8 October 2004
UN Must Be Well-Equipped to Handle Numerous, Varied Tasks Entrusted to It, General Assembly Told During Consideration of Organizations Work
NEW YORK, 7 October (UN Headquarters) -- With conflict escalating in the Middle East, tensions simmering in parts of Africa, elections on the way for Afghanistan and Iraq, and an important mid-term review of the Millennium Development Goals looming, delegations in the General Assembly today declared that it was a critical time to ensure that the United Nations was well-equipped to handle the varied tasks entrusted to it -- from maintaining peace and security to promoting sustainable development.
While todays debate was essentially billed as a review of the Secretary-Generals report on the work of the Organization over the past year, many speakers also chose to comment on pressing current global issues, and to assess the enormous workload ahead for the world body. And while calls for system-wide reform continued to ring out, it also became clear that Member States were eagerly awaiting the imminent release of the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats Challenges and Change to help light the way forward.
For everyone convinced that a more just and secure world requires effective multilateral institutions, these are times for serious concern, said Canadas representative, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ). Notable among those concerns were the human tragedy unfolding in the Darfur region of the Sudan, the armed conflicts continuing to take innocent lives in the Middle East and Africa, and the threat of proliferating weapons of mass destruction.
Such developments, he said, had led people to increasingly question why the collective international will embodied by the United Nations seemed so hesitant to coalesce around the choice of which fork in the road to take. Why did the mantra of sovereignty continue to shelter the abusers rather than the abused? The United Nations must do more to respond to new demands, most immediately through its Member States collective response to the report of the High-Level Panel.
If the Organization was to remain relevant, it must be prepared to make difficult compromises and take bold decisions, he stressed.
Picking up that thread, Brazils representative said the United Nations could no longer ignore the emergence on the international scene of developing countries that had become actors and often exercised a critical role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes. It had become evident there was an imperative need for institutional changes to enable the United Nations to carry out its mandates, in light of new international realities.
Pakistans representative emphasized that adherence to the principles of multilateralism, interdependence and shared responsibility remained the only hope for achievement of collective solutions to common problems. In the long run, sustainable peace would only be assured by adopting a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy, which addressed the root causes of conflict, strengthened long-term capacities for the peaceful settlement of disputes and recognized the inextricable link between peace and development.
The representative of Japan believed in keeping the multilateral framework of the Organization as credible as possible, so that Member States would be able to work out collective solutions to todays challenges. Convinced that global actors, led by the United Nations, must make a united effort to support the transition process in Iraq, he said it was crucial to ensure that the January elections there include the participation of all factions. Turning to Afghanistan and its upcoming ballot, he stressed that the very rebirth of the country was at stake with this weekends elections. He added that the reconstruction of Afghanistan was the touchstone of the global fight against terrorism, and it was essential that the international community continue to support the efforts of the Afghan people.
He was also among those who stressed that there would be no stability and prosperity in the world until the issues of Africa were resolved. In fact, the situation throughout regions of the continent posed serious challenges to the United Nations, both in achieving peace and security and promoting development, including meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Lesothos representative emphasized that the consolidation of peace in Burundi, Cote dIvoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone was a goal that needed attention. Also, the threat posed by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa could not be ignored, and he welcomed efforts by the international community in fighting the pandemic in spite of the lack of resources.
The Deputy Minster for Foreign Affairs of Belarus noted that, lately, attention had been paid to achieving social and humanitarian goals, with the settling of economic questions falling to the background. He was convinced that governments and the United Nations should intensify efforts aimed at fulfilling economic tasks outlined in the Millennium Declaration.
The Millennium Development Goals, said Syrias representative, still represented the uniform framework for the conduct of United Nations activities in the field of development. Development was a human right to be provided to all, and it should not be used as a tool to gain advantage by some over others, or to satisfy political interests. Addressing poverty and underdevelopment would greatly contribute to solving todays challenges.
Also addressing the Assembly today were the representatives of the Netherlands (speaking on behalf of the European Union), Algeria (speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Egypt, Jamaica, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Zambia, Iceland, Yemen, Viet Nam, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Iran, the Russian Federation, Thailand, Colombia, Uruguay, India, Nepal, Peru, Ukraine, Argentina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, Guinea and Mali.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 8 October, to continue and conclude its consideration of the Secretary-Generals report on the work of the Organization.
The General Assembly met today to consider the Secretary-Generals report on the work of the Organization (document A/59/1), which takes stock of the United Nations systems activities in the past year and emphasizes the ever-increasing scope of its tasks. The report, covering the world bodys action in the areas of achieving peace and security; meeting humanitarian commitments; cooperating for development; human rights and the international legal order; and enhancing management and partnerships, acknowledges that the past year had been extraordinarily challenging.
The Security Council had to deal with the controversies surrounding the Iraqi crisis and the Organizations role in the aftermath of the war, says the report. There was a surge in demand for peacekeeping operations in a number of countries emerging from violent conflicts. International terrorism and the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction cast a shadow over all peoples of the world. Simultaneously, the United Nations faced a surge in infectious diseases, as well as the ongoing challenges of extreme poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, human rights violations and humanitarian emergencies.
It was against that backdrop that the Secretary-General, last November, had appointed his High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to examine the threats the United Nations faced; evaluate its policies, processes and institutions; and make bold practical recommendations. Further, the
Secretary-General notes that for the majority of the worlds people, the most immediate threats to economic progress and social development are those of poverty, hunger, unsafe drinking water, environmental degradation and endemic or infectious diseases. The Organizations important work in those areas centres on the Millennium Development Goals.
While there has been some success, the Secretary-General says that progress towards achieving the Millennium Goals has been mixed. The Goals can be met only through sound economic and social policies, good governance, mobilization of resources, and a true partnership between developed and developing nations. The report notes that the gap between increasing demand and limited resources becomes even more evident and urgent when it comes to addressing natural disasters, refugee situations and other humanitarian emergencies. Appeals issued by the United Nations were consistently under-funded, with resulting limits on the services provided.
The report stresses that adequate funding of development and humanitarian causes would be a sound investment. It would also be cost-effective, considering the likely returns in terms of peace and security. On Africa, the report notes that the continents critical situation and the plight of its peoples is a high-priority concern. The armed conflict in Darfur, Sudan, is a grim reminder of the persistence of deadly conflict on the continent. On the other hand, positive trends and efforts of some African States and institutions in dealing with the challenges of peace and security, economic and social development and human rights have encouraged the Secretary-General.
Overall, the Secretary-General hopes that the momentum gradually building up for the event on the five-year review of the Millennium Declaration in 2005 and the Organizations sixtieth anniversary will be sustained and strengthened, and will lead to the positive results that the United Nations and the world need.
The Secretary-General notes that much has changed since the Millennium Summit and even more since the Charter had been adopted. Yet the values of interdependence and shared responsibility remain fundamental, he adds.
