Secretary-General Kofi Annan today officially opened the new United Nations House in Barbados, where UN agencies will consolidate their efforts to support not only that country but nine other States in the region.
Speaking before assembled dignitaries at the opening ceremony, the Secretary-General said the idea of a house of all nations held together by a common structure "helps us to visualize the very concept upon which the United Nations was built."
By serving 10 countries in the eastern Caribbean, Mr. Annan said the Barbados UN House "symbolizes the great potential and realities of regional cooperation and integration in an interdependent world."
At the same time, he called attention to the many challenges facing Caribbean countries, including declining development assistance, frequent natural disasters and the negative impact of global climate change. "And you are vulnerable to external economic shocks in key areas such as agriculture and tourism - indeed as we have seen happen in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States," he said.
"Let us not be daunted by the complexity of these issues, or by the global forces at work in today's world," the Secretary-General said, noting that Caribbean countries had achieved high levels of development. "This is progress on which you can and must build."
Looking to the broader context, he pointed out that the Caribbean countries - which faced "in concentrated form" many of the main environmental and developmental problems now unfolding - could "guide the way to a brighter future for all peoples."
Mr. Annan also pledged the UN's support in helping countries of the region implement the goals set out in the UN Millennium Declaration in 2000. "Ultimately, however, it is Governments that bear the main responsibility for action," he said. "So I hope you, too, will do everything in your power to muster the will and resources needed."
The new state-of-the-art premises house offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). The Barbados UN House will function under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, Rosina Wiltshire.