Press Releases

    SG/SM/9781
    UNITAR/705
    29 March 2005

    Secretary-General, in Message to UNITAR/IPS Conference on Peacekeeping, Nation-Building, Highlights Reforms in His “in Larger Freedom” Report

    Urges Member States, at 2005 Summit, to Reshape UN towards Their Common Purpose

    NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research/Institute of Policy Studies Conference on UN Peacekeeping and Nation-Building, delivered in Hiroshima, Japan, today, 28 March, by Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General:

    It is a pleasure to convey my greetings to all the participants in this conference.  It is singularly appropriate that you meet under the auspices of the new UNITAR office in Hiroshima.  As you contemplate the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, I urge you all to bear in mind that, whatever challenges confront the world today, the human family has travelled a long way since the darkest days of the war which led to the founding of the United Nations.  One reason for that progress is the work of the Organization, which, through 60 tumultuous years, has helped avert or end countless wars, and prevented the recurrence of violence through the deployment of peacekeepers in many parts of the world.

    Of course, UN peacekeeping today involves much more than policing ceasefires.  As the title of your seminar rightly reminds us, UN operations today are usually complex and multifaceted, designed to help build lasting peace in war-torn countries.  And the demand for peacekeeping has never been higher -- reflecting both the needs on the ground, and the renewed confidence of Member States in peacekeeping following the reforms initiated by the Brahimi report.

    Yet, as a result of those demands, we are today stretched to the limit of our capacity.  In my recent report to the General Assembly, entitled “In larger freedom”, I therefore called for Member States to create strategic reserves for United Nations peacekeeping, support the efforts of regional organizations to establish standby capacities as part of an interlocking system of peacekeeping capacities, and establish a United Nations civilian police standby capacity.  I also called for the creation of a new intergovernmental organ within the United Nations -- a peace-building commission, supported by a peace-building support office within the Secretariat -- to effectively address the challenge of helping countries with the transition from war to lasting peace.

    In that report, I also called on all Member States to enact a policy of “zero tolerance” of sexual exploitation of minors and other vulnerable people in their national contingents, to match the policy I have put in place covering all personnel engaged in United Nations operations.  I have in recent days released a comprehensive package of reforms on this issue, covering standards of conduct; investigations; organizational, managerial and command responsibility; and individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability.  I am determined to do everything in my power to stamp out such abhorrent acts.  I look to Member States for the same determination, and to every UN staff member as well.

    The reforms that I have proposed to Member States on peacekeeping and peace-building are part of a much larger package -- a package designed to advance the three great causes of development, security and human rights with equal seriousness, and to reshape the United Nations to be an effective instrument of Member States’ common purpose.  I hope that world leaders will take bold decisions to move decisively in that direction when they come to New York for a summit meeting in September 2005.

    All of us who work for the United Nations have our part to play in the process of revitalization and renewal.  Our dedication and professionalism must be matched by a commitment to ensuring accountability and effectiveness.

    In that context, I am glad that 10 years of UNITAR conferences on peacekeeping have helped to ensure that lessons are learned, passed on, and applied.  I know this is the last such gathering, and I therefore take this opportunity to thank UNITAR and the Institute of Policy Studies of Singapore for this initiative, which began over a decade ago when I was head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  I wish you all a successful final conference.

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