Press Releases

    SG/SM/10567
         14 July 2006

    German Troop Deployment to Democratic Republic of Congo for Elections 'Historic', Powerful Symbol of Support for Pivotal Country, Says Secretary-General

    (Delayed in transmission.)

    NEW YORK, 13 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's speech at an event hosted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the United Nations Association of Germany and the Foreign Ministry of Germany, in Berlin on 10 July:

    Thank you for that kind introduction.

    And thank you all for your warm welcome. My wife Nane and I, as well as all my team, are very happy to be here.

    This is such an exciting time to be in Germany. Your country and mine have something very important in common: we played well and left the tournament with dignity. But Germany has also won its own victory three times over: by its stunning performance in Stuttgart stadium on Saturday, by organizing the best World Cup ever and by uniting the entire German people and nation behind that glorious event.

    In fact, we in the United Nations envy the World Cup. It is one of the few phenomena as universal as the United Nations. You could even say it is more universal. FIFA has 207 members, we have only 192. Football is the only truly global game, played in every country, by every race and every religion. Everybody knows where their team stands, and what it did to get there. Everybody loves talking about what their team did right, and what it could have done differently.

    I wish we had more of that sort of competition and conversation in the family of nations. Countries openly vying for the best standing in the table of respect for human rights, fighting corruption and trying to outdo one another in reducing the number of new HIV infections. States parading their performance for all the world to see. Governments being held accountable for what actions led them to that result. Citizens consumed by how their country could do better in everything from child survival rates to enrolment in secondary education.

    That is why I am grateful to be surrounded by such engaged global citizens today. I am grateful to all our hosts -- the United Nations Association of Germany and the Bertelsmann Stiftung. UN Associations are invaluable partners of the United Nations. Their efforts to reach out and educate the public about the UN bring home to people everywhere that the UN's agenda is their agenda; and that the issues which concern the UN are ones that matter to all human beings. The Bertelsmann foundation plays an equally valuable role, using and generating knowledge and expertise to stimulate public discussion and provide informed advice to policymakers. And the Foreign Ministry and Government of Germany are, of course, essential partners to the UN. Germany is one of our few model Member States. Let me also welcome your new Ambassador to the United Nations.

    Three weeks ago, an event took place, which attracted little international publicity, but which I believe was of historic significance. The first members of a contingent of German troops started arriving in Kinshasa, to take part in the European Union's Force (EUFOR) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their mission is to support the United Nations during the general elections, due to be held at the end of this month.

    The arrival of German troops on Congolese soil opens a new chapter in Germany's engagement with the world on issues of peace and security. It is the first time German peacekeepers have taken part in a UN operation in Africa. And it is a powerful symbol of support from Germany and its European allies for Africa's second largest nation -- a country whose fate is pivotal to sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.

    For too many long and agonizing years, the conflict in the DRC held much of the African continent to ransom. Today, the country is beginning to be transformed, and there is palpable hope. When the Congolese people go to the polls at the end of this month, they will be taking part in the first free and fair elections in their history as an independent nation; the first in more than 40 years.

    This afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting the EUFOR operation headquarters, and I was very impressed by what I saw. The deployment of the force in DRC is more than just a political signal. The troops will be working closely with the United Nations Mission to help the Congolese ensure a free and fair electoral process. Their ability to provide real-time intelligence and intervene rapidly to protect civilians when the need arises will be an essential complement to the UN's own skills. They will provide a much-needed security umbrella in a potentially volatile electoral environment, focusing mainly on the area round Kinshasa.

    I hope the contribution of Germany and its European partners in the DRC will not end there. Once the polls have closed, Congo's international partners will have an important role to play in helping to build and implement a post-election strategy, helping the Congolese to reform their security sector, train their police force, and generally improve their governance.

    We must not repeat in the DRC the failures of too many previous international responses to post-conflict situations, caused by shortage of funds, lack of coordination and a rush to get out as soon as possible. Too often, the result has been that a hard-won peace fell apart, and the international community has had to return a few years later, at much greater cost. That is a tragedy for all concerned -- but especially, of course, for the people of the countries we are trying to help.

    Rather, we must work with the people of the DRC -- and of other countries in similar situations -- to forge a coherent strategy for the long term, and to ensure that international assistance continues as long as it is needed. That, precisely, is the function of the UN's new Peacebuilding Commission, which started its work last month, following a decision taken at the 2005 World Summit.

    And that decision reflects the new vision articulated by the World Summit -- a vision which broadens our understanding of human security and of the threats to it, giving equal weight and attention to development, security and human rights, and recognizing that these three pillars are not only ends in themselves, but depend on and reinforce each other.

    Where peace and respect for human dignity have taken hold, investment and prosperity will follow. And with investment and economic progress, peace is more likely to take root, and people will be better equipped to stand up for their rights.

    If we step back and look at the global picture, we can see that the developed world is truly beginning to act on that understanding -- on the conviction that, so long as extreme poverty, social and economic injustice, disease and environmental degradation plague our planet, no nation can be truly secure.

    Increasingly, Germany and other leading powers are showing unprecedented leadership in advancing the development agenda worldwide. Since the Group of Eight (G-8) summit last July and the World Summit last September, we have, at last, begun to see the kind of commitment we had been seeking for many years.

    Fourteen African countries have had their debts cancelled completely, while eight others have benefited from partial, but still significant, debt relief.

    World leaders have reaffirmed support for the Global Partnership for Development, as embodied in the Monterrey Consensus. Pledges have been given to double aid to Africa over the next few years.

