26 September 2005
As General Assembly Concludes Annual Debate, Members Urged to Begin Implementation of Agreed Initiatives to Boost Aid, Achieve Development, Reform UN
NEW YORK, 23 September (UN Headquarters) -- Now that delegations had expressed their views -- both favourable and critical -- on the outcome of last week's historic 2005 World Summit, it was time to come together and urgently implement the freshly agreed initiatives to boost development aid, improve collective security and reform the United Nations, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson (Sweden) said, wrapping up the 191-member body's high-level debate.
"The world will be watching us closely", he told the Assembly. "The extent to which we -- all of us in this Assembly -- can muster a spirit of urgency and common purpose in the coming days and weeks will ultimately determine whether the World Summit goes down in history as a missed opportunity for the UN, or -- as I hope -- as the start of the most substantial reform programme in the history of the Organization."
And while, understandably, there had not been consensus on how every item on the agenda should be addressed, it was, nevertheless, time to move quickly, so that the political will generated over the months and weeks in the run-up to the Summit was not lost, he said. In the coming days, he planned to write all Member States informing them of his views on the way ahead, and would then hold an open meeting to firm up the Assembly's proposed work programme for the year. Once consultations were completed, work on follow-up would have to begin immediately.
Mr. Eliasson's comments echoed those of countless political leaders, from both rich and developing countries, who welcomed the Summit's promises of United Nations reform and efforts to reduce poverty and improve security, but said only a stronger United Nations could fulfil them.
Throughout the seven-day debate, speakers applauded the Summit decisions to create a Peacebuilding Commission and green-light a major overhaul of the United Nations human rights machinery, but regretted that many of the sweeping changes sought by Secretary-General Kofi Annan had been watered down, or, in the case of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation issues, jettisoned altogether.
The Secretary-General set the tone for the debate, urging the Assembly to "get to work, confident and determined", to ensure that the series of "breakthrough" actions endorsed by the Summit gained traction. "If we do that, and we do what we have promised this week, we will help save millions of lives, and give hope to billions of people. That would be a fitting achievement to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, and a platform from which to do even more in the years ahead."
Still, he warned that more must be done to remedy the "distressing failures on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament". Over the past year, while Member States had been content to finger-point rather than search for real solutions, the risks of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism continued to grow. "The stakes are too high to continue down a dangerous path of diplomatic brinkmanship", he said, urging cooperation to strengthen all three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime -- non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses.
His disappointment was echoed by many speakers during the debate who stressed the need to keep searching for agreement on disarmament and other open issues, including deciding the make-up and logistics of the new Human Rights Council created by the Summit, and finding a way forward on the knotty issue of expanding membership in the Security Council, which many delegations felt had overshadowed negotiations on the Summit's outcome document for over six months.
Most delegations from the developing world urged the Assembly to remain focused on efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of ambitious targets, ranging from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and providing universal primary education by 2015. Many were particularly concerned that the Summit had not produced a more solid commitment from rich countries on boosting development aid, or on tearing down international trade barriers.
Calling for strengthening efforts at both national and international levels to help Africa reach agreed development targets, many speakers stressed that the Summit's results had not fully addressed the troubled continent's concerns. What was lacking was a clear vision for Africa's future, one speaker said, calling for a "Marshall Plan" for Africa, to help ensure the continent was prosperous, stable, hunger-free and much more attractive to foreign investors.
A few speakers during the debate believed that the Summit and the negotiations leading to the adoption of the outcome document had been merely a chance for powerful States to impose their views on the international community to the detriment of poor nations.
One delegate even called the Summit itself "a complete farce", while another said that the event made his delegation feel both "anxiety and hope about… the future of nations working together". He said he did not want reform which would allow more frequent and arbitrary use of force by the mighty, or which would divide countries into those that were "worthy" and "unworthy" of international assistance.
In two meetings today, some 25 speakers stressed, among other things, that helping underdeveloped countries and post-conflict societies was not charity, but an investment in the future of the entire world. Others stressed that the security of people could not be ensured through weaponry and sophisticated technology alone. Hurricane Katrina had reinforced that conviction. It was more important than ever that strategies to counter threats be preventative, comprehensive, inclusive and global in nature.
One speaker was concerned about the continuing encroachment of the Security Council on the treaty-making capacity of the General Assembly. He expressed his deep regret at the failure of the Summit's outcome document to include any reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the question of impunity. Another stressed that United Nations reform was a golden opportunity to increase the recruitment of women at all levels, since good governance in a modern organization required the input of women on an equal footing with men.
Speaking in the Assembly today was the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Grenada,
Trinidad and Tobago, Norway, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Chad, Belize, Benin, Liechtenstein and Bhutan.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia addressed the Assembly as did the Minister of State of Antigua and Barbuda and the Secretary of State of Cambodia.
Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Syria, Finland, Marshall Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Swaziland, Uzbekistan, Republic of Moldova, Dominica and Cameroon.
In addition, the Observer of the Holy See made a statement.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Azerbaijan.
The Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, 29 September, at 10 a.m., to take up the Secretary-General's report on the work of the Organization.
The sixtieth United Nations General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its annual general debate.
ADNAN TERZIC, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the World Summit's outcome document was encouraging in that it summarized the issues on which there was agreement, but it fell short in providing a timetable for accomplishing important goals, including Security Council reform. A clearer definition of how the Human Rights Council would be put into place was needed. The process would benefit from the appointment of a facilitator to streamline the efforts of the General Assembly. The Department of Political Affairs needed to be strengthened, drawing on the experiences of countries emerging from conflict. The Security Council should remain committed to its primary Charter responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, rather than having its agenda expanded at the expense of the General Assembly.
