Press Releases

    GA/10284
    27 October 2004

    General Assembly Takes Up Annual Report of Economic and Social Council, Culture of Peace, Role of Sport in Peace, Development

    NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- Taking up the annual report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), for the first time in its entirety, the General Assembly today considered the year-round work of the central United Nations forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and which coordinates the activities of the Organization’s specialized agencies.

    Introducing the report, Council President Marjatta Rasi (Finland) said that over the past few years, the ECOSOC had made significant strides in addressing the international development agenda in a holistic and coordinated manner.  The Council aimed to tackle the development challenges of the day, and had promoted integrated implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations conferences and summits by effectively coordinating the activities of the United Nations system, by providing a forum for dialogue on the emerging challenges of development, their policy implications and how to design effective international responses. 

    While delegations supported the notion of a new global human order, which the representative of Guyana called a genuine and earnest attempt to find common ground on which future international cooperation could be solidly founded -- aiming to redistribute global wealth and put global poverty in check -- many speakers urged the Council to do more in managing globalization and promoting equitable socio-economic development. They joined the representative of Pakistan in urging the ECOSOC to optimize its resources and opportunities -- including an improvement in its work programme -- and serve as an instrument to strengthen multilateralism.

    Some speakers praised the measures taken recently to recentre the Council’s agenda, particularly towards follow-up of the major United Nations conferences, but several saw little progress in other areas.  Belarus’ representative regretted that the ECOSOC had not managed to fully perform its mandate of effectively monitoring and organizing the work of its functional commissions.  It was important to pass from routine automatic approval of reports and decisions of those commissions to comprehensive analysis, and, if necessary, to correct those decisions.

    Thailand’s representative said the ECOSOC’s credibility depended on its ability to respond more timely and flexibly to current crises or opportunities.  As a result, it might be imperative for the body to enjoy the flexibility of holding more focused, ad hoc sessions on critical and urgent issues.  In order to increase its visibility and political profile, the ECOSOC would need to increase its expertise and specialization in economic and social issues, she added.

    Noting that in the past, relevant sections of the Council’s report had been discussed in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), which would then provided delegations the opportunity to present their cases in detail and to hear suggestions tailored to their needs, the representative of Honduras was concerned that reform measures adopted last year moved the discussion of the report directly into the Assembly, depriving developing countries of an essential step of dialogue and negotiation. A mechanism needed to be found to correct what now amounted to a gap in communication between delegations and the Council, he said.

    When the Assembly turned its attention to sport, the representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that sport could be used as a powerful promoter of development and peace.  Sport also promoted the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play, and taught teamwork, discipline, leadership, trust, respect for others, and even coping skills.

    The representative of the United States said her Government supported international athletic competitions because they promoted understanding and respect for cultural diversity, fostered international partnerships, and increased greater awareness of global social issues, such as human rights, the role of women in society, and drug prevention.  Moreover, they generated a deep sense of national pride.  She hoped that the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (2005) would further dialogue around the world, as sport could be a useful tool of diplomacy.

    The representative of China, set to host the 2008 Olympic Games and the Thirteenth Paralympic Games, said his Government and the Chinese people were working and doing everything they could to prepare.  The construction of stadiums and facilities and preparations for an environmental, social and urban infrastructure were all under way.  China would continue to work with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other governments to display the Olympic spirit.  It would do its utmost to make the Games a wonderful occasion to maintain peace, promote development and enhance exchange among civilizations.

    In addition, the Assembly began its evaluation of global efforts to support the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), ahead of the Secretary-General’s mid-term progress report to be submitted next year.  The Assembly’s interim consideration follows up on implementation of the 1999 Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace, which promotes, among others, solidarity and tolerance among all civilizations and cultures, including towards ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

    The representatives of Tunisia and Philippines introduced draft resolutions on, respectively, sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, and the promotion of cooperation among religions.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Jamaica, Iceland, Haiti, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and El Salvador.

    The Assembly will meet again tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. to continue and conclude its joint debate on matters related to the culture of peace and sport for peace and development.  It is also expected to begin its discussion on follow-up to the 2002 special session on children.

    Background

    The General Assembly met this afternoon to discuss the Report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the role of the United Nations in promoting a new global human order.  Its joint debate was also expected to include consideration of matters related to sport and peace for development and the follow-up to the outcome of the 2002 special session on children.

    Reports

    The Assembly will have before it the ECOSOC’s annual report (document A/59/3 and Add.1), which details that body’s work for the year, including an accounting of its special high-level meeting this past spring with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as its annual high-level segment, which was devoted to resource mobilization and enabling environment for poverty eradication in the context of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010.  An addendum to the report lists the composition of the Council and its subsidiary and related bodies. 

