Celebrities Douglas, Wiesel analyze UN summit
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Actor Michael Douglas called on
the United States and others to show leadership on disarmament
while author Elie Wiesel said the United Nations should exhibit
more imagination during times of crisis.
The two, along with Jane Goodall, the British scientist and
environmentalist, and Anna Cataldi, an Italian writer and human
rights campaigner, came to the United Nations on Wednesday to
commemorate International Peace Day.
They arrived days after a world summit when leaders adopted
a 40-page document on global security, poverty, human rights,
development and terrorism after difficult negotiations that
resulted in some issues being dropped and others watered-down.
“It’s not perfect. Nothing is perfect,” Wiesel, a Nobel
Peace Prize winner, told a news conference. “Sometimes it takes
time for the words to become more than words.”
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan invited the four to
discuss the outcome of the summit last week and ring a “peace
bell.” They are among nine renown supporters of the world body
he has appointed messengers of peace.
Wiesel said the United Nations could use some “artistic
imagination,” to maintain its relevance.
“If there is a crisis in the world, the U.N. should send a
task force immediately, within 24 hours,” made up of the
world’s top experts, Wiesel said.
Scientists, for example, should have analyzed the 1986
nuclear explosion at Chernobyl and the best nutritionists in
the world should go to countries hit by famine.
Douglas, an advocate of disarmament, was disappointed that
U.N. member states were not able to address disarmament in the
document, in part because of U.S. objections.
In an obvious reference to North Korea and Iran, he said
nations toying with nuclear arms programs should not be
placated with aid or more countries would imitate them.
“But I personally feel that a lot of this got out of
control when we (the U.S.) ignored some basic treaties that
have taken years and years to create,” such as the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,
Goodall, known for pioneering work on wild chimpanzees in
Tanzania, said the world was slowly coming to grips with the
impact of global warming.
“Disasters pinpoint attention,” she said.
In the Asian tsunami last year, areas protected by reefs
and islands suffered less devastation than those with “heedless
development.” Hurricanes did more damage when coastal defenses,
such as swamps, wetlands and offshore islands were destroyed or
Cataldi looked forward to a new human rights council that
could examine more of the world’s atrocities. She also said too
few people understood what the United Nations was.
“The U.N. is the world, is all of us,” Cataldi said. “If
blame is on the U.N., we have to take the blame all together.”