He said defining terrorist acts and securing international justice was only possible through the work of the Organization. Bosnia and Herzegovina had created a Special Ministry of Security and stood ready to help draft a comprehensive United Nations convention against terrorism. He noted that 2005 marked the anniversaries of the Srebrenica massacre and the Dayton Agreement. It was discouraging that the two most wanted war criminals had not yet been brought to justice. Recent developments clearly pointed to the responsibility of Serbia and Montenegro in that regard. It was obvious that many criminals who were still at large had used Belgrade as an escape route out of the region.
He said he supported all activities aimed at conflict prevention, peacebuilding and safety in post-conflict zones. The United Nations should play a more important role in reconstructing Iraq. Given the shortfall in funding for international peacekeeping operations, there was a need for more balanced principles of contribution, with developed countries setting a good example for the rest.
He said Bosnia and Herzegovina was underrepresented within the United Nations system and was keen to see its nationals elected to high-ranking positions, as it had high-quality personnel to offer. His country would take immediate measures to fulfil the Millennium Goals by next year. Any assistance in the form of debt relief and capital from private investments and the Bretton Woods institutions would be more than welcomed. "Helping underdeveloped countries and post-conflict societies is not charity, but an investment into the future of the entire world."
ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Grenada, said that reform was vital if the United Nations was going to be able to reflect the aspirations of its 191 Member States. And to that end, Grenada agreed that reform of the Security Council was imperative. That 15-nation body must be expanded in a manner that would assure the States and peoples of every region of the world that they had a voice and that their concerns were being addressed. Grenada also placed a high priority on the reorganization of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which must have a more focused agenda built around the major aims of the Millennium Declaration.
He said Grenada knew well the challenges facing developing countries, having in the course of just one year two devastating hurricanes, which caused incalculable damage to the country's infrastructure, crippled the tourist trade, dramatically increased unemployment and seriously impacted the population's psyche. Prior to that, Grenada had been on track to achieve the Millennium Goals, targeting improvements in education, child mortality rates and poverty eradication. Boosting efforts to turn back the ravages of the HIV/AIDS virus was also high on Grenada's agenda, he said. But today, even with the most rigorous national efforts, Grenada could not achieve those Goals without substantial financial and technical assistance.
It was clear, he said, that Caribbean countries needed improved access to the international trade markets, particularly in light of new World Trade Organization regulations, which removed preferential rules that had once facilitated their trading. He also called for the establishment of a global disaster relief fund, which could facilitate quick responses to victims in the event of earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes or other natural catastrophes. He also reminded the Assembly that the Millennium Goals and other agreed commitments made up a broad international partnership for development, and that all States must live up to their obligations.
KNOWLSON GIFT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said much more needed to be done to bring about a full realization of the Millennium Goals. More than a billion people worldwide still lived below the poverty line. Challenges also remained in the areas of trade, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the devastating effects of hurricanes, humanitarian emergencies, the rise of global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were particularly concerned with the increasing incidence of violent crime caused by the presence of illegal firearms and its association with the illicit drug trade. The world must demonstrate the political will to act collectively, and to maintain a strong and effective United Nations.
He said several issues were considered paramount: recommitment to the Millennium Development Goals, greater democratization of all United Nations organs, strict observance for the rule of international law and justice, and respect for commonly shared values. Development must remain central to the United Nations agenda with increased attention given to Africa and small island developing States. Trinidad and Tobago hoped to achieve developed nation status by 2020. It looked forward to the democratic election process in Haiti, and urged the United Nations to provide the necessary support to secure that process. His country was very concerned about the drug trade and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which produced criminal activities. It was also worried about the continuing encroachment of the Security Council on the treaty-making capacity of the General Assembly.
He expressed his deep regret at the failure of the World Summit's outcome document to include any reference to the International Criminal Court and the question of impunity. A revitalization of the General Assembly was the key to United Nations reform, but the Security Council needed to be reformed as well. The Council must be more representative of Member States. The international community must spare no effort to ensure that the future of the United Nations was not compromised by the exigencies of the moment. Institutional renewal, a strengthened United Nations and robust multilateralism must allow nations to forge a truly effective global response to common threats and challenges.
JAN PETERSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, recalled the Secretary-General's words, "regardless of differences, all stood or fell together in an interdependent world". The greatest global responsibility, he continued, was for the strong to protect the weak. The greatest failure was when the members of the United Nations were unable to prevent atrocities against innocent civilians. The responsibility to protect had been endorsed for the first time ever. That created an important new basis for collective action in cases of genocide and related grave crimes. The tools now existed to prevent another Srebrenica or Rwanda.
The assistance of the United Nations had been indispensable to the peace process in Sri Lanka, which Norway had been facilitating, he said. He welcomed the initiative to establish a Peacebuilding Commission, which would marshal resources, give advice and propose comprehensive strategies for peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery. His country would contribute $15 million to the Peacebuilding Fund. The role and needs of women should be reflected in the Commission. He supported strengthening the capacity of the Secretary-General to undertake initiatives through his good offices.
Also, he called for the development of a rule-based and fair multilateral trading system. The United Nations should lead and coordinate the international fight against terrorism by developing a broad-based strategy ensuring the rule of law; strengthening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by respecting the Summit's decision to double the Office's regular budget; and administrative reform to free the Organization of intolerable conduct.
He said the General Assembly should be the chief policymaking body, and the Secretary-General, as the Chief Administrative Officer, must be given sufficient authority and flexibility to carry out duties. Mandates should be reviewed and either sufficiently funded or dropped. The management reform process provided an opportunity to increase the recruitment of women at all levels, since good governance in a modern organization required the input of women on an equal footing with men.