He also hopes that, in the coming months, Member States, the Secretariat and other entities of the United Nations system, civil society and business organizations, as well as individuals around the world will work together to ensure that the sixtieth anniversary will be worthy of the United Nations and everything it stands for.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the European Union shared the view of the Secretary-General that the United Nations was going through an extraordinarily challenging year with ongoing and newly developing crisis situations. Some of the challenges had clearly been around for a longer period of time but, in several cases, Member States were making slower progress in addressing them than the situations called for, and results in several cases had been mixed at best. While the political crises the United Nations was facing, such as Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian question, Darfur and the Great Lakes, could seem overwhelming, several conclusions were clear. Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations needed to be handled in a better manner, and joint efforts in combating terrorists and proliferation of weapons must be increased.
In order to be more effective, the United Nations had to adapt to changing conditions, he continued. That required, most of all, an open and constructive attitude of Member States and a willingness to support change. It also required an organization that focused on priorities; intensified its internal cooperation, coordination and coherence; improved its human resources management; and strengthened its budget process and accountability. The objective of the European Union was the development of a stronger international community, as well as international institutions that functioned well, and an international order that was based on rules that were within the fundamental framework of the United Nations Charter. It was necessary, he said, to intensify efforts to reach a consensus on changes in the institutional architecture to ensure that objectives in the areas of peace, security, development and good governance were met.
The European Union considered the high level event at the beginning of the 2005 General Assembly a logical culmination point, and a key moment to reaffirm fundamental principles and to agree on urgent measures to achieve the commitments of the Millennium Declaration. He also welcomed the continued trend toward strengthening partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, and commended the enhanced role of the African Union and its peace and security structures. The European Union, he added, also believed that the purposes of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) were mutually reinforcing, and close cooperation between the two should proceed based on the agreement entered into force on 3 October.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), described the challenges facing the world today as unprecedented in their scope and in their potential gravity. For all who were convinced that a more just and secure world required effective multilateral institutions, these were times of serious concern. Notable among those concerns was the human tragedy unfolding in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Such developments had led people to increasingly question why the collective international will embodied in the United Nations seemed so tenuous in responding; and why the mantra of sovereignty continued to shelter the abusers rather than the abused.
He said the international community had many means at its disposal to prevent, deter and respond to crimes against its common humanity, and to bring perpetrators to account for their actions. For instance, the International Criminal Court had an essential role in facilitating justice and accountability, particularly through the complementary principle, which was also an essential feature of the Courts statute. The world was living through perilous times, in which armed conflicts continued to take innocent lives in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, and the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction hung over the world. He called on the Organization to do more by way of response, and noted the efforts being undertaken to strengthen the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
The CANZ group was united in its commitment to a broad concept of security, in which the security of the individual was paramount and needed to be addressed in a number of different dimensions. It was also among those that shared the disquiet raised by the Secretary-General in his report about the dysfunctional elements of the United Nations human rights machinery, including the continued election to the Human Rights Commission of governments, which were themselves accused of gross human rights violations. He stated that perhaps most immediately critical in terms of the fork in the road, of which the Secretary-General spoke of last September, would be the collective response of Member States to the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. If the Organization was to remain relevant it must be prepared to make difficult compromises and take bold decisions.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said todays debate provided the Assembly the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the central and irreplaceable role the United Nations must play in ensuring peace and development, as outlined in the Millennium Declaration. Everyone must work harder to make sure the Organization was better able to meet the needs of States and their peoples in an era marked by rapid globalization and shared security concerns. Collective action, based on the principles of solidarity and multilateralism, as enshrined in the Charter, should be at the heart of those efforts.
But Member States must do more than reaffirm their commitment, he continued. They must ensure that the United Nations acted as a catalyst for change in an ever-changing world. With that in mind, he hoped that the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, whose report was imminent, would be able to come up with tangible recommendations that spoke to the pressing issues on the current international scene, as well as suggested ways the United Nations system might address internal issues. Member States must move forward with implementation of the radical reforms that were needed while, at the same time, working to ensure that the Organization maintained its legitimacy and that its decisions were respected. The immense tasks entrusted to the United Nations would only be fulfilled if everyone worked together in a pragmatic manner, while striving to be creative and innovative as the world moved into the twenty-first century.
He said the Secretary-Generals report noted, among other things, the concern aroused by ongoing conflict. Africa had done its part to deter conflicts, but increased tensions and outbreaks of hostilities in some regions needed to be urgently addressed. Now, more than ever, the United Nations needed to work with regional groups such as the African Union, and to that end, he applauded the United Nations efforts to help that body set up its Peace and Security Council. He went on to highlight the Organizations work in other areas, including the global battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS. He also urged States to step up the battle against terrorism, while ensuring full respect for fundamental freedoms. But all must remember that, as the Secretary-General had noted, terrorism itself was a violation of human rights. More international cooperation was needed to combat that scourge.
ALYAKSANDR SYCHOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said the increase of conflicts and the demand for peacekeeping operations made it necessary to promote the participation of regional organizations capable of carrying out those activities. He welcomed the work of the African Union in that regard.
It was also important to arrange, with the help of economically and militarily strong powers, the training of potential peacekeepers from regional associations and organizations in developing nations. For its part, his nation had considerable military and civil potential, and was interested in broadening its participation. Belarus called for strengthening the role of the United Nations in the political reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, and expressed regret that the Organization was not yet able to significantly influence the process of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensuring implementation of the Road Map. The United Nations should intensify mediatory activities to solve the most problematic issues. He supported the elimination of the political nature of the work of the Commission on Human Rights.
He expressed hope that the comprehensive analysis of the five-year implementation of provisions of the Millennium Declaration, as well as the decisions adopted by major international forums, would be undertaken at the high-level plenary meeting next year. Lately, he said, attention had been paid to achieving social and humanitarian goals, with the settling of economic questions falling to the background. He was convinced that governments and the United Nations should intensify efforts aimed at fulfilling economic tasks outlined in the Millennium Declaration. Creating favourable conditions for sustainable development was a prerequisite for the eradication of hunger and poverty, the observance of human rights and the prevention of armed conflicts.
He concluded by calling on Members States to demonstrate a well-balanced and responsible approach when considering the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) said that the Secretary-Generals well-reasoned report contained many issues that deserved close consideration by all Member States. Egypt would address specific items as the Assembly took them up for detailed review throughout the session. Today, he would focus on only a few issues of concern. A quick look at the occupied Palestinian territories showed that despite the efforts made by the wider international community, as well as regional actors like Egypt, the situation had gotten worse. The glimmers of hope that had seemed to point the way towards some progress had quickly disappeared. It was clear that the occupying Power had no regard for international humanitarian law, United Nations resolutions or the Geneva Conventions. The international community must redouble its efforts to ensure that the occupying Power met its international obligations to relieve the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
To that end, and mindful of other ongoing conflict situations, he stressed the need for the United Nations to come up with comprehensive strategies for peacekeeping, peace-building and post-conflict reconciliation initiatives. Such strategies must also promote capacity-building efforts, particularly in States recovering from war. That brought him to the issue of ensuring and promoting the safety and security of United Nations personnel and other relief workers. The Organizations efforts in that area must be based on a culture of security and a concrete chain of command. Member States must undertake a comprehensive review of the Organizations efforts and measures on that very important issue.
