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    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/1697
      15 September 2000
     Assembly, Continuing General Debate, Discusses Protection of Civilians
    In Armed Conflict, Role of Private Sector in World Affairs
     

    NEW YORK, 14 September (UN Headquarters) –  By far the most difficult challenge in protecting civilians in situations of armed conflict was in cases where abuse against them was most severe, Lloyd Axworthy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, told the General Assembly this afternoon during its general debate.  As examples of such abuse he cited genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, massive and systematic violation of human rights and humanitarian law.

    He said Canada had created an independent International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty to build a broader understanding of the issue of protection of civilians, and to foster a global political consensus on how to move forward.  He hoped the Commission could diffuse the anxiety that surrounded the issues of intervention and sovereignty.  However, he stressed that responsibility no longer stopped with governments.  The private sector also had to take responsibility for the communities on which they depended for their business.  In the globalized economy, the world’s people were the ultimate shareholders. 

    Jozias van Aartsen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, said that, although a potent actor on the domestic and international level, the private sector had been virtually ignored by traditional United Nations diplomacy.  The business community was increasingly aware of the necessity of responsible corporate policies and of a role for private enterprise in the pursuit of interests that went beyond maximizing immediate profits.  A sustainable future needed to be pursued in conjunction with industry, civil society and the scientific community. 

    Many companies had larger turnovers than the national budgets of Member States, he said.  The private sector wielded great power in terms of where it decided to buy, sell and invest.  Those decisions bore directly on the quality of life in developing countries.  The United Nations could make a difference, but only from a platform shared by other actors at the international level -- from a position of shared responsibility.

    Addressing the Middle East peace process, Abdul-Ilah EL-Khatib, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said the recent Camp David Summit had enabled the parties to narrow the gap that separated their positions.  The issue of Jerusalem must be solved on the basis that East Jerusalem was a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 to which Security Council resolution 242 (1967) applied.  It should be under Palestinian sovereignty so that it would become the capital of an independent State of Palestine.  Arab and Muslim rights in the Islamic and Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem must be preserved. 

     Camara Hadja Mahawa Bangoura, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, said many of the conflicts currently being fought in Africa violated the very purpose and principles of the United Nations.  The spread of conflicts seriously compromised national development and sub-regional integration.  The circulation of small arms in Africa resulted in the prolongation of conflicts and increased their complexity, encouraging the use of child soldiers in many of the conflicts.

    Also taking the floor during this afternoon’s debate were:  Paul Robertson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, Nizar Obaid Madani, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Abdelaziz Bellkhadem, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Roberto Rojas Lopez, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Petre Roman, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Romania, George Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, and Josep Piqué, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain.

    The representatives of the United Kingdom, Burkina Faso and Guinea spoke in right of reply.

    The General Assembly will reconvene, Friday, 15 September, at 10 a.m., to continue its general debate.  

    Assembly Work Programme

     The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate.

     Statements were expected from representatives of Canada, Jamaica, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Algeria, Costa Rica, Romania, Jordan, Greece and Spain.

    Statements

     LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said that the United Nations had to assume responsibility for its action and inaction.  Clearly, globalization had brought unprecedented benefits and possibilities, but it had also brought new risks with an impact felt directly by ordinary people.  Yet, debates within the United Nations remain driven –- and too often circumscribed -– by rigid notions of national sovereignty and narrow conceptions of national interests.  Action remained hampered by inflexible institutional structures that had become increasingly inward-looking.  This had to change, and that meant taking responsibility to adapt institutions, broaden participation in their functioning and increase transparency and accountability.

     The responsibility of governments was to defend their citizens, he explained.  That process did not begin with the development of new weapons systems, but with the dismantling of old ones.  Today, most wars were fought within failed States.  In those wars, it was the victimization of civilians that was the motive, means and manifestation of conflict.  In recent months the Security Council had recognized the need for the protection of civilians, with action in the areas of AIDS, physical protection, war-affected children and effective peace-support operations.  By far the most difficult challenges in protecting civilians in armed conflicts were in situations where abuse was most severe:  genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, massive and systematic violation of human rights and humanitarian law causing widespread suffering and loss of life. 

