19 September 2005
UN Must Learn from Mistakes, more Effectivly Implement Decisions, Foreign Minister of Rwanda Tells General Assembly
General Debate Continues, with Security Council Reform, Terrorist Threat, Nuclear-Weapon Proliferation among Issues Addressed
NEW YORK, 18 September (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations must learn from its mistakes and be more effective in implementing its decisions, Rwanda's Foreign Minister said today, as the General Assembly continued its general debate for the sixtieth session on Sunday.
Referring to the "responsibility to protect" section in the 2005 World Summit Outcome that included a responsibility to prevent genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the Foreign Minister said it had been his county's experience that, while the United Nations was immaculate in its values and principles, it had all to often been found wanting in its actions. Action, not words, would be the measure of the Organization's success or failure. A collective international response to genocide must include a responsibility for all States to combat impunity and bring to justice any persons accused of having committed such crimes.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation told delegates "success of the United Nations is our success, just like its failures". While, all in all, the balance of the Organization's work was positive, he said the greater interdependence of the modern world had not made it more secure, and many challenges remained. A stronger United Nations and a better use of its multilateral advantages represented an essential instrument for building a balanced, safe international system based on the respect for the unique features of every country, sovereign equality and collective responsibility, he said.
Taking up the issue of Security Council reform, Zimbabwe's President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, said that in its current or new form, the Council should limit itself to its mandate. Not all problems, such as those of a social, cultural or economic nature, were necessarily threats to international peace and security. Yet, his country was "dragged onto the Security Council's agenda" over an issue that had no relevance, whatsoever, to the maintenance of international peace and security. The United Kingdom had acted dishonestly as a Council member by seeking to score "cheap political points" in its bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe, he said.
Stressing that his position was not intended to frustrate Security Council reform, Zambia's President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, said he supported the African Union's "demand" for two permanent seats on the Council, with all privileges, including veto rights. The African region felt that the Organization's reform was an opportunity to correct an historical injustice, which stood as a dark cloud over its people. He was aware that some permanent members of the Council were reluctant to give up the veto power at the moment, but Africa, too, must have the veto power. Absence of that right would only perpetuate the continent's marginalization. He also supported the four candidate States of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to permanent membership with full privileges.
The issue of terrorism was addressed in several statements, with Argentina unequivocally condemning it, in all its forms and manifestations. Its Foreign Minister said nothing could justify the indiscriminate attack on innocent civilians and non-combatants. He added that international response to terrorism should be ethically and morally valid. It should be carried out in full respect of the United Nations Charter, the rule of law, international law, human rights, refugee law and humanitarian law.
On the question of weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation, the Foreign Minister of France said that it was important that unity was maintained on the issue. Together with its British and German partners, France had proposed to Iran a constructive approach that would pave the way for a new relationship with the international community, a relationship that had been seriously compromised by Iran's position on its nuclear programme. France was asking Iran to build confidence by providing objective guarantees as to the peaceful nature of its programme. Referral to the Security Council was on the agenda to strengthen the authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It was the integrity of the non-proliferation regime that was in question, he stated.
Statements in the general debate Sunday were also made by the Presidents of Ecuador, Nauru, Peru, Cyprus, Sao Tome and Principe, El Salvador, and Bolivia. The Prime Minister of Samoa also spoke.
Representatives of the following countries, including at the level of Foreign Minister, also spoke today: Italy; Republic of Korea; Thailand; Armenia; Kazakhstan; Azerbaijan; Papua New Guinea; Ukraine; and Latvia.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 September, to continue its general debate.
The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate.
ALFREDO PALACIO, President of Ecuador, said that the current world order was unjust, inefficient and inhuman. A new world order must be based on respect for development, international law and the environment. To that end, the United Nations must be strengthened and democratized. The current international economy must be reformed to discourage marginalization and the unequal nature of opportunities, both among nations, as well as individuals. Citing the heavy burden that foreign debt placed on developing nations, he said that middle-income countries that were deeply in debt must organize their efforts to reach joint agreements with the world's creditors.
The international community must also raise the level of ethics and international law to the highest degree of respect for biodiversity and the preservation of all forms of life, he continued. Ecuador was particularly concerned about the controversial spraying of glyphosate as an herbicide to eliminate illegal crops on the border between Colombia and Ecuador. Citing a dearth and poor quality of studies, he called on the United Nations system to undertake a study to determine the impact of such sprayings. Ecuador had asked Colombia to suspend air spraying activities in a 10 kilometre strip north of Ecuador's border.
Citing the poor treatment often suffered by migrants, such as by the police against those without papers, he said the link between the migrant issue and development was undeniable. It was necessary to regulate those matters and to administer the rights of migrants as a fundamental human right, as part of the population policy of all States. He proposed that a high-level dialogue on international migration be held in 2006. He added that the identity of indigenous people must be respected and viable solutions found to the problems that affected them.
During the past years, Ecuador had experienced a serious deterioration in its democratic institutions. His Government was committed to the recovery of the rule of law by means of a profound political reform, legitimized through a referendum. Ecuador was firmly fighting against the corruption that eroded democratic structures and, three days ago, had ratified the International Convention against Corruption.
LUDWIG SCOTTY, President of Nauru, said the World Summit outcome document served as a map by which to navigate in seeking to improve the lives of many people in the world. "It may be imperfect but it is our task as leaders to provide a vision of a better world and to lead our people toward the achievement of the vision", he said. Management reform of the United Nations should improve the delivery of the global services that were expected of the Organization. Equally important was the need to enlarge the Security Council to ensure a more democratic representation of the global family.
Nauru was in the unenviable position of having lost its status as a donor country, with much of its wealth lost to mismanagement and corrupt leadership, he said. It, therefore, spoke with some experience when it noted with encouragement, the decision by the United Nations to implement management and structural reforms that improved, among other things, transparency and accountability. Nauru, itself, was undertaking significant economic and political reforms as it recommenced the nation-building process, including the design of a national development strategy.
"We are hopeful that the international community can participate, not by driving the development agenda of the people of Nauru, but by accepting the vision of our people as that to be implemented by Nauru with the support of our development partners. The development agenda, for developing countries, particularly those with fragile and vulnerable economies, must be designed by those whose lives that agenda will impact, not by external parties who have a different agenda", he said.
He expressed the hope that the United Nations would have a leading role in assisting the rebuilding of Nauru and in helping it to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. He reiterated his country's call for a United Nations presence in Nauru for that purpose.