He went on to say that terrorism was still a threat to global peace and security, and required intensified efforts by the international community. Egypt had been pleased that, thus far, international bodies and groups working to eradicate that scourge were more properly cooperating with each other rather than competing against each other. He also said that the Organizations proposed budget must reflect its medium-term priorities. Also, the concept of transparency and accountability must be promoted and supported throughout all levels of the Organization.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said he agreed that there had been great difficulties in the past year, and although there had been mixed results, the overall picture was of a United Nations that had remained engaged and active where needs had arisen. Highlighting areas of tension and conflict, such as the Middle East and Africa, he said that it was quite evident that the United Nations had been active and that the Secretary-Generals quiet diplomacy had helped avoid the outbreak of hostilities, healed divisions and encouraged the peaceful settlement of disputes. The growing number and the scale of the United Nations peace missions also posed a challenge to the Organizations capacity to provide sustainable support for such operations. It was of utmost importance to ensure that there was an exit strategy that could be implemented without risking a relapse into conflict.
He believed that more urgency should be introduced in mobilizing the resources from the $1.3 billion package of pledges toward political, social and economic needs. In the field of disarmament, he continued, there was a clear need to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament, whose work had stalled in an atmosphere of weakened political commitment to disarmament efforts. The growth of military expenditure and promotion of militarism had undermined the political will to move forward, and that contributed to more proliferation. The dangers of proliferation were increased by the upsurge in terrorism in recent times, and Jamaicas view was that a successful campaign should not only emphasize military operations but also a more serious effort to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.
The work of the United Nations in promoting development cooperation was of particular importance to developing countries, he continued. The work done by the various agencies in operational activities had been an important source of development assistance, and he urged that as many resources as were available be deployed in concrete projects and programmes. There was a need to give greater stimulus to efforts for sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. There were signs that the Goals might be increasingly overshadowed by the preoccupation with terrorism and security issues. In the area of international economic cooperation, a democratic forum was needed to coordinate international policies affecting finance, trade, and technology, and which was capable of applying remedies to correct global imbalances and respond to crises. That should be regarded as an important part of what should be the outcome of the summit during the Assemblys sixtieth session.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that, as international peace and security had continued to be affected by threats both old and new over the past year, adherence to the principles of multilateralism, interdependence and shared responsibility remained the only hope for achievement of collective solutions to common problems. The renewed faith evidenced by the unprecedented surge in demand for peacekeeping operations over the last 12 months was thus reassuring. Proud to be the largest contributor to peacekeeping operations, his country reiterated the Secretary-Generals call for political, financial and human resources to enhance the Organizations capacity to meet new challenges. It also emphasized that, in the long run, sustainable peace would only be assured by adopting a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy that addressed the root causes of conflict, strengthened long-term capacities for the peaceful settlement of disputes and recognized the inextricable link between peace and development.
Taking determined action against terrorists was essential, he stressed, but so was the need to strike at the root of the problem, including through the elaboration of a consensus definition of terrorism, as well as measures to reduce poverty and redress political and economic injustice. It would be a grave historical error to opt for strategies of intervention and pre-emption to counter terrorism, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or impose order in imploding States. For example, the quest for weapons of mass destruction was often propelled by fear of external intervention and aggression. Equitable and practical arrangements should be negotiated in open forums to strengthen physical and export controls over sensitive materials and technology. States possessing nuclear weapons must work together to evolve realistic programme to achieve nuclear disarmament and prevent nuclear proliferation.
There were several fronts of conflict that must be closed through peace, reconciliation and reform, he added, placing priority on the Middle East. The tragedy of Palestine was a source of deep anguish and anger across the Islamic world. Israel must discontinue its indiscriminate use of force against innocent Palestinians, targeted assassinations, construction of the separation wall and expansion of settlements, and comply with its legal obligations as set out by the International Court of Justice. A just and peaceful solution must be implemented on the basis of two States living side-by-side in peace and security. Also of prime importance was the need to wind down the situation in Iraq and to ensure progress towards democracy and stability in Afghanistan. His country remained committed not to allow its soil to be used to disrupt the Afghan elections.
Finally, he stressed that the Security Council should be accountable to the General Assembly, its work more transparent, and its decision-making more democratic. The Council should also be enlarged to reflect the Organizations larger membership. However, new permanent members would only further complicate the Councils decision-making and provoke new tensions in several regions and within the Organization. Furthermore, the Economic and Social Council must play the central policy role ceded to it by the Charter.
SAEED H. S. AL-JOMAE (Saudi Arabia) said the report of the Secretary-General was comprehensive and presented the developments of the international community in the last year. It was also realistic when it indicated that, in the present year, the challenges that existed were unprecedented, but many of the Member States had given up the necessary commitment to deal with them. Recent events in many parts of the world had shown that there was no place for unilateralism, and that terrorism constituted a threat to international peace and security. He believed that any international step to combat terrorism would not be able to eradicate the phenomenon fully if it did not deal with the root causes of the problem, as well as the reasons for its emergence and spread.
He believed that terrorism was a very serious international phenomenon that required the cooperation of all countries. He reiterated that his Government had declared its intention to host an international conference to combat terrorism, to be held in Riyadh on 5 February 2005, with the purpose of exchanging information and expertise. Regarding disarmament, he said that the report of the Secretary-General had dealt with the sincere efforts of the Organization regarding that issue and putting an end to the evils of weapons proliferation. Those in the Middle East, he said, lived in an area of crisis, in which Israel did not adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It was worthwhile to call upon the international community to underline the importance of taking the necessary steps to guarantee that the Middle East would be a zone free of weapons.
The United Nations, he added, was the best collective mechanism to confront current challenges and pressing issues, such as the eradication of poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, disarmament and serious epidemics. Without a clear international will to face such challenges, however, the efforts of the United Nations would be inadequate and unsatisfactory.
MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping were instruments that had been used in the quest to achieve disarmament and establish peace and security in Member States. Through those efforts, the United Nations had also denied terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction, as well as small arms and light weapons, which could destabilize States. He reaffirmed his countrys readiness to cooperate with others to combat terrorism. He went on to say that the plight of the people of Africa, where there were still many conflicts, was still a priority concern of the Organization. All Member States had a collective responsibility to implement the commitments set forth in the Millennium Declaration. He hoped that the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), which Africa was implementing, would enhance the efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals.
He said United Nations reform should address the needs of the developing countries, and also expressed concern about the lack of progress in Security Council reform. Multilateralism was an indispensable instrument for global consensus on important life-saving issues. The international community was facing challenges that were transnational and interconnected. It was essential to take advantage of the immense problem-solving potential of multilateralism, as unilateralism had no place in the current era. His country was implementing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) programme to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperating Organization (SARPCCO), established in 1995, had been a major regional instrument to combat that scourge. His Government, however, was still concerned with the continued illicit trade that was associated with those weapons, often resulting in them ending up in the hands of non-State actors.
