Secretary-General reaffirms UN’s support for Arab countries in transition

Egyptians protesting in Cairo in January 2011.
Ramy Raoof
Egyptians protesting in Cairo in January 2011.

Secretary-General reaffirms UN’s support for Arab countries in transition

The United Nations will continue to assist Arab countries in political transition to help them develop strong democratic institutions and practices, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told members of the G8 bloc of economies today at a meeting aimed at providing financial help to countries caught up in the so-called Arab Spring.

“Each country must be in charge of its own destiny. But the United Nations can help,” Mr. Ban told the G8 meeting on the Deauville Partnership, established under France’s presidency of the G8 earlier this year to provide economic and political support to North African and Middle Eastern countries undergoing transitions to democracy.

“We have vast expertise across all key areas, from electoral processes to constitution-making, from institution-building to human rights, from transitional justice to economic recovery.”

Mr. Ban told G8 members – meeting at UN Headquarters in New York – that strengthening assistance to countries in transition would be a key focus during his second term and he spoke of ongoing UN assistance to various Arab countries.

“The international community has also spoken with one voice in calling on the United Nations to coordinate these efforts. We will do so. The new UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) will deploy for an initial period of three months, and will provide advice and assistance as requested.”

“In Tunisia and Egypt, I have urged the transitional authorities to ensure that their upcoming elections meet the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United Nations has already deployed experts to help Tunisian authorities prepare for Constituent Assembly elections in October,” he said.

Eight foreign ministers attended the meeting on the Deauville Partnership, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During his address, Mr. Ban also highlighted the importance of civil society participation during the transition process to encourage reforms and reminded members that transition in all countries will require continuous assistance and support.

“The challenges ahead will be formidable. These transitions, and others that may follow, will require our sustained engagement. During this historic period, the United Nations will continue to do its part in developing and strengthening democratic institutions and practices,” he said.

Mr. Ban’s remarks came the same day as a high-level meeting on the Libyan transition, which he hosted on the sidelines of the 66th annual session of the General Assembly.