He added that the United Nations had a role in assisting and facilitating constructive dialogue to ensure a future of peace for the people of Taiwan.
ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, acknowledged that some gains had been made at the last Assembly session in the development sphere, but agreement had remained elusive on some pressing issues, such as Security Council reform and the composition of a new Human Rights Council. For many years, everyone had been in favour of an approach to international peace and security that was firmly rooted in the principle of multilateralism and the United Nations Charter. Any diversion from that approach was deemed unacceptable, undesirable and devoid of legal justification. The majority of views expressed during the last session had reinforced that principle. His expectation was that the Security Council, in its current form, or whatever new composition it would eventually have, would limit itself to its mandate. He did not subscribe to the suggestion that all problems -- social, cultural, economic and health -- were necessarily threats to international peace and security, which, therefore, should be referred to the Security Council.
He said he recently witnessed the United Kingdom abusing its privilege and acting dishonestly as a Council member by seeking to score "cheap political points" in its bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe. His country was "dragged onto the Security Council's agenda" over an issue that had no relevance, whatsoever, to the maintenance of international peace and security. He paid tribute to those Council members who saw through that "cheap manipulation of procedures", which the same country had vowed to resume as soon as the Council was "appropriately chaired". Hopefully, member countries would reject that "mere colonialist attempt and blatant interference" in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. The United Kingdom, under Tony Blair, had ceased to respect the Charter. Mr. Blair was a principal member of the "anti-Iraq illegal coalition", which had gone on a devastating campaign in complete defiance of the Charter.
Any State or group of States that committed such an act of aggression on another, justifying that on blatant falsehoods, surely was guilty of State terrorism, he continued. Zimbabwe was at peace with itself and its neighbours, and offered absolutely no threat to international peace and security. It was surprising, therefore, that the United Kingdom and its Anglo-Saxon allies had embarked on a vicious campaign seeking to tarnish Zimbabwe while appealing to Europe and America for sanctions against it. Those imperialist countries had shamefully abused the power of the media by portraying themselves as philanthropists and saviours. Yet, they had remained silent about the shocking circumstances of State neglect surrounding the tragic Gulf Coast disaster, where whole communities, mainly the young, had been abandoned like sacrificial lambs to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
He said that most of the victims were blacks, and he was bound to ask what transgressions they had committed. Was it not enough punishment and suffering that blacks had been uprooted throughout history and made helpless slaves through a vicious system of colonialism that turned them landless, property-less and into mere slaves and serfs on their own lands? "Now, in this day of humanitarian ethics and sacred principles of human equality that saw us assembled here to save, enhance and prolong life, blacks, once again, had become victims of careless racial neglect." He protested that, "in this day and age, blacks should be treated as lesser human beings than people of other races". He reiterated his deep sympathy and condolences over the massive loss of life in the Katrina disaster. And, he wondered whether those that had survived would ever truly be rehabilitated and returned to their original homes.
With reference to the "vexatious" issue of Security Council reform, he sought Africa's fair and equal treatment as partners in the community of nations, and he pledged his commitment to work in pursuit of that objective. The United Nations should also make every effort to promote and protect the full enjoyment of human rights, including the right to development. Regrettably, over the years, he had seen a deliberate tendency to create a distorted hierarchy of rights with the sole mischievous purpose of overplaying civil and political rights, while downplaying economic, social and cultural rights. That explained why the whole human rights agenda, instead of being a cooperative exercise, had degenerated into a "Western-managed kangaroo court", always looking for "criminals" among developing countries. The human rights discourse needed to rid itself of selectivity, double standards and hidden political agendas. He sought a Human Rights Council that was correctly sized and properly structured.
He called it "strange and anomalous" that the Government of Zimbabwe should be maligned and condemned for restoring order and the rule of law in its municipal areas. His detractors failed to acknowledge that "Operation Restore Order" had soon given way to a well-planned vast reconstruction programme through which properly planned accommodation, factory shells and vending stalls were being constructed in many areas of the country. He rejected the "scandalous demand", as expressed in Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka's report, that he lower his urban housing standards to allow for mud huts, bush latrines and pit toilets as suitable for the urban people of Zimbabwe and for Africans, generally. Nothing could be more insulting and degrading than that. Surely, he did not need development in reverse. His message to his detractors was very simple and clear: the people of Zimbabwe had come through a protracted guerrilla struggle to establish themselves as a free and sovereign nation. They cherished that hard-won freedom and independence, and no amount of coercion -- political, economic or otherwise -- would make them a colony again.
ALEJANDRO TOLEDO, President of Peru, said that peace and security and the stability of the global system did not only involve political, military and strategic facts, but had social components as well. Poverty and exclusion conspired against peace, security and democracy. The Summit recognized that concerted actions were required to face both development and security.
While each country had the major responsibility for its own development, there were obstacles at the international level that required new partnerships and new associations. Developing countries were asked for commitments to open markets, foreign investment regimes and public management reforms, yet there was no commensurate commitment to the 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA) target or to dismantle the obstacles to trade. Stating that there should be a new association that encouraged the generation of employment and the creation of wealth, he stressed the need to complete the Doha round next year. Concerted policies to reduce debt should also include middle-income countries, applying the "debt sustainability" principle.
Simultaneously with the agenda for development, the international system for collective security should be fortified to face such threats as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and organized transnational crimes. Peru had just signed the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism, which was now added to the 12 other counter-terrorism conventions of which it was a member. He called on the General Assembly to adopt a comprehensive convention on terrorism, citing its importance in implementing a collective strategy that fortified national capacities and the cooperative mechanisms between States.
He enumerated several actions Peru had taken in the area of peace and international security, including a limit on defence expenditure at the regional level in order to free up resources for social investments; its promotion of the South American Zone of Peace and Cooperation and the Andean Peace Zone; its active participation in the implementation of the Programme of Action regarding illicit trade in small arms; and its strict compliance with the destruction of its anti-personnel mines in accordance with the Ottawa Convention. He also noted that Peru was a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the term 2006-2007.
LEVY PATRICK MWANAWASA, President of Zambia, said he supported the African Union's "demand" for two permanent seats on the Security Council, with all privileges, including veto rights. That position was not intended to frustrate the reform process. Rather, the African region considered the Organization's reform as an opportunity to correct a historical injustice, which stood as a dark cloud over his people. At the same time, he was aware that some permanent members of the Council were reluctant to give up the veto power at the moment, but Africa, like other regions, however, deserved the right to serve. She, too, must have the right of veto; absence of that right would only serve to perpetuate the continent's marginalization. He also supported the four candidate States of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan to permanent membership with full privileges.
