I am honoured to address the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I appreciate the hospitality and friendship of the people of Tajikistan.
I also congratulate the SCO on the 10th anniversary of the creation of the SCO Secretariat in Beijing and the Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure in Tashkent. In creating a forum conducive to cooperation in a region that has faced historical animosities and challenges, you took an important step forward. I look forward to a strengthened UN-SCO partnership in the years ahead.
One of the most important issues on our shared agenda is the security transition in Afghanistan and the drawdown of international forces by the end of the current year. The SCO and its Member States have demonstrated their commitment on issues vital for Afghanistan's peaceful and stable future, including through the Istanbul Process. By addressing threats of terrorism and drug trafficking, and tackling the illicit economy, these efforts are strengthening security. For these efforts to be effective and sustainable, it is critical that they are underpinned by respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. By investing in infrastructure and expanding trade, you are contributing to economic growth in Afghanistan and bringing benefits to the region. By providing a platform for cooperation, with Afghanistan as an Observer, the SCO is deepening the ties among its members.
The United Nations, in line with Chapter VIII of the Charter, attaches great importance to cultivating close ties with regional and sub-regional organizations. In recent years, a number of documents have been signed that give shape and substance to this relationship, including the Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed by our two Secretariats in 2010, a memoranda of understanding between the SCO and United Nations agencies including UNDP, UNODC and ESCAP. Cooperation is also strong between the SCO and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), based in Ashgabat. I am pleased that the SCO is participating in the joint project being executed by UNRCCA and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force in support of implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.
Across the global agenda, from peace and security to human rights, from sustainable development to climate change, this is a time of turmoil but also one of great opportunity. The United Nations stands ready to working more closely with the SCO to achieve a stable and prosperous region. Please accept my best wishes for fruitful discussions at this summit.