24 April 2006

UN Renewal Agenda Rests on People Thinking, Acting as "Global Citizens", Says Secretary-General in Message to Durham Conference

NEW YORK, 21 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message for the United Nations Association-United Kingdom (UNA-UK) annual conference in Durham, 21 April:

I am delighted to convey my best wishes to this annual conference of the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

More than six decades after both our institutions were created, UNA-UK is one of the United Nations' most dynamic civil society partners.  Thanks to your work over the past year, many people in this country have grasped the message of my report In Larger Freedom, issued ahead of the World Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York last September.  And today, you meet as representatives of Member States and the staff of the Secretariat work to implement the outcome of that gathering.

The World Summit was a milestone in the history of the United Nations.  While world leaders did not achieve everything we might have hoped for, they did agree on progress across a broad front.  They recognized that development, security and human rights are not only important in their own right, but also reinforce -- indeed, depend on -- each other.  They reaffirmed an unambiguous resolve to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  And on one crucial issue -- the responsibility to protect -- the Summit achieved a breakthrough:  all Member States expressed their will to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.

Important steps have also been taken since the Summit.  Member States have created a new Peacebuilding Commission, to better manage the difficult transition from war to peace.  They established a Central Emergency Response Fund to help the victims of humanitarian disasters.  A Democracy Fund has been launched to strengthen institutions and ensure that people can exercise their democratic rights.  Most recently, the General Assembly created a new Human Rights Council, a historic step that will enable us to restore the Organization's credibility in this key area.  For my part, I have placed before the membership a new set of proposals for an overhaul of the Organization's management.  Building on previous rounds of reform, my goal is a more transparent, accountable and effective instrument of service to humankind.

Our success in advancing this agenda of renewal will depend not only on Government representatives and international officials.  It will rest on voters, consumers, civil society groups and concerned men and women of all ages, in rich and poor countries alike, thinking and acting as global citizens -- understanding the need for all peoples to seize common opportunities and defend against shared threats.  That, after all, is the essence of effective multilateralism.  In that spirit, I am delighted to send you my best wishes for a successful conference.

* *** *