Promises to Keep

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Vol. XLIV No. 4 2006

As the United Nations shifts into a new period of leadership, welcoming Ban Ki-moon as its eighth Secretary-General (page 4), the Organization is called upon to respond to challenges as varied as the boom in information and communications technology, the rapid urbanization of the developing world (page 18) and natural disasters like the October 2005 South Asian earthquake (page 54). Outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in reflecting on the decade of his tenure (page 9), noted that the world's greatest challenges call for global action of a new magnitude. Mr. Ban, in taking the oath of office, told the General Assembly that he was honoured to be following in the footsteps of his predecessor, who had tackled evolving global problems with passion and commitment. "Your tenure has been marked by high ideals, noble aspirations and bold initiatives", he told Mr. Annan. As he steps up at a time of significant progress and also hard choices for the United Nations, Mr. Ban still faces many global challenges ahead.

In this issue of the UN Chronicle, we focus on one of the driving forces behind our changing world: migration. The movement of people in search of work and capital across globe, unprecedented in its current scope, has had resounding implications for the United Nations and has created new patterns in the global flow of resources. Migrants cross borders and even oceans regularly. The United Nations Population Fund has estimated that in 2005 more than 191 million people worldwide were living outside their country of origin. With a large portion of this number represented by undocumented or irregular migration, international bodies like the United Nations face the demanding task of protecting those who cannot be seen or heard (page 27). Refugees forced into migration by political struggles, which remain under international radar, cluster into makeshift communities overseas (page 31), while neglected and overpopulated regions cause waves of migration by local residents (page 22). These invisible factors, including forced labour and armed conflicts, often affecting children (page 35), are some of the most insidious aspects of migration. As Anwarul Chowdhury suggests, globalization has not affected all regions equally. In the least developed countries, international policy has only recently been able to reverse the drain of resources to the more industrialized States (page 25). 

Demand for peacekeeping troops is also at a high point. A new Peacebuilding Commission has been created to transition post-conflict States into stability, and innovative missions have been undertaken with civil society partners. With the assistance of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Federation Internationale de Football Association helps to integrate education with sport in developing States (page 40). Through art (page 48) and technology (page 42), children are encouraged to take an active part and respond to challenges like HIV/AIDS and political turmoil. Under the umbrella of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), local expertise is harnessed and development is tackled with international support and regional skill (page 57). 

As the United Nations continues to lead the way in bringing progress to the world's toughest issues, it must face the shifting planet with resolve and its leaders must accept the migration challenge for what it is: the new face of the global community.

Xiang Hai An village, located 72 kilometres from Kunming, China, lies on top of a steep mountain hill overlooking a scenic view of the valley below. Fields of bright flowers and vegetable crops sweep across the valley amidst endless rolling hills in the distance.

Although the strategic alliance between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the United Nations was signed in 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's words on that occasion are still fully relevant: "I am very happy to announce a new partnership between the only truly international organization-the United Nations-and