5 April 2009

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



Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the 120th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, delivered by Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Director, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in Addis Ababa, 5 April:

It gives me great pleasure to send greetings to all the parliamentarians assembled in Addis Ababa.

You meet as the international community grapples with a range of serious, unprecedented challenges.  The global economic crisis seems to grow deeper by the day.  Climate change jeopardizes the very future of our planet.  The food crisis remains a stark reality for hundreds of millions of people.  Extremism, political instability, nuclear proliferation, likewise, demand our urgent attention.  Such grave problems can only be solved by nations working together.

The economic crisis risks a reversal of hard-won development gains.  People everywhere are understandably angry; they could well lose faith in their leaders and their own future.  We could be on the brink of widespread social unrest.  That is why, at the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit three days ago in London, I called for a substantial stimulus plan and for reforms of global rules and institutions.  I also spoke out again protectionism.  We must do our utmost to protect the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, and avoid a catastrophe in human development.  I will count on you to help keep us on track towards the Millennium Development Goals.

I also said in London that our stimulus packages should include major investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.  Some political leaders ask how we can afford to tackle climate change in the midst of hard economic times.  I say just the opposite: how can we afford not to?  If we are going to spend substantial sums for recovery, let us do so in ways that will create jobs and put the world on a path towards sustainable growth.  We need a green new deal; we need to seal a new climate deal later this year in Copenhagen; and we need legislators such as you to help with implementation of that hoped-for deal at the national level.

Parliamentarians play a crucial role across this agenda.  You have the power to bring issues to the table.  You can enact legislation and put the power of budgetary allocations behind your priorities.  You are change agents, well placed to build bridges between the local and the global.  For these reasons and more, the United Nations attaches great importance to the parliamentary voice in world affairs and to the partnership between the world Organization and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  The General Assembly has acknowledged this role, welcoming in its most recent resolution the growing practice of including legislators as members of national delegations to major United Nations meetings and events, and encouraging the Inter-Parliamentary Union to strengthen its contributions to the work of the Assembly and other United Nations bodies, including the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council and the Development Cooperation Forum held by the Economic and Social Council.

I hope our partnership will continue to flourish in the years to come.  No country is immune from the fallout of the current crises.  Now is the time for global solidarity.  I am confident that you will do your part to see the world through these troubled times, and I look forward to working with you in that effort.

Please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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For information media • not an official record