7 August 2001


NEW YORK, 6 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Fifth World Conference of Mayors for Peace, delivered on his behalf by Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator:

It gives me great pleasure to convey my best wishes to the Fifth World Conference of Mayors for Peace through Inter-City Solidarity. Your theme, reconciliation between humanity, science, and technology, is timely and very important.

We have entered an era in which technology touches every aspect of our lives. New technology holds out tremendous hope for sustainable development. It may bring us vaccines for HIV and malaria; more abundant crops for poor soils; and digital networks that reach out to communities marginalized from prosperity. The United Nations supports programmes, such as the United Nations Information Technology Service, which aim to provide better access to information and communication for the developing world. Better communication translates directly into new prospects for long-distance education, micro-credit schemes for rural businesses, and improved access to health services.

Yet progress in science and technology has also contributed to the sophistication of weapons that threaten global peace and security. The atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 remain etched upon our memories. Let us renew our solemn vow never to repeat that tragedy.

Last year, in a Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit, the largest number of world leaders ever assembled resolved "to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons". Civil society echoed that determination. And the United Nations, which in 1946 identified the elimination of atomic weapons among its earliest aims, remains strongly committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Cities have a crucial role to play in making science and technology work for the common good. Soon half of humanity will live in an urban setting, and a major challenge for the future is to ensure that as cities grow, they manage a sustainable environment for all their citizens. Cities are engines of industry, generating wealth that fuels the nation. They are also engines of democracy, gathering people to take decisions about the peaceful application of science and technology. It is up to us to make those engines as clean, green, and efficient as we can.

The global test of technology will be to connect all the world’s peoples with more equitable opportunities, and with one another -– for, in the end, it is the human network that sustains our progress and defines our success. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a stimulating and successful conference.

* *** *