Turning to the adoption of the 2005 World Summit's outcome document, he said that, while it did not contain everything, it, nevertheless, represented an important basis for continued dialogue. Since 2001, Africa had been implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). He acknowledged the international community's support of the Partnership, but that was so far insufficient. While official development assistance (ODA) might help achieve the Millennium Development Goals, trade would help sustain the gain. He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to bring to a speedy conclusion the Doha round of trade talks, which would act as a catalyst towards achieving sustainable development. External debt was still a major hindrance, and the current unfavourable terms in agriculture and commodity trading made the problem even more unbearable.
He commended the support of the United Nations for the African Union's peace initiatives, and pledged Zambia's continued support of the Union's Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament. As a core member country of the Great Lakes region, his country associated itself with the remarkable progress made in the subregion since 2003. It would also continue to play its part in the fight against international terrorism and would work with the international community to implement counter-terrorism strategies. Zambia was also committed to the promotion of, and respect for, human rights, rule of law and democracy. Only under conditions of democracy could human rights be protected. Drawing attention to the Zambia Task Force on corruption, he noted that his Government had introduced stringent financial controls, and transparent and accountable public expenditure measures. In fact, he attributed Zambia's "graduation" from heavily indebted poor country to the success of his Government's campaign against corruption.
TASSOS PAPADOPOULOS, President of Cyprus, said that although Cyprus did not accept the referenda of April 2004, it had worked since then towards resolution of the problems it addressed. It did not accept the division of the country. Any settlement must be agreed to by both parties before it was put to a referendum with the active participation of the European Union. Cyprus remained committed to negotiations and had in the meantime been taking steps to build confidence and promote the economic development of Turkish Cypriots. It hoped that enhancing cooperation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots would promote the resolution of the Cyprus problem. The current plan was divisive and did not address the main problem. A major problem was that it was responsive to the political demands of those who were not central to the conflict.
He said the Cyprus problem was at a critical juncture. In reviving talks, it was necessary to recognize that Turkey's aims had changed and that it now recognized the need for a single, reunified State. Cyprus had always looked to Turkey's accession to the European Union as facilitating a resolution to the Cyprus problem and it still did. But, he warned that the United Nations negotiating process should not serve as an excuse to postpone Turkey's fulfilment of its obligations.
He said Cyprus remained committed to a bizonal, bicommunal federal Cyprus. Without ending the military occupation, and addressing the violations of human rights, the plight of refugees and the plight of settlers transported to the occupied part of the island, there could be no resolution. Reciprocally, all secessionist efforts by Cyprus must be stopped. But, progress had not been made and there had been a tendency to entrench the status quo, in particular with the exploitation of Greek-Cypriot-owned property in its occupied part. In reaching a resolution, a prolonged transition period should be avoided. With Cyprus's membership in the European Union, a settlement would involve incorporating the occupied area into European society.
FRADIQUE DE MENEZES, President of Sao Tome and Principe, said that from the early days of the signing of the Charter in 1945, the United Nations had played a crucial role in undertaking many matters of a political, economic, social and humanitarian nature throughout the world. Nevertheless, the world now needed a stronger and more dynamic Organization. Among the issues that constituted important matters in need of the Organization's attention were the climate of permanent tension experienced in some parts of the world; the unbridled arms race; human trafficking; cross-border organized crime; terrorism; systematic violations of human rights; economic depression; and environmental degradation. In the face of such challenges, it was up to Member States to manifest a sense of wisdom and responsibility for an international order based on peace, security, and cooperation to prevail.
As such, the problems affecting small island States -- from global warming to ecosystems -- could only be resolved if the international community made an effort to effectively increase the resources that would support the sustained development of those States, he said. Many countries continued to face great challenges combating HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. If significant resources and additional scientific investments for research to seek a cure for HIV/AIDS were not forthcoming, the development expectation of Africa would be far from reached. He also appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to reinforce the capabilities of countries of the central African subregion by holding seminars and conducting training.
The problems of insecurity existing in some regions of the world were of great concern, he said. Sources of insecurity included environmental degradation, kidnappings, death of innocent people, illegal trafficking in weapons and narcotics, and the use of landmines. It was necessary to take strong initiative and to have active policies regarding those problems, as the insecurity mainly affected the most vulnerable populations. States such as his needed resources that contributed, among other things, to the improvement of security, border control and territorial waters, he added.
The universality of the United Nations required that all nations must be represented in it. However, that continued to not be the case, he said, despite several calls for such action. He called upon the international community to review the problem of the need for Taiwan to be represented in the Organization. He added that he was further concerned by China's recent adoption of the Anti-Secession Law, which he said might compromise peace in the region by increasing tension in the Straight of Taiwan. He added that Member States were faced with an excellent opportunity to infuse the United Nations with greater dynamism, rationality, more action and less bureaucracy.
KASSYMZHOMART TOKAEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that the Summit would have far-reaching implications for the United Nations, as its outcome had laid the groundwork for the most radical reforms in the Organization's history. The ultimate goal of those reforms was an effective response by nations to global challenges and threats. He expressed confidence that the United Nations -- as a universal Organization that had no alternative -- was in a position to achieve that goal. Kazakhstan supported closer interdependence between the three main pillars of the contemporary world -- development, freedom and peace. The Millennium Development Goals could only be achieved through the active engagement of the entire international community on the basis of partnership and cooperation.
Turning to his country, he commended the United Nations and its specialized agencies for their efforts to assist Kazakhstan in addressing the effects of environmental disasters in the area of the Aral Sea and in the Semipalatinsk region. Urging the international community to be involved actively, he said it was particularly important to support a draft resolution in the current session on the problems of the Semipalatinsk region. Citing his country's pursuit of a principled policy of demilitarization and nuclear disarmament, he also called for the universalization of international instruments in that area. He said it was also necessary to institute a mechanism of international sanctions against States that violated both the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the non-proliferation regime in general.
Turning to the issue of terrorism, he believed that international cooperation in fighting terrorism should be pursued in strict compliance with international law. While international peacekeeping operations conducted under the umbrella of the United Nations remained an effective tool to prevent and settle crises, the lack of an effective and comprehensive mechanism to address the root causes of destructive conflicts was a serious problem. The proposed Peacebuilding Commission, he said, was a step in the right direction.
