Press Releases

         30 September 2004

    Secretary-General, in Message to Non-Aligned Ministers, Says Movement’s Mission Remains Greatly Relevant Despite End of Cold War, Colonial Distortions

    He Points out Emerging New Threats of AIDS, Environmental Degradation, Terrorism, Weapons Proliferation

    NEW YORK, 29 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Annual Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Non-Aligned Movement in New York today, 29 September 2004:

    Let me thank the Prime Minister and the President of the General Assembly for their inspiring statements.

    Your movement was born under very different global conditions from those we face today.

    Where once you sought to carve out space between rival superpowers and competing ideologies, today your members are wrestling with the impact of the single economic space being created by globalization.

    Where once international relations were distorted by colonialism, today former colonies have taken their rightful place in the international arena.

    And where once more than a quarter of the world’s population lived in the industrialized world, today 90 per cent live in the countries of the global South.

    Yet even in these changed circumstances, NAM’s mission remains of great relevance, as we heard from the Prime Minister. For you are concerned, as ever, about entrenched poverty, underdevelopment and the inequities of the global trading system. You are battling the spread of infectious diseases such as AIDS, and against further degradation of the environment and natural resource base.  You are confronting not only the age-old blight of armed conflict, but newer threats such as the expanding use and severity of terrorism and the wider proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

    As you know, last November I established a Panel of 16 highly respected experts from around the world to look closely at these issues. I am expecting their report in December. I have asked them to do three things:

    First, to provide me with a rigorous analysis of the today’s threats to peace and security –- including in the economic realm, to the extent that they influence peace and security. After all, for the vast majority of the world’s people, the most immediate issues of concern are not terrorism or weapons of mass destruction but rather those more closely linked to the Millennium Development Goals.

    Second, I asked the Panel to provide me with a tough and honest evaluation of our existing policies and institutions.

    And third, I asked them to look at the United Nations itself, and to recommend the changes we need for the Organization to be effective against the threats of the 21st century.

    If there is one word that I expect will permeate the Panel’s analysis and recommendations, it is “collective”. Our era, an era of accelerating interdependence, demands effective collective policies and institutions. But arriving at a robust, preventive, collective approach is made all the more difficult by the very diverse perceptions of the threats of our time, and by the very serious divisions among countries on some of the very principles on which international peace and security should be based.  Some countries may emphasize one set of threats over another. But as the United Nations, we cannot do this. A world that is not advancing towards the Millennium Development Goals will not be at peace. And a world awash in violence and conflict will have little chance of achieving the Goals. It is not only States that are interdependent; so are the issues.

    I very much look forward to the Panel’s recommendations. The Panel members and their research team have been consulting widely with Governments, scholars, civil society and others throughout the world.  This effort is meant to help refashion our notions of collective security, to incorporate the concerns of North and South alike, and come up with the practical tools and structures we need. In doing all of this I have urged them to be innovative and bold, and to consider not just “what the traffic will bear”, but rather, what changes we need if we are to move forward with confidence.

    The Panel’s report, along with a report early next year from the Millennium Project, will provide important inputs into my own comprehensive report next spring on implementing the Millennium Declaration. Next year at this time, I hope all Member States will come to the General Assembly ready to take far-reaching decisions.

    As we move ahead, and as this process intensifies, I will count on your strong support, based on the shared ideals and goals of our respective organizations.

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