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UN, national parliaments must cooperate to foster democracy – Annan

UN, national parliaments must cooperate to foster democracy – Annan

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is advocating closer cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments in ensuring the rule of democracy and the consequent furtherance of world peace.

“We help nascent democracies to conduct elections and promote transparent, accountable governance,” he told the 114th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Nairobi, Kenya, in a message delivered yesterday by Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Fund for International Partnerships.

“We work with countries emerging from a violent past to build democratic institutions and strengthen civil society. In the developing world, we assist one of every three parliaments. We do this because the state of democracy in our world is everybody's business.”

Democracy, he said, “enables internal disputes to be resolved through political means, reducing the appeal of violent extremism.”

Mr. Annan noted the important reforms that have taken place at the UN since the last IPU meeting, including the establishment of an enhanced Human Rights Council, the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission to assist countries emerging from conflict and the launch of a UN Democracy Fund, to reinforce the work of the UN system in democracy-building.

He also cited the introduction of wide-ranging management reforms to enable the UN to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.

“With these and other measures, we are continuing our efforts to build a more effective instrument of service to humankind,” he declared.

He noted that last year’s UN World Summit called for strengthened ties between the UN and national and regional parliaments, in particular through the IPU.

“Member States recognized that the involvement of parliaments is crucial if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and implement the Summit’s decisions, he said referring to the set of targets set by the Millennium Summit of 2000 to slash a host of socio-economic ills such as extreme poverty and hunger, infants and maternal mortality, and lack of access to education and health care – all by 2015.