4 December 2001


NEW YORK, 4 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan today to parliamentarians attending the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly:

I am delighted to welcome you to United Nations Headquarters.

And I am very pleased that we are continuing the momentum generated by last year’s historic meeting, on the eve of the Millennium Summit, at which 145 presiding officers of national parliaments set out their vision of peace and progress for the new century.

The parliamentary voice -- the voice of the people -– must be an integral component of the work of the United Nations.

Parliaments are places where much of a country's important business is carried out. It is in parliament that a tapestry of views, traditions and beliefs, comes together for dialogue and debate. And it is in parliament that the laws of the land are made.

Today, your role is more pivotal than ever. With the spread of democracy, you embody the will of the people and are most closely in touch with their needs and aspirations. And since most of today's major challenges have a global dimension, you who are schooled in the art of discussion and compromise can help the nations of the world rise above their differences and work together. That is certainly true of the struggle against terrorism that has acquired new urgency in the aftermath of last September’s attacks on the United States.

As you know, the Security Council adopted a broad resolution -- 1373 -– that is aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbour, aid and support them. The resolution requires Member States to cooperate in a wide range of areas: including suppressing the financing of terrorism, cooperating in criminal investigations and exchanging information on possible terrorist acts. Parliamentarians will be responsible for enacting the legislation that must give force to this resolution on the national level.

Moreover, implementation of this resolution will require technical expertise that many Member States do not possess. Many Member States will also need help in implementing the 12 conventions and protocols on international terrorism that have already been drafted and adopted under United Nations auspices. I call on you and your parliaments to provide this assistance, promptly and generously.

But the struggle against terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan are not the only items on our agenda. Issues such as conflict, poverty, AIDS, environmental degradation and advancing the rule of law have not become any less urgent. Quite the opposite. Your advocacy will be essential to ensure that we do not lose sight of these pressing challenges.

I hope that in the year ahead you will pay particular attention to two United Nations events: the International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in March in Mexico, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg next September.

These hold great promise for reinvigorating the development process, and ensuring that we do pursue a path of economic growth that will enable our children, and their children, to meet their needs. Again, it is your unique legislative power –- not least the power of the purse -- that can translate international agreements into action at home, in your communities.

Finally I hope you will do your utmost not only to improve the representation of women among your ranks, but also to enact legislation that will protect their rights, promote their participation in decision-making, and provide for their well-being and advancement. Some parliaments have made real progress and have been real leaders in this struggle; I hope the rest will emulate those pioneers.

I am strongly committed to strengthening the parliamentary dimension in the work of the United Nations. The cooperation agreement between our two organizations signed in 1996 has enabled us to make good progress. But we need to build on this.

Accordingly, as you know I have recommended that we go further -– that we establish a new, strengthened and formalized relationship, and that the General Assembly grant the IPU observer status. I know that the majority of Member States share my views on this question and have endorsed my recommendations. I hope that when the General Assembly considers the matter, it will codify our relationship and usher in a new era in our already long-standing cooperation.

Thank you again for your support.

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