Strong support expressed for New United Nations Regional Centre in Panama at Headquarters event
New York, February 27, 2008 - Strong support and encouragement for the establishment of the United Nations new Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama was expressed at a Headquarters luncheon presentation today, with Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro, lauding the initiative as “a key platform” to advance the coherence and effectiveness of the Organization’s efforts in the region.
The event was hosted by the Government of Panama and the United Nations Regional Directors Team of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Explaining the “ambitious but valuable” project, Samuel Lewis Navarro, First Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, said that it would permit greater consolidation of United Nations work throughout the region, and system-wide coherence was an important part of the United Nations reform process. He also emphasized the advantages presented by his country’s geographical position “at the centre of the Americas”, as well as Panama’s good physical infrastructure and rapid economic development.
The Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean -- the first of its kind in the world -– will be located in the City of Knowledge, an international complex for education and research situated in the former United States’ military installations near the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. The building offered to the United Nations by the Government of Panama is worth approximately $14.5 million, and the costs of remodelling are estimated at some $8.7 million. To help cover the costs, the Government of Panama made a generous $2-million contribution when the Centre was launched on 18 December 2007.
With a funding gap of some $5 million, today’s lunch sought to raise awareness of the initiative and mobilize resources for a major effort in United Nations system coordination. In that connection, Ms. Migiro said that enhanced coherence needed to be followed with continued support.
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), stressed the importance of regional coherence and emphasized the advantages of various agencies locating in a single building in the City of Knowledge. The Latin American and Caribbean Regional Directors Team was an inclusive group, comprising 14 members –- more than in any other region. The agencies’ co-location would foster increased coordination and dialogue among regional directors and technical staff. The establishment of the Regional Centre provided further opportunities for collaboration in tackling important regional challenges and supporting developmental, environmental and humanitarian priorities, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The City of Knowledge currently hosts the regional offices of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS); subregional offices of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security; Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Emergency and Disaster Programme; two International Labour Organization regional programmes and several United Nations Development Programme regional support units. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights relocated its subregional office there in December and the United Nations Population Fund is making provisions for the establishment of a regional office.