On the final day of his official visit to Nicaragua, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today received the Pedro Joaquin Chamorro award at the National Assembly in the capital city of Managua, where he had met yesterday with the country’s President, Enrique Bolaños.
Speaking to the press after their meeting on Thursday, Mr. Annan said that 80 per cent of his discussion with the President was on the vision for economic development of Nicaragua and what the UN and its agencies would do to help.
“I have indicated to the President that the UN agencies here are doing what they can, but we will redouble our efforts to work with the President and the Government and we have discussed some specific things that we will be doing,” Mr. Annan said. “We are committed and in fact we know that peace is not sustainable if you do not deal with the economic and social environment.”
Looking ahead to next week’s International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, the Secretary-General said he expected the poorest countries to come there prepared to participate fully. “We will be discussing issues of great concern to them, and their voices must be heard,” he stressed, adding that the forum would focus on effective and credible debt relief and the involvement of poor nations in decisions affecting the global economy and its management.
“We will also talk about corruption, the need for developing countries to get their act together, strengthen their institutions and tackle corruption very seriously,” Mr. Annan said. While noting that he did not mean to imply that corruption “is all on the side of the poor,” he emphasized that there was a need to “tackle corruption quite seriously.”
The Secretary-General’s programme on Friday included a tour of a water supply and sanitation project, supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union, which had been set up to address the needs of some 15,000 people following the effects of Hurricane Mitch.
Mr. Annan visited the site with his wife, Nane, who is working on a new children’s book on the world’s water problems. Highlighting the importance of the project, Mrs. Annan noted that a billion people in the world did not have access to safe drinking water while two billion lacked proper sanitation. “You know what that means,” she said, “and you have done something about it.”
The Secretary-General is scheduled to leave Nicaragua on Friday for an official visit to Costa Rica over the weekend.