18 May 2007

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text, translated from French, of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the twenty-fifth ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, delivered by Agnès Marcaillou, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch, Office for Disarmament Affairs, in São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe, 17 May:

It gives me great pleasure to extend my warmest greetings to you.  I should like to express my gratitude to President Fradique de Menezes, the Government and people of Sao Tomé and Principe for hosting a meeting of the United Nations Standing Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa for the first time.  I should also like to pay tribute to the members of the Committee for their determination to find joint solutions to the regional problems.

Central Africa continues to be beset by a host of challenges in the areas of peace and security.  Considerable progress has been made, however, including the signing last September of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement between the Government of Burundi and the last rebel group, PALIPEHUTU-FNL, and the holding of presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  However, the delay in implementing the ceasefire agreement in Burundi and the violence that erupted this past March in the Democratic Republic of the Congo show that the situation in those two countries is still fragile.  It is, therefore, very important to establish mechanisms and programmes that will consolidate the progress achieved.

The impact of the conflict in Darfur on neighbouring countries also requires the Committee to play a pivotal role in the establishment of the subregional collective security framework.

I, therefore, welcome your determination to breathe new life into the Committee’s work.  I encourage you to ratify existing agreements and make the subregional institutions operational as soon as possible.  I also welcome your intention to approve at an early date the text of a subregional instrument to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and a code of conduct for armed and security forces in Central Africa.

Only concrete measures to strengthen peace and security will restore the stability needed for the sustainable development of Central Africa and give the peoples of the subregion the opportunity to fully develop their enormous human and natural resources.

The people of the subregion deserve a better future.  While there are considerable obstacles, if your deliberations match your ambitions, I have no doubt that you will make tangible progress.  Rest assured that the United Nations will continue to support your endeavours towards that end.  I thank you for your attention and wish you every success in your meeting.

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For information media • not an official record