08 November 2007

Address to the XVII Ibero-American Summit

Ban Ki-moon

Our very mission for peace, development and human rights depends on fostering inclusive societies that are stable, safe, just and tolerant – societies that respect diversity, equality of opportunity and participation of all.

Madam President,
Your Majesty,
President Vasquez,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Secretary-General Iglesias,
ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be with you. Let me thank our hosts, President Bachelet and the Government and people of Chile, for their warm welcome and kind hospitality.

And let me thank all of you for the steadfast support you extend to the United Nations, and to me as Secretary-General.

Regional and other intergovernmental processes such as this are indispensable partners of the UN. As a grouping of 22 Heads of State and Government, the Ibero-American Summit is a key forum for discussion on challenges of our time.

At this summit, you have chosen an important and timely topic as your theme: “Social cohesion and social policy to create more inclusive societies in Latin America”. It is a theme that cuts across all the challenges of our globalizing age. It is also one which is intimately linked with the work of the United Nations around the world. Our very mission for peace, development and human rights depends on fostering inclusive societies that are stable, safe, just and tolerant -- societies that respect diversity, equality of opportunity and participation of all.

There are many examples. Social cohesion is crucial to efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals -- our common vision for building a better world in the 21st century. We cannot meet our goals on hunger, poverty, education, environment and health, if economic growth benefits a few while many others are woefully left behind.

Equally, on the issue of migration, social cohesion is fundamental. It is central to the UN's efforts to make migration work for the benefit of the world's people, as was discussed at our Global Forum on Migration and Development last July. The Ibero-American countries have an unrivalled understanding of the migration experience -- of how it shapes and impacts societies and identities, and how, in turn, societies in turn can shape the impact of migration. Your expertise on this is an invaluable resource for the international community as a whole.

Social cohesion is integral to our endeavours to uphold indigenous rights -- a mission where your region has unsurpassed experience and has demonstrated unrivalled commitment. We reached a milestone last September when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. So many of your countries were absolutely crucial in making that happen. I am equally heartened now by your eagerness to see the Declaration implemented on the ground.

Likewise, social cohesion goes to the heart of the work behind the landmark Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last December. Some of your countries -- including Ecuador, Mexico and Panama -- were at the forefront of the work to make the Convention a reality. The world thanks you for your contribution.

Finally, and crucially at this time in the life of our planet, social cohesion is essential to addressing the threat of climate change. When societies rally together in recognition that this a challenge that no sector can take on alone -- that is when we see real progress. We have sent his happen in several of your countries – from Meso-America to Brazil. I salute you for your leadership.

Globally, in the past year, climate change has moved to the centre of the global political arena with more urgency and intensity than any issue we can remember. There is now momentum for stronger global action, and recognition that the United Nations is the forum for reaching agreement. We received an additional push from the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize for establishing beyond doubt that climate change is happening, and that much of it is caused by human activity.

This momentum will reach its apex next month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali. I hope we are heading for a breakthrough there. Many leaders have issued a strong call for negotiations to begin on a future comprehensive multilateral agreement beyond 2012. The essential parameters of such a global framework are increasingly clear. They include enhanced leadership by industrialized countries on emission reductions; incentives for developing countries to act, but without sacrificing economic growth or poverty reduction; increased support for adaptation in developing countries; strengthened technology development and dissemination; and new approaches to financing mechanisms. The Bali Conference will provide a unique opportunity to add substance to this vision.


Climate change and the environment are at the very top of my agenda as Secretary-General. I am making it the focus of my tour of this region.

Over the next few days, I will have the privilege of visiting some of the most precious treasures of our planet. Antarctica, the Torres del Paine Glaciers, the Amazon -- these are treasures of which you are the custodians, but for which we must all assume responsibility on behalf of succeeding generations.

I am grateful to all of you for your commitment to our shared mission, and I wish you a most stimulating conference.

Muchas gracias. Muito obrigado. Thank you very much.