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    Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1681
    Release Date:  7 September 2000
     Opening Session of Millennium Summit Hears Statements by 
    19 Heads of State, 10 Heads of Government, Two Vice-presidents
     

     NEW YORK, 6 September (UN Headquarters) -- At the opening of the Millennium Summit of heads of State and government this morning, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reminded the gathering of political leaders that their peoples looked to them for a common effort to solve their problems, and to limit or compensate for the adverse effects that change almost always brought in its wake.

     “They expect you to work together, as governments -- and they expect you to work with all the other institutions -- profit and non-profit, public and private -- where human beings join hands to promote their ideas or their interests”, he said. People wanted to see that happen between neighbouring countries, and among all the countries of each region. But since today’s biggest challenges were global, “they expect above all that we will work together at the global level, as the United Nations”.

     In the course of a meeting which heard statements by 19 Presidents, 10 Heads of Government, and two Vice-Presidents, Summit participants outlined their major hopes and concerns. The topics they touched on included such issues as development, disarmament, the debt burden of developing countries, education, the positive and negative effects of globalization, and peace in the Middle East.

     Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel, said the opportunity for peace in the region must not be missed. “We envision a peace that will preserve the vital interests and the dignity of all sides”, he said. “But no side can achieve 100 per cent of its dreams if we are to succeed.” His Government, for example, had shown in negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians, as well as in its pullout from Lebanon, that it could make painful decisions for the sake of peace. It remained to be seen whether its Palestinian counterparts were also capable of rising to the magnitude of the hour. 

     He called on the President of the Palestine Authority, Yasser Arafat, to join him in the historic passage. “We are at the Rubicon and neither of us can cross it alone”, he said. “History will judge what we do in the next few days and weeks: Were we courageous and wise enough to guide our region across the deep river of mistrust into a new land of reconciliation? Or did we shrink back at the water’s edge, resigned to lie in wait for the rising tide of bloodshed and grief?”

     Chairman Arafat said the Palestinian people and their leadership had worked in earnest towards the fulfillment of the promise to achieve the Peace of the Brave. “We have made a strategic decision committing ourselves to the peace process, offering significant and painful concessions in order to arrive at a reasonable compromise acceptable to both sides”, he said. 

     “We have accepted a Palestinian state on less than a quarter of the historical territory of Palestine”, he continued. As for Jerusalem, Palestinians had agreed to share the city, in contrast to the attempts at monopolizing it. “We shall continue to do our utmost during the coming short period of time in order to arrive at a final settlement between Palestine and Israel”, he said. He invited the Israeli Government to do likewise. 

     William J. Clinton, President of the United States, delivering his last address to the United Nations as a Head of State, said one essential lesson of the last century was that there had been times when the international community had had to take a side. “We faced such a test and met it when Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, tried to close the century with a final chapter of ethnic cleansing and slaughter”, he said. “We have also faced such a test for 10 years in Iraq.” The United Nations had approved a fair blueprint spelling out what that country must do. It must be enforced. 

     The international community also faced a clear moral test today in Burma, he continued, where a popular leader who had struggled peacefully for dialogue had once again been confined, her supporters imprisoned, all in defiance of repeated United Nations resolutions. “On each of these matters we must not be silent.” He added that those in his country and elsewhere who “believe we can either do without the United Nations or impose our will upon it”, had not learned from history and did not understand the future.

     The meeting opened with statements by the Co-Chairs of the Millennium Summit, the Presidents of Finland and Namibia.

     Statements were also made this morning by the Presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Iran, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Maldives, Namibia, Viet Nam, Yemen, France, Kenya, Honduras, Chile, Federated States of Micronesia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Guyana and China.

     The King of Jordan also addressed the Summit in his capacity as Head of State and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in his capacity as Acting Head of Government.

     The Prime Ministers of Iceland, Belize, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Antigua and Barbuda, United Kingdom and Australia addressed the Summit as well.

     The Chancellor of Germany made a statement this morning, as did the Vice-Presidents of Panama and Suriname.

     The Foreign Minister of Syria and the Minister of National Heritage and Culture of Oman made statements as well.

    Assembly Work Programme

     The General Assembly met this morning to begin its three-day Millennium Summit – the largest-ever gathering of heads of State and government.

    Statements

     TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland and Co-Chair of the Millennium Summit: The task we need to fulfil is threefold -- we need to meet the demands of the outside world, we need to clarify the role of the United Nations in world affairs and we need to change the United Nations to be a modern and effective organization. The human being is in the centre of our work. Every human being is valuable. We need to work together as fellow citizens and partners – women and men, black and white, children and adults, rich and poor, strong and weak. 

     We the peoples make the critical choices. While a global marketplace is an effective means of creating and distributing wealth, it must be governed by a fair set of rules, by the people and for the people. At the national level, the key to development and progress is democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and good governance. Without a solid domestic foundation, a country will fail even under the best of global rules. Our planet is a global village, but not all the houses are alike. This village suffers from poverty and to eradicate poverty, we need solidarity. 

     The Millennium Summit is the moment to reflect on the future of the United Nations, which is often the only one out in the field to assist, to advise and to build institutions. It is imperative that Member States give it the means and resources to fulfil its mandate. We cannot expect the United Nations to accomplish everything alone. To be successful and credible, it must act in partnership with other organizations and civil society. We must make the Organization reflect the world as it is today.

     SAM NUJOMA, President of Namibia and Co-Chair of the Millennium Summit: Peoples of the world have high expectations for social change; they have the determination to put things right; to put men and women on the same footing before the law; to conquer fear, poverty and alienation in the society; to use benefits of science and technology for peace and human security; and to promote empowerment of the poor for poverty eradication and for sustainable development.

     We are here because we believe in the United Nations, in its Charter and in the common objectives and principles for which our indispensable Organization stands. And now is the time and today is the day for a new beginning to give renewed impetus to peace, cooperation, development, security and stability in the world. United Nations peace operations is another area of common concern. Armed conflicts, civil wars, as well as the vicious and destructive acts of terrorist groups should be condemned, for they prolong human suffering and severe hardship in the world. It is in this connection that the Brahimi Report on United Nations Peace Operations is so important and timely. This much-awaited report has been placed before the Millennium Summit and we must consider it as our own plan of action.

     As heads of State and government and eminent personalities, we must add our voices to the call for the observance of the Olympic Truce during the forthcoming Olympiad, which will be held at Sydney, Australia, from 15 September to 1 October. Our message for global solidarity, goodwill and human brotherhood must be clear and solemn. We are doing this in the spirit of building a peaceful and better world through sport. 

     KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations: Before my prepared paper I would like to inform you of the tragedy that took place a few hours ago in West Timor, where three United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff were killed in a deliberate attack by militia. The Security Council and I have many times expressed our concerns for the safety of unarmed humanitarian workers and the dangers they face. I have expressed this concern to the highest levels of the Indonesian leadership. I would ask you all to observe a minute of silence in honour of these brave humanitarian workers.

