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Kofi Annan calls for a return to value based-system of governance

Oslo, Norway

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Former United Nations Secretary-General highlights urgent need to place universal values at the heart of solutions to the economic, food and climate crises

Kofi Annan today calls for an urgent return to a value-based system of governance to guide the international community in tackling the economic, climate, food and poverty crises.

Speaking at the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, the former United Nations Secretary-General warns that the world’s most pressing challenges can only be overcome if governments, communities, businesses and individuals work together, adhering to a set of universal values.

Mr Annan states, "The fact that we now live in an extraordinarily interdependent world – that we are a true global village – has not led to the fundamentally different policies and tools needed to tackle this new reality. Nor are our discussions or decisions yet shaped by the values needed to allow us to successfully overcome the challenges we face."

Highlighting the importance of the common values of fairness, equality, justice, liberty, and solidarity, Mr Annan warns that "without actions based on these values, the risk is that we will be driven further apart, with increasing disparities in wealth and power both between societies and within them, fuelling anger, despair and intolerance."

In a speech entitled ‘Governance and Values’ delivered to the annual seminar of the Oslo Center, Mr Annan:

  • calls for international leaders to have the courage and vision to fundamentally reform the world’s international institutions to incorporate universal value
  • warns that the world’s poorest countries and citizens stand to pay the heaviest price for the current economic crisis
  • urges richer countries not to use the excuse of tougher financial times to break development promises to poorer nations
  • draws attention to the worrying signs that the economic crisis will set back progress towards a system of fair and free trade
  • calls for businesses at local and global level must take the lead in driving up standards on labour and human rights, and on the environment

Commenting on the scale and urgency of the challenge presented by climate change, Mr Annan says, "We need a universal agreement to cut emissions, with the most industrialised countries accepting the biggest cuts and the costs of transferring knowledge and technology, investing in sustainable energy and helping developing nations with adaptation costs."

Calling for the greater involvement of academics and think tanks in helping to find innovative solutions to the world’s problems, Mr Annan
praises the work of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights.

The Center’s founder and President, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, says: "There is a need for a new international agenda less based on self interest, and more based on common values. This is one of the most important challenges in the struggle for peace and justice today."

– Ends –

Kofi Annan calls for an urgent return to a value-based system of governance to guide the international community in tackling the economic, climate, food and poverty crises.

Notes to Editors

Kofi Annan delivered his speech, Governance and Values, at the annual seminar of Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights.  The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights is an independent, not-for-profit foundation established in 2006 by former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. The Center focuses on three main activities: offering support for democracy and coalition-building; promoting human rights; and facilitating inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue for peace.  For further information please visit: www.oslocenter.no

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