- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, in recognition of their work "for a better organized and more peaceful world."
The prize committee praised Mr. Annan for expanding the organization's traditional responsibility for peace and security to include human rights, HIV/AIDS and international terrorism.
"Today, the organization is at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world, and of the international mobilization aimed at meeting the world's economic, social and environmental challenges," said the citation, which announced the winners yesterday in Oslo.
"In an organization that can hardly be more than its members permit, he has made it clear that sovereignty cannot be a shield behind which member states conceal their violations," it said.
Mr. Annan was a heavy favorite to win this year's honor, which carries extra weight this being the institute's 100th anniversary. The United Nations is seen as a safe choice in a celebratory year, said observers, who also noted an absence of high-profile peacemakers this year. The prize carries a cash award of $946,200.
Mr. Annan, 63, and a native of Ghana, arrived to thunderous applause at work yesterday morning as many U.N. staff members crowded the secretariat lobby to congratulate him.
"You are prepared to go to any corner of the world in the service of peace and the world of the United Nations," he said, plainly moved to be addressing the organization he has worked in for most of his adult life.
"Today that work has been recognized. We have won the Nobel Prize, and I think it is a shot in the arm that is really deserved and needed. I hope it will urge us forward and encourage all of us to tackle our tasks with even greater determination," he said.
It is the ninth Nobel prize for a U.N. figure or affiliate, and comes only hours after President Bush said he intends for the United Nations to play a lead role in rebuilding Afghanistan.
Dag Hammarskjold, the third U.N. secretary-general, was recognized just months after his fatal 1961 plane crash in the Congo. The organization's peacekeeping, refugee and children's agencies also have been honored. It is the first time, however, that the world body itself has won the Nobel.
Mr. Annan will receive the prize Dec. 10 at the Nobel anniversary celebrations in Oslo that are expected to draw more than two dozen past laureates.
Congratulations were received at the United Nations from around the globe yesterday.
"As a son of Ghana, you've made the whole nation proud," said Ghanaian President John Kufor.
"Today's announcement is marvellous news and richly deserved," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "No one and no organization is more deserving."
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Perez one of the winners of the 1994 peace prize told reporters yesterday, "I tell you that I am proud that a man like that is at the head of the U.N."
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama praised the organization's role in rebuilding East Timor.
Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican and Washington's most consistent U.N. critic, extended "heartiest congratulation to my friend."
Conspicuous dissent came from survivors groups in Rwanda and Bosnia, two nations grievously failed by U.N. peacekeeping missions in the mid-1990s, when Mr. Annan was the head of that department.
"He has a heavy responsibility in the Rwandan genocide. It is a pity, it is unfortunate he should not have been awarded that Nobel Prize," said Antoine Mugesera, chairman of the Ibuka association of genocide survivors.
The Rwandan government was more measured.
"As a member of the United Nations, we have to congratulate the organization and its secretary-general for receiving the award," said Joseph Mutaboba, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We hope that the failures of the past will be a lesson for both the organization and the secretary-general to make sure that peace and security is assured for all."
Ibran Mustafic, a member of an association of Srebrenica survivors, said Mr. Annan bears a large responsibility for the massacres of men and boys in the U.N.-protected enclave.
"He was the one who implemented the decisions of the U.N. Security Council on the ground," Mr. Mustafic said. "This award to me looks as if it has been commissioned by the U.N. itself to help them wash their hands of responsibility."
Mr. Annan is the first secretary-general to emerge from the ranks of the U.N. staff. After earning a master's degree in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he managed departments as diverse as peacekeeping, staff security and budgeting.
He also worked for the World Health Organization and the High Commissioner for Refugees, both based in Geneva.
He is very popular inside the organization, within most governments and even among ordinary people.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke last year called him "a rock star of international diplomacy."

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