26 September 2006

African States Say Conflict Greatest Obstacle to Continent's Development, as General Assembly Debate Enters Second Week

Call for Assistance from International Community in Bolstering Fragile Peace Treaties, Securing Conditions for Long-Term Development

NEW YORK, 25 September (UN Headquarters) -- With the world's nations gathered in New York to discuss implementation of global partnerships for development -- the theme of the General Assembly's sixty-first annual debate -- African leaders toady called on the international community to help home-grown efforts to calm simmering tensions, maintain peace and resolve conflicts, among the greatest obstacles to development on the troubled continent.

The African officials stressed that many of the continent's hotspots, marked by protracted fighting or festering "neighbourhood" disputes, had, among others things, undercut progress in health, economic growth, and governance; and, in some instances, sparked large refugee flows.  And, while there had been progress in some regions -- the volatile Great Lakes, for one -- international assistance was still needed in countries such like the Sudan and Côte d'Ivoire to bolster fragile peace treaties and help secure the conditions for long-term development.

"For Africa, the most urgent challenge remains the resolution of conflicts and the sustenance of peace and security as the foundation for socio-economic progress," said Joy Ogwu, Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of President Olesegun Obasanjo.  "However, we have remained undaunted and have collectively decided to take action to address the problem through the auspices of the African Union," she said, adding that those efforts had been bolstered by the engagement of the Security Council and the wider international community.

And, while it was gratifying to see signs of progress after the end of civil conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where democracy was taking "its first important steps", she was concerned that it seemed elections would not take place in Côte d'Ivoire in October.  The October extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should ensure elections by the end of the year, or a Security Council resolution should impose heavy sanctions on the culprits impeding the process.

She stressed that the situation in Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region placed a heavy burden on the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and continued to strain its meagre resources to maintain a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force.  She called on the international community to urgently provide logistical and financial support needed to sustain AMIS until then the end of its 31 December mandate.  If obstacles to replacing that mission with a United Nations force were not overcome, inevitably, the troops would be called back to their home countries.  The Sudanese Government would bear the consequences of such a withdrawal, she added.

Offering another view, Lamin Kabba Bajo, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said that, from Sierra Leone and Liberia to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there had been a growing preference for non-violent approaches to conflict resolution.  That should point the way forward elsewhere:  in Somalia, the central Government should be helped to stand firmly on its own two feet, while the Sudan had to accept the hand of partnership and friendship in resolving the Darfur crisis.  The Sudan should take a leaf from Liberia and Sierra Leone, where African peacekeepers first joined with a United Nations force, then eventually handed over their missions.

"We are certain that, with a bit more effort on both sides, a way will be found out of the current impasse," he added.  He said the Gambia, which continued to deepen its democracy, was among the very few African countries that would achieve the Millennium Development Goals on target, if present trends continued.  The spread of HIV/AIDS had been reversed, and there was gender parity in education.  But the Gambia's modest economic growth was being threatened by high energy prices, while debt relief was still on the distant horizon.  There had to be more foreign direct investment in Africa, and the commitment to increase official development aid to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product had to be met.

But Cöme Zoumara, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Integration and la Francophonie of the Central African Republic, painted a more troubling picture of the situation in his country.  Having faced two decades of serious crises, from which it had only just emerged with general elections, the establishment of republican institutions and a Government of National Reconciliation, the Central African Republic had a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  Chiefly, it faced border insecurity from aggressors supported by forces abroad, whose object was to destroy institutions put in place in a democratic manner.

The authorities were trying to re-establish security throughout the area, he continued.  Development was not possible until the endemic insecurity waged through roadblocks and rebellion, principally in the northern and eastern parts of the country, on the borders with the Sudan and Chad, was eradicated.  And the spillover of small arms and light weapons from the protracted Darfur crisis and its consequences would not help stem the problem.  The Central African Republic endorsed the proposal to position United Nations troop on its borders with Chad and the Sudan, he added.

On Africa's Great Lakes region emerging from conflict and making a successful transition to democracy, Kalombo Mwansa, Special Envoy of Zambia, said the second international conference would be held in December in Nairobi to adopt a draft pact on security, stability and development.  But, continued political and financial support of the international community was needed to insure adoption, he added.

It was noteworthy that the peacebuilding and development processes in the region were at a very advanced stage at each of the three-dimensional levels, namely, international partnerships, regional ownership and national stewardship, he said.  That meant the vision for an integrated and sustainable human development future was now assured.  The cessation of conflict in the region had already fed into the collective will to transform the subregion into a place of sustainable peace, political security and development.

Addressing the situation in the Horn of Africa, Saleh Said Meky, Eritrea's Minister of Health, said demarcation of the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia remained stalled, due to Ethiopia's rejection of the final and binding arbitration decision, contrary to the terms and conditions of the Algiers Peace Agreement.  The "final and binding" Award in that Agreement should not be tampered with, he said, adding that Ethiopia's acceptance must be unequivocal.  The details of demarcation must be worked out in an environment free from political interferences, unlawful mechanisms and loopholes susceptible to distortion.

Turning to the situation in Somalia, he said the problem was essentially an internal political one to be solved through negotiations between Somali political forces.  Any external military intervention would further polarize political realities and induce greater conflagration.  The African Union's recent call for deployment of a peacekeeping force in the absence of a robust framework for peace was unwise and fraught with unnecessary complications.  The current situation was raising the spectre of territorial disputes between Somalia and its neighbours, which could only be settled by strict adherence to the sanctity of colonial boundaries, he added.

Also speaking today were the Deputy Prime Ministers of Lao People's Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Nepal.

Others participating in the debate included the Foreign Ministers of Gabon, Barbados, Indonesia, Ukraine, Algeria, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta, Botswana, Armenia, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, San Marino, Azerbaijan and Guinea-Bissau.

The Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation for Libya, also spoke, as did the Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam and Uruguay.


The General Assembly met today to continue the general debate of its sixty-first session.  For background, see Press Release GA/10500 of 19 September.


THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, said that numerous events during the past year had demonstrated that world peace, justice and security were far from being secured, due to the use of force in the settlement of international problems and violations of the sovereignty of Member States.  Developing countries, in particular the most vulnerable groups, namely, the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, had launched trade liberalization and tried to further integrate themselves into the world economy, yet they continued to face such problems as limited access to markets, capital and new technology as well as a lack of basic infrastructure.  Grant aid and soft loans should be increased and there should be measures to address the instability and weakness of commodity markets.  There should also be preferential tariffs for exports from developing countries, in particular from the most vulnerable groups.  Debt sustainability should also be achieved.  Mechanisms for technology transfers should be improved and the international financial architecture reformed.

Turning to the United Nations reform process, he said it should include the revitalization of the General Assembly, strengthening of the Economic and Social Council, as well as reforming the Security Council to make it more legitimate, democratic and effective.  Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, he appealed to the international community to assist those countries in their efforts.  On other United Nations issues, he called upon the United States to end its embargoes on Cuba, and urgent implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 to bring the situation in Lebanon to normalcy and pave the way for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian problem.  Further, he called for a resumption of the Six Party talks on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.  He also expressed concern over the significant daily loss of life and property in Iraq.

In early 2006, a new Lao Government had been formed with the main tasks of pursuing overall structuring and implementation of the five-year socio-economic development plan, he said.  His country would further expand its relations and cooperation with the international community as well as actively contribute to the regional integration in Southeast Asia.

HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said the international community needed to be more vigilant to ensure that weapons of mass destruction, in part or in whole, did not fall into the wrong hands of terrorists, organized crime groups, or others as that could have dangerous implications for international peace and security.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) regime needed to be strengthened.  Furthermore, small arms and light weapons should not be underestimated as they were equally dangerous sources of conflicts, transnational crimes and violence in many regions and countries.  Combating terrorism required more technical capacity and information sharing among law enforcement authorities and intelligence communities, as well as a better understanding of the root causes of acts of violence, which were tantamount to "despair actions".

Turning to other issues, he said that peace in the Middle East would be better guaranteed only when the leaders of Palestine and Israel had the courage, wisdom and the realization that they could not continue to destroy each other forever, but must work together for a lasting peace in the region.  On United Nations reform, he said that, in light of the deadlock over Security Council reform, the Member States should take a step-by-step approach by tackling minor problems first such as strengthening the role of the Economic and Social Council to deal with development, since that issue was less controversial.  Next, the United Nations could move onto revitalization of the General Assembly, and afterward, move forward to the reform of the Security Council.

There had been little achievement thus far on the Millennium Development Goals due to such factors as the lack of financial and human resources, and the negative impact of globalization, which had widened the gap between developed countries and poor nations.   Cambodia, which had set up its own Millennium Development Goals with specific target priorities, had made positive progress in some areas such as reducing poverty, combating HIV/AIDS and improving livelihoods.  To deal with global poverty, official development assistance (ODA), debt relief, market access and transfer of know-how must be addressed all together, so that developing countries could catch up with the current pace of globalization.

K.P. SHARMA OLI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, noted that Nepal was undergoing a fundamental transformation following the restoration of democracy through the people's movement in April.  The country was currently engaged in institutionalizing a democratic and inclusive Nepali state.  The momentous change in Nepal had led to the conversion of a protracted conflict into a peace process.  He thanked the Secretary-General for his support of the peace process, including by providing assistance in monitoring human rights, the ceasefire, arms management, and the election.  The country had pressing post-conflict reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction needs, which required increased international assistance.  It was critically important that newly emerging democracies were safeguarded and protected, he said, noting Nepal's strong support for the newly established United Nations Democracy Fund.

He called attention to the numerous challenges confronting the United Nations, including international terrorism and transnational crime, narcotic drugs and human trafficking, regional conflicts and low-intensity wars, human rights abuses, and extreme poverty and hunger.  New strategies, new tools and new resources were needed to deal with those problems.  It was disheartening to note that no international consensus had yet emerged on a comprehensive international convention against terrorism.  Nepal welcomed the adoption of a global strategy to combat terrorism.  His country was concerned by the dismal progress on disarmament, notably the failure to agree on a non-proliferation text last year and the numerous deadlocks in efforts to peacefully resolve nuclear issues.  Nepal supported the complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, including biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, in a time-bound manner.  His country had offered to host the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu, and he urged the Secretariat to conclude procedures for relocating the Centre to Nepal without further delay.

Nepal welcomed the ceasefire in Lebanon and supported United Nations resolution 1701 on strengthening the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he said.  His country was committed to contributing a battalion of troops for the cause of peace there. Nepal had over 3,500 troops in various United Nations peacekeeping Missions, underscoring the country's commitment to maintaining international peace and security.  It was unfortunate that United Nations peacekeepers had increasingly become targets of senseless attacks.  The United Nations must explore innovative ways to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers.  Equally important was to promote ethics and a culture of discipline among peacekeepers to avoid possible sexual harassment and other abuses by peacekeepers.  As the United Nations was increasingly being asked to play an active role in peacemaking, peacebuilding, post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction, as well as nation-building in some cases, Nepal encouraged efforts to ensure a more coherent response.  Nepal welcomed the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, as an innovative mechanism to deal with the complex issues of peace and security.

He said his country's commitment to human rights was total and unflinching, and it welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Council.  His Government had given top priority to the protection and promotion of human rights, working closely with human rights bodies, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, to create an environment in which full enjoyment of human rights by all was guaranteed.  His Government was determined to bring to an end the culture of impunity, believing that no one was above the law, and that those who violated and abused human rights must be brought to justice.

He expressed concern that opportunities arising from globalization, such as from migration, had been stifled by unfriendly policy regimes around the world.  The rights of migrant workers must be protected in all situations in accordance with international norms.  Nepal's experience showed the benefit of remittances generated by migrant workers; however, such remittances could not in any way substitute for development assistance, debt relief and trade concessions.  Nepal urged an immediate revival of World Trade Organization talks to complete the Doha Development Agenda.  Many countries would not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, given the slow pace of progress.  The least developed countries wanted policy, not charity, for which they needed a better policy on aid, trade, investment, debt relief and capacity building, and timely reform of international financial institutions.

It was a scar on the conscience of the world that hundreds of millions of people lived as refugees around the globe, he said, adding that more than 100,000 refugees from southern Bhutan had been living in camps in Nepal for more than 15 years.  With no solution in sight, the refugees were showing increasing signs of frustration and desperation.  The issue could not be resolved without the genuine willingness of the Government of Bhutan.  The Bhutanese refugees must be given the right to return to their home country with dignity and respect, and that any solution must be acceptable to the refugees.

Turning to the topic of United Nations reform, he noted that the General Assembly must be placed at the forefront of all decision-making within the Organization.  There also was a genuine need to increase both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council to make that body more representative.  Nepal had submitted its candidacy for non-permanent membership for 2007-2008, after a gap of nearly two decades since it last served on the Council.  Regarding the election of the next Secretary-General later this year, Nepal believed that the successor should come from Asia, in line with the principle of equitable geographic representation and of rotation, and that the Assembly should play a greater role in the appointment process.

JEAN PING, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and la Francophonie of Gabon and former President of the Assembly, said the consensus adoption of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document was an unequivocal recognition of the central role of the Assembly as a representative and primary deliberative body, charged with setting the direction of the Organization.  He welcomed the fact that most of its recommendations had already been taken up, in the framework of the Organization's reform process.  Further efforts needed to be made, however, in order to complete the reform process in the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, as well as to make progress in negotiations to establish an international convention to combat terrorism.

Addressing the theme of the general debate -- implementation of the global partnership for developments -- he said it was important that development partners meet their commitments under the eighth Millennium Development Goal and the Monterrey Consensus.  Among the various constraints that weighed on developing countries was the impact of the HIV and AIDS pandemic on their economies and peoples.  Gabon had taken ambitious initiatives from awareness raising to implementation of plans of action.  Given the threat to development and human security, more courageous measures had to be advocated, such as in the areas of strengthening prevention and improve access to treatment.

He said that the recent violent conflict in the Middle East had demonstrated how important it was to establish lasting peace, based on the principle of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.  In that regard, he supported the organization of an international conference on the Middle East.  In Darfur, disagreement between parties threatened the Abuja Peace Agreement.  The situation in Côte d'Ivoire was another source of concern for Africa and the international community.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a crucial phase had been launched with the holding of elections.  It was now key for all parties to continue to consolidate peace and harmony.  In order to hold on to the gains in the democratic transition, ongoing support of the international community was needed. 

A major breakthrough had been achieved in the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All its Aspects, he said.  It was regrettable, therefore, that the 2006 Review Conference of the programme had ended in failure.  Implementation of the Programme of Action, however, should be pursued, including through compliance with the 2005 international instrument on the tracking and marking of such arms as well the start of talk on illicit brokering.  One of the major tests of the Organization was continuing reform of the Security Council.  There was also a need to implement the resolutions on the revitalization of the work of the Assembly, as well as of ensuring greater transparency and consistency in the overall operation of the Organization.