On the issue of the reform of the United Nations, he believed that priority attention should be given to the General Assembly as the main deliberative, decision-making and representative body of the Organization. Such a sensitive issue as reform of the Security Council should be resolved on the basis of a broad international agreement. An enlargement of the Security Council would facilitate a comprehensive reform of the Organization, he said. The United Nations also needed to improve collaboration with regional organizations, which made an important contribution to the collective security system. As such, he welcomed the establishment of a Standing Committee on Regional Organizations.
BORYS TARASYUK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that the World Summit's final declaration provided clear guidelines. It was the common task of Member States to implement ambitious goals for building a safer and more prosperous world. Two key elements that were indispensable for the follow-up activity of the United Nations were credibility and democracy. While the path ahead was beset with serious threats and challenges, Member States had to make sure that the lack of unity would not be a hindrance in tackling those challenges.
The credibility of the United Nations was needed to accomplish missions in the new millennium, he said. Member States could not remain passive observers of such things as genocide, crimes against humanity, or gross and flagrant violations of human rights. Key to ensuring success and durability of actions were early warning, prevention and rapid response. An expert combination of diplomatic, political and assistance tools also had to suffice to avert future humanitarian disasters, he said. Only if such measures failed to stop atrocities should the Security Council be ready to act swiftly and resolutely, including the use of force as a final resort.
Saying that Ukraine also welcomed the establishment of a Human Rights Council, he added that he believed that such an important achievement would be reflected in its activities and not only in a change of name. Ukraine also supported the establishment of a United Nations Democracy Fund, as well as the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission. It was evident, he added, that conflict resolution required a complex approach. The institutional gap between prevention, settlement and post-conflict rehabilitation had to be finally eliminated.
ELÍAS ANTONIO SACA GONZÁLEZ, President of El Salvador, highlighted the importance of dialogue between all the Member States and emphasized the challenges ahead. He reaffirmed his Government's commitment to participating in the reform efforts, particularly where little progress had been achieved. Lasting peace and security could not exist without development, and his Government placed economic and social development at the heart of its efforts. However, it faced some limitations, including the shortage and such external factors as the rise in oil prices. He was also concerned about a growing trend to exclude mid-income countries from assistance and development cooperation efforts. The United Nations should look into that problem in order to find unified solutions to mitigate the crisis those countries were now facing. Among other things, further use should be made of North-South cooperation. It was essential that within a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, greater efficiency and cooperation among funds and programmes be pursued. An equitable trade system was also needed.
Despite the constraints it was facing, El Salvador was determined to implement the Millennium Development Goals, he continued. The solidarity network programme had been launched to combat poverty, and efforts were under way to promote the rights of women. Among other measures, he mentioned microcredit and public education projects, as well as efforts to reduce child mortality. Participation of youth was also among the priorities. Technological development would be the focus of attention at a forthcoming summit on society and information in Tunisia, and he urged active participation in that event.
The magnitude of HIV/AIDS pandemic required the international community to focus on prevention, he said. The Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum on HIV/AIDS would soon be held in his country. He urged the international community and donor countries to continue their support for efforts to stop the spread of the disease. Also of great importance was the issue of social migration, which should be dealt with through a multidimensional approach, on the basis of regional and subregional efforts. Of particular interest for El Salvador was the matter of transnational crime, which often involved corruption and had a negative impact on development efforts. To combat that scourge, it was necessary to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The system of human rights protection also should be strengthened.
Continuing, he supported strengthening the collective security system, with full respect for the United Nations Charter and universal principles of human rights. He stressed the importance of establishing strategic and military police reserves to ensure rapid reaction to conflicts, and said that his country was increasingly participating in United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Regarding disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he supported Norway's initiative to adopt a declaration on that matter. Among other pending items on the international agenda was inclusion of Taiwan. The United Nations must look at that question, which was a reality that could not be ignored. In conclusion, he elaborated on vulnerability to natural disasters and urged the community of nations to pay greater attention to the environment. He hoped the United Nations would continue to be an organization with the legitimacy and capacity to ensure international peace and security and promote human rights. "We can work together in a united fashion to achieve concrete results", he said.
EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ VELTZÉ, President of Bolivia, said the political crisis in his country had given way to a period of transition where authorities would be elected through universal vote, thus leading to better governance. The December elections would bring about a new political scenario, he said, through the creation of a constituent assembly. Autonomous regions would also be established, bound by a new social contract that would construct a more organized, democratic country, while holding the Millennium Development Goals in mind. "Only with a new look to the past may we create the possibility of another future, and only with a creative look at our world may we catch a glimpse of the new type of order we ought to build", he said.
The people of Latin America had long been engaged solving controversies through common action and negotiating for peaceful solutions to their differences, he said. He noted that even in countries with profound democratic roots and solidarity among their people, there existed unsolved situations, just as in landlocked Bolivia. He said that spaces should be created for open dialogue without prejudice. In that context, it was essential to look for, respond and evaluate reciprocal interests to encourage a solution for Bolivia's sovereign return to the Pacific coast.
He said the people of Latin America would persist in the task of attaining the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, even while confronting issues of inequality, exclusion, violent confrontations, intolerance, unfair land distribution, unemployment, extreme poverty and malnutrition. Although significant advances have been attained in indicators, such as sustainability, institutional improvement and economic stability, he expressed concern over fixed deadlines and exhorted the international community of nations to consider better terms and conditions.
He condemned terrorism, saying that harmony between people could not be achieved if the security of innocent individuals and democratic systems were tested by everyday threats. Growing poverty and marginalization of large sectors of society led to dangerous social tensions; it was important to deal not just with questions of economic stability, but also to raise the general standard of well-being. He reaffirmed his country's adherence to United Nations principles, saying that a world without the United Nations to orient it towards a common destiny without poverty, terrorism and violence was inconceivable in theory and practice. To promote progress and freedom, he encouraged the adoption in the near future of a United Nations Declaration on Indigenous People's Rights, as committed to at the high-level World Summit.
TUILA'EPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa, urged the international community to strengthen its political commitment and resources to meet the Millennium Development Goals and said Samoa was moving smoothly towards achieving its goals by the 2015 target date. Further, he called on the United Nations system and the international community to support the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. While Samoa accepted that the primary responsibility for implementing the Mauritius Strategy, which sets out a long-term action plan for sustainable development, rested with the island States, he said the States needed the international community's long-term help.
