15 April 2003

Exploring Root Causes of Conflict Only Way to Build Enduring Peace, Says Secretary-General in Message to Beirut Meeting

NEW YORK, 14 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the twenty-second session of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), delivered by Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary, ESCWA, in Beirut on 14 April:

This twenty-second session of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) takes place against a backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty. Indeed, over the years, the consequences of war and civil strife have diverted the resources and energies of many ESCWA members away from their development objectives, and those of ESCWA itself away from its intended role. Instead of helping the region to reap the fruits of peace and the dividends of development, ESCWA has often had to contend with addressing the aftermath of war. During the past decade, formidable new challenges have been added as a result of rapidly changing world conditions and the need to respond to the requirements of globalization.

Your agenda item on the effects of instability on socio-economic development in the region is therefore most timely. Beyond assessing the devastating toll that conflict and instability take on a country's human, physical and financial resources, and beyond addressing post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, I hope you will discuss ways to explore the root causes of conflict, which is the only way to build the foundations of enduring peace. For the roots of conflict often lie in questions of governance, inequitable socio-economic development and uneven distribution of resources. It is here that the role of the United Nations, including that of ESCWA, can be especially valuable.

Your agenda item on regional cooperation is also of great significance. Regional cooperation and integration can be seen as both a post-conflict measure and a mainstay for peace and development, and I look forward to your identifying concrete measures that will engender progress in this area.

Finally, your session will also include a very important pledging conference, the first of its kind. Without the necessary additional resources, ESCWA's efforts to deal with development issues and, especially, emerging issues associated with lack of stability, will be severely constrained.

Let us all hope that peace will prevail throughout the ESCWA region, allowing its people to devote themselves fully to the essential task of economic, social and cultural development. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a constructive session.

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