|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
UNITED NATIONS, ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE ARE NATURAL ALLIES
IN CONFRONTING GLOBAL ISSUES, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS LEADERS AT SUMMIT
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the eleventh Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Dakar, today, 13 March:
It is an honour for me to be with you today on the occasion of the eleventh Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Allow me first of all to thank our host country for its warm and generous hospitality.
We are meeting in Dakar at a difficult time for the Islamic world. For several years the international community has been paying close attention to the events taking place in the member countries of OIC, from the situation in Iraq and the crisis in Darfur to the suffering that continues in the occupied Palestinian territories.
As the most important and the most progressive organization of the Islamic world, OIC has a special legitimacy. You express the aspirations and concerns of over one fifth of humanity. You represent their link to the international community. And you are a key partner of the United Nations in its efforts to promote international peace and cooperation.
I am happy that the links between our two organizations are stronger than ever. OIC and the United Nations have joined forces in many areas: in defending economic and social justice, in working for human rights, in promoting better understanding between cultures and religions and, of course, in strengthening peace and security.
As recently as last November, we jointly organized the international conference “Terrorism: Dimensions, Threats and Counter-Measures” in Tunis, under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Tunisia.
The United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference stand side by side in rejecting forcefully and wholeheartedly any linkages between terrorism and Islam. You have spoken up against those who seek to justify violence in the name of religion. Your efforts reinforce the UN’s own steps to promote tolerance and understanding through the Alliance of Civilizations initiative and I look forward to increasing UN-OIC collaboration in this area.
Excellencies, our partnership is desirable –- indeed necessary –- on many other matters as well. As we meet, the situation in the Middle East remains precarious, nowhere more so than in the Gaza Strip. Let me use this opportunity to once again urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority, together with their regional partners and the Quartet, to take urgent measures to ease the suffering in Gaza and give hope to its people.
As I told the Security Council when I briefed them earlier this month, Israel’s disproportionate and excessive use of force has killed and injured many civilians, including children. I condemn these actions and call on Israel to cease such attacks. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise utmost restraint.
At the same time, I also condemn the rocket attacks directed against Israel and call for the immediate cessation of such acts. They serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians and bring misery to the Palestinian people.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Lebanon remains in the grip of an intense political crisis centred on the election to the country’s presidency, which has lain vacant for more than three months. I regret that regional interests and domestic Lebanese dynamics have forestalled any breakthrough.
In nearby Iraq, the United Nations is working hard to promote political dialogue, while assisting with pressing humanitarian and reconstruction needs. The United Nations is working closely with the Iraqi leadership to achieve progress. I urge you all to support the UN’s efforts, and to help bring lasting peace to the Iraqi people.
With regard to Iran’s nuclear programme, I welcome the continued dialogue between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is essential that Iran complies with the relevant Security Council resolutions and with all of its commitments under the work plan. I am convinced that the nuclear issues with Iran can and should be resolved peacefully through diplomatic and political means.
Beyond the Middle East, the distressing situation in Sudan, especially in West Darfur, demands urgent international attention. I have prioritized the deployment of UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] as an important step towards stabilizing the situation within Darfur, and towards reducing the likelihood of this conflict unsettling the broader subregion.
However, UNAMID’s deployment is no substitute for a political process. That remains the key to lasting peace in the region.
The OIC is well placed to support this process; you can utilize your considerable influence on behalf of a lasting peace within, and between, Chad and Sudan. As you do so, the UN will continue to do everything it can to help end the suffering in the region.
Within the broader region, Somalia is another country where progress appears possible and must be made. The security and humanitarian situation in the country is dire. Yet the recent willingness shown by both the Government and opposition groups to enter into dialogue without conditions represents the most promising opportunity for international intervention in 17 years. We have to seize it. Later this month, I will report to the Security Council on a comprehensive approach for United Nations engagement in Somalia.
Active and sustained engagement between our two Organizations remains vital to address pressing issues of peace and security.
Already, our joint economic, cultural and social projects are yielding significant dividends for OIC member States. I am determined to continue down this path.
Our Organizations have a strong shared interest in addressing extreme poverty and in improving the lives of the poorest of the world’s poor. Many of these “bottom billion” live in OIC member countries, and I have called for 2008 to be a year when we dedicate ourselves to their needs and welfare.
Progress on this front depends in part on re-energizing efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which range from the effort to end poverty to ensuring dramatic improvements in maternal health. Midway to the MDG target date of 2015, we have reached a tipping point. Urgent and concerted action now can help make up for wasted time and effort.
Monday this week, the MDG Africa Steering Group included in its recommendations that African countries, with the international community, step up efforts to achieve critical targets such as gender parity in education, improved family planning services, and reduced child and maternal mortality rates.
In September, together with the President of the General Assembly, I will convene a high-level event on the MDGs in New York. I trust it will help reinforce the partnership between developed and developing countries, and to focus attention, at the very highest level, on the needs of the poorest of the poor.
This brief overview underlines the fact that we face daunting challenges on many fronts. The OIC and the United Nations are natural allies in confronting these issues, and in furthering the cause of security, human rights and development across the world.
That is why I feel privileged to join you today. I will keep working to strengthen the operational relationship between the United Nations and the OIC. By pooling our resources and reinforcing our efforts, we can advance in ways that would not be possible on our own. Together, we can take on great challenges and achieve great things for the peoples of the United Nations.
* *** *
* Reissued to include text translated from French.