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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Cuzco, Peru, 12 November 2003 - Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony in Cuzco

Mr. President of the Republic, my good friend, Mr. Carlos Cuaresma Sánchez, [President, Cuzco Regional Government], Mr. Carlos Valencia Miranda, [Mayor, Cuzco], Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your warm words of welcome. I have heard very carefully everything you have said.

It is a great pleasure to be with you today in this beautiful and historic city. Thank you for the very warm welcome you have extended to us. Too often, I find during my travels as Secretary-General, that my visit is confined to a country's official capital. So this is a welcome change of pace.

First of all, it is an opportunity to see, with my own eyes, the riches and legendary sites that make Cuzco a capital, too, in a less official way: a focal point for the country's indigenous peoples; and an archaeological centre that has played such a significant role in shaping the country's character and history. Not surprisingly, it has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. To be in Cuzco is to begin to understand Peru a little better.

Second, I welcome the chance to meet with local authorities. After all, they – you -- are closest to the needs and aspirations of the people. You are the ones people look to for safety in their streets; for basic social services such as shelter, clean water and schools; and for effective, responsive, inclusive governance. So many things in today's world -- trade, finance, communications, pollution, drug trafficking – affect people at the local level, but can only be influenced by action at the global level. Local authorities have a key role to play in bringing the people's everyday concerns to the attention of national and global policy-makers, and in mobilizing people to implement the policies once they are decided.

And third, I am glad to be here because Cuzco has much to offer the world, and I want to encourage you to maintain your admirable engagement with the urgent issues of our time. I am referring, for example, to the contributions that the heritage, knowledge and traditions of indigenous peoples of Peru – and the indigenous everywhere -- can make to the world's quest for sustainable development, as was recognized in the plan of action adopted last year at the Johannesburg conference. Or the eagerness and ease with which you host meetings of international significance, which contribute to the global debate on democracy, social exclusion and other key issues. The past may be an important presence here, but Cuzco also has its eyes on the future.

So it is an honour indeed to be declared both an “illustrious visitor” to this city, and an “honourable guest” of the Cuzco region, and to receive the Cuzco Regional Medal. I know you are not only honouring me. You are also honouring and paying tribute to the United Nations. Thank you for this recognition and for your strong commitment to the Organization's global mission of peace, development and human rights. At these difficult times for Peru, and for the whole international community, in this era of both risk and opportunity, that kind of partnership gives hope for achieving our common goal of a better world for all people.

Let me assure you that my wife and I will come back. We are now illustrious guest, and we will come back.

Muchas gracias.


Statements on 12 November 2003