31 July 2003


Fifth High-Level Meeting Between UN and Regional Organizations Concludes Following Two-Day Discussion of Main Challenges to International Peace and Security

NEW YORK, 30 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the conclusions of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Fifth High-Level Meeting between the United Nations and Regional Organizations, held from 29 to 30 July at Headquarters, issued upon the completion of the meeting this afternoon:

The fifth High-Level Meeting of the United Nations and Regional Organizations was held on 29 and 30 July 2003 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The participating organizations discussed the main challenges to international peace and security facing the world today, including international terrorism, poverty, as well as intra and inter-State conflicts, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime and violations of human rights.  Some participants noted that, while these threats were often described as “new”, they were in fact longstanding, though they were converging in novel ways and at an increasing speed.  The participants felt that, by working together, regional and international organizations could have a major impact upon their broader constituencies.

Participants reaffirmed support for multilateralism and international institutions and for the international community to provide effective responses to today’s challenges to international peace and security.  There was a serious exchange over the implications of the use of force, which participants reaffirmed should be used in accordance with the United Nations Charter, under the authority of the Security Council.  They noted the importance of more frequent high-level meetings between the United Nations and regional organizations.  Participants also encouraged the exchange of information among regional and international organizations on operational, strategic and policy levels.

Participants recognized that terrorism represents today a major challenge to international peace and security.  They underscored the central role that the United Nations plays in coordinating international efforts against terrorism and in setting the framework for international action.  To be effective, efforts against terrorism should be undertaken with a thorough understanding of the environment in which it has emerged.  Participants stressed the importance of sharing experiences and best practices, as well as of providing assistance to fulfil international obligations in compliance with Security Council resolution 1373 (2001). This process had been initiated by the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, which had reached out to regional organizations.  Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations should build on, and not duplicate, ongoing cooperation efforts. 

The participating organizations reiterated their commitment that human rights should not be undermined in counter-terrorism efforts. They expressed the need to uphold fundamental human rights and existing international obligations concerning human rights as an integral part of the fight against terrorism.  Rather than a trade-off between human rights and security, respect for human rights constituted a basic element in ensuring security.  While conventions stating the need for the respect for human rights were an essential instrument, there was a need to ensure compliance with existing standards.

At a time when remarkable progress had been achieved in the dialogue among civilizations, participants voiced concern about discrimination against peoples or cultures.  While there was an unquestionable need to confront terrorist groups with determination, it was equally imperative to strengthen cultural and religious understanding to promote values of tolerance, respect and peaceful coexistence.  Multilateral organizations had a key role to play in seeking ways of addressing this issue and in promoting cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Participants expressed particular concern about ensuring the protection of civilians, especially children, in situations of armed conflict, in particular by developing cooperative mechanisms for monitoring and peer review of the application and implementation of relevant international instruments.


Participants expressed that poverty and deprivation continued to constitute equally important threats that could not be considered of a lesser priority.  Moreover, success in countering these serious problems by means of a successful development agenda could translate into progress in other areas.  Peace-building activities should be accorded the highest priority.

Multilateral cooperation was key in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Participants recognized the importance of strengthening multilateral treaty regimes in these areas and of achieving universality both in their membership and in their full implementation.  They agreed that regional organizations can make a significant contribution toward achieving and promoting the implementation and strengthening of key instruments in this field.  Particular concern was voiced regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The problem of the illicit trade in small arms was also noted. 

Cooperation in the prevention of armed conflict was also noted as a fundamental element to counter challenges to international peace and security.  Current cooperation at the working level should be pursued with renewed vigour.

Further Work

To address the issues of human rights in the fight against terrorism as well as the promotion of the dialogue among civilizations, the participants agreed on the need for further consultations at the working level.  The participants also agreed on a framework for further cooperation in confronting challenges to international peace and security including international terrorism.



* *** *