Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today laid out a four-point agenda for cooperation on issues ranging from security to development between the United Nations and the largest regional security organization in the world, embracing 56 States stretching from the United States across Europe and Central Asia to the borders of China.
“The United Nations stands with you as we seek to make this world a safer, more just and more prosperous place for all,” he told leaders gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan, for the first summit meeting in 11 years of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Detailing the four pillars of the agenda – securing peace, fundamental freedoms and human rights, sustainable development, and arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation – Mr. Ban noted that the UN and the OSCE share the conviction that security is not a narrow concept but must be addressed in all its dimensions with a comprehensive approach in an increasingly globalized, complex and connected world.
On securing peace, he cited the close cooperation between the organizations in helping to stem unrest in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year and called for greater OSCE involvement in supporting Afghan national programmes and priorities to ensure that the transition process in the war-torn country is sustainable and irreversible.
Turning to freedom and human rights, Mr. Ban cited the OSCE’s leading role in promoting free and fair elections and urged enhanced cooperation in the broader area of democracy-building. “As we all know, credible elections are an essential element of democracy but not a guarantee of good governance,” he said.
“Let us redouble our efforts to assist countries in ensuring the primacy of the rule of law and equal access to justice, broad citizens’ participation and other hallmarks of inclusive, democratic societies,” he added, stressing the need to focus on human rights.
“In the past two decades, we have seen how intolerance and violations of human rights – particularly those directed against minorities and other marginalized groups – have led even to violent conflicts. The OSCE unfortunately sometimes sees violations of its own commitments in this area.”
In the area of sustainable development, Mr. Ban highlighted the importance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN targets that seek to slash a host of social ills, including extreme poverty and hunger, maternal and infant mortality, and lack of access to health care and education, all by 2015.
He also called for reinforced efforts to address climate change, noting that environment-friendly management of water and energy resources is increasingly imperative also in the OSCE area, where the “tragic” drying up of the Aral Sea from irrigation projects “must prompt us to act to prevent similar man-made disasters and indeed security risks elsewhere.”
On arms control, he cited progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation but warned that significant challenges remain, adding that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is critical to non-proliferation and again calling for “bold action” by all countries, especially those whose ratification is required for the Treaty to enter into force.
“This is an ambitious agenda but I am confident that we can achieve it together,” he concluded. “My hope comes from you – and all I have seen throughout the OSCE region. Not so long ago, few would have imagined the peoples of this vast area would be bound so closely together. In the process, the challenges have become more apparent. But so, too, have the impressive common achievements and enormous new horizons of change and opportunity.”
In bilateral meetings on the margins of the summit, Mr. Ban conferred with leaders from Australia, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and United States, discussing a range of issues from tension on the Korean Peninsula and the situations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, to sustainable development and climate change.