    The Assembly will also consider a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the 2004 Population Award (document A/59/160).  This year, two Australians dedicated to groundbreaking work on some of Africa's greatest challenges received the Award in New York.  The individual award went to demographer John Caldwell, who has done extensive research on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, while the award for an institution went to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, a vital service that Dr. Catherine Hamlin helped establish in Ethiopia over 30 years ago.

    The annual Award honours individuals and institutions for their outstanding work in the field of population and in the improvement of the health and welfare of individuals. The Award Committee, chaired by Ambassador Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury of Bangladesh, selected the winners after reviewing nominations received from around the world. The Committee is made up of United Nations Member States, with the UNFPA as its secretariat. Each winner received a certificate, a gold medal and an equal share of a monetary prize. The report also notes that, as at 1 January 2004, the Trust Fund had a total of $736,308.  Interest income in 2003 was $13,277.  Expenditures in 2004, including the prizes, totalled $46,759.

    Also before the Assembly is the Secretary-General’s report on public administration and development (document A/59/346), which outlines proposals for commemorating, during the Assembly’s sixty-first session, the tenth anniversary of its resumed fiftieth session on public administration and development.  It suggests that the commemoration could be an opportune time to evaluate progress made in revitalizing public administration and to share successful experiences that have contributed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

    In that context, the report recalls the April 2004 recommendations formulated by the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on repositioning and revitalizing public administration to accelerate process in achieving development goals, and sets forth a number of benchmarks that could guide countries in this process.

    The report also draws the Assembly’s attention to recommendations on preparatory and supporting actions that could be taken in connection with the anniversary’s observance, including hosting the Global Forum on Reinventing Government at Headquarters in 2006; devoting the ECOSOC’s high-level segment in 2006 to the changing role of administration; and celebrating United Nations Public Service Day and the presentation of the Organization’s Public Service Awards in a more visible manner.

    On matters related to the culture of peace, the Assembly has before it the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010) (document A/59/223), which was prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  It follows four other reports, which provide the strategy for the implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and the International Decade.

    In the report, the Secretary-General states that, in the present international context, it is fundamental to renew the common commitment to a true culture of peace by strengthening efforts to develop dialogue and mutual understanding. One aspect of this is to create a dialogue among civilizations by building bridges between cultures and communities. In this context, the UNESCO General Conference endorsed the 2003 New Delhi Declaration and the “Message from Ohrid”, adopted by the Regional Forum on Dialogue among Civilizations.

    Those messages set out new approaches, concepts and perspectives, using the vectors of education, science and technology, cultural diversity, the media and information and communication technologies (ICT), with a view to construct a framework for dialogue, particularly at the regional and subregional levels. To confront current challenges, it is necessary to act in a holistic and coherent manner -- and the International Decade provides a comprehensive framework for such action.

    According to the report, the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace have stressed the way in which different action areas have to be combined, leading to joint relevant activities. The efforts of various United Nations agencies, programmes and research institutions are, therefore, an important contribution to the overall objectives of the Decade. To further advance the concept, close inter-agency cooperation might be desirable, especially as the Decade’s midpoint approaches. At the country level, resource mobilization for various kinds of activities will be critical for sustaining the momentum of, and renewing commitment to, the International Decade.

    Before the Assembly is another note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the UNESCO Director-General on promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation (document A/59/201), which focuses on three topics:  the use of education as a means of promoting sustainable tolerance and peace; an overview of the activities designed to promote inter-religious dialogue; and the implementation of activities in support of dialogue among civilizations, which has become the principle focus of the organization’s efforts. The report concludes that inter-religious dialogue is an important part of dialogue among civilizations.  It implies dialogue both among religions and within a single religion.

    Indeed, the key issue raised by the dialogue is the place of ethics in the relationship between societies, peoples and individuals. Hence, inter-religious dialogue constitutes an essential element of the dialogue among civilizations. In keeping with its ethical and intellectual mandate, the UNESCO, working with other United Nations organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia, continue to promote its programme on inter-religious dialogue, particularly since religious intolerance still exists. The report adds that it is vital for the international community to encourage inter-religious organizations and movements working for peace to engage in active dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the values of pluralism. 

    By the terms of a draft resolution on promotion of cooperation among religions (document A/59/L.15), the Assembly would affirm that cooperation among religions constitutes an essential element of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace. It would also request the Secretary-General to bring the matter of cooperation among religions to the attention of all governments and relevant international organizations, in order to obtain their views and comments and to submit a report on his findings by next year.

