Press Releases

    GA/10393
    23 September 2005

    As Annual Assembly Debate Continues, Speakers Express Support for Peacebuilding Commission, Highlight Special Needs of Small Islands, among Other Issues

    NEW YORK, 22 September (UN Headquarters) -- As the General Assembly continued its annual high-level debate, speakers expressed support for the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission, which they emphasized would go a long way to assisting countries emerging from conflict, and also drew attention to the special vulnerabilities faced by small island developing States, among other issues.

    Belgium's Foreign Minister, Karel de Gucht, said the situation in States devastated by conflict or civil war was one where leaders were unable to address the needs of their citizens.  The economy was often devastated and the population displaced, on the run or exposed to abuse.  Under the risk of becoming terrorist havens, such States had to find their way back to stability by rebuilding their institutions. The Peacebuilding Commission would give them the international assistance they needed.

    The Peacebuilding Commission would fill a void in the United Nations, added Croatia's Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.  Small States must be included in the Commission's membership, especially those that had experienced the transition from conflict to relief, and then to development. 

    Highlighting the situation of small island nations, Frederick A. Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service of the Bahamas, told delegates that democratic governance had brought the Caribbean region an enviable standard of living, which required significant continued investment.  The region was neither poor nor rich, but there was a tendency to forget that it required the support of the developed world.  That was evident in the policies on sugar and bananas.  He felt developed partners should invest particularly in education, health care and democracy in his region, not as a form of charity but as a sound, sensible investment for the future.

    The Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Billie A. Miller, said the Caribbean region faced severe challenges and constraints in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, due to their vulnerability to economic shocks and their exposure to natural disasters.  A full integration of Barbados into the globalized economy, for which a successful outcome of the Doha development round of trade talks would be crucial, was currently lacking. 

    Nevertheless, she added, "In all of the circumstances, we accept that the outcome of the High-Level Meeting provides a platform for coordinated international action in response to the complex and interconnected global challenges."

    Recalling a statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that no country, weak or strong, could realize prosperity in a vacuum, Palau's Ambassador, Stuart Beck, said such a vacuum existed in many small island developing States, including Palau.  Not a single United Nations representative could be found in the country to assist it in moving forward, and the United Nations flag did not fly there.  The United Nations had attempted to fill the vacuum through the creation of regional and sub-regional centres, which were quite distant from Palau's shores.  While arguably well intentioned, that tactic had failed to provide Palau with the required capacity-building. 

    Those centres, he continued, merely replicated the colonial regimes, which the Pacific islands had thrown off -- distant capitals making decisions about far-flung provinces.  To Palau, strengthening the United Nations meant strengthening its marginalized members.

    Also speaking today was the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, as well as senior ministers from Singapore, Congo, Jordan, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, Mozambique, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Libya, Philippines, Hungary, Senegal, Costa Rica and Saint Lucia. 

    The Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority also spoke, as did the Permanent Representatives of Yemen, Suriname, Fiji, Turkmenistan, Angola and Estonia. 

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan and Armenia.

    The Assembly will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 23 September.

    Background

    The General Assembly met today to continue its annual general debate.

    Statements

    DENZIL L. DOUGLAS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said there was an inherent link between poverty reduction and the promotion of human rights, economic development, security and good governance, but, unfortunately, the tendency among nations was to separate them.  The fruits of globalization still did not grow among the world's poorest, who had become further marginalized and had blamed their governments as a result.  The rift between rich and poor nations had deepened and mistrust had grown between developed and developing nations.

    Turning to the issue of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said that small nations like his, which were vulnerable to natural disasters and other external economic factors, needed developed nations to partner with them to provide preferred and deferential treatment in trade and access to markets in developed countries.

    Focusing on human rights and development, he said that his country highly valued the rights of the child and considered it the core issue when it came to protecting human rights.  The United Nations Development Index ranked Saint Kitts forty-ninth out of 177 countries -- the second highest ranking in the Caribbean.  Literacy rates, access to safe water and sanitation, and immunization against diseases like tuberculosis and measles were all in the ninetieth percentile.  But those achievements had come at a high cost.  Saint Kitts and Nevis had suffered from major hurricanes that caused over a half a billion dollars in damage, and had forced the country to allocate more money towards recovery and away from development.