Samoa supported the ongoing efforts to modernize and strengthen the United Nations to reflect the realities of the twenty-first century. He believed reforms should create a transparent, democratic and enlarged Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent membership. He also urged substantive changes of the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.
Samoa also remained extremely concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and deeply regretted that the Review Conference of the NPT held in May did not agree on steps to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. He said the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty showed how serious the region viewed the threat of nuclear weapons, and he urged States to ratify the Treaty's Protocols. The proliferation of small weapons was a major global problem and Samoa supported the Review Conference on Small Arms scheduled to be held next year and its goal to seal a treaty to control the trade in small arms and stop them from reaching areas of violent conflict.
GIANFRANCO FINI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said the deliberations of the High-level Plenary Meeting had marked a significant step towards making the United Nations better equipped to address the global challenges before it. The results achieved should be saluted with great appreciation and considered a call to action. The Heads of State and Government had indicated the road to be followed. It was now up to the General Assembly, the other bodies of the Organization and specialized agencies, and the Secretariat to work towards studying and developing initiatives agreed upon in the final declaration of the Summit. He said recent events had shown the need for a solid multilateral system that could respond quickly and effectively to a variety of challenges: challenges that single members of the international community, acting individually, would be hard put to overcome. Support for multilateralism was, therefore, a fundamental feature of Italy's foreign policy.
He said that one of the most significant outcomes of the High-level Plenary Meeting was the fostering of consensus on a comprehensive, innovative vision of collective security, and its emphasis on the main phenomena that threatened that security. Terrorism, lack of development and fundamentalism were priority threats, which required a response equal to the challenge. That response could only come from a strong, credible multilateral system, he said. To address the emergence of fundamentalist terrorism, the recourse to force alone, although at times inevitable, was not enough. It was through political means that conditions could be created for a fruitful dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions. It was also through political means that solidarity within society and among nations could be developed, thus preventing terrorism from executing its criminal mission. International solidarity was also the most appropriate response to the scandal of global poverty. To defeat poverty, there was need to promote an energetic solidarity that generated effective, lasting benefits by combining the political and economic action of donor countries. Italy firmly believed that the international community must unite to fight terrorism. The task of the General Assembly was to identify concrete initiatives and actions for that fight, he added.
He also said that Italy had made an unwavering commitment to peace, also at the cost of significant sacrifices, in such key areas as the Middle East, the Balkans and, more recently, in Darfur. Italy had gone to the aid of countries that for decades had sought to rid themselves of oppression, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It had dedicated its efforts to fight the scourge of poverty through innovative measures, such as the debt cancellation and participation in the Global Fund against major epidemics. Italy looked with favour on the prospect of increasing and innovating the Organization's instruments for action through the establishment of new bodies, such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. The reform process under way could, and must, strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the composition and working methods of United Nations institutions. At the same time, it must ensure the coherence of the Organization as a whole.
SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said "the success of the United Nations is our success, just like its failures". While all in all, the balance of the Organization's work was positive, the greater interdependence of the modern world had not made it more secure, and many challenges remained. In that context, the enormous potential of the United Nations was in greater demand. It was necessary to build upon its positive potential through the concerted efforts of all States. Russia considered that task as a strategic core element of its foreign policy.
A stronger United Nations and a better use of its multilateral advantages represented an essential instrument for building a balanced, safe international system based on the respect of the unique features of every country, sovereign equality and collective responsibility, he said. Multilateral mechanisms should also play a key role in solving the issues of disarmament and weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation on the basis of strict compliance with relevant international instruments. United Nations achievements included Security Council resolution 1540, initiated by his country, and the International Nuclear Terrorism Convention. It was of primary importance today to prevent arms race in outer space, and Russia had taken an obligation not to be the first to launch any sort of new armaments into space.
The legal basis for countering new threats, including terrorism, was being reinforced, he said. The adoption of the Security Council Summit resolution initiated by the United Kingdom had become a new, important step forward. He expected that the Assembly should also contribute to the fight against terrorism and encourage completion of negotiations on the comprehensive anti-terrorism convention as soon as possible. The fight against terrorism must be continued in the most decisive manner, and each country should critically evaluate its efforts. In fact, while the sanctions against the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their associates were still in force, the arms supply and other kinds of assistance to guerrillas continued and the scope of their activities was expanding. Many countries, including Russia, felt that in their own territory. That demanded strengthening of cooperation between the States and the 1267 Sanctions Committee, 1540 Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee. Compiling a consolidated list of all terrorists and their organizations, whether associated with Al-Qaida or not, could no longer be postponed.
Another urgent issue was the development of criteria for the use of force in accordance with the Charter, he continued. They would be useful, if set as a benchmark for the consideration of various crisis situations by the Council. At the same time, it was clear that those criteria could not be applied automatically. The Council would authorize the use of force on a case-by-case basis as was provided by the Charter. Also of crucial importance was the issue of States exercising their right to individual and collective self-defence, including self-defence in case of external terrorist attack, or imminent threat of such an attack. The Russian Federation and some other States that had become target of terrorist attacks originating beyond their borders had no right to fail in the eyes of their citizens, who had entrusted their security to them.
Much remained to be done in relation to development, eradication of poverty, epidemics, famine and illiteracy, he said. Russia endorsed all the initiatives aimed at implementing the Millennium Development Goals. The success of concerted efforts to support development would largely depend on the effective work of the Peacebuilding Commission that was yet to be set up. That body would be able to achieve results if it became more than just another "discussion club". It should be a mechanism facilitating greater coordination among all the participants, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), regional development banks, other donors and the receiving countries.
Regarding the Security Council reform, he said that the Russian Federation stood for possible modifications of that key body on the basis of a well conceived, mutually acceptable decision. Members of the United Nations had made a wise decision to continue negotiating rather than pushing for a vote that might split the Organization. The World Summit decisions outlined the general directions of international efforts. As a permanent member of the Council and a succeeding Group of 8 President, the Russian Federation, together with other States, had joined that work and would continue to strive for stronger collectivity concepts in global politics, as well as better multilateral cooperation mechanisms.
BAN KI-MOON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, said his country was committed to the Millennium Development Goals, and he welcomed developed countries' timetables to reach the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA by 2015. His country had already doubled its development assistance between 2002 and 2004, and planned to double it once again by 2009. The Republic of Korea was dedicated to good governance as an essential ingredient of development and was working with the Secretariat to create a UN Governance Centre in Seoul, as a follow-up to the Sixth Global Forum on Reinventing Government, which his country had hosted earlier this year.
