Press Releases

    SG/SM/9476
          14 September 2004

    “We Live in an Age of Interdependence”, Threats Must Be Managed Collectively Says Secretary-General, in Message to Rome Meeting

    NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Second Interdependence Day, delivered by Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in Rome, 12 September:

    I send my greetings to all who have gathered in Rome to mark the Second Interdependence Day.  All around you in this eternal city are reminders that this was once the centre of an empire in which all roads led to Rome, all inhabitants lived under the Pax Romana, and the Roman Army watched the frontiers to keep outside threats at bay.

    Today, no nation or group of nations, not even the most powerful, can protect itself from threats by turning itself into an impregnable military fortress.  No army can prevent capital movements, stop the spread of AIDS, reduce the impact of global warming, halt the flow of information, or reverse the spread of radical violent ideologies which threaten us all.  Nor can any society hide safe behind the veil of ignorance or fear of the unknown, oblivious to the daily fight for mere survival that many in other countries face every day.  For good or ill, we live in an age of interdependence, and we must manage it collectively.

    The peoples of Europe have advanced further down the path of integration than any group of nations in history. Globally, the most important instrument States have to manage interdependence is the United Nations.  It is far from a perfect Organization.  But it is the locus of international legitimacy, and it must be the vital centre of multilateral action. To make it work better, I have asked a panel of eminent persons to help us generate a shared analysis of the threats we face -- including the threat of global terrorism -- and a set of recommendations on how we should face them. I will be calling on the nations of the world to respond to those recommendations with vision and a sense of responsibility and solidarity.

    The same sense of responsibility and solidarity must be brought to bear to deal with old dangers that, alas, are still with us -- the horrors of genocide and massive violations of human rights, the miseries of poverty, disease and hunger, the tragedies of ignorance and discrimination.  All of these challenges are related.  Both moral standing and the security of the community of nations will be determined, in large part, by how well we meet these challenges, and by whether we bring hope to the billions in our world who still struggle for life and justice.

    It takes more than far-sighted governments acting together to meet these challenges. It also requires men and women everywhere to deepen their sense of global citizenship and engage in this task. That is one reason the United Nations reaches out to civil society organizations, and why efforts such as yours are so vital. I mentioned at the outset that the structure of the Roman Empire could never work today. But the ideals of the res publica, to which the people of ancient Rome were also intimately attached, can continue to inspire us, as we look for ways to expand our sense of citizenship to the global level.

    In that spirit, I send you my best wishes for a successful Second Interdependence Day.

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