SEYOUM MESFIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said United Nations reform, as well as achieving the Millennium Development Goals, was essential. It would be regrettable if the Goals were missed due to the failures of those who were most affected by the problems they addressed, or by those in a position to assist. Debt relief and trade liberalization were required to help countries achieve the Goals. The commitments expressed by some countries during the World Summit to eliminate subsidies and tariffs were welcome. However, the Goals could not be achieved without domestic reforms. Ethiopia had done its best to improve its economic situation. Its primary objective had been to improve the rural sector. The Government had been committed to transform itself into a democracy. Its recent elections stood as a milestone towards that goal, and the country had moved towards a vibrant, multi-party system.
Ethiopia would continue to fight terrorism, which it rejected in all its forms, he said. It would also try to resolve its dispute with Eritrea. However, Eritrea had done more than its share to block a resolution. A region of Ethiopia remained under Eritrean occupation. The problem had grown out of aggression perpetrated by Eritrea against Ethiopia. The suggestion made by the Eritrean representative earlier in the week, that it was, in fact, Eritrean territory that had been occupied, was untrue. Force could not be used to resolve the situation. Eritrea's statements did not correspond with that country's actions on the ground.
Eritrea, he continued, had to understand that it would be held accountable. The peace proposal Ethiopia had put forth demonstrated that it was serious about achieving peace. Perhaps Eritrea opposed dialogue because it thought dialogue would lead to peace, and that peace would not serve Eritrea's purposes. Eritrea dragged Ethiopia into war and continued to refuse to normalize relations. Nevertheless, Ethiopia had the will to move forward and attempt to achieve a resolution of the conflict.
TREVOR WALKER, Minister of State of Antigua and Barbuda, said his country was attempting to achieve and sustain a decent standard of living for its people and for future generations. The progress report was a mixed one, tinged with hope and frustration. In the face of severe economic hardships, it had managed to achieve a literacy rate of over 90 per cent among 15- to 25-year-olds; make access to primary and secondary education mandatory and free to all students aged 5 to 16; and require that text books were free. The people of Antigua and Barbuda had a national medical benefits programme that provided low-cost access to health services and prescription drugs. The child mortality rate was among the lowest in developing countries, while the nutrition levels of children aged 5 and under was among the highest, he said.
He said that, with trade in agriculture proving continually difficult for developing countries, particularly small island States, the services sector was the only option they had for diversification of their economies. Tourism had been good for his country, but it was volatile. After careful consideration and evaluation, small island developing States had been forced to conclude that there was nothing tangible for them in the Monterrey Consensus.
Regarding environmental sustainability, he said small islands like his own faced the challenge of very limited space and fragile eco-systems. They were highly vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Compounding those challenges was their heavy dependence on the natural environment to support their tourism sector, which accounted for almost 80 per cent of their gross national income. Two-thirds of the island of Barbuda was a few feet above sea level, he noted. Threats to the natural environment of small islands were threats to their very existence. Therefore, he welcomed sections of the World Summit Outcome Document that dealt with climate change.
OUCH BORITH, Secretary of State, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said the outcome document did not respond to all of Cambodia's concerns, but it provided a framework for future action. There was an urgent need for disarmament to be dealt with at regional, national and international levels. Confidence building measures were necessary. Cambodia was a proponent of the reinforcement of international law, and was disappointed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Conference ended without any results. People needed food, not weapons. The security of people could not be ensured through weaponry and sophisticated technology alone. Hurricane Katrina reinforced that conviction. It was more important than ever that strategies to counter threats be preventative, comprehensive, inclusive and global in nature.
He hoped joint efforts would lead to an agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The causes of terrorism did not occur instantaneously. Only through efforts to promote tolerance, social development, economic growth and democracy could nations fight injustice, poverty and all other roots of terrorist activity. The foundation of peace lay in the success of Governments, their citizenry and the world community in ensuring development, which was the cement for peace. Cambodia believed in international partnership and good governance.
His country was in the process of preparing its National Strategic Development Plan. He said Cambodia's progress toward the Millennium Development Goals was constrained by a number of impediments, one being the chronic shortage of investment funds. The resource gap needed to be resolved through an increased flow of external finance. The current concessions given to the least developed countries provided limited benefit and needed to be supplemented. Cambodia reiterated its call for the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action. It welcomed the resumption of the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula, and hoped for the continuation of inter-Korean dialogue. Cambodia also welcomed recent developments in the Middle East. The dire situation in Africa deserved the world's utmost concern and action, and called for greater efforts by the international community and the Group of Eight countries.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that efforts to reform the United Nations should unite, and not divide, Member States, and seek to preserve the institution for future generations. In addition to the United Nations, it was also necessary to reform other international bodies, starting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization.
United Nations reform would not be complete unless it enabled the Organization to implement its resolutions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, he said. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was a first step, but it was not sufficient for peace. All United Nations resolutions had to be implemented, an independent Palestinian State had to be established, and the Golan had to be returned. The Security Council had repeatedly condemned Israel's efforts to change the nature of the Syrian Golan, where Israel continued to support settlements. Syria was still willing to negotiate without preconditions, but its efforts had gone to waste because of Israel's "greed". It would be impossible to achieve peace unless Israel abided by international agreements, especially United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, the principle of land-for-peace, the terms of the Madrid Peace Conference, and the 2002 Arab peace initiative.
He said Syria, deeply concerned by the situation in Iraq, had tried to do its part to bring peace by controlling its border with Iraq. However, those who criticized Syria had not done their part to protect other borders. Syria also supported non-proliferation efforts. Israel had refused to abide by the NPT, while all other States in the Middle East were party to it. The Arab States, he added, needed to be represented with a permanent seat on the Security Council, which must increase both its permanent and non-permanent membership.