His Government was fully committed to non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and was dismayed that the outcome document of the High-level Plenary remained silent on that vital issue. His country would continue to press for strengthening of the nuclear compliance and verification system and called for the universal adoption of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Additional Protocol, the disarmament and non-proliferation of biological and chemical weapons, and the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540.
On the topic of the North Korean nuclear issue, he said the six-party talks resumed last week and were moving towards the adoption of an agreement on the principles for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. Once adopted, the agreement would be a crucial step towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and would start discussions on an action plan towards the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. He said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea must return to the NPT and comply with the full scope of the IAEA safeguards in order to restore the trust of the international community. A strategic decision by North Korea to dismantle all nuclear weapons and nuclear programmes would be met with economic and energy assistance, as well as security assurance.
On the issue of United Nations reform, his Government would have preferred to see stronger language and greater details about the composition, mandate and function of the Human Right Council spelled out in the outcome document. He welcomed the reform initiatives to strengthen the United Nations' human rights system and supported the creation of a Human Rights Council. He supported comprehensive reforms of the UN system that would give all Members -- large and small -- a sense of ownership in the process and outcome. Reform of the Security Council should increase its accountability, transparency and efficiency, and the number of non-permanent seats, without any addition of permanent seats, was the best way to build broad-based consensus on reform.
PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that France attached great importance to the multilateral system, and the declaration adopted at the Summit represented a significant milestone in that regard, even if it did not meet all expectations. Now, its conceptual advances needed to be implemented. However, one should not underestimate the task that needed to be accomplished, in particular in such areas as the fight against terrorism. There could be no security without strict compliance with individual freedoms. Among other things, it was important to conclude the convention against forced disappearances, strengthen the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and promptly establish the Human Rights Council. The international community had the necessary legitimacy to exercise its "responsibility to protect" populations threatened with ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide. In order to combat the barbaric phenomenon of terrorism, it was also necessary to define acts of terrorism, once and for all.
It was important to remain united against weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation, he said. Together with its British and German partners, France had proposed to Iran a constructive approach that would pave the way for a new relationship with the international community, a relationship that had been seriously compromised by Iran's position on its nuclear programme. France was asking Iran to build confidence by providing objective guarantees as to the peaceful nature of its programme. The Iranian statements in the Assembly compelled the international community to meet its responsibilities. Referral to the Security Council was on the agenda to strengthen the authority of the IAEA. It was the integrity of the non-proliferation regime that was in question.
The Council had expanded its field of action to include such issues as the financing of conflicts, impunity and embargoes, he said. Now, over 70,000 "blue helmets" served in some 18 peacekeeping missions around the world. The results were obvious, in particular in such countries as Timor-Leste, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But, to emerge from crisis, countries needed to continue to benefit from international attention and full support. The Peacebuilding Commission would be important in that regard.
He then touched on several individual conflicts, saying that in Côte d'Ivoire, like in Haiti, efforts of the United Nations would bear no fruit without cooperation of all the parties. It was important to support the electoral process under way, as well as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. The issue of impunity should also be addressed. The Organization also needed to support the efforts of the Lebanese Government to extend its authority throughout the country.
In the Middle East, there was hopeful momentum with the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip. Together with its European partners, France, supported the efforts of the Palestinian people to reconstruct and develop their territory. They should have decent living conditions and have access to jobs. It was important to open a political perspective to re-start the implementation of the Road Map by encouraging, on the one hand, the Palestinians to redouble their efforts on security and, on the other, the Israelis to take the necessary measures to stop settlement activity and comply with international law in their struggle for security. Peace in the Middle East would entail the existence of two democratic States living side by side in peace and security. In Iraq, international assistance to the Iraqi people should lead to the creation of institutions that all the Iraqis could trust. The political process should move forward towards the country's full sovereignty.
The Security Council's authority would be further strengthened when a decision was reached on its expansion, taking into account the emergence of new powers and ensuring more equitable place for all the continents. At the same time, deep management reform was needed at the Organization, and the Secretary-General had proposed a plan of action in that regard. He supported his efforts. Security and development were inseparable, but review of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated that more needed to be done to achieve such goals as food security and putting a stop to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It was also necessary to strengthen coordination of efforts to provide emergency assistance.
Regarding development assistance, he said that ODA would continue to be important for a long time, and the outcome of the Summit had set important goals in that regard. It was also necessary to earmark new resources towards that objective and find new innovative sources of financing. France advocated the establishment of international solidarity contributions. Over 66 countries had given their support to the pilot project for a tax on airline tickets. In February, his country would host a ministerial conference on that initiative.
He added that health was at the core of sustainable development, and it was only together that Member States could solve the problem of HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases. He advocated an integrated approach to the spread of HIV/AIDS, which should include prevention, treatment and care for infected persons. Also, for its part, France was prepared to double its contribution to the Fund to combat HIV/AIDS and other major diseases. As for the environmental issues, every initiative needed to be compatible with the Kyoto Protocol. France would like to see stronger commitments, particularly regarding transfers of technologies to emerging countries. To respond to the threat and effectively mobilize energies and resources, France and Europe had proposed the establishment of a specialized agency, based on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), for the purpose of coordinating international action.
KANTATHI SUPHAMONGKHON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, noted the sense of shared responsibility directed towards the United States from all over the world after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and said that Members of the United Nations must move forward with the same spirit to tackle its challenges. Poverty, hunger, deadly diseases, and environmental degradation were silent killers that must not be ignored, he said. Each day, 50,000 people perished from poverty and hunger, while 30,000 children would not survive past the age of five. It was unacceptable that money spent on arms outpaced money spent on sustaining lives.
He acknowledged the difficulty in achieving consensus on the outcome document and said it would be just as difficult to translate the consensus into action. To help ensure concrete results, his country would participate in the revitalization of the General Assembly, the strengthening the Economic and Social Council, the reform of the Security Council, and the establishment of the Human Rights Council. Support would also be given to the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, and reforming the management of the Secretariat to make it more efficient, effective and accountable.
In terms of poverty eradication, a people-centred development policy embodying the spirit of democracy and good governance had been adopted in Thailand, he said. A dual-track trade and investment liberalization was also being pursued. But, national efforts must be backed by a supportive global environment in which international trade was free and fair. Not everyone was equally fit to compete, he said, reminding the group of his Prime Minister's words that "a patient who had just been released from the intensive care unit of a hospital cannot run a race under the same rules and conditions of a fit athlete". He welcomed the reaffirmation of the Monterrey Consensus and other proposals on financing for development, adding that financial assistance given to developing countries must go towards empowering recipient countries, while avoiding the creation of dependency traps.
