10 January 2008
The year 2008 provides a unique opportunity to enhance the central role of the United Nations in world affairs. A number of developments align to make this so: the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the midpoint in the work to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the high-level meeting on financing for development; the climate change negotiations; the unprecedented peacekeeping operation in Darfur.
As the vast international agenda expands the possibilities for collective action by States and people, it also calls on us to strengthen the capacity of the Organization to serve nations and populations in need, while upholding the principles of the Charter and values of the United Nations.
In the year ahead, I propose to proceed on three fronts simultaneously. I will work to deliver results; to create a stronger UN through full accountability of all parties; and to advance the global common good by securing global public goods.
We must deliver results for a more prosperous and healthy world.
Development should not be a privilege of the few, but a right for all. Yet, passing the midpoint to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, we face a development emergency. Millions of people are still trapped in structural poverty and go hungry every day. In sub-Saharan Africa, despite pockets of progress, not a single country is on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
I will pursue vigorously the MDG Africa Steering Group initiative, which brings together the entire UN system in partnership with key international financial institutions to work for increased aid volumes and predictability. In consultation with the President of the General Assembly, I will convene a high-level meeting on the MDGs in September to find ways to bridge the implementation gap. I am convinced that this event, alongside the Africa’s development high-level meeting in September, will contribute to marshal support for Africa’s development needs. Crucial parts of the equation will be attention to systemic issues of trade, investment and finance, in the run-up to the UNCTAD-XII Conference in Accra in April, and the Financing for Development Conference in Doha in November.
Within the UN itself, we must undertake a fundamental review of our development machinery and programming across the system. We need a more coherent, focused and reinvigorated approach. As requested by the General Assembly, I will soon present proposals to its resumed session.
The General Assembly will also soon begin work on system-wide coherence, including on the question of gender architecture, where urgent action is required. We must be bold. Delivering as one at country, regional and global levels in virtually every area of our work is not only possible, it is essential.
We must deliver results for a more secure world.
This year will put us to new tests in peacekeeping, bringing it to an unprecedented scale, complexity and risk level. The UN is better equipped to support peace operations following the strengthening of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the creation of the Department of Field Support. But success depends first and foremost on how Member States match the mandates they have set. It depends on their political support and on their actual contributions -- troops, police, vital capabilities and finance.
The immediate peacekeeping priority for the Organization is the deployment of UNAMID, an unprecedented joint operation with the African Union. In light of this experience, I invite you to consider how we can urgently strengthen the ability of the Organization to develop flexible, creative and cost-effective approaches to managing and conducting operations, including through rapidly deployable capacities. The conduct of operations, and the technical means to support them, needs to be brought to a par with the vast demands placed on them in the twenty-first century.
I am equally resolved to enhance cooperation with regional organizations, so as to create, in the future, a predictable, interlinked and reliable system for global peacekeeping under the Charter. And I will propose extending the UN role in the vital area of security sector reform.
Politically, this year promises to be even tougher than the last. We must nurture a fragile peace process in the Middle East and do more to help the people of Iraq emerge from conflict and rebuild shattered lives. We must stay the course in Afghanistan, so that it does not again fall into lawless anarchy. We must do our utmost to push the Darfur peace talks to a successful conclusion and move forward with a process to determine Kosovo’s future status.
At the same time, we will strengthen our overall capacity for preventive diplomacy and instil a more integrated and effective UN approach in responding to conflict and supporting sustainable peace processes. This requires us to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs, so as to make it more field-oriented and proactive. It requires expanding capacities for mediation and good offices, and strengthening partnerships with regional and local institutions. And it requires us to consolidate our new peacebuilding apparatus. We must deliver results for a more just world.
2008 will be a milestone year for efforts to promote international justice and to work for an end to impunity. A global awareness campaign is already under way to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I will also advocate for the universal ratification of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. I will create a task force on the global scourge of violence against women, and take steps to make operational the responsibility to protect.
We must work to ensure the Human Rights Council lives up to the high expectations of the international community, invigorating its work through the Universal Periodic Review and addressing serious cases of human rights violations in all parts of the world.
