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Success of UN Cooperation with Regional Bodies Will Be Measured by Improvements in People's Lives, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Meeting

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Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Security Council on Haiti and on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, in New York today, 13 January:

Before I begin, please allow me to say a few words on the devastating earthquake which happened in Haiti, and I thank members of the Council for your expressions of sympathy and condolences, and solidarity at this time of need.

[I am deeply distressed by the disaster which just hit Haiti. It is a tragedy for the people of Haiti and for the United Nations. We are ready to work together with the international community to bring the required assistance and aid to the people of Haiti.]

Information on the full extent of the damage remains scant. Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken. It is clear, however, that the earthquake has had a devastating impact on the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the western part of the country. The remaining areas of Haiti appear to be largely unaffected. Buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital and basic services, such as water and electricity, have collapsed almost entirely.

The number of dead or injured among the population is yet to be established, although the figure is likely to be in the hundreds, or even thousands. There is no doubt that a major relief effort will be required. I am grateful to those countries that are sending emergency relief and rescue teams. I urge all members of the international community to come to Haiti's aid in this hour of need.

Many of our UN colleagues on the ground are, as yet, unaccounted for. The UN Headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake. Many people are still trapped inside, including my Special Representative in Haiti, Mr. [Hédi] Annabi. United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) troops have been working through the night to reach those trapped under the rubble. So far, several badly injured casualties have been retrieved and transported to the MINUSTAH logistics base, which remains largely intact.

I have been informed that some of our staff have been confirmed alive and safe, but some of them have been transported to hospital. I will dispatch Assistant Secretary-General and former Special Representative for MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet to Haiti as soon as possible.

MINUSTAH has around 3,000 troops and police, in and around Port-au-Prince, to help maintain order and assist in relief efforts. MINUSTAH engineers have also begun clearing some of the main roads in Port-au-Prince, which will allow assistance and rescuers to reach those in need. We will immediately release $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.

The Secretariat is following the situation closely. A more detailed briefing will be provided to the Security Council at the earliest opportunity. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the countries who have expressed their willingness, and who have already taken action, to dispatch rescue teams and relief materials. Thank you very much.

I thank the Chinese presidency of the Security Council for its initiative to hold a debate on a topic that is so vital to international peace and security. Hardly a crisis confronts us that does not require actors to cooperate at multiple levels in the search for solutions.

That is why the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations is so important. They are part of a new landscape - one in which the problems we face are so complex and interlinked that no one can work in isolation, and no one can afford to do without the benefits of cooperation and burden-sharing.

Around the table today are representatives of many of the UN's key partners. Over the past two days, we had a very productive retreat. We discussed ongoing operations. We explored new avenues for cooperation. Throughout, there was a very strong sense that we are only beginning to realize the great potential of what we can do together.

As you know, the role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security was written into the founding Charter of our Organization. Chapter VIII foresaw a world in which regional organizations and the United Nations work together on all continents, consistent with the principles of the Charter, to prevent, manage and resolve crises. By its actions over the years, the Council has made ample, though differentiated, use of global-regional partnerships. Yet we can and must go further still.

The United Nations continues to bolster its capacity to prevent conflicts and mediate solutions. We continue to improve our ability to deploy more effective peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian presences. These investments have positioned us to be a better partner to our regional counterparts.

In Africa, we are cooperating closely with the African Union and the subregional economic communities. We have worked hard to provide support to the African Union Mission in Somalia and to assist Somali parties on the political and security fronts. In Sudan, we are engaged in joint mediation and peacekeeping roles in Darfur, in improving the safety and access of humanitarian workers, and in assisting in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Our collective efforts also extend to crises in Guinea, Kenya and Mauritania, and to the 10-year capacity-building programme.

In Europe, we will continue to develop our wide-ranging relationship with the European Union, and with partners such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Balkans and elsewhere.

In the Americas, we have a strong history of cooperation with regional and subregional bodies on Haiti and Honduras, and more recently on climate change and in combating organized crime.

And in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, we are working together on issues as varied as Afghanistan, Iraq, Fiji, disaster relief and drug-trafficking, and on building up the capacities of regional partners such as the League of Arab States and the Islamic Conference.

Across this agenda, on all these many fronts, our aim is greater flexibility and making the best possible use of each of our partner's comparative advantages.

This week's retreat with heads of international and regional organizations has given us both food for thought and specific ideas for strengthening our cooperation. We identified areas where there is room for improvement, including coordination and communication between our respective intergovernmental bodies and secretariats. We talked about the need for better clarity in mediation arrangements. We agreed that peacekeeping deployments need to strike the right balance between flexibility and efficiency. We stressed the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need, in a timely manner, and in accordance with existing principles. And we agreed to increase cooperation on peacebuilding. In all of these areas, political will from Member States will be crucial.

Coordination is not an end in itself. Our success will not be measured in terms of process or mechanisms, but in real improvements in the lives of those most in need. We are all accountable for delivering on this responsibility.

I look forward to continuing to strengthen ties with regional, subregional and other organizations as a crucial element in our work for a safer, better future for all.

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