     This is a unique event, a unique opportunity and therefore a unique responsibility. You, ladies and gentlemen, are the leaders to whom the world’s peoples have entrusted their destiny. In an age when human beings have learnt the code of human life, and can transmit their knowledge in seconds from one continent to another, no mother in the world can understand why her child should be left to die of malnutrition or preventable diseases; why they should be driven from the home, imprisoned and tortured for expressing their beliefs; why the soil their parents tilled has turned to desert or why their skills have become useless and their family is left hungry. People know that these challenges cannot be met in one country alone, nor by government alone. Change cannot be held back by frontiers. Human progress has always come from individual and local initiatives, freely devised and then freely adapted elsewhere. 

     Your job, as political leaders, is to encourage such initiatives. To make sure they are not stifled, and that all your peoples can benefit from them. And to limit, or compensate for, the adverse effects that change almost always has on some people, somewhere. Your peoples look to you for a common effort to solve their problems. They expect you to work together, as governments. And they expect you to work with all the other institutions -- profit and non-profit, public and private – where human beings join hands to promote their ideas or their interests. People want to see this happen between neighbouring countries, and among all the countries of each region. But since today’s biggest challenges are global, they expect above all that we will work together at the global level, as the United Nations. 

     My friends, that is why we are here. We are here to strengthen and adapt this great institution, forged 55 years ago in the crucible of war, so that it can do what people expect of it in the new era -- an era in which the rule of law must prevail. Last month I sent you a report produced by a panel of independent experts, which makes detailed suggestions for strengthening the United Nations in the crucial area of peace and security -- the area where people look especially to the State, and where the world’s peoples look to the United Nations, to save them "from the scourge of war". Please consider that report very seriously. In the Millennium Report, I suggested certain ways for the Organization to become a more capable tool for the improvement of peoples’ lives everywhere. Some initiatives were already in a pilot stage and consisted of many innovative partnerships, which the United Nations will pursue in the future. I appeal to you not to limit declarations to those of intention but to let the declarations be plans of action and ensure their follow-up. We need to decide our priorities and we must adapt our United Nations, so that in future those priorities are reflected in clear and prompt decisions, leading to real change in people’s lives. That, my friends, is what the peoples expect of us. Let us not disappoint them.

     WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President, United States: One essential lesson of the last century is that there are times when the international community must take a side. We faced such a test and met it when Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, tried to close the century with a final chapter of ethnic cleansing and slaughter. We have also faced such a test for 10 years in Iraq. The United Nations approved a fair blueprint spelling out what this country must do. It must be enforced. We also face a clear moral test today in Burma, where a popular leader who has struggled peacefully for dialogue has once again been confined, her supporters imprisoned, all in defiance of repeated United Nations resolutions.

     Most conflicts and disputes are, however, not so clear-cut. Legitimate grievances are piled high on all sides. From Burundi to the Middle East to the Congo to South Asia, leaders are facing a choice between confrontation and compromise. When leaders do seize the passing chance for peace, we must help them. The United Nations is increasingly being called into situations of great uncertainty, where courageous leaders seek reconciliation, but where enemies of peace seek to undermine it. In East Timor, had the Organization not engaged, the people would have lost the chance to control their future. Yet the United Nations did not have the tools to prevent abuses that followed the vote for independence. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life of three United Nations workers there, and urge the Indonesian authorities to put an end to such actions. In Sierra Leone, had the United Nations not engaged, countless children now living would be dead at the hands of thugs. Again, this year, the Organization did not have the tools to deter challenges by those same groups.

     We must provide the Organization with the tools to do what we ask. We need better machinery to ensure the peacekeepers can be rapidly deployed, with the right training and equipment, the ability to project credible force, and missions that are well defined. To meet this challenge we must also more effectively deploy civilian police to missions. We must work with just as much passion and persistence to prevent conflict as well. In too many places, it is easier for children to find guns than textbooks. So we must build on our initiative to provide free meals for nine million children around the world, and encourage families to send their sons and daughters to school. We must also further our efforts to reduce the debt of developing countries. In addition, we must intensify our work to prevent diseases and stimulate the development of drugs and vaccines. We must also stop the trend that makes conflict more profitable than peace. 

     These efforts come with a price tag. All nations, including my own, must meet their obligations to the Organization. Reform of the United Nations financial structure must be made if the Organization is to meet the demands we make of it. Those in my country and elsewhere who believe we can either do without the United Nations, or impose our will upon it, have not learned from history and do not understand the future.

     TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea: Despite the major advances and achievements in the areas of science and technology, conflict resolution, democratic change, respect for human rights and good governance, the century that just ended presents a picture of a world threatened by anxiety and uncertainty. If we study the causes of this situation, we can see that to date we have not managed to treat mankind as the beneficiary of all development efforts. 

     As long as the growth and prosperity of some nations are based on the impoverishment of others, the result cannot but be a world dominated by tensions. During the major world conferences, such as in Mexico, Copenhagen and Beijing, the international community has identified and expounded on the major political, economic and social problems affecting mankind, especially in the developing countries. The vast majority of the world’s population, particularly those in the third world, are victims of extreme poverty, indebtedness, disease and natural disasters. 

     We note the clear incapacity of the present United Nations system to address and meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. To be effective, the Organization must democratize itself. Otherwise, it will find it difficult to act with justice and equity in carrying out its role. I take this opportunity to urge well-needed reform for the United Nations. Globalization presented great opportunities, but for now its benefits are distributed unequally. It should be a positive force for all the world’s population.

     ALFONSO PORTILLO CABRERA, President of Guatemala: Guatemala has been a direct beneficiary of the activities of the United Nations in many areas, and particularly in the establishment and consolidation of peace, following an internal conflict that went on for four decades. We believe that the United Nations is destined to carry out an even more relevant role than before in an increasingly transnationalized world. To do so, we will have to adapt to the needs of the twenty-first century.

     The Secretary-General's report, "We the Peoples", offers valuable guidelines for the shape that adaption will take. I would like to pause for a moment on the matter of priorities. I believe that the Secretary-General was right in presenting his triptych of a "world free from want", "a world free from fear" and "a sustainable future". Development should be at the centre of the concerns of the United Nations, just as it is in Guatemala's Government programme. But there cannot be development without peace and security. We have learned much from war. We learned that dialogue is more powerful than arms. We learned that respect is the greatest impediment to confrontation. We shall have to strengthen our collective capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts, both across borders and domestically. Guatemala provides an example of how the United Nations can assist in consolidating peace and respect for human rights, without any improper intrusion into the internal affairs of a nation. 

     As regards the need to adapt the United Nations, emphasis should be placed on a sound international legal system, complemented by the principles and practices of multilateralism. The United Nations intergovernmental structure should be adapted to the new international environment. The most obvious starting point for this process is reform of the Security Council. We must put an end to the practice of freezing the Organization's budget, and we must learn to provide it with the necessary financial support. I could not agree more with the proposition that cultural diversity is an invaluable asset to the international community. Differences between us are our strength, and not our weakness. The difference between nations is the wealth of hope in a better future for our planet. We propose that we respond to this new millennium with ideas, and not beliefs.