JOY OGWU, Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of President Olesegun Obasanjo, said that the most urgent challenge for Africa was the resolution of conflicts and the sustaining of peace and security as the foundation for socio-economic progress.  The collective effort to reach that aim was being pursued through the African Union, as augmented by the engagement of the Security Council and the international community.  It was gratifying to see signs of progress after the cessation of hostilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  While it seemed elections would not take place in Cote d'Ivoire in October, the October extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should ensure elections by the end of the year, or a Security Council resolution should impose heavy sanctions on the culprits.

Stating that the situation in Darfur placed a heavy burden on the African Union and continued to exert pressure on meagre resources as the Union struggled to maintain a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force, she said that Africa's commitment to peace in Darfur had been reaffirmed by the latest decision of the Union's Peace and Security Council to extend the mandate of the African Union Mission in the Sudan until 31 December.  The international community was called upon to urgently avail the Union of the logistical and financial support to sustain the mission until then.  If the obstacles to replacing the Union force with a United Nations force were unable to be removed, the inevitable necessity of returning troops to contributing countries and the consequences of withdrawal without the United Nations umbrella would be the full responsibility of the Sudanese Government.

Calling on the international community to redouble counter-terrorism efforts and make a greater commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, she noted the landmark convention on small arms adopted by ECOWAS in June, which banned arms transfers to the non-State actors largely responsible for political instability in her subregion.  States should be guided by the ECOWAS example by reconvening the United Nations Review Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which had failed to agree on such a ban at its first meeting.  Nigeria had also ratified the firearms protocol to the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, and it remained committed to the NPT as well as to the Pelindaba Treaty, rendering Africa a nuclear weapons-free zone.  Calling for a comprehensive and legally binding global arms trade treaty, she said Nigeria had withdrawn from the Bakassi peninsula in August, in accordance with the ruling of the International Court of Justice.

DAME BILLIE MILLER, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, called on the international community to support the strengthening of democracy and the social and economic development of Haiti, and to disburse the funds pledged for its development.  Barbados thanked the Secretary-General for recognizing the critical link between sexual and reproductive health and rights and development.  It fully supported his recommendation for a new target under Millennium Development Goal 6 -- HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.  Barbados was equally supportive of the Secretary-General's other recommendations for new targets on universal access for treatment of HIV/AIDS by 2010, as well as on decent work and productive employment.

While developing countries must retain responsibility for their own development, she said that national actions would not be sufficient to bring about their fuller participation in the global economy.  Those actions must be complemented by a supportive international system, essential elements of which included improvement in global governance, improved coherence in the operation of the United Nations system and a greater voice for the Organization in global development policy dialogue.  She called for the democratization of the governance of the international financial and trade systems, and urged concrete steps to end the marginalization of developing countries and small economies in the policy formulation and decision-making processes in the multilateral, financial and trade institutions.  Globalization must be made more inclusive and its benefits more equitably distributed, she said.

She appealed to the international community to recognize the fragility of the Caribbean Sea, a precious shared natural resource, and its importance for present and future economic activity.  It should also agree on measures to recognize the Caribbean Sea as a special area within the context of sustainable development.  The General Assembly has an item on the Caribbean Sea on its agenda.  Barbados joined other delegations in requesting the Assembly to set aside a day in late March 2007 to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.  That would not only deepen knowledge and understanding of slavery and the slave trade, but also contribute to the removal of all vestiges of slavery, she added. 

The question of the efficacy of the United Nations had not abated in spite of the ongoing reform process, she said, adding that the threat to multilateralism remained real.  In its fortieth year of membership in the Organization, Barbados reaffirmed its faith in the United Nations and proclaimed its unwavering commitment to multilateralism.  Strengthening the role of the United Nations in the management of global affairs and upholding and defending its moral authority, remained key foreign policy priorities of her Government.

HASSAN WIRAJUDA, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, paid tribute to the "outstanding service" of Kofi Annan, saying that he had given the world community a way of firmly grasping the fundamental challenges of our time: the challenge of security, the challenge of underdevelopment and the challenge of human rights and the rule of law.  Peace, development and democracy were inseparable; however, development was paralyzed and democracy was meaningless in a situation of violent and bloody conflict.  "Nowhere is this more poignantly true than in the Middle East", he said.  Over the years, Lebanon had rebuilt its civil war-ravaged economy only to be "bombed to the ground" recently by Israel.  The carnage stopped with the passing of Security Council resolution 1701 but that came only after such a long process that the Lebanese people had already undergone so much unnecessary suffering and loss.  "The frustration and inability to take immediate action is radicalizing many people in the Muslim world.  This proves the importance of reforming the Security Council -- in its composition, as well as in the way it works, so that it can take effective action when action is a matter of life and death to thousands of people -- as happened recently in Lebanon", he stressed.

The problem of Palestine lay at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, he continued.  There were no military solutions to the problem, as military might could never guarantee security.  There could only be a two-State solution, with both parties taking concrete measures to lay down the foundations of peace.  He appealed to the Council to act quickly on the issue, saying that Muslims everywhere had a strong emotional reaction to what they perceived to be the oppression and humiliation of their Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan "co-religionists".  Terrorists operating from as far away from the Middle East as Southeast Asia justified their heinous crimes as retaliation to what they considered to be aggression against Islam.  "Thus, today, we are witnessing the error of some Western circles attributing to Islam a propensity for violence, matched by the error of terrorist groups claiming that violent means are sanctified by Islam.  The only way to liberate the human mind from these errors is through intensive and extensive dialogue", he said.  That was why Indonesia had been actively promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region and within the Asia-Europe meeting.  It was his country's way of debasing the ideology of the terrorists and at the same time empowering the moderates and strengthening the voice of moderation.

He said that a new nuclear theatre may be developing throughout West and East Asia, calling for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as the cornerstone of disarmament, to be strengthened and all weapons of mass destruction to be abolished.

In the "contract for the conquest of poverty and its attendant maladies", he said that developed countries had four basic obligations.  First, they must open up their markets to the products of the developing world, and they must salvage the Doha Development Round.  They should relieve their developing counterparts of some of the burdens of the debt crisis, as huge debt payments hampered the ability to fund development programmes.  Developed countries must also ensure sufficient financial flows to developing countries, especially in the form of foreign direct investments, as most of those countries were too poor to muster the capital they needed to get them out of their poverty.  Finally, developed countries were obligated to share their technology with the developing world, striking a balance between their social responsibility and their respect for intellectual property rights.

The obligations of developed countries must be matched by those of the developing countries, he went on.  The first obligation of developing countries was to practice good governance and wage a relentless battle against all forms of corruption.  As the only form of capital that was abundant in developing countries was human capital, those countries had the obligation to protect and enhance that capital through education, human resource development and health care.  Developing countries were also obligated to provide a climate that was friendly to foreign capital, particularly, foreign direct investments, which normally meant a package of incentives.  Finally, it was their particular obligation to make use of their natural resources with wisdom "so that we meet the needs of today without robbing our future generations of their legacy", he said.

BORYS TARASYUK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said Eastern Europe remained the only region that had never had its representative serving as the Secretary-General and it welcomed the candidature of Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia.  Although achievements in implementing last year's Summit decisions had been impressive, the Organization's adjustment to today's realities was far from being ensured.  Reform of the Security Council, strengthening of the Economic and Social Council and promotion of the agenda for development, as well as improvement of the management, had yet to be tackled.  No enlargement of the Security Council would be complete without ensuring an enhanced representation of Eastern Europe as the Group's membership had doubled since 1991.  Terrorism remained one of the most dangerous threats.  In that regard, he welcomed adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and called on Member States to make additional efforts to elaborate and adopt the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

He said that inability to agree on a set of commitments in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation had been one of the major setbacks of the 2005 World Summit.  As his country had unilaterally renounced the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world more than a decade ago, he called on Member States to strive for achieving progress in disarmament and non-proliferation.  He supported efforts that aimed for Teheran's return to close and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but stood for the right of all nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, if there was full adherence to commitments in the field of non-proliferation. 

