Return of the UN

The national daily Helsingin Sanomat (2 October 2001) welcomes the return of the United Nations to centre stage in world politics. In an editorial, the newspaper quotes the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who had said that something good can come out of evil. Helsingin Sanomat thinks that this is a good way to describe the effect of the terrorist strikes against the United States.

"The belittled and often mocked UN has suddenly become centre stage in the world-wide campaign against terrorism. This is to be warmly welcomed. The UN is the common organisation of the countries and nations of the world. Seeking its co-operation is the only way to create a really wide common front."

Helsingin Sanomat writes that in this situation it is especially significant that the United States has again realised the value of the world organisation, from which the US has for some time been distancing itself. The newspaper notes that the right-wing elements behind George Bush have hated the UN ferociously.

"Now the tone has changed. Soon after the terrorist strikes the United States decided to pay the bulk of its massive debts to the UN. Washington's influence was also clear in the resolution adopted last Friday.

"One must not exaggerate the UN's influence. Past decades have shown how difficult a task defining even the basic issues is. Particularly painful has been the attempt to define terrorism. India has been strongly advocating a common front against terrorism but the attempt has indeed been defeated by difficulty of definition. There is the eternal difference of the point of view; for one a bomb-thrower is a terrorist, for another a liberation hero. Citizens' activity during the last few years is another example of the difficulties of definition. Many victims of demonstrations would like to label violent demonstrators as terrorists.

"The UN is only the common organ of its members and cannot act effectively unless member countries participate fully and enthusiastically. In spite of difficulties, co-operation under the UN should be strongly encouraged. Terrorism is an international problem which has consequences for everyone, and, as Secretary General Annan also said, a single strike by nuclear weapons or bacteriological weapons could have killed millions."

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