     New forms of deterrence against such behaviour were required, such as the establishment of the International Criminal Court, he said.  Prevention was the best sort of intervention.  Canada had created an independent International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty to contribute to building a broader understanding of that issue, and to foster global political consensus on how to move forward.  However, responsibility no longer stopped with governments.  The private sector also had to take responsibility for the communities on which they depended for their business.  In the globalized economy, the world’s people were the ultimate shareholders.  If they did not profit, no one would.

     To build a world that values human security, one must start with concern and action for those who will inherit it, he said.  This week, Canada was hosting the International Conference on War-Affected Children which had the aim of formulating a comprehensive, global action plan, and to forging the necessary political will to implement it.  In today’s world, the security of States and the security of people were indivisible.  Providing that security was a necessary precondition for success in other important endeavors, such as advancing development.  

     PAUL ROBERTSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, said that nearly half the world’s people languish in extreme poverty and development efforts have been frustrated by the challenges posed by globalization and trade liberalization.  An urgent review of the inequities in the global trading system was needed.  There was deep concern that a mechanism established to promote free trade for growth and development could be so manipulated as to expose the smallest and weakest to a hostile trading environment, whilst removing their means of survival.  Deteriorating terms of trade adversely affected the balance of payments, exacerbating external debt.  The international community must address the debilitating effect of debt servicing, which undermined growth prospects and compromised governments’ capacity to finance basic social programmes.  To lay the foundation for a world free from poverty, a new ethos in global governance must prevail.  South-South cooperation was an effective instrument for the promotion of development among developing countries.

    Turning to the Security Council and peacekeeping, he said that in too many cases the resolution of conflict had remained elusive, due to political ambition, or racial or ethnic intolerance.  Humanitarian intervention in such cases was imperative.  More emphasis must be placed on conflict prevention, rather than waiting until conflicts spiraled out of control.  Economic deprivation and social injustice led to instability. Thus effective conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace building must incorporate a component for development and must provide for the strengthening of civil institutions.  United Nations machinery must be adequately equipped to ensure robust intervention at every stage of the peacekeeping process. 

     The deadly flow of illegal small arms around the world continued unabated, he said, sustained by greed and lawlessness.  It contributed significantly to the escalation and perpetuation of violence in conflict and post-conflict areas, undermining peacekeeping operations.  This phenomenon was not unique to countries in a state of war.  It was also linked to the illicit trade in narcotics, which undermined stable democracies like Jamaica, destroying the social fabric of communities.  Collective action was needed.  The responsibility to curb this illicit traffic could not rest with the receiving States alone. 

     He stressed that the trans-shipment of nuclear and other hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea posed a danger to the security of small island States of the subregion.  The Caribbean Community had repeatedly expressed concern at the threat to its fragile marine and coastal environment.  A single nuclear accident would have consequences they dared not contemplate.  He looked forward to cooperating with like-minded States on the proposal for a regime to define liability and ensure compensation was paid to their countries in the event of an accident.  

     OSKARAS JUSYS, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said no efforts should be spared to free people from dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.  Assistance, new trade arrangements and debt relief would hardly be a panacea unless commitments to poverty reduction, economic equality, combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic and supporting education were reflected in national policies and on the agendas of international organizations.  Most of the economic thinking and ruling was done within the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  A fully coordinated approach to problems of peace and development should be sought between those international institutions and the United Nations.

     “We have yet to learn how to manage the spin-offs of globalization and how best to make use of international mechanisms to address new forms of threats”, he said.  Prevention was preferable to cure.  For effective prevention, a broader definition of security was vital -- one encompassing pressing economic and social problems.  Should preventive strategies yield no results, the United Nations must have a truly effective peacekeeping capacity at its disposal.  Great challenges to the new international way of containing and resolving ethnic conflicts existed in Africa.  Regional organizations should be encouraged and assisted, and civil society and the business community should be involved.  

     All too often guns had been the choice of cure for ethnic strife and social or economic downfall.  Vigorous and urgent efforts were needed to curtail proliferation of small arms.  It was vital for the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons to address critical issues of transparency, legitimate transfers, accountability, enforcement of sanctions and observance of moratoria.  A commitment to elimination of landmines should now be coupled with an effort toward putting small arms off-limits to belligerents.  He was also profoundly concerned about the abundance of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation of missiles.