    On sport for peace and development, the Assembly has before it the Secretary-General’s report on the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (2005) (document A/59/268), which describes current and planned activities, initiatives and networking at the international, national and local levels and provides examples of the potential of sports-related projects and programmes for the promotion of health, education, development and peace. It also provides examples of partnership initiatives among governmental organizations, as well as with vibrant civic groups concerned with the area.

    The report also details the Organization’s efforts to formulate a public information strategy for the Year, and notes that a logo has been approved and a complementary slogan is being worked on.  Since 2005 has also been marked the International Year of Microcredit, the lead agencies will work closely to develop synergies, as well as to reduce costs and maximize impact. It also notes that a framework will have to be developed for long-range activities beyond 2005, as well as confirming a launch day for the Year, and developing a calendar of events.

    By the terms of the draft resolution on sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace (document A/59/L.9), the Assembly would decide to launch the International Year of Sport and Physical Education on 27 October 2004. It would also invite governments, appropriate bodies of the United Nations system and sports-related institutions to, among other things, organize events to promote the role of sport and physical education for all when furthering their development programmes and policies, to advance health awareness, the spirit of achievement and cultural bridging and to entrench collective values. 

    The report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to the United Nations special session on children (document A/59/274) provides an update on progress in realizing the commitments set out in that meeting’s final document “A World Fit for Children”, with a view to identifying problems and constraints and making recommendations on actions needed to achieve further progress.

    The final section of the report -- “Ways Forward” -- notes that in the two years since the adoption of the session’s outcome, there have been numerous but often isolated examples or rapid progress in both individual countries and regions.  Those examples demonstrate accelerated progress is possible but also that current efforts need to be scaled up and better supported, both by resource allocations and by action at the political level. 

    Two notable innovations since 2002 are the recognition of children and young people as a major constituency and their involvement in many government-led decision-making processes. The report stresses that the United Nations system will continue to support the aims of the special session, with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) working closely with governments and other international partners for the collection and dissemination of information on progress and experience gained in the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action.

    ECOSOC Report, New Global Human Order

    ECOSOC President MARJATTA RASI (Finland), introducing that body’s report, said that over the past few years, the ECOSOC had made significant strides in addressing the international development agenda in a holistic, coherent, coordinated manner. It had done so largely by brining together important institutional stakeholders at one forum to address the development challenges of the day.  The Council promoted integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations conferences and summits, by effectively coordinating the activities of the United Nations system, by providing a forum for dialogue on the emerging challenges of development, their policy implications and how to design effective international responses.  That had enabled the Council to attract a large number of high-level policy makers, heads of United Nations bodies and stakeholders, including civic actors.

    She went on to discuss the specifics of the Council’s 2004 agenda, highlighting, among other things, the policy dialogue of its high-level segment on the world economic situation and international cooperation, and the high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO. This year, that meeting focused on specific areas of the Monterrey Consensus -- adopted in 2002 by the International Conference on Financing for Development -- and their impact on the attainment of the Millennium Goals.  It also helped maintain the political momentum on financing for development, build a closer relationship with the international financial institutions and led to the development of a strategic platform where actions in support of the Consensus were discussed.

    During the Council’s high-level segment, delegations had addressed the extremely important theme of resource mobilization and enabling environment for poverty eradication in the least developed countries.  She then touched on each of the Council’s other segments including general, operational, and coordination segments, which had specifically achieved significant progress on the issue of gender mainstreaming and had reviewed United Nations support for rural development in developing countries.  She highlighted another important and innovative event, joining the Council’s operational and humanitarian affairs segments to discuss the issue of transition from relief to development, where delegations stressed the need to develop a common understanding of when transition began and how rehabilitation and reconstruction should be linked.

    One of the Council’s major contributions had been its increasing involvement with countries emerging from conflict and the increasing collaboration with the Security Council in such matters, she said, particularly noting the work of the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on Guinea-Bissau and Burundi.  In the area of conflict prevention, the Council had decided in July to reactivate its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, which would focus on a long-term development strategy for that country. The ECOSOC was perhaps the only United Nations body which had shown the immense capacity to reform, innovate and adapt to changing realities. That process had been ongoing, and the Council looked forward to further enhancing its role.  It also looked forward to the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change to provide further impetus.  Finally, she acknowledged the effective participation of NGOs in this session of the Council’s work.

    CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the evolving process of globalization was leading to greater integration of markets, larger economies of scale, and higher levels of prosperity for some.  At the same time, there were also growing inequalities in the distribution of its benefits.  Disparities between rich and poor within and among countries had increased, and that had an adverse impact on human development.  Those challenges facing the international community suggested the need for coherent multilateral approaches in addressing today’s global problems.

