Press Releases

         25 April 2005

    Promoting Social Progress, Better Living Standards As Important Now As Fifty Years Ago, Secretary-General Says in Address to Asian-African Summit

    Underlining Need for Compromise in Seeking Global Deal, He Says United Nations Institutions Should Reflect World of 2005, Not 1945

    NEW YORK, 22 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address to the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, 22 April:

    Let me thank the Government and people of Indonesia for making us feel so welcome.

    Mr. President, your hospitality is remarkable given that, just four months ago, a terrible natural disaster befell your nation, along with nine others represented here in this hall.

    We at the United Nations will do everything in our power to help you in the long process of reconstruction and recovery.  And we will spare no effort to maintain the world’s attention on the tremendous needs of your peoples.

    I am filled with pride, and even a little nostalgia, on this special occasion.  I was a teenager when the leaders of our own continent, some of them defying their colonial rulers, came here to Indonesia, and joined hands with fellow leaders in Asia to adopt the Bandung Declaration.

    At the time, it seemed an audacious and creative thing to do.  Looking back, it was a major turning point in world history.

    Bandung set forth a vision to overcome the divisions of the cold war, based on peaceful coexistence and the principles of the United Nations Charter.  And it gave the peoples of the developing world a voice on the international stage.  The assembled leaders underlined the fundamental right of all peoples to

    self-determination.  They pledged their solidarity with each other in the fight against colonialism and in the struggle for economic and social development.

    Their vision eventually led to the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  As each new nation found its freedom, and took its seat in the General Assembly hall, the “spirit of Bandung” completely transformed the United Nations.

    Once this happened, our world could truly begin to focus on the challenges of development and human rights everywhere -- the cause of promoting, in the words of the United Nations Charter, “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.

    That cause is as powerful, as important, and as correct today as it was 50 years ago.  Indeed, I have used the phrase “In larger freedom” as the title of the reform agenda I have placed before the Members of the United Nations.  And I hope that world leaders can make far-reaching decisions on development, security, human rights and institutional reform when they come to New York in September to review progress since the Millennium Declaration.

    I am motivated by a simple conviction:  the human family cannot enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.  I am not trying to impose change on the United Nations -- I cannot do that.  The decisions are for the Member States to make.  My goal is to help them be as innovative and as visionary as your forebears were in Bandung.

    The number one priority in my report is an all-out global effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Disease, poverty, and hunger are the greatest killers of our time.  The fight against them must be at the heart and soul of the reform agenda.

    Solemn commitments have already been made -- most recently at Monterrey.  The time has come for action -- for concrete, measurable steps, leading to a quantum leap in resources for development.  I have made important proposals on trade and debt relief.  And I have called one very developed country that has not done so to commit to a timetable to reach, by 2015, the agreed target of providing 70 cents in official development assistance for every $100 of gross national income.  I truly believe that action on development is a sine qua non of a successful outcome in September.

    The developing world also stands to benefit enormously from major steps on security and human rights.  Your peoples pay the highest price for inaction in the face of massive violations of human rights, and for the strains placed on the UN’s peacekeeping, peacebuilding and human rights machinery.  They suffer more than any others from the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and the scourge of landmines.  They are too often the victims of terrorism and the events they unleash.  And they will pay a bitter price if our global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime is undermined, fuelling arms races while cutting off vital technology transfer.  The reform proposals are designed to strengthen multilateral action in these areas.

    If I were to suggest that we take efforts to make our world fairer, freer and safer for all its inhabitants, the institutions of the United Nations should reflect the world of 2005, and not 1945 -- particularly in the Security Council.  I believe the time is approaching when the Member States should take a decision to make the Council more representative, including by strengthening the representation of developing countries.  This will make the Council more democratic and thus gain in greater legitimacy.  I also believe they should create two new intergovernmental bodies -- a Peacebuilding Commission which would bring together the various actors involved in helping countries move from war to lasting peace, and a Human Rights Council in which States from all regions would be represented.

    Of course, just as your peoples face genuine dangers to their safety and well-being, so do the peoples of other regions.  If a global deal is to be reached, everyone must see their major concerns addressed, and everyone must be prepared to compromise.  And everyone must keep in mind that we live in one world, and that our fate is shared.

    The success of this agenda depends heavily on you, the leaders of three quarters of the world’s population.  For the sake of your peoples, this is a time to be creative and bold.

    I appeal to each of you to come to New York in September for the Summit.  And I ask you to instruct your representatives in New York to work energetically in the coming months to agree on language and decisions that will allow you, their leaders, to approve a historic reform and renewal of the United Nations.

    Let us honour Bandung by reviving its great spirit.  Let us make 2005 a true turning point for the developing world and for the United Nations.

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