Press Releases

    11 January 2002


    Somalia's Leaders Must Rise above Differences
    And Put Interests of Peace First

    NEW YORK, 10 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Summit Meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), delivered by Mohamed Sahnoun, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, in Khartoum, 10-11 January:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to the heads of State and government and all the other participants in this Summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. President Al-Bashir, in his capacity as current Chairman of IGAD, as well as the people of the Sudan, merits our recognition for hosting this important meeting.

    The IGAD region faces formidable challenges. Conflict continues to cause widespread suffering. Drought and environmental degradation have further threatened food security and led to massive displacements of people. These and other obstacles have also hindered efforts by the countries of the region to build up infrastructure, attract investment, promote the advancement of women and become more integrated into the global economy and trading system. The region has also experienced the devastation and loss caused by international terrorism.

    Reconciliation and rehabilitation in Somalia are also among the region’s key concerns and, therefore, are rightly the subject of special attention at this Summit. Since 1995, the United Nations, through its Nairobi-based Political Office for Somalia, has been closely cooperating with IGAD. The United Nations Security Council has been pressing for peace and national reconciliation, and has continued to urge all parties to pursue the path of dialogue. I join the Council in emphasizing that violence can never alleviate the plight of the Somali people nor can it bring stability and security to their country.

    IGAD member countries and other States in the region can and must contribute constructively to peace efforts. The United Nations will help Somalia heal its wounds and achieve progress, including through the deployment of a post-conflict peace-building mission, should security conditions permit. But no amount of good will, support and assistance on the part of IGAD or the international community alone will bring about peace in Somalia. Only Somalia’s leaders can decide to end the suffering of their people; and only they can decide to negotiate an end to the conflict. They need to rise above their differences and put the interests of the people of Somalia, first and foremost.

    The United Nations, through its peace and security mechanisms and the full panoply of its development and humanitarian agencies, will continue to be IGAD’s partner, as you confront these challenges, and as you seek to seize the opportunities of globalization and bring an era of peace and development to all your countries’ peoples. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful Summit.

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