    He believed that the concept of a new global human order offered a framework for integrating the economic, environmental, social, cultural and political aspects of development. It was opportune to operationalize that approach to development under the ambit of the United Nations, he continued, given that the underlying objective of the new global human order could provide a sound platform, not only for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but also for the promotion of development over the long-term.  That would be a central challenge as States prepared for next year’s review summit.

    BAYNEY KARRAN (Guyana) said development policies over the past decade had been discussed largely in terms of whether or not they enabled a country to take full advantage of a world economy that was [more] closely integrated than at any other time in history. Far from the goal of redistributing global wealth that animated most of the development discourse since the 1960s, “we appear to be faced instead with the redistribution of global poverty”, he said. 

    The new global human order, he said, was a genuine and earnest attempt to find common ground on which future international cooperation could be solidly founded and to provide a comprehensive and holistic framework for development cooperation. Far from competing with other initiatives and proposals already in existence and currently being pursued, it was intended as a complementary device for facilitating consensus on what actions needed to be taken. Conceivably, it could also serve as a safety valve if, or when, the established negotiating process floundered or failed.

    The central challenge for the international community was to find the political will to energize efforts to create a new development paradigm for the twenty-first century, he said. The new global human order was not a stand-alone process on development, but instead an all-embracing solution to the challenges of that process. Therefore, he would work with Member States to present a resolution to address the next steps in the consideration of the proposal for the new global human order.

    STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said that over the past year, the Council had made good progress on the discharge of its mandate, as well as in reaching decisions on most issues before it, even though a few matters remained unresolved. The high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions had provided a welcome opportunity for dialogue and exchange of views on the implementation of commitments and on the management of the global economy. It was particularly important to maximize the potential of such a forum to influence decision-making on macroeconomic policies and development cooperation. Also, more effort should be made to ensure that the high-level segment’s outcome went beyond presidential summaries and that it would be more practical and action-oriented.

    He went on to urge the Council to continue to improve its preparatory processes to ensure that the discussions were more narrowly focused; one day did not allow enough time to handle too broad an agenda. Touching on the accomplishments during each of the Council’s segments, he noted, nevertheless, that some elements of the work were still outstanding and that more time needed to be given to examine the work and decisions of the Council’s subsidiary bodies. He had been disappointed that there had been some resistance to discussion of international tax matters. The advantages of reforms in that area were clear. There was no hidden agenda, he said, adding that the objective was cooperation through the establishment of an intergovernmental structure, which was inclusive and broadly representative. He hoped that issue would be completed during the resumed session next week.  He also stressed the need for the issue of Council reform to move from the discussion phase to the consideration and adoption of concrete proposals.

    IGOR KRASNOV (Belarus) said it was regrettable that the Economic and Social Council had not managed to fully perform its mandate of effectively monitoring and organizing the work of its functional commissions. It was important to pass from routine automatic approval of reports and decisions of those commissions to comprehensive analysis, and, if necessary, to correct those decisions. The role of the Council in the coordination and strategic guidance of United Nations operational activities should be further enhanced. That body should also further strengthen its interaction with the Security Council, in order to combine efforts for the creation of favourable conditions for the reconstruction and development of States which had suffered from armed conflicts.

    The ECOSOC’s 2005 substantive session should serve as an important stage for the review of the implementation of decisions adopted at the Millennium Summit and other major international forums recently held under the aegis of the United Nations in socio-economic and related fields. Like the Organization, the ECOSOC too was at a difficult stage of reform and revitalization. Belarus, with the necessary experience and knowledge, was ready to make its own constructive contribution to that process.  It was on that basis that it aspirated to be elected to the Council for the term 2007-2009.

    SALEEM SAIFULLAH KHAN (Pakistan) said it was regrettable that, despite consultations during the substantive session, except for the theme for 2005, Member States were unable to reach an agreement on the themes for the multi-year work programme. He was, however, encouraged to see the ECOSOC assume an active role in a number of key areas, by spearheading important initiatives in the past years. The Manifesto on Poverty provided the conceptual basis for the Millennium Development Goals. Similarly, the establishment of the Information Communication Technologies Task Force, the endorsement of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the holding of the International Conference on Financing for Development would not have been possible without the substantive input of the ECOSOC.

    The ambit of the Council’s activities was undergoing a positive expansion, which was a welcome development, he said. Development issues had economic and social dimensions, and the two were becoming increasingly intertwined. An integrated approach to economic and social development would avoid duplication and overlap, in addition to ensuring strengthened coordination and utilization of resources at all levels. He added that a major shortcoming commonly attributed to the ECOSOC was its inability to enforce decisions and its relative powerlessness in comparison to the international financial, trade and economic institutions. 

