8 April 2003

Secretary-General Welcomes Efforts of Inter-Parliamentary Union to Provide Greater Support to United Nations

NEW YORK, 7 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the 108th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Santiago de Chile, as delivered by José Antonio Ocampo, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC):

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all of you who have gathered for this conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an organization whose important role the United Nations General Assembly recognized last November by granting it observer status. In doing so, it ushered in a new era in the already long-standing cooperation between our organizations.

The reinforcement of the relationship between our two organizations represents an important element in the effort to improve interaction between the United Nations and civil society. By approving a new status for the IPU, the General Assembly has acknowledged the importance of parliamentarians in bringing the work of the United Nations close to the people its serves. At its fifty-seventh session, the General Assembly also supported my intention to establish a Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations Relations with Civil Society. As you may know, this Panel, which is chaired by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, will make recommendations on how to improve the involvement and contribution of various actors in civil society -- including non-governmental organizations, the private sector and parliamentarians -- to our endeavours.

Parliamentarians embody the will of the people, who have elected them to speak on their behalf and promote their needs and aspirations. It is in parliaments that the dynamism of civil society meets the responsibility of government, and dialogue is pursued to translate ideas, ethics and policy orientations into legislation that helps shape a society and the way a country is governed.

In today's world, where most challenges extend well beyond national borders, communication among parliamentarians, and between parliamentarians and international institutions is essential. That is why I welcome the efforts of the IPU to provide a more meaningful contribution and a greater support to the United Nations. You can help build national consensus and bridges of international understanding that are necessary for international action. And you also have the power to ensure effective follow-up to international agreements at home.

If we are to build a safer, more just and more equitable world, we must work together as partners. For my part, I will continue my efforts to make the United Nations an institution responsive to the peoples in whose name it was established, and to pursue our engagement with parliamentarians and other actors in civil society.

In that spirit of partnership, I wish you a productive conference and look forward to hearing the results of your discussions.

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