KIRSTI LINTONEN (Finland), delivering a statement on behalf of her Foreign Minister, said the Summit's outcome was a step forward in some ways, and a failure in others. The most positive outcome since the Secretary-General's "fork in the road" speech two years ago was the near-universal acceptance of the link between development, security and human rights. The United Nations system needed to devote even greater attention and resources to rule of law-related activities, especially at the national level. It also needed to redouble its efforts to fight corruption, which undermined the rule of law and social justice and posed a serious threat to achieving the Millennium Goals. Corruption could be held in check by designing governmental structures that guarded against the abuse of power, as well as by keeping income disparities low and giving women a prominent role in political decision-making.
She said environmental sustainability was essential for attaining the Millennium Goals. Climate change and biodiversity loss needed to be addressed through the promotion of energy efficiency, the use of alternative energy sources and technological innovation. A more inclusive and international framework for climate change beyond 2012 was needed, as was a specialized agency for the environment.
She said management reform of the Organization could not wait, as its credibility was at stake. The eventual establishment of a chief operating officer post, at the level of deputy secretary-general, was necessary to oversee day-to-day operations. Sunset provisions were also needed to ensure that obsolete programmes did not continue to receive funding.
ALFRED CAPELLE (Marshall Islands) said his small nation was challenged in its economic development because of its limited resource base, limited market access, high energy costs, and its vulnerability to the affects of climate change. Its development efforts would be hurt by continued environmental degradation. While he welcomed the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, he remained concerned that major emitters of hydrocarbons remained outside the accord. Climate change, a serious and long-term challenge that could affect all nations, must be urgently addressed. It was necessary to not only respond to natural disasters by providing assistance to the victims and repairing the damage, but also by addressing the overarching causes of them, including climate change.
One of the chief challenges the Marshall Islands faced was the persistence and spread of major diseases including diabetes and HIV/AIDS, he said. His country needed help in combating those diseases, including in the creation of education programmes. The Marshall Islands were also in need of international assistance in its efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals, including the development of access to fresh water and renewable energy. He added that the effects of past nuclear testing continued to haunt the Marshall Islands. There was a critical need to resolve issues regarding nuclear testing, and the NPT must be implemented. Another important issue was the health of the world's fisheries, since one of his country's main exports was fish. Maintenance of the maritime fish stocks was critical, and unregulated and illegal fishing had to be controlled by means of international monitoring.
ENRIQUE BERRUGA FILLOY (Mexico) said that, in the wake of last week's World Summit, the United Nations was set to begin an unprecedented series of reforms to make itself better able to address the twenty-first century. It would be damaging and would rule the entire process futile if the Assembly focused on just one aspect of reform. To that end, some had been frustrated by the Summit's decision to focus on Security Council reform. And while that was an important issue, it should not hold hostage, or slow implementation of, other efforts or initiatives. It was clear that the United Nations needed to make headway simultaneously on issues such as the promotion and protection of human rights, boosting development, the combat against terrorism, protecting natural resources and the environment, and reaffirming support for the global social agenda.
Further, in order to gain relevance and effectiveness, the Organization's institutional structures should be adjusted to reflect global problems. It must avoid building or reforming organs with the aim of pleasing high diplomatic circles, while at the same time disappointing the peoples, cultures and societies the United Nations should be looking after in the first place. By example, he said the discussion of the new Human Rights Council had focused more on its eventual membership than on its actual mandate or the tasks it would carry out.
Turning to development issues, he said Mexico had carried out efforts of particular importance in that sphere. Indeed, the country had hosted the International Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey), which had become a watershed event, where a first-ever partnership between rich and developing countries had been forged for the eradication of poverty according to specific financial targets and timetables. He urged all countries to fulfil the commitments made at Monterrey, stressing that now was not the time to lose ground in the struggle for sustainable development for all. Finally, he joined other delegations in expressing disappointment that the Summit's outcome document did not contain a disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation plank. Mexico would join with others trying to reinsert that sensitive issue onto the United Nations agenda.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, said that while his delegation supported much of what had been endorsed by world leaders at the World Summit, the outcome document's silence on disarmament matters was worrying. Nuclear armament was devastating for the earth's people and natural environment, and it even impacted world economies at various levels. Therefore, he insisted on complete nuclear disarmament and a strengthened International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification and safeguards system. No effort should be spared to discourage the production of nuclear weapons and the trade or exchange of nuclear materials, he added.
Turning to the role of the United Nations in today's interdependent world, he noted several ethical challenges that would require urgent attention, among them ensuring a sustainable environment, maintaining solidarity with the poor and promoting the common good. On environmental preservation, he noted that small gains that had been made in recent years were now under threat from climate change, irresponsible and unsustainable use of farmlands and forests, declining fish stocks and the spread of new diseases, among other things. He urged greater global cooperation in that regard and called on all States to accept their responsibility for stewardship of the planet.
On the promotion and protection of human rights and cultural diversity, he welcomed changes to the Organization's rights machinery that would improve on the working methods of the current Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights. He nonetheless reminded the Assembly of the continuing importance of promoting and safeguarding the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was the framework for national laws and education in that area. Finally, he added that the Holy See supported initiatives aimed at enhancing inter-faith cooperation and dialogue among nations and religions. And while such dialogue was best placed in the hands of religious experts, the United Nations could make valid and important contributions to inter-faith cooperation for peace and development.
ALHAJI MOMODU KOROMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, noted that the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) would end on 31 December this year, to be followed by an integrated United Nations mission aimed at supporting the country in addressing the causes of conflict, consolidating the peace, and promoting human rights and development, among other things. The decision to constitute a follow-on mission had allayed fears that UNAMSIL's departure would create a security vacuum and end vital activities. The national institutions and other initiatives set up to work with UNAMSIL would continue to work with the new mission, and provide a model and test case for the new Peacebuilding Commission.