    And these are not just empty pledges. Already last year, official development assistance (ODA) for the first time topped $100 billion -- the highest share of gross national income it has reached since 1992.

    But, now we are in 2006, which -- as Chancellor Merkel has said -- is a benchmark year. It is the year in which all European countries must live up to their commitment to get ODA to at least 0.33 per cent of national income. I am confident that Germany itself will not only rise to that challenge, but also announce a clear timetable for reaching its renewed commitment to devote 0.7 [per cent] of national income to ODA.

    Above all, we must see progress on trade. The object of development aid is -- obviously -- to enable countries to develop, and, unless they are given a fair chance to compete in world markets, including the markets of rich countries, and including markets for manufactured products, they will not be able to do so.

    Recent serious setbacks in the Doha negotiations have led some participants to contemplate settling for something less than a true development round. That must not happen. We must sustain the determination and political courage needed to conclude the talks by the end of this year.

    When I attend the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg next week, I will urge leaders to take bold measures to ensure that the Doha Round succeeds and truly benefits developing nations. Middle-income countries must be given -- and must be prepared to concede -- genuine market access for both goods and services, while the duty-free and quota-free access promised to the least developed countries must become a full reality. And it is high time to eliminate all subsidies that cause poor countries to face unfair competition from richer ones.

    These are some of the main steps which need taking to allow poor and marginalized people, especially in the least developed countries, to lift themselves out of poverty -- steps which would, at the same time, foster prosperity and opportunity for people everywhere.

    I count on Germany's leadership -- both in the European Union and in the Group of Eight -- to ensure that they are taken. I believe Germany has understood that the world will not reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), if we do not deliver on the full promise of partnership as described in Goal 8 -- on aid, debt and trade.

    Indeed, the German Government's coalition agreement specifically refers to the need to cut agricultural subsidies, and to ensure that all its policies are coherent with efforts to promote development.

    And German leadership is also needed on one of the main topics at next week's summit: energy security.

    I believe it is imperative that the G-8 focus especially on two aspects of this subject -- aspects with implications that go far beyond the boundaries of any of your countries.

    First, it's essential to think what energy security means to people living in developing countries. More than a billion and a half of them live with no electricity at all, while many of those who do have access have to endure frequent power outages, caused by inadequate generating capacity and faulty grid lines.

    Without more reliable energy supplies, these people are condemned to perpetual poverty. Studies show that, to reach the Millennium Development Goals, developing countries will need to nearly double their electrical generating capacity.

    Second, we cannot achieve energy security, unless we address the environmental consequences of energy consumption -- especially our currently overwhelming and deeply entrenched reliance on fossil fuels. By producing greenhouse gases and other pollutants, these fuels affect the sustainability of life itself. Our reliance on them puts the very future of humanity at risk.

    The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly clear: climate change is happening and humans are contributing to it. And, while almost all of us will suffer, poor people, above all, are vulnerable and will bear the brunt of the damage -- especially in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. For those living in the low-lying areas of the developing world, energy security is inseparably linked to the environmental consequences of energy consumption.

    Of course, these two aspects are intertwined. The need to increase energy supplies in order to fight poverty could entail a vicious circle, with ever more severe effects on health and the environment.

     But that does not need to happen. Fossil fuels can become cleaner, or even clean. Energy efficiency can improve significantly, in transport, buildings, appliances and manufacturing. Renewable sources of energy can be utilized to much greater effect. And all this would have significant economic, health and environmental benefits.

    That was the thinking which, last year, led Germany and its G-8 partners to adopt the Gleneagles Plan of Action on climate change, clean energy and sustainable development. As the Plan recognizes, developed countries -- especially the largest among them -- have a special responsibility. They are the largest consumers of fossil fuels and the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. And they have the most resources to support research and development.

    Collectively, we do have the knowledge and resources both to conquer the poverty that blights so many lives, and to safeguard our planet and its climate. What we lack, so far, is the will to deploy that knowledge and those resources in the right way. Next week's summit is when that can, and must, begin to change.

    We must also look ahead to next year. 2007 will mark a defining moment for Germany, as it assumes the presidency of both the European Union and the Group of Eight.

    The same year will also mark the midpoint for the Millennium Development Goals, which fall due in 2015.

    While we will be halfway to the MDG deadline in terms of time, we will not be nearly halfway there in implementation and results.

    Certainly, there has been a great deal of progress. The global incidence of extreme poverty has declined, and there have been huge advances on some of the Goals, especially in Asia. In Africa too, the MDGs have galvanized Governments, and a number of countries are on track to meet several of the Goals -- from reducing maternal mortality to providing safe drinking water.

    Increasingly, African countries are recognizing that Africa's partnership with the rest of the world must be based on solid achievements, and on monitoring of both donor and recipient performance. They know that making development happen relies on a shared sense of responsibility and a reciprocal sense of trust.

    But, staggering obstacles remain to meeting the Goals by 2015. Latest studies show that, in sub-Saharan Africa, there are some 140 million more people enduring extreme poverty today, than there were 15 years ago.

    Whether Africa can now reverse that trend, and make progress towards the Goal of halving extreme poverty, will depend in large part on the leadership that Germany provides next year. Judging by your ever deepening engagement with the world, I have no doubt you will be equal to the task.

    Not only do the men, women and children of the developing world look to you for that leadership. Your own public does too, as we have witnessed in the vigorous support for the MDGs that the German people have expressed, speaking through numerous voluntary groups that have joined in partnership with the United Nations Millennium Campaign.

    Those voices represent a growing movement. They demand to be listened to.

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