Press Releases

    30 June 2005

    “All-Out Global Effort” Needed to Meet Anti-Poverty Goals by 2015, Says Secretary-General in Message to Islamic Conference Session

    NEW YORK, 29 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the thirty-second session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, in Sana’a, 28-30 June, delivered by Ali Alatas, Envoy of the Secretary-General for the September 2005 Summit:

    I send my greetings to the Foreign Ministers of the member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  This meeting takes place at an important moment for the United Nations and our global community.  Just two days ago, the Organization celebrated its 60th anniversary.  But our minds are on the future, not on the past.  We are deep in debate and discussion about how to adapt our collective responses and our shared institutions to the needs of a rapidly changing world.

    I will come to those vital issues in a moment -- but first, let me stress that no reform proposals, however important, should distract us from certain urgent tasks, particularly the need to resolve protracted conflicts and ensure that countries in difficult transitions receive all the support and help they need.  That is why the United Nations, as a member of the Quartet, will continue to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on full implementation of Security Council resolutions, and achieved by full implementation by the parties of their Road Map obligations.  And that is why we are heavily engaged in political, security and humanitarian work in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Afghanistan, in Sudan and in many countries in West Africa.  I look forward to working with you, as we have done up to now, to make progress in all of these important challenges.

    But we must, at the same time, attempt to reform the concepts, structures and processes through which we work as an international community, so that we are better able to mount effective collective responses to the needs of States and individuals around the world.  The 2005 World Summit in New York in September is a unique opportunity to do just that. That is why I have put forward a comprehensive set of proposals in my March report: “In larger freedom:  towards development, security and human rights for all”.

    The President of the General Assembly has now issued a draft political outcome document for the Summit.  This is an important step towards the important decisions we are hoping to see in September.  It addresses all the major issues, and reflects points raised by Member States during several months of deliberations.  Further consultations are being carried out on the basis of the draft.  The reform agenda should be of vital interest to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and I believe you have a major contribution to make.

    As a starting point, let us recall the importance of a culture of peace, and the need to build and strengthen it at both the national and the international levels.  We must educate ourselves and our societies to go beyond stereotypes of the other, and to avoid simplistic categorizations that exacerbate misunderstandings and prevent real problems being tackled.  That is why, since it was first suggested, I have strongly supported efforts to promote a dialogue among civilizations through the United Nations, and I continue to do so.

    Any culture of peace is threatened by resort to terrorism, which many of your countries have experienced first hand.  Terrorism does not emanate from any particular religion or ideology, nor is it directed only at a certain group of countries or people.  We are all potential targets, and we must truly confront this phenomenon as an international community.  To do that, we have to agree on a definition and proceed to adopt a comprehensive convention.  While I am fully aware of the sensitivities and concerns that exist on this issue, I believe that we must be able to agree that the right to resistance against illegal occupation does not and cannot include a right to kill civilians and non-combatants.  I also believe that the use of force by States against civilians is already thoroughly addressed by existing treaties and conventions -- instruments which should and must be fully respected by all States.

    We must also build a culture of full respect for human rights.  If we are to restore human rights to the place intended for them by the United Nations Charter, we need a fresh start.  The establishment of a Human Rights Council, or the elevation to a Council of the current Commission, as the General Assembly President puts it in his draft document, would go a long way to restoring the credibility of the international human rights machinery.

    A culture of respect for human rights must, in my view, include an acknowledgement of the responsibility to protect civilian populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing and other heinous crimes lies.  That responsibility rests, first and foremost, with each individual State.  As necessary, the international community should, through diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility.  If, and only if, such means fail, the international community should, as a last resort, recognize the shared responsibility to take collective action through the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter.  We should use September’s Summit to embrace the concept of the responsibility to protect and the sequential approach that it entails.  This would provide greater clarity to all States, and it would reduce rather than increase the prospect of unilateral humanitarian intervention by any individual State or international body.

    Meanwhile, the recent failure of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should alarm us all.  The NPT has been a cornerstone of global security and development, and we must use September’s Summit to push for agreement to universalize the IAEA Model Additional Protocol, to address the question of the nuclear fuel cycle with broad consensus, and to renew the commitment of all States to disarmament.

    These and other proposals on security and human rights must also be seen in the broader reform context -- a context in which development has pride of place.  Important steps have already been announced by the European Union and the Group of Eight on the development front, and more is expected in the coming weeks.  All countries, both developed and developing ones, need to do their part to ensure that, between now and the year 2015, the fight against poverty and disease is taken to a hitherto unseen level.  We need an all-out global effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals in the next decade, and to ensure that the benefits of globalization are more equally shared.

    We have embarked on an ambitious project of reform and renewal. A great deal is at stake. All that we are doing harks back to the vision of the Millennium Declaration, which captured the hopes of humankind for a safer, more just and more prosperous world. As I have said before, the international community has reached a fork in the road.  One path leads to a more anarchic, conflict-ridden world of entrenched poverty. The other leads to increased global cooperation and solidarity.  I invite you to do your utmost, as the Organization of the Islamic Conference and as individual Member States of the United Nations, to make sure that we use September’s World Summit to commit ourselves decisively to the latter path.

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