Today, our borders are more than ever open to trade, to information, to people. But they are also less than ever barriers to drugs, disease, environmental degradation. Conflicts are now more common within those borders than between them.
In today’s world, our opportunities, and our challenges, are increasingly global. They demand global solutions.
That makes the role of the UN more important than ever. The UK, as a Permanent Member of the Security Council, is committed to ensuring that the UN can fulfil that role. We are a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. Last year, with France, we were the first Permanent Member of the Council to declare the availability of our armed forces and police, Rapid Reaction Units for UN operations. We have led efforts to develop the UN’s conflict prevention capability. And we have consistently pressed other UN members to pay their dues, as we do.
But if new challenges make the UN more important, it is essential that the UN evolves to meet them. The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is leading efforts to make that happen. The UK will support him in that endeavour. To ensure that, while we keep what is best of the UN, we also equip it to be as effective as possible in promoting sustainable development, preventing conflict, protecting human rights and preserving the environment.
These are goals not only in each nation’s interests, but as the UN Charter half a century ago spelt out, in the common interest. In the new century, that common interest will be more important than ever. The UK will continue to support fully the UN’s work to protect and promote it.