19 April 2005

Expectations of Momentous Decisions High, Secretary-General Says at Opening of High-Level Economic and Social Council Meeting

There Is Widespread ‘If Not Now, When?’ Feeling, He Tells World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization Delegates

NEW YORK, 18 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s opening statement at the special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council, in New York, today, 18 April:

Let me join you in warmly welcoming our guests from the international financial and trade institutions.

We all work on the same issues -- aid, trade, debt and development -- and today, thanks to the UN conferences of the 1990s, we also have a shared vision. In the last three years especially -- since the Monterrey Conference -- our approaches have coalesced around the Millennium Development Goals.

The coming months offer us a unique opportunity to make real changes in the international system –- changes that can make the world freer, fairer and safer for all its inhabitants.

The General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue on Finance for Development in June will be followed by your own high-level segment, the G8 summit in July, the autumn meetings of the Bank and the Fund in September, and the WTO ministerial in December.

All those meetings should be seen in the broader context of the agenda of the United Nations summit in September -- the occasion when a whole range of vital commitments can be brought together.

On the development side, those commitments must come from both developing and developed countries.

All developing countries must commit themselves to sound, transparent and accountable national strategies, which they themselves devise and of which they take full ownership, for mobilizing all their resources in the fight against poverty.

And all donor communities must commit themselves to timetables for reaching the 0.7 per cent ODA target, with front-loading through an international finance facility or other mechanism, and an active search for new sources of finance, as well as new ways to ensure that the developing countries’ debt burden is genuinely sustainable.

No less important, we need a commitment to complete the Doha Round next year, with its promised focus on development, and duty-free and quota-free market access for all exports from the least developed countries as a crucial first step.

We also need more specific commitments to address the special needs of Africa, and -- last but not least -- to explore all ways, both political and technical, of mitigating climate change and its effects.

I believe our chances of winning all these commitments are greater if we place them squarely in the context of the September summit.

As I wrote in my recent report, we will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.

That is why I have proposed a comprehensive agenda, giving equal weight and attention to these three great purposes of the United Nations, all of which must be underpinned by the rule of law.

It goes without saying that this agenda has to be agreed through negotiations among States. But those negotiations must be conducted in a spirit of give and take. If you need the help of other States to achieve your objectives, you must also be willing to help them achieve their objectives.

I am hoping that Member States will be galvanized, not only by the self-evident urgency of taking steps to deal with poverty, as well as terrorism and the spread of deadly weapons, and indeed deadly disease, but also by a sense of the unique opportunity that this year presents.

Both on the development side and on the security and institutional side, there is now a widespread sense of “if not now, when?” The reports of the Millennium Project and the High-Level Panel, taken together with my own report, have aroused expectation that the time for momentous decisions has arrived.

The September summit to review progress since the Millennium Declaration will be the ideal moment to take those decisions. The Declaration, after all, was endorsed at the highest level by all nations; and it laid out shared objectives across the whole spectrum of common concerns. So the summit provides the perfect deadline –- the perfect opportunity for world leaders to bring together the work their representatives are doing in different fora, and enshrine it in a form clearly stamped with their unique authority.

The stakes could scarcely be higher. I urge you to plan all your work with that deadline, and that opportunity, clearly in mind.

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