He said short-term post-conflict bridges were not enough to ensure that countries would not slide back into conflict. The ultimate objective was to ensure that people did not remain in abject poverty. That required the mobilization of resources for capacity-building for sustainable economic and social development. Since 2002, which marked the end of armed conflict in his country, presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as local elections, had been held. Since sound administration of the rule of law and human right norms were indispensable to durable peace and political stability, the Government had re-established civil authority throughout the country by reopening and strengthening judicial and law enforcement institutions. Also, a national human rights commission was being set up.
Furthermore, he said, two transitional institutions had contributed immensely to the peace process -- the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which had just published its report, and the Special Court. Of special urgency was the need to address the special needs of the victims of the heinous crimes committed during the 11-year armed conflict, through the Fund for War Victims set up under the 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement, and the National Commission for War-Affected Children. In addition, the international community must support peace efforts to ensure that the subregion was free of conflict.
MAMADOU BAMBA, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d'Ivoire, said the sixtieth session was of extreme importance since United Nations reform was high on the agenda. The Summit had not been as successful as Côte d'Ivoire had hoped, but it was gratified that the outcome reaffirmed the Millennium Goals. He hoped the international community would conclude a comprehensive convention on terrorism and set up a Human Rights Council. Efforts to achieve greater justice in international relations had not been successful in closing the gap between developed and developing countries. The efforts of developing countries were thwarted by barriers to market access, scarce financial resources, debt and conflict. Finding a durable solution to the debt burden was one of the prerequisites of growth. Côte d'Ivoire welcomed the Group of Eight's decision to cancel the debts of 18 countries.
He said the liberalization of international trade could generate resources for African economies. Unfortunately, trade barriers and agricultural subsidies cancelled out development efforts, which were already labouring under the burden of debt. The great challenges facing the world could not be tackled without international solidarity. The Millennium Goals would be difficult to achieve if the international community did not continue to provide support, including debt cancellation. Côte d'Ivoire was, once again, appealing for additional help in facing the challenges associated with rebuilding the country. No country, particularly the poorest, could develop or protect its population if it could not take measures against health threats such as AIDS or malaria.
With regard to the resolution of conflicts, he said there had been notable progress throughout the year. But Member States must remain aware that a number of situations remained fragile. The international community must tackle the genuine causes of conflict. Côte d'Ivoire had not yet found the road to peace, despite efforts by the international community. Holding free elections was crucial for sustainable peace. Despite the current stagnation, the Ivorian Government did not want the international community to be overcome by discouragement or annoyance. Rather, the international community should work to find a resolution to crisis in his country. The Security Council must continue to actively consider the Ivorian case. The Ivorian people wanted peace. However, without the support of the international community, peace would be elusive.
ALLAM-MI AHMAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Chad, said that global leaders had reviewed the international situation last week and concluded that much work remained to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Goals were a major undertaking to help correct the many social and economic problems of the present times. Chad had incorporated the main Goals into its National Strategy for Poverty Reduction and its National Strategy for Good Governance. The country had encouraged a partnership with civil society and the private sector to help achieve the goals.
Since the establishment of a democratic Government in 1990, Chad had begun a sweeping programme to modernize its institutions and make them more responsive to people's needs, he said. And while stability had been achieved, the nation remained concerned with the instability along its borders with the Central African Republic and the Sudan. Chad had made initiatives to help mediate the conflicts in the Sudan and would continue to play a mediation role in order to bring about peace. The support of the international community was needed to help resolve the regional conflicts as well as care for the many refugees, some of whom were now living in Chad.
Regarding the issue of Taiwan and China, he said Chad appreciated Taiwan's efforts to reach a peaceful solution and urged global leaders to encourage both nations to reach an agreement. Taiwan's request to re-enter the United Nations was a legitimate claim. On trade and development, Chad's economy was dependent on cotton, but its production was seriously threatened by the protectionist policies of developed countries and their subsidy programmes. Developed nations should recognize that well regulated international trade helped the economies of developing countries and act accordingly at world trade talks.
Global leaders should not lose the momentum built so far in democratizing the United Nations and reforms would let the Organization improve its effectiveness, he said. Expansion of the Security Council was an important issue for all Member States, especially those in Africa, as no African State had held a permanent Council seat with the right of veto. It was time to rectify that injustice and Chad agreed with the position of the African Union.
GODFREY SMITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and National Emergency Management of Belize, said that in the last five years, it had been demonstrated that poverty eradication had not been given the highest priority on the international agenda. Many countries would not achieve the Millennium Development Goals and some were even worse off than five years ago. The "terrorism of abject poverty" was the greatest evil of the present time, afflicting millions who knew that sooner or later they could die from hunger or preventable disease. To stop AIDS, arms, drugs, people trafficking, and crushing poverty, a new security approach was needed -- a method that humanized security, rather than militarizing globalization. There was also a need to focus on preventing deaths that occurred almost daily from preventable causes.
Turning to human development, he said that without it there could be no security. Measurable progress in development could be made once global partnerships for development were implemented. In addition, a deeper commitment from developed nations was needed for more just international trade practices. The Doha Development Round should conclude on terms favourable to developing nations.
Regarding the need to reform United Nations institutions, he said the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council needed revitalizing and strengthening. The Security Council should be more accountable and more representative of the current global community.
