10 November 2003


NEW YORK, 7 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address to Chilean Parliamentarians in Santiago, 6 November:

I have been touched by the warm welcome I have received in Chile.  And I am honoured to be invited to speak to you today.  Your hospitality leaves me in no doubt that the commitment of the people of Chile to the noble ideals and daily work of the United Nations is still alive and well.

Indeed, your country makes important contributions to the United Nations -- notably by hosting the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, by currently serving as an active member of the Security Council, and by your commitment to peacekeeping.

In these and other roles, Chile has actively supported multilateralism, and has sought to place human security at the forefront of its agenda.

It is appropriate that Chile should play such a role in the United Nations. You have much to be proud of, and your experience holds lessons for the region and the rest of the world. You have gone through a peaceful process of transition from dictatorship to democracy. And, notwithstanding the financial difficulties in the region, you have achieved notable social and economic success.

Just as you showed courage in ending a military dictatorship, you are also showing it today in seeking reconciliation by ending the legacy of impunity. As you build on your democratic achievements by strengthening the rule of law, I encourage your efforts to complete the vital process of bringing truth, justice, reparation and reconciliation to Chilean society.

Similarly, there is room for progress on the social and economic fronts.  You can take pride in having already met the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty.  But I am sure you will not rest until poverty is eradicated and inequality reduced -- until the benefits of economic reform are enjoyed by all men -- and all women -- in Chile, including your indigenous people. I also hope that you will not lose sight of the need for development to be environmentally sustainable.

Your success in meeting these challenges will set an example, and send an important message of encouragement to the region and people everywhere.

Just as democratic governance is crucial to peace and development at home, so is multilateral cooperation crucial to building peace and promoting development internationally.  That cooperation is vital if globalization is to empower and enrich people, not marginalize and impoverish them.

I am looking forward to seeing that cooperation in action at the regional level at the Ibero-American summit next week.

And I am committed to doing everything I can to promote multilateral cooperation internationally. 

The United Nations stands at the centre of international cooperation, and I believe it enjoys the strong support of the peoples of the world. 

But it is also true that, particularly after the difficult year that the United Nations has been through, many are concerned about the effectiveness of our collective security system.  And there are other equally serious concerns.  For example, many point out that they cannot play their rightful part in global decision-making.

In my view, these concerns must be met, they must be addressed -- not just with a strong defense of all that the United Nations has done and continues to do, but also by a determination to renew the Organization and make it more effective and responsive to the challenges of today.

That is why, when I addressed world leaders at the General Assembly six weeks ago, I called for changes in the rules and mechanisms of our international system, including the principal organs of the United Nations.  The United Nations must be better placed to meet the demands of the twenty-first century -- not only to address issues such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, but also to meet other equally urgent threats to human security, such as poverty, disease, environmental degradation, and civil or inter-State conflict.

Just this week, I appointed a panel of eminent persons to examine current challenges to peace and security, to consider the contribution that collective action can make in addressing these challenges, and to review the functioning of the major organs of the United Nations.


I hope the panel will recommend ways to strengthen the United Nations, through reform of its institutions and processes.  I have asked it to report to me in time for me to make recommendations to the next session of the General Assembly.  But the ultimate decisions -- decisions to modify the rules of the system, or the institutions that manage it -- can only be taken by the Member States. 

That means not only governments, but also you, the parliamentarians.  Even if the changes decided do not require formal parliamentary ratification, they should be the result of wide-ranging discussion within States as well as between them. 

The peoples of the world, in whose name the United Nations was founded, must feel fully represented in the decision-making process.  Parliamentarians have a vital role to play, and their voices must be heard.


That is why I am particularly glad that the General Assembly recently granted the Inter-Parliamentary Union observer status.  And I welcome that fact that one of your own -- Senator Sergio Páez -- serves with distinction as President of the IPU.

The paths of genuine democracy at home and effective multilateralism abroad, both regionally and globally, are the surest paths to peace and development  Let us renew our commitment to those paths.  And let Chile and the United Nations renew their commitment to each other.

In that spirit, I thank you for you, for your gracious welcome and your commitment to the United Nations, and, through you, I send my warmest wishes to all the people of Chile.


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