Press Releases

    GA/10259
    22 September 2004

    Speakers in General Assembly Debate Stress Need for Greater Unity, Vigorous Multilateral Action to Restore Peace, Security

    Twelve Presidents, Five Prime Ministers Participate in Afternoon Session

    NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- As the General Assembly continued the first day of its general debate this afternoon, many speakers underscored the need for more unified multilateralism and vigorous action by the international community, led by the United Nations to address pockets of insecurity and restore peace, security and the rule of law wherever necessary.

    Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, said the international community had no alternative but to revitalize the current multilateral system.  The United Nations was perfectly capable of managing the current international situation through the revitalization of that system.  The Organization would then become an ideal forum for negotiation and interaction between cultures and religions.  The emergence of a new multilateral system must be based on international legality, solidarity, fair socio-economic relations, and on an efficient and dynamic United Nations.

    Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, said Member States had given the Security Council the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security.  Council members, particularly its permanent members, must display a common will and compromise on narrowly defined national interests.  Before the war in Iraq, the international community had failed.  Conflicting national interests had prevailed over common will, and there was not enough commitment to act within the boundaries of Council resolutions.  Some nations resorted to the use of force, which was not compatible with international law.

    A number of other speakers also stressed the urgent need to combat the ever-present threat of terrorism, citing the pockets of insecure zones which were breeding grounds for terrorists and international organized crime.

    Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, said that, despite great achievements in his country, terrorism was still a major challenge.  Terrorists had done everything to disrupt the Constitutional Loya Jirga and the electoral process, including killing workers and children.  Attacks had intensified during the registration for the upcoming election.  Those attacks, however, had not stopped the Afghan people from crossing one milestone after another.  But while the commitment of regional countries and the international community had led to considerable accomplishments in the past three years, establishing a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan would require sustained collaboration, he stressed.

    Continuing terrorist attacks were leading to significant changes in the area of global security, Ivan Gašparović, President of Slovakia, told the Assembly.  Member States must fight more effectively against that inhuman phenomenon through mutual support, the application of international law, and by improved cooperation between international and regional organizations.

    Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia, said the time had come for Georgia and the Russian Federation to enter a new stage of cooperation that would have, as a common goal, the defeat of terrorists in lawless zones.  “I firmly agree with President [Vladimir] Putin [Russian Federation]; you can never negotiate with terrorists or cut deals with killers”, he said.

    Marc Ravalomanana, President of Madagascar, stressed that Africa needed more foreign investment, both in the public and private sectors, and urged the international community to assume more responsibility for the continent’s development.  The world had failed that responsibility in certain cases with tragic effects.  Africa could flourish, and its enormous potential could be a source of prosperity for Africans and the world.

    Also speaking this afternoon were the Presidents of Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Chile, Argentina and Algeria.

    The Prime Ministers of Japan, Spain, Albania, Sweden and Rwanda also addressed the Assembly, and the Foreign Minister of New Zealand also spoke.

    The fifty-ninth General Assembly will continue its general debate tomorrow, 22 September, at 10 a.m.

    Background

    The General Assembly this afternoon continued its general debate of the fifty-ninth session.

    Statements

    HAMID KARZAI, President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, said the presidential elections to be held 18 days from today would mark the end of the transitional period set out in the Bonn Agreement.  No change was more visible than the confidence of the Afghan people in the future of their country, expressed in the 10.5 million who had registered to vote, 42 per cent of them women.  Women would also make up at least 25 per cent of the future parliament.

    Earlier this year, he said, the Constitutional Loya Jirga had adopted an enlightened Constitution to establish a democratic Islamic republic.  Equal rights and protection for every citizen were guaranteed, as were freedom of speech and press.  An election law had been enacted to manage both presidential and parliamentary elections, including voter registration.  With the cooperation of its neighbours, Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran would participate.  In addition, national security institutions had been rebuilt with the help of the international community.  Security was now provided by 15,000 national army soldiers and nearly 30,000 national police.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration actions had resulted in the collection of nearly all heavy weapons in Kabul and the disarming of thousands of former combatants across the country.

    He said generous pledges at the Berlin Conference earlier this year had helped rebuild Afghanistan.  The national reconstruction and development programmes would create economic opportunities for the Afghan people and would promote economic growth throughout the region.  Eradicating poverty and meeting health and education needs would be priorities, as would the rebuilding of roads, to re-establish Afghanistan as a land-bridge for trans-continental trade, that would benefit every major Central Asian capital by better connection with the Persian Gulf and the port of Karachi.

    Despite those great achievements, he said terrorism remained a major challenge, among many others, including poverty and trade in narcotics. Terrorists had done everything to disrupt the Constitutional Loya Jirga and the election process, including by killing workers and children.  Terrorist attacks had intensified during the registration for the upcoming election.  But the attacks had not stopped the Afghan people from crossing one milestone after another.  The commitment of countries in the region and of the international community had led to the considerable accomplishments of the past three years.  However, establishing a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan would require sustained collaboration.

    TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, said security and prosperity were inseparable, and that there could be no lasting peace in any part of the world when millions of people suffered from deprivation, poverty, armed conflicts and terrorism.  Human dignity was not possible when even the most basic human rights of millions of people were violated every day.  As such, the Organization could not remain on the sidelines, and multilateral tools would be necessary to meet the challenges of a globalizing world.  In addition, multilateral institutions needed further development, she said, adding that that applied especially to the United Nations, whose position in promoting peace and development was unique.

    She said Member States had given the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  Security Council members, and, in particular, its permanent members, must display a common will and compromise on narrowly defined national interests.  Before the war in Iraq, the international community had failed, however.  Conflicting national interests prevailed over common will, and there was not enough commitment to act within the boundaries of Security Council resolutions.  Some nations resorted to the use of force, which was not compatible with international law.  It was necessary to restore security and stability in Iraq so that the building of democracy and prosperity could begin for real.  Finland was participating in training Iraqi forces and had contributed €1 million for the security of United Nations staff members working there.

    With regard to the situation in Darfur, she said the international community could not allow it to get out of hand.  The United Nations and the international community must be able to act in time, effectively and for as long as it was needed.  Turning to globalization, she said that, while it could and should be a force for a brighter future for all people, today it fell short of that promise.  Globalization needed to be made fairer, paying attention to people’s needs and aspirations.  That required coherence, closer and better international cooperation, as well as stronger, democratic States that worked for fairness at home and abroad.  It was imperative to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and to ensure that the 0.7 per cent target on development assistance become a reality, she said.

    The United Nations, she added, had a key role in promoting peace, security, economic prosperity, social welfare and the rule of law.  Finland gave full support to the broad reform of the United Nations that was now under way.  The time was ripe for reform of the Security Council and the expansion of its membership, so that it corresponded better to today’s world.  Lastly, the General Assembly needed revitalization and the Economic and Social Council should be given the role envisaged in the Charter.

    JOAQUIM ALBERTO CHISSANO, President of Mozambique, in his last speech before the Assembly, said that after his country’s upcoming elections, he would join civil society, where he would continue to contribute to efforts to address ongoing challenges facing Mozambique, the wider African continent and the world, particularly in the areas of peace, social and economic development and culture.  In 1975, under the United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, Mozambique had attained its independence.  Since then, more than 60 territories had become decolonized and millions of people were now able to exercise their self-determination.

    He went on to detail his 32-year experience with the Assembly, from a time when the United Nations governing body consisted of only 132 Members (1975), until today, when it boasted 191.  Throughout his recollections, he paid tribute to the Organization’s strength and to the true power of international dialogue.  The Organization had grown tremendously during that period, providing a forum for debate during the politically contentious cold war period, and helping to foster tolerance and promote self-determination as many African countries struggled under post-colonial rule or apartheid.  He also praised the support the United Nations had given Mozambique following years of destabilizing conflict.

    Focusing specifically on Mozambique, he said sound economic and social policies and an enabling political environment had resulted in some “encouraging progress”.  Absolute poverty levels had decreased, illiteracy rates had fallen, and, from 1997 to 2003, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown some 8 per cent.  He praised Mozambique’s development partners for helping to turn the country into a “post-conflict peace-building success”.  Part of that success had also been due to ongoing peace and stability, which had subsequently led to a resumption of the country’s development plans.

    Many of those plans had been threatened by the unrelenting spread of the HIV/AIDS virus throughout Mozambique, he continued.  That disease, along with malaria, tuberculosis and cholera, had had a devastating effect on economic and social development.  By 2020, without an aggressive response, Mozambique would lose 20 per cent of its labour force to AIDS, he said, adding that life expectancy in Mozambique was expected to drop to 36 by 2010.  Recognizing the breadth of the pandemic, Mozambique had partnered with civil society and the business community to launch an emergency action programme.

    BLAISE COMPAORE, President of Burkina Faso, noted that the international community today confronted growing poverty in the South, terrorism and fratricidal war.  Africa, in spite of the return to peace in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone, continued to suffer conflict in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. The situation in Iraq progressed uncontrollably towards chaos, and dialogue between the protagonists in the Middle East remained seemingly impossible.  Furthermore, it must be acknowledged that the development of an adequate and effective strategy against international terrorism remained elusive.  Yet, individuals of good will and international organizations and associations remained mobilized to restore peace and harmony. For example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had undertaken peace initiatives in the Great Lakes region, as had the African Union in Darfur, Sudan.  For their part, the people of Burkina Faso reaffirmed their commitment to any initiative aimed at the consolidation of peace and stability on the African continent.

    Yet, peace and security did not alone guarantee political stability, he stressed.  Human security -- the satisfaction of humanity’s essential needs -- also constituted an important aspect of that process.  Thus, the recognition of poverty, which threatened fundamental human rights and posed a threat to the political, economic and social stability of States, was welcomed.  After all, of what value would globalization be if it ignored the fundamental need for economic progress, food, health, education and employment?

