Press Releases

    20 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 19 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the occasion of "IPU DAY", delivered by Sir Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, today:

    It gives me great pleasure to extend my personal welcome to the many parliamentarians from around the world who have gathered at United Nations Headquarters today through the efforts of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

    I would like to congratulate the newly elected President of the IPU Governing Council, Senator Sergio Páez of Chile, as he takes up this important assignment, and extend my best wishes to the outgoing President, Najima Heptullah, Speaker of India's Lok Sabha. Their terms frame a particularly significant period in the relationship between the IPU and the United Nations -- a time of increasing appreciation of the role played by parliaments and parliamentarians in advancing United Nations goals.

    Parliaments are often the places where the energy of civil society and the power of social movements join and meet the challenges of governing. As you know, enhancing the relationship between the United Nations and civil society has been one of my main priorities. The intensity of this interaction has grown tremendously, to good effect. At the same time, the currents -- and cross-currents -- of civil society and governance in the international community have presented some real challenges. It is time to take stock of what works and what doesn't.

    To do just that, as part of the new proposals for further reform that I have just presented to the Member States, I will be establishing a panel of eminent persons broadly representative of civil society and government. The panel will have an exceedingly complex task. Let me assure you that the insights of the IPU will be sought as it goes about its work. Indeed, you occupy a unique position: as individuals, you represent real constituencies with real needs; and together, as members of parliaments, you are at the heart of government. I am sure you will have much to contribute as the panel addresses the parliamentary dimension of the United Nations’ relationship with civil society.

    Already, of course, you are making an immense substantive contribution to our work. At conferences, summits, special sessions and other events on key global issues in recent years, the IPU has seized the opportunity to support the efforts of the international community -- not least by familiarizing parliamentarians with the work of the United Nations and how it relates to the needs of their constituencies. That activity has brought us to the eve of the vote by the General Assembly to grant observer status to the IPU. I look forward to this action, which will usher in a new era in our relationship that will benefit both our organizations. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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