18 October 2005

World Summit Outcome Represents "A Particular Success for Africa", Secretary-General Tells African Editors' Forum

NEW YORK, 17 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the African Editors' Forum conference, as delivered by Scholastica Kimaryo, United Nations Resident Coordinator in South Africa, on 15 October in Johannesburg:

I am delighted -- as Secretary-General of the United Nations and as an African -- to send warm greetings to you all on the occasion of this important gathering.  As editors, you have a crucial responsibility -- in shaping both how Africa is portrayed to the world, and how world events are understood by Africans.  I commend you for tackling those questions with the utmost seriousness by coming together in the African Editors' Forum.

In four days' time, the United Nations will be 60 years old.  Throughout those 60 years, its mission has remained constant:  to serve the cause of peace, advance development, and defend the dignity of every human being.

But the world has changed.  To achieve its mission in the twenty-first century, the United Nations must reflect those changes.  It must adapt to new realities, and be equipped to deal with new challenges.

This is so, whether we are fighting disease and hunger, or working to strengthen democracy; whether we are advancing human rights and the rule of law, or combating terrorism; whether we are building peace, or making the United Nations more effective and more accountable to the peoples it exists to serve.

Last month, world leaders gathered in New York to agree on a collective response to those challenges.  While they failed to agree in some crucial areas, they did show remarkable unity on many questions.  The outcome represents a particular success for Africa.

They agreed that development, security and human rights are not only vitally important in their own right, but that they reinforce -- indeed, depend on -- each other.

They achieved an historic breakthrough by expressing their will to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity.

They agreed to replace the largely dysfunctional Human Rights Commission with a new Human Rights Council, which will have an all-encompassing responsibility for "promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind".

And they reaffirmed a strong and unambiguous resolve -- among donor and developing nations alike -- to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

They gave effect to that resolve through a range of measures -- from pledging an additional $50 billion a year by 2010 for fighting poverty, to a promise by all developing countries to adopt national plans for achieving the Goals by 2006; from agreement to provide immediate support for quick-impact initiatives on anti-malaria efforts, education, and health care, to a commitment to innovative sources of financing for development; from agreement to consider additional measures to ensure long-term debt sustainability, to commitment to trade liberalization.

This gives us a solid foundation for progress in the future.  My colleagues and I will spare no effort in helping Governments succeed in the next stage:  translating the decisions into reality.  And where they failed to agree, we will assist them in their search for common ground.

In the work that lies ahead, the media has a vital role to play -- by raising awareness; by providing a forum for advocacy; by holding Governments accountable.

If we succeed, we will improve the opportunities for all human beings -- and Africans in particular -- to build better lives.  In that spirit, I wish you a most productive conference.

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