12 April 2006

In Message to Vienna Meeting of United Nations, League of Arab States, Secretary-General Calls for Greater, more Strategic Collaboration

NEW YORK, 11 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the general meeting of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, delivered today in Vienna by Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General, UN Office at Vienna:

It is a pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in this meeting of the United Nations and the League of Arab States. Our two organizations are good partners, and I welcome this opportunity to explore how we can make our collaboration even more effective, complementary and mutually reinforcing.

The Security Council and General Assembly have stressed the importance of close ties between the United Nations and regional organizations, as does the Charter itself.  Indeed, while the United Nations provides a framework for thinking globally, regional organizations offer the means to act locally.  Geographic proximity, as well as close historic and cultural ties among their members, gives regional organizations such as the Arab League a distinct advantage in understanding the root causes of regional conflicts, and in finding peaceful solutions to these problems.

Already, our work encompasses many areas of human well-being and some of the key challenges facing the Arab world.  [Earlier this year, we joined together to call for calm in response to the controversy over insulting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and also to support the UN's Alliance of Civilizations initiative that aims to counter extremism.]  Today in Iraq, the United Nations is promoting inter-communal dialogue and reconciliation, and supporting the Arab League initiative to convene a conference on Iraqi National Accord.  And, of course, our specialized agencies continue to have a wide-ranging presence in the Arab world, and are intensifying our efforts to help your peoples achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  This meeting offers an opportunity to explore what can be done in other areas, including the  programmes headquartered here in Vienna that carry on the fight against global ills such as organized crime, corruption, drug-trafficking, the illegal arms trade, the smuggling of migrants and terrorism.

The UN-Arab League partnership took a constructive step forward this past February with the first meeting of the Standing Committee originally proposed by Secretary-General Moussa.  As you know, the Committee will monitor implementation of the decisions taken at our sessions, and thus strengthen the continuity of these sessions and our work in general.  Let us continue to consider what more we can do to make our partnership more strategic and operational, and our organizations more effective and dynamic instruments of service to the peoples who look to us for security, dignity and peace.  That is the spirit of change embodied in my most recent proposals for management reform, and that is the spirit in which I offer my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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