    Expressing his dismay over unfair international trade policies and practices, he said that his country could no longer afford to compete "in a world market characterized by engineered low prices for sugar and the unfair trading practices of some countries".  After centuries of sugar production, and sale to the European market, the country had been forced to close a cornerstone of economic support for the nation due to continuous losses and escalating debts resulting in severe unemployment, and dramatic losses of urgently needed foreign exchanges.

    FREDERICK A. MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Public Service of the Bahamas, said last week's plenary was a much-needed reminder of the need for Member States to recommit themselves to the Organization's purposes and principles.  Democratic governance had brought the Caribbean region an enviable standard of living, but that required significant continued investment.  The region was neither poor nor rich, but there was a tendency to forget that it required the support of the developed world.  That was evident in the policies on sugar and bananas.  He felt developed partners should invest particularly in education, health care and democracy in his region, not as a form of charity but as a sound, sensible investment for the future.

    He said Haiti, as the region's poorest member, was the best example of where the Organization needed to do all it could to help.  While much had been given, many pledges of donor aid had not materialized.  It was also important to address the "democratic deficit" in many international economic, financial and trade institutions.  The unfairness of having unelected bodies impose mandates on developing economies without consulting those countries should be addressed by a global forum.  Reflecting on the damage of Hurricane Katrina, he said it was time to question whether such violent storms were cyclical or the result of climate change. 

    Another issue posing a threat to the security and economic development of Caribbean countries was the transhipment of nuclear waste through the region, which must cease.  By virtue of its geographical location, the Bahamas was also an unwitting transit point for illegal drugs and was unfairly blamed for the problem.  Consuming nations must increase their efforts to reduce demand within their borders.  Developed countries also needed to take the same extraordinary measures they used against drug trafficking to stop illegal arms from reaching the shores of his country. 

    He reiterated his support for management reform of the United Nations and said the Secretary-General should be given the authority and flexibility necessary to fulfil his functions.  Power in such matters as the redeployment of resources, however, should not be transferred from the General Assembly to the Secretary-General.  The General Assembly should remain the Organization's principal policy organ, with absolute powers in setting priorities.

    GEORGE YEO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said profiling by security agencies, particularly that of Muslims, had become widespread.  While it was understandable, and even legitimate, for societies to do some profiling to maintain their security, profiling could incite anger and resentment.  The feelings that profiling produced were aggravated by the fact that the West had become ascendant in the last centuries and that had created stress for non-Western cultures.  That was the context in which Muslim and non-Muslim relationships had to be viewed.  Maintaining harmonious relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims was a necessary part of the struggle against international terrorism.  There were two developments that must be understood. One was changes occurring within Islam; the other was the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims around the world.

    The response of Muslims to Western-dominated modernity would have an impact on the entire world in the current century, he said.  But, it was not clear that, following the decline of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century, the Muslim world would ever again reconverge with similar responses to modernity and the dominance of the Western world.  There now was a diversity of political and economic models from monarchies to secular governments in Muslim societies.  In the debate over the best response to the modern world, it was natural to look back with a romanticized notion to the time when the Islamic world was united.  Muslims had to be free to pursue that debate without intervention.  However, two factors necessitated exceptions to a stance of non-intervention.  First, the international community had to act against Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.  The second was the Muslim diaspora in non-Muslim countries.  Both the Muslims in those societies and the societies themselves had to make some adaptations to coexist.

    Ultimately, it was the Muslim community itself that had to prevent terrorism within its community, he said.  And, for the international community, pluralism was not a choice but a vital necessity.  It was necessary for everyone to translate principles into everyday practices.  Singapore, as a multicultural, multi-religious State, was particularly vulnerable to civil strife between ethnic, religious and other groups.  To address that strife, it had to call for restraint and concessions from all quarters.  So, for example, it had imposed constraints on both Christian missionaries and mosques that blared their messages into the street.  As the United Nations pursued the Millennium Goals, it would be crucial to recognize and celebrate diversity worldwide.