     SEYYED MOHAMMAD KHATAMI, President of Iran: Humanity, anguished by its journey through the twentieth century, marred by blood, calamities and discriminations, is eagerly awaiting a better future in the new century, a future built around the dignity and rights of human beings. The structure of power in our contemporary world must be reformed. In a global society, diverse cultures and civilizations can and should work collectively to build a humane world with liberty and progress for all. The fundamental question is whether the United Nations is capable of revisiting and reconstructing its foundations on the basis of such a vision.

     “Freedom from want”, “freedom from fear” and “sustaining our future”, as highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General, can only be attained by defining emerging global relations through open and balanced dialogue. I proposed to the fifty-third General Assembly to designate, as the initial step, the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. Dialogue among Civilizations intends to facilitate a new paradigm of “inclusion and reform of global relations” and preclude the ascendance of unidirectional relations and political and cultural monologues. Now is the time for a further step.

     In my statement before the General Assembly, I proposed the recognition of the equal rights of all nations through the elimination of discrimination from United Nations machinery, particularly from the Security Council. This proposal awaits positive consideration. Today, I declare before this house that nations can no longer be marginalized on political, cultural and economic pretexts. The world belongs to all its inhabitants. No double standards, national or international, can ever be accepted in the contemporary world. On the eve of the third millennium, the time has come to call on the world not to yield to the quest for power, but to opt for dialogue and ultimately for compassion, love and spirituality. 

     ARNOLDO ALEMAN LACAYO, President of Nicaragua: Nicaragua is in full agreement with the proposal in the Secretary-General's report on reform of the Security Council to achieve more equitable and democratic representation of various regions, thereby promoting greater balance. Similarly, we wish to propose that the final Declaration should take into account the need to strengthen the International Court of Justice to offer States the option of peacefully resolving disputes. It is of paramount importance to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining and strengthening the universal nature of the United Nations, in order to ensure that all people of the world, without discrimination, can be fairly represented. This leads us to reiterate before this Assembly that we believe it is the right of the Republic of China, which for more than half a century has exercised full sovereignty in Taiwan, to participate as a fully fledged member of the United Nations.

     The new century will be witness to a spectacular globalization process. Thus, today, we have an enormous responsibility to channel our best efforts, early and effectively, to achieve at least minimal levels of the transfer of science and technology to developing countries. Nicaragua is making great efforts to consolidate democracy with social justice, overcome the damage caused by natural phenomena, heal the wounds of a painful and destructive civil war and lay the groundwork for a development process characterized by profound change, stability and appropriate levels of governance.

     We are pleased to note the interest recently shown by the developed countries and multilateral financial institutions in alternatives that would substantially relieve the situation of the heavily indebted poor countries. We hope that this interest will soon result in specific and meaningful actions, so that countries like Nicaragua can break the vicious cycle of poverty and look towards a future with greater opportunities and expectations for sustainability and progress. I should also point out that in the report, recently submitted by the Secretary-General to the Economic and Social Council, my country is mentioned as the third in Latin America to have an integrated disaster prevention and mitigation system.

     VLADIMIR V. PUTIN, President of the Russian Federation: The twentieth century will remain in history as a century of contradictions. It has become an epoch of grandiose achievements and horrendous wars, and a century of revolutionary breakthroughs and profound disillusionments. But our countries managed to overcome the cold war with its global confrontations. That is a great accomplishment of the United Nations. The Organization has learned to solve and does solve the most complicated world problems. We are convinced, however, that we need to renovate and improve the mechanisms of the United Nations. This is the imperative of our time. But no reforms should sway the Organization’s fundamental principles. The new century should transform itself into a millennium of effective stability. It has to enter the annals of history as the period of real disarmament. 

     Today we have already succeeded in creating an efficient mechanism for disarmament. We should now reliably block ways of spreading nuclear weapons. We can achieve this by excluding usage of enriched uranium and pure plutonium in the world's atomic energy production. Particularly alarming are plans for the militarization of outer space, and in that connection we suggest the holding of an international conference under the umbrella of the United Nations in Moscow in the spring of 2001. The final part of the twentieth century was neither a transitional period nor a historic time for the Russian Federation. We returned to the scene as a democratic State and intend to become stronger in that capacity and earn more prestige. 

     We consider terrorism to be the most dangerous and treacherous phenomenon. It survives only when it has a chance to undermine the stability of a State and to sow seeds of mutual suspicion and animosity. Our common aim is to raise an efficient barrier against this evil. The United Nations role in this sphere should grow. We have to move to peace, stability and prosperity. Democracy in international relations means conscious understanding of the whole diversity of world civilization. 

     MAUMOON ABDUL GAYOOM, President of Maldives: Fifty-five years after the United Nations was established, has the world become a better place? In the areas of decolonization, dismantling of apartheid, health status, education, standard of living, human rights and democracy, progress has been made. But there is also the horror of the failures: the millions of children dying of hunger, the killing fields of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, the suffering of Bosnia, terrorism, the arms build-up, and escalating environmental degradation. 

     The new millennium is an opportune time for a fresh start. All bloodshed must cease. The United Nations must serve all States alike. We must reject discrimination and exploitation, make development more inclusive, divert expenditures on arms towards feeding hungry mouths and saving children.  Globalization and information technology must be used to unite; least-developed countries need preferential treatment. Women and youth must be allowed to reach full potential. Strong families and moral values are vital.

     Our quest for progress must be sustainable. We have no right to destroy the earth. Ecological damage, including global warming, must be curbed. All low-lying countries must be saved: when the United Nations meets to usher in yet another century, will the Maldives and other low-lying island nations still be represented here? 

     Mr. NUJOMA, President of Namibia: The drive to improve humankind's living condition remains the most serious common challenge which demands a concerted effort from all. "Do we have the requisite political will, moral courage and appropriate strategy, as we enter the new millennium, to effectively combat poverty, especially in those areas where poverty is most rampant amidst conspicuous affluence at the scale we have witnessed over the last 50 years? We cannot celebrate our remarkable achievements in science, technology and other areas of human endeavour while millions of our fellow human beings continue to live in a world of deprivation and even starvation."

     For most people in the developing countries, especially in Africa, the benefits of information and communication technology remain to be felt. The glaring disparity between the North and the South is the most burning issue of the times. The Economic and Social Council and the United Nations agencies have a critical role to play in narrowing that disparity. That is the fundamental question which the Millennium Summit is called upon to address.

     The United Nations must take a sober and critical reflection of its capacity and preparedness in maintaining international peace and security. Member States cannot and should not abdicate their responsibility for collective security. 

     The Southern African Development Community is meeting to address the launching of Corporate Strategies in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. The partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Corporate Council on Africa aims at developing strategies to counter the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in the workplace. 

     At every opportunity of public engagement, leaders must assume the role of champions in raising HIV/AIDS awareness. There is an imperative need for pharmaceutical companies to give the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS access to affordable drugs. 

