Tunis, Tunisia

15 September 2014

Secretary-General's message to ESCWA 28th Ministerial Session [delivered by ESCWA Executive Secretary Ms. Rima Khalaf]

I am pleased to convey my greetings to all those gathered for the 28th Ministerial Session of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.  I thank President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and the people of Tunisia for hosting this important gathering. 
You have come together to focus on the theme of “Social Justice in the Arab Region”. 
From Morocco to Iraq and from Sudan to Tunisia, over 400 million citizens call the Arab region home.  Their voice and demands are resoundingly clear: a more just society and a shared, prosperous future founded on respect for fundamental human rights.
Yet like much of the world, the region faces many obstacles: poverty, geographic disparity, inequitable distribution of social services, unemployment and exclusion.  Conflict in its many forms throughout the region only serves to compound the social justice challenge.
Social justice rests on the fundamental values of equality, equity, rights and participation. But it cannot become an enduring reality without good governance, accountability and broad citizen engagement in decision-making. 
This Ministerial Session provides an opportunity to exchange views, forge consensus and harmonize approaches.  As the international community works to develop a new framework for sustainable development for the coming years, your discussions and the ongoing work of ESCWA will help ensure that local and national considerations feed into the Arab regional perspective and enrich the global effort to meet this vital goal.
Thank you for your commitment.  My best wishes for a successful and productive meeting.