10 April 2001


NEW YORK, 9 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, delivered on his behalf by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, in Havana on 1 April:

It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all who have gathered in Havana for this conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Your session occurs as we strive to build momentum for the implementation of the commitments made at last September's Millennium Summit and at the other landmark millennium observances, including the IPU's Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments. Your declaration rightly stressed the need to hear "the voice of the peoples", and to introduce "a more manifestly democratic dimension" into international decision-making. That "parliamentary vision" complements the United Nations’ own. We must now spare no effort to meet the many -- and admittedly ambitious -- targets that have been set, and expectations that have been raised.

Since the Millennium Summit, the United Nations has mounted a vigorous campaign to mobilize a global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We have been stressing the need for the developed countries to do more to help the least developed countries trade their way out of poverty, for example by removing tariffs and other barriers to their goods. We have continued our efforts to strengthen the Organization's capacity for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and humanitarian action. And we have tried to raise the profile of environmental issues, since they are not given the attention they deserve. The time for a well-planned transition to sustainable development is running out.

These are just some of the issues on which the parliamentary voice is needed, and I welcome your commitment to continue working closely with the United Nations as partners in these and other areas. As you know, the General Assembly has asked me to explore ways to forge a "new and strengthened relationship" with the IPU, building on what we have achieved. I shall be making some recommendations in a report to the Assembly in May, which I hope will indeed result in a much closer relationship between our two organizations.

As institutions modelled on national parliamentary bodies, the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union must combine tradition and precedent with an ability to transform themselves, so as to keep pace with the changing times and respond to new challenges. As both our organizations continue to adapt to the new era being shaped by globalization and information technologies, I look forward to exploring with you how we can better serve our constituents.

Please accept my best wishes for a very successful conference.

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