     King ABDULLAH II of Jordan: Now is the time to declare our commitment, to embrace a new vision of an order that seeks justice and protects it, creates opportunity and sustains it, and most of all, that upholds a universal moral value and defends it. It is a vision that would enable us to meet what is the biggest challenge of the new millennium: that of securing the human rights and the human development of people around the world.

     Jordan has provided an example in reaching fair agreements that allow for peaceful coexistence among States. Committed to accountable political governance, sound economic management and a free press, we are a cementing democracy, which does not simply represent the rule of the majority but paves the road to equal opportunities, greater tolerance, and the acceptance of differences.

     We welcome the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel on peacekeeping, and look forward to their adoption and enforcement. United Nations Security Council resolutions, including 194, 242 and 338, must be implemented, if this century is to be safe, fairer and more peaceful than the departing one. Our determination to protect life on earth will be explicitly stated at the upcoming meeting of the World Conservation Congress, and the Earth Forum, which will be convened next month in Amman.

     Our Summit today must look forward, towards realizing a vision of a tolerant and peaceful humanity that protects life and seeks to improve it for all. In an increasingly smaller village, we must shun conflict and rivalry. We should strive to achieve the greater expectations that this day and age entail: those of prosperity, liberty and freedom.

     TRAN DUC LUONG, President of Viet Nam: The United Nations and the international community should give priority to a number of issues. First, allocation of adequate resources to meet the urgent demands for economic development and improvement of people’s lives. Efforts should particularly address poverty, which is threatening the daily life of five sixths of the world’s population, and narrow the development gap between rich and poor countries.  Also, international economic, trading and financial relations should be developed as called for in the recent Havana Declaration. The level of official development assistance must also be raised, while preferential treatment to developing countries in the transfer of technology must be expanded. Peace and stability had to be strengthened to create a favourable environment for development and poverty alleviation.

     The international community must reject and put an end to all intervention, imposition, embargoes and blockades, as they not only violated the sovereignty of countries, but threatened international peace and security. In promoting cooperation between developed and developing countries, the North-South mechanism must be expanded and further initiatives for cooperation among the less developed subregions must be promoted. At the dawn of the new millennium, the Vietnamese people are joyfully commemorating the fifty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Republic. In our development strategy we advocate combining economic development with social development.

     Determined to intensify the renovation process and pursue the foreign policy of independence, sovereignty, diversification and multilateralism, Viet Nam advocates the fullest use of its internal strength, while mobilizing external strength for the cause of industrialization, modernization and active integration into regional and international economies. We would also like to solemnly propose that we declare the first decade of the twenty-first century “The Decade of Greatest Global Efforts towards Poverty Alleviation”. It is our belief that with that Declaration, the Summit will meet our aspirations and remind us of the responsibility to our nations.

     ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, President of Yemen: Great changes have occurred in international relations in the final years of the twentieth century. Humanity suffered from bloody conflicts during the cold war, conflicts that were harmful to the freedom of man and imposed poverty on millions of people. Relief came when democracy and freedom prevailed and dictatorships collapsed. Then came a new era of globalization, democracy and human rights, an era of peace and cooperation. The last decade of the twentieth century was very crucial for Yemen. It enjoyed freedom of the press and participation of women in political life. It also paid much attention to respect for human rights. 

     At the threshold of the twenty-first century, Yemen is at peace with itself and its neighbours. We look forward to a new age of cooperation in our region and the world, and in that context we note international efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms. Terrorism is an international phenomenon -- but it is important to distinguish terror from the legitimate struggle of peoples for their freedom and independence. There are still peoples deprived of freedom. Such is the case of the Palestinian people, still under Israeli occupation in spite of world support for this community. We stress that a just and comprehensive peace in our region means peace for all. This requires the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. 

     While respecting the legitimacy of United Nations resolutions, we would also stress the need to put an end to the disastrous situation of the Iraqi people, and the need to lift the sanctions imposed on Iraq for more than 10 years. We call on the great and rich powers to perform a positive role to help the development of impoverished countries, to grant them exemptions from their debts and to alleviate their burdens. Peace and development are interconnected concepts and necessary conditions for human progress and civilization. The United Nations should play an effective role in the rationalization of globalization, so that the benefits not be directed to rich countries only. This peaceful organization should spread its peaceful wings over all countries and all peoples. Some changes are needed in its organs, including the modification of the membership of the Security Council, if humanity is to be served with justice and impartiality.

     JACQUES CHIRAC, President of France: A new world has emerged in the space of a single generation. A world with a wealth of promise and breathtaking progress, but, unfortunately, one which is creating new forms of exclusion. The world taking shape before our eyes needs common rules, principles and ambitions. That is why the time is right for this Summit. We must work together to build a new international society that is more civilized, more caring, more just and better managed. The United Nations is the natural place to undertake this task. We must breathe life into an ethic for the twenty-first century to serve mankind, human dignity and human rights. 

     This ethical struggle is above all the struggle for peace and democracy. Peace, because peace is our peoples' most precious possession. Peace that needs to be strengthened unceasingly through greater efforts to achieve non-proliferation and disarmament, with universal ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and new negotiations on biological weapons, ballistic weapons and small arms. Peace that calls for reform of the United Nations as a peacekeeping body, notably by enlarging both categories of Security Council membership. Democracy, because democracy alone ensures respect for human rights and dignity and is the surest path to stability, development and progress for all. Also, because it is the surest way to guarantee peace.

     Our world, still fraught with political, economic and financial crises, does not suffer from a surfeit of rules but from the problems of keeping international law and practices abreast of change and progress. If we are to build a world order that meets the needs of our times, we must strengthen and improve the coexistence of great institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, first of all, the United Nations. While the Organization is playing a major role, we must let it adapt to today’s world – by modernizing the methods of the General Assembly, by supporting the reforms undertaken by the Secretary-General, by making the best use of the information revolution and by providing it with the necessary resources. 

     DANIEL ARAP MOI, President of Kenya: The first few months of the new millennium have not been kind to Africa. We have suffered from severe and extreme weather conditions. In Kenya, we have had to face the worst drought since independence. Southern Africa, conversely, had to cope with torrential rainfall and widespread flooding. Our continent is also faced with man-made disasters. Civil wars and endless conflicts destroy, at a stroke, years of painstaking development. They spill across borders, bringing weapons of war, instability and increasing crime into peaceful countries, along with thousands of refugees we cannot afford to look after.

     We need to challenge the voices of despair. We need to counter those so-called commentators who so often ignore the sheer size of our continent and conveniently forget that we are divided up into 54 sovereign States, each with its own culture, customs and systems of government. Perhaps they also need reminding that our borders were created artificially by the colonial powers without regard to the wishes of our people. This is a major cause of conflict today. We must find solutions to these endless futile wars.

     It is a matter of pride to Kenya that we have never failed to provide soldiers for United Nations peacekeeping missions. Our pride is tempered with sadness in that, in recent months, several Kenyan soldiers serving the United Nations have given their lives for the cause of peace in Sierra Leone. But we now firmly believe that greater resources must be mobilized by the United Nations for conflict prevention and resolution. It is not enough to react to conflict. Kenya stands ready, based on our considerable experience in mediation efforts in our own region, to play its part in this regard. If we are asked to provide peacekeepers again, I trust they will be given a clear and robust mandate.