MARIA LOURDES V. RAMIRO LOPEZ (Philippines) highlighted the obstacles faced by developing countries, pointing out that many of them had difficulty financing the Millennium Development Goals. Their high population growth rates and fiscal deficits meant that they did not have the resources to implement anti-poverty programmes and projects, thus making the achievement of the Goals the biggest challenge before the international community. A number of implementation issues had to be addressed at the national, regional and international levels. Among them was the need to generate Goals related data to improve targeting of clientele and identification of appropriate policy measures and interventions to address socio-economic, as well as gender, disparities. Communication and advocacy campaigns had to be sustained to generate more interest, commitment and resources to achieve the Goals.
Believing in the primary responsibility of each country for its own development, she urged each nation to come up with its own anti-poverty reduction strategy in the context of the Millennium Goals. However, a conducive and nurturing international environment was necessary to complement national efforts to ensure success. Stressing the importance of official development assistance (ODA) to help developing countries achieve the Goals could not be overemphasized. She said developed countries needed to fulfil their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) for ODA. The international community also needed to find innovative ways to address the developing worlds chronic debt problem. Further, the international community should ensure a fair, rules-based and equitable multilateral trading system to provide developing nations opportunities for income generation, employment, trade and improved livelihood. Economic security was ensured when the playing field was level for both the developed and the developing countries.
Similarly, she urged the developing countries to pursue much-needed reforms to ensure the efficient use of their resources, as well as good governance.
On governance, she explained that national policy measures needed to be geared towards addressing chronic graft and corruption, and to promoting transparency to improve investor confidence. Increasing food security, universal education, employment generation, health care and gender equality should all be accorded priority. She endorsed the proposals to integrate HIV/AIDS issues into national development planning, sectoral plans and poverty reduction strategies, in order to fully mobilize all sectors and levels of government in the important war against the pandemic.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said the Secretary-Generals report once again spotlighted the enormous and wide-ranging challenges facing the United Nations today. Japan strongly believed in keeping the Organizations multilateral framework as credible as possible so that Member States would be able to work out collective solutions to those challenges. Some of the issues he believed had been critical to the work of the United Nations over the past year included the fight against terrorism, the need to enhance disaster reduction strategies, and the need to more closely control and monitor the Organizations budget. Also, stability in Iraq had great bearing on peace and stability in the wider Middle East region.
He was convinced that global actors must make a united effort to support the transition process there, so that country could return to the international community as early as possible, as a democratic nation.
The United Nations could play a lead role in that endeavour, he said, adding that it was vital that the political process be promoted by the Iraqi people themselves, according to the timetable set out in Security Council resolution 1546. The most urgent task was to carry out the elections for the Transitional National Assembly, set for January. Japan hoped that every effort would be made to ensure inclusive elections with the participation of all factions. He added that Japan was set to host the Third Donors Meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq on 13 and 14 October. Turning to Afghanistan and its upcoming ballot, he stressed that the very rebirth of the country was at stake in this weekends elections. He hoped they would be conducted in a peaceful and fair manner and would result in a successful outcome. He added that the reconstruction of Afghanistan was the touchstone of the global fight against terrorism, and it was essential that the international community continue to support the efforts of the Afghan people.
Turning next to the African continent, he recalled Japanese Prime Minister Koizumis statement during the general debate, in which had stressed that there would be no stability and prosperity in the world until the issues of Africa were resolved. In fact, the situation throughout regions of the continent posed serious challenges to the United Nations, both in achieving peace and security and promoting development, including meeting the Millennium Development Goals. In the Sudan, it was critical that the Government and rebel factions made every attempt to reach a political settlement on the Darfur region, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. All possible measures to improve the security conditions must be taken, beginning with disarming the militias to halt attacks on civilians. To ensure an end to the current climate of impunity, it was urgent that all those responsible for massive human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law be brought to justice. He added that the international community must also continue to support the efforts of the African Union in Darfur.
HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said enhancing the authority and role of the General Assembly, while improving its working methods, should continue to be based on the good work already carried out. New rules for the exchange of information between the Assembly and the Security Council, with periodic reports from the Council to the Assembly, should increase the transparency and efficiency of the Organization. Streamlining the work of the Assembly was part of a greater challenge to adjusting multilateral structures to deal with threats to global security. The work of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change would serve as a valuable step toward necessary reform.
Reform of the Security Council would not solve all problems, he said, but failure to address the issue would stop effective revitalization in other areas. Iceland had called for reform of the Council to make it more representative, as its current composition neither mirrored todays geographical realities nor the increased membership of the Organization. He supported an increase in the non-permanent category, as well as an allocation of permanent seats to Japan, India, Germany and Brazil. Africa, he added, must also be ensured a permanent seat on the Council. Change was long overdue. Grasping the chance for reform now would strengthen the role of the Organization as a forum for addressing major threats to the worlds security in the future.
ABDUL-DAYEM MUBAREZ (Yemen) said the United Nations had experienced a difficult and challenging year, during which it found itself confronted with many issues of international peace and security, as well as development. The most challenging matters confronting the Organization had largely been the result of unilateral actions by some members. The lack of resources further compounded the Organizations challenges during the year. Yemen, a strong believer in the concept of multilateralism, called for enhancing that principle in the conduct of international affairs. He stressed the need for countries to be flexible in their conduct of international affairs, noting that the best way to attain security and development goals was by ensuring international cooperation.
He noted with satisfaction the decrease in the number of refugees last year, by 1 million, and paid tribute to the Organization for its efforts in that regard. He also lauded the efforts made by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East for its work in providing assistance to Palestinian refugees, even in the face of inadequate resources. The plight of those refugees continued to be very tragic. Like others, he eagerly awaited the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. He also welcomed the participation of non-governmental organizations in the work of the Organization, which he said would enhance democracy.
NGO DUC THANG (Viet Nam) said that, in the mix of the many challenges throughout the world, the threats posed by extreme poverty and hunger, as well as deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, were more immediate than those posed by weapons of any kind. It was urgent that the United Nations, while continuing to cope with traditional threats, try to find solutions to emerging ones. The Organization also needed to be further enhanced to tackle challenges. He encouraged speeding up the development of a comprehensive and coherent conflict prevention strategy to respond effectively to the challenges posed by the peacekeeping and peace-building processes.
Terrorism, he continued, had become the most pressing danger and challenge. He reaffirmed his Governments position that, to mobilize broad participation and maintain its own legitimacy, the fight against terrorism must be free from any application of selectivity and double standards. While many developing countries were facing major difficulties resulting from the lack of financial resources for poverty and hunger eradication activities, as well as development projects, hundreds of billions of dollars continued to be wasted in an ongoing arms race. The report of the Secretary-General, while noting several positive signs relating to disarmament, could have been more comprehensive if the lack of progress in the proceedings of major United Nations disarmament bodies had been reflected, and if recommendations had been made to overcome the problems.