    The ECOSOC, he continued, should optimize its resources and opportunities, including an improvement in its programme of work, and serve as an instrument to strengthen multilateralism.  It should play a role in managing globalization and promoting equitable socio-economic development, as well as play a role in the preparations for the 2005 event, which would focus on follow-up to the Millennium Summit and other United Nations conferences. The process of United Nations reform would not be complete without according equal emphasis to enhancing the role of the Organization in promoting a global development agenda, and by empowering its various organs, including the ECOSOC.

    HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said that while the international community had committed to addressing the problems and challenges facing the poorest nations, progress had been mixed.  Although a number of nations had progressed at an unparalleled rate, others had lost headway and needed urgent attention. Concerted efforts were required to accelerate progress to meet internationally agreed goals. 

    He said the theme of the 2005 Economic and Social Council high-level and coordination segments was particularly relevant, adding that those meetings would constitute a major input into the Assembly’s 2005 high-level review. There would be important events next year with regard to women’s issues and the promotion of gender equality.  The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) would be dedicated to the review of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. 

    The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights declared that all human rights were universal and inalienable, he noted. The protection and promotion of human rights was a primary responsibility of governments. As such, he was deeply concerned that the ECOSOC failed to approve a resolution last summer to reverse the decision of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Human Rights and Human Responsibilities. The Commission’s decision, together with the pre-draft declaration on human rights and human responsibilities, constituted a direct assault on the foundations of human rights and international human rights law by claiming that such rights were conditional.

    FRIZNEL AZOR (Haiti) said the weakening of institutions in developing countries was without doubt a serious break in socio-economic development, often impeding such development and favouring corruption. In that context, one could not deny the vital role that efficient public administration could play in negating adverse socio-economic conditions and creating wealth.  Equity, transparency and accountability would improve public administration. 

    It was also necessary, he continued, to strengthen State institutions, provide proper training and adequate human resources, and properly use technologies. Failure to respect such requirements often harmed the proper functioning of public administration and more often than not led to acts of irresponsibility and corruption. Also, the qualifications of officials must be commensurate with the responsibilities assigned to them.  National institutions that were weakened must be strengthened if they were to be reassigned the functions they were originally given. He welcomed international assistance to strengthen his country’s institutions. 

    He said the issue of creating a new global human order had long been the concern of philosophers.  The founders of the Organization, and later the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, had respect for the integrity of human beings and of their social and economic rights.  Human beings had to be restored to their true place and the Millennium Declaration was a model to help achieve that.  Racism, xenophobia, the systematic violation of human rights, terrorism and HIV/AIDS were great threats to mankind, as were hunger and poverty. Saying the challenges were clear cut, he called on leaders to invest more to address them.

    PHANTIPHA IAMSUDHA (Thailand) said she firmly believed that the realization of a people-centred approach to development and the empowerment of individuals, particularly through the goals of poverty eradication, achieving full employment and enhancing social integration, were inextricably linked to international peace and security. The Millennium Goals could serve as a basis for defining a more action-oriented ECOSOC and providing more focus to its agenda. However, the ECOSOC should be given an increased and clearly defined role as a forum for reviewing and evaluating United Nations system-wide efforts to achieve the Goals. The ECOSOC’s credibility depended on its ability to respond more timely and flexibly to current crises or opportunities.  As a result, it might be imperative for the ECOSOC to enjoy the flexibility of holding more ad hoc, focused sessions on critical and urgent issues.

    In order to increase its visibility and political profile, the ECOSOC would need to increase its expertise and specialization in economic and social issues, she said.  The Council might also benefit from the convening of increased high-level policy debates on cross-sectoral economic and social development issues.  With regard to its relationship with other bodies, the ECOSOC should continue to develop public-private partnerships and increase public awareness of development issues. It should also develop more established coordination with international financial organizations and regional economic groupings by encouraging the organizations to present their annual reports for the Council’s comment and evaluation. The ECOSOC also needed to expand its coordination with the Security Council on specific economic situations, as well as enhance coordination with the Assembly.

    YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said he was pleased to note an incremental and closer engagement of the Economic and Social Council in promoting economic and social development through its policy guidance and recommendations.  He recognized the important role of the Council in ensuring coordinated follow-up to and implementation of all major United Nations conferences and summits. The elaboration of the multi-year work programme based on a cross-sectoral approach contributed to strengthening the Council’s role in the review and follow-up process.

