To succeed in the next 50 years, the United Nations must tackle global poverty and stop genocide in Bosnia and other nations, panelists said Sunday.
To act, however, the world organization must function in a climate of increasingly fickle public opinion, said U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
"The attitudes of states and people change quickly," he warned. "By the time conclusions are reached on difficult issues, the tides may have turned."
Boutros-Ghali made the opening remarks at a panel discussion on the future of the United Nations. About 750 people turned out for the forum to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter in San Francisco after World War II.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the organization has entered a new era with the demise of the Soviet Union, which he blamed for deliberately undermining policy for the first 50 years.
But he said it will not survive unless it finds a way to deal with Bosnian Serb aggression in the former Yugoslavia.
"If genocide against the . . . Muslims in Bosnia is allowed to successfully go forward, the United Nations won't be here 25 years from now," said Moynihan, who was on the panel.
His comments touched off a nasty exchange between the senator and Australian U.N. representative Richard Butler, among about 100 ambassadors and U.N. officials in the audience. Butler accused Moynihan of ignoring that "one person in five goes to bed starving" and other social obligations.
Moynihan bristled and interrupted Butler.
"Like letting Orientals into your country?" Moynihan said, referring to Australia's restrictive immigration policies.
Olara A. Otunnu, a panelist and president of the U.N.-affiliated International Peace Academy, was greeted with shouts of "No, no!" when he said nations that bear more of a burden in military actions should have a larger say in determining where and when the troops are used.
Later Sunday, Princess Margaret of Great Britain joined Polish President Lech Walesa, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias _ all Nobel Peace Prize winners _ at an interfaith ceremony at Grace Cathedral.
An international children's choir mixed sacred waters from the Ganges River, the Jordan River, Australia, New Mexico and elsewhere in a large bowl representing world peace.
California's Episcopalian Archbishop William Swing called for the world's great religions to follow the United Nation's example, and meet in San Francisco to sign a religious charter dedicating their faiths to peace and social justice.