- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

The September 11 terrorist attacks have led to a new beginning in the often-rocky relationship between the United States and the United Nations, speakers told an international conference yesterday.

Now the question is how can the new partnership be strengthened and expanded, they said, offering answers such as learning from mistakes in past treaties, maintaining dialogue and recognizing the family as the most fundamental social institution.

"In many ways, we're enjoying a thaw in the icy relationships," said Thomas Walsh, secretary-general of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), one of the sponsors of the International Symposium on the United States and the United Nations, held yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Washington Hotel on Capitol Hill.

"There are few events in the world where one strike would affect 86 nationalities at the same time. That's what September 11th revealed that our fate and fortunes are bound up with each other," said Noel Brown, president of Friends of the United Nations and co-chairman of the one-day conference, which was attended by more than 40 ambassadors and representatives of 107 nations.

"Round one" of the conversation about the new U.S.-U.N. relationship has begun and must be continued, Mr. Brown said.

But what is needed soon is a conference on the "middle-size and small world powers" because they will play a pivotal role in fighting or aiding terrorism, he said.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said that the estimated losses from the September 11 attacks include more than 3,000 lives, 1.4 million jobs and $60 billion in economic costs.

There is now renewed public interest in U.S. goals to identify persons who "for whatever reasons" want to kill others indiscriminately and prevent them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Lugar said.

Still, this "very important international agenda will not be achieved by the United States alone, nor by the NATO alliance," Mr. Lugar said. Instead, it will require an outreach to all who believe in the United Nations' agenda of peace and cooperation.

Speakers at the conference reviewed the troubled U.S.-U.N. history, its largely successful record in providing humanitarian aid and the successes and failures of recent peacekeeping efforts.

Patrick F. Fagan of the Heritage Foundation faulted the United Nations for following "disastrous" family and social policies from the United States and Europe. Yet Mr. Fagan stressed that with more dialogue "U.N. member states can take corrective action."

Strong families, living for the sake of others and surpassing the barriers that divide people are the ingredients for peace, said the Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, chairman of the IIFWP, in closing the conference, which was co-sponsored by the University of Bridgeport and The Washington Times Foundation.

Among the speakers were Republican Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman of New York; Murari Raj Sharma, ambassador of Nepal and vice president of the U.N. General Assembly; Alan Kreczko, acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migrations; Mokhtar Lamani, ambassador and permanent observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations; and Edward Luck, director of the Center on International Organization at Columbia University.

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