Fighting poverty in Guatemala is key to success of peace process: Annan

Fighting poverty in Guatemala is key to success of peace process: Annan

While much has been achieved in Guatemala, the poverty and discrimination facing large sectors of the population threaten the gains of the country's peace process, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a just issued report to the General Assembly on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).

Drawing attention to the "lack of equity in employment opportunities, lack of gender equity, ethnic discrimination, lack of access to basic services," the Secretary-General says resolving these matters is the basic prerequisite for guaranteeing peace and "eliminating the considerable potential for conflict that still characterizes Guatemalan society."

The Government, Mr. Annan writes, must demonstrate its political will to implement the commitments it made under the peace agreements, which will ensure the irreversibility of the process and help restore public confidence by allowing citizens to enjoy the benefits of peace. The authorities must also mobilize greater national resources for the implementations of the agreements - for example by increasing tax collections - and strengthen a number of forums that were created by the peace agreements and still have a central role to play.

The reform of the judicial system and State intelligence agencies, as well as the transformation of the armed forces and the integration of indigenous professionals in the administration of justice, are other areas where more rapid progress is needed, according to the report.

Turning to the role of the international community, the Secretary-General calls for an increase in technical cooperation with institutions set up as part of the peace process. "All those institutions must be strengthened, especially in the country's interior where it is more urgent that the effects of peace should be felt and where they should be more tangible," the report states.