In the area of management, he commended the Secretary-Generals initiatives and proposals put forward to improve the capacity and efficiency of the United Nations. Viet Nam had taken note with great interest of the Secretary-Generals new proposals to replace the current four-year, medium-term plan with a new biennial strategic framework and a redesigned program performance report, which would improve managerial accountability. With regard to human resources management, he underscored the need to further enhance the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the Organizations recruitment process. He also stressed that any system of recruitment should take into consideration the need to ensure equitable representation.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said an analytical reading of the Secretary-Generals report led one to ask whether the United Nations was truly equipped to successfully tackle all the issues before it. All the Organizations mandates were given to it by its members, which should lead one to ask whether the Member States were fully living up to their responsibilities in respect to complex problems such as combating terrorism, HIV/AIDS or poverty, or just automatically handing them over to the world body to deal with. Moreover, as the core of a successful United Nations was the unequivocal commitment of its Member States to multilateralism, the most credible and effective demonstration of adherence to that principle should be unwavering political and financial support, as well as ongoing work to adjust to the changing circumstances in which the Organization worked.
Furthermore, while expectations concerning the outcome of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change were high, the decisions recommended by the Panel must be made by the Member States themselves, he stressed. They could not be outsourced. The year 2005 would be decisive in redesigning the Organization to reflect current challenges, and should be preceded by agreement on a comprehensive and interconnected agenda, in which development and security were recognized as mutually reinforcing and inseparable. The Millennium Development Goals - which constituted the biggest collective promise ever - must be placed at the core of deliberations. A more modern and representative Security Council must be complemented by a leaner, more flexible and more relevant General Assembly, capable of fulfilling the tasks assigned to it under the United Nations Charter.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) reaffirmed his countrys condemnation of international terrorism, and pledged its cooperation with other members of the international community, through bilateral and multilateral efforts, to combat the menace in all its forms. He also renewed Nigerias commitment to the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects, and urged the international community to control the movement of those weapons, especially to non-State actors.
It was regrettable, he said, that while a progressive decrease in the production and transfer of landmines had been recorded, landmines continued to impede the development and security of populations, particularly in those African States emerging from conflicts. He called on the international community to strengthen its support for the United Nations Mine Action Service, as the principal coordinating body for curbing the menace of mines. Also, he said the lack of transparency and commitment in the implementation of agreements on weapons proliferation had eroded respect for compliance. In particular, the lack of progress on broad nuclear disarmament measures was not in the best interest of the international community.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic continued to pose a grave threat to development efforts on the African continent. He was appreciative of United Nations efforts, as well as the contribution of the international community, to fight the scourge, particularly in Africa. In addition, he reaffirmed Nigerias support for the priority accorded by the United Nations to the continents special needs, and noted the efforts of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa to facilitate the implementation of the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD).
GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino) said that, sadly, the general sense was that the international community would not succeed to achieving the objectives of the Millennium Declaration by 2015. It was encouraging, though, that the Secretary-General believed that it was possible to achieve some of the time-bound and measurable goals if developed and developing countries instituted the right combination of national and international policies, and implemented their shared commitments, as set forth in the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus.
The range of actions, as described in the Secretary-Generals report, that governments, public development institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations could undertake to spur the growth of small and medium-sized businesses, had caught his attention. That was an area that should be enhanced because, together with the policy of micro-credits, it would favour the economic development of the small businessman and would facilitate the participation of women and young people to the economic life of their country.
The lack of financial assistance and the inadequacy of the tools available were particularly evident in the fight against natural disasters, he continued. It was necessary to strengthen the United Nations institutions in that field, both in the prevention of natural disasters and humanitarian assistance to the victims. Dramatic global events had stressed the need for countries not to underestimate the threat of terrorism and its proliferation, as well as to search for a common and effective response. The proposal to create a high commissioner for terrorism, presented by Costa Rica, should be looked into further.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the foundation of peace was social justice and, therefore, a world in which hunger and poverty prevailed could not be a peaceful one. The Presidents of Brazil, France, Chile and Spain, with the support of the Secretary-General, had launched Action Against Hunger and Poverty, a summit meeting attended by more than 50 world leaders in New York the day before the opening of this years general debate. The initiative considered in-depth, innovative mechanisms for the financing of development, to generate new and additional resources for lifting people out of hunger and poverty.
The Organization, he said, had reached a fork in the road, and it had become evident that there was an imperative need for institutional changes to enable the United Nations to carry out its mandates, in light of new international realities. The High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change must avoid restricting its consideration of issues from the perspective of problems to be dealt with through coercion or the use of force. Its approach must be comprehensive, and its recommendations should encompass measures to strengthen the Security Council and other principal organs of the United Nations.
The Panel, he continued, must make every effort to not misinterpret current trends in the Council. The phenomenal increase in that bodys activities was an indication that the major impediments for the adoption of decisions in the Council had been overcome, and more importantly, that the very foundations for international peace and security were increasingly fragile. The Panel must not overlook the international communitys call for greater multilateralism, he underscored. The Council must be strengthened and made more legitimate.
The Organization could no longer ignore the emergence on the international scene of developing countries that had become actors and often exercised a critical role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes.
YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said it was crucial for the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council to more actively develop new approaches to coordinating technical assistance, and linking that to strengthening interaction with international and regional organizations. His country, which had acceded to 11 international counter-terrorism conventions, called for the earliest finalization of the drafting by the United Nations of comprehensive conventions on international and nuclear terrorism. Kazakhstan, a firm supporter of preventive diplomacy, believed that the establishment of a Central Asian Preventive Diplomacy Centre was a timely initiative. He went on to say that although shared responsibility was a core element of the September 2000 Millennium Summit, today it was clear that reaching the Millennium Goals was a reality for some countries and a distant hope for others. Reversing that trend would require developing international partnerships and increasing the momentum gained at the turn of the century. To achieve the Goals, there was a need for a new focused approach for assistance to least developed States and to create a favourable environment for their economic development.
A key factor in that, he continued, should be an increase by the developed countries of up to 0.7 percent of their GNP for ODA. Other important conditions were the mobilization of domestic resources of developing countries; favourable climates for their exports; prompt settlement of the debt of the poorest countries; and assistance to least developed countries in the expansion and strengthening of their educational programmes related to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Poverty affected virtually all developing countries and economies in transition, including Kazakhstan. While the efforts to combat it had helped achieve significant progress, United Nations reports contained significant inaccuracies. The international community had, therefore, been provided with distorted information about the socio-economic situation in his country. He also said a special General Assembly session on the Aral Sea was long overdue since continued degradation of the environment of that region seriously affected the health and livelihood of the population.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said unstable international circumstances required further concerted efforts to address the problems confronting peace, security and development. The United Nations was the essential and only forum to deal with the challenges and threats that were confronting the international community and the only place to promote multilateralism. Some of the many issues in the SecretaryGenerals report had been solved and some had not, due mainly to lack of consensus. One such unsolved issue was the problem in the Middle East, which was as old as the United Nations itself. That crisis still lingered due to the fact that there was not enough political will to solve it, particularly by one party -- Israel. And that was despite a number of initiatives over the years by the international community and resolutions by the Security Council and General Assembly. There had also been calls by the international community for a report to ascertain the damages caused by that conflict in the Middle East region. He appealed to the Secretary-General to pursue the issuance of that report.