Partnership was vital in the area of energy, he said. The rapid rise in global oil prices had the potential to roll back many hard-won gains of developing countries, which would make it harder for many to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations should help mobilize world-wide cooperation to ensure energy security. The United Nations should also facilitate partnership building between North-South, South-South and trilateral cooperation. Marginalization bred resentment and anger, building fertile ground for extremism. Development helped to prevent that, he said, by discrediting the appeal of terrorism. But, in doing so, religious and cultural identities must be recognized and respected, thereby preserving a sense of unity in diversity.
VARTAN OSKANIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said the path for global security lay in development, and the Millennium Development Goals were as imperative for global security as when the Goals were developed five years ago.
He said Armenia wanted to translate the double-digit growth of its economy over the past four to five years into better living conditions for all of the country's people. The nation planned to reach that goal by creating transparent and solid institutions and building partnerships with the country's wealthy population. Armenia remained committed to reducing the level of poverty among the country's rural poor.
He said the greatest resource of this small, landlocked country was its people, and the nation was dedicated to improving its educational system so people could realize their dreams. The country would not create imaginary enemies and increasing its military budget was not a viable option. He said that democracy and security and human development go hand in hand.
He said UN reform should reflect the realities of today's world and the body could no longer pretend the world has not changed since 1945. At the same time, he praised the principles of the United Nations Charter. He said the United Nations needed "earned representation" around the decision-making table and, for example, countries serious about human rights should sit on the Human Rights Council, while nations serious about economic development should sit on the Economic and Social Council.
"It all boils down to accountability to our children", he said. "People's faith needed to be restored." He said the global community needed to work together to restore people's faith, and the United Nations could still be that vehicle.
ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that since his country's accession to the United Nations, the Organization had been closely associated with the hopes for the liberation of the territories of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. Alongside the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), prompt reaction of the Security Council in response to the occupation, and the adoption of four resolutions dealing with the issue, generated optimism for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Consideration by the General Assembly of the agenda item entitled "The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan" also played a crucial role in attracting attention to the problem.
Negotiations were at a critical juncture now, he said, adding that Azerbaijan would never compromise its territorial integrity. Only the return of all occupied territories would restore trust and confidence in Armenia and its declared intentions to establish good, neighbourly relations. Such a step would also relieve Armenia from the label of aggressor.
It would also be necessary to create favourable conditions for the return of the expelled Azerbaijani population in order to establish normal living conditions and provide opportunities for the economic development of both communities, he said. Towards that end, the international community's support would be needed in developing multinational peacekeeping forces, demining, restoring communications, rehabilitation of lands and providing security guarantees for the population concerned. Regarding communication between Armenians residing in the region with Armenia, and that of Azerbaijanis in the Nakhchivian region of Azerbaijan with the rest of the country, he suggested using the "Lachin corridor" -- which should be called "Road of Peace" -- for direct transport and communication, provided that the road was secured by multinational peacekeeping forces. Symbolically, it should be considered as the path leading to peace and cooperation. He urged Armenia to advance the negotiation process with assistance from the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen.
Concerning the special development needs of Africa, he welcomed the decision of the Group of 8 countries to cancel the debt of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, and supported the strengthening of the United Nation Development Group and the United Nations Resident Coordinator to help bring about greater inter-agency coordination in that region.
He recognized the role of United Nations regional commissions in enhancing regional cooperation for sustainable development, and emphasized the need for trans-regional transport and communication lines through various countries in his region. He said his country had contributed towards meeting that need through its involvement with oil pipelines, and he looked forward to the realization of a railroad project, as well.
In meeting the Millennium Development Goals, he highlighted the need for assistance in capacity-building, science and technology, and environmental protection. In the area of governance, his country had formulated extra national goals to address the reform of the State's public administration, legislation and policies by 2015. He noted that natural disasters had a destructive effect on sustainable development. Efficient burden-sharing between national authorities and international humanitarian and development actors, in particular in situations with mass displacement and limited national capacities to deal with related problems, would be needed.
RAFAEL BIELSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, said his country struggled day by day to improve the quality of democracy, ensure the rule of law and the impartiality and independence of its judiciary. The respect for human rights, incorporated in the country's Constitution, was also one of the Government's important concerns. Argentina supported the creation of a Human Rights Council as an essential organ of the United Nations. The reinforcement of global justice was necessary to put a stop to massive human rights violations, genocide and crimes against humanity. Argentina, which in the past suffered systematic violations of human rights -- characterized by torture, forced "disappearance" and summary extrajudicial executions of its citizens -- had taken decisive steps to put an end to impunity.
Argentina unequivocally condemned terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, he continued. Nothing could justify the indiscriminate attack on innocent civilians and non-combatants, he said, adding that his country was strongly committed to the fight against that grave threat to international peace and security. He said the response to terrorism must be ethically and morally valid. It should be carried out in full respect of the United Nations Charter, the rule of law, international law, human rights, refugee law and humanitarian law.
Touching on the reform of the United Nations, he said that all its organs must contemplate improvements. The General Assembly, as the highest deliberative and decision-making body, must ensure that the means existed for its voice to be heard throughout the world, with the command and legitimacy it deserved. The Economic and Social Council would also need to undertake radical reorganization to improve its efficacy. Within "Uniting for Consensus", he said Argentina would push for a Security Council with new, but only non-permanent, members. No new privileges should be created that would go against the democratic spirit of the United Nations. Argentina remained strongly committed to peacekeeping operations, for which it had contributed troops since 1958. It, therefore, supported the establishment of a Peacekeeping Commission.
Turning to the question of the Malvinas Islands (Falkland Islands), he said the recovery of the full exercise of sovereignty over the islands, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas was one of national interest to Argentina and an essential component of its identity as a democratic nation. All Argentines were strongly committed to a peaceful solution of the controversy over the islands. It was a priority of his country's foreign policy, which was also enshrined in its Constitution. A resolution of the General Assembly had established that the "Question of the Malvinas Islands" was a special and particular colonial situation that must be solved through the resumption of bilateral negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The Argentine Foreign Minister urged the United Kingdom to heed the repeated appeals to negotiate with his Government that had been made in the General Assembly.
