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    Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1693
    Release Date:    13 September 2000
      Globalization, Situation of Africa and Development Issues
    Addressed During General Assembly Debate
     

     NEW YORK, 12 September (UN Headquarters) -- Globalization, the situation of Africa and development-related issues were among the topics discussed this afternoon as the fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly continued its general debate.

     Globalization had brought great benefits to Chile, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of that country, Maria Soledad Alvear Valenzuela, said.  Through opening its economy, Chile had been able to double the size of its gross domestic product within 10 years.  The challenge confronting the United Nations was to lend a certain degree of order to globalization, to establish effective institutions and rules, and to ensure that the fruits of scientific and technological advancement were employed to improve the lives of all human beings.

     Also addressing the issue of globalization, Erlan Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said the situation regarding the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO) provided a good example of the differences in appraising the phenomenon.  The WTO should be thoroughly reformed in order to really liberalize and democratize trade relations. 

    On the subject of Africa, the President of Togo, Gnassingbe Eyadema, said two of the main problems of the continent were the pandemics of HIV/AIDS and malaria.  In some African countries, schools had been forced to close as a result of the disease.  The labour force had decreased and the number of orphans had increased.  It was critical that the international community mobilize to assist the African continent in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria. 

    Another challenge for the African region was the burden of foreign debts, he said.  The developed countries and the international financial institutions should implement the total cancellation of foreign debts.  Such a move would undoubtedly contribute to the eradication of poverty in Africa. 

    In order to maintain and consolidate peace, one also had to address the challenge of chronic underdevelopment, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, told the Assembly.  Development was, in fact, just another word for peace.  Despite many warning signals, extreme poverty remained.  Decrease in official development assistance was a source of concern. 

     The Assembly was also addressed by the Prime Minister, Minister of State and Director for External Relations of Monaco, Patrick Leclercq.

     Indulis Berzins, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Robert Flores Bermudez, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, Andrea Willi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Culture, Youth and Sport of Liechtenstein, Nadezhda Mihailova, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, and Guillermo Fernandez de Soto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, also spoke, as did the representative of Finland.

     The General Assembly will meet again tomorrow, Wednesday, 13 September, at 10 a.m., to continue its general debate.

    Assembly Work Programme

     The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly continued its general debate this afternoon.  It was expected to hear from the Prime Minister of the Principality of Monaco, the President of the Togolese Republic and representatives of Latvia, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Chile, Finland, Honduras, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria and Colombia. 

     PATRICK LECLERCQ, Prime Minister, Minister of State and Director for External Relations of Monaco, said that every State, no matter how small, should be respected, and all States should be bound by the same rules.  Monaco associated itself fully with the impetus given by the Millennium Assembly.

     He said that the external notoriety enjoyed by Monaco was too often seen in a one-sided way and was really made up of archaic clichés.  The income from the Casino, for instance, constituted only 4 per cent of public moneys.  The rest was the product of personal taxes and income from public property.  While Monaco depended greatly on tourism, it only accounted only for 10 per cent of business.  Some 40 per cent was the product of local and international trading, banking, and high technology.  Rather than a paradise for the lucky few, it had all the characteristics of a highly developed country, providing many jobs in the region.

     It had been suggested that the Principality was too easy on certain criminal activities, he said.  Monaco had, however, consistently combated criminality.  All foreign activity required in-depth investigations.  There was permanent monitoring.  Appropriate legislation to combat money laundering was the same as in neighbouring countries. 

    Monaco had an information and investigation service that made sure that all information came before the courts, he said.  The Principality was often thought of as a tax haven, but although there was no income tax, there were other taxes such as the valued-added tax.  Monaco was not trying to compete with anyone. 
    As a small State, Monaco focused on a few domains at the international level, he continued.  One of its priorities in that regard was humanitarian action and social development.  On 26 June, the Crown Prince of Monaco had signed the two protocols concerning the sale of children for prostitution and children in armed conflict.  Monaco also contributed to development at the public level and to the support of non-governmental organizations, which were very active in the Principality. 

    Environmental factors had been of concern to Monaco as well, he said.  The Principality would take initiatives addressing those concerns.  Monaco would also be taking action in all appropriate domains to combat scourges like terrorism and the flow of illegal money.  He said that Monaco was a sovereign State, which was demonstrated by its participation in international organizations.  He quoted Crown Prince Rainier III of Monaco as saying, “It is not necessary to have a large territory in order to have great dreams, nor is it necessary to have many people to carry them out.”

