General Assembly President wraps up environment meetings in Nairobi

GA President in Kenya

5 May 2006 – United Nations General Assembly President Jan Eliasson today concluded a two-day visit to Nairobi where he discussed the environment and related issues with senior UN officials and Kenyan Government representatives.

During his 3 to 4 May visit, Mr. Eliasson also undertook a field visit to the Kibera slum – considered the largest in Africa – to witness first-hand conditions there. He was welcomed by members of the community and received briefings on the joint UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-HABITAT Nairobi River Basin Project as well as the latter agency’s Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme.

Addressing the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP and UN-HABITAT on Thursday morning, Mr. Eliasson outlined the ongoing process of UN reform, touching on the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, management issues and global environmental governance.

He also called on those present to embrace the reform programme and to help strengthen the UN, citing his vision of a world in which countries understand that “well functioning international structures are in the national interest of each country.”

The President also underlined the importance of regional cooperation and multilateralism. “We need to inspire others to take up their international responsibility,” he said, adding “the word 'together' is stronger than the word 'alone.’”

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mr. Eliasson pointed out that the UN would be “judged by the real difference we make in the world,” adding: “There is no security without development, no development without security, and no security without respect for human rights.”

He said that while today's global problems need global solutions, they are also local problems. In spite of certain contrary trends, he argued that “there has never been a stronger need for good and effective international solutions and structures; a strong and effective United Nations is in everyone's interest.”

Commenting on his visit to Kibera and the need to translate the Millennium Development Goals into reality by improving the lives of people in need, he said: “We must realize that clean water is a luxury for 1.2 billion people worldwide. We can talk about the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], but we must make them more concrete, in the form of malaria medicines, clean water, toilets and sanitation.”

“We are in a hurry,” he warned. “We have to take the first step towards ensuring security, development and human rights hand in hand.”

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