RABBIE L. NAMALIU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, said the United Nations reform process -- especially of the General Assembly, Secretariat and the Security Council -- should reflect today's world, and the Security Council should be expanded to include equitable representation from developing countries. He urged the delegates to begin work on the reform agenda, as contained in the outcome document of the High-level Summit, immediately.
He said the Millennium Development Goals have been incorporated into the country's Medium-Term Development Strategy, which ties the Goals into the country's development programmes through the national budget process. In July, the Papua New Guinea National Parliament endorsed a comprehensive National Millennium Development Report. The country remained very concerned about the spread of HIV/AIDS in the nation, which had the highest incidence of reported cases in the Pacific Region. He supported the Secretary-General's efforts to mobilize international resources for the Global Fund against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other diseases.
Papua New Guinea supported the United Nations' efforts to reduce the trafficking of small arms and light weapons into the Pacific region, as the Bougainville crisis was fuelled by the entry of large quantities of small arms and light weapons. He lauded the United Nations peacekeeping efforts that helped his nation resolve the crisis and said peace was now being consolidated with the election of the first Autonomous Government by the people of Bougainville.
On the issue of climate change, he urged global commitment to the objectives of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. His nation was part of a newly formed Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which was requesting a global discussion on how market incentives could be aligned with sustainable outcomes and help reduce global carbon emissions.
The nation supported the sealing of the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Convention as a way to control illegal fishing activities in the region, he said. Sustainable development was a priority for the Pacific Island countries and the region's oceans and fisheries were critical to the livelihood and well-being of its people and its economy.
Papua New Guinea would assume the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum in October and lead its members as they addressed the region's critical issues and adopted the Pacific Plan. That Plan was based on four pillars: regional security; economic growth; sustainable development; and good governance. The Plan would become the vehicle to translate the outcomes of the Mauritius Strategy, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the High-level Summit into actions on the ground. He urged the region's development partners to support the implementation of the Plan and its adoption at the upcoming Forum meeting in Port Moresby in October.
CHARLES MURIGANDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, said that it was his country's experience that, while the United Nations was immaculate in its values and principles, it had all too often been found wanting in its actions. If there was any advice that his country could offer to the United Nations on its sixtieth birthday, it would be that the Organization must learn from its mistakes and be more effective in implementation. There was probably no other Member State, apart from Rwanda, where the Organization had consistently neglected to learn from its mistakes, resulting in massive loss of life and untold misery. It was in 1959, while still under United Nations trusteeship, that the first acts of genocide against Tutsis took place in Rwanda, leading to the first mass refugee problem in Africa. The United Nations watched unmoved and no action was ever taken, he said. In the years following 1959, the Organization had stood by in silence and inaction, as pogroms took place throughout the country, resulting in massive loss of life and compounding the refugee crisis.
Continuing, he said that 35 years later, in 1994, while the United Nations had a huge political and military presence in Rwanda, it had watched without action the planning and implementation of genocide. He recalled the shocking decision of the Security Council to withdraw United Nations peacekeepers at a time when hundreds of thousands of defenceless people needed them most. Over the last 11 years, his country's repeated appeals for the disarming and demobilization of the perpetrators of the genocide had yielded no results. He said he had raised those examples to highlight the fact that Rwanda was probably the country most interested in United Nations reform. His delegation wished to take back home from the session to its people a message of hope and promise that the United Nations had been re-invented and that the Organization would never betray them again.
His Government welcomed the endorsement of the "responsibility to protect" statement in the outcome document of the High-level Plenary Meeting. Noting that it included a responsibility to prevent genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, as well as a responsibility to prevent incitement to commit those crimes, he said action, not words, would be the measure of the Organization's success or failure. How would the United Nations respond the next time action to protect populations was required? he asked. What was clear to his country was that no nation or people should have to face the horrors that Rwanda faced 11 years ago. A collective international response to genocide included a responsibility for all States to combat impunity and bring to justice any persons accused of having committed such crimes.
ARTIS PABRIKS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said the world needed the United Nations as much today as it did 60 years ago. He said, however, that the United Nations needed to act effectively to prevent genocide and ethnic cleansing, such as in Rwanda and Darfur. While principles such as national sovereignty, non-intervention and self-determination lay at the core of the United Nations, Member States must recognize its collective responsibility to protect innocent civilians from wide-scale abuse. He expressed his country's honour that their President was chosen as a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for promoting reforms within the United Nations. He said wide consensus had been reached regarding the need for a Peacebuilding Commission. But, common understanding had not been achieved in many other areas, and it was the shared responsibility of Member States to achieve an understanding soon.
He said that in strengthening the United Nations, efforts should not be duplicated. While he supported the decision to establish a Human Rights Council, Members should work towards a smooth transformation of the Human Rights Commission into such a Council. He confirmed Latvia's support for the Commissioner of Human Rights and her Office in realizing that endeavour, and welcomed a decision to allocate a large share of the United Nations budget towards that end. He also supported management reforms that would afford the Secretary-General greater authority and responsibility within certain fields of the organization's activities. He said the reforms would contribute to the transparency and professionalism of the Secretariat, which had been justly criticized for serious deficiencies in its work.
On the reform of the Security Council, he endorsed efforts to render it more effective and representative. He believed that the Council should be enlarged to incorporate new permanent seats without veto rights, and that permanent members of the Council should refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Though difficult, he urged Member States not to abandon efforts to reach feasible accord on the issue by year's end.
He said the mandate for the United Nations Development Programme office in Latvia would end this year, after 13 years of facilitating development in his country. Now, Latvia was a net contributor of aid for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and stood ready to share its experience of transition to democratic rule and a free market economy. He welcomed the initiative of establishing a Democracy Fund to assist countries to consolidate their democratic political systems. He also welcomed the Secretary-General's counter-terrorism strategy, saying that a legal framework for international cooperation in combating terrorism was needed, calling it a "scourge on humanity". His country condemned terrorism in all its forms, and he expressed disappointment that consensus was not reached on disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
He said the world experienced natural disasters on an unprecedented scale in the current year, and that lessons must be learned to prepare for future emergencies. While nothing could be done to prevent earthquakes and tsunamis, it was possible to curb the continued dependence and increased consumption of fossil fuels that generated greenhouse gases, which, in turn, threatened to disrupt the climate. Unless the world diversified its sources of energy, devastating hurricanes, floods, drought and desertification could continue to occur.
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