    KAREL DE GUCHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said the link between development, stability and human rights was acutely apparent in fragile or failing States, those devastated by conflict or civil war, or whose leaders were no longer able to address the needs of their citizenry.  Often, the economic situation in such States had dramatically deteriorated and much of their population was displaced, had fled, or was exposed to abuse and exploitation.  States were at risk of becoming places where terrorists thrived.  Such States had to find their way back towards peace and stability.  State institutions needed to be rebuilt.  The international community must help.  The establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission was crucial, particularly for sub-Saharan African countries.

    He said Belgium also placed great importance on the protection of human rights.  Democracy and respect for human rights were part of the world's common values and had to be incorporated into a global approach.  The responsibility to protect represented a major step forward in the search for solutions to glaring injustices.  Good governance was essential for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty, and went hand in hand with sovereignty.  Development was not just about money, but also involved the efficient use of resources.  The international community had shown its generosity, especially the European Union.  But it could not be responsible when States failed to protect or assist their own populations.

    Democracy and the rule of law were extremely important for the development of societies and for the security of States, he said.  Neither democracy nor rule of law could be artificially imposed from the outside.  There must be an equitable participation of populations in their own governance.  The shortest way to democracy and rule of law was the modernization of society.  It was the role of the international community to galvanize that process.  The international community had an important responsibility; its credibility was at stake.  The United Nations had a crucial role to play to create a more stable and prosperous world.

    RODOLPHE ADADA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Francophonie of the Congo, said the Organization's sixtieth anniversary occurred within a context of global terrorism, natural disasters and recurrent military conflicts.  Solidarity was necessary to deal with the daunting challenges of the future.  He was pleased with many of the World Summit's outcomes, including the plans for the creation of a Human Rights Council.  The Council, along with the International Criminal Court, would improve the machinery for protecting human rights.  However, he regretted that there was no mention of disarmament in the outcome document, even though nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and their trafficking posed the greatest threat to humanity.  The Congo sought the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

    Africa had always been a central concern of the United Nations, he said.  The Congo was pleased by the efforts of the international community in Burundi that had led to elections there.  African countries deserved and needed continued support.  While the reconciliation between north and south Sudan was a commendable achievement, that success should not cause the world community to forget Darfur and the humanitarian crisis there.  More action was urgently required to end that crisis.

    Peace and stability in the Congo were pivotal for peace and stability throughout Africa, he said.  The first summit concerning the Great Lakes Region in 2004 had aroused great hopes for the return of peace in that region.  There would be a second summit soon that would adopt a development and security programme.  Efforts in that region would be a unique experience in regional peacebuilding.  The President of the Congo urged that the Great Lakes region be designated a special development zone.  Nine out of eleven countries in central Africa were in post-conflict situations.  He appealed to the United Nations to act on the outcome of the multidisciplinary mission in June 2003 concerning Central Africa.

    Peacebuilding, fighting HIV/AIDS and re-establishing economic equilibrium were the priorities of the Congo's Government, he said.  It was urgently necessary for the disease of drépanocytose to be recognized as a major public health crisis and the combating of the disease had to be given top priority.  The Congo welcomed support for its quest for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2006-2007.

    KOLINDA GRABAR KITAROVIC, Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Croatia, said the United Nations was indispensable to building a better world. But the difficulty reaching agreement on the outcome document reflected the present state of the Assembly. Member States needed to move forward in assisting developing countries; the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council needed to be operationalized; and Secretariat management strengthened.  Comprehensive debt relief and better access to the markets of developed countries must be an outcome of the Doha round of trade talks, which would resume in Hong Kong.  The current level of aid was not enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Sub-Saharan Africa had stagnated and small island developing States had special vulnerabilities, she pointed out.

    She said Croatia was a country in transition, which sought to balance competing demands by including obligations in the area of the Millennium Goals within the context of other policy implementation.  Croatia was vitally interested in the preservation of its natural environment.  The fight against terrorism and organized crime was among the greatest challenges.  Croatia regretted that there was no meaningful process on disarmament and non-proliferation.  Security and development were vital for sustainable development.  The Peacebuilding Commission was needed to fill a void in the United Nations.  It was vital that small States were included in the Commission's membership, especially those which had experienced transition from conflict to relief and then development.  Croatia's enhanced cooperation with its neighbours would ensure the preconditions for the expansion of economic opportunities for South-East Europe.

