SECRETARY-GENERAL LAUDS ROLE OF "CLUB OF MADRID",
NEW YORK, 25 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan (delivered on his behalf by Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva) to the General Assembly of the Club of Madrid, meeting today in Madrid:
I am pleased to convey my greeting to all the participants in the First General Assembly of the Club of Madrid. The United Nations and the Club of Madrid are partners in the cause of assisting countries in the process of consolidating democracy and the rule of law.
The United Nations system has a longstanding involvement in supporting the Conferences on New or Restored Democracies, the next of which will be taking place in June 2003 in Ulaanbaatar. In addition, the United Nations Development Programme has recently focused its work on democratic governance, convinced that without the firm establishment of democracy and the rule of law, no development process is sustainable.
The principle of democracy is now recognized by all. People of all cultures value their freedom of choice. People of all faiths feel the need to have a say in decisions that affect their lives. Now, we must make the practice of democracy equally universal.
The purpose to which your Club is dedicated -- advancing and strengthening democracy -- represents my own deepest aspiration for the United Nations. When the United Nations can truly call itself a community of democracies, the world will be a safer, and a fairer, place. You have gathered because you know that the work of democracy is never done -- that too many people are still denied their human rights; that too many democracies remain imperfect, and too easily undermined.
In a world of many challenges and threats, one answer can help address them all. And that is democracy. I salute your efforts, and I wish you all success in making democracy a reality -- not just a dream -- in the lives of all people.
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