|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
UN Stands with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as It Seeks
to Make World Safe, More Just, Prosperous for All, Says Secretary-General
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 1 December:
President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev, thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality. I applaud your leadership to organize this historic OSCE Summit meeting in Astana. As the first CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and Central Asian country to head the OSCE, Kazakhstan is helping to guide the way to a new era of action and engagement.
I am honoured to participate in this historic first OSCE Summit in more than a decade. The United Nations and the OSCE are founded on core principles and common values. We share the conviction that security is not a narrow concept. We must address the challenge in all its dimensions. We must take a comprehensive approach. That wider perspective has never been more valid and necessary in our increasingly globalized, complex and connected world.
Today I want to speak briefly on how we can deepen our work to expand peace, advance human rights, generate sustainable development, and build a safer world. The moment is ripe for action in all four areas.
First, securing peace. In Kyrgyzstan this year we have shown what we can do together. The United Nations, the OSCE, the European Union, the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] and others joined forces to provide timely and coherent support to the people of Kyrgyzstan at a critical moment. Our cooperation was further enhanced by your close coordination with the United Nations Country Team and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy.
In Afghanistan, we face another test. We will need to collaborate closely to ensure that the transition process is sustainable and irreversible. This will mean making a long-term commitment to capacity- and institution-building. The United Nations would welcome greater OSCE involvement in supporting Afghan national programmes and priorities.
For our part, we are planning to launch a Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries early next year. It will foster cross-border cooperation to counter twenty-first century transnational threats of drug trafficking and organized crime. The OSCE region itself is also home to several protracted conflicts that urgently need a peaceful, negotiated solution. All people, including those living in disputed areas, rightly look to us for assistance. As the regional actor, the OSCE is in the lead, but you can continue counting on the United Nations as a reliable partner.
In taking on all of these challenges, we must do more to engage youth and women for peace and security. Yesterday, here in Astana, I met with an extraordinary group of regional women leaders who are committed to this effort. In this tenth anniversary year of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, let us illuminate an essential truth: women lead to peace.
That brings me to the second collective challenge, advancing fundamental freedoms and human rights. The OSCE is a lead actor in promoting and supporting the conduct of free and fair elections. We have partnered very effectively in this field. Let us now turn to enhancing our cooperation in the broader area of democracy-building — as we all know, credible elections are an essential element of democracy but not a guarantee of good governance. Let us redouble our efforts to assist countries in ensuring the primacy of the rule of law and equal access to justice, broad citizens’ participation and other hallmarks of inclusive, democratic societies.
Of course we cannot talk about democracy without also focusing on human rights. In the past two decades, we have seen how intolerance and violations of human rights — particularly those directed against minorities and other marginalized groups — have led even to violent conflicts.
The OSCE unfortunately sometimes sees violations of its own commitments in this area. Full implementation of OSCE values, principles and commitments is needed to effectively protect human rights and promote inclusive societies. More effective peer review could help, as well as full accountability to its own citizens. Upholding the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants is especially urgent.
I reiterate my call for your greater engagement with UN independent human rights mechanisms, in particular with independent experts of the Human Rights Council focusing on thematic mandates. I urge you to respond positively to their requests for country visits and to implement their recommendations, as well as those of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Universal Periodic Reviews. On all of these issues, we will continue our close cooperation with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Representative of Freedom of the Media, as well as the High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals provides the foundation for progress on the third challenge — sustainable development. At the recent G-20 [Group of 20] summit in Seoul, there was a shared appreciation of the importance of the Millennium Development Goals — and a shared willingness to work with and through the United Nations to achieve all of our global development objectives.
The Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth adopted by the G-20 includes an action plan that relies heavily on the United Nations’ leadership and expertise and reinforces the Action Agenda adopted at the MDG Summit in September in New York. I count on the OSCE’s support in implementing this important Agenda.
We must also reinforce our efforts to address climate change. In just a few days, leaders will gather in Mexico to spur further steps and progress in the negotiations. We do not expect a comprehensive agreement. But many issues are ripe for agreement, including deforestation and adaptation to technology, finance and capacity-building. Environment-friendly management of water and energy resources is increasingly imperative also in the OSCE area. The tragic fate of the Aral Sea must prompt us to act to prevent similar man-made disasters and indeed security risks elsewhere.
Fourth and finally, let us advance on our common efforts in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The international community has achieved progress in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the successful conclusion of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] Review Conference in May at the United Nations. However, significant challenges remain. I am grateful for the engagement of OSCE Member States. I am particularly encouraged with on-going cooperation on the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is critical to non-proliferation. I have repeatedly called for bold action by all countries, especially those whose ratification is required for the Treaty to enter into force.
Earlier this year, I had the honour of visiting the former nuclear testing grounds in Semipalatinsk. Thanks to the extraordinary and visionary leadership of President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk has been transformed from a place of dread to a symbol of hope. What was once ground zero is today the epicentre of the Central Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone. This is a model for other regions to follow. The same vision and commitment to shape a better world that made it possible to close Semipalatinsk now summons us as we look to the great challenges and opportunities of our times. As we continue, let us also strengthen our work on conventional arms, transparency and confidence- and security-building measures.
This is an ambitious agenda but I am confident that we can achieve it together. My hope comes from you — and all I have seen throughout the OSCE region. Not so long ago, few would have imagined the peoples of this vast area would be bound so closely together. In the process, the challenges have become more apparent. But so, too, have the impressive common achievements and enormous new horizons of change and opportunity. Your review under the Corfu Process testifies to your commitment to build an ever evolving and effective set of instruments, approaches and architecture to respond.
The United Nations stands with you as we seek to make this world a safer, more just and more prosperous place for all. Thank you very much for your leadership. Thank you.
* *** *For information media • not an official record