     From his country’s experience, he stressed that ensuring the equality of social, economic, educational and political benefits between genders had a positive impact on economic development.  He called for early entry into force of the Second Optional Protocol of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  Regarding Security Council reform, he reiterated his country’s position that the Council membership be increased, in its permanent and non permanent membership, and that the Eastern European Group be given one additional non-permanent seat.  Cooperation with regional organizations should also be strengthened.

     NIZAR OBAID MADANI, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, praised the recently concluded Millennium Summit as an “unique historical event” in which the world's leaders met in a dignified gathering, exemplifying the unity of the human race.  He then recited the evaluation of the United Nations presented by Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, head of the Saudi delegation to the Millennium Summit, stressing the importance of problems that obstruct the course of the United Nations.

     The Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs characterized globalization as a feature of the new world order.  Globalization should reflect the natural closeness between nations to achieve social justice, overall development and broadening the horizons of cooperation.  However, globalization that resulted in the hegemony of the strong over the weak and that increased the causes of the oppression and exploitation of nations must be opposed.  Saudi Arabia warned about the ramifications of unbridled globalization.

     In its call for a dialogue among civilizations, the United Nations has touched on a constructive beginning to achieving positive globalization, he said.  Deviation from the values and principles of justice, equality and non-compliance with the international requirement to settle disputes peacefully had led to the proliferation of wars and armed conflicts.  A case in point was Israel's disregard of the legitimate rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland.  In its concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people, Saudi Arabia had proposed an initiative to allow Iraq to import all the materials and goods it needed, but that had been quickly rejected by the Iraqi Government.  The need for Iraq to comply with Security Council Resolution 1284 still existed.

     Saudi Arabia called upon the United Nations to exert greater efforts in its role as a peacemaker, he said.  Evidence proved that working to prevent a conflict was more effective and less costly than on peacekeeping.  He advised Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, because to do otherwise disrupted the balance of security and threatened peace in the region.

     JOZIAS VAN AARTSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, said that States could no longer be thought of as the billiard balls of international relations.  Other actors had entered the domestic and the international scenes. Civil society was one.  The private sector was the other.  Civil society, made up of non-profit organizations, had blossomed along a wide spectrum.  At the present time, the United Nations system could never hope to operate properly without the assistance of non-governmental organizations.

     Although a potent actor on the domestic and international levels, the private sector had been virtually ignored by traditional United Nations diplomacy, he said.  Nowadays, there was a growing awareness in the business community of the necessity for responsible corporate policies and for a role for private enterprise in the pursuit of interests that go beyond maximizing immediate profits.  That must be built on, and the time had come to expand the concept of a partnership with the private sector.  A sustainable future needed to be pursued in conjunction with industry, civil society and the scientific community.  This was an era of shared responsibility.  The private sector had a stake in the planet too, and must be called upon to enter into a responsible corporate partnership, in sync with other actors in the international sphere.

     Many companies had larger turnovers than the national budgets of Member States, he said.  States were once thought of as bulwarks against harmful economic impact from abroad.  Today they were increasingly serving as instruments for adjusting domestic policy to the realities of the present-day world economy.  Globalization had shifted the focus of attention to fora other than the United Nations, notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the WTO and, on a regional level, the European Union.  International affairs, he said, was increasingly about economics.

     Responsible corporate partnership was also about protecting the weak, he said.  Despite its obvious advantages, globalization was leaving too many victims by the wayside.  The gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen, and the poor suffered the most.  The private sector, meanwhile, wielded a lot of power in where it decided to buy, sell and invest.  These decisions bore directly on the quality of life in developing countries.  The United Nations could make a difference, but only from a platform shared by other actors and from a position of shared responsibility.  Fighting poverty was not only a moral imperative, but also an economic one. 

     ABDELAZIZ BELKHADEM, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said the United Nations was facing new challenges caused by rapid changes in international relations.  Nobody could deny the need for reform to meet current and future challenges.  The reform of the Security Council was critical in order to re-establish the legitimacy and credibility of that body.  The General Assembly should also be enhanced to ensure it could fulfil its role as the principal source of international law.  The General Assembly had an important part to play in decisions on the maintenance of peace and security.  