ROGATIEN BIAOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Benin, said the elimination of poverty headed the list of priorities for his country, and that Benin was extremely gratified by the Group of Eight's decision at Gleneagles to cancel the debt of 18 of the least developed countries. Benin was a country with an economy heavily reliant upon the export of cotton, and there was an urgent need to promote and bring about concrete measures, under the World Trade Organization Doha Round, for the elimination of agriculture subsidies from developed nations that hurt the ability of developing nations to compete.
Turning to global conflicts, he said that no measures in the field of development could be successful without peace. Benin had no objection to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but deviant efforts by countries to use it towards military ends were detrimental to international security. In order to strengthen the fight against the recruitment of children in armed conflict, the Assembly should propose measures to declare that scourge a human rights abuse, not just a war crime.
With regard to post-conflict management, he was gratified by the efforts of the United Nations in the area of peacebuilding in the West African subregion, in concert with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Efforts in that regard would require strengthened assistance from the international community, so that countries emerging from war could make the transition to democracy. He hoped the Peacebuilding Commission would become operational as soon as possible. The Human Rights Council must also find its place inside the United Nations, and should act as an early warning and conflict prevention mechanism. Calling for significant Security Council reform, he said that body needed to be expanded to become more representative of the current United Nations membership. It was high time for the Council to attach a higher priority to conflict prevention.
RITA KIEBER-BECK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said institutional change should be the Organization's main focus over the next few months. New bodies needed to be created and existing ones adapted. It was necessary to move on from the "oil-for-food" scandal without ignoring the fact that the massive abuse and mismanagement revealed in the Volcker reports were just one expression of a system-wide problem. Only a more accountable Secretariat, working without undue pressure from Member States, could restore confidence.
She said a stronger General Assembly was needed, while the Security Council had clearly assumed a role far beyond what was intended in the Charter. The Council's activities were increasingly venturing into areas reserved for the Assembly, and the Council was at risk of being paralyzed by the sheer number of issues on its agenda. An enlarged and more representative Council was necessary, as was improvement of its working methods. Member States who were not currently on the Council also needed to be more involved in its work. Meanwhile, the Assembly must empower itself by efficiently and effectively taking on truly relevant topics. It must be a central decision-making body that took its responsibilities seriously.
The Human Rights Council should be established as soon as possible and should work closely with a strengthened Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, she continued. The Human Rights Council must not duplicate work carried out elsewhere, particularly by the Assembly. The main obligation for putting the responsibility to protect into effect fell to the Security Council. When the lives of innocent civilians were at stake, political considerations could not be allowed to stand in the way. For that reason, collective action must not be blocked by a veto or threat of veto by one of the Council's permanent members.
LYONPO KHANDU WANGCHUK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, said his country supported all measures to strengthen and reform the United Nations. He called for action to enlarge the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories. India, Japan, Germany and Brazil should get permanent seats. Africa should also be adequately represented in the permanent category. Development was the most pressing issue for most Member States. Without development, global peace and security could not be achieved. More needed to be done to urgently address the hurdles of development, including financing, debt, trade, global governance and systemic issues, and science and technology.
He said adequate and predictable sources of financing were crucial for development efforts to succeed. He welcomed the ideas for innovative sources of funding and called for increased official development assistance (ODA), which was the primary source of development finance for his country. The continued support of the international community was crucial for the country to achieve its development goals. Bhutan's system of governance was entering a critical phase. For it to succeed, it must maintain the current level of progress in the social, economic and other fields. Bhutan placed great importance on the conservation and protection of the environment. It fully supported the establishment of a worldwide early warning system for all natural hazards.
It was imperative for the international community to act resolutely on terrorism, which was a threat to peace and security, he said. Small and developing countries were particularly vulnerable. International migration was on the increase, he said, drawing attention to the high-level dialogue on international migration and development to be held in the coming year. Bhutan supported the Secretary-General's efforts to reorganize annual multilateral treaty events. Bhutan's desire to accede to treaties was consistently constrained by lack of capacity to deal with the range of issues contained in those instruments and in meeting reporting and other obligations. That was a serious hurdle faced by many small countries.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand) said the World Summit outcome document was a blueprint for the way forward, though its failure to back further disarmament and non-proliferation measures was regrettable. The outcome on development was encouraging, and would hopefully lead to the achievement of all aspects of the Doha development agenda. Improving the coherence of trade policies and development initiatives was a critical element in achieving the Millennium Goals.
She called on the Assembly President to take the lead in making sure the Peacebuilding Commission was up and running by December. So that all States in need of help could approach the Commission, the bar for assistance must not be set too high. The current session should also conclude negotiations on a comprehensive convention on terrorism, with priority given to consolidating the considerable reporting requirements created by the Security Council.
Member States, she said, must also work in the coming weeks to define the structure and mandate of the new Human Rights Council. She called on the President to aim for agreement on that well before the Commission on Human Rights next met. The sixtieth session must also complete negotiations on the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. It should be possible to conclude those negotiations in 2006 if the Ad Hoc Committee charged with that task met for three weeks in January.
Secretariat and management reform was also needed, particularly to improve the effectiveness and accountability of the Secretary-General, she added. A system-wide code of ethics and an independent Ethics Office would help ensure proper conduct of all personnel. Making the Security Council more representative and effective remained a priority. In the meantime, efforts should be made to improve its working methods. Member States who rarely, if ever, occupied a non-permanent seat on the Council should be given other ways to participate in its work.
LORIN ROBERT, Deputy-Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia, said his country was encouraged by the broad consensus reached during the High-Level Plenary Meeting last week that the reform of the United Nations and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals must be addressed sooner, rather than later.
