Secretary-General Kofi Annan today pledged the support of the United Nations to the Pacific Island Forum - a regional group of States that opened a week-long meeting today in the small coral nation of Nauru.
"The United Nations will continue to be your partner in your efforts to achieve your goals and our common vision of a peaceful and prosperous twenty-first century," Mr. Annan said in a message delivered on his behalf by Beng Yong Chew, Deputy Director of the UN's Asia and Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs.
Noting that several countries in the region had yet to fully recover from the 1997 economic crisis which rocked the region, the Secretary-General said this was "a reminder of the need for continued cooperation in the economic and financial spheres."
Looking to the broader context, Mr. Annan pointed out that in today's world, problems must be tackled comprehensively. "The challenges we face in an age of globalization oblige us to work together not only on the economic front, but also on social and environmental issues, and in the area of peace and security," he observed.
The Secretary-General also underscored the growing links between the Forum and the UN, pointing out that earlier this year, for the first time, the world organization had taken part in meetings of the Forum's Regional Security Committee in Fiji.
He said the deployment of a UN Electoral Observation Mission for the general elections to be held in Fiji later this month "was yet another manifestation of the commitment of the United Nations to do its part to promote peace and democratic governance in this region."
The Pacific Islands Forum, which meets annually, brings together Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Nauru meeting is set to run through 22 August in the capital, Yaren.