    The United Nations could be strengthened through partnerships with civil society, particularly in fields such as education, health and housing, he said.  He encouraged Member States to apply the same level of cooperation to addressing terrorism and drug and arms trafficking as they had employed in dealing with disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Algeria was interested in the international relations of its region.  His Government would spare no effort to assist the United Nations in Western Sahara.  While the Middle East region had seen progress lately, there could be no meaningful peace without the total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan.  It was also crucial that the embargoes on Iraq and Libya were lifted immediately. 

     Africa was undergoing tremendous changes, he said.  The will of the people to free themselves from the past was now in evidence.  Democracy was gaining ground on a daily basis and becoming the basis of governance.  The rule of law, and respect for human rights, were becoming embedded in African society.  Leaders were now using preventive diplomacy in the mediation and settlement of conflicts.  Algeria had, as chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), made efforts for conflict resolution, such as those supporting the ceasefire between Ethiopia and Eritrea.  Problems over the Lusaka Agreement on the Democratic Republic of Congo were disappointing, he said, but he noted that sanctions were proving effective in Angola. 

     In today’s world, there were many contrasts, he said.  There had been a tremendous level of technological development.  This development made it possible to meet the needs of those suffering abject poverty.  However, the benefits of globalization were limited to a small group so far, which made the restructuring of international economic relations a matter of urgency.  It was time to tackle these problems from a human standpoint, not from the standpoint of market forces. 

    ROBERTO ROJAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, said the possibility of a brighter future for humanity had been threatened by inequitable growth, and by a narrow, materialistic notion of human development.  Achievement of the founding objectives of the United Nations -– war eradication, social progress, and better life conditions for all –- had been hampered by the tendency toward ineffectual actions.  Many activities of the Organization and its staff had been praiseworthy, and even heroic, but the world expected leadership from the United Nations in order to reach those high goals set at its founding.

     The primary objective of that Organization in the new century, he said, should be full and universal respect for human rights.  It was distressing that killing for political, religious, or ethnic motives; displacement of people; deaths from hunger or curable disease, torture and other political persecution were widespread 50 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

    The continued existence of war, he said, was responsible for a host of atrocities and humanitarian crises.  All States should renounce the use of force and provide full support to effective peacekeeping operations.  However, true peace could only be attained when the basic needs of people were satisfied and their basic rights were guaranteed by democratic means.  Therefore, States as well as all sectors of the United Nations –- particularly a strengthened Economic and Social Council –- should play a role in promoting social justice, democracy, and sustainable development.

    Democratic peace, he said, should be further promoted by the elimination or reduction of military budgets, with as many resources as possible devoted to education and health.  Allowing people to choose their own destiny -– a goal in which the International Organization for Migration played a key role -– was also essential.  The family, in addition, should be strengthened as society's basic cell.  Finally, development should occur in harmony with nature and in an otherwise just and balanced way, with equitable access to the fruits of the technological revolution.   

    PETRE ROMAN, Minister for State and Foreign Affairs of Romania, said his Country was committed to continuing its support for the two essential ingredients of effective international action -- solidarity and responsibility.  In the area of globalization, these factors should play out in an enlarged sphere of values shared by the international community, so that social responsibility, equal opportunities, democratic and pluralistic political values, and environmental concerns accompanied the process.

    Member States and the United Nations Organization should, he said, take responsibility for ensuring that the mandate of the Organization be fulfilled, especially as regarded human rights and environmental degradation.  The authority of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security should be strengthened, the process of reforming the Security Council should move ahead, and more effective assistance should be given to Member States to cope with serious economic and social problems.  Non-governmental organizations, civil society and transnational corporations had all taken on greater importance in many areas; they should also assume their respective, responsible roles toward the improvement of the human condition.

    He said solidarity and responsibility should also be integrated into the concept of total diplomacy -- systematic and firm diplomacy whose effect should come before any dangerous tensions burst into conflict.  Intense dialogue and flexibility from all parties were still needed in many crisis points such as Kosovo.  Concerning that situation and others, the debate over humanitarian intervention should be continued, and a fresh look needed to be taken at sanctions, especially where –- as in the case of the blockade of the Danube River -– heavy economic burdens were placed on third parties in the surrounding area.  Concerning the Balkans in general, Romania was ready to support the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's return to the European mainstream, once it was back to the values of democracy, tolerance and freedom of expression. 