     CARLOS ROBERTO FLORES FACUSSÉ, President of Honduras: Just a few moments ago, I had the satisfaction and honour of handing the Secretary-General a Golden Book of Peace, which contains the signatures of hundreds of our citizens. With this book, Honduras and its people wish to express in their own handwriting and signatures, their sincere sentiments for peace and friendship among all the peoples of the earth. These pages carry the roots of our native ethnic groups. Their names carry the uncertainty that they have accumulated through years of indifference, their shared aspirations with their brethren of this and other lands, and their prayers and legitimate hopes to live in a fairer, more inclusive and promising world. 

     The book has been signed by men and women from villages and cities as their testimony against discrimination and marginalization, and as acknowledgement of the efforts put forth by the United Nations to establish gender equity and human rights. The signatures in this book are the manifestation of our faith in what the world can and must be. Peace will depend to a great degree on the success we achieve in vanquishing hunger, malnutrition, ignorance, marginalization, exclusion, prejudice and our overburdening debt. 

     Peace is the honest effort to shorten the distance between those who have the least and those who have the most; to reduce the chasm of inequalities and contrasts that separates people and countries; and to raise social and economic justice among peoples of all nations to the level of a universal requirement. The United Nations can and should work to achieve the coexistence that is necessary among the poor and rich, the small and the large, under a platform of sovereign equality and human solidarity.

     RICARDO LAGOS, President of Chile: I come from a place that has been called the end of the earth, but I know it as a land of poets and beauty -- a land that has not given up its dreams of a better future. Because Chile is a country separated from the rest of the world as a result of its geography, we enthusiastically embrace the phenomenon of globalization that makes us all part of shared time and space. I have come to the Millennium Summit with the belief that together, all the people of the earth can turn dreams into reality as this new century unfolds.

     We know that globalization is a revolution that impacts on the economy, technology, politics and culture of people everywhere on the planet. We in the South are not afraid of this great transformation. We embrace it, full of hope. In little more than ten years, Chile has doubled the size of its economy, drastically reduced poverty and created a culture of respect for human rights. These successes are linked to the opening up of our economy, communications and our culture and we are pleased with the results. Chile is proof that globalization is a source of opportunity, especially for small countries at the margins of international flows. But just as it is a source of opportunities, globalization can give rise to glaring inequities and grave risks. 

     The international financial risks of the last few years have revealed the vulnerability of our nations to events over which we have no control. We have also seen local cultures destroyed in the name of globalization. We note with dismay how the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow to the point at which it has become the gravest threat to the new global society. This places a great responsibility on the people and governments of the world. What is needed is the political will that can come only from the States gathered here today and a people-centered approach. The United Nations is the best forum in the world in which to voice this fundamental concern and to undertake this task. As the repository of the hopes of mankind, it must fulfil this moral duty.

     LEO A. FALCAM, President of the Federated States of Micronesia: The behaviour of mankind within the next 100 years will determine our future on this planet. There is excitement over globalization. But to those in need and under threat of disease, there are strong suspicions that globalization could worsen their situations. New ways of evaluating needs, such as the vulnerability index, must be applied.

     In addition, the unquenchable pursuit of luxury and consumption threatens all our descendants. In my small-island nation, we are increasingly alarmed at the glacial progress of the world community in confronting global warming and the consequent rise in sea level.

     As a top priority for the United Nations, military peacekeeping has had mixed results at best. Other components of its agenda – sustainable development, poverty eradication, good governance and human rights -- are equally central to long-term security. In hoping that concrete action in those areas might flow from this Summit, I choose to take encouragement from the processes sponsored by the United Nations during the last decade: the agenda for the environment and development, the framework convention on climate change, the biodiversity convention, and summits held on human rights and social development. A moral recommitment on this occasion must include determination for action with unaccustomed speed, across the entire spectrum of this body's agenda.

     BORIS TRAJKOVSKI, President of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: What can a country of our size do to support the United Nations in the new millennium? It will continue to preserve its integrity, strengthen its democracy and fight for human rights, as it did when it sheltered Kosovo refugees. It will fight trafficking in weapons, women and drugs. It will commit to reforms that further a market economy, which will lead to higher living standards worldwide. 

     Most importantly, my country will support conflict resolution measures, its most valuable contribution since 1993 when the first-ever preventive force was deployed in its territory. Although United Nations sanctions have hurt us, the long-term stability brought about has proven them justified. We will be a positive force in rebuilding and uniting South-eastern Europe. We will foster law and order, create strong democracies, rebuild infrastructure, encourage free trade and strengthen economies. Our ultimate goal is to join Euro-Atlantic structures and take a rightful place in Europe.

     Reforming the United Nations requires united effort by and among states. It also requires the strengthening of countries from within. By working around common rules and values, nations at the United Nations can work with non-governmental organizations, the private sector and multilateral agencies in service to humanity. In that way, they can defeat the HIV virus, build digital bridges, defend the ecosystem and strengthen international law. 

     BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana: Only a fundamental reform of the international economic and financial system can satisfy the needs of small countries such as ours. The prevailing model of development, by which countries implement sound internal policies but fail to progress because of external factors, is disastrous. It must be replaced by another paradigm that allows developing countries to participate in the global economy while protecting them from its volatility. Moreover, the success of the model should not be measured by standard economic indicators but by its ability to reduce poverty and empower people.

     As we search for this new model, we cannot be blind to breaches of international peace and stability which render development difficult if not impossible. The threat or the use of force to resolve disputes militates against national economic and social progress and must therefore be condemned. The international community must deal swiftly with such futile conflicts and demand from all States full respect for the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law. An expanded and more democratic Security Council could preserve global security.

     On my return to Guyana, my people will ask of me: what good has this Summit brought us? Will it reduce poverty and create employment for our young people and social security for our old? Will it help our country to bridge the development and digital divides which now deny it the possibility of full and productive participation in the global economy? I would like to assure them that the new millennium will bring them both peace and prosperity. I know, however, that the hopes and promises of this event will only be realized if there is strong and shared determination by all States to create a new vision and strategy for international sustainable development.

     JIANG ZEMIN, President of China: In the twenty-first century and the coming millennium, mankind will inevitably come across unexpected tests and challenges, and will surely realize new and earthshaking historical changes and a great leap forward. The people in many countries are still suffering from the scourge of war. Local conflicts caused by ethnic, religious, territorial or resource factors keep cropping up. Environment, drugs, refugees and other global issues are more acutely felt. Not all countries are beneficiaries of the developments of modern science and technology and economic globalization. The imbalance in world development is becoming more acute.

     The right of the people of all countries to independently choose their social system and development path must be fully respected. North-South dialogue should be enhanced, on the basis of equality, and South-South cooperation must be extensive. The principle of democracy must be advocated and implemented in maintaining world peace and promoting common development. All countries, big or small, are equal members of the international community and have the right to take part in world affairs. Matters that fall within the sovereignty of a country should be managed only by the government and people of that country, and world affairs should be handled by all through consultation. 

