Press Releases

    DSG/SM/248
    10 MARCH 2005

    “Historic Fundamental Progress Possible” in 2005 for Transforming Global Security System, Says Deputy Secretary-General in Berlin Address

    NEW YORK, 9 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette’s address on the eightieth anniversary of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Berlin, 8 March:

    It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to address you today.  And specifically President Koehler.  It was wonderful to see a head of an international organization move up to such high office, although we miss you.

    Let me start by congratulating you on this milestone of your existence, during which you have truly lived up to Friedrich Ebert’s motto that “We must work and create values, otherwise we collapse”.

    Above all, I am heartened that you have asked for the United Nations to be present at this anniversary celebration.  For many years, and on many fronts, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been a wonderful partner to the United Nations.

    You have worked to promote peace and human rights, strengthen political education, and support democratization in developing countries and societies in transition.

    And the fact that you are turning 80, in the same year as the UN is turning 60, makes our organization a mere spring chicken compared to yours!

    So this is a special year for both our institutions.

    For the United Nations, 2005 not only marks the sixtieth anniversary of our founding at the end of World War Two.

    It is also a year in which we are thinking ahead, and engaging in a constructive debate about the future:  how to build a collective security system able to meet the threats and challenges of today -- a system in which all States can have confidence; how to forge a true global partnership to alleviate poverty and promote development; how to advance greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world.

    Five years ago, all the world’s governments came together to adopt the Millennium Declaration, seen as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century.  That landmark document captured the aspirations of the international community to achieve peace through collective security, and decent standards of living for every man, woman and child through a global partnership for development.

    But extraordinary developments have taken place since the Declaration was adopted -- most notably the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, and the deep divisions over the war in Iraq.  This led the Secretary-General to conclude that the world had arrived at a fork in the road:  a transformed international security environment in which the international community could either come together and agree on how best to handle the grave threats we face, or else remain at odds, letting history take the decisions for us, with all that that implies for our safety and prosperity.

    That is why, in a few weeks from now, the Secretary-General will be placing before Member States a report setting out proposals for far-reaching reforms of the international security system, and recommending ways to reach the Millennium Development Goals, endorsed in the Millennium Declaration.

    The Secretary-General’s proposals will draw heavily on two documents.

    The first is the Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which sets out a new and comprehensive vision of collective security for the twenty-first century.  This report offers 101 recommendations for fundamental change both in our policies and in the United Nations itself.

    Let me take this opportunity to thank the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for the very active and constructive support you have provided for the work of the High-Level Panel.

    The other document, the report of the United Nations Millennium Project, is no less visionary.  It challenges the international community to turn into reality its ambition to reduce poverty, and eventually eradicate it.  It suggests specific investments and policies that can be readily applied over the coming decade, on a scale large enough to make the difference.

    Drawing on both these documents, and on his own wide-ranging consultations, the Secretary-General aims to put forward an agenda that is both bold and achievable.  This will provide a focus of discussion and debate in the months leading up to a summit meeting at the United Nations in September.

    The fundamental message is simple:  our global security environment has been transformed, and our global collective security system must be transformed, too.

    Take the threat of nuclear proliferation.  Since 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has helped prevent the cascade of nuclear proliferation many predicted only a few years before.  But unless new and decisive steps are taken now, current challenges to the NPT threaten to realize those old fears.

    The High-Level Panel has recommended several urgent measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, including tougher inspection rules, incentives for States to voluntarily forego the development of sensitive fuel-cycle activities and swift negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty.

    Equally, we must take decisive action to ensure that catastrophic terrorism never becomes a reality.  The United Nations must show zero tolerance of terrorism, of any kind, for any reason, while putting to good use its convening power, its normative strength and global reach.  The High-Level Panel was able to reach consensus on a definition of terrorism -- something that has eluded Member States until now.  Their definition makes clear that the targeting of civilians or non-combatants is totally unacceptable, no matter under what circumstances.  We urge heads of State to unite behind that definition at the September summit, and hope that this will lead to the finalization and adoption of a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention in the General Assembly.

    I also urge you to pay close attention on Thursday, when the Secretary-General will outline an anti-terrorism strategy for the United Nations.

    We must also equip ourselves with the collective tools we need to succeed in building lasting peace in war-torn countries -- a task in which the United Nations and regional organizations are engaged today in a wide range of nations. The Panel recommends the creation of a new intergovernmental organ in the United Nations in the form of a Peace-Building Commission.  Such a Commission would give Member States, the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional organizations, donor countries, troop contributors and the country being helped a forum for consensus and action:  to agree on strategy, provide policy guidance, mobilize resources, and coordinate the efforts of all involved.

    On development, a big part of the challenge is to make operational the framework that is already in place, in the form of the Millennium Development Goals.  We must ensure that the Goals are at the centre of national strategies and international assistance alike.  All developing countries should commit to put forward, by 2006, practical national strategies to meet the Goals.  And donors must take the Goals as seriously as they expect developing countries to do, while stepping up their support for efforts at the national level.  The September Summit must produce a pact, to which all nations subscribe, and on which all will be held accountable for progress, or lack of it, towards the Millennium Development Goals.

    Of course, our work for both security and development must rest squarely on the pillars of human rights and the rule of law.  The Secretary-General’s report will be making important recommendations for action in those areas, too.

    And his report will call on all States to look closely at the architecture of the United Nations itself, which in many ways still reflects the world of 1945.  This includes, of course, the thorny question of enlargement of the Security Council’s membership -- as I am sure everyone in this room is aware.  The United Nations must be updated to reflect today’s realities, so that it brings to bear, in the most effective way, the capacities and contributions of all States in meeting the threats and challenges of our world.

    The 2005 process is meant to produce results.  We hope that governments will come to the summit ready to take far-reaching decisions.  We believe that historic, fundamental progress is possible.  But it will depend on the will of governments, and on the engagement of civil society groups -- such as your foundation.

    As I mentioned, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has already provided valuable support for the process I have just described.

    We in the United Nations welcome and embrace partnerships with foundations such as yours.  Foundations have always played pivotal roles in advocating and acting for change.  And for our part, in the United Nations, we have opened up to 

    ways of working with non-State actors on a scale that no one could have imagined a few decades ago.

    So, as we seek to broaden and deepen coalitions for change around our agenda, we know that we can do this only with the full participation and support of organizations like yours.

    There is a multitude of ways in which you can continue your work to engage constituencies around the world ahead of the September summit.

    You can use your ideas and expertise on ways to address global challenges on our agenda.  You can raise public consciousness, and speak to people’s conscience.

    You can use your extensive network around the world, spanning offices in more than 100 countries, and your knowledge of the political landscape of those countries.

    You can work with your local partners among non-governmental organizations, labour organizations, business and others around the world, to promote specific projects and programmes on the ground.

    That kind of real-life approach is exactly what we need in the year to come.  As Friedrich Ebert said, “not roaming in the interminable and losing oneself in the theoretical, not hesitating and wavering, but with clear vision and a firm hand, taking a firm hold on practical life”.

    Friends, that is indeed what we must aspire to.  I thank you for listening to me today, and I wish you all the best for this anniversary.  May you keep going strong for many years to come.

    Vielen Dank. Thank you very much.

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