    In both the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, ongoing diplomacy offered hope for solutions, he said.  For his delegation it was obvious that diplomacy could be successful if based on the profound configuration of human realities and the fundamental aspiration of ordinary people to a peaceful and decent life.

     ABDEL-ILAH EL-KHATIB, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said calls for democracy within States should be consistent with the establishment of democracy in international relations and within the United Nations itself.  The preservation of the role of the General Assembly should be ensured.  The acquisition of more authority by the Security Council should not happen at the expense of the role of the Assembly and its various organs.  There was international consensus that the composition of the Council did not reflect an equitable representation of the international community and that it was necessary to correct that situation.

     Despite the failure of the recent Camp David Summit to reach an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis, it had enabled the parties to narrow the gap that separated their positions.  The issue of Jerusalem must be solved on the basis that East Jerusalem was a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 to which Security Council resolution 242 (1967) applied.  It should be under Palestinian sovereignty so that it would become the capital of the independent State of Palestine.  Arab and Muslim rights in the Islamic and Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem must be preserved.  In no way could Israeli sovereignty over those holy places be accepted.  The spiritual and religious importance of Jerusalem made it imperative that it should be an open city where the freedom of worship and access to the Holy Places were guaranteed for all believers in God.

     Over 1.5 million refugees were living in Jordan, he said.  The Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty provided that the solution of the refugee question must be based on international law and that it should be dealt with bilaterally and otherwise in line with the permanent status negotiations.  The rights of refugees to return and to compensation and the rights of Jordan under international law took precedence over other considerations.  The position of the refugees in Jordan would be a vital key to the success of any settlement reached.

     The ongoing dialogue on the need to establish complimentarity and balance between State sovereignty and human rights reflected an important issue.  Sovereignty should not provide cover for violating Human Rights, hence, greater emphasis should be drawn to the importance of objectivity, non-selectivity and impartiality when dealing with human rights issues.  It was illogical to continue to keep silent about the suffering of whole nations whose dignity was being undermined and whose human rights, including their economic and cultural rights, were being violated, while prominence was given to other issues for purely political considerations.

    GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said stability in his region was the prerequisite for Greek security.  Greek security lay in being a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO.  Through the process of the neighbouring war in Kosovo, Greece had managed to demonstrate to the international community the importance of a consistent, universal and unifying policy towards South Eastern Europe.  From Bosnia to Cyprus, Greece had the same objectives:  that the countries in the region become peaceful and democratic, and that they become members of the European Union.  The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an essential part of that framework.  The “balkanization” of the region must be replaced by coordination of international efforts. 

     Greece’s agenda for the next few years was coloured by its recent experience with Turkey, he said.  The earthquakes that had struck Greece and Turkey had created a new climate for the first time in their recent diplomatic history. Greeks and Turks had signed 10 agreements, which would radically change the environment in which they interacted.  Although they differed on many issues, such as how they saw Cyprus and how they approached their bilateral relations, this open approach could only lead to a progressive resolution for their problems. 

     He said he did not want to give the false impression that their problems had been resolved.  Problems like Cyprus did exist.  A solution to the Cyprus problem could and should be seen as a win-win situation.  Cyprus would either unite or divide their two countries.  He appealed to the Secretary-General to move forward with peace talks.  The implementation of United Nations resolutions was not just important for Cyprus -- it was important for the moral standing of the Organization. 

    Double standards and inaction only served to undermine the Organization’s credibility in the eyes of many peoples and countries, he continued.  A reunited federal Cyprus, member of the European Union, would not only serve the European aspirations for stability in the region, but the aspirations of every citizen in every one of the countries involved.

     He added that drawing on its ancient traditions, Greece was working to re-establish the practice of the Olympic Truce.  Greece aspired to the day when the tradition of suspending all hostilities during the Olympic Games became the seed of a more lasting peace.

     JOSEP PIQUÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said that the Millennium Summit had been convened to answer two questions:  “what kind of United Nations do we want?” and “why and to what purpose do we need the United Nations in this new millennium?”  The United Nations must be the main instrument for meeting the many challenges of globalization.  The Organization’s universal nature placed it in an ideal position for that purpose -– it would be unforgivable if it were not capable of rising to the task, which had to be undertaken in very different fields. 

