21 December 2001


NEW YORK, 20 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the twenty-fifth session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), delivered by Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Political Affairs, in Dakar, Senegal, on 20 December:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to this important regional gathering. Let me take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the outgoing Chairman of ECOWAS, President Alpha Oumar Konare, with whom I worked closely and constructively. I am certain that this tradition of cooperation will continue with the incoming Chairman, President Abdoulaye Wade. I would also like to commend the Executive Secretary, Lansana Kouyate, for having given new impetus to ECOWAS by reinvigorating its Secretariat.

The nations of ECOWAS have recognized the increasing interdependence among nations in a world characterized by globalization. They have committed themselves to seizing the potential offered by regional cooperation and integration. They have sought to consolidate peace and prevent conflict, thereby laying the groundwork for the essential work of socio-economic development. And they have achieved progress towards economic and financial union and the establishment of common institutions in various domains.

The United Nations will continue to be a close partner of ECOWAS in sustaining this momentum. The challenges ahead include the stabilization of the situation in Sierra Leone and the restoration of security and confidence in the Mano River Basin countries. The United Nations is also committed to working with ECOWAS leaders to implement the New Partnership for the Development of Africa, and to mobilize international support for this vital endeavour.

The United Nations welcomes its growing partnership with ECOWAS. As a further demonstration of my commitment to work closely with ECOWAS and other regional organizations in West Africa, I have decided to establish an Office, to be headed by my Special Representative for West Africa, which will be based in Dakar and will work with the leaders, governments, and peoples of the region to support their quest for sustainable peace and development. I know that I can count on your full cooperation and support. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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