    He emphasized the importance of increased interaction between the ECOSOC and international financial and trade institutions. The spring meeting of the Council, on financing for development, was an important dialogue for promoting coherence and preserving collaborative approaches, and for evaluating the efficiency of the follow-up to Monterrey.  In the implementation process, he added, the support of the functional commissions was crucial.  He also stood for the strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and valued efforts toward streamlining the ECOSOC’s working methods.

    MARCO SUAZO (Honduras) said the Council’s report was particularly important for developing and least developed countries, and small island developing States (SIDS).  Honduras fell into those categories and was, therefore, concerned by the procedural changes that had led to today’s first-ever discussion of the report in its entirety by the Assembly. In the past, the relevant sections of the document had been discussed in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), which provided delegations the opportunity to present their cases in detail and to hear suggestions tailored to their needs. The Second Committee then made its recommendations on which the Assembly would subsequently act.

    But the reform measures adopted last year moved the discussion of the report directly into the plenary, he continued, and with that many delegations had been deprived of that essential step of dialogue and negotiation.  A mechanism needed to be found to correct what now amounted to a gap in communication between delegations and the Council.  The most challenged countries on the planet could not be deprived of that outlet.  On other matters, he stressed the need for greater and better coordination between the ECOSOC and the Security Council.  Later in the discussions he added, his delegation would present a draft resolution on public administration and development, which would focus on combating corruption; placing information technology at the service of civilian populations; and promoting e-government, among other things.  His delegation would also participate in discussions on finding ways to place specific items on the agenda of the Second Committee.

    Culture of Peace, Sport for Peace and Development

    ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) introducing the draft resolution on sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace (document A/59/L.9), said he hoped the text would receive support from all delegations. Both sport and education were important for physical and mental health. He reaffirmed that the dimensions of the resolution were at the heart of the Millennium Declaration, which requested above all cooperation, dialogue and coordination.  It was up to the international community to establish the foundations and related activities, and to stop factors that impeded physical and mental development, particularly steroid abuse and the use of sport for commercial purposes.  Athletes must be used to protect athletes from the latter.

    Those who flouted the rules of sport and went against fair play must be confronted, he stressed.  Health, development, sport and peace were four dimensions that the United Nations must focus on.  He hoped initiatives would be put in place to help the resolution achieve its objectives, that there would be an international convention to combat the use of steroids and that a code of conduct would be established.  The draft resolution, he noted, proposed measures for sport and education that would make the world safer.  He hoped that the Secretary-General would launch the International Year of Sport and Physical Education on 5 November, as per the oral amendment he read out.

    LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) introduced the draft resolution on the promotion of cooperation among religions (document A/59/L.15), the first draft of which had been introduced last year, and whose concept had been allowed to germinate since then. Recent positive developments had reinforced his belief that now was an opportune moment to introduce a revised version.  First, the Panel of Eminent Persons, created by the Secretary-General last year to review the relationship between the United Nations and civil society, reported that religious and spiritual groups deserved greater attention by the Organization because of their explicit representational role or wide membership.  Such groups provided powerful community leadership; shaped public opinion; provided advice on ethical matters; facilitated reconciliation between conflicting communities; and identified the needs of vulnerable groups. 

    Secondly, he said, the UNESCO had stated that a particularly important dimension of the dialogue among civilizations was inter-religious dialogue, which implied both dialogue among religions and within a single religion.  The key issue raised by the dialogue among civilizations was the place of ethics in the relationship between societies, people and individuals.  The UNESCO had also stated that world religions and beliefs could contribute tremendously to the promotion of a culture of peace if they could resolve to collectively face the problems confronting the world today, such as terrorism and sectarian violence, while practicing tolerance within their respective religious communities and in their interfaith relations.

    Thirdly, he added, the heads of State and government of the Asia-Europe Meeting had decided, at their summit early this month in Hanoi, to launch an initiative called interfaith dialogue. The theme was to build interfaith harmony within the international community. He called for the activation of the caucus of that Meeting in the United Nations to push that idea forward. 

    CHRISTOPHER HACKETT (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, said that sport could be used as a powerful promoter of development and peace.  Sport was a participatory way for children and young people to learn values and lessons that could be long lasting.  Sport also promoted the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play, and taught teamwork, discipline, leadership, trust, respect for others, and even coping skills. Sports could provide the supportive and self-sustaining environment that could help prepare young people to meet the difficult challenges that they were most certain to experience in their lives.

