of the Cold War and before the events of September 11th 2001. So what, now, is the future of international multilateral diplomacy? Is collective action still possible in a world dominated by a single "hyper-power"?

    And is the rest of the World prepared to stand back while the US acts as global sheriff?

    Audio Help
    United Nations or not?

    A Difficult and Defining Moment

    Listen to the interview Listen
  • Full Interviews
  • Transcript

  • The Lessons of History

    The Final Judgement

    Problems without Passports

    About the UN
    Follow the history and work of the UN with our UN timeline
    Take an audio tour of the UN building with Connie Pedersen.
    Read a biography of presenter Edward Stourton.
    Edward Stourton on the the role and future of the UN
    Kofi Anan presses for UN reform
    George Soros calls for 'regime change' in US

    Useful Links
    The United Nations
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    UN puts off Libya vote
    Iraq missile attack on US plane

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