Nairobi, Kenya

14 December 2006

Secretary-General's message to the Second Summit of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region [delivered by Mr. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa]

It is a great pleasure to send my warmest greetings to the Heads of State and Government and others gathered in Nairobi for this important Summit. I thank President Kibaki and the Government and people of Kenya for hosting this event. I also pay tribute to Chairman Konaré and President Nguesso for their leadership of the African Union, their support for this conference, and their tireless efforts to bring peace to a troubled region.

The Great Lakes Region has witnessed some of the bloodiest wars in the world. The cooperative mechanism embodied by this International Conference reflects the centrality of the regional dimension in finding solutions to the various conflicts. That process has proved to be long and difficult because of the magnitude and complexity of the problems. Still, major positive developments have taken place since the beginning of the process, including elections in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I am encouraged by the commitment to press forward.

The Pact on Security, Stability and Development that you will adopt is notable in that it not only addresses issues related to peace and security, but also gives equal importance to democracy, good governance, economic development, regional integration and humanitarian issues, all of which will help consolidate peace and stability. Moreover, to reach this point, the Conference has also involved civil society, including women and youth, as well as the private sector. The Group of Friends for the Great Lakes Region, co-chaired by Canada and the Netherlands, provided invaluable technical, financial, political and diplomatic support. And the United Nations -- agencies, funds, programmes and my Special Representative, Ibrahima Fall -- have provided expertise and worked closely with the African Union.

But of course, ownership of the process by the core countries themselves remains the key factor. It is you who have defined priorities, and it is you who have found ways to work together. I commend you for the progress that has been achieved. At the same time, we must acknowledge that many challenges lie ahead. The process that has culminated with this Second Summit, is coming to an end. After the adoption of the Pact, a more challenging period will begin –namely, the implementation phase.

It will be vital for the people of the core countries to see the dividends of peace as soon as possible. The Pact is not just a vision; it is a programme of action. Millions of people -- women, youth, refugees, displaced persons and others -- are watching you and watching us, and are awaiting concrete benefits. I call on the countries of the region to continue to show ownership of the process. The Regional Follow-up Mechanism should be established without further delay, and should be functional at the earliest possible date. I also urge donors to stay engaged; their support, through the Group of Friends, has been an admirable show of solidarity with people in need which I hope will continue at this crucial stage.

I also urge you to give equal importance to all four themes of the International Conference. Peace and security will not be consolidated unless we also address the other three major areas identified by the core countries: democracy and good governance, economic development and regional integration, and humanitarian and social issues.

I have strongly supported the International Conference from the very beginning of the process. As outgoing Secretary-General and as an African, I am proud to have been able to assist you and to witness such remarkable achievements. I regret that that the swearing in of my successor has prevented me from being in Nairobi to celebrate this historic day with you. Rest assured that I am with you in spirit. And I am sure that my successor will show similarly strong support, as the region writes a new and more hopeful chapter in its history. Please accept my best wishes for a successful Summit.