    Given the situation of many of their countries, African leaders had committed themselves to strengthening their economic and social policies, he added.  They had recognized that macroeconomic stability and sustained growth were necessary, but insufficient, to combat poverty. Thus, they had renewed their commitment to increased employment, training and health care and had established a mechanism to follow up policy decisions taken in those regards at the national, regional and continental levels. However, the international community’s assistance remained necessary to strengthen economic policies and improve living conditions.  Africa’s development partners were called upon to comply with their international commitments in terms of official development assistance (ODA) and debt relief, the establishment of more just and equitable international trade, and the implementation of the social dimension of globalization.

    All must work to ensure that the 2005 mid-term review showed specific action had been taken in those terms, he concluded. The United Nations must serve as a guiding light in international affairs, retaining its democratic nature and remaining open to the majority of States, as well as civil society.  The pace of reform must, therefore, be increased, with every State, small and large, assuming its responsibility to implement those decisions taken for the common good. Within the renewed Organization, the situation of the Republic of China (Taiwan) must find a just and equitable solution and be rapidly integrated into the Organization.

    MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, stressed that Africa needed more foreign investment, both in the public and private sectors, and urged the international community to assume more responsibility for the continent’s development. The world had failed that responsibility in certain cases with tragic effects. Africa could flourish, and its enormous potential could be a source of prosperity for Africans and the world.

    More than half of Africa’s people were less than 25 years of age and needed an education suitable to the market’s needs, he said.  Women, in particular, deserved more than their traditional role within the family and should enjoy the same rights as men.  As for the continent’s agricultural potential, more than half of its arable land lay fallow, and its productivity could double or even triple.  Farmers needed better seed, modern irrigation systems, easier access to fertilizers, markets, and effective financial systems.

    Turning to Africa’s economic potential, he noted that his country had an economic growth rate of 9.6 per cent in 2003, and hoped to achieve the same in 2004 and 2005.  Other African countries could achieve a similar rate, making the African market more interesting to international investment.  Only 7 per cent of the continent’s hydraulic energy had been exploited, and only 1 per cent of solar energy in the world came from Africa.  Some 70 per cent of Africa’s flora and fauna were endemic, and no one could yet assess the extent to which they could benefit medicine and other fields.

    Africans were ready to resolve armed conflicts, win the fight against poverty, strengthen their capacities, and enhance democracy and good governance, he said. The continent needed a comprehensive plan for its development -- a Marshall Plan for Africa -- that should be inspired by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), include the Group of 8 Evian Summit objectives, and go beyond those goals. The plan should be more than just an emergency measures and must promote all of Africa’s potential.

    MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said nearly a year had passed since the dramatic Rose Revolution was covered by worldwide media.  It was a revolution that had one simple demand at its core -- the creation of a stable equitable and functional democracy.  “We have accomplished that demand, in ways that few abroad or at home ever imagined possible”, he said.  In less than one year, Georgia had proven the depth and breadth of its commitment to democracy by successfully holding three sets of elections -- presidential, parliamentary and regional -- judged throughout the international community to be free and fair expressions of the public’s will.

    He said the rule of law had been reinstated, and a radical downsizing of up to 50 per cent had taken place amongst the military, security, customs and the police. The first-ever civilian leadership in defence, security and law enforcement bodies had also been introduced.  The current successes in Georgia meant that all its citizens finally had the chance to live in a normal state where merit, rather than money, made the difference.  Salaries had been raised by six times and even up to 10 for public servants so that incentives were aligned and so that fair systems could flourish.  A new tax system had been created that clarified and simplified both the payment and administration of taxes -- creating the lowest rates in the entire region, while eliminating institutional sources of cheating and corruption.

    He said that as a member of the global coalition that sought to eliminate the threat of terror, his country had made and would continue to make contributions wherever possible and necessary.  That willingness was on display in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq today.  He also announced that Georgia was sending fresh troops to Iraq to serve in the special protection force for the United Nations Mission in Iraq.  He said, however, that Georgia today was still dealing with the results of unresolved separatist conflicts in two parts of the country -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Those conflicts, which had resulted in forced exodus, and the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Georgians could not remain unresolved. The existence of those conflicts was incompatible with progress, development and lasting stability. That threat also affected the entire Caucasus and bred crime, drug trafficking, arms trading and terrorism.  The situation in Abkhazia, in particular, had the potential to affect European security if left unresolved.

    He stressed, however, that his country would not use violence to solve those conflicts.  Instead, it would peacefully reincorporate South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a “stage by stage” plan that would include confidence-building measures, demilitarization, decriminalization, establishing full and broad forms of autonomy and the improvement of security for those living in the conflict zones.  He called on the international community to do more to provide the necessary resources and leadership and also for the expansion of mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) along the Roki Tunnel border in South Ossetia.  He also said the time had come for Georgia and the Russian Federation to enter a new stage of cooperation that would have, as a common goal, the defeat of terrorists in lawless zones.  “I firmly agree with President Putin, you can never negotiate with terrorist or cut deals with killers”, he stressed.  He also called for the need and necessity to close outdated Russian military bases.