     GNASSINGBE EYADEMA, President of Togo, said that despite the progress made by African countries since independence, Africa remained a region weakened by underdevelopment.  Today, 33 of the 48 countries classified as least-developed were African.  As Africa was the least-developed region in the world, it was important that the international community assist it to find an efficient and substantive solution. 

     Two of the main problems of the continent were the pandemics of HIV/AIDS and malaria, he said.  In fact, 70 per cent of the 34 to 35 million people infected with the HIV/AIDS virus could be found in sub-Saharan Africa.  In some African countries, schools had been forced to close as a result of the disease.  In several countries, as a result of the disease, the labour force had decreased and the number of orphans had increased, having a widespread effect in both the economic and social sector.  It was critical that the international community mobilize to assist the African continent in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  International assistance was also needed to deal with the pandemic of malaria.  Today, malaria had caused the death of one person in the world every 30 seconds. 

     Another challenge for the African region was the burden of foreign debts, he said.  Unfortunately, the debt burden was particularly heavy in Africa.  The developed countries and the international financial institutions should implement the total cancellation of foreign debts.  Such a move would undoubtedly contribute to the eradication of poverty in Africa.  Industrialized countries were also urged to take appropriate measures favouring the region, making it possible for it to have a meaningful role in the new international economic order.  He expressed his gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its assistance and initiatives, but was concerned at the continuing decrease of funds available to the agency.

     It would be helpful to, when dealing with the questions of the economic order, if multinational companies were part of the dialogue, he said.  The role of multinational companies in the new global economy could not be underestimated. 

     The African region suffered from the bloodiest conflicts in the world, he said.  Those conflicts had led to a disproportionate amount of refugees.  It was clear that the conflicts in Africa were receiving less international attention than conflicts in other regions.  The Security Council should pay equal attention to all conflicts, irrespective of geographical situation.  In order for peacekeeping to have a meaning, the mandates of missions must be clear, effective and credible. 

    He said the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had spent several years focusing on peacekeeping and prevention mechanisms.  This had resulted in the idea to set up an operational and efficient African peacekeeping force, which would dissuade subversive groups.  The many conflicts in Africa seriously affected the chances of development and African unity.  It was hoped that the recent decision to transform the OAU into the African Union would boost the region through the economic and political integration necessary for development. 

     INDULIS BERZINS, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, said the United Nations was the forum and the system by which world development could be placed in perspective.  Evaluating how successful the Organization was in its work might be approached in a number of ways; however, the true measure was how it had transformed the lives of individual people in all countries.  With the onset of globalization it must be ensured that all enjoyed its benefits.

     The information technology revolution had brought people from around the world closer to each other, underscoring the principle of universality, he said.  It had shown how national decisions and policies affected people in other parts of the globe.  Latvia believed that those international implications should also be reflected in wider representation in the Security Council.  If the United Nations were to reflect the new political and economic realities, it must demonstrate both political will and courage.

     Latvia was prepared to play its part in strengthening the United Nations by increasing its participation and budget for peacekeeping operations, which continued to strain the Organization’s resources.  The importance of peace and security could not be overestimated; Member States should both individually and collectively allocate more funds and personnel to meet the demand.

     Human rights held a high position on the agenda of the United Nations, he said.  Latvia supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court.  Since its return to independence in 1991, Latvia has been an activist nation in increasing public involvement in the integration of society.  Latvians from every occupation, ethnicity, and background had contributed their input to the improvement of living standards and social climate.  That selfsame attitude reflected Latvia’s approach to its role in the United Nations.  By applying to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the biennium 2006-2007, Latvia has asserted its capacity to assume greater responsibility within the Organization. 

     CHEIKH TIDIANE GADIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said that the international community was united, in its diversity, to examine the state of the world.  Last week, the heads of States had shown their commitment to the principles and values of the Organization and had opened up the debate on the challenge of globalization through the promotion of an international humanitarian order.  Despite these new perspectives and their historic value, there was a profound concern about the role of the United Nations.  Even though there had been considerable efforts to maintain world peace, a number of conflicts persisted and spread across regions.  Regional African organizations were committed to finding solutions to the many conflicts, such as the Lome Agreement and the Lusaka Accord.