One of the most important tests of the ability of the United Nations to deal effectively with interethnic conflicts was the issue of the future status of Kosovo, he said.  Any imposed decision leading to a unilateral change of borders of the internationally recognized democratic State would inevitably destabilize the situation in the Balkan region and set dangerous precedents in Europe and the entire world.  There were already attempts to use Kosovo as a precedent for claiming independence by some self-proclaimed regimes in the post-Soviet space.  He considered referendums on independence in Transdnistria, Moldova and South Ossetia, Georgia illegitimate with no legal consequences.  He welcomed the inclusion in the Assembly agenda of the item "Protracted conflicts in the GUAM ( Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) area and their implications for international peace, security and development".

He said that the international community was responsible for the protection of people under the threat of genocide or other violations of fundamental human rights.  Organized by the communist totalitarian regime with the purpose of destruction of the vital core of freedom-loving Ukrainian people -- its peasantry -- the artificial Holodomor in Ukraine of 1932-1933 had led to the death of 7 to 10 million innocent people.  Upon the occasion in two years of the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, he called for recognition by the United Nations of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.

The response to global threats should be effective and timely, he said.  It had taken the international community nearly 20 years to recognize that AIDS could threaten the very existence of humanity.  Recently, a new disease had emerged that could potentially threaten the entire world and knew no borders, namely avian influenza.  Combating the spread of avian influenza and preparing for a possible pandemic of human influenza demanded concerted action at national, regional and global levels.  Should we repeat the mistakes of the past or learn the lessons and meet the challenge prepared? he asked.  The Assembly should consider the problem and provide the answer, he said.

M. MOHAMMED BEDJAOUI, Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, noted that the foundations of the United Nations had been tested by recent grave developments in the Middle East.  The violence hurled at Palestinian and Lebanese people pointed an accusing finger at the limitations imposed on the authority of the United Nations in the face of conflict situations, which ran contrary to the "raison d'être" of the institution.  A wave of frustration was rising at the powerlessness of the United Nations to support the most elementary aspirations of the Palestinian and Lebanese people.  He also addressed the persistent instability in Iraq, which was evident in the number of human lives lost daily.   Algeria welcomed the establishment of a Government of National Unity and the proposal to establish an inclusive process of national reconciliation.  That would be the best way of ensuring the success of the political process under way to help Iraq fully recover its sovereignty.  There must be intensified efforts to avoid further fratricidal violence in the country along ethnic and religious lines, he added.

On the issue of United Nations reform, he noted the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and the establishment of the Human Rights Council as positive steps, however, a great deal remained to be done.  It was important to redouble efforts, so that this session could reach agreement on pending issues, particularly reform of the Security Council.  The Council should become truly representative in its membership and more democratic, and more transparent.  Its decisions should be more in harmony with the positions of the General Assembly, in order to lend greater legitimacy to its decision and enhance its effectiveness.

Today's world was full of uncertainties and threats, he said.  Terrorism continued to strike various human communities without any distinction as to race, sex or religion.  Fighting this scourge required international cooperation, a clear approach and complementary activities.   Algeria, which had suffered from terrorist violence, owing to the indifference of some and the complacency of others, welcomed the growing awareness of the international community to the threat terrorism posed to international peace and security.  He stressed the urgency of concluding a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which would contain a definition of the scourge that drew a distinction between legitimate struggles against foreign occupation and acts perpetrated by individuals or terrorist groups.  He repeated his country's support for general disarmament.

He also called the Assembly's attention to the situation in the Western Sahara, the last territory to be decolonized in Africa.   Algeria supported the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions.  He also noted other crises across the African continent, including in Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sudan and Somalia.  Increased interaction between the United Nations and the African Union was needed to effectively tackle those complicated situations.  In that context, it was important to ensure the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Darfur, with full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Sudan and with the United Nations working hand in hand with the African Union.

The question of development was rightly one of the highest priorities on the United Nations agenda, particularly with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals and the pledge to eradicate poverty, he said.  However, there was a gap between the goals announced and the progress achieved.  Great efforts were required from the developed countries to honour the commitments made as there was no alternative to ensuring the globalization of peace and prosperity for the benefit of all of mankind, he concluded.

DIMITRIJ RUPEL, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said that all nations and all people should be asking themselves how they could help each other.  Assistance and contributions of affluent and strong countries were more effective.  Small countries, however, could also be effective as they seldom threatened other countries and had knowledge of small systems and of minorities in large systems.  They could serve as honest brokers and perform special tasks, which demanded such special qualities as flexibility, adaptability, empathy and cooperation.  They could also help each other to assume creative and relevant positions in the international community.

He said that the United Nations should continue to review the concept of sovereignty.  Sovereignty of States must be understood in the context of contemporary reality.  National borders were no longer an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye to genocide, crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.  Attention to the Western Balkans must not diminish.  Kosovo was now approaching an important stage in the peace process.  He hoped that the integration process in Europe would provide the appropriate vehicle for stabilization of the region.  One of the problems of the international community today was the complex relations within multinational multi-ethnic and multicultural systems.

Supporting a dialogue of cultures, he said, however, such a dialogue should not become a clearing-house for one set of standards.  Rather, should be a venue for cross-cultural discussion on objective matters such as economic growth, sustainable development, security and energy.  He did not think there was a clash of civilizations, as it was extremism that perpetuated the misperception of such a clash for furthering individual agendas.  However, there was a welcome clash:  the clash of common and global civilizations against illegitimate radical groups, which strove for power by means of terror and abused religious beliefs and ethnic bonds for their own agendas.

He said that last year, his country chaired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  This year, it would chair the Board of Governors of the IAEA and next year it would assume the presidency of the European Union.  One of the items on the agenda of that presidency would certainly be energy security.  Welcoming progress made towards implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, he said the focus should remain on achieving universality of the Convention, on clearing of mine fields and on mine-victims assistance.

KINGA GÖNCZ, Foreign Affairs Minister of Hungary, recalled the proposals agreed at the 2005 World Summit for adapting the Organization to the realities of the modern world.  While accomplishments on reform had been modest so far, reform was a process rather than an event.  Still, to foster global confidence in the United Nations, a substantial management reform must be undertaken with greater accountability and transparency and with a better allocation of resources.  The Assembly must remain the most important deliberative body, and new approaches should be tried on the Security Council expansion so as to allow a compromise to emerge.

Welcoming the newly adopted counter-terrorism Strategy, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, she said the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the Human Rights Council held the promise of making that body relevant to addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century.  The full and unhindered participation of non-governmental organizations in the Council's activities was also vital.  The need to protect minority rights and ethnicity-based conflicts, both historic and contemporary, were reminders that multi-ethnic societies were in desperate need of a sensitive and careful approach to minority issues, sound legal structures, generosity in practice and firmly embedded institutional guarantees to safeguard minority rights.

She called attention to the Budapest International Centre for Democratic Transition, established to provide guidance on the transition based on experiences of past transitions.  Noting that this was the fiftieth anniversary year of the Hungarian revolution, she said her country would show solidarity with every nation seeking freedom, and with that in mind, she supported the Secretary-General's Democracy Fund.  Reviewing trouble spots on the United Nations agenda, including the Sudan, she called for advances in elaborating the important concept of the "responsibility to protect".  Finally, she said that, as a new member of the European Union, her country would gradually increase the level of its ODA in recognition of the special development needs of the world's poorest nations.