    Croatia was contributing to more than half of United Nations peacekeeping operations, she said.  It was now ready to present its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.  Croatia welcomed the decision to establish a Human Rights Council, and was pleased to see agreement on the responsibility to protect in the Summit's outcome document. There needed to be effective mandates for principal organs within the United Nations.  The international community must not forget the pledges it had made.  That was the only way to accelerate progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and United Nations reform.

    FAROUK KASRAWI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said that reform of the United Nations should focus on a comprehensive revitalization of its system based on the current challenges affecting the international community.  The outcome document of the World Summit was welcomed by Jordan.  However, more could have been achieved, especially regarding the renewed commitment of the international community to the Millennium Goals.

    Turning to issues of international conflict, he said that the Security Council could deal with such challenges appropriately in a timely manner without going over its powers, provided that serious consideration was given to making the Council more democratic, transparent and representative.  In the context of reform, it was imperative to strengthen the General Assembly and increase the membership of the Security Council to more effectively reflect the current international situation.

    Emphasising the necessity to respect the rule of law and human rights, he said that combating international terrorism needed to be a cooperative effort in order to achieve those goals.  To safeguard human rights, it was crucial to revitalize mechanisms in that field and establish a Human Rights Council.  Respect for the rule of law required confronting the more serious crimes occurring in the world, and the International Criminal Court could help in that regard.

    Saying that genuine reform and development hinged upon the political realities of the region where a State existed, he noted that the pattern of reform in Jordan and the Middle East would be more sustainable if the Road Map reached its goal of achieving a just settlement in the region.  Both the Israeli and Palestinian sides should carry out their obligations.  Jordan welcomed Israel's withdrawal, which was not a replacement for the Road Map, but rather a part of it.  Israel should also withdraw from all Palestinian towns, cease all settlement activities in the West Bank, and cease building the separation fence in Palestinian areas, as that violated international humanitarian law, as noted by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion.  The Palestinian Authority, for its part, should preserve the truce and deal firmly with any cease-fire violations. The international community and the Quartet should provide as much support as possible for the Palestinians

    VUK DRAŠKOVIC, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, said that, seven days ago, he warned that the situation in Kosovo posed a serious threat to the stability of the Balkans.  Serbia and Montenegro supported the conclusion of the international Contact Group that there would be no return to the situation before 10 June 1999.  Before 1999, the regime in Serbia insisted on limited autonomy for Kosovo, while Albanian leaders had insisted on independence.  That led to armed conflict and later, to air strikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  The protectorate was established in Kosovo, but it did not bring into question the territorial integrity of Serbia and Montenegro.  By proposing a status larger than autonomy and less than independence for Kosovo, Belgrade had demonstrated maximum commitment to a compromise solution.  But the Kosovo Albanians did not budge from their positions of 1999.

    He said the international community should be blamed for the tragic position of the non-Albanian minorities in Kosovo, as well as for the political extremism of the Albanian majority.  The standards set for Kosovo were not even close to being fulfilled. Was the world going to abandon the "standards before status" policy?  Since June 1999, hundreds of thousands of non-Albanians were expelled from Kosovo.  Hundreds of Serbs were killed and tens of thousands of Serbian homes destroyed. The remaining Serbs lived in fear.  No one in Europe was so tragically unprotected.  Despite that, Serbia and Montenegro wanted the United Nations to remain in Kosovo.

    For months, Albanian extremists had been issuing threats of massacre against the remaining non-Albanians, unless their ultimatum on the proclamation of Kosovo as an independent State was met, he said.  Ultimatums and threats must not be accepted anywhere in the world.  Serbia and Montenegro demanded a European level of rights protection of national communities in Kosovo, the protection of churches and monasteries, as well as European status of the existing State borders with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. Serbia and Montenegro was truly committed to compromise and reconciliation.

    MUSTAFA OSMAN ISMAIL, Minister for External Relations of the Sudan, said achieving peace had been Khartoum's objective for the past year and finally, a comprehensive peace agreement had been recently signed, bringing an end to the years-long conflict between the Government and southern rebels.  The process was continuing even in the wake of the tragic death of former rebel leader and Sudanese Vice-President John Garang.  He called upon the international community to cancel all the country's debts and to ease all sanctions so that the peace process could continue while the Sudan improved its humanitarian and socio-economic situation.