     There was a moral obligation to continue to act with determination and perseverance, forcing conflicting parties to compromise and take part in the culture of peace, pardon and reconciliation.  In that context, his Government welcomed the recommendations of the Panel of Experts.  It also welcomed the return to democracy and normality in Guinea-Bissau and stressed the importance of democracy in a new international order.  He acknowledged the efforts made in the Middle East peace process -- there were great hopes that the region would one day know the meaning of peace. 

     He stressed the importance of the International Criminal Court -- such an institution would show the refusal of the international community to accept injustice and impunity.  In order to maintain and consolidate peace, one also had to address the challenge of chronic underdevelopment.  Development was in fact just another word for peace.  To end war the scourge of poverty must be addressed. Extreme poverty remained even though the resources for its eradication were plenty.  Decreases in official development assistance (ODA) were a source of concern, limiting the capacity for action of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF). 

     Development could not be detached from the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law, and the proper management of public affairs, he said.  Senegal would continue to consolidate the rule of law, the protection of human rights defenders and adhere to international human rights law.  Today, the intellectual and material resources existed to make poverty a part of the past.  While peace and progress were real prospects, they required international cooperation on every level.

    ERLAN A. IDRISSOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that while recognizing that global security and stability depended increasingly on economic, environmental and humanitarian aspects of development, the importance of the military and political dimensions of security should not be belittled.  The elimination of weapons of mass destruction remained a matter for concern, yet the relevant international instruments -- the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) -- had not gained universal support, thus could not be fully effective. 

     Those issues, he continued, were of particular importance to Kazakhstan, having been the epicentre of the cold war nuclear confrontation and having resisted the temptation to become a nuclear power.  Kazakhstan had fully respected its obligations and consistently promoted its initiatives with regard to the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

     He stressed the need to address the emerging threats of international terrorism, illegal trafficking of arms and drugs, and organized crime.  Kazakhstan was seriously alarmed by the situation in Central Asia.  The conflict in Afghanistan, the bandit groups’ infiltrations into Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, and the situation in Chechnya were links in the same chain.  The root of the evil was the prolonged war in Afghanistan.  He urged the Security Council to seriously address the problem. 

     He said that while it presented many benefits, globalization entailed a danger of lopsided distribution at both the inter-State and intra-State levels.  The situation regarding the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was a good example of the differences in appraising the globalization phenomenon.  The WTO should be thoroughly reformed in order to really liberalize and democratize trade relations; it should not be a controlling and selectively discriminating body of world trade policy.  The Bretton Woods institutions also had to be reformed to ensure their openness, democratization, competence and adequacy, and to improve cooperation with the United Nations.

     He stressed that environmental issues had moved from social and economic to political, particularly affecting developing countries.  Economic growth had increased pressure on all natural resources, which had created serious economic problems and poverty.  Economic development should follow a different path and cease to destroy the environment.  It was because of the underestimation of the environmental factor that Kazakhstan faced such ecological disasters as the Aral Sea, the Caspian Sea and the former Semipalatinsk testing ground.  He said that Kazakhstan supported the desire of the Secretary-General to revamp the Organization.  It also supported the expansion of the Security Council and the conclusions reached by the Brahimi Panel, and believed that all Member States should fulfil their financial obligations under the United Nations Charter. 

     MARIA SOLEDAD ALVEAR VALENZUELA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said her Country viewed globalization as a source of opportunities, one which had brought great benefits.  Through opening its economy, Chile had been able to double the size of its gross domestic product (GDP) within 10 years.  The United Nations must strive to ensure that globalization did not produce exclusivity, with the benefits for a lucky few.  A firm commitment focused especially on broadening access to the knowledge-based economy must be made to developing new forms of international cooperation.

     As never before in the history of humanity, the solution of the daily problems faced by people all over the world depended on collective international decision-making, she said.  The challenge confronting the United Nations was to lend a certain degree of order to globalization, to establish effective institutions and rules, and to ensure that the fruits of scientific and technological advancement were employed to improve the lives of all peoples.

     She said the past year had offered a balance of hope and concern with regard to peace and security.  In this information society, problems experienced by any country affected the world community as a whole.  No State could evade the responsibility of promoting peaceful coexistence within and among nations.  Chile continued to adhere to the principles of non-intervention and self-determination of peoples.  Yet those principles must be linked to other principles of equal or higher priority.  One could not remain impassive in the face of the humanitarian catastrophes caused by great conflicts.  In specific cases, and in accordance with the United Nations Charter, concerted action should be undertaken on a multilateral plane to provide rapid assistance to those who were suffering.

