23 October 2001


NEW YORK, 22 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan (delivered in French on his behalf by Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs) to the Summit of heads of State and Government on the African pact against terrorism, held in Dakar, Senegal, on 16-17 October:

I have the great pleasure to convey to all of you my warmest greetings on the occasion of this Summit of heads of State and Government on the African pact against terrorism.

I am pleased that, on the initiative of President Wade, African leaders have decided to reflect together on what measures to take to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and to consider concluding an African pact against terrorism. I hope that this meeting will also stress the urgency of ratifying, and especially implementing, all the existing conventions on international terrorism, including the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism adopted by the Organization of African Unity in 1999.

There is absolutely no doubt that we must take vigorous action against terrorism and craft a long-term strategy in order to defeat this scourge, which has already struck Africa in the form of the vicious bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998. However, we should make sure that our action does not create divisions between people of different religions and cultures, nor polarize the world into mutually hostile camps -- rich against poor or north against south.

Nor should we neglect our other duties as a result of this combat, which rightly concerns all of us. We should not go back on the commitments that you and your peers -- heads of State and Government -- made a little over a year ago in the Millennium Declaration. The fight against terrorism cannot be used as an excuse for slackening efforts to put an end to conflicts and defeat poverty and disease. Nor can it be an excuse for undermining the bases of the rule of law -- good governance, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The long-term war on terrorism requires us to fight on all these fronts. Indeed, the best defence against these despicable acts is the establishment of a global society based on common values of solidarity, social justice and respect for human rights.

The United Nations can provide this framework of common values or forge the partnerships required to achieve all these goals. For my part, I wish to assure you that I will spare no effort to ensure that Africa is not the hardest hit by the economic repercussions of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

I wish you every success in your deliberations and look forward to the results of your Summit.

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