Secretary-General Hails Colombia’s Growing International Importance at Signing of ‘Prosperity Agreement’ for Stronger Partnership with United Nations

13 June 2011

Secretary-General Hails Colombia’s Growing International Importance at Signing of ‘Prosperity Agreement’ for Stronger Partnership with United Nations

13 June 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Hails Colombia’s Growing International Importance at Signing

of ‘Prosperity Agreement’ for Stronger Partnership with United Nations


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the signing ceremony for the “Prosperity Agreement” in Cartagena on 11 June:

First, let me say what an honour it is to visit Colombia.  President [Juan Manuel] Santos, you and your wife have been wonderful hosts.  I regret we cannot stay longer in this beautiful city.  Now I understand better why UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] designated Cartagena as a World Heritage Site in 1984.

The partnership between the United Nations and the Government and people of Colombia is strong and important.  I am pleased, therefore, to be here today to affirm our commitment to making it both stronger and broader.

Yesterday, I was honoured to witness an important agreement between the Government and people of Colombia.  I commend the Government of Colombia on enacting the Victims’ Rights and Land Restitution Law.  This historic bill is a fundamental step towards resolving the conflict the Colombian people have endured for decades.  It has the full support of the United Nations.

The task now, for the Government and State institutions of Colombia, is to implement it – and to implement it with the needs and rights of victims always at the forefront.  The United Nations stands ready to assist, and the strengthened partnership we are announcing today through this “Prosperity Agreement” will help us to do so.

The context for our dialogue and cooperation is the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, under which we are focusing on four areas:  poverty reduction; sustainable development; governance and human rights; and peace, security and reconciliation.  With your Agreement, we are adding a fifth priority, namely humanitarian and emergency assistance.  These are the tools that we will use to help Colombia achieve the Millennium Development Goals and improve welfare for all its citizens.

We live in an era of change.  New economic Powers are emerging, and communications technology is driving rapid social change.  The impacts of climate change are growing ever clearer and disasters are striking with greater force.  Drug trafficking and organized crime syndicates at times seem capable of outgunning legitimate police forces.

No single country or group, however powerful, can deal with such global challenges alone.  That is why we must work in common cause to find common solutions — as partners, as members of the family of nations.

Colombia is an ever more important member of the international community.  You are a United Nations founding member, and have contributed to international peacekeeping missions in Korea, the Sinai Peninsula, Cambodia and El Salvador.  You have an important cooperation programme with Haiti, and you are helping build the rule of law through our MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] Mission.

Last but not least, Colombia is serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  During this period the Council has been deeply engaged in various crises that have important implications for international peace and security and the future of democracy.  The United Nations is benefiting from Colombia’s help.

By the same token, I hope Colombia can benefit from the assistance of the United Nations in building a country and a world that is more sustainable and more equitable.  From melting glaciers to droughts and floods, Colombia is feeling the effects of climate change.

All countries need to follow the path of sustainable development.  Next year world leaders will meet for the “Rio+20” Summit.  President Santos, I will count on your leadership and support.  We need to connect the dots between climate, water, food and energy.  We also need to achieve progress in climate change negotiations.  Otherwise, we will find it hard to reduce poverty or achieve food and nutrition security — for the poor of the world, including Colombia.

Colombia is a country rich in resources and potential, but its rates of poverty and inequality are high.  President Santos and his Government know this cannot continue.  I commend his initiative to have regular dialogues between Government and the people.  You have called these “Prosperity Agreements”.  They bring a sense of ownership and accountability, and the United Nations is happy to join the initiative.

Member States expect results from us.  And citizens expect results from their Governments.  Working together, the United Nations can help the Government of Colombia provide results, especially for Colombia’s most vulnerable people:  justice and restitution for the forcibly displaced; empowerment and equality for women and girls; resilience in the face of climate change; and justice and good governance on which to build a peaceful, stable country.

President Santos, the United Nations is committed to working with you.

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