    He also said the Government was committed to bringing about a comprehensive and peaceful settlement to the situation in the Western Darfur region.  It would urge the international community to support it as it dealt with the humanitarian situation there, examined root causes of the conflict and set up a framework for the return of displaced persons.  He added that the Government was actively promoting human rights throughout the country, particularly in Darfur. 

    Turning to other issues on the international agenda, he said that while the Sudan acknowledged the need to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it nevertheless supported Iran and all other countries pursuing the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in accordance with the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  On Africa, he urged the international community to support the efforts of the Great Lakes region as it finalized the details on the convening of a global conference on the situation there.  He also called for global actors to work to ensure that a stable government and reliable institutions took hold in Somalia.

    International partnerships were the key to achieving the Millennium Goals, he continued, stressing that such cooperation was hampered by the imposition of sanctions, economic blockades and trade barriers.  All those obstacles needed to be addressed as urgently as possible.  He said that the Sudan rejected terrorism and would continue to be a messenger spreading the principle of dialogue among cultures and civilizations.  He stressed that terrorism should not be associated with one religion or culture, and that tackling it required a coordinated approach by all members of the international community.

    ALCINDA ANTONIO DE ABREU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said multilateralism must be the guiding principle in the international community. The failure to overcome the poverty trap in developing countries and the threat of terrorism were examples of why the world must become more inclusive. The United Nations continued to be an indispensable instrument, so its strengthening must be high on the agenda, in particular, that of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.  Mozambique hoped the Peacebuilding Commission would assist in supporting countries in the transition from post-conflict situations to recovery and to long-term development.

    She said the world must work to fulfil the international agreements made at the Summit and in other conferences.  The sustainable development of low-income countries, particularly those in Africa, depended on a more open, equitable and rule-based multilateral trading system. Mozambique believed the completion of the Doha round would help establish an international trading system consistent with development goals and policies.  She reiterated calls for more radical action from the international community in the area of debt relief. For example, debt relief should cover multilateral and bilateral debt, and debt stock and debt service should be reduced by up to 100 per cent.  Mozambique supported the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and other relief measures. It commended the debt cancellation measures announced by the Group of Eight finance ministers.

    Mozambique was fully engaged in a programme that incorporated its vision of development based on continuity and renewal, she said.  The eradication of poverty required new dynamism as pointed out in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Brussels Plan of Action for the least developed countries and the Millennium Development Goals.  Her Government's programme sought to reduce regional imbalances and expand the supply of basic services such as health, education, access to electricity and safe drinking water. The consolidation of peace, democracy and national unity continued to be high on Mozambique's national agenda.  The country was committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations, and it believed the reform process would strengthen the Organization, with a view to providing more and better assistance to all Member States, in particular, to those in Africa.

    CHOE SU HON, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that, despite the adoption at the Millennium Summit five years ago of a Declaration on peace, poverty eradication, and respect for human rights, the world was being drawn further into a climate of fear and instability due to high-handedness and unilateralism of the super-Power.  On one side of the globe there was yearning for peace and sustainable development, while on the other, there were States committing provocative acts, such as armed invasion, and using the threat of nuclear pre-emptive attack against sovereign States.

    Turning to the issue of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, he said that peace in the area was directly linked to peace and security in the northeast Asian region, and that foreign forces were responsible for a "vicious circle of tension and détente" in the region.  The country's need to place importance on military affairs was directly linked to the United States' attempt to suffocate it, he added.

    Focusing on specifics related to the nuclear issue between his country and the United States, he said his country remained committed to resolving the issue through peaceful dialogue, although the issue was a product of United States' hostile policy against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea over the last half century.  Hence their need to possess a strong means of self-defence.

    Saying that his country had been committed to denuclearization for many years, he specifically cited the recent agreement reached at the six-party talks in Beijing on the nuclear issue, and called on the United States to provide light-water reactors as soon as possible, to support his country's right to peaceful nuclear activities.