MICHAEL FRENDO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, said that development, peace, security and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  Poverty eradication and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals were priorities of the current decade, but certain regions of the world had progressed much less than others.  The realities of poverty, conflict and insecurity were at the root of the mass migration from Africa to Europe, through Malta and Italy in the Central Mediterranean.  His country was one of the most densely populated countries in the world as well as a small island State.  It had the highest number of asylum applications, in contrast with a 15.6 per cent decrease in asylum applications across the rest of the European Union.  He, therefore, urged the United Nations to address the issue of mass illegal immigration holistically and with urgency, and to combat criminal organizations taking advantage of the situation.

He said that, in focusing on development issues, the need for development to be sustainable must be emphasized, as well as the need to respect the environment and to take into account the rights of future generations.  Development did not mean a "free-for-all" attitude in the exploitation of earth's bountiful resources.  Forests must be able to regenerate, air must be pure and the seas must be free of pollution.  Positive political action was required to address the problems of global warming.  The consequences of lack of respect for the planet and its environmental balances had been particularly borne by the world's poor, whether in developing or in developed economies.

Global peace and security were constantly threatened by destructive and violent events, he said.  Particular attention must be paid, therefore, to the prolonged impasse that had thwarted the work of the Conference on Disarmament, as that impasse was endangering the multilateral mechanisms talked with fostering peace, security and cooperation.  Regarding the Middle East, he said that Malta respected and supported the aspirations of the Palestinian people for nationhood and dignity, and, in equal measure, respected and supported the aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace within secure borders.  Those two aspirations were mutually compatible and achievable with a strict and abiding respect for the rules and norms of international law.

He said that the cause of peace and the international rule of law was threatened daily by cultural and religious incomprehension.  The alliance of civilizations, mutual respect and tolerance, peaceful co-existence and cooperation, dialogue and education were the means which the international community could counteract the ugly phenomena of extremism and fanaticism.  That threat to peace and stability could not be ignored.  That threat was further confounded by poverty and mass migration.  The United Nations must continue to engage with the world media to spread the message and spirit of fraternity in a world where large or small did not count.  Experience had amply illustrated that small countries, just as large countries, were essential to global security, cultural interchange, and to respect and tolerance for diversity.

MOMPATI S. MERAFHE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Botswana, thanked the United Nations and its Member States for their past support as Botswana this week marked 40 years as a democratic, independent and sovereign nation.  Botswana, now a middle-income developing country, but still facing enormous challenges, urged Member States to back up the support pledged to small middle-income developing countries at the 2005 World Summit.

He said the diamond industry was at the core of human development in the country and as a participant in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and its current Chair, Botswana was strongly committed to working alongside other participating countries to maintain the Scheme's credibility as well as the legitimate diamond trade.  Botswana reaffirmed its commitment to the United Nations Charter and its belief that the Organization was the only vehicle to achieving enduring peace and prosperity.  War should be the first casualty if the international community was to reach the commitment made in 2000 to slash the number of global poor in half by 2015.  Botswana was particularly concerned with conflicts in Africa, which was the only continent facing the bleak prospects of failure to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Concerning the Doha Round of global trade talks, he said the indefinite suspension of the talks in July 2005 raised questions about the international community's commitment to development.  The United Nations needed to give the World Trade Organization the necessary direction to revive the talks and ensure their timely and successful conclusion, a wrap-up that should uphold the development dimensions of the Doha Round.

Turning to the issue of reform, he said, Botswana strongly supported comprehensive, wide and deep reform of the United Nations.  It welcomed the General Assembly's decision of Resolution 60/283 to let the Secretary-General deploy resources and staff from lower to higher priority programmes.  The Secretary-General, as Chief Administrative Officer, should receive more leverage to command human and financial resources so the Secretariat could manage more effectively.  Africa expected that the Peacebuilding Commission would effectively discharge its mandate and also lauded the creation of the Human Rights Council as another significant achievement of the sixtieth session.  Member States should have the courage to continue reforms to strengthen the Security Council.

CÖME ZOUMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Integration and la Francophonie of the Central African Republic, said his country still had a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  It had faced more than two decades of serious crises, from which it had only just emerged with general elections, the establishment of republican institutions and a Government of National Reconciliation. 

He said the country still faced border insecurity in the form of aggressors supported by forces abroad, whose object was to destroy republican institutions put in place in a democratic manner.  The authorities were trying to re-establish security throughout the area.  Development was not possible until the endemic insecurity waged through roadblocks and rebellion, principally in the northern and eastern parts of the country, on the borders with Sudan and Chad, was eradicated.  The proliferation of light weapons due to the protracted Darfur crisis and its consequences were not conducive to stemming the problem.  The Central African Republic endorsed the proposal to position United Nations troop on its borders with Chad and Sudan.

The country's economic deterioration would not enhance the implementation of development goals or the fight against poverty, which was an ongoing threat to peace and stability, he said.  The Central African Republic had taken forceful measures to improve its finances by controlling the civil service and putting in place a system to verify the diplomas of civil servants.  HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria were creating a health crisis for which the country sought greater assistance from its development partners.  Education and training had been the main victim of the long period of political and military crises.  The many years of delayed salaries, a lack of means for the Government to build schools, and continuing insecurity in certain regions had led to a drop in the quality of teaching and a decline in literacy.  Since the burst of patriotism on 15 March 2003, the Government was doing all it could to make sure the school year was no longer interrupted and to restore the education system to its former credibility.

He said climate change and global warming were disturbing for his country, whose northern part was increasingly being overtaken by desert.  The Kyoto Protocol showed that progress was possible if there was political will on the part of the great consumers.  In the area of natural disasters, it was important to transform the United Nations Environment Programme into a specialized agency with a more extensive mandate, as proposed by France.  Despite delays in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the Central African Republic was determined to reach the targets, especially those on gender equality, the empowerment of women and reduction of child mortality.  It had made significant progress on vaccination coverage and free distribution of mosquito nets for pregnant women and children under five.  The results of Millennium Goal implementation had been mixed and would continue to be so until international solidarity played its role.

VARTAN OSKANIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said the international community responded to a year of man-made and natural crises with a commitment to maintaining world stability, but lost moral authority in addressing the war in Lebanon, as the Security Council bickered over "minute" issues while innocent people were being killed.  In other areas, the United Nations had succeeded, particularly in bringing Montenegro into the system and empowering the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council to act effectively.

Recalling promises to address the needs of the poor, he said his country was preparing for a second generation of economic and political reforms, having already moved forward on legal matters, created a more open, liberal economy and registered double-digit growth over the past six years.  Armenia was rehabilitating its infrastructure to create new conditions for economic and social change.  Dialogue with Turkey, however, was suffering, particularly because of Turkey's decision to close its border, which was also stunting regional economic and social development.

Armenia was following the self-determination process in Kosovo with great interest, as it supported such a process for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said, noting that concern that an outcome for Kosovo could create obstacles for other self-determination movements.  Each conflict was different and must be decided on its own merits, as many movements had earned that right.  There was a reason why the Helsinki Watch had enshrined self-determination as equal to other principles of international relations.  The people of Nagorno-Karabakh had decided they did not want to be governed by Azerbaijan, and that country had lost the moral right to claim custody over them, as it had unleashed pogroms in urban areas, eliminated Armenian monuments and displaced 300,000 Armenians.  Solidifying the peace process would contribute to peace in the region and the only path was through realism and compromise.  Armenia accepted the document currently on the table.  Military force was not an option and Armenia would not accept anything less.

