THE MESSAGE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL TO THE TWENTY-SECOND SESSION
OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR WESTERN ASIA (ESCWA)
DELIVERED BY MS. MERVAT TALLAWY,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, ESCWA
BEIRUT, 14 APRIL 2003

This twenty-second session of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) takes place against a backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty. Indeed, over the years, the consequences of war and civil strife have diverted the resources and energies of many ESCWA members away from their development objectives. They have also diverted the abilities and capabilities of ESCWA itself away from its intended role. Instead of helping the region to reap the benefits of peace and the dividends of development, ESCWA has often had to contend with addressing the aftermath of war. In addition, ESCWA has had to deal with formidable new challenges during the past decade. These have arisen as a result of rapidly changing world conditions and the need to respond to the requirements of globalization.

Your agenda item on the effects of instability on socio-economic development in the region is therefore most timely. Beyond assessing the devastating toll that conflict and instability take on the human, physical and financial resources of a country, and the subsequent concerns of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, I hope you will discuss ways to explore the root causes of conflict. This is the only way to build the foundations of enduring peace. Indeed, the roots of conflict often lie in questions of governance, inequitable socio-economic development and uneven distribution of resources. It is in relation to these that the role of the United Nations, including that of ESCWA, can be especially valuable.

Furthermore, your agenda item on regional cooperation is of great significance. Regional cooperation and integration can be seen as both a post-conflict measure and a mainstay for peace and development, and I look forward to the identification of concrete measures that will engender progress in this area.

Finally, your session will also include a very important pledging conference, the first of its kind. Without the necessary additional resources, ESCWAs efforts with regard to dealing with development issues and, particularly emerging issues associated with lack of stability, will be severely constrained.

Let us all hope that peace will prevail throughout the ESCWA region, allowing its people to devote themselves fully to the essential task of economic, social and cultural development. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a constructive session.