     Globalization was not restricted to the economic sphere, but also involved the universalization of values and principles related to common humanity and the strengthening of the rights of the individual, which had increasingly become the subjects of international law.  Environmental protection crossed national borders and had become a global concern.  International cooperation in that area, under the auspices of the United Nations, continued to be an urgent necessity.  In the social sphere, there was a vital need to promote gender equality.  The United Nations must also play a key role in bringing about substantive improvements in the management of commercial, monetary and financial systems, so that their operations would take into account the needs of all countries. 

     MARJATTA RASI (Finland) said he supported the ambitious Millennium Declaration because it had kindled a new spirit within the United Nations.  The immediate task for Member States must be ensuring collective responsibility for implementing this mandate.  To begin the process, the culture of prevention, as advocated by the Secretary-General, must be developed.  If the Organization was to succeed, it must anticipate developments and be prepared to prevent conflicts before they erupted.  Prevention could not be separated from understanding underlying causes by which early warning systems might be developed. 
    Poverty stood out as one of the root causes of conflict, he said.  Democratic decision-making and respect for human rights were preconditions for the eradication of poverty, which must be considered as an affront to human dignity.  It was imperative that the portion of people living in extreme poverty be reduced by 50 per cent. 

     Globalization, accelerated by technological innovation, must be accepted as both unavoidable and beneficial for human development, he said.  While globalization had simply been a continuation of interdependence and market integration, its effects were qualitatively different because many more people felt the impact.  Although most globalization was positive, its negative effects could not be denied.  Speculative capital movements could cause disturbances if stability, transparency and responsible behaviour in international financial markets was not ensured.  He added that the challenge of countering the digital divide would require that help be provided to developing countries if they were to participate in the knowledge-based global economy. 

     ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, said that the Millennium Summit had been a fundamental contribution to the transition of the United Nations.  Peace and security were fundamental instruments requiring new commitments by States to international law and the decisions of the international court of justice.  Honduras considered these international decisions to be critical.  Only after the determination of boundaries could there be solidarity in peace, ending racism, xenophobia and cultural violence. 

    Globalization should not be examined in terms of economics only, but also in terms of social welfare, he said.  Education was the passport to the future, but only if it was equal for all.  The United Nations had to play an active role in the dissemination of information.  Globalization had created several opportunities, but it had also created poverty, inequity and new forms of marginalization. 

    Terms of trade still acted as obstacles for many developing countries, as did the increase in oil prices.  It was essential that trade globalization benefit all.  There were many threats of different types that no country could face in isolation.  The report of the Secretary-General placed equal importance on the environment and peace and security.  Failing to take care of the environment would result in the destruction of the earth.  There were already warning signs, such as natural disasters.  Honduras had been a victim of such disasters and attached importance to the environment.  Failing to act in cooperation would result in the destruction of future generations.

     There were hundreds of types of medicine, but without access, how could pain be relieved? he asked.  There were thousands of surplus tons of food, yet people were dying of hunger and malnutrition.  Poverty was an affront to the dignity of the individual.  The UNDP was a trustworthy, active partner in carrying out strategies for the eradication of poverty.  The Government of Honduras supported its internal reform, which was required to strengthen the agency.  In the new millennium, States needed to strengthen the United Nations in its transition.  More balanced representation was required on the Security Council.  The veto right should be used only in particular contexts to avoid it being used to protect national interest.  Through such a change, more tangible results would be reached. 

     ANDREA WILLI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said that although strides had been made in the pursuit of peace and security, some conflict situations still did not allow for effective peacekeeping to take place.  Her delegation fully supported the “culture of prevention” called for by the Secretary-General and believed that the prevention of conflicts must be the key concept in the maintenance of peace.  It must be recognized that the effective application and exercise of the right of self-determination was the basis for preventing internal conflicts and the violent disintegration of States.

     She called the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998 a “historic step”.  The conclusion of the work on the Elements of Crimes and the Rules of Procedure by the Preparatory Commission was also a step forward.  An effective Criminal Court, she said, would make an important contribution to terminating the practice of impunity, which had prevailed for so long. 

     She said that the promotion and protection of human rights could also contribute to the prevention of conflicts.  The full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by women must be the basis for full equality in a stable society.  She said that last night she had signed a letter addressed to the Secretary-General which noted the special needs of women in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment, and stressed the need for an enhanced availability of education, testing, counseling, care and treatment to address the specific needs of women. 