M. MORSHED KHAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said global and national efforts to combat terrorism may have produced some positive results, but actions by individual countries had created divisions among people and affected interfaith harmony.  Many people were enduring racial or religious profiling, which was creating suspicion, misunderstanding and even hatred.  That was the goal of terrorists, and the international community must ensure they did not have their way.  Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia had reasserted her Government's vow to eliminate all militants and their networks and called for the passage of tough laws to punish perpetrators.

On United Nations reform, he said it was a process to which arbitrary deadlines were not helpful.  It was to be hoped that the new Human Rights Council would not merely replicate the Commission on Human Rights and indulge in the politicization of its work.  As an elected member, Bangladesh was committed to advancing the Council's work in a fair and balanced manner.  Hopefully, the Peacebuilding Commission would help fill the institutional gap in the United Nations system to help shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.

Turning to trade and development, he said the Doha Round of trade talks should resume to ensure special and differential treatment for the least developed countries.  Other needs were increased ODA, full debt cancellation, foreign direct investment and transfer of technology to enhance the "Global Partnership for Development".  The General Assembly had just wrapped up the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries and the agreed development goals would not be reached unless all least developed countries received duty-free and quota-free market access.

On migration, he said easing the movement of labour could generate significant "win-win" results for sending and receiving nations as well as migrants.  The Asian tsunami was a warning that showed how natural disasters could undermine development efforts and disaster risk management was a global concern that impacted many regions.  The United Nations should gear its efforts towards introducing weather insurance and weather derivatives to manage disaster risks.

TALBAK NAZAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said that stable peace prevailed in his country, national accord and respect for political pluralism had been achieved and civil society was developing at an accelerated pace.  The forthcoming presidential elections, due in November 2006, would become an important milestone on the road towards peace, and would open a new page in the history of the establishment of Tajikistan statehood.  The country was resolute about achieving progress in its implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and shared the opinion that long-term stability in Central Asia was inseparable from the development of regional integration.  Economic integration could become a powerful factor in the region's sustainable development and Tajikistan would continue to strengthen and expand mutually advantageous cooperation with other States in the region.

He said global efforts to counter terrorism should involve regional and subregional organizations.  Tajikistan regarded participation of regional structures in that process as a major prerequisite for ensuring collective security.  Such bodies included the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation.  Current efforts to counter the narcotics threat in the region were not sufficiently effective.  Financial and technical assistance to Afghanistan should be rendered within targeted programmes, as should the creation of an efficient and capable Afghan border service.  The involvement of Afghanistan's neighbours in the country's post-conflict rehabilitation could become a key to the success of international efforts.  The attainment of that goal could actually turn Central Asia into a dynamic region self-sufficient in power engineering, fuel and food supply.

The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals should take a relevant place in the new structure of global security, he said.  Today, like never before, it was becoming increasingly obvious that security policy should be integrated into development.  The scope of the tasks facing the international community required the strengthening of the United Nations.  Everything should be done to make the Organization more efficient in dealing with issues of international security.  A responsible attitude towards the United Nations was in the interest of all Member States.

VLADIMIR NOROV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said that while the United Nations role in international affairs was unique and irreplaceable, it was necessary to reform it in line with present day realities.  Increased efficiency at the Organization needed to reflect sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs, strengthened equal cooperation of States, and broad international consensus.

The General Assembly needed to address the issues of post-conflict recovery and terrorism, and the Security Council needed to be reformed to ensure fair geographical and regional representation of developed and developing States, he said.  Uzbekistan supported the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, Ban Ki-Moon, for the post of Secretary-General.  Also, it was important that the Human Rights Council not be used as a tool for the promotion of the interests of certain countries to the detriment of other States, and its work should be guided by the principle of objective and unbiased evaluation of human rights issues and the elaboration of constructive solutions to problems that arose.

He said terrorism, extremism and drug aggression posed great dangers to sustainable development.  Uzbekistan supported the Global Strategy against terrorism, and he argued that any international convention on terrorism must be non-discriminatory, exclude double standards and call for concerted action to counter the ideologies of extremism.  Regional and global security were only possible with comprehensive peace and stability in Afghanistan, and there was a need for more efficient coordination in the fight against drug production and trafficking from that country.  The Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone was a concrete contribution to the global non-proliferation regime and a solid system of regional security, and Uzbekistan called on the nuclear weapons powers to join the Protocol on security guarantees attached to the treaty on the zone.

FIORENZO STOLFI, Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, said the role of the United Nations needed strengthening to enable it to operate in a coordinated manner, and the General Assembly should focus more on implementing resolutions and creating mechanisms to make its decisions more binding.

On reform, he said the enlargement and democratization of the Security Council could only improve the peace process.  The new Human Rights Council should work in a streamlined manner with the General Assembly so that the two bodies complemented each other.  There was a need for a "Global Partnership for Development", which would be fundamental to eradicating poverty and achieving other Millennium Goals.  Those targets were key points of the programme that San Marino would present when taking over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in mid-November.

He said that in promoting dialogue among cultures and religions, his country had acceded to legal instruments that were important for supporting tolerance, and would try to organize a meeting with the General Assembly on that subject during its chairmanship of the Ministerial Committee. On Lebanon, San Marino hoped for a successful outcome to the conflict, and had decided to offer humanitarian aid to that country.

Calling the Peacebuilding Commission an "excellent" institutional response to post-conflict situations, he noted that San Marino had celebrated the International Day of Peace on 21 September and would guarantee its support for the Pan-European Campaign on Violence against Women, to be launched in November.  The country supported the outcome of the Working Group on an International Convention on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities and had approved two weeks ago an agenda inviting the Government to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.

SALEH SAID MEKY, Minister of Health of Eritrea, said issues of peace and security remained of paramount importance to his country and the Horn of Africa.  Eritrea wished to bring to the Assembly's attention Ethiopia's reckless flouting of international law that was threatening peace and security in the region.  Demarcation of the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia remained stalled, due to Ethiopia's rejection of the final and binding arbitration decision, contrary to the terms and conditions of the Algiers Peace Agreement.  Ethiopia had violated that treaty with impunity and continued to occupy sovereign territories of a Member State.  Its unlawful conduct had also obviously been encouraged and supported by certain Powers in the Security Council.

He said that three years ago, when Ethiopia's Prime Minister had sent an ominous letter to the Council announcing his Government's blatant rejection of the Boundary Commission decision and calling for a "new mechanism" to overrule the legal award, the Council and Secretary-General had accommodated Ethiopia's unlawful conduct and appointed a Special Envoy in contravention of the legal agreement.  When that Special Envoy scheme had proved unworkable, the United States had employed its full diplomatic clout to unlawfully alter the legal award under the rubric of a "new initiative".  That plan consisted of directly planting a senior United States expert as an adjunct to the Boundary Commission and bestowing upon him wide powers to alter the demarcation decision.  The package further envisaged a new and political body outside the Boundary Commission to accommodate Ethiopia's additional requests.  The scheme in effect rendered fundamental tenets of the Algiers Agreement null and void.  One could only surmise that Ethiopia's original rejection of the Boundary Commission award had been tacitly supported by Washington from the outset.  The United States had resorted to further measures, particularly the seizure of financial and other assets of Eritrea's Washington Embassy in contravention of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges.  Eritrea wished to lodge a complaint before the Assembly and solicit support from the international community for redress and restitution.

