15 September 2008


15 September 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the twelfth meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism, in Beirut, 13 September:

It is an honour to be in Beirut and to participate in the twelfth Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting.  It gives me particular pleasure, as it is my first time to visit this remarkable country.  Allow me to express my gratitude to the Government of Lebanon and its people for hosting the seat of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the larger United Nations family.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Arab region is one of vast historical and cultural richness.  Today this wealth is, in many cases, complemented by economic prosperity.

The region is emerging as a true leader in development -- from burgeoning intraregional investment in infrastructure to energy security.  The Arab countries -- and people -- are doing more and more to contribute to one another’s development.

You are matching this regional engagement with support for development around the world and becoming true South-South partners at a time when cooperation is vital to the advancement of humanity.  You have given fulsome support to global initiatives such as the fight against human trafficking.  You have demonstrated active leadership in technical cooperation with other regions, even as you face your own challenges here at home.  You are an inspiration.

Undoubtedly, your regional solidarity is a key asset as your countries endeavour to deal with the myriad of challenges they face.  Indeed, while the region is home to some of the most prosperous countries in the world, some of its members are among the most poverty-stricken.  This region accounts for 8 out of the 10 most water-scarce countries in the world and, paradoxically, for more than 66 per cent of global oil reserves.

The disparities impact on the region’s response to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as reflected in the report on the attainment of MDGs in the Arab region (The Millennium Development Goals in the Arab Region 2007 Report).

Gulf Cooperation Countries are on track to meeting the majority of the Goals and this is a remarkable feat by any measure.  Yet, on the other hand, Arab least developed countries, particularly those enduring conflict -- Iraq, Palestine and Sudan -- are lagging significantly behind.

It is unlikely they will meet the majority of the targets by 2015.  This finding strongly supports the consensus underpinning the 2005 World Summit -- there can be no peace without development, and no development without peace.  It also underscores the urgency of focusing on the poorest and countries with special needs.

In all your regional endeavours to attain lasting prosperity, rest assured you have support at the very highest level of the United Nations.  As you know, Secretary-General Ban has made the achievement of the MDGs a priority of his tenure.  Together with the President of the General Assembly, he will convene a high-level event on the MDGs in New York on 25 September.  The event will take stock of achievements, identify challenges and seek commitments towards accelerating progress in meeting the goals.  This commitment is required of everyone without exception -- Governments, the private sector and civil society alike.

Many of today’s emerging challenges cross several boundaries -- from climate change to the food crisis, from HIV and AIDS to water resources.  They all require collective and cross-boundary solutions.  By promoting a region-specific approach to development, by stepping up regional integration, United Nations agencies working in the Arab world can do so much to address these challenges and link global commitments with national action plans.

This requires the United Nations family to work together, to plan together and advocate together, building on our respective comparative advantages.  The Secretary-General and I share a vision of an integrated United Nations family that is able to solve problems and an administration focused on achieving common goals.  A coherent family that is better able to meet the expectations of Member States and the people who count on us all around the world.  We count on your energy, your vision and commitment to achieve this goal.

It is encouraging that all the relevant United Nations agencies in the region are represented here.  I commend you all for your strong commitment and continuous efforts to support Member States in their work to meet the developmental goals to which they have committed.

I am also pleased that a session of this meeting is devoted to strengthening coordination between the Regional Coordination Mechanism and the Regional Directors’ Team.  This is an important step in the ongoing reform towards thinking strategically together as a United Nations family on the development challenges of the region and, yes together, charting a coherent course for meeting them.

Equally, United Nations regional offices need to strengthen partnerships with other subregional and regional groups.  The League of Arab States is represented here; this is important.  Our respective institutions share a common vision for development in the Arab region.  They have reaffirmed their desire to build a strong partnership in tackling political, economic and social challenges.

The General Assembly has proposed that our alliance can be enhanced further by the League of Arab States becoming an official member of the Regional Coordination Mechanism.

I am also here today to stress the importance and urgency the Secretary-General and I place on promoting system-wide coherence in development work:

At the global level, the Chief Executive Board is taking the lead in proactively coordinating policy to tackle emerging global challenges such as climate change and food security.  The Executive Committees on Development (UNDG), Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Peace and Security (ECPS) have, since 1997, provided coordinated support to the Secretary-General in delivering the United Nations mandate in these principal spheres of its work.

At the country level, as you all know, we have initiated eight “Delivering as One” pilots under the United Nations resident coordinator system.  The initial lessons learned show that, by being more coherent, we are more efficient and effective, and in turn better able to serve the Member States.

And at the regional level, the Regional Coordination Mechanism -- you my dear friends -- are setting the normative foundation upon which the United Nations can make a difference.  Tailored to the specific circumstances of each region, you are setting the pace in how we anticipate, plan and respond to common socio-economic priorities.  You are the ties that bind us together, enabling the United Nations to respond coherently and effectively.

The challenges before us require our persistent collective thinking.  This twelfth meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism provides a platform to benefit from each other’s experiences.  I look forward to fruitful discussions.  Thank you very much.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.