The war against terrorism should not be waged at the cost of peoples freedom and the loss of their dignity, he stressed. In that regard, he called for an international conference to lay down a clear definition of terrorism that took into account the norms and standards of international law as well as the Charter of the United Nations. Weapons of mass destruction were a matter of great concern to his country and there was always the fear and the possibility that they would fall into the wrong hands. His country had, therefore, worked towards creating a region free of those weapons.
The Millennium Development Goals still represented the uniform framework for the conduct of United Nations activities in the field of development, he said. Development was a human right to be provided to all, and it should not be used as a tool to gain advantage by some over others, or to satisfy political interests. Addressing the problems of poverty and underdevelopment would greatly contribute to solving the challenges in the world today.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said that the Secretary-Generals report once again signified that only through collective action and multilateral approach could one expect that the United Nations would realize the noble objectives in its Charter. The Secretary-Generals perspectives on peace and security must be examined thoroughly. In that respect, he said that while he concurred with the Secretary-General on the necessity of more security in order for the United Nations to have a larger presence in Iraq, he believed that the United Nations should more actively engage in a process aimed at empowering Iraqi people to determine their destiny.
The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, he said, continued to deteriorate, and it was alarming and very unfortunate that the Security Council had yet to reach an agreement on the way to prevent the persistence of crimes that continued to be committed against the Palestinians. On the issue of disarmament, he strongly believed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction was the only absolute guarantee against the possible use or threat of use of those weapons. Although Security Council resolution 1540 was considered a preventive measure toward the threat of the possibility of unauthorized access by non-State actors to those weapons, it lacked emphasis on the universality of existing multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and instruments as the highest priority of the international community.
International cooperation for development was also a major issue on the agenda of the United Nations, he said. Many factors, including good governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights, contributed to economic and social development, but the critical role that science and technology played in promoting such development in many developing countries should not be undermined. It would be appropriate, therefore, to strengthen the role of the Organization in transferring knowledge and technology in all fields to those countries. On the issue of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, he said that the magnitude of that threat should not divert attention from the role and responsibility of the United Nations in other areas of development. It was also rather discouraging, he added, that the Secretary-Generals report had not addressed the very important issue of globalization, or the issues of macro-economic policy.
KONSTANTIN DOLGOV (Russian Federation) agreed with the Secretary-Generals report that the Organization was going through a difficult period. His country, along with other countries in the Security Council, was working to combat terrorism. Developing cooperation with national and regional organizations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), would ensure that it would be possible to defeat terrorism, one of the most serious challenges facing the world today. Everyone had a common interest in achieving results in that area.
He acknowledged the positive role played by national and regional organizations in the promotion of international peace and security in many regions of the world. He was hopeful that a comprehensive settlement would soon be forthcoming in the trouble-torn Darfur region of the Sudan. In addition, he underlined the necessity of finding a global strategy for ensuring peace and security, as well as to achieve targets in the economic and social areas.
He looked forward to the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, whose work would hopefully allow the Organization and other multilateral institutions to increase their effectiveness. The activities of the United Nations in the socio-economic area should be focused on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said a recurring theme emanating from the report was the growing demand on the Organization to cope with the worlds problems under restricted human and financial resources. There was a surge in demand for peacekeeping and peace-building activities, currently comprised of 16 operations worldwide and involving more than 56,000 peacekeepers. He welcomed the continued intensification of partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations in pursuit of shared goals. The involvement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Cote dIvoire and Liberia, of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Haiti, and of the African Union in Darfur were good examples of burden sharing with organizations that possessed deeper understanding of security problems. In his region, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was in the process of establishing a region-wide security community by 2020.
He went on to say that humanitarian assistance was another area where funding fell far below the mark, adding that new and protracted conflicts, as well as natural disasters, continued to take a toll on the worlds poor. The implementation of disaster reduction activities would help lower the risks caused by natural calamities. Also, humanitarian crises required urgent and coordinated responses from relief agencies and from the international donor community. Partnership for development was the best long-term solution to ensure that a nation achieved the eight Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development. He agreed it was necessary to expand trade, increase official development assistance, relieve external debt and reform the international financial system. It was also necessary to ensure the political will of each Member State and a sense of global responsibility, as well as to increase public awareness to gain support for the Organization.
MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN (Colombia) said both present and past governments in her country had always kept the door open for dialogue with illegal armed groups. Her President had also requested the continuation of the good offices of the United Nations in Colombia to facilitate that process. She stressed, however, that her Government was only willing to continue such dialogue with illegal groups who wanted to relinquish their arms and talk about peace. While the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of those groups had received support from some European countries, it deserved more from other members of the international community. Additionally, she said a substantial amount of money had been spent by Colombia in the fight against terrorism, crime, illicit drug production and trafficking. Lasting peace required dialogue, the rule of law and establishment of democratic systems. The DDR process was vital to peace, development and economic efforts, and the support from the international community was required to give disarmed groups an alternative, and viable, life.
It was clear, however, that people responsible for crimes against humanity could not be covered by general amnesty, she said. Her Government had drawn up a draft law on justice and reparation. The goal was to reach broad national consensus, which would enable persons who had participated in crimes against humanity to be tried. She went on to say that it was impossible to calculate just how many people had been internally displaced in Colombia, but efforts would be extended to assist them because their suffering could not be quantified. She said anti-personnel mines/unexploded ordnance were killing and maiming civilians, including children, police and soldiers. In that regard, she reiterated the importance of enhancing international cooperation for the demining process.
FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said the report of the Secretary-General revealed, once again, the deep imbalances that affected the cooperation efforts by which Member States tried to solve, through the United Nations, the major problems facing humanity. They included the imbalance that existed between the ambitious objectives of the United Nations and the limited resources it counted on to achieve them. In the area of peacekeeping and the consolidation of peace, the demand of human and financial resources necessary to ensure the success of old and new peacekeeping operations had increased considerably, but what was offered to meet that demand was slow and insufficient. The new operations in Liberia, Cote dIvoire, Burundi and Haiti required forces that had not always been deployed in the necessary quantities and with the necessary speed.
The Secretary-General had stated that certain measurable objectives were still achievable by 2015, but that would only be possible if all developed and developing countries would fulfil their commitments. The main message that the Secretary-Generals report conveyed every year, he continued, was that the time had come for words to lead to action. We know what we want, we know what we have to do to achieve it, and so now what we have to do is act. To do that, it was not necessary to convene new summits, make new declaration or resolutions, or reform existing institutions. With regard to terrorism, he said that the international community was still lacking a specific strategy that was broad and effective. That, undoubtedly, was a clear gap in international coordination. It was necessary to concentrate on formulating an anti-terrorism strategy that would operate at an international, regional and bilateral level, and that identified the causes of the problem.
