For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2607
Release Date: 4 July 2000
Secretary-General Says Governance with View to Meeting Needs
Of People Is "Central Challenge of Our Age"

 NEW YORK, 29 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks made today in Budapest to the Hungarian United Nations Association and students:

 I am delighted to meet you all. I am especially pleased to see so many young people here. It is you who will carry forward the remarkable evolution that Hungary has undergone in the past decade, building a nation based on democracy and the rule of law.

 In just over 10 short years, your country's democratic rebirth has been followed by considerable economic progress. Democracy is truly beginning to bear fruit, and Hungary is now being courted by allies and alliances eager to include it as a partner, and thereby reward its progress.

 I know these rapid advances did not happen without serious sacrifices. The people of Hungary deserve to be congratulated on the character and courage they are showing in this regard. 

 You have also understood that for democracy to prosper, it needs sustained and effective attention. It cannot be guaranteed simply by holding elections. For people to feel genuinely represented in government, much more is needed: institutional checks and balances; an independent judiciary; viable political parties; a free press; and the freedom of each individual to express his or her ideas without fear of retribution. 

 Democracy and good governance are processes and habits that continue to evolve over a lifetime. I am greatly encouraged that, as engaged young people, you are starting to cultivate them already now.

 Your country's achievements make you well qualified for membership of the European Union without undue delay. As you now prepare to join the fast stream of Europe, I hope that you will also remember those further behind. It would be sad indeed if European unity in practice led to a new division, with on one side a prosperous west-and-central Europe and on the other side an impoverished, war-torn eastern and south-eastern Europe.

 Issues of governance and inclusiveness are also at the top of the United Nations' agenda in this Millennium Year. On the global level, the starting point for addressing these issues can be summed up in one word that has become the defining context of our times:  globalization. The melting away of national boundaries as the world becomes one economy, one common space, one village.

 Yet for all the talk about globalization, the vast majority of the world's population remains almost untouched by it. Half the people in the world have never even made, or received, a telephone call. The number of people living in extreme poverty has actually increased in the last five years.  Unemployment rates are still unacceptably high. Primary healthcare and basic education remain far from universal.

 To realize the full potential of globalization, we must learn to govern better, and to govern better together.  We must govern with a view to meeting the needs of the people.  This is the central challenge of our age. The benefits of globalization must be fairly shared among all the world's people, and everyone must be protected from its risks. It is within our power to extend the new opportunities to all. We must now summon the will.

 This is what I hope will happen when Member States gather at the United Nations in September for the Millennium Summit. I have presented to them a report which I hope will help shape their agenda, sketching out an action plan under the headings of "freedom from want", "freedom from fear", "sustaining our future" and "renewing the United Nations". 

 Working towards all these goals will require all our ingenuity, resources and will.  Not least, the world's people must have in their hands a United Nations that works -- a truly effective instrument for tackling all these problems.  That means, among other things, a United Nations that knows how to take full advantage of information technology. And it means a United Nations working in partnership with civil society and the private sector.

 Among those partners, we count all of you. The United Nations is your United Nations. I hope you will start already now to think what you can do to make this indispensable instrument more effective and more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the world's peoples. 

 Now I will be pleased to try to answer your questions -- and I hope you will question my answers.

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