     The United Nations and its Security Council should carry out reforms as necessary and appropriate, respecting the principle of equitable geographical distribution, to give expression to the will of all Member States, and developing countries in particular. China will never seek hegemony. This is a solemn commitment made by the Chinese people to the world. It is my hope that all countries and people who love peace and aspire to progress will work hand in hand and move the wheel of history towards a bright future.

     Crown Prince, ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL AZIZ AL-SAUD, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard of Saudi Arabia: By virtue of its belief in the United Nations Charter, Saudi Arabia is committed to contribute to the success of this historic meeting, which holds so much promise for humanity. The major question facing this distinguished gathering of world leaders and heads of State is this: Where are we today with respect to the noble objectives behind the establishment of the United Nations? How close are we to achieving the principles and foundations of its Charter when three billion people are living on less than two dollars a day? 

     Conflict prevention is more important than peacekeeping. The Government of Saudi Arabia will pledge to make a 30 per cent contribution to the Secretary-General's preventative action fund. The United Nations has decided to declare 2001 the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes this decision.

     There is some concern that we are entering a new era commonly known as globalization. This emergence of the freedom of movement and information is on an unprecedented scale. Globalization promises to enhance the links among human beings. But there is also a dark side that we can ill afford to ignore. There are many societies that fear losing their identity or face bankruptcy in competition. If left unchecked, this dark side will turn into an old conflict with a new name. At a time when international efforts are gaining momentum, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon the United Nations to play the role of guardian and regulator of globalization. The agenda of this meeting has more than 20 proposals for action aimed at improving the performance of the United Nations. This Summit will bring us one step closer to achieving these goals. It will not have an effect unless there is a change of political will by each country to implement them. 

     DAVIO ODDSSON, Prime Minister of Iceland: It is fair to say that with increasing globalization, the world needs the United Nations more than ever before. At the same time, greater demands are being made on the Organization. New times and greater demands call for changes in the organization and work of the United Nations. Thus, the Security Council is a child of its time and reforms to it need to be expedited. Moreover, the Organization’s record in peacekeeping operations has also been rather uneven over the past decade. However, with its valuable experience in this field, the United Nations has great potential to promote peace in regions of conflict. 

     Despite the fact that Iceland has only a small population and no armed forces, we have contributed medical personnel and police officers to peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. The Government is now drawing up proposals on ways to increase our participation in the civilian side of peacekeeping. It is the duty of all members to ensure sufficient resources for the United Nations to undertake the tasks they entrust to the Organization. It is unacceptable for the United Nations to be starved of funds, and even worse if members are late in making their required contributions or fail to make them at all. At the same time, there is much scope for improving the operations and effectiveness of the Organization. 

     One area of United Nations activities which is increasingly moving into the spotlight is environmental issues -– which are often global in character and need to be solved accordingly. To achieve this successfully, we must consider not only how to share fairly among different nations the costs that these solutions involve, but also how to produce the maximum benefit for the global community as a whole. One example is the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. There is an obvious need to increase the use of renewable energy resources in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol should be arranged so as to encourage as far as possible the location of power-intensive industries in places where clean, renewable energy resources are found, so that total emissions can be kept to a minimum. 

     SAID W. MUSA, Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs of Belize: Many of my colleagues address what is wrong with our world: the poverty, the inequality, the injustice, the violence, the greed that is destroying the earth and its people. I ask, is this state of affairs beyond our control? Or, can we summon up the courage and the political will to take the practical and cooperative decisions necessary to ensure a shared and better future for our peoples? In the past, we looked to the nation State for solutions. Today, transnational and multilateral organizations have become the true centre of governance. That government is powerful, but it is not democratic. It is not just and it is not accountable. 

     If we want the United Nations to fulfil its lofty goals, we must remake it into an organization that takes global governance away from the self-appointed few and brings democracy to all its operations. The Security Council must be reformed. The effectiveness and legitimacy of its proceedings would be immeasurably enhanced by a curtailment of the veto and by expansion of its membership. We must make the General Assembly both more powerful and more accountable. We must find effective ways of including more directly the people whose lives are affected by our decisions. 

     Globalization offers great possibilities for prosperity, security and human well-being, but only if the architects of globalization can be held to account. In many small States like Belize, our economies are fragile and vulnerable. We live on the margins and fear that unrestrained globalization will further marginalize us. But we must be bold and face the future convinced that together we can forge a more responsible and equitable globalization. For the last half of the past century, we fought to end colonialism and bring freedom and democracy to our nations. Now we are called to a new appointment with history -- to bring democracy to global governance, to share a better and more productive future where all can live in dignity and peace.

     EHUD BARAK, Prime Minister of Israel: The opportunity for peace in the Middle East is now at hand and must not be missed. We envision a peace that will preserve the vital interests and the dignity of all sides. But no side can achieve 100 per cent of its dreams if we are to succeed. Israel has shown, in negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians, as well as in its pullout from Lebanon, that it can make painful decisions for the sake of peace. It remains to be seen whether our counterparts are also capable of rising to the magnitude of the hour. Member States can lend a pivotal hand by encouraging the difficult process of reconciliation, and by opposing any unilateral measures which may spark a renewed cycle of violence and obliterate the prospects of peace. 

     I call out to Chairman Arafat to join me in this historic passage. We are at the rubicon and neither of us can cross it alone. History will judge what we do in the next few days and weeks: were we courageous and wise enough to guide our region across the deep river of mistrust into a new land of reconciliation, or did we shrink back at the water’s edge, resigned to lie in wait for the rising tide of bloodshed and grief? 

     Fifty-five years ago, it took the shock of a Second World War and the worst genocide to bring world leaders together to form the United Nations. I commend the Secretary-General for so masterfully conceiving this Summit, which powerfully declares our potential for solidarity. More than ever, the borders of faith and culture have receded, showing us just how close we are in our hopes and fears, how little time each of us has on this planet, and how much we have yet to repair and heal. 

     BERTIE AHERN, Prime Minister of Ireland: Instead of a "new world order", we should strive for a "fair world order", recognizing that we live in a society, not a marketplace. The term admits of concepts such as justice and human solidarity. It acknowledges that while not everyone lives the same way, all are entitled to dignity and decency. A genuine commitment to fairness has policy implications from trade, investment and debt reduction to health and labour. While coherence is an over-used word, it is an under-used approach. The Summit Declaration has the appropriately broad range of commitments. However, if policy coherence and precise targets are urged on the United Nations, countries must adopt the same disciplines.

     Over the past two years, Ireland's official development assistance has grown at the fastest rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Today, in this public forum, Ireland commits to meeting the 0.7 per cent target by the end of 2007, with an interim target to increase its share by 0.45 per cent before the end of 2002. Alleviating poverty will be a focus of foreign policy. Also, Ireland will increase its support for conflict resolution, since international support was indispensable to the success of Ireland's own peace process. Ireland will make its experience available wherever helpful. 

