New York

04 May 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at high-level General Assembly debate on Strengthening Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations

I thank General Assembly President Sam Kutesa for convening this important thematic debate. And I also welcome the participation of H.E. President of the Republic of [Uganda], President [Yoweri] Museveni, for his leadership and taking time to participate in this meeting.

I am very encouraged to welcome so many presidents, so many ministers and  senior national officials and heads of regional and subregional organizations here today.

There is a great deal of collective expertise in this room. You have worked on the frontlines of regional cooperation – on economic integration, joint peace activities and more.

Such high-level participation sends a strong message about how much we value cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.

I have spoken directly to virtually all of the organizations represented here.

Over the last few days - during the weekend - I hosted a retreat with the leaders of a number of regional and sub-regional organizations to strengthen our cooperation on peace and security.

We took a hard look at the challenges we face – and we renewed our resolve to forge solutions.

We will continue to engage in this strategic dialogue at the highest level – and to take action on the ground that makes a meaningful difference in people’s [lives].

This High Level meeting is another reflection of that commitment, and I am very glad that our retreat over the weekend is now continuing, with the participation of at least twenty heads of regional organizations, and I thank you for your participation again. 

Conflict, poverty, violence, exclusion and disasters are grave and growing problems. Too many communities are battered by all of these problems at once.

The international community is supposed to care for our most vulnerable members – but too often we fail.

Look at the tragedy in Syria. The deaths of more than 220,000 people – and the trauma of millions of others – show how far we are from realizing the vision of our Charter.

But in this 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can still declare that the world is much safer thanks to this Organization.

2015 is a milestone year. We will complete the Millennium Development Goals. We are forging a bold vision for sustainable development, including a set of sustainable development goals. And we are aiming for a new, universal climate agreement.

The United Nations will squarely examine our operations – and how we can improve them. I look forward to the recommendations of the Review of Peace Operations and the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture. These should aim to help us better confront threats.

Regional partners have [already] improved our effectiveness.

But now we have to do more to answer the cries of millions of people who deserve full dignity and true equality.

No country is immune to global threats – and no one country, no matter how powerful, can respond alone.

The Ebola crisis, the tragedy of migrants dying at sea, the international drug trade, organized crime and the rise of violent extremism all show the urgent need for a collective response.

Millions of lives are at stake.

That is why I am doing everything possible to enable the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations to boost our cooperation, build on our strengths and pool our limited resources. 

Very often, in times of crisis, I turn to you, the heads of regional organizations.

I may ask for resources, diplomacy or collective action, depending on the situation. And I always ask for your solidarity in advancing our common values.

With your engagement, we have achieved real results.

The collaboration between the United Nations and our regional partners is richer and more diverse than ever before.

We have set up lines of communications. We have developed common strategies. We have launched joint programmes. Our relationships have gained new dimensions. And this has enhanced our ability to serve the world’s people.

In conflict prevention and mediation, we have shown how working together increases our powers of persuasion to press parties to make peace.

Our stronger partnerships in peacekeeping have bolstered UN support especially to African-led operations on the ground.

Regional organizations are helping to shape the post-2015 development agenda – and I count on them to help the world reach the sustainable development goals.

Our long-standing partnerships have also reinforced collective efforts to defend human rights and uphold the values of the United Nations Charter.

Citizens of the world are more connected, forward-looking and informed than ever before.

We owe it to them to rise to the challenges of our times with open communications, outward focus and our collective commitment to human rights, global progress and lasting peace.

Thank you very much.