Statement by Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, at the Millennium Summit

The United Nations New York 7 September 2000

The United Nations needs to be more relevant to its Member States but specially to their people. It is important that all individuals sense the relevance of the UN and support its mission. The purposes and principles of the Organisation must remain relevant to all. The UN has done and needs to continue to do good work for those most in need; women, children, minorities and disabled. The UN global conferences addressed many human needs and individuals’ every day concerns and we will continue in conferences on racism, HIV/AIDS, and the situation of children. I emphasise that "We the peoples" is the central element of the UN Charter.

The UN must be significant in the maintenance of international peace and security. Here I speak about a comprehensive concept of security. Peace is not only absence of war. Democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance are essential for comprehensive security and development. They are also effective means of crisis prevention.

Civilian crisis management should be developed and strengthened. Competent judiciary, well functioning educational system and effective local administration are every-day examples. Using the same elements post-conflict peace-building consolidates a nation’s foundation and prevents renewal of conflicts. We still need traditional peacekeeping. Therefore we should urgently consider the recommendations of the panel on the United Nations Peace Operations.

As much as we must protect people from fear we must protect them from want. We need to make them feel secure and respected. Human centred sustainable development is the best means of long-term crisis prevention. It addresses the structural causes of conflict and thus builds a solid foundation for lasting peace. Elimination of poverty, respect for human rights and gender equality are crucial elements in this respect. I am convinced that there is no peace without sustainable development and no development without lasting peace. They go hand in hand in all parts of the world.

As the chair-person of this Summit I have noticed that everybody speaks about globalisation. And rightly so because it is one of our major challenges. The UN must make a serious effort to ensure that all countries and all people can enjoy the fruits of globalisation.

Another challenge to the UN is how to use the revolution of information and communication technology (ICT), to advance development. At the same time the UN must continue its work in improving basic education. Concerning ICT the UN must establish partnerships, also with the private sector. To the developing countries this revolution offers a chance to make leaps in development. Closing the digital divide helps narrow the gap between developed and developing countries and make them more equal partners in world affairs. Nevertheless, there is no magic formula for development. New and old remedies must complement each other. Increased assistance must focus on individuals and their needs. We must forgive the debts of the poorest countries and remove obstacles from their trade.

The participation of the civil society is significant for the relevance of the UN. Its input is needed in all UN activities. Non-governmental organisations have played a crucial role in setting the global agenda. This participation must be extended to the civil society as a whole, including parliaments, the private sector and business community. Their representatives could be included in official UN delegations, like Finland does. Wide international cooperation among all actors brings the UN closer to ‘we the peoples’. I commend the Secretary-General for his initiatives on including the civil society. Strengthening the United Nations requires new ways of support. The Secretary-General presents in his report "We the peoples" an excellent blueprint for the UN.

Faced with multi-faceted tasks the UN needs an strong commitment to multilateralism from all its Members.

We know the facts. We know what we want. We know how to get it. All we need is the will to do it.