     Turning to the subject of "humanitarian intervention", he said that the United Nations could not be paralysed in the face of massive violations of human rights, wherever they might take place.  The Organization's prestige had been seriously affected on occasions when it did not act decisively and it had been left out of basic decision-making in times of crisis.  While the principle of State sovereignty continued to be essential in contemporary international society, it must not be used as a protective shield to trample on human rights with impunity.

     Fighting poverty continued to be one of the United Nations priorities, he said.  For its part, Spain had, among other things, prepared an ambitious programme of microcredits for the least favoured sectors of developing countries and had set up debt-relief programmes.  

    He noted Spain's strong support for the Secretary-General's efforts toward conflict prevention.  The colonial situation in Gibraltar, which represented an infringement on Spain's territorial integrity, was an example of the need to conclude the decolonization process.

     Reform must be completed for the United Nations to carry out its tasks, he said, stressing that the role of the General Assembly must be enhanced.  It was also necessary to democratize the Security Council by enlarging it to reflect greater legitimacy and limiting veto power.  

     CAMARA HADJA MAHAWA BANGOURA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, said that only a week ago, the Prime Minister of Guinea had informed the international community about the barbarous aggression committed against the country, which had been aimed at destabilizing it.  Armed gangs from Liberia had carried out the attack with the help of Burkina Faso.  Guinea had paid an enormous price in receiving refugees from the West African region.  Guinea had now been attacked by the same people responsible for the massacres and mutilation in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The international community should strongly condemn the attack, which threatened the stability of the region.  

     In the last decade, Guinea had been confronted with the massive presence of 800,000 refugees within its borders.  The refugee presence had forced the Government to reallocate available resources -- to the detriment of economic development programmes.  Many of the conflicts currently fought in Africa violated the very purpose and principles of the United Nations.  The spread of conflicts had seriously compromised national development and sub-regional integration.  Peacekeeping missions were vital, and the recommendations from the Brahimi report on peace operations should be taken into serious consideration. 

    She welcomed Security Council resolution 1206 (1998) imposing sanctions on the marketing and sale of diamonds from conflict zones and called on all States and specialized institutions to cooperate in its active implementation.  The circulation of small arms in Africa resulted in the prolongation of conflicts and increased their complexity, encouraging the use of child soldiers in many of the conflicts in Africa.  Such issues required assistance from the international community.  

     The question of development remained one of the major issues to be resolved by the United Nations.  In the midst of talk about economic prosperity, a great part of the world population continued to live in abject poverty, suffering the negative impact of globalization.  In the context of development, more attention was needed on Africa, otherwise it would never be able to eliminate the causes of its underdevelopment, eradicate poverty and gain better access to the international market.  In order to achieve African integration into the world market, it was necessary to cancel foreign debts and increase official development assistance.  
     There was a consensus that the United Nations could not be an effective organization without reforms, including a reform of the Security Council, she said.  It was important that the General Assembly play the role of the principal decision-making body and that other agencies be revitalized.

    Right of Reply

    STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), speaking in right of reply in response to the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said British sovereignty over Gibraltar was clearly established in the Treaty of Utrecht.  The British Government stood by the commitment made to the people of Gibraltar as contained in the preamble to the 1969 constitution, which stated that it would never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.

    Issues relating to Gibraltar could only be resolved by building trust, cooperation and dialogue, and through direct talks aimed at overcoming differences such as those established under the 1984 Brussels Declaration.  He attached continuing importance to the dialogue with Spain.

    MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso), spoke in right of reply to the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea.  He said that, regarding the unfounded accusations against his country, it was essential to recall the comments made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso yesterday.  In response to the surprising assertions made by Guinea, he said that Burkina Faso was not involved in those unfortunate events.  His Government was prepared to undertake any steps that might shed light on the matter. 

     Mr. FALL (Guinea), also in right of reply, reaffirmed the willingness of his country to cooperate with all countries of Africa.  It had never contributed to destabilization of any country in Africa.  He said he had proof that, unfortunately, the fraternal country of Burkina Faso had had something to do with the matter.  He stressed that Guinea remained willing to maintain the most cordial relations with Burkina Faso.

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