    The CARICOM countries, he continued, had a long history in using sport in schools for such child development purposes. Changing social values were, however, creating new challenges for successfully incorporating sports in that way, and the CARICOM looked forward to working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNESCO in incorporating sports and physical education into some of their country and regional Caribbean programmes.  He also encouraged the UNICEF to include the global and regional governing bodies of cricket-playing countries in their partnerships with the sports world.

    ZHANG YISHAN (China) said his Government attached importance to the development of sport, and its fundamental goal was to improve people’s health.  Since 1995, when China promulgated the “Program of Building Up National Health”, his nation had seen a series of achievements in the area of sports.  Public awareness of health issues were raised, sport activities mushroomed and physical education was a major course at the primary, secondary and tertiary educational levels.  During this year’s Olympic Games, the Chinese team won 32 gold medals, a historic record.  At the Twelfth Paralympics, the Chinese team ranked first in gold medals and in the total number of medals.

    In 2008, China would host the Olympic Games and the  Thirteenth Paralympic Games, he said.  His Government and the Chinese people were working and doing everything they could to prepare.  The construction of stadiums and facilities and preparations for an environmental, social and urban infrastructure were all underway. China would continue to work with the International Olympic Committee and other governments to display the Olympic spirit. It would do its utmost to make the Games a wonderful occasion to maintain peace, promote development and enhance exchange among civilizations.

    PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said that the report and draft resolution on the issue of sport underlined, once again, that sports could make a remarkable contribution to the promotion of peace and the pursuit of several development goals, whether such goals were individual, social, cultural or economic.  Sport conveyed fundamental human values that corresponded to those of the United Nations Charter, such as respect for opponents, acceptance of rules, fair play and team spirit.  Switzerland had taken a variety of measures to promote the effective use of sport for peace and development, such as organizing an International Conference on Sport and Development in 2003, and supporting numerous projects and programmes in which sport was considered as a means of achieving human, social and economic goals.

    At the international level, Switzerland intended to provide financing and logistical support to the United Nations Office in Geneva for the International Year of Sport and Physical Education.  His country would also organize the second International Conference on Sport and Development in Macolin from 4 to 6 December 2005.  Switzerland would also continue systematically to integrate sport in development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and to strengthen its role by regularly exchanging information with bilateral and multilateral development organizations.  At the national level, Switzerland had established a committee for the International Year that consisted of government bodies, sport associations, NGOs and representatives of business and science.

    SUSAN MOORE (United States) said her Government supported international athletic competitions because they promoted understanding and respect for cultural diversity, fostered international partnerships, and increased greater awareness of global social issues, such as human rights, the role of women in society, and drug prevention.  Moreover, they generated a deep sense of national pride.  The report correctly stated that sport brought individuals and communities together, and that it could be a powerful vehicle through which the United Nations could work toward achieving its goals.

    She hoped that the International Year would further dialogue around the world, as sport could be a useful tool of diplomacy.  Among its sport diplomacy programmes were those to help educators teach children the importance of diversity and cultural understanding, done in connection with the National Football League, and foreign citizens studying in the United States as Fulbright Scholars.  During 2005, she said the United States would host major athletic events, such as championships in speed skating, luge and track cycling, among others. Those types of exchanges forged constructive partnerships within the international community, not only between athletes but also between organizers, hosts and spectators.  She added that sport exercised a deep hold on the human imagination, and it also transcended all perceived barriers across ethnicities, ages, genders, religions, and abilities.

    MOHAMED OBAID AL KATTAM AL ZAABI (United Arab Emirates) welcomed initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation and partnership between the United Nations system and the International Olympic Committee, and their joint activities to advance development, humanitarian assistance, protection of the environment and the improvement of health and educational services.  He stressed the need to exert special efforts to assist developing nations, especially small and poor countries, to rebuild their infrastructure to enable them to participate in the Olympic Games and fulfil their training requirements.

    Great attention had been devoted to promote sport in the youth sector, in particular traditional sport and leisure activities.  Efforts made in that direction resulted in the establishment of the Zayed Sport City, the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport, and the National Olympic Committee, which supervised the strategies aimed at advancing sport activities.  In addition, budgets were allocated to promote the establishment of new and modern sport clubs, associations and specialized teams across the country.  As a result, the number of sport clubs had increased from 8 in 1970 to 31; the number of associations and unions increased from 3 in 1973 to 23.

    Sport and physical education should hold a fundamental place in the educational system, he said, adding that sport contributed to physical, psychological and social balance among children and youth.  His country had incorporated physical education in its educational system, including in primary education and at the university level.  In addition, leisure activities were vigorously pursued, including boy and girl scouts activities, which had become one of the most active movements in Asia.  He hoped the observance 2005 as the International Year for Sport and Physical Education would serve to promote the concept of sport for all.  Also, he looked forward to reaching an international consensus on the elaboration of an anti-doping convention to combat the drug abuse in sports.