We will continue to work with Member States to build up capacity in the rule of law, so as to improve our ability to offer expertise and technical assistance. And we will keep strengthening our humanitarian response to countries and populations in crisis, building better efficiency and impact, capacity and funding.
Achieving optimal results in all these areas will require establishing full accountability by all parties involved. Let us look at accountability not as a narrow technical issue, but as a fundamental organizing principle and operational guideline for the Organization and Member States. Let us enter into a new accountability compact.
First, we need full accountability within the Secretariat, flowing both ways from the Secretary-General, to senior managers and the staff. My aim is an integrated approach that brings together all the features we need to be a modern, transparent and performance-driven organization: greater career and growth opportunities; a professional, mobile and multi-tasked workforce; compacts with senior managers setting out targets and commitments; better responsiveness and support to our colleagues in the field; a fully functioning system for the administration of justice; more modern tools; and better information and communications technology, including the introduction of an Enterprise Resource Planning system.
Second, we need to keep strengthening the Secretariat’s accountability to Member States by striving to ensure that we work and deliver as one to meet the mandates you give us. We must hold ourselves accountable for our behaviour and for outcomes, including by enhancing our evaluation capacity. We must follow through on all aspects of our ethics programme, all efforts to strengthen accountability and risk management, and the work of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee.
Third, we need Member States to be accountable to the Organization. This must be built on responsible governance. I look to Member States for support that is commensurate with the mandates you give us. I look to you to take measures to ensure the security of our staff wherever we operate, as we become increasingly vulnerable as a target of extremists groups. And I look to you to approve my proposals to improve our management practices -- including streamlining UN staff contracts, which will also help create a more mobile workforce.
Similarly, Member States need to be accountable to each other in carrying out and consolidating the range of institutional reforms at the intergovernmental level -- on the Human Rights Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Economic and Social Council. Member States must also advance their discussion of reforming the Security Council.
Finally, Secretariat and Member States need to be accountable to the global public through greater transparency, openness in decision-making and inclusiveness towards civil society.
Global threats in the twenty-first century spare no one. They require us to advance the global common good by securing global public goods. he United Nations is uniquely placed to lead this effort.
Climate change, above all, requires us all to work together with a shared sense of urgency. It will remain a top priority in the year ahead, both because of the escalating gravity of the issue itself and the tight negotiating calendar laid out by the Conference of Parties in Bali. The UN will need to facilitate a successful negotiation among parties, help achieve progress on implementation of existing mandates and spearhead a revolution in global consciousness and behaviour. And we will need to act on the mutually reinforcing relationship between climate goals and development goals.
Global health is one of the greatest challenges of our time, but with an enormous scope for solutions. Reducing maternal and child mortality and combating AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are not only Millennium Development Goals in themselves, they are prerequisites for reaching most of the other Goals. We need an approach where donors, agencies and Member States work for sustainable and predictable financing and political commitments. Strengthening health systems is the key to progress on many fronts, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.
Terrorism is a threat to every nation and all people. The unanimous adoption of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the General Assembly in 2006 was a significant achievement. The challenge now is to implement the Strategy, in full and without delay. As we approach the September 2008 review, I look to Member States to implement the Strategy nationally, bilaterally and multilaterally, and through their regional and other organizations. The United Nations stands ready to partner with all of you in this endeavour.
Finally, we must reinvigorate our collective response to disarmament and non-proliferation. That means addressing long-standing deadlocks in nuclear disarmament. It means stepping up efforts to combat the scourge of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. And it means addressing the threats that are growing fastest -- those facilitated by the revolution in the life sciences. We must follow up on the decision of world leaders in 2005 to promote biotechnology benefits to developing countries while mitigating the risk of misuse.
The challenges ahead are daunting. But the United Nations has proven, at various stages of its history, that it is capable of remaking itself to rise to new challenges. 2008 should be a watershed year for putting the UN on a new track. I will do my utmost to ensure that this happens -- by delivering results, strengthening the Organization through full accountability and advancing the global common good by securing global public goods.
I thank you again for this opportunity to speak to you. I now look forward to hearing from you.