- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan formally received the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, using a glittering ceremony in Oslo's ornate City Hall to argue that the sovereign rights of the world's governments do not trump the human rights of their citizens.

"In this new century we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to states or peoples, but to each and every member of those communities," said Mr. Annan, who shared the prize with the organization he has headed since January 1997. "The sovereignty of states must no longer be used as shield for gross violations of human rights."

The ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize was conducted under unusually tight security, with hundreds of uniformed police and soldiers on the perimeter and military jets patrolling the skies above the Norwegian capital.

Elected to a second term earlier this year, the Ghana-born Mr. Annan spoke metaphorically in his keynote address of a child born in Afghanistan that morning facing a life "centuries away from the prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved," and warned that the cost of that chasm will be borne, one way or another by the entire world.

"We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire," said Mr. Annan. "If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between the races, nations or regions."

The Nobel prize carries a purse of about $950,000 this year. Mr. Annan and the organization are to split the money, but their respective spokesmen said earlier this week that no decisions had been made on how the money should be used.

It took the organization nearly a decade to decide what should be done with the money from the 1988 award for the U.N. peacekeeping department.

Mr. Annan used yesterday's address to reinforce a message he has often voiced from the United Nations: Respect the rights of individuals and spread the benefits of globalization more equitably around the world.

"Today's real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated," he said. "Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another."

He said the organization would continue to strive to eradicate poverty, prevent conflict and promote democracy and human rights.

A full contingent of U.N. officials traveled to Oslo to claim the prize and participate in a full range of lectures, receptions and other activities specially planned in honor of the prize's centennial.

South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo, who is the president of the U.N. General Assembly, accepted the award a diploma and medal on behalf of the United Nations at the ceremony.

In his remarks, Mr. Annan also singled out the presence of the U.N. staffers who work around the globe to support the organization's aims.

Norway's royal family and other dignitaries also attended, and a torchlight parade and a banquet were held in the evening.

At least 13 U.N. agencies and affiliated people have won the prize, but it had never gone to the organization itself. In 1961, U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was awarded the prize posthumously after his death in a plane crash on a peace mission to Congo.

A week of centennial festivities, including a three-day symposium attended by 28 peace laureates, was to culminate today with a concert by Paul McCartney and other stars.

Meanwhile, 12 scientists, researchers and economists joined author V.S. Naipaul to collect their Nobel prizes in a separate ceremony from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Concert Hall in Stockholm.


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