    IVAN GAŠPAROVIĆ, President of Slovakia, addressing the Assembly for the first time since his country had become a participating member of the European Union, said the international community was facing challenges and threats that were unknown when the Charter had been drafted, and that the multilateral mechanisms set out in the previous century had proven to be less than adequate.  Recent global events, accompanied by an increase in new and potentially more dangerous and destructive threats, clearly demonstrated that no country could cope with security issues single-handedly, let alone tackle them over the long term.  There was a greater need than ever before for international solidarity.

    The Slovak Republic, he said, was convinced that a multilateral approach was the best response to emerging threats, and that the role of the United Nations was irreplaceable in maintaining global security.  To that end, the only way forward would involve strengthening the authority of United Nations institutions by making their work and decision-making mechanisms more efficient. The issue of reforming the Security Council should be perceived in the same light, and should not only involve the enlargement of the Council, but also make its methods and the implementation of its decisions more efficient.

    Continuing terrorist attacks were leading to significant changes in the area of global security, he said, and Member States must fight more effectively against that inhuman phenomenon through mutual support, the application of international law, and by improved cooperation between international and regional organizations.  Maintaining international peace and security had always been one of Slovakia’s main priorities, having long contributed military units, observers, and equipment to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

    A global priority should be stabilising the western Balkans, which also had a direct effect on the stability of Europe, he continued. Kosovo still represented a potential source of regional instability, and, for that reason, Slovakia attributed great importance to next year’s evaluation as part of the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan, which, in the event of a favourable result, could launch a process whereby the future status of the province would be defined by the United Nations.  Other issues calling for efficient international cooperation included the political process in Iraq, stability in Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, and humanitarian crises.

    LEVY PATRICK MWANAWASA, President of Zambia, said that multilateral solutions, often within the context of an effective United Nations organization, was the key to addressing a host of difficult global issues like terrorism, HIV/AIDS, and  the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur, adding, “Indeed, this is what I would call the multilateral imperative.”  As a global community, the international community faced challenges that were transnational and interconnected in nature, and it was essential that it took advantage of the immense problem-solving potential of multilateralism.  “Unilateralism should have no place in this global era”, he said.

    The President reaffirmed Zambia’s support for the United Nations initiatives in the fight against global terrorism and proliferation of small arms and any forms of weapons of mass destruction and said that the international community should take all the necessary steps within the purview of the United Nations to combat the scourge of terrorism in all its manifestations.  He appealed to the General Assembly to support the efforts of the Security Council to enhance its decision-making and liaison methods, and expressed concern about the lack of progress regarding the reform of the Council.

    Expressing profound dismay at the continued unrest in the Middle East and the impasse in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process, he appealed to the parties to the conflict to allow the full implementation of the Quartet’s Road Map.  That Road Map offered a viable solution to the Middle East question, and Zambia endorsed and supported the initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East crisis.

    Zambia welcomed the continued support of the Group of 8 countries for NEPAD, whose primary objective was to eradicate the increasing poverty of Africa and put African countries on the path to sustainable economic growth, he said.  While the initiative was by and for Africans, the international community could not ignore the vital importance of increased ODA.  Since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action in 2001, his country had committed itself to serious economic reform, including privatization, trade liberalization, adoption of poverty-reduction strategies and the creation of a conducive environment for both local and foreign investment.  While Zambia was doing its part, it expected a corresponding action from the international community.  “Without assistance, all our efforts will be rendered futile.  Our aim is to graduate -- one day soon -- from a least developed country to a developing country”, he added.

    Mr. Mwanawasa expressed Zambia’s support for the convening of the high-level plenary meeting next year in New York on the Millennium Development Goals.  “We firmly believe that all Member States have a collective responsibility to implement the commitments set forth in the Declaration”, he stated.

    MOHAMMED VI, King of Morocco, said Africa suffered the most from the scourges of poverty, hunger, desertification and deadly epidemics.  The countries of the south could not effectively cope on their own without successful regional, as well as international, cooperation and effective support for local development efforts.  The problems of the south and their impact, which was compounded by ethnic strife, as well as regional tensions and conflicts, could not only cause terrible suffering but also hamper progress, development, regional integration and the transition towards democracy.  He called upon the international community to step up its efforts so that the logic of dialogue and negotiation might prevail over that of force, destruction and war.  “It must give fresh impetus to preventive diplomacy, at regional and international levels, in order to preserve peace and security on our continent.”

    Noting that the artificial dispute over the Sahara was still hindering the construction of the Arab Maghreb Union, he reiterated Morocco’s readiness to cooperate in a sincere and determined way with the United Nations and all the parties concerned to achieve, within the framework of international legality, a final negotiated political solution that would guarantee the sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity of Morocco, and enable the inhabitants of the southern provinces to manage their affairs by themselves in a democratic, stable environment conducive to integrated development.  Such a solution would spare the area the risk of becoming a hotbed of tension.  It would also foster Maghreb integration and enable the region to fully play its role in the Mediterranean and in its relations with African countries of the Sahel, thereby sparing the whole of North-West Africa the risks of balkanization and the threat of international terrorism.

    Addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict, he said his country was as determined as ever to work with the international community to find a just, comprehensive and lasting solution that guaranteed Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) as its capital, living side by side, in peace and concord with the State of Israel.  Morocco hoped that no effort would be spared to help Iraq out of its current predicament and to support its interim Government in its efforts to ensure stability and security for Iraqis and create the right conditions to organize elections that would enable the Iraqi people to choose their institutions freely and peacefully.

    He said that, to meet the challenges of this turning point in history, the international community had no alternative but to revitalize the current multilateral system.  The United Nations was perfectly capable of managing the current international situation through the revitalization of that system.  The Organization would then become an ideal forum for negotiation and interaction between cultures and religions.  Morocco reaffirmed its commitment to support the emergence of a new multilateral system built on international legality, solidarity, fair socio-economic relations, and based on an efficient and dynamic United Nations system.

    RICARDO LAGOS ESCOBAR, President of Chile, said that, for his country, integration into the global community created opportunities, which a closed society would preclude.  Countries needed freedom, peace, security and respect for international law, and it was necessary to work towards the building of a shared global order.  Stability could only be achieved through governance under which all interests were represented.  No one could shape the world that was emerging except through agreements and negotiations.  “The complexity of the world emerging before our eyes is too great to be handled in a centralized manner”, he said.

    Of course, little would be achieved if, at the same time, countries did not put their own houses in order, he said.  Without justice, solidarity and respect for human rights, there could be no stable or genuinely beneficial governance in the medium term.  It was the responsibility of each society to apply the principles of the United Nations and make them into realities.  Nothing was more counter to the principles of the United Nations than terrorism, he noted.  To that end, Chile had contributed to that issue through its efforts in chairing both the Al-Qaida/Taliban Security Council Sanctions Committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee, key instruments for waging that fight.  Globalization had negative spillover effects on the environment and exacerbated the marginalization of millions of people.  He said multilateralism was the best way to guide the agenda of globablization.  In strengthening multilateralism, each country had a stake and a national task to fulfil.

    Reform of the United Nations was becoming increasingly necessary, he continued.  It was not only necessary to expand the Security Council to make it more democratic, but comprehensive reform of the Organization was also necessary.  Currently, the United Nations faced unacceptable humanitarian crises, such as in Darfur; the steady deterioration in the outlook for peace in the Middle East; and terrorist attacks, such as in Beslan, Russian Federation, and in Jakarta, Indonesia.  In the Security Council, Chile supported the transfer of national sovereignty to the people of Iraq and, in Afghanistan, electoral assistance by the United Nations had been crucial to the preparation of its elections in early October.

    It was time to recognize that, in practical terms, the monopoly of States over international affairs had ended.  Experience showed that is was possible to negotiate, for example, free trade with the most developed countries in the world, and reach agreements that were beneficial to both sides.  Today, two thirds of his nation’s exports were covered by trade agreements, and more than one half was already subject to zero tariffs.  That, however, was not a simple matter but one that required time, preparation and patience.  Key issues were at stake at the Doha Round, such as anti-dumping, the status of agricultural products and textiles, and issues relating to intellectual property.  “The world today needs more and not less United Nations -– more and not less multilateralism”, he concluded.

    NÉSTOR CARLOS KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, reiterated his country’s determination to participate actively in United Nations actions for peace, the promotion of sustainable economic and social development, and the eradication of hunger and poverty.  Expressing appreciation for having been endorsed by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States to fill a non-permanent seat on the Security Council during the period 2005-2006, he stressed the importance of promoting a consensus aimed at strengthening the rule of law and international peace and security and highlighted the need to make the Council more transparent, without expanding existing privileges or creating new categories of membership.  Above all, it must be recognized that there was no alternative to multilateral action.  While condemning all acts of international terrorism, Argentina felt that international efforts must also preserve the balance between a State’s defence and its respect for human rights.  The legitimate support of international public opinion should also be retained.

    Threats to international security came not just from traditional sources, he stressed, but also from violations of human rights, hunger and extreme poverty, social exclusion, the spread of disease and degradation of the environment.  Multilateral efforts must be made to promote national and international economic development based on principles of justice, equality, democracy, participation, transparency, responsibility and social inclusion.  Moreover, problems linked to poverty and inequality could not be solved with programmes that relied strictly on assistance.  Nor was economic growth itself sufficient to tackle them.  Many Latin American countries had seen periods of high growth, and also of low job creation, high concentrations of income and high levels of poverty.  The myth of trickle-down benefits had been dispelled.  Instead, policies prioritizing the generation of decent jobs must be established.  Yet, in developing countries, the ability of democratic governments to meet legitimate demands for job creation had been impaired by developed countries’ production subsidies, particularly in the field of agriculture.

    No political system or economic plan was sustainable under the conditions of poverty and inequality that characterized the current international trade system, he added.  Among other matters, the policies of the multilateral lending agencies, which had magnified many countries’ problems and had led to the expansion of already oversized debts, must be redressed.  Greater leeway should be given to national authorities, and countries’ ability to repay their external debt should be facilitated.  He proposed that investment in infrastructure should not be considered current spending.  From the tragedy of excessively indebted countries, the international community must draw the conclusion that simple formulas could not be considered applicable regardless of time and place.

