It is a pleasure to greet all the participants in this important meeting.
Central America’s Northern Triangle has much to be proud of.
Not long ago, El Salvador and Guatemala were grappling with devastating armed conflicts. More recently, Honduras overcame a significant institutional crisis. The three countries have come a long way toward strengthening democracy and the rule of law within their borders. Peaceful and democratic elections are held regularly. Civil society is increasingly organized and willing to participate constructively in political life. Laudable progress has been made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are active members of the United Nations and play a strong role when it comes to shaping the multilateral agenda.
Nevertheless, the Northern Triangle still faces daunting challenges. Just like epidemics and climate change, scourges like organized crime and drug trafficking do not respect national borders. States cannot face them alone. They can only hope to overcome them by cooperating with each other, sharing experiences and resources, and building capacity together.
As we have already heard tonight, the leaders of the Northern Triangle have recognized that. They have agreed that their individual national interests are best served by coming together to work on regional solutions to regional problems. This sort of inter-State cooperation is exactly what the United Nations seeks to promote across the world.
One year ago, the President of Honduras and Foreign Ministers of El Salvador and Guatemala presented me with the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle. Last January, during my visit to El Salvador and Honduras, I saw firsthand why the plan was important and how it could be used to improve the lives of people in the region.
The plan arose out of a highly troubling context. When I visited Central America last January, I agreed with the leaders that they needed to address the root causes of the violence that was causing their youngest citizens to abandon their homelands. I voiced my support for the plan’s aims to strengthen institutions, encourage respect for human rights, tackle corruption, uphold the rule of law and create opportunities for youth.
The Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity is a significant step in the right direction and deserves strong financial and technical support from the international community. The United Nations system has been closely following the plan as it has been developing.
I was heartened to receive an updated and more detailed version from the Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in April of this year during the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
The United Nations is looking into how it can best assist with implementation through its Country Teams. Offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Northern Triangle have also put together a portfolio of potential projects that could be undertaken within the framework of the plan – in areas such as citizen security, migration, job creation, and good governance. We see much potential for United Nations bodies to contribute to the plan’s objectives, thereby strengthening its impact and ensuring a better and more secure future for the people of Central America.