     The recent reforms have strengthened and revitalized the United Nations. Much remains to be done, however. The Security Council needs to reflect the modern world through equitable geographic representation. Towards that end, Ireland will seek a seat on the Security Council in next month's elections. It is a most critical and challenging time for the Council. Ireland can rise to it because of experience and commitment. Finally, deliberations in this week's rarefied atmosphere of diplomacy must take into account that the lives of people worldwide are affected by actions either taken or passed over by the United Nations. 

     MARIO FRICK, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein: Our highly interdependent world is ailing. Serious and mutually reinforcing threats to our future welfare assume numerous forms. We can confront many of these threats at the local or national level. However, a large number of problems, such as global warming, population growth, environmental degradation, the widening North-South gap and organized crime, must be addressed primarily at the global level. The United Nations offers the only obvious set of institutional mechanisms to address them. 

     This Millennium Summit coincides with the tenth anniversary of Liechtenstein’s membership in the United Nations. When we joined this Organization at the end of the cold war, many of the constraints that the United Nations had to face for 45 years were removed and there were great expectations that the Organization would finally be able to carry out its mandates. But the removal of the constraints did not make the solution of the problems easier, and the United Nations was not fully equipped to face the upcoming challenges. The call for the international community to act is usually addressed to the United Nations. Now, at the beginning of the new millennium, we Member States must demonstrate that we are willing to empower the United Nations to act on our behalf. We must therefore put the necessary resources at the Organization’s disposal and must be prepared to accept limitations when it comes to our own freedom to act.

     Within a group of like-minded countries, Liechtenstein participated actively in the work to create the International Criminal Court; one of the outstanding achievements in the area of international law. We hope that the Court will become operational soon. The International Criminal Court will lead to full accountability for the commission of the most serious crimes under international law and it has a strong potential to help prevent conflicts. 

     LESTER B. BIRD, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda: The evidence at hand provides no comfort to the poor and powerless. For the world that turns on the cusp of the new millennium is still one in which right parades in the armour of might and justice is cloaked in the raiment of the rich. Even this body, the United Nations, has become marginalized by the dictates of a few. The sustained prosperity of industrialized countries in the last 50 years, and the more recent performance of a few developing countries have camouflaged a more gruesome reality, and that is the relentless growth in the number of the very poor. 

     The world’s economic and political agenda is now devised and dictated by a few of its most powerful governments. The Group of 7 highly industrialised countries has arrogated to itself not only the role of the world’s decision maker but also of its enforcer. Members of the G7 have been motivated by narrow, national political concerns at the expense of the wider interests of global economic growth and international political stability. The OECD has unilaterally devised a set of standards for taxation that it wants to impose on other jurisdictions. The OECD is also demanding that States change their domestic laws to allow the tax authorities of OECD countries unfettered access to banking information. Should States fail to yield to the OECD demands, its member States have threatened to impose sanctions on those countries. 

     Let me be clear: none of this has anything to do with money laundering and other financial crime. This OECD action is designed to impose its unilaterally created standards on States with low tax regimes, so that they can justify and maintain what amounts to a high tax cartel. The OECD should halt its insidious process and place any discussion on tax issues in a multilateral forum where it rightly belongs. The OECD issue, and others like it, are symptoms of the much larger problem of global governance.

     TONY BLAIR, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: The challenge for the United Nations is the same for all of us -- how to respond to change. Fortunately, we have a Secretary-General who speaks with great wisdom and is leading a United Nations ready for reform. Member States must match that vigour. Today the United Nations struggles to cope with new types of peacekeeping operations, whether they are in East Timor or the Balkans. The typical case is now fast-moving and volatile. The appalling attack in West Timor is a demonstration of this fact. The United Nations soldier needs to work within a system better geared to deal with present-day situations. The United Nations needs forces that can be quickly deployed, which calls for a new contract between the Organization and its Members. 

     There has been a dismal record of failure in Africa on the part of the developed world. More deaths are caused not by acts of fate, but by acts of man. Nowhere are more people being left behind on the educational and digital divide. Thirty years ago the same analysis could have been made about Asia and Latin America. Change can take place. We must be partners for that change. By 2004, the new British Government will have increased its aid budget, with much of it going to Africa. We must use this unique Summit for a unique purpose -- to realize a way forward for Africa. I urge you all to ask what we can do for Africa. What we need are new partnerships for Africa in which Africa leads. Britain stands ready to do its part with the rest of the world for Africa.

     Our brief speeches may not change the world. But, is it not better to be here talking to each other than out there fighting each other? For all its imperfections, the United Nations is a force for good and our desire is that it do more, not less. Lastly, I cannot leave here without stating that the treatment of Aung Sung Suu Kyi is a disgrace and I call on that Government to resolve that situation and call on fellow world leaders to back that call. 

     GERHARD SCHRODER, Chancellor of Germany: Within the scope of its unchanged key task, maintaining international peace and security, the United Nations is placing ever greater emphasis on crisis prevention. We must draw the necessary conclusions from the successes and failures of the recent peace missions. The Security Council cannot improve the prospects for success in global peacekeeping if politically and economically important States are not involved in its decision-making. Should the number of permanent seats on the Council be increased, Germany is prepared to shoulder this responsibility.

     A second priority remains safeguarding and strengthening human rights. Effective protection of human rights is an important prerequisite for peace and stability. The German Government very strongly advocates the early entry into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

     A third priority for the United Nations remains its commitment to economic and social progress, which necessitates fair international economic relations. With the Koln Debt Relief Initiative launched by the German Government last year, which the G-8 continued at its summit in Okinawa, we created the prerequisites for combining debt relief with a strategy to combat poverty. Germany will forgive the entire bilateral debt of the most heavily indebted poor countries. The poorest developing countries must be granted access to modern information and communication technology.

     JOHN HOWARD, Prime Minister of Australia: In Australia, it is said that all men and women, and by extension all nations, are entitled to a “fair go”. The concept of a “fair go” requires not merely passive observance of others’ efforts but active assistance in their endeavours. Those two words carry within them the universal right to freedom, the peaceful pursuit of prosperity and the attainment of self-reliance and self-respect. Australia has never been found wanting in practical support for countries in distress, for international human rights or the pressing economic needs of the developing world. Indeed, bridging the economic divide must remain a key objective for us all. In claiming our rights as a sovereign nation, we freely acknowledge the contribution we must make to others. For that reason, Australia has willingly participated in over 30 United Nations peacekeeping and peace-monitoring operations since 1948. Most recently, we acted upon the request of the Security Council to help restore safety and security to the people of East Timor.

     The success of that operation is self-evident, and I wish to acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of every member of the international forces involved. Australia had also been proud to be a major contributor to the continuing effort under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). Unfortunately, the road to true peace and prosperity for East Timor will be long. The tragic incident overnight in Atambua, close to the East Timor border, illustrates the continuing danger of the situation and the threat posed by the militia. Your continuing support will be vital if East Timor is to complete the journey begun by the United Nations a year ago.

