SECRETARY-GENERAL ASSURES PARTICIPANTS IN MEETING
NEW YORK, 4 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the eighteenth Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa. The message was delivered in French, in Bangui on 29 August, by the Secretary-General’s Representative in the Central African Republic, General Lamine Cissé:
It is indeed a pleasure for me to send you my warm and heartfelt greetings. Allow me first to thank the people and the Government of the Central African Republic for hosting, under the leadership of President Ange-Félix Patassé, this important meeting in their capital. I should like also to commend the countries members of the Committee for the efforts they are ceaselessly making to promote peace, security and development in Central Africa.
This year, your Committee celebrated its tenth anniversary. Your sustained efforts over the past 10 years have led to the adoption of a number of measures designed to build confidence among member States and the establishment of a number of structures whose goal is to promote regional cooperation and collaboration in the areas of peace, security and development.
Under the aegis of the Committee, the States members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have concluded a non-aggression pact and a mutual assistance pact. They have established the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, a subregional centre for human rights and democracy and a subregional parliament, thereby laying the foundations for a genuine collective security system at the subregional level. Once the system is fully operational, it will, I hope, have a significant impact on crisis prevention and conflict settlement in Central Africa.
For the time being, the situation in Central Africa remains of concern because of the persistence of lethal conflicts and the disastrous consequences of previous crises. In spite of its wealth of natural resources, Central Africa remains one of the most unstable and underprivileged regions of the continent.
Some glimmers of hope are apparent, however, such as the strengthening of the peace process in the Central African Republic -- a process which the United Nations is assisting, as evidenced by the presence in Bangui of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA). The progress, however tentative, of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the rapprochement between the former belligerents -– the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, on the one hand, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, on the other -- are developments representing hope for the future of the subregion. Another sign of hope is the evolving situation in Angola, where the United Nations has just put in place a mission to assist the Angolan people and Government to strengthen peace in their country and to promote rehabilitation and socio-economic development.
But, as I have repeatedly stated, without the sincere and lasting commitment of all to the cause of peace, without a genuine realization of the virtues of dialogue, reconciliation, sharing and compromise, the seeds planted here and there will be tardy in bearing fruit, and the peoples of the region will have to live with despair for a long time to come.
I would, therefore, in concluding, encourage you to pursue your efforts and to show determination and firm political will in the implementation of the decisions and recommendations which will result from your work. Rest assured that the United Nations will continue to provide you with all possible assistance.
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