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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 26 September 2011 - Secretary-General's Remarks at the Ministerial Meeting of the Least Developed Countries [As delivered]

Your Excellency, Foreign Minister [Narayan Kaji] Shrestha of Nepal,

Your Excellency [Nassir Abdulaziz] Al-Nasser President of the General Assembly,

Your Excellency Foreign Minister [Ahmet] Davutoðlu of Turkey,

Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We meet at a time of crisis and uncertainty, especially for the world's poorest countries and people.

Famine in the Horn of Africa threatens more than 13 million individuals, including a generation of children.

Drought, desertification and land degradation afflict scores of countries.

Diseases ravage the health of people and economies.

These are challenges for all countries - but the least developed are also least able to cope in response.

As you know all too well, more than half of all people in LDCs live in extreme poverty.

But we should not see these countries only as weak. We should view them as reservoirs of untapped strength. This was my message to the Fourth UN LDCs Conference in Istanbul last May.

When we invest in LDCs, we stimulate their development and contribute to global economic growth.

These countries are rich in resources.

Not just commodities that deserve a fair price on international markets, but people who deserve opportunities to reach their potential and contribute to society.

The Istanbul Programme of Action is a development compact. If all partners meet their commitments we can reach our goals.

I am doing all that I can to enable the United Nations to better serve the world's least developed countries.

Just this week, we had high-level meetings on major issues affecting LDCs: women's and children's health, nutrition, non-communicable diseases and preventive diplomacy.

Even as we push to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, we are looking beyond 2015. We already know that the next generation of development targets must more prominently reflect the sustainability dimension.

Our discussions at next year's Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be critical.

I am counting on all of you to help make Rio a success.

Excellencies,

Recently, we marked a sad anniversary at the United Nations – 50 years since my esteemed predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, was killed while on a mission to the Congo.

Hammarskjöld lived by his belief that the United Nations should be a servant of the smaller, less powerful States – not a tool of the great powers.

“The Organization,” he said, “is first of all their Organization, and I deeply believe in the wisdom with which they will be able to use it and guide it.”

The world has changed dramatically since Hammarskjöld's time, but our mission to serve the world's poorest countries and peoples remains the same.

The Charter itself reaffirms “the equal rights of nations large and small.” Let us work together until these rights are realized in all countries and for all peoples.

Thank you.


Statements on 26 September 2011