    Expressing support for the establishment of the United Nations mission in Haiti, he stressed the importance of the mission -- the only one in the Western hemisphere -- to his country, which had taken on responsibility to help the poorest country in the Americas regain the path to democracy and stability.  Further reiterating that international disputes should always be resolved through peaceful means, he said the question of the status of the Malvinas Islands must be resolved through bilateral dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom.  His country remained constantly willing to reach a just and lasting solution to the question and urged the United Kingdom to comply with the international community’s appeal to resume negotiations.

    ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA, President of Algeria, said the world was currently experiencing much tension, and that a comprehensive approach was needed to restore peace and security.  Security was of paramount importance, but would not occur without a determined struggle against terrorism.  In fighting terrorism, the international community must encourage a form of global development that was balanced, equitable and sustainable. Acknowledging that much had been accomplished since the struggle against terrorism had become an international priority, he lamented that the global community had yet to reach agreement on a definition of it. That definition should be clear about legitimate struggles against foreign occupation, and must not limit terrorism to any one geographical region, or culture and civilization.

    Addressing the situation in the Western Sahara and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front), he said Algeria could not decide the future of the people there, and had no desire to do so. Any attempt to define the situation in terms other than decolonization would result in failure and delay a final settlement.

    He then focused on Africa and the vital efforts the African Union were making to settle conflicts on the continent and ensure peace and security.  Conditions for balancing African partnerships had become more favourable, and changes in such relationships were gaining more substance.  The international community must continue to encourage Africa in its efforts to seek peace and integration with the rest of the world.

    In occupied Palestine, the peace process was more deadlocked than ever before, he continued.  A solution to that crisis was desperately needed in light of the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.  In the same region of the world, Iraq was facing complex challenges that would require continued support from the United Nations.

    JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, Prime Minister of Japan, said that the international community and the United Nations should stand by the Afghan and Iraqi peoples in their strenuous efforts to rebuild their respective countries.  Based on relevant Security Council resolutions, Japan had joined the international efforts to assist the Iraqi people’s own struggle towards a democratic and prosperous nation.  It had been cooperating with the Iraqi people to help them improve rebuild the foundation of their public life.  The humanitarian and reconstruction activities of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces and its financial assistance of $5 billion were working in tandem towards that end.  In Afghanistan, Japan had taken the lead in assisting national reconstruction efforts from the very beginning, including by hosting the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan in January 2002.

    The nuclear and missile issues on the Korean Peninsula presented a serious challenge to peace and stability in North-east Asia and to the international community as a whole, he said.  Japan was determined to continue to seek comprehensive resolution to those issues, as well as the abduction issue in line with the Pyongyang Declaration.  The six-party talks must go forward.  The benefit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of resolving those issues would be substantial while there was no benefit in continuing to pursue its nuclear programme.

    He said Japan advocated the concept of human security because the protection and empowerment of individuals and communities was the foundation of international peace and security.  Based on that idea, the country had been making efforts to realize a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to reconstruction support in countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste.

    On Africa, he said there would be no stability and prosperity in the world unless the issues affecting the region were resolved.  In that regard, Japan had initiated the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993 and had organized TICAD III last year with the participation of 89 countries and 47 international organizations.  African countries were now promoting regional collaboration through the African Union and working to implement NEPAD.  The collaboration between TICAD and NEPAD was significant because both processes were grounded in the principle of ownership and partnership.

    Japan shared the grave concern of the international community over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, he said.  The country had decided to provide $21 million in humanitarian assistance to address the crisis and also intended to provide in-kind assistance to Sudanese refugees in Chad.

    On United Nations reform, he said changes were needed throughout the United Nations system with the Security Council at the core.  The role of the Council had expanded dramatically in both scope and nature in recent years, and the Council must fulfil those expanded roles with the maximum cooperation and participation of the international community.  Countries with the will and resources to play a major role in international peace and security must always take part in the Council’s decision-making process.  Japan called for the removal of the “enemy State” clauses from the United Nations Charter as the General Assembly had already recognized those provisions to be obsolete. Their removal would better reflect today’s world.

    JOSÉ LUÍS RODRÍGUEZ ZAPATERO, Prime Minister of Spain, said that, over the last 30 years, Spaniards had learned much about and from terrorism, about its iniquity, how to defy it, how to withstand its blows with courage and dignity, and how to fight it.  Because of that, Spaniards sympathized deeply with the suffering of the American people on 11 September 2001, and understood also the “terrible pain” inflicted upon Jakarta, Bali, Casablanca, Riyadh and Beslan.  What they had learned was that legality, democracy and political methods “make us stronger and make them weaker”.  The roots of terrorism must be uncovered.  It was necessary to analyse rationally how it emerged, how it grew, so that it could be fought rationally.

    In that context, he said, peace must be the endeavour in Iraq, an endeavour requiring more courage, determination and heroism than the war itself.  While the overwhelming majority of Spaniards had spoken out against the war in Iraq, what mattered now was to contribute to restoring the full sovereignty and independence of Iraq.  Spain would spare no effort to achieve that goal and would continue to provide political and financial support to the process of political normalization and to the strengthening of democratic institutions in Iraq.  Spain also supported the United Nations resolutions on the Middle East, the African Union initiatives concerning Darfur, the establishment of the Peace Facility for Africa, and the pursuit of a just and definitive political solution in Western Sahara.

