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Preparatory Meeting of the Regional Inter Ministerial Committee UNON – Nairobi, 11 December 2006
Second summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region

Preparatory Meeting of the Regional Inter Ministerial Committee UNON – Nairobi, 11 December 2006
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Address by Anna Tibaijuka Under Secretary General, Director General of UNON, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a privilege and honour to welcome the Regional Inter Ministerial Committee of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region here at the United Nations Office at Nairobi It is also my pleasure to introduce you the United Nations Office in Nairobi, the only UN Global Headquarters in Africa.

Since the early 1990s, the UN’s African headquarters in Nairobi has seen sustained growth, both as the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Programme for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT), and as a rapidly expanding regional development hub. Since 1996, UNON has been providing the offices of UNEP, UN-HABITAT and other key UN agencies with administrative and technical support services. UNON currently employs nearly 800 international staff and 2,000 national staff. Today, the UN Gigiri Complex stands as a potent symbol of the United Nations’ commitment to social and economic development in Africa.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Being located in Nairobi, UNON is keenly aware of the challenges brought by the conflicts and tragedies in this region. In 2000, all UN-Agencies present in Nairobi welcomed the United Nations Security Council resolutions 1291 and 1304 calling for an International Conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region, and the establishment of its joint United Nations/African Union Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya.

Since the preparatory period of the Conference in June 2003 up to now, all UN Agencies hosted by UNON have been working closely with the Joint United Nations/African Union Secretariat as members of the Steering Committee of the Conference.  After the first Heads of State and Government Summit in Dar-es-Salaam in November 2004, where I personally represented UN-HABITAT, all UN-Agencies hosted by UNON have been very active in the Conference process. They all played an active role in the three Regional Inter-Ministerial meetings organized in February 2005 in Kigali, in July 2005 in Lusaka, and in February 2006 in Bangui. They have also contributed to all Technical Meetings in the four thematic areas of the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration namely: (i) Peace and Security, (ii) Democracy and Good Governance, (iii) Economic Development and Regional Integration, and (iv) Humanitarian and Social issues.  In September 2006, under the overall coordination of OCHA, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR, UNIFEM and GTZ co-sponsored the Technical Meeting on the Review of the Draft Model Legislation on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children and on the Property Rights of Returning Persons.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, the UN Agency for housing and urban development, I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the great change and upheaval in our world. Recent research conducted by UN-HABITAT shows that the year 2007 will be the year when half the global human population will be living in towns and cities.

At the Third Session of the World Urban Forum held in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2006, it was generally agreed that how we manage rapid urbanization is arguably the biggest problem confronting humanity in the 21st century. The 3rd World Urban Forum made it clear that the United Nations needs to galvanize as never before in the quest for sustainable urbanisation and inclusive cities.

Indeed, one of the main messages to come out of the Vancouver Forum is that the urban population of developing countries is set to double from 2 to 4 billion in the next 30 years. This means in effect that these 2 billion new urban inhabitants will require the equivalent of planning, financing, and servicing facilities for a new city of 1 million people, every week for the next 30 years

Let us keep in mind that slums, where the vast majority of the rapidly growing urban population of Africa now lives, cannot be left unattended in our quest for lasting peace and security. We must remember that in this global village, someone else’s poverty and deprivation very soon becomes one’s own problem: be it unemployment, poverty, pollution, HIV/AIDS, insecurity, and crime. These deprivations, if left unattended, especially during a period of sustained economic growth in the region, become the sources of deep alienation that lend themselves to violence and other forms of instability.

Distinguished delegates

We are all expecting the signature of the Pact on Peace, Security, democracy and development in this coming week! This is a landmark in our journey towards Peace and Security in this Region. The next step is equally challenging: the implementation of this Pact. We owe to the people of this region to succeed.

Before concluding, let us remember that we are gathered here at a time of change in the United Nations System. Our beloved Secretary General, Mr. Koffi Annan, known for his efforts and his dedication to peace and security in the Great Lakes Region, is stepping down after 10 years at the helm of the organisation. The fact that all Member Stets granted him two terms as Secretary General is sufficient testimony to his leadership! Let us applaud him and wish him all the best in his future endeavours!

With these few words, I wish you all success in your deliberations.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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