21 September 2006

Let's Take Partnership with Regional Bodies to New Level of Clarity, Practicality, Seriousness, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

NEW YORK, 20 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks to the ministerial meeting of the Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, in New York, today, 20 September:

I pay tribute to the delegation of Greece, and in particular to you, Madam Foreign Minister, for convening this meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The fact that the Security Council has met twice on this issue in as many years shows the importance that you rightly attach to it.

Last October, in its first resolution on the subject, the Council expressed its determination to further this cooperation and asked me to report on challenges and opportunities in this area.  My report is now before you, and I am pleased to have this chance to supplement it with some further thoughts.

It is now 14 years since the Council invited my predecessor to submit recommendations for strengthening the United Nations in the field of international peace and security, including our collaboration with regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter.  Since then, my predecessor and I have convened six high-level meetings with the heads of partner organizations.  A seventh is to be held shortly.

These meetings are helping to build a common forum and agenda for cooperation.  The partnership is stronger today than in the early 1990s.  Many of the regional and subregional partners themselves are stronger.  Our interaction is more intense, substantial and meaningful.  This year alone, our political and operational cooperation has included:

-- Cooperation with the African Union's peacekeeping operation in Sudan.

-- Cooperation with the European Union in support of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

-- And ongoing partnerships with ECOWAS in West Africa, NATO in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and the Organization of American States in support of Haiti's electoral process.

We are also engaged in regular consultations with the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States on conflict resolution in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  Our mediation and other efforts include partnerships with IGAD on Somalia and Sudan, ASEAN on Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste, la Francophonie in the Central African Republic, and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries in Guinea-Bissau.

This is just a sample of the wide-ranging policy and operational activities that are taking place.  These diverse experiences span conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  And they are delivering results on the ground as well as lessons for the future.

We have a better sense today of our respective strengths and advantages.  The political engagement of regional actors is improving our knowledge of specific situations.  Their military peacekeeping capacities have made it possible to respond more quickly at the outset of a crisis and at key moments.  And their resources are proving to be a linchpin of post-conflict peacebuilding.  My report contains specific suggestions for building on this growing knowledge of each others' strengths.

Much as we have strengthened our capacities over the years, it is essential that we do even more.  The 10-year capacity-building programme for the AU is making progress, primarily because it has brought together, with great sense of purpose, all relevant regional, subregional, in-area and out-of-area actors.  With this example in mind, my report sets out a number of concrete recommendations for furthering this and other capacity-building efforts.

We sometimes forget how quickly our world evolves.  Not too long ago, the idea of more than 90,000 UN peacekeepers in the field, or of an African Standby Force, or of an EU Police Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was unthinkable.  They are reality today.

Likewise, the breadth of our involvement in mediation efforts, the growing awareness of the fragility of post-conflict situations and the increased emphasis on prevention have also been major features in our work.

The reality of the next decade is that the demand for peacekeeping and these other services will continue to grow.  And we must be ready.

That means the time has come for us to take the regional-global partnership to a new level of clarity, practicality and seriousness.  Chapter VIII exists for reasons that are as valid today as they were 61 years ago.  Cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations offers a framework for doing this with the requisite flexibility, accountability and legitimacy.  I welcome, therefore, the deepening engagement of regional organizations in UN efforts for peace and security, and urge us all to continue to keep thinking of new ways; new ways to strengthen our cooperation and to create a global collective security mechanism that protects people and lays the groundwork for lasting peace.

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