     She said that Liechtenstein fully supported the fight against transnational organized crime, in particular trafficking in persons, offences against children and the fight against money laundering.  International cooperation in the global fight against money laundering could only be enhanced if all financial service centres worked towards full implementation of internationally agreed standards.  The Government of Liechtenstein therefore supported the objectives of the United Nations Global Program against Money Laundering (GPML) Forum.  She stressed that the approach must be inclusive and non-discriminatory, as any punitive approach would run counter to the spirit of international cooperation.

     NADEZHDA MIHAILOVA (Bulgaria) said she expected the Millennium Assembly to reach consensus decisions aimed at strengthening the United Nations and making the Organization more efficient and more capable of moving the international community closer to a common vision for a better future.  That shared vision would include a future free from poverty, disease and the scourges of conflict and war, and would be based on peace, security, sustainable development and prosperity.  This was truly a formidable task and would require a “broad and sustained effort to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity”, as had been pointed out in the Declaration recently adopted by the Assembly at the Millennium Summit.

     She said that while better and far more efficient means to produce goods and services to fight disease and to take advantage of new information technologies had spurred global achievement in all spheres, humanity was still confronted by tremendous challenges.  Poverty and misery still dominated large parts of the world, and new threats, such as terrorism, international crime and illicit traffic in small arms and narcotics, were becoming more prevalent.  Also of particular concern were the challenges caused by the changes in the global climate, which brought natural disasters capable of destroying the homes and livelihoods of millions.

     “To cope with these challenges we need to act together”, she said.  Shared responsibility and the political will of Member States could create a stronger and more effective United Nations, in that regard.  His delegation supported proposals contained in the Secretary-General's Millennium Report aimed at system-wide streamlining of the Organization and making it more efficient and responsive to new realities.  Of great importance was strengthening the organs of the United Nations such as the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, whose reform and enlargement, in particular, should be more open, transparent and accessible to interested non-Member States.  Further, fair, balanced representation on a reformed Council should include the Group of Eastern European States, whose number had doubled in the last decade.

     Turning to challenges that faced Bulgaria and other eastern European nations, she highlighted the continuing impact of the situation in Kosovo.  While relevant Security Council resolutions had been successful in restoring peace and stability in that province, it should be recognized that, in terms of multi-ethnic coexistence, the situation was far from stable; indeed, continued ethnic violence was cause for serious concern.  Particularly worrying had been the attacks on international peacekeepers and United Nations personnel.  The situation required  resolute steps on behalf of all community leaders in Kosovo to reject violence and to promote tolerance and cooperation in compliance with adopted declarations.  Another issue of special relevance was the negative impact on the national economy due to the strict implementations of sanctions, imposed until recently, on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, stressed the importance of information technology in bringing structural changes to the international economy and presenting opportunities to promote interaction between people.  The information revolution could, however, become a source of exclusion and create a new form of illiteracy -– cyber-illiteracy.  Information technology must be converted into a positive factor for education and poverty reduction.  He said that one of the principal challenges was to “globalize” globalization, bringing the benefits that flow from the process to more regions.  A key element in that connection was the preservation of the environment.  Furthermore, the United Nations and the multilateral financial institutions must develop a new framework to prevent and respond to risk and economic crises. 

    The beginning of the new millennium, he said, was also marked by new concerns and threats to peace and security.  The proliferation and illicit traffic in small arms was one of those.  It had reached unacceptable proportions, yet the international community was not according it the importance it deserved.  Governments had the political and moral responsibility to act resolutely against the illicit export of arms, and countries that were exporters of small arms must establish controls on intermediaries and refrain from authorizing sales if there was a risk of improper use. 

     The global problem of illicit drugs was, he said, one of the world’s most serious threats and no nation had suffered as tragically as Colombia from its consequences.  It was a factor of violence and corruption, economic disruption and impoverishment, and erosion of the social fabric.  It was also the cause of alarming environmental disasters.  Only by accepting and fully implementing the principle of shared responsibility would mankind be able to free itself from the scourge of illicit drugs.  Colombia had made extraordinary efforts to find a solution to its internal conflict.  He said that this was a fundamental objective, which they would never renounce.

     He said that the solution to the concrete problems on the international agenda required concerted action and multilateralism.  Strategies needed to be urgently developed to remove the causes of underdevelopment.  In connection, he welcomed the increasing role that was being played by non-governmental organizations.

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