The United Nations’ top diplomat Kofi Annan stressed the importance of a global democracy and the need for a greater U.S. role in solving international problems in a speech Friday.
Annan, who is in his ninth year as secretary general of the 191-nation body, received an honorary degree at the event.
“I see no hope of a peaceful and stable future for humanity in this century unless the United States provides strong and enlightened global leadership,” Annan said in front of a packed Lisner Auditorium.
“But I do not believe the U.S. can do this on its own,” he said.
Annan is a Nobel Prize recipient and has worked to address international issues such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, global poverty and raising awareness about human rights.
Annan said he hopes Americans will be more engaged in human rights debates.
“And by ‘Americans’ I mean not only the administration but members of Congress, pressure groups like Human Rights Watch and – not least-experts from great universities like this one,” Annan said.
“Now is the time for all who really care about human rights to be fully engaged,” he added.
International affairs professor Karl Inderfurth, who worked as an ambassador to the U.N. with Annan, organized the event. He described Annan as being the leader of the organization at a “critical time.”
“This is the transformation of an institution that’s now 60 years old and through the last decade, he is leading a major reform effort to make it effective and relevant to the 21 century,” Inderfurth said.
The ceremony kicked off a new lecture series entitled “The United States and the United Nations Working Together in the 21st Century,” which Inderfurth organized with fellow Elliott School professors Edward Gnehm and George Moose. The series will bring a speaker to GW annually in an effort to encourage dialogue between all of the political and non-governmental actors involved with global democracy.