LEBOHANG K. MOLEKO (Lesotho) said that while violence had undermined efforts to promote peace and security, it was important to commend the Organization for its efforts in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peace-building. The unfortunate results of unilateralism were evident, and the fruits of a multilateral approach could be seen in Afghanistan, where elections would soon be held. The consolidation of peace in Burundi, Cote dIvoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone required sustained attention.
Violence against women was on the rise, he said, and that was a terrible scar on the world. Welcoming new guidelines by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he was pleased with emerging cooperation within the Organization to support children separated from their families by war and conflict. The threat posed by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa could not be ignored, and he welcomed efforts by the international community to fight the pandemic, in spite of the lack of resources.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said the Organizations executive and enforcement roles in peace and security, and to some extent in disarmament and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, were paramount. Regarded by developing nations as the global conscience-keeper, the Organization must preserve that role and guide the work of specialized agencies in those areas. Conflict prevention through early warning and quiet diplomacy would undoubtedly make unnecessary the major politico-military efforts to resolve them later. However, the limitations in imposing preventive and peace-making services on Member States, who did not want them, also needed to be considered.
The Organization had a tradition of directly addressing operational prevention through diplomacy, he said, but it should also consider the enhanced implementation of a structural prevention strategy to address the underlying causes of armed conflicts. He recommended that the system consider the mandates of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes through a prevention lens. In addition, he suggested that the Organization consider strengthening its capacity to help coordinate the efforts of all actors. He went on to say that the surge in peacekeeping brought new challenges, the principal one being that of sustained commitment in terms of troops and specialized military and civilian support services. Regrettably, there continued to be a lag, with almost 80 per cent of troops deployed to operations contributed by developing nations. The surge was accompanied by a tendency to lean towards regional solutions, but that should not absolve the Organization of its responsibility and commitment as the primary guarantor of peace and security.
India was concerned that humanitarian assistance continued to be unevenly allocated and that its level remained insufficient. He endorsed the Secretary-Generals call to the donor community to ensure that funding for humanitarian operation was increased and provided on a more consistent basis.
It was heartening to note that the refugee population had decreased significantly, falling 20 per cent from 2002 to the present. In Afghanistan, while more than 3.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) had returned to their homes since 2001, an estimated 180,000 IDPs and 2 million refugees remained in Iran and Pakistan.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that the United Nations had had a mixed bag of results in its history. Therefore, the current debate was timely, as it offered Member States the opportunity to chart a new course forward. While the Organization had recorded many successes, the number of conflicts around the globe continued to rise. Citing conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, he said Nepal would continue, as it had in the past, to make troops available for peacekeeping operations.
The emergence of terrorism on the international scene, he said, posed a new challenge to the world, noting that his own country had fallen victim to the scourge. Also, nuclear disarmament efforts had hit a brick wall, resulting in a surge in weapons proliferation. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons posed a similar threat to international peace and security, and both demanded the urgent attention of the international community.
He noted that, for the majority of the worlds population, poverty, hunger, and disease remained the source of paramount concern. Even with the progress registered by the United Nations, and the international community as a whole, in alleviating those problems, millions continued to live under their threat. Additionally, natural disasters had also exacerbated the situation of several countries, most recently in the Caribbean region, requiring concerted international mitigation efforts. It should be recognized that the Organization had its own limitations, and needed urgent revitalization to better enable it to meet new and emerging challenges.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that, in the twenty-first century, the world presented a paradoxical reality. On the one hand, it was becoming globally integrated in terms of productive processes, trade and communications, but on the other, it was becoming fragmented because of civil wars, ethnic and religious conflicts, terrorism, social inequalities, and destruction of the environment. The contradictory tendencies of globalization questioned national and international governance today, as never before, and as a result, the world was seeing many States collapsing into chaos and civil war. In such a fragmented world, no power, as powerful as it might be, would be able to unilaterally establish a new order. The world was, therefore, at the beginning of the current century, looking at a natural vacuum in world power, which would lead to international anarchy if it were not filled.
The United Nations today, he continued, was an indispensable organization and, without it, a new world order aimed at preventing and pacifying conflicts could never be brought about. Following the cold war, more than 30 civil conflicts had caused 5 million deaths and almost 17 million refugees, and those conflicts were converting a lot of countries into real factories for crimes against humanity. The United Nations could not, in light of that serious situation, abdicate its responsibilities to protect populations that were not being protected by their governments. Reform of the Security Council should be sufficiently broad to ensure that its decisions had more democratic legitimacy and that it could operate effectively. Civilian conflicts could not be prevented, he added, if a new socio-economic order was not established that would begin to reduce hunger and inequality within and between nations.
Today, 2.2 billion people lived on two dollars a day and 1.3 billion lived on one dollar a day, he continued. The increase in inequality and the fall in personal income were colliding with each other, and producing quakes of social disintegration and international conflict. It was necessary, therefore, to reduce poverty, but also to try to control the damage caused by a lack of development. The time had come to deal seriously with those questions, particularly in the next year when the United Nations would examine the progress made in the implementation of the goals of the Millennium Declaration. Member States had to convince themselves, he added, that social exclusion was the main cause of violence and instability, and it could not be removed unless globalization was turned into a positive force that granted benefits to human beings.
VALERIY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said nations could not face current global threats individually, or hide under the guise of indifference. Despite past differences on Iraq, the Organization and its Security Council had showed unity in addressing the situation there. He welcomed the transition of power to the Iraqis, the formation of the interim representative and executive structures, as well as a clear definition of the Organizations role. It was now important to ensure free elections, the drafting of a new constitution and the formation of a transitional Government. Turning to terrorism, he said continued attacks in various parts of the world reminded the international community of the need for efforts to eradicate the scourge through global cooperation. He believed a new system of information exchange on terrorism would help prevent attacks, and was pleased to note that the Counter-Terrorism Committee had become more proactive in its dialogue with Member States.
The surge in demand for peacekeeping during the past year posed a serious challenge, he said, adding that contributions of financial and human resources were needed now more than ever. There was also a deep concern with the increasing danger to peacekeeping personnel, and it was critical to protect the people in service to the Organization. Turning to health issues, he said HIV/AIDS was a fundamental threat to human health and to global security. Almost two decades had passed since Ukraine was struck by the Chernobyl catastrophe, and recovery assistance was no less needed today than 18 years ago. The world community could not afford to weaken its efforts with a job half done, but should take practical steps for the sake of present and future generations. The new strategy on Chernobyl A Strategy for Recovery, launched in 2002, had provided a framework for reinvigorating international cooperation.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said respect for international law was both a necessary and indispensable condition to be able to achieve harmony between nations and people. His country supported the peacekeeping operations authorized by the Security Council, whose increasing number and growing complexities provided the Organization with serious challenges in terms of planning and deployment.
He also supported the work being done by the ad hoc criminal tribunals and particularly the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose prosecution arm brought the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide to justice, when local authorities did not want to do so. His country also wished to see the strengthening of national human rights mechanisms and international bodies that could monitor those rights.
