Press Releases

                                                                                                                            26 May 2004

    African Union’s Peace and Security Council Powerful Tool for Conflict Prevention, Secretary-General Says at Inauguration Ceremony

    NEW YORK, 25 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the official ceremony marking the inauguration of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, delivered in Addis Ababa today by Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Ethiopia/Eritrea:

    I am very pleased to convey my very best wishes to the members of the African Union on the occasion of the official ceremony marking the launch of the organization’s Peace and Security Council.  With the establishment of this important body, the African Union has crossed yet another significant threshold in its quest to promote lasting peace and stability, strengthen democratic institutions and support sustainable development throughout Africa.  The United Nations is honoured to be associated with these noble objectives and the notable achievement that this occasion represents.

    Today’s ceremony is significant for another reason.  It occurs on a date that is rich in symbolism for Africa:  the date on which the Organization of African Unity was inaugurated 41 years ago, and which is now commemorated throughout the continent as Africa Day.

    The inauguration of the OAU carried the hopes and aspirations of Africa’s peoples for an independent, peaceful and prosperous continent.  Independence has been achieved, due in no small measure to the work of the OAU.  That Organization has given way to the African Union, which now has the responsibility to guide Africa’s future as it strives to fulfil the aspirations of its constituency and meet the challenges ahead.

    The Peace and Security Council is a potentially powerful tool for the prevention, management and resolution of violent conflict.  The wise counsel and vigorous diplomacy of its members will be crucial in guiding the continent through the troubled waters of instability and economic stagnation to the calmer seas of peace and development.  The new Council is already actively engaged in addressing some important conflict situations, and the United Nations will continue to support these efforts.

    I warmly congratulate the members of the African Union on this historic day.  The challenges ahead will engage all your judgement and leadership.  The United Nations, which continues to work closely with the African Union to strengthen the operational effectiveness of its institutions, remains committed to assisting you in every way possible in your pursuit of integration, development and peace.

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