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Annan Warns Against Global 'War Of Religion'


http://gdb.rferl.org/B3826E17-5AD4-459E-BEEA-2EF1ACEC4E7D_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/B3826E17-5AD4-459E-BEEA-2EF1ACEC4E7D_mw800_mh600.jpg Kofi Annan (left) with U.S. President George W. Bush prior to the 61st session of the General Assembly in New York on September 19 (epa) September 19, 2006 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today of the danger of a new "war of religion" on a global scale.

"The misconceptions and the stereotypes underlying the idea of a clash of civilizations have come to be more and more widely shared, and insensitivity towards other people's beliefs or sacred symbols -- intentional or otherwise -- is seized upon by those who seem eager to foment a new war of religion, this time on a global scale," Annan said.

In an address opening the 61st annual General Assembly session, Annan also said the climate of fear and suspicion is constantly fuelled by violence in the Middle East.

Efforts to promote peace in the Middle East, the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, and the situation in Sudan's Darfur region top the agenda of the 192 nations gathered in New York.

The address and an annual report Annan presented to the General Assembly will be his last before stepping down on December 31.

(compiled from agency reports)
The Next UN Secretary-General?

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (courtesy photo)

The women's rights group Equality Now has noted that no woman has held the position of secretary-general of the United Nations in its 60-year history. While geographic regions take "turns" in nominating candidates, women have never had their "turn," despite many qualified candidates. Below -- in no particular order -- is a selection of some of the women that Equality Now has put forth as possible candidates for secretary-general.

SADAKO OGATA served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 1991 to 2000. Before her career as UNHCR, she was the independent expert of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar in 1990. In 1982-85, she was also representative of Japan on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Ogata has also been a prominent academic figure, serving as dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo from 1989 until 1991. Prior to that she was director of the Institute of International Relations at the same university.

TARJA KAARINA HALONEN is the current and first female president of Finland. She is currently running for a second term. Halonen has a master of law degree from the University of Helsinki. She is a very popular politician and she was Finland's foreign minister from 1995 until 2000.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI is the 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a pro-democracy campaigner and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party (NLD), she has spent most of the past 16 years in some form of detention under Burma's military regime. Born on 19 June 1945 to Burma's independence hero, Aung San, Suu Kyi was educated in Burma, India, and the United Kingdom. Her father was assassinated when she was 2 years old.

THORAYA AHMED OBAID is the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. Obaid was appointed head of UNFPA on 1 January 2001 with the rank of undersecretary-general of the United Nations. She is the first Saudi Arabian to head a United Nations agency. Before joining UNFPA, Obaid was deputy executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from 1993-98. In 1975, Obaid established the first women's development program in Western Asia.

GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND served three terms as prime minister of Norway in the 1980s and 1990s and was director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998–2003. In the 1980s, she gained international recognition by championing the principle of sustainable development as the chairwoman of the World Commission of Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission).

(Compiled by RFE/RL; to see the complete list, click here.)

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