Periodic reports of the United Nations Secretariat to the Security Council had invariably tended to downplay Ethiopia's violation of the Algiers Peace Agreement and the Charter, he said.  In the last two years, it had impugned Eritrea singularly.  Security Council resolution 1640 (2005) threatened punitive measures against Eritrea, ostensibly for curbing the freedom of movement of the United Nations Mission there while keeping mum on Ethiopia's refusal to accept the final decision of the Boundary Commission.  The Secretariat also downplayed unacceptable excesses and infringements by Mission staff of Eritrea's sovereignty and blamed Eritrea instead.  Whether the huge financial outlays for sustaining the mission were really justified also required thorough scrutiny and auditing.

Solemn pledges to uphold international justice and the rule of law heard by leaders of major Powers rang hollow on the altar of reality, he said.  When the chips were down, major Powers, especially the United States, continued to pursue their perceived narrow interests at the expense of regional peace and security and the sovereign rights of nations and peoples.  Eritrea's right of independence had been compromised by the United Nations in the 1950s during the African decolonization to serve United States interests.  Eritrea would not allow any encroachment on its territorial integrity.  The "final and binding" Award in the Algiers Agreement should not be tampered with, and Ethiopia's acceptance must be ascertained publicly and unequivocally.  The details of demarcation must be worked out in an environment free from political interference, unlawful mechanisms and loopholes susceptible to distortion.

On the subject of Somalia, he said the problem was essentially an internal political one to be solved through negotiations between Somali political forces.  The portrayal of the recent developments there in terms of the global war on terrorism was factually untenable and politically imprudent.  Any external military intervention would further polarize political realities and induce greater conflagration.  The African Union's recent call for the deployment of a peacekeeping force in the absence of a robust framework of peace was unwise and fraught with unnecessary complications.  A recent call by some forces for a selective lifting of the United Nations arms embargo was misguided and should only be contemplated when there was irreversible progress on political arrangements.  The current situation was raising the spectre of territorial claims and disputes between Somalia and its neighbours, which could only be settled by strict adherence to the sanctity of colonial boundaries.  Finally, Eritrea urged caution and prudence in international efforts to resolve the problems in the Sudan.  Focus on short-term arrangements without an overall peace framework would only postpone and complicate a lasting solution.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, noted achievements on development, the environment, HIV/AIDS, Secretariat reform and the establishment of Central Emergency Response Fund and Peacebuilding Fund, but stressed that more remained to be done, including expansion of the Security Council.  Azerbaijan further supported the rationalization of the Council's working methods, greater transparency in decision-making, accountability and full implementation of its resolutions.  The late response of the Council to the crisis in the Middle East had allowed a humanitarian tragedy, and thus implementation of resolution 1701 was very important for bringing about peace.  In that context, Azerbaijan was concerned over attempts to link terrorism with the Islamic religion, culture or people, saying it was important to promote tolerance.   Azerbaijan would host a conference in Baku next year on the role of mass media in developing mutual understanding.

He said the resolution adopted to help suppress fires in the disputed territories of Azerbaijan had a two-fold purpose: to envision practical steps to rehabilitate the fire-affected area; and to serve as an unprecedented example for engaging Armenia and Azerbaijan in partnership.  However, that was the only positive development surrounding the settlement process, with the two key areas of disagreement being the definition of the status of self-rule for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the disputed region.  Nagorno-Karabakh's status could only be determined through democratic and legal processes, and with the participation of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in the area.  Azerbaijan called for the withdrawal of Armenian forces.  That chain of events would create the conditions for the next stages of settlement: normalizing life in the conflict-affected area; restoring inter-communal relations and launching social-economic development.

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM, Secretary to the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, said any United Nations reform process that did not envelope the Security Council and enhance the General Assembly's role would be of little value.  The Assembly should act immediately to prevent the Council from usurping its authority and the Council's permanent members should open up to real reform of the United Nations, placing the power of decision-making in the hands of all Member States.  The Council had become a domineering and inequitable body that applied double standards, lacked democracy and allowed the abuse of the veto prerogative.  Membership should be given to geographical groups rather than to specific nations.  Libya demanded that the African Union be granted permanent membership.  Libya renewed its call for the abolishment of the veto and urged the Assembly to restrict its use until it was finally abolished.

He said complete disarmament, starting with weapons of mass destruction, was an essential step toward international peace and security.  Libya had voluntarily discarded all its programmes related to weapons of mass destruction and hoped that all States possessing those weapons, or programmes for them, would follow its example.  Such weapons and nuclear non-proliferation should not be confused with programmes meant for the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  International law ensured the right of all States to conduct research and develop their capabilities for the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  Libya strongly rejected the use of double standards on that issue.

Concerning development, he said the United Nations needed to create an international partnership for development aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals and guaranteeing that each developed nation allocated 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to developing nations.  Countries with a colonial past bore the greatest responsibility for helping developing countries as compensation for past damage.

On the issue of Palestine, he reiterated that any proposed solution that imposed the status quo would not resolve the Palestinian question or bring peace to the region.  Regarding the conflict in Lebanon, there was a need for urgent action to compel the occupation forces to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms region.  And on Iraq, it was time to stop the bloodshed and find a solution that would end the crisis, with full sovereignty for Iraq and freedom from foreign forces and bases.

LAMIN KABBA BAJO, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, said that reforming the United Nations would be problematic, and that it would take time to achieve.  Nevertheless, the desire for fair and balanced reform would remain a key demand of developing countries.  Some reforms were long overdue and sorely needed; for Africa, Security Council reform was urgent and had to be concluded as soon as possible.  Recent events had shown that the Council was, in its current form, ill equipped to grapple with the complexities of today's world.

He said that, in the Middle East, the United Nations had to show leadership.  People of the region had to have a respite, and it was increasingly clear that the only remaining honest broker was the United Nations.  "We must step up to the plate", he said.  In Africa, from Sierra Leone and Liberia to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there had been a growing preference for non-violent approaches to conflict resolution.  That should point the way forward elsewhere: in Somalia, the central Government should be helped to stand firmly on its own two feet, while the Sudan had to accept the hand of partnership and friendship in resolving the Darfur crisis.  In deciding whether to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force, the Sudan should take a leaf from Liberia and Sierra Leone, where African peacekeepers first joined hands with a United Nations force, then eventually handed over their missions.  "We are certain that, with a bit more effort on both sides, a way will be found out of the current impasse", he said.

He noted that the Gambia, which continued to deepen its democracy, was among the very few African countries that would achieve the Millennium Development Goals on target, if present trends continued.  The spread of HIV/AIDS had been reversed, and there was gender parity in education.  Over 70 per cent of Gambians had potable water; the basic education goal should be reached this year or next.  "Our sharpest focus is on poverty reduction and we are determined to attain that goal before 2015", he said.  Real progress, meanwhile, had to be made on the Doha Trade Round, which was in "limbo".  The Gambia's modest economic growth was being threatened by high energy prices, while debt relief was still on the distant horizon.  There had to be more foreign direct investment in Africa, and the commitment to increase ODA to 0.7 per cent of GDP had to be met.  Attempts to penalize or criminalize international migration would not work; States had to look at its positive side and desist from trampling on the dignity of migrants.

The question of Taiwan had to be urgently addressed, he said.  Its legitimate quest for a voice and standing in the United Nations could not be ignored any longer.  Taiwan was an important global actor; the simplest way to grant it recognition as a responsible member of the international community would be to give it its rightful place in the United Nations.

