At a time when most challenges extend well beyond national borders, dynamic partnerships between parliamentarians and international institutions are essential to building a safer and more secure world, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to a gathering of international lawmakers meeting in Santiago, Chile.
"You can help build the national consensus and bridges of international understanding that are necessary for international action," Mr. Annan said in a message scheduled to be delivered by Jose Antonio Ocampo, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to the 108th conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).Today's meeting "ushered in a new era" in the already long-standing cooperation between the UN and the IPU, Mr. Annan said, addressing the group of international lawmakers for the first time since the General Assembly granted the IPU observer status last November. That, he added, was a significant acknowledgment of the important role parliamentarians played in bringing the work of the United Nations closer to the people it serves.
"The reinforcement of the relationship between our two organizations represents an important element in the effort to improve interaction between the United Nations and civil society, the Secretary-General said, noting that the assembly had also supported his intention to establish a Panel of Eminent persons on United Nations Relations with Civil Society, to be chaired by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
"Parliamentarians embody the will of the people who have elected them to speak on their behalf and promote their needs and aspirations," Mr. Annan said, adding that along with supplying a place where "the dynamism of civil society meets the responsibility of governments" to translate ideas into legalization, parliaments also had the power to ensure effective follow-up to international agreements at home.
"For my part," the Secretary-General said, "I will continue my efforts to make the United Nations an institution responsive to the peoples in whose name it was established, and to pursue our engagement with parliamentarians and other actors in civil society."