     We all want the United Nations to be well equipped to meet the challenges of the future. We also believe that aspects of the United Nations treaty committee system need reform, as some committees give too little weight to the views of democratically elected governments and go beyond their mandates. Australia will intensify its work with other States on reforms, and has recently announced a series of measures aimed at improving the operation of the United Nations treaty committee system. Strategic engagement with these committees will be dependent on the extent to which effective reforms occur. Australia endorses calls to expand the Security Council’s permanent and non-permanent membership, and is a long-standing supporter of permanent membership of the Security Council for Japan.

     ARTURO VALLARINO, Vice-President of Panama: It is true that in the United Nations there is much to regret and rectify. Nevertheless the Organization, despite its errors, has become the great repository of the trust and hopes of a world that wants to live in peace and prosperity. Leniency cannot be extended to the aggressors and killers of our time. We must also design a comprehensive programme to prevent conflict. The proposal by the Group of Eight industrialized countries last year, and related priorities outlined by the European Union, provide the correct approaches for such a programme. 

     There must be a differentiation between peacekeeping operations that fall under the aegis of the Charter and intervention in domestic conflicts that are not necessarily a threat to peace in a region. Also, while it is understood that we cannot remain mired in obsolete structures, changes must take place formally -- and not just through the actions of those with authority.

     We must also adopt a commitment to alter the composition of the Security Council, which should include increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members and restricting the right to veto. This will enable the Council to adapt to today’s reality. In the Secretary-General’s words, building a twenty-first century that is freer and safer than the twentieth century is a task that requires the great determination of all States and peoples. Panama would like to continue contributing faithfully to that effort. 

     JULES RATTANKOEMAR ADJODHIA, Vice-President of Suriname: Recently a new democratically-elected Government was installed in my country. Affluence and prosperity in some parts of our world have not shielded the majority of the world population from the perils of uncertainty and despair. In response to the Secretary-General’s proposals, my Government has already decided to give the highest priority to achieving the education, public health and poverty reduction targets within the time frame envisaged in the Millennium Report. While the Organization has grown to over 180 members, it is confronted with serious financial problems, affecting among other things, the financing of the UNDP. We call on the international community to reverse this negative trend and to ensure that the United Nations is provided with the resources it needs to carry out its mandate.

     In the context of strengthening the role of the Organization, my Government would like to underscore the call to restore the central position of the Assembly as the only universally representative body of the United Nations. We reiterate our call for complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, since this is the only man-made global threat that has the capacity to destroy all life on earth in the twenty-first century. We also call on all Member States and other international organizations to enhance the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, and to complete the development of the vulnerability index for the small island developing States.

     As a commitment to conservation of the world’s tropical rain forests, my country has declared 15 protected areas as a wide range of ecosystems, from tropical forests in the south to coastal formation in the north, making Suriname’s nature conservation system one of the most representative in South America.

     YASSER ARAFAT, President of the Palestinian Authority: The United Nations has been a contemporary of the question of Palestine since its inception, and still remains responsible for shaping and achieving a just solution to this issue. Palestinian people everywhere look up to the Organization from their homeland, from refugee camps and from the Diaspora. Their pain and lengthy suffering has lasted for 52 years and goes on. Let this Summit be the beginning of the end of the greatest and most difficult refugee tragedy in the world. May it be the beginning of the end of the historical oppression that befell the Palestinian people, and signal a new chance for life for these people. May this Summit prove to be a new beginning for all the peoples of the Middle East, so that a just and comprehensive peace may reign there. 

     The Palestinian people and their leadership have worked in earnest towards a Peace of the Brave. We have made a strategic decision committing ourselves to the peace process, offering significant and painful concessions to arrive at a reasonable compromise acceptable to both sides. We have accepted a Palestinian state on less than a quarter of the historical territory of Palestine. As for Jerusalem, we have agreed to share the city, in contrast to the attempts to monopolize it. We shall continue to do our utmost to arrive at a final settlement with Israel. We invite the Israeli Government to do likewise. 

     The sides participating in the peace process have agreed to reach a final settlement by 13 September. This obliges us to take certain steps to safeguard the rights of our people, acting in accordance with decisions taken by our leadership and our legal institutions, on the materialization of the state of Palestine by the September date. The Palestinian Central Council will make a determination on this matter within the next few days, taking into account United Nations resolutions, and the right of our people to self-determination through the establishment of an independent state. We shall cooperate with the United Nations and other parties at the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly, and are hopeful that we can obtain the collective support of the Security Council and the Assembly for our cause.

    FAROUK AL-SHARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria:  The Syrian people, with their ancient civilization and heritage of human values, look forward to the new millennium with new optimism.  They looked forward to opening a new chapter, in which humanity will be spared the huge cost it was forced to pay in bloodshed and suffering throughout history, particularly in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the wars in the last century coincided with the most advanced achievements in human history.  Scientific and technological advancements must be the means to better mankind and not the means to destroy them.  The other challenge today is globalization.  If it is well managed, we will benefit from opening the doors previously closed to our populations.  

    This Millennium Summit should seriously address two important issues.  First, the elimination of foreign occupation and the return of refugees to their homes.  That requires an end to the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan and Arab Jerusalem to the line of 4 June 1967.  Second, eliminating nuclear weapons and accepting the universality of the non-proliferation treaty.  It is important to transform the Middle East into a region free of all weapons of mass destruction.  

    The role of the United Nations in all the fundamental issues faced by the Millennium Summit remains of paramount importance.  In confronting the problems facing the international community, it is clear that solutions cannot be achieved by unilateral efforts, but require collective efforts.  It is high time to realize that the era of brute force has passed.  The experience of South Africa in ending apartheid and the recent experience of South Lebanon in defeating the (Israeli) occupying force prove that had wisdom prevailed with the other side from the beginning of the conflict, the same end-result would have been reached, but with fewer victims, in a shorter time and with much less suffering on both sides.

     Prince FAISAL BIN ALI BIN FAISAL AL-SAID, Minister of National Heritage and Culture of Oman, on behalf of H.M. QABOOS BIN ALI BIN FAISAL AL-SAID, Sultan of Oman: The United Nations shall always remain the blooming tree for the nations to rest under its shade and for their peoples to benefit from its fruits. To continue its role in the twenty-first Century, Member States must reform the Organization, especially the Security Council, increasing its members so as to ensure a fair geographical representation that can articulate the aspirations of all peoples. We would also appreciate efforts to enhance peace and stability and assert equal sovereignty of all countries, big and small.

     The importance of this Summit lies in our ability to adopt a work plan formulating a concept of development that benefits from the international experience of the past half century and helps developing countries cope with the revolution in information technology. This should include reforming the economies of developing countries, and daring decisions – on the part of developed countries – to achieve greater growth and a more stable and just world economy.

     In addition to supporting efforts to create the economic and social conditions appropriate for peace, we also support efforts that foster positive dialogue aimed at peaceful coexistence, such as the resolution establishing the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. In this vein, the Sultanate hopes that the time has come for a lasting peace in the Middle East. We welcome Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon, and hope that it will act similarly in the Syrian and Palestinian areas, in accordance with negotiated principles and United Nations resolutions.

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