Qingdao, China

10 June 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the Plenary Session of the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
It is my great pleasure to be here with you in the beautiful city of Qingdao. 
 
With the accession of India and Pakistan, representing the first formal expansion since 2001, SCO is assuming even greater importance and your expanded range of activities will have implications for peace, stability, and prosperity across the region and far beyond. You represent more than half of humanity, and you are playing a growing role in shaping the global agenda, based on cooperation and dialogue.
 
The world needs a recommitment to multilateralism, and we need it now.
 
As the Secretary-General said in April at the Boao Forum for Asia, “Global problems need global, multilateral solutions.”
 
Regional and international threats to security and stability, from transnational crime to climate change to violent extremism and terrorism, cannot be resolved by any one country alone.
 
Only our joint commitment, firmly grounded in respect for human rights and the rule of law, will build and strengthen the cooperation needed to respond to such challenges.
 
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SCO’s Development Strategy 2025 are our blueprints for joint action.
 
I am pleased to note that the Joint Communique following the 16th Meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council last year underscores the consistent implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
 
This is an important step toward strengthening cooperation in key sectors of mutual interest such as trade, energy, transport, investment, agriculture and telecommunications, to name but a few.
 
Your joint commitment to support the promotion of innovative technology; to sharing experiences in the formulation and implementation of national development strategies, as well as to working together towards the creation of a favourable investment and business climate are crucial and we are here to support you in those endeavours.
 
To ensure a fair globalisation, we must ensure nations are able to have the necessary domestic resources and capacities to steer their economies and development agendas towards our common goals as outlined by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
 
In this vein, inclusive, sustainable development based around democratic institutions and the rule of law, with peaceful channels to address grievances and space for civil society, are the proven routes to preventing conflict and violent extremism.
 
The empowerment of women and girls and harnessing the imagination and talent of our youth have a critical role to play in creating stable and resilient communities and societies.
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Openness and partnership between countries can make a critical contribution to strengthening security and bringing about prosperity. 
 
Today, it is encouraging to see positive regional dynamics in Central Asia and closer interaction among countries.
 
I commend the SCO’s commitment to counter regional threats and welcome the 2017 Convention on Countering Extremism.
 
I also commend your revitalization of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, as a strong contribution to support the Afghan-led peace process, and an acknowledgment that peace in Afghanistan is essential to stability and prosperity across the region.
 
New horizons are opening for diplomacy - the United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia is your close and reliable partner in these efforts.
 
At the same time, the Belt and Road initiative is promoting connectivity, economic prosperity and diplomatic ties across the region.
 
Over the past four years, several major joint infrastructure projects have been completed in SCO Member States that have improved conditions for cross-border cooperation and boosted development capacity, such as the Peshawar-Karachi motorway project in Pakistan and Kazakhstan’s Astana light rail project. The soon-to-be completed 9,400 kilometer Lianyungang-Kazakhstan-Russia-Saint-Petersburg road corridor, on the other hand is set to become the major transport axis connecting the Eurasian continent.
 
The UN continues to support stronger collaboration between developing countries by catalyzing, brokering and facilitating South-South cooperation across many spheres.
 
As we prepare for the second High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires in March next year, we count on the continued strong support and engagement of the SCO and its Member States.
 
We also count on your support and engagement in the Secretary-General’s ambitious programme to reform the United Nations. As the demands on the United Nations change, the Secretary-General is determined to make our Organization fit for the future.
 
Reform of the UN development system was adopted by the General Assembly last month, and there are ongoing efforts to update the United Nations management system and peace and security architecture. These are aimed at making the United Nations more effective, and delivering better results for the people we serve. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Relations between the SCO and the United Nations, based on the Joint Declaration signed in 2010, provide a solid foundation for future cooperation to benefit of people of this region and the world.
 
Let us take every opportunity, starting with the first-ever UN Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies later this month, to build and strengthen our partnership and cooperation at the global, regional and local level.
 
The United Nations is committed to working with you towards our shared goal. of creating an inclusive, resilient, peaceful and sustainable future for everyone, everywhere- ensuring no one in left behind.
 
I look forward to a successful summit and deliberations.
 
Thank you.