    As the representative of a country created and enriched by diverse cultures, he proposed the creation of an “Alliance of Civilizations” between the Western and the Arab and Muslim worlds.  Spain intended to submit to the Secretary-General a proposal on the possibility of establishing a high-level group to move ahead with that initiative.  Spain also endorsed the Millennium Declaration objectives on development, poverty eradication and preservation of the environment, and was firmly committed to the political declaration adopted yesterday in the framework of the Alliance against Hunger and Poverty.  The Government of Spain would substantially increase its ODA, in order to reach the threshold of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

    Stressing that international peace and security could not be ensured without respect for legality, he said Spain wished to promote the effective functioning of the International Criminal Court.  To that end, all States that had yet to ratify the Rome Statute should do so fully, unconditionally and without delay, thus helping in the common endeavour to build a more just world.  Finally, Spain would maintain its willingness to negotiate a solution regarding Gibraltar that would benefit the region as a whole.

    FATOS NANO, Prime Minister of Albania, stressed the improvement in bilateral and multilateral cooperation in South-eastern Europe and its continued efforts towards Euro-Atlantic integration.  The region was now heading away from extremist and ultranationalist tendencies, which had led to several conflicts over the past decade.  With markets opening up in the region and beyond, the Albanian Government was focused on attracting foreign investment to Albania and the region.  It was also coordinating with neighbouring countries in the fight against organized crime and managing its borders according to European Union and other international standards.

    The region still faced challenges in Kosovo, which must build a democratic, multi-ethnic and multicultural society governed by the rule of law, mutual tolerance and understanding, he said.  In the parliamentary elections next October, the Albanian people in Kosovo would take a major step towards democracy, which should have a positive impact on the entire western Balkans.  Hopefully, the Serbian majority in Kosovo would contribute to the area’s future through its votes. Serbian participation at all levels in Kosovo’s self-governing institutions would further consolidate peace, stability and coexistence in the region.

    Turning to other global crises, he stressed that the United Nations and the Security Council must fully commit themselves to finding suitable and lasting solutions in Iraq, the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Sudan.  Progress had been made in Iraq, due to cooperation between the Iraqi Government and coalition forces, but tensions were still high and violence continued.  Albania condemned violence and hostage-taking in pursuit of political goals that were sometimes cloaked under a religious veil, and joined other international voices in demanding an immediate end to such acts.  His Government was also concerned about developments in the Middle East, where violence against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories had increased.  The international community should closely monitor implementation of the Road Map to ensure that it was not altered, misinterpreted or blocked by parties to the conflict.

    He stressed the need to revitalize the United Nations in light of such challenges as preserving peace and security, responding to terrorist threats, poverty, fatal diseases, the effects of globalization and environmental degradation.  Albania supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the Organization, especially the Security Council.  The time had come to have a more representative, transparent and flexible Council, which could better reflect today’s realities.  Its expansion with more permanent, as well as non-permanent, members would increase possibilities for all Member States to assist in preserving international peace and stability.

    GÖRAN PERSSON, Prime Minister of Sweden, said that the core principles of the United Nations Charter remained as valid as ever, and threats to international peace and security needed to be met collectively.  The use of force was permitted only as a last resort and when authorized by the Security Council, unless it was in self-defence.  According to him, for the Security Council to remain legitimate, representative and relevant, its composition must better reflect the world of today.  Since the adoption of the Charter, a small number of countries had emerged as key political and economic Powers.  Those countries should be given a role commensurate with their importance.  The international community also needed a Security Council that ensured the legitimate interest of small- and medium-sized countries.

    On weapons of mass destruction, he stated that such weapons constituted one of the main threats to international peace and security, and that the threat of terrorism in connection with proliferation of such weapons was real.  The need for strong policies in disarmament was, therefore, acute.  Nuclear-weapon States needed to show real progress towards disarmament, and efforts to combat proliferation needed to be strengthened.  In addition, compliance with existing treaties left much to be desired and also needed to improve.

    He expressed abhorrence at the “barbaric acts of terrorism around the world, from Beslan to Jakarta” and said that nothing could be crueller than the violent, senseless and tragic loss of innocent lives.  All States needed to work together to preserve a democratic, secure and open society, he stated, adding that the fight against terrorism must be carried out with determination.  At the same time, human rights must be respected and international law followed.

    On the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, he called for commitment from both parties to a peaceful solution and an end to occupation.  On the Israeli side, excessive violence, extrajudicial killings, settlement activity and destruction of property must end, he added.  “Israel’s right and obligation to protect its people must be exercised within the context of international law.  On the Palestinian side, areas of particular concern remained corruption, and security and political reform.  The indiscriminate and horrendous terrorist attacks must stop, and the Palestinian Authority must do more to achieve that.