He said comprehensive reform was needed for the United Nations' credibility and long-term sustainability. Security Council reform was needed, and Japan and Germany should become permanent members from among the developed countries because they could contribute greatly to global peace and security. He supported India, a developing country, as a permanent member of the Council, and Micronesia would support the inclusion of other developing nations, if they were chosen by their particular region. And he said the outcome document rightly reflected the need to remove the "enemy State" clause in the United Nations Charter.
Micronesia believed that the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, slated to be held in Tunisia later this year, was very important to the region. For a country with a population dispersed on many islands scattered over a vast area of the Pacific Ocean, access to affordable and reliable information and communication technologies was critical to the socio-economic advancement of its people.
As a small island developing State, Micronesia obviously remained vulnerable to the adverse impact of global climate change, and he urged all countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The small island developing States faced daunting challenges in pursuing sustainable development and meeting the Millennium Goals. He urged global leaders to fully implement the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustained Development of Small Island Developing States. Micronesia and other Pacific nations needed the physical presence of the United Nations system, as well as increased cooperation with its agencies to help the country develop.
PHESHEYA DLAMINI (Swaziland) said the five years since the Millennium Summit had seen a mixed bag of successes, trials and tribulations. Through events, such as the tsunami, terrorist attacks and conflicts, the United Nations had been challenged and had remained undeterred in its pivotal role of maintaining global peace and security. The conflicts between and within States, which continued to rage and retard development, were fuelled by the ever-growing illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The international community should show solidarity through the United Nations in preventing, combating and eradicating that illicit trade.
Since no nation could by itself find solutions to today's challenges, he said regional organizations should be engaged in international action. Partnerships were already formed and needed to be given substance through harmonizing methods and pooling of capacities and resources. An integrated approach should be adopted with regard to conflict resolution on the African continent, and the African Union should mobilize the efforts of its members, particularly with regard to taking preventive action before situations deteriorated.
The recently concluded World Summit had succeeded in highlighting the plight of Africa with unprecedented clarity, he said. The paradox of Africa was the extreme and increasing poverty of its people, who lived on a land richly endowed with natural resources. The poor were caught in a complex poverty trap in which low income led to low consumption, which in turn resulted in low capacity and low productivity. Affordable technologies of the modern world could mitigate the effects of diseases on the poor. The Doha development agenda must be advanced, better access to markets opened and trade barriers removed, he added.
ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan), said the process of reorganizing the entire system of international relations, in particular United Nations reform, had been unreasonably delayed. Achieving development, security and human rights required the active adaptation of the entire United Nations system. Regardless of the scope of necessity to modernize the Organization, there was no alternative and further inertness would negatively affect its role and place in the modern world. If the United Nations continued to be passive, its role would gradually pass to other international structures, which would be less representative. Reform of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, should provide a balance in the Organization's work. Regional approaches should also be given paramount attention in dealing with development, security and human rights issues.
He said the role of the United Nations should be strengthened to create common approaches to the issues of poverty, disease, environmental stability and equal access for all countries. International donors must render comprehensive support for regional cooperation and all interested developing countries should make such cooperation an indispensable part of their national strategies. Uzbekistan considered it important that the regional commissions of the United Nations strengthen their work to assist economic development in Central Asia. The international community should also pay serious attention to creating a Central Asian Common Market.
Uzbekistan supported all efforts to ensure sustainable environment, he said. Member States should consolidate their efforts to tackle the problems of environmental degradation, shortage of clean water resources, and deterioration of ecological conditions. Uzbekistan called for a strengthening of the role of multilateral United Nations mechanisms in disarmament and non-proliferation. Measures must be taken immediately against international centres of terrorism and extremism. But it was important not to allow the application of double standards. Drug trafficking was a powerful incentive for international terrorism.
Human rights played an important role in reforming the United Nations, he said. Along with political rights, it was necessary to strengthen social, economic and ecological rights. The establishment of a strong and peaceful Afghanistan carried a strategic value for Uzbekistan, which supported efforts to ensure the stabilization of that country. Any sluggishness in United Nations reform could paralyze the system of international relations and further advance the threats and challenges facing the international community.
VSEVOLOD GRIGORE (Republic of Moldova) reaffirmed his country's commitment to work with other Member States to renew and strengthen the United Nations so it could meet the challenges of the contemporary world. The decision to create a Peacebuilding Commission was one of the World Summit's main achievements. If made operational by the end of the year, the Commission had the potential to streamline post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery strategies. He also supported the creation of a multi-year, standing peacebuilding fund and a small peacebuilding support office within the Secretariat.
As his country had stated for many years, he reiterated that the settlement of the internal conflict in the transnistrian region was an absolute priority. Separatism was the main threat to peace, security and economic development in his country. The separatist leaders, with foreign support, had used the negotiation process to legitimize themselves as representing the will of the inhabitants from the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, promoting the idea of pseudo "statehood" for which there were no ethnic, religious or other plausible grounds.
In order to help create conditions for a lasting settlement of the conflict, he called for, among other things, the complete, unconditional and transparent withdrawal of foreign troops and munitions from his country's territory, in accordance with the relevant decisions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at its Istanbul Summit. Another positive step would be the creation of transparent and efficient control over the transnistrian segment of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. His Government's goal was not just to reintegrate the country, but to expand the benefit of democracy and the rule of law, and ensure a maximum level of protection of human rights for the entire territory.
CRISPIN GREGOIRE (Dominica) said multinational corporations from the United States and allied Latin American nations were challenging the preferential access to the European Union market for bananas from Dominica and other countries in the Caribbean. A fair resolution of that trade impasse would avert a future of persistent poverty for banana farmers and workers in the Caribbean. Small, vulnerable island States needed time to adjust to the transition to a fully liberalized global trading regime, and the Doha Development Round should take that into account.
