Press Releases

    8 October 2002


    NEW YORK, 7 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the International Crisis Group Dinner, New York, 5 October 2002:

    I am delighted to have this opportunity to meet with you this evening, and to explore some of the crises of our time with a unique assembly of humanitarians who have done so much to make the United Nations an agent of a safer, more just world. At one point or another, most of you have been called upon to contribute your skills and energies to the cause of peace, and I thank you for your service.

    Together, in a remarkably short time, you have made the International Crisis Group (ICG) a global voice of conscience, and a genuine force for peace. You have made the international community better able to anticipate and understand conflict, if not actually prevent it. You have stepped in when others couldn’t; you have spoken out where others have remained silent; and you have challenged all States to live up to what [former Australian Foreign Minister] Gareth [Evans] has taught us to call their responsibility to protect.

    Your mediation work -- and your leadership in early warning and conflict prevention -- has been enormously important. So has your intellectual contribution to finding new approaches to long-standing conflicts. Your well researched and carefully argued reports have greatly helped us in understanding the origins and complexities of the conflicts in which we become involved -- often at short notice.

    ICG’s work in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa provides good examples of the important role you are playing in support of our shared goals. Your Balkans Programme, encompassing projects in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, has developed an excellent track record. It has been an intellectual, as well as a practical, stimulus for the United Nations’ work in the region. In addition, you have provided vital support to our efforts to resolve a number of conflicts in Africa such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and the Mano River Union.

    We all face tremendous challenges in addressing these and other crises -- and in preventing those of the future, which may pose even greater threats to the international community. Together, we will need to delve even deeper into such questions as:

    -- What causes conflicts: What are the various underlying and immediate sources of major violent, destructive conflicts, and what signs give early warning of their emergence?

    -- Political will: How can we mobilize sufficient political support and resources to undertake timely and effective preventive action?

    -- Effectiveness: What methods of preventive action actually work?

    -- Institutionalization: How can procedures and policies for anticipating and responding to possible conflicts be operationalized in the regular functioning of international governmental and non-governmental organizations?

    -- Coherence: How can the work of various actors be done in a more concerted way?

    ICG’s support for the United Nations’ work shows how much can be achieved by joining forces across traditional lines in pursuit of common goals. I hope that you can develop your early warning and advocacy role even further, complementing the United Nations’ own efforts, while maintaining the independence and high credibility of your analyses.

    The complex and dangerous world we face demands nothing less.

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