25 November 2011
Deputy Secretary-General

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

Eyes of World on Western Asia; When Stability, Good Governance, Equality Take Root

There, Benefits Will Extend around the World, Says Deputy Secretary-General


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s Remarks to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Regional Coordinating Mechanism, in Beirut, 25 November:

It is a pleasure to be here.  It has been nearly a year since the wave of change in this region started in a small town in Tunisia.  The momentous transformations that followed stunned the world.  But the circumstances that triggered those changes had been well known to all of you long before those dramatic events.  ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) had been documenting trends in the region, including social discontent from high food prices, unemployment and exclusion, for years.  And I do recall that these issues were at the centre of our Regional Coordinating Mechanism meeting last year, here in Beirut.

Most Governments reacted to the spreading political turmoil with a set of socio-economic support measures.  But what the ongoing protests in a number of countries in the region tell us is that there is still a dire need of action-oriented strategies to alleviate poverty, create jobs, promote inclusive development and ensure democratic governance.

That means going beyond thinking in terms of economic performance.  We must work for equity.  Social, economic and environmental goals should be addressed in tandem.  Let me stress that this is true across the world, not just in this region.

The Secretary-General has repeatedly emphasized that sustainable development is our greatest imperative in the years to come.  To achieve it, we need to link our efforts on climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, health, food security and women’s empowerment.

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be an opportunity to chart a course to the future we want.  We continue to push for all countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  And we are looking ahead to the next generation of development targets.

I am grateful for your contributions to this work.  The cooperation between ESCWA, the League of Arab States, and the United Nations system has been important in forging a coherent Arab position ahead of Rio+20.  I am especially pleased that our partners in the civil society were part of the consultations leading up to the final PrepCom, held last month in Cairo.  We can now build on that meeting, where representatives of Arab countries articulated strong and clear positions on key issues.

A one-size-fits-all approach to sustainable development is not feasible.  That is why it is so important that each region clarify how to make green economy work towards sustainable development, improved human well-being and social equity.  In the Arab region, the green economy must be clearly linked to better and more equitable job creation, especially for young people.  Better governance will also be a central goal.

The past year’s events in the Arab world show how important it is for the United Nations to put an ambitious human rights agenda at the heart of efforts for sustainable development.  The voice of this regional commission must also be heard.  This Regional Coordinating Mechanism is our best tool to bring together various regional development mandates, and forge an integrated agenda.  This Regional Coordinating Mechanism can also agree on policy approaches that the United Nations Development Group can use to support country-level development.

The eyes of the world have been on the ESCWA region.  The immense changes have raised the hopes of people around the world.  The challenges are enormous.  But all of you who have been working so hard here for so many years also understand that the possibilities are even greater.  I look forward to your ideas on how we can optimize our support for this region in transition.  When stability, good governance and equality take root here, we can be sure that the benefits will extend around the world.

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For information media • not an official record