17 October 2005

Secretary-General, Addressing Ibero-American Summit, Notes "Delicate Balance" of Tremendous Promise, Urgent Perils in Today's World

NEW YORK, 14 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's address to the Ibero-American Summit, delivered today in Salamanca:

Let me first thank our hosts, Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and say what a pleasure it is to join you all here in this beautiful city.  Salamanca is a place of deep significance for Europe and for the Americas.  Its famous university has been a centre of learning and culture since the Middle Ages.

As we gather in this historic place, with its great tradition of promoting dialogue and the sharing of knowledge among different cultures and religions, we must face up squarely to the complex problems facing humanity, and the need to work together to overcome them.

At this stage, let me also offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the leaders of the countries amongst us here whose countries have been hit by tragedy with the hurricanes.  I have appealed to the international community to give, and give generously, and to work with them for recovery and reconstruction.

In the modern era, we have seen tremendous progress in science and technology.  We have seen democracy spread to people it has never previously touched.  And we have seen people on many continents move from a past of extreme poverty to a future of hope.

But terrible inequalities continue to scar our world.  Too many people continue to suffer and die from poverty, conflict, and disaster -- despite all the means at our disposal to create and share wealth, protect people from the violence of man or nature, and deepen respect for the dignity of every human being.

When I think of this delicate balance of tremendous promise and urgent perils in the world today, I think particularly of the nations of Latin America.  Because yours is a region that truly hangs in that delicate balance.  It is, in many ways, a microcosm of the world in which we live, and it is therefore a place in which all that the United Nations stands for is put to the test.

In your countries, there has been an astonishing spread of democratic government.  As democracy has taken root, social spending has increased, and human development has improved.  We have seen infant mortality halved by 50 per cent, primary education offered to nearly every child, and millions lifted out of poverty -- achievements of which you can be truly proud.

But we also see the stubborn persistence of inequality and exclusion, along economic, social and ethnic lines.  While people believe in democracy, some have begun to doubt whether their Governments can respond effectively to the needs of the poor.  This has led to widening social discontent, and sometimes even political unrest.

If we want the new generation to be part of the deepening of democracy, we need to address these challenges.  Youth need to believe in solidarity values, the creation of jobs, expanding employment opportunities and increased participation.  Social protection is our investment in the future.

I do not, for a moment, pretend that there are easy answers to the challenges you face.  But I do believe that the answers will be found in more democracy, not less.  Your democracies must become true citizens' democracies, governed by a rule of law that applies to everyone, and willing and able to respond to the needs of all your peoples, including your indigenous citizens.

In that task, you can have no higher priority than advancing the theme of this Summit -- poverty eradication.  All of you are strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and I commend you for making the MDGs central tools in social and economic policy planning.  Some countries have already achieved many of the MDGs and are striving to go beyond them, while many others still have a long way to go.

Many of your efforts to promote development have been groundbreaking.  Some of you have led the Alliance for Action against Hunger and Poverty, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization -- both of which now enjoy worldwide support.

Clearly, eradicating poverty requires fighting corruption, promoting transparency, and good governance.  It also requires more support from developed countries -- and I am grateful to Spain and Portugal for their commitment to double official development assistance by 2008 and reach the 0.7 target by 2015.  We must press other countries to follow suit.

If 2005 was a year of important progress on aid and debt relief, 2006 must be the year of trade.  If we are to conclude the Doha negotiations by the end of next year, we need to make real progress at the WTO talks in Hong Kong in December.  In particular, all WTO members must show leadership to break the deadlock on agriculture.  We need concrete measures to reduce tariffs, particularly on products of interest to developing countries; to eliminate export subsidies by a specific date; and to reduce internal subsidies that distort trade.  We must also make progress on a comprehensive support package that enables developing countries to implement decisions reached in the Doha Round, and thereby benefit from them.  If we do not build a truly free and fair global trading system, our fight against poverty will be much, much harder.

We must also forge closer international cooperation to harness the benefits of migration for all countries, particularly developing ones.  I was recently presented with the report of the Global Commission on International Migration, and I hope States will draw on its recommendations to make progress at next year's High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly.

I also commend you for building on your tradition of regional solidarity and multilateralism.  You have come to the aid of each other, especially to support the nations among you that have been struck, again and again, by natural calamities -- including, most recently, by Hurricane Stan.  The United Nations is providing support to these countries, as well, and we are also engaged in helping the nations of the Andean region grapple with the deep-rooted challenges they face.

I am glad that we are working together to promote stability in Haiti.  Your strong political support through the United Nations and regional fora, and the distinguished service of your men and women in uniform, are crucial for the success of our efforts.  Haiti will need our engagement for a long time to come, if it is to break the cycle of violence and make sustainable progress.  I appeal to donor countries for timely and sustained financial support for Haiti's recovery and reconstruction.

I particularly welcome your decision to deepen regional integration by forming a General Secretariat.  You have made an outstanding choice in Enrique Iglesias, a friend and a colleague, as your first Secretary-General.  He is a leader who has served Latin America and the United Nations with great distinction, and with whom I look forward to working very closely on the full agenda we share.

As we work together, we must build on the outcomes of last month's World Summit in New York.  Like many of you, I wish more had been achieved.  But let's not underestimate the real headway that was made last month.

Important decisions were taken to spur action from developed and developing nations to fight poverty, to support national efforts to strengthen democracy, to coordinate international peacebuilding efforts, to strengthen our human rights machinery, and to improve the functioning of the United Nations.

I ask you for your support to ensure that these decisions are now implemented.  With your engagement, we can equip the United Nations with a truly accountable, efficient and effective Secretariat; we can get the new Peacebuilding Commission and the new Human Rights Council up and running; we can forge a united and effective response to threats as diverse as genocide, terrorism, and natural disasters; and, above all, we can press ahead with a global partnership for development in which everyone lives up to their commitments in a spirit of mutual responsibility and accountability.

If we do that, the decisions made last month will make a real difference in the lives of your peoples.  That is the test against which the Summit outcome must be measured in every region of the world.  I ask you to hold the Organization to that test, and to help us meet it.

So let us persevere -- and let us do it together.  Our job will not be done until we make a positive difference in the lives of the weak and the poor.  As we work together to do that, we at the United Nations will look to you for support and inspiration.  And we will look to deepen our support for you, in pursuit of a freer, fairer and safer future for all your peoples, and for all peoples everywhere.

Muchas gracias, muito obrigado.

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