He said Dominica had experienced its share of hurricane devastation, as well as significant damage from several earthquakes last year. A global insurance fund was needed to assist countries devastated by natural disasters, and Grenada needed additional assistance after being hit by two major hurricanes last year. Climate change was wreaking havoc on small island States. Member States must recognize that global warming was real and implement the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.
He expressed concern about continuing instability in Haiti. The members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) realized that elections alone were not enough. Also needed were an accelerated disbursement of pledged financial resources, more rapid implementation of social and economic project activities and peace-building initiatives. Security Council reform was also needed to make the Council's membership more representative and address the continuing imbalance in Africa's representation in the permanent membership.
MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that, although some would have liked the Summit's outcome to have gone further than it did, it was a balanced and realistic response to major global concerns. Now it was time to move from words to action. The world had made progress in achieving some of the Millennium Goals, but Africa was the only region that was alarmingly behind in achieving the Goals. If the continent did not receive substantial external assistance soon, most of the Goals would not be achieved by 2015.
He said economic growth in African countries, 3 per cent on average, was not enough to reach the Goals. Sub-Saharan Africa, especially, needed a major creation of jobs and income, massive inflows of capital, debt relief and fair practices in world trade. African Governments were taking responsibility for their own development by implementing poverty-reduction strategies. Cameroon was creating a national programme of governance, stepping up efforts against corruption and working to better manage public finances. More ambitious commitments and a specific timetable for development assistance to Africa would have been preferable. Nevertheless, if commitments made by the world's leaders in the outcome document were met quickly, Africa would make considerable progress in achieving the Goals, and could even reach them on time.
The process of revitalizing the Organization would be incomplete without enlargement of the Security Council, he added. Cameroon remained faithful to the African position on reform, which must take place immediately. He said decisions of the International Court of Justice needed to be fully implemented. It was important to find ways of making sure Member States were kept up to date on such progress. The Secretary-General could inform the Security Council and report to the Member States in his report to the Assembly on the Organization's activities. In that way, they would learn about conflicts in a timely manner and be able to act to prevent them.
Right of Reply
Libya's representative said he wanted to reply to Bulgaria's reference to the situation of Bulgarian children and the Palestinian doctor, in relation to HIV/AIDS and human rights. To ensure the rights of Libyan children and their families, and the Palestinian doctor in question, proper procedures had been followed. The people of Libya had been shocked by the tragic event to which Bulgaria had referred. Fair and transparent trials had been held with the presence of both Bulgarian and Libyan officials. The outcome was awaited now. The rule of law was supreme and there could be no order without it.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said Uganda had spoken of his country in a way that was disrespectful and wrong. A country that had produced some of the worst dictators had no right lecturing anyone else. The mention of boundaries indicated the intention to grab a part of his country. The attitude of Uganda towards the Democratic Republic of the Congo was well known. He drew attention to the rebels in Uganda, who organized themselves and attacked the peace efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda had talked of the difficulty of capturing those rebels. Not a single rebel had been caught. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was interested in good relations with its neighbours.
Azerbaijan's representative, responding to Armenia, referred to the occupied areas of Azerbaijan, where Armenia had used militarily force against Azerbaijanis resulting in the brutal slaughter of 700 innocent civilians. The Armenian occupation of Azerbaijan had been confirmed by a number of Council resolutions. The use of force had been condemned and the forces had been directed to leave. The fact-finding mission earlier this year had found Azerbaijan to be occupied and had said all further settlements should be discouraged. Azerbaijan was taking the road of peace in good faith. Armenia should not miss the opportunity for peace talks with the OSCE Minsk Group Chairman.
General Assembly President JAN ELIASSON (Sweden) said the theme of the debate had been follow-up and implementation of the outcome of the 2005 World Summit. As at the Summit, speaker after speaker stressed the need to make faster and more substantial progress towards attainment of the Millennium Goals. Time after time, the Assembly had emphasized that the battle against poverty was one which all must fight. "The strong message is: the political momentum for development, which has grown this year, must be maintained and strengthened."
To that end, he said, the Assembly should explore ways in which it could speed up progress on development, in a way that complemented the work of other parts of the United Nations and other international economic and social bodies. He went on to say that, among the widely shared concerns throughout the debate, many delegations had emphasized the necessity to make rapid progress in establishing the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council and in moving forward with management reform.
He said that terrorism and the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing and other war crimes had also been highlighted. Many speakers had expressed disappointment that language on disarmament and non-proliferation had not been included in the Summit's outcome document.
Nevertheless, the Assembly should note and welcome the Summit's widespread recognition that development, security and respect for human rights were interconnected and that the peoples of the world needed and wanted a reformed and rejuvenated United Nations.
And while, understandably, there had not been consensus on how every item on the Assembly's agenda should be taken forward, the membership appeared to be of the view that it was nevertheless time to move quickly on follow-up and implementation, so that the political will generated during the run-up to the Summit, at the Summit itself and during the general debate was not lost. With that in mind, over the next few days and weeks, he would reflect on the issues raised during the debate and make himself available to hear the views of delegations and regional groups on priorities and the way forward.
He said that before the end of the week, he would write all Member States informing them of his views on the way ahead, and would then hold an open meeting to firm up the Assembly's proposed work programme for the year. Once the consultation process was completed, work on follow-up would have to begin without delay.
"The world will be watching us closely", he said, adding, "The extent to which we -- all of us in this Assembly -- can muster a spirit of urgency and common purpose in the coming days and weeks will ultimately determine whether the World Summit goes down in history as a missed opportunity for the UN, or -- as I hope -- as the start of the most substantial reform programme in the history of the Organization." He stressed that he intended to work with full transparency, fairness and respect. "It is here -- and only here - that negotiations will take place and decisions will be made."
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