    According to the Prime Minister, the international community should give the Iraqi people all necessary support for the building of an independent and democratic Iraq.  The role of the United Nations was vital to that end, he continued, stating, “What Iraq and the whole region need is not a new war, but a new peace.”

    He described the creation of the International Criminal Court as the finest achievement of the international community in international law in recent years and appealed to the Security Council to consider the possibility of referring matters to the Court.  Sovereignty entailed responsibility, and prevention of atrocities demanded international action, if governments failed to assume their responsibility.

    Sweden would reach its national goal of 1 per cent of the gross national income for ODA in 2006, he announced.  The country had translated the international agenda into national policy, giving the entire range of government activities one single objective:  to contribute to an equitable and sustainable global development.  The Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals were at the core of the world’s efforts to put an end to hunger and poverty, he continued, but pointed out that the collective political will to give priority to sustainable global development ahead of short-term national interests would be decisive to turn promise into reality.  “Rich countries must fulfil their commitments.”

    BERNARD MAKUZA, Prime Minister of Rwanda, reviewed the mechanisms that had been adopted in the decade since the 1994 genocide, which had been aimed at fulfilling the country’s duty to conduct an examination of the collective, national conscience.  They included the establishment of a National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, the promulgation of a new constitution written by Rwandans themselves, reform of the judiciary and the establishment of the Gacaca courts and reform of the economic, education and health sectors, as well as the promotion of women in public administration.  Rwanda had also done its part to contribute to peace processes regionally and throughout the African continent, most recently by sending a military mission to Darfur, Sudan.

    The international community, he suggested, should also examine its own conscience and review its responses to situations such as that of Rwanda in 1994.  Had an early warning system for detection of emerging crises been adopted?  Could one State with assurance that the political will to respond worldwide to new crises in a decisive and appropriate manner existed?  Did the division into spheres of influence, which had impeded the effective working of the United Nations in 1994, continue?

    None present today were ignorant of the grave threat posed to international peace and security by terrorism, he added.  From the Russian Federation to Spain to Indonesia to Kenya to the United States, all were aware, including the inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Africa.  In that region, the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide -- the ex-Forces Armées Rwandaises and Interahamwe -- continued to sow death and destruction throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.  Most recently, they had joined with Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL) rebels in Burundi to attack the Banyamulenge refugee camp at Gatamba, Burundi, killing 160 innocent men, women and children on the basis of their ethnicity.

    It was incomprehensible, he stressed, that, despite their localization in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, no serious international action had been undertaken against those groups.  The United Nations must fulfil its responsibility to disarm, demobilize and repatriate them.  Among its own efforts to support those in danger, Rwanda had, since 1994, dedicated 5 per cent of its annual budget to fund health care and education for the survivors of the genocide and would be bringing a draft text, designed to mobilize financial support for the country’s domestic efforts to care for orphans, widows and victims of sexual abuse during the genocide.

    His country had also dedicated much attention to the reform of the Security Council, he said, and felt it was time to end the marginalization of Latin America and Africa in that forum.  In conjunction with ensuring improvement in the body’s working methods and transparency, the unwritten rule that only permanent members could bring resolutions before the Council, and the division of the world into spheres of influence, must be dispelled.

    PHIL GOFF, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, noted that war had taken the lives of tens of millions of people, most of them civilians, since the founding of the United Nations.  Weapons of mass destruction had accumulated, new diseases had emerged with devastating consequences, and the gap between rich and poor countries had widened. This year, the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change would put forward proposals to reform and strengthen the United Nations to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in addressing those issues. The international community must seize that unique opportunity to institute positive reform rather than adopt narrow, self-interested and inflexible responses.  An expanded Security Council and the reform of outmoded electoral groupings were necessary if the Council was to represent the international community as it was today.

    Development goals to promote economic and social progress in developing nations were also vital considerations for the United Nations in the year ahead, he continued. Improving the quality and quantity of development assistance was vital, but real and lasting progress depended on building a fairer, more open and equitable global trading system. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries spent $360 billion per year to subsidize agricultural production, which blocked the developing world from exporting not only to OECD countries but to third markets, as well.  That sum dwarfed the amount that OECD countries provided in development assistance.

    The United Nations must also adapt to changing security and humanitarian concerns, he said.  The concept that national sovereignty was paramount and stood in the way of international intervention in local conflicts could not be sustained.  The international community was currently witnessing a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Darfur, where, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 10,000 people were dying every month.  Countries must work together to enforce recent Security Council resolutions to rectify the situation and prevent the unfolding tragedy.  History would not forgive those who stood in the way of protecting the 1.5 million refugees in the region, and of their safe return to their homes.

    Strong international support was also necessary to meet the challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan, he continued. That included ending the production and trafficking of drugs. Afghanistan provided about 75 per cent of the world trade in opiates, which funded warlords and organized crime, and undermined the ability of legitimate government to function.  Deploring the violence in Iraq that had killed and maimed so many people, he called on those who continued to sacrifice innocent lives to end their violence.  They now had access to a political process that they should use to promote their views and interests.  A credible election process was crucial to creating an Iraqi Government with a popular mandate, but adequate security was needed for that to occur.

    * *** *