ANTONIO ISAAC MONTEIRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guinea-Bissau, said the alarming nature of the current international context demanded a strengthened United Nations capacity, making reforms urgent and necessary.  He explained that efficiency in the Organization was the best way to enhance the institution.  The United Nations now needed to take into account the new players in the world, whose contributions must be considered.  That would make demands by developing countries for a permanent seat on the Security Council legitimate.  Additionally, he noted the recent meeting of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and hoped it would signal strengthened relations with the United Nations.

He then stated that the seriousness of the situations in Lebanon and Darfur could not be doubted.  He urged the world to not accept the systematic violations of international norms.  In particular, the people of Darfur had the right to compassion and solidarity from the States of Africa, and the international community as a whole.  It was not acceptable to abandon people and condemn them to death, and there was a universal responsibility that the international community's response not come in the form of a post-mortem.

He worried that, if current world economic trends continued, poor countries could not attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  While many reforms had been introduced, protectionist measures for sugar, cotton and wheat seriously compromised the competitiveness of farmers in the least developed countries.  The lack of consensus for fair rules for international trade and absence of political will for negotiations in the World Trade Organization were complicating factors, and the review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action had thrown new light on insufficient levels of ODA.

He warned that many people, particularly the young, were so despondent because of the high level of unemployment and lack of hope for a better future that they risked their own lives.  He hoped that the recent High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at the United Nations would leave the international community better equipped to put a stop to illegal immigration and organized crime, which were more and more linked.  Guinea-Bissau had large numbers of its people living abroad and, because of the major role played by its diaspora, his country was committed to developing effective national policy in cooperation with destination countries.  He also called for urgent assistance for Guinea-Bissau in implementing its National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

Finally, he noted that, a year after the conclusion of the country's election, Guinea-Bissau had spared no effort to consolidate peace and national reconciliation.  But, he stressed that reform in the security and defence forces required lasting and substantial support from the international community, given Guinea-Bissau's inadequacy of resources.  He particularly thanked ECOWAS for creating an international contact group on Guinea-Bissau. 

H.E. LE CONG PHUNG, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that though the 2005 World Summit had provided much hope in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, the unilateral use of force, the escalation of regional and ethnic conflicts, and international terrorism continued to prevail.  There had been a trend of peace, cooperation and development, but developing countries still faced hardships with inequality in international economic relations, poverty, epidemics, drugs and transnational crimes.

As peace and socio-political stability were indispensable to development, it was imperative that countries cooperate to settle disputes through dialogue and abandon the use of force, he said.  Of particular concern were the situations concerning the nuclear issues in the Korean peninsula and Iran, as well as the crisis in the Middle East.  His Government supported the struggle of the Palestinian people for their inalienable rights and called for the implementation of resolution 1701.

He expressed concern with surging terrorism in the world, while positing that the suppression of terrorist organizations, including those against Viet Nam, were being undertaken "with double standards".  That only left more room for international terrorist acts, he noted.

While achievements in science and technology had provided great opportunities, they also revealed that international economic relations had a dark side.  The widening development gap between the rich and poor posed even greater threats to peace and security, he said.  The failure of the Doha Round, the strengthening of protectionism in a number of developed countries, and the fluctuating prices of oil and gold had caused difficulties for developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  He voiced particular concern over anti-dumping tariffs imposed on Viet Nam's catfish, shrimp and footwear.  Non-tariff barriers disguised as hygiene or safety standards should be removed to facilitate access to developed economies' markets, he said.  Furthermore, he termed embargos and sanctions obsolete policies, and called for the early lifting of the unilateral economic and trade embargo against Cuba.

He said that technology transfer, capacity-building and human resource development should be further promoted.  His Government had also welcomed the fact that a number of countries had set up roadmaps to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP to ODA without conditions.  On United Nations reform, the Organization needed to improve its effectiveness, democratization and modes of operation.  The Security Council needed reform in both its composition and methods of work, thereby ensuring that it adequately represented the concerns and interests of all Members.

Viet Nam would continue with its foreign policy of sovereign independence, peace, cooperation and development, he noted.  His Government would also continue to participate in regional cooperation -- Viet Nam was in its final phase in accession to the World Trade Organization -- while also running for non-permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-2009 term.

BELELA HERRERA, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said there had been progress made on United Nations reform.  She hoped Uruguay would join the Peacebuilding Commission's organizing committee, because of its experience as a major contributor to peacekeeping operations, in particular the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

She then noted Uruguay's active commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, as indicated by the country's emergency social plan to eradicate extreme poverty, which had decreased from 32.6 per cent in 2004 to 29.8 per cent at the end of 2005.  That was not sufficient, but it was progress.  In fighting poverty, she explained, social integration was just as important as helping people to subsist, because the poor needed to be recognized as active citizens in a democratic society.

She then outlined Uruguay's legislation to deal with the human rights violations that occurred under the dictatorship from 1973-1985, and argued that there was no freedom without justice.  Although it was hard to learn and assimilate the truth, it strengthened democracy.  Uruguay had also implemented legislation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and to prevent genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, she said.

While conventions on climate change and environmental degradation were important, she said each State needed to take responsibility for environmental protection internally.  Uruguay had, therefore, placed strict controls on investments under its Natural Uruguay framework to control environmental pollution.  She reiterated that protection of the environment was a human right, and stood as a cornerstone for true sustainable development.  She called on donor States to cooperate with developing countries to establish shared global objectives with differentiated responsibilities.

She then called for the international community to bring the Doha negotiations to a conclusion, and ensure that the development dimension of trade was accounted for in specific results, and not just a simple list of programmes.  The trade negotiations could not have satisfactory results unless they grappled with the issue of agricultural subsidies, both in terms of internal support mechanisms and opening up access to markets in developed countries.

KALOMBO MWANSA, Special Envoy of Zambia, noted that his country was one of the first 47 Member States elected to the newly established Human Rights Council and that the distinction had been determined by a high number of votes.  Zambia pledged to give the Council all the support required, including in the formulation of rules and structures to ensure a strong Council that was transparent, non-selective, non-politicized and actively involved in promoting dialogue and cooperation.

Moving on to the matter of increasing global insecurity, he reaffirmed the view that collective security required a collective mechanism to address threats such as war, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organized crime, civil conflict, infectious diseases, extreme poverty and environmental degradation.  To strengthen United Nations operations in those areas, the international community would have to develop stronger anti-terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and anti-crime regimes.  For its part, Zambia would have to implement a number of national measures to counter terrorism, including legislative reform.  Towards that end, the Assembly's adoption of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy was welcome and the comprehensive convention should be finalized and adopted.

On Africa's Great Lakes region, he said the Second International Conference would be held in December in Nairobi to adopt a draft pact on security, stability and development.  The continued political and financial support of the international community was needed to insure adoption.  It was noteworthy that the peacebuilding and development processes in the region were at a very advanced stage at each of the three-dimensional levels, namely, those of international partnerships, regional ownership and national stewardship.  That meant the vision for an integrated and sustainable human development future was now reassured.  The cessation of conflict in the region had already fed into the collective will to transform it into a place of sustainable peace, political security and development.

He said poverty accounted for many of the social and economic injustices that people encountered in many developing countries.  A bargain had been struck at Monterrey four years ago to implement a comprehensive strategy bold enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Developed countries were urged to support those efforts with further action on aid, trade and debt relief.  More significantly, fair trading practices would enable developing and least developed countries to take significant steps towards self-sustenance.  In cooperation with development partners, their dependence on aid would be reduced.  The twenty-first century had been declared the century for the development of Africa.  True commitment to that cause should be demonstrated for the sake of global security in equal partnership between rich and poor.

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