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Annan urges developing nations to fulfill rights obligations

[JURIST] While noting that "many of our nations are making progress on human rights," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] urged nations belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM backgrounder, DOC; Wikipedia backgrounder] Friday to "fulfill their obligations to their people at home" by ending the suppression of opposition groups, guaranteeing a free press and fighting corruption. Speaking at the NAM summit [conference website] in Cuba [JURIST news archive], Annan said [text]:

The sheer size of this Movement does not equal success. A larger voice brings with it greater responsibility, both internationally and at home. ...

A responsibility to implement the principle all Governments have signed on to - that States, both individually and collectively, have a duty to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

That includes a duty to protect populations from carnage by allowing the international community to make a positive contribution for change.
Annan also emphasized a duty "to work for real progress" in the Middle East [JURIST news archive] and lamented the "disturbing gulf in income" between the world's richest and poorest countries. The secretary-general also advocated expansion of the UN Security Council [official website] - an idea favored by NAM - to dispel the "perception of a narrow power-base hanging on five countries."

NAM comprises 118 developing nations [list] that traditionally did not align themselves with world powers. Many NAM members, such as North Korea and Sudan [JURIST news archives], have faced criticism for their human rights records. AFP has more.

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