    NASSER AL-KIDWA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Observer for Palestine, said that, unlike the Israeli Prime Minister who a few days ago said he had come to the United Nations from Jerusalem, he had not been able to do that.  East Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, remained under Israeli occupation.  That indicated that the Middle East was still far from peace.  Only when Jerusalem was returned to its people or when United Nations resolutions were completely complied with would peace be truly achieved.  There was some promise.  Israel, the occupying Power, had completed its disengagement from the Gaza Strip.  What was important was what would follow.  He added that Israel, the occupying Power, had left the Gaza Strip completely devastated.

    He said the Gaza Strip remained under Israel's control.  It could not be economically or politically sustainable in isolation from the West Bank.  What Israel was doing in the West Bank was cause for pessimism.  Israel continued its construction of the separation wall and continued to seize the land in its attempts to annex it de facto, and it destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians.  It continued to establish and expand settlements.  The central mission for the international community was to bring about a complete cessation of all settlement activities and the construction of the wall, and to enforce the law.  Solutions must be found for outstanding issues surrounding the Gaza Strip, including the Rafah crossing, the airport and seaport, the removal of the rubble and the link between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  The Sharm el Sheikh understandings should be implemented.

    It was necessary to return to negotiations and implement the Road Map, he said.  Palestine was ready to begin final status negotiations immediately.  International assistance must be extended to the Palestinian people and to the Palestinian Authority.  Palestine had worked to get out of the cycle of violence, and it undertook a national dialogue that led to a unilateral declaration of a ceasefire.  Palestine would continue efforts to impose law and order.  Israel must stop its attempts to sabotage Palestinian elections.  It seemed Israel and some of its friends felt they had succeeded in imposing illegal conditions and in creating a degree of vagueness regarding some aspects of the conflict.  That was an attempt to undermine the legal foundations of the question of Palestine.  But Palestine believed the United Nations would not forsake its responsibilities.  He hoped Israeli authorities would begin to think about changing its policies instead of trying to market those policies and positions in the United Nations.

    ABDURRAHMAN M. SHALGAM, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, said his country had been aware of the need to reform the United Nations since the mid-1970s, and had even presented a number of draft resolutions on the matter in the Assembly, particularly pertaining to abolishing the use of veto power that rested with the Security Council.  Although the Organization's super-Powers had prevented any of those texts from meeting with success, Libya had nonetheless been able to raise general awareness to the issue.  That had led to the establishment by the forty-seventh Assembly of a working group to review the matter of fair representation in the Council, as well as increase in its membership.

    Over time, the working group's efforts ended in an impasse, and even though Libya had been hopeful of progress during the run-up to last week's World Summit, it soon became clear that any reform of the body would be illusive because the Council's privileged Powers did not wish to give up, or even share, their privileges.  He declared that the countries that had emerged victorious at the end of the Second World War had bestowed rights and privileges on themselves, which had led to marginalization in the Assembly, as well as the Council.  Indeed, the Council had become a "domineering body," both inequitable and unbalanced.  Its veto power had been abused and the United Nations had been unable to administer justice.

    He called for the overall decision-making power of the Organization to be placed in the hands of the 191-member Assembly, and that each member have the right of veto.  If that could not be agreed, he urged the Assembly to come up with a plan to map out a "new formula for permanent membership in the Council", he said.  Libya would propose that such membership be accorded to geographical groups, rather than States.  It would also propose that the African Union be granted permanent membership, even before the way forward on wider United Nations reform had been decided, particularly since the African continent was the only one that did not enjoy a permanent Council seat.

    Libya had also been among the nations calling for coordination in the international combat against terrorism, he continued, stressing that the scourge could not be eliminated unilaterally.  The eradication of terrorism required taking the necessary steps to eliminate its causes.  On the situation in his own country, he said Libya was developing plans to restructure its economy, review its public sector and encourage its private sector.  After discussing the situation in many African countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he called on the international community to provide a solution for the Palestinian people, who continued to suffer horrible crimes while the Security Council appeared unable to act on their behalf.

    ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said 60 years ago, when the United Nations began, the Philippines fought to ensure that the goal of the Trusteeship Council should not only be self-governance but independence.  Then, the clear challenge for the United Nations was to ensure that freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to pursue human dignity would be at the heart of the political independence of States.  Now, the challenge of freeing all peoples from want and fear remained.  There were many threats to freedom:  terrorism, poverty and underdevelopment, deadly diseases, mass proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, and environmental degradation.  Poverty, the energy crisis and insufficient financial resources were the pressing challenges facing his country.  Security threats were also of grave concern.

    He said no nation could defend itself against threats on its own.  Solutions needed to be multilaterally considered and agreed upon.  Responsibilities must be shared by all and the United Nations must continue to play a central role.  The world was faced with the unbridled spiralling of oil prices.  Therefore, international cooperation on energy was an imperative.  The Philippines welcomed the 100 per cent debt cancellation for the heavily indebted poor countries.  Also, it was worried that while information technology brought limitless possibilities, it could also be used destructively.

    The Philippines wanted an increased role for the General Assembly, he said, and it urged for more equitable representation in the Security Council.  Turning to the outcome of the World Summit, he said there were practical strategies that would help the international community achieve its goals.  Agreed commitments should be broken down into tangible steps, and national strategies should be geared to achieving international benchmarks.  The international community should not lose sight of the need for increased congruence among national, regional and international plans of action.  Existing modes of international cooperation must be re-evaluated.  In discovering new opportunities and addressing new threats, the world must be mindful of the hopes and dreams that led to the birth of the United Nations.

    BILLIE A. MILLER, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said the Caribbean region faced severe challenges and constraints in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  That was due to their vulnerability to economic shocks and their exposure to natural disasters of all kinds.  A full integration of Barbados into the globalized economy, for which a successful outcome of the next Doha development round on trade liberalization would be crucial, was currently lacking.  Nevertheless, she said:  "In all of the circumstances, we accept that the outcome of the high-level meeting provides a platform for coordinated international action in response to the complex and interconnected global challenges."

    She referred to sexual and reproductive health and rights as an "outstanding omission to the Goals".  Member States must seize the opportunity to adopt universal access targets or indicators that could be used to facilitate the monitoring of progress in that area and to hold Governments accountable, she said.  Women of childbearing age constituted 1 billion of the world's poorest people, and for that group, sexual and reproductive health issues were at the fore of problems of ill health and loss of productivity.  She supported the call to mobilize new resources for improved sexual and reproductive health services, for both women and men worldwide.  Developing countries were contributing more than 75 per cent to current expenditures in that area, and it was time for developed countries to live up to their pledges at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

    Regrettably, she said, developing countries were still locked in a struggle at the World Trade Organization to persuade developed countries to rise above their self-interests and embrace positions that would allow a just global economic order.  "It is time to put the global development agenda, including that for the world's smallest and most vulnerable societies, back on track", she said, quoting the Prime Minister of her country.

    She said global attention on matters of development had been overtaken by a narrowly defined anti-terrorism agenda at the World Summit last week.  While her country believed that the United Nations should strongly and unequivocally issue a condemnation of terrorism, care must be taken to formulate an unambiguous definition that would provide a basis for a comprehensive convention.  Closely linked to the issue of terrorism was that of disarmament and non-proliferation, drug trafficking and illegal trade in small arms, which should also be given urgent priority.  Barbados supported the call for the negotiation of a new international instrument on the marking and tracing of weapons.

    She said that the main organs of the United Nations, in particular the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, should be strengthened, in order to undertake fully the responsibilities with which they had been charged.  In addition, the Secretary-General must be given appropriate managerial authority, and her delegation intended to participate actively in the delineation of those issues.

    FERENC SOMOGYI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said the combat of terrorism should be a United Nations priority, ensuring that actions were in conformity with basic international standards, in particular with human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.  The comprehensive convention on terrorism should be elaborated to give a proper legal definition of terrorist acts.  Similarly, the United Nations should ensure that essential human rights-related activities, such as monitoring mechanisms, were given due share in the regular budget.

    To promote democracy worldwide, he continued, his country had set up the Budapest International Centre for Democratic Transition to provide assistance for countries undergoing political, economic and social transition, by drawing on the experiences of others who had recently undergone similar situations.  The Budapest Centre was eager to work in partnership with