30 July 2003


NEW YORK, 29 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the first Asian-African Subregional Organizations Conference, being held in Bandung, Indonesia, from 29 to 30 July, delivered by Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP):


I would like to commend President Megawati Soekarnoputri of Indonesia and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa for jointly convening this first-ever Asian-African Subregional Organizations Conference.  By putting in place this important mechanism for partnership, they have demonstrated their continued commitment to the “Bandung spirit”, which emerged nearly half a century ago at the Asian-African Conference and which has inspired the Non-Aligned Movement throughout its existence.

The core values of that spirit -- solidarity, friendship and cooperation -- are in keeping with the United Nations purposes and ideals and are completely relevant today.  In a globalized world, the consequences of war, trade, epidemics, migration and environmental degradation are felt well beyond their immediate locale.  Indeed, these and many other key challenges of our times can be met only by looking beyond the traditional parameters of the nation-State, and by pursuing multilateral engagement and action.  As Asia and Africa strive to reduce poverty, achieve sustainable development, undertake political and economic reform, and promote peace and stability, regional and interregional cooperation can play a significant role.

In recent years, the United Nations system has worked hard to broaden and deepen its partnerships with civil society groups, the private sector and many other actors.  As envisaged in the Charter, regional and subregional organizations have been a central part of this effort, across the full spectrum of our common concern:  poverty reduction, good governance, disaster prevention, environmental protection, employment generation, advancing the role of women in society, and more.  Recent years have also seen subregional organizations play either leading or very important roles in trying to resolve protracted conflicts, despite meagre resources and poor infrastructure.  Building up and strengthening capacity in these and other vital areas, such as peacemaking and peacekeeping, must remain a high priority.

This meeting in Bandung, its follow-up session in South Africa next year, and of course the anniversary celebration in 2005, offer real opportunities to build a strategic bridge across the Indian Ocean.  I attach the greatest importance to this cooperation and look forward to the new partnerships that will emerge.  At this difficult time for the world community, I wish all of you a most productive and successful conference.


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