Armed conflicts and natural disasters were increasing and warranted greater humanitarian responses, he said. Member States should continue to provide support to those operations. They should also guarantee full access by humanitarian staff to populations in need. He also stressed the role of regional organizations, as well as cooperation and coordination between them and the United Nations, in the peaceful resolution of disputes and establishing the rule of law. The slow progress in disarmament, violations of proliferation agreements and the clandestine existence of nuclear networks endangered peace and security and could, in some places, provoke new unilateral responses, he warned. That was something Argentina did not want to see again. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty should come into force as soon as possible, he urged. In addition, the United Nations should continue to provide assistance in the fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The marking and tracing of those weapons should be enforced and manufacturers should ratify instruments to that effect.
He said that efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals would be insufficient if developed countries did not translate their responsibilities and obligations into actions. As a mid-developed country that still needed assistance, he also called for a fair and non-partial trading system that would remove tariff and non-tariff barriers.
RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said conflicts remained unsolved in the Middle East, while longstanding and new conflicts in the African region continued to require attention. Courageous efforts by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism to address roots causes of conflict must be commended and supported. Taking note of efforts of development agencies to address root causes of conflict, he said the increase in the number of peace-building and peacekeeping missions in the past year had placed greater strain on the Organizations resources. He urged Members States to positively respond to the call for sustained political support and an increase in financial commitment to ensure the success of peacekeeping missions.
Iraq was a clear example where nations could not go at it alone, he said, in particular with regard to reconstruction and in ensuring peace and security.
He stressed that the United Nations should have a rightful role to play in Iraq, and what was needed now was a collective will to enable the Organization to undertake its responsibility in a safe environment. The situation in the Middle East, and the question of Palestine, remained an important cornerstone in the work of the Organization, and he expressed concern that efforts of the Security Council had been recently blocked. The United Nations must be allowed to play a role, together with other members of the Quartet, to resuscitate the Road Map. In order to create an environment of confidence to do that, it was necessary to consider approving the deployment of a peacekeeping force, or the placement of an international monitoring mechanism, to oversee its implementation.
Malaysia was concerned with the slow pace of progress to achieve complete and general disarmament, in particular with regard to nuclear weapons. The issue of small arms and light weapons needed attention as well, and efforts were necessary to regulate and restrict the flow of those weapons to prevent illicit transfers. Turning to other issues, he said the recently launched initiative to reduce hunger and eradicate poverty was highly commendable. Clearly, more needed to be done and the United Nations system remained the hope for bringing commitments to fruition.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said that, for too long, the reform of the United Nations had not moved beyond rhetoric. However, it was reform -- not rhetoric -- that could position the United Nations to perform at its best. The objective of reform must be to enhance multilateralism, which was the only vehicle by which the complex challenges facing the world could be resolved. It was also the only way that the authority, legitimacy and credibility of the world body could continue to be respected in the world. As the Organizations chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ, the Assemblys authority and role needed to be enhanced. Also, its relationship with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council needed to be strengthened, with a view to ensuring increased cooperation, coordination and complimentarity of their work programmes.
He believed the Security Council could be made more democratic by broadening its membership in line with the geographical realities of today, not post-war 1945. Similarly, reform had to go far enough to ensure that the role and authority of the Economic and Social Council was not only protected, but strengthened. That would enable that organ to play its assigned role, and be of principal value as a multilateral tool for social and economic progress and development. Regional organizations were a ready source of support and assistance for the United Nations, as it sought to resolve issues multilaterally. Strong working partnerships with those organizations would go a long way to complementing the Organizations efforts.
He added that the challenge of terrorism could not be properly tackled if poverty, and the grievances it fostered, was neglected. It was inconceivable that the battle against terrorism could be won as long as poverty and hunger reigned in the world. The approach to defeating terrorism must be multilateral and democratic in nature.
FATEH BSHAINA (Libya) said the report of the Secretary-General described the current international situation and spoke of successes and failures in dealing with international events and challenges, as well as proposals for achieving greater effectiveness in those areas. In that context, he believed that State sovereignty must be respected, and that principle could not be violated. Libya also opposed the act of a country, or a group of countries, becoming involved in the affairs of another country, including in humanitarian issues. The United Nations Charter, he said, should be the only legal basis for all matters taken to preserve international security, and all other actions taken outside that framework were a flagrant violation. The Charter, moreover, specifically forbade all use of force and intervention in the affairs of other countries, and clearly stated the proper ways to handle all humanitarian problems that might endanger international peace. For the international community to ignore that fact would lead to the violation of the basis of international order.
The report of the Secretary-General, he continued, also described in detail efforts that were undertaken to resolve international and regional conflicts, including in Africa. Although, it stated that the situation in Africa had improved, Libya felt that more effort must be made to resolve the remaining conflicts and prevent all crises that could threaten what had been achieved. Dealing with the deep-rooted causes of Africas problems was necessary, he said, and the African Unions work to end conflicts, and the funding required for that, were the only solutions to dealing with instability in certain States on the continent. Libya also supported the efforts and calls to reform the organs of the United Nations. The General Assembly must work effectively and have the power that would enable leadership and control, as well as have responsibilities vis-à-vis all of the other mechanisms and bodies of the Organization, including the Security Council.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said the Secretary-Generals report was valuable because it provided a thorough summary of what had been done by the Organization and highlighted the limitations and gaps, as well as threats to the international community. Achieving the goals of the Charter involved strengthening the Organizations capacity in the area of conflict prevention and the restoration of peace. The increase in the demand for United Nations peacekeeping activities also demanded that the Assembly and the Security Council effectively carry out their functions.
He said that, while the measures taken so far by the international community had alleviated the suffering of millions, who had been affected by conflict, humanitarian aid was still unequally distributed and fell well short of the needs of some populations. Hence, there was no justification for cuts in humanitarian assistance. Instead, international aid must be better managed and, above all, follow agreed principals. Further, the United Nations should pay particular attention to forgotten emergencies. He also emphasized that efforts underway to assist countries in transition must allow for a development component and also have unified coherent strategies.
He also stressed that work must continue to reform the main bodies of the Organization. In addition, he repeated the appeal by his country for the reconstruction of its forest zone that had served as a home for hundreds of thousands of refugees for years.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) said that the United Nations needed the physical and financial support of all its members to address the conflicts afflicting the world. He called for the reinforcement of the peacekeeping operations component of the Organization. The role of regional organizations was equally vital in strengthening the capacity of the United Nations, he said, noting the creation of an African standby force. He noted that measures undertaken at the regional and international levels aimed at combating the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons needed enhancing. The upswing in biotechnology and other technological advances could effectively be used in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, and to bridge the digital divide, he added.
Continued improvements in infrastructure and in the agricultural sector were also necessary in the fight against hunger and poverty, he noted. The realization of the Millennium Goals also called for the provision of quality education and adequate health care. His Government was working hard towards achieving the Goals.
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