Addressing the leaders of South-East Asian countries on the eve of the World Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed the importance of close cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the world.
The outcome of the World Summit, expected to be the largest ever gathering of international leaders at UN Headquarters starting Wednesday, is vital, but much work will be needed later to implement the agreements and find common ground, he told world leaders gathered at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-UN Summit.
"That will require very close cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations," he added, speaking as co-chair with Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia. "I am sure the nations of your dynamic region will make an even greater contribution to the work of the United Nations than they do today."
Mr. Annan noted that although the tsunami had had an impact on broader development goals, many of the ASEAN countries have been enjoying impressive economic growth, and therefore should act as models and invest in other developing countries.
He also asked ASEAN countries to work together to bridge development gaps in the region, and welcomed their work in completing the Jakarta declaration, a region-specific plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash a host of socio-economic ills, such as extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases, by 2015.
Touching on health issues, Mr. Annan urged cooperation towards the goal of scaling up the prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS in the region, and to be especially vigilant in controlling the spread of the avian flu.
Mr. Annan also praised the government of Indonesia and the separatist Free Aceh Movement for ending their conflict in the area and welcomed the work of the Philippine Government to create peace in the southern island of Mindanao with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but urged the government of Myanmar, a country "where political freedoms continue to be unacceptably restricted," to make greater headway in respecting the principles of protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the ASEAN nations pledged cooperation with UN agencies in community-building issues, "in particular poverty eradication and the MDGs, Prevention and control of infectious diseases, disaster management, transnational issues, trade and investment as well as peace and security."
They also expressed outrage at the loss of innocent lives through terrorism, support for building peace, stability, democracy and prosperity, and welcomed the UN's initiatives for reform.