Press Releases

    26 July 2005

    Secretary-General, at Headquarters Meeting, Outlines Proposals to Help Make Regional Organizations “True Partners” for UN in Peace, Security

    NEW YORK, 25 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the sixth high-level meeting with heads of regional and other intergovernmental organizations in New York, 25 July:

    I am pleased to welcome you to the United Nations for the sixth High-Level Meeting between the United Nations and Regional and Other Inter-governmental Organizations.

    We meet at a unique moment for the United Nations and the multilateral system.  The events that have shaken the international community so profoundly in recent years have produced a crisis of confidence in the ability of our multilateral institutions to cope with the challenges of our time.

    Yet moments of crisis carry seeds of opportunity -- offering us the chance to react with a positive spirit, innovative mindset and decisive political will.  In this way, we can open the door to action for much-needed renewal of our multilateral institutions.

    In September, the world’s leaders will meet here at the United Nations for what is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of Heads of State and Government ever.  As of today, 175 Heads of State and Government have indicated that they will attend the Summit.  I believe we will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some of the most pressing challenges of our era.

    It will be a test of our ability to act on the understanding that development, security and human rights are not only ends in themselves -- they reinforce each other, and depend on each other.  That in our interconnected world, the human family will not enjoy security without development, will not enjoy development without security, and will enjoy neither without respect for human rights.  And that to promote progress in all three, we also need to reinvigorate our multilateral institutions.

    We have a solid foundation for doing this.  Building on the far-reaching proposals of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Millennium Project, I proposed to United Nations Member States an agenda for the September Summit in my report “In Larger Freedom:  towards development, security and human rights for all”.

    Ongoing discussions, under the very able leadership of the President of the General Assembly, are building consensus over a range of issues -- on financing for development, comprehensive national development strategies, health and environmental issues; on terrorism and non-proliferation; on post-conflict reconstruction, human rights and reform of the United Nations itself.

    The United Nations relationship with regional organizations is a critical part of the discussion.

    That is why this meeting is so timely.  It gives us an opportunity to provide concerted input to the process.

    Indeed, there are a number of interesting proposals on the table.  The aim is clear:  we need better structured and more efficient channels of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.  We need agreements between the United Nations and individual organizations to govern the sharing of information, expertise and resources.  We need flexible interaction that recognizes the diversity of mandates and means of regional and other intergovernmental organizations, and avoids a one-size-fits all approach.

    To that end, I intend to invite more regularly regional organizations to participate in meetings of United Nations coordinating bodies on issues of particular mutual interest.  From now on, I also believe that we should implement what has been suggested before and hold a meeting like this every year.  If possible, our annual meeting could be arranged so as to coincide with meetings between regional organizations and the Security Council.

    As you know, a key point in my reform proposals is the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, which could help ensure that peace agreements do not collapse and yield to renewed violence.

    The Commission would bring together all relevant international and regional actors, from within and outside the United Nations system.  It would afford the possibility for regional organizations to have a seat and a voice at the table during the critical rebuilding stage in countries emerging from conflict.  It would allow for more cohesive results-oriented planning, taking into account valuable regional expertise and dividing up tasks on the basis of comparative advantage.  We should discuss forms and options for your participation during our deliberations later today.

    On international peacekeeping, the needs remain great.  The demands of war-stricken countries often outstrip the United Nations capacity to deal with them.  Moreover, other organizations may be better suited to respond to certain situations.  For example, the African Union is trailblazing a leadership role in Darfur.

    We wholeheartedly welcome an overall increase in global peacekeeping capacities, and strongly support their further development at the regional and subregional levels, including through the proposed 10-year capacity-building plan for the African Union.

    Our challenge now is to articulate a common vision for a global architecture of inter-locking such capacities, based on comparative advantages and clear divisions of labour.  We must step up our dialogue on what that system should look like over the coming decades.  Of course, always recognizing the central role of the Security Council in all this, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter.

    Also on the agenda is the question of how to increase the participation of regional organizations in multi-pillar peace operations under the overall United Nations umbrella.

    All these proposals will add value to the complementary roles which regional organizations can play as true partners of the United Nations in peace, security and beyond.

    There are many areas in which we are cooperating and where we can improve our interaction, to better results.  Strengthening democratic institutions, good governance and the rule of law; providing electoral assistance; promoting respect for human rights; responding to humanitarian emergencies, including natural disasters; dealing with terrorism, organized crime and corruption; and supporting the development efforts of weaker nations.

    Let us spare no effort to work more closely and more efficiently together, for the mutual benefit of our organizations and respective Member States, and above all, for the peoples of every region in the world.

    Let me now turn to the Presidents of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council, before we proceed further with our deliberations.

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