16 May 1996

Press Release



Following is the text of the statement to be made by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow on Friday, 17 May:

I am deeply honoured by this opportunity to address this twentieth summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). I am grateful to the present Chairman of the Council, President Boris Yeltsin, for inviting me to appear before this historic meeting here in Moscow.

I take great pride in being with you today. In April 1994, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the CIS in Minsk, Belarus, and to meet with senior officials of your organization, including Mr. Ivan Korotchenya, the CIS Executive Secretary. I have, on many occasions, addressed meetings of regional arrangements, such as the summits of the Organization of African Unity, the Francophone Summit, and the Ibero-American Summit. I participated in the Budapest summit, in December 1994, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It is, therefore, particularly gratifying for me to meet for the first time with you, the heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Commonwealth of Independent States, an organization of sovereign States, has been warmly welcomed by the United Nations as a new actor on the international scene. More than two years ago, shortly before my visit to Minsk, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided by consensus, on 24 March 1994, to invite the Commonwealth of Independent States to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer. This important decision by the members of the General Assembly is a significant milestone in fostering closer cooperation at all levels between your organization and the United Nations.

Since taking my office as Secretary-General of the United Nations on 1 January 1992, I have strongly and consistently encouraged much closer cooperation and coordination between regional organizations and arrangements and the world Organization, particularly with regard to preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping. This cooperation is highlighted in An Agenda For Peace and its Supplement and has been encouraged by both the General Assembly and the Security Council. As I have frequently remarked, the increasing demands being placed on the United Nations, at a time when its financial base is shrinking, make such cooperation essential.

The CIS includes among its members most important European and Asian countries. The participation of the CIS in a closer working relationship with the organs of the United Nations, including the Secretary-General, is, in my view, a primary example of the successful implementation of a division of labour between a regional structure and the United Nations.

Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter defines the role that regional arrangements and organizations can play in the maintenance of peace and security. Forms of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations include consultations, diplomatic support, operational support, co-deployment and joint operations.

To advance cooperation and open up new possibilities, I convened the first ever high-level meeting between the United Nations and regional arrangements and organizations, at United Nations Headquarters on 1 August 1994. The meeting fully agreed on the importance of closer cooperation. I arranged for a second session on 15 and 16 February 1996. Both of these meetings helped to advance the process of ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. General principles to guide such cooperation were identified. And practical measures to enhance it were agreed. On both occasions, the Executive Secretary of the CIS, Mr. Korotchenya, as well as other senior official from the CIS, made invaluable contributions to the successful conclusions of these meetings. I intend to make such gatherings a regular part of our shared effort to construct a post-cold war international system of stability, security, justice and progress.

The specific operations in which the United Nations and the CIS have been cooperating can serve as a model for positive international endeavour. The CIS peace-keeping force in Abkhazia, Republic of Georgia, has cooperated with UNOMIG, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia. Cooperation between the United Nations and the CIS regarding the situation in Tajikistan has also been positive. This has involved not only the small United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan, but also the continuing inter-Tajik talks on fundamental political and institutional issues and the consolidation of the statehood of Tajikistan.

- 3 - Press Release SG/SM/5987 16 May 1996

The extremely valuable role of the CIS in the fields of peace-keeping and peacemaking in a number of conflict areas on the territory of your organization has been, on many occasions, duly noted with satisfaction by the members of the United Nations Security Council. This important collective endeavour by the members of the CIS is not to be taken for granted. I, therefore, on this occasion, and, on behalf of the international community, express my profound gratitude for the ongoing material and diplomatic efforts of the CIS in establishing and maintaining regional peace and security.

I also want to express my deep satisfaction with the fruitful cooperation and continuing coordination of efforts between my Special Envoys for Tajikistan and Georgia and the diplomatic and peace-keeping efforts of the Russian Federation, which has been the Chairman of the CIS Council of Heads of State since December 1993.

But cooperation between the United Nations and the CIS must be more than confined to issues of peacekeeping and diplomacy, vital as they are. It is crucial that we reach beyond these to address the major economic and social problems of our time, many of which are global in scale.

A start in this direction has been made with decisions adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, in support of economies in transition. Since then, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has endorsed specific projects to support your effort for democracy and economic reform. I should also note the cooperative activities of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the CIS. This has involved integrated international statistical work and in-depth economic analysis, the results of which have been widely published by the United Nations. I believe that this kind of technical cooperation, which surely can be further expanded and intensified, is very useful in the international community's support for the members of the CIS regarding their continuing efforts in the pursuance of economic and social reforms in their respective countries.

Another major effort has come in the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Based upon General Assembly resolution 50/151 of 21 December 1995, the UNHCR is preparing a major conference to address the problems of refugees and displaced persons in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Of particular and urgent importance has been the United Nations' effort to prevent unnecessary migration by providing sound and reliable information to potential migrants within the CIS.

The UNHCR conference on the CIS will take place within the next two weeks, on 30 and 31 May, at United Nations headquarters in Geneva. I will be present to open the proceedings. The document which will emerge from this conference will be both solution-oriented and preventive. It will be truly unprecedented as a comprehensive regional approach to a wide range of regional

- 4 - Press Release SG/SM/5987 16 May 1996

problems. And it will be unique in being the combined achievement of international organizations working in close cooperation and contributing their complementary expertise.

All peoples today are feeling the powerful integrating pull of globalization and, at the same time, the disintegrating forces of social disarray and unbalanced economic progress. The range of issues facing all of us is enormous in scope and magnitude. To deal with these matters, not only as they affect the domestic situations of States, but in their global impact, will require far closer cooperation between the United Nations and the CIS on an expanded agenda.

I have noted, in this context, the ongoing dynamic of economic and social integration within the CIS and among some of its sovereign and independent member States. I welcome this process of integration based on democratic principles -- as in the case of the sovereign Treaty on the Formation of a Community of Russia and Belarus which was concluded on 2 April by President Yeltsin and President Lukashenka. I also am following with great interest the integration accords of 29 March between Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation. These processes reflect the natural course of economic and social developments within the CIS. They reflect a growing trend towards regional and subregional integration in the world. It is, of course, up to the countries of a region themselves to agree voluntarily on specific areas and modalities of cooperation. I am confident that such closer cooperation will contribute to the welfare of the peoples in your countries.

The United Nations, even with its vast experience and unmatched global network, cannot take on all the world's problems by itself. Decentralization and delegation increasingly will be required. The role of the CIS will be ever more important. Just as the United Nations has warmly welcomed the CIS into the international community, so it also looks to the CIS to play its vital role in the United Nations system. Both our organizations must show that cooperation for peace and development among sovereign and independent States is the way of tomorrow, our hope for the future, the cornerstone of the post-cold-war system.

With this understanding and in this spirit, let us look forward to a more equitable, cooperative and productive age of international cooperation. Let us pledge ourselves to the task of a better world for all.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.