    PHUCHPHOP MONGKOLNAVIN (Thailand) said he attached paramount importance to the culture of peace, which was necessary for today’s world, in which violence and terror were commonplace.  His Government viewed the promotion of sports and health care, as well as using sport as a means to promote child development and fight against drug addiction, as national policies.  Not only was sport important to Thailand because it helped people live a healthier lifestyle, but it also promoted social interaction, relationships and business partnerships, as well as cultivated a culture of peace.  Every person, both young and old, could benefit from sport.  Children, in particular, could benefit tremendously from sport, as it helped them in their overall development process, promoted their self-expression, and helped build social connections, as well as kept them away from illegal activities, such as drugs and crime.

    Domestically, his Government had introduced many initiatives this year to promote awareness and better understanding of the value of sport.  They included a countrywide outdoor aerobics event, with the Prime Minister playing an instrumental role.  In a time when conflicts were increasing, sport could play a crucial role in bringing people together after the conflict had ended, promoting trust and friendship, and helping in the reconstruction process of a community.  The United Nations had an important role to play in promoting sport in that regard, and he supported the creation of a code of good practice to enhance cooperation between Member States and international sports bodies.

    HAJRA TARIQ AZIZ (Pakistan) said the Declaration on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the Assembly in 1999, proclaimed that the development of a culture of peace was integrally linked to the rights of all people to self-determination.  The Declaration further called for the elimination of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Following “9/11”, suspicions and misunderstandings between different faiths and cultures had been accentuated.  Some had utilized that to advance their self-serving thesis of an inevitable clash of civilizations, others had exploited it to justify the repression of people of other faiths and cultures.  Such dangerous trends, she said, were deliberately fuelled by those who believed they would gain from a clash of religions and cultures.  Cooperation must be the paradigm for collective endeavours.  The promotion of understanding, harmony and cooperation among religions was the indispensable avenue through which the veil of ignorance would be lifted.

    The key issue raised by the dialogue among civilizations was the place of ethics in the relationship between societies, peoples and individuals, she said.  It was vital that the international community encourage inter-religious organizations and movements working for peace to engage in a more active dialogue with a view to promoting harmony and coexistence.  Ethnicity, religion, culture, language or race should not be allowed to become a source of divisiveness.  She recalled that General Pervez Musharraf had outlined a concrete strategy of Enlightened Moderation, which sought to promote socio-economic emancipation, human resource development, and a just and peaceful resolution to disputes.  Enlightened Moderation was a vital strategic option to prevent the current international system from dissolving into interminable conflict and strife.

    YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV (Kazakhstan) said the report provided an overall strategy of the international community regarding the implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.  It also reflected a broad range of activities carried out by the United Nations system, international institutions and civil society, which together had made an important contribution to the objectives of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.  Resolution 58/128 underlined the importance of promoting understanding and tolerance among people in all their diverse religions, beliefs, cultures and languages.  Kazakhstan shared the view that under current conditions, it was fundamental to renew the common commitment to a true culture of peace by strengthening efforts to develop dialogue and mutual understanding.

    Resolution 58/5, he continued, recognized the important role of sport in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.  Sport had become a powerful instrument by which the Organization could work toward achieving its important goals.  He believed that proclamation of the year 2005 as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education would broaden the general perception of sport and encourage further development of intercultural, post-conflict, and peace-building dialogue.  He also concurred with the view that the practice of sport was vital to the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical and emotional health.

    CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO (El Salvador) said her country had learned how to turn a signed peace into real peace.  But such peace was only possible if there was resolve by those who had laid down their weapons to consider ideas.  Her country was dedicated to working with the United Nations to find peaceful solutions to conflicts.  But new threats had arisen, which transcended borders and necessitated finding mechanisms to address them, as well the related deteriorating socio-economic conditions. The manifestations of international terrorism and its destabilizing effects compelled the international community to redouble efforts to promote a dialogue among religions and civilizations. 

    Now was the time for the international community to direct its activities towards specific actions to build a culture of peace, she said.  Peace was an evolving and dynamic process involving society and was not just the lack of conflict.  Salvadoreans, who were witnesses to peace, knew that it was only possible through national reconciliation.  She also stressed that there could be no peace without development.  In his report, the Secretary-General had raised important points for consideration, which must be kept in mind as “we embark on the process of a culture of peace”, she said.  There was a need to disseminate values that fostered peace, or it could not be sustained.  Today, the right to peace was one of the fundamental pillars of human rights.

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