SECRETARY-GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS REGIONAL CHALLENGES,
NEW YORK, 3 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the inauguration of United Nations House in Bridgetown, Barbados on 2 January:
It is a great pleasure to join you today.
I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Barbados, his Government, and the people of Barbados for extending such a warm welcome to my wife and me.
I would also like to stress how moved I am that so many of the region’s leaders have taken time from their busy schedules to be here for this ceremony. Your presence is yet another demonstration of your strong commitment to the United Nations.
We have gathered to inaugurate a new and beautiful state-of-the-art United Nations House. The use of the word "house" is no coincidence. The idea of a house of all nations, of "we, the peoples", held together by a common bond and structure, helps us to visualize the very concept upon which the United Nations was built.
This new United Nations House in Barbados will be an extension of that vision. Several bodies will share these premises, working on issues such as economic and social development, agriculture, drug control, telecommunications, the advancement of women, and the well-being of children –- all under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosina Wiltshire.
Moreover, this United Nations House will serve not only Barbados, but also nine other countries in the Eastern Caribbean. Thus, it symbolizes the great potential and realities of regional cooperation and integration in an interdependent world.
Your region faces formidable challenges. Along with other developing countries, your countries have suffered from a sharp and steady decline in official development assistance. Natural disasters have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades. Climate change places you on the frontline of the fight to protect the global environment. And you are vulnerable to external economic shocks in key areas such as agriculture and tourism -– indeed as we have seen happen in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.
The number of people in the region living with HIV/AIDS is rising rapidly. An end to special trade preferences may make it harder for some of the region’s products to compete. And of course there is globalization, which brings both opportunity and uncertainty.
Let us not be daunted by the complexity of these issues, or by the global forces at work in today’s world. Your nations have achieved high rankings on the United Nations Human Development Index. The region’s record on some of the critical socio-economic indicators is likewise impressive. You are working with each other to harmonize your development policies and strategies. And you are working with the United Nations to strengthen institutions. This is progress on which you can and must build.
We have a common vision to guide us -– the Millennium Declaration, which bears the strong imprint of you yourselves, the leaders who gave it essential political backing at the highest level.
What we need, as ever, is implementation.
As you know, among the many objectives set out by the Declaration are specific goals for development and poverty eradication by the year 2015. These Millennium development goals are ambitious -- and they are not self-implementing. Their impact on reality depends on a great deal of subsequent effort, by Member States as well as by the United Nations Secretariat.
The entire United Nations system will do everything in its power to assist Member States in this task. Ultimately, however, it is governments that bear the main responsibility for action. So, I hope you, too, will do everything in your power to muster the will and resources needed.
What happens in your nations is of great concern to the rest of the world. Your countries are places where, in concentrated form, many of the main problems of development and environment are unfolding. Your experiences, your experiments, your transformation -- can guide the way to a brighter future for all peoples.
As we move ahead, I hope you will see, operating from this United Nations House and throughout the region, a unified, cohesive and effective Organization working towards our shared goals.
Let me close by again thanking the Government of Barbados for providing these premises, and all of you for your commitment and support.
Now, it is my great pleasure to declare this UN House open for business.
Thank you very much.
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