12 July 2006

Secretary-General Praises Partnership between UN, Organization of Islamic Conference in Promoting Tolerance, Equality, Development, in Message to Rabat Meeting

NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the general meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, delivered by Mehr Khan Williams, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Rabat, 11 July:

Over the years, and especially the past decade, the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have worked to promote tolerance, equality, development and the peaceful resolution of conflict.  Both the UN's 2005 World Summit Outcome as well as the OIC's most recent Summit Declaration have highlighted the need for our organizations to adapt to face the challenges of the twenty-first century.

This gathering is therefore a timely occasion to review our existing cooperation, particularly in the 10 priority areas that have been identified:  trade; refugees; investment; environment; education; human resources; food security; science and technology; technical cooperation among Islamic countries; and the development of arts and crafts and promotion of heritage.

This meeting will also review political developments of mutual concern to our memberships, especially events in the Middle East.  I repeat my call for all parties to avoid steps which further aggravate the situation, and to act in strict accordance with international humanitarian law.  At this difficult juncture, the international community, including the OIC, must guide the two sides away from violence and conflict and towards negotiations and compromise.

In Iraq, the formation of an inclusive and representative Government has provided some cause for optimism.  I hope the OIC will continue to work with the United Nations and other parties to ensure that the new Government is fully empowered to address the grave challenges confronting it.  In Sudan, we must now do everything within our power to ensure that the Darfur Peace Agreement is fully implemented.  At the same time, we must continue to deliver the humanitarian assistance that is a lifeline for so many people in that region.

The United Nations needs partners such as the OIC and other international and regional organizations whose experience and knowledge complement the reach and legitimacy of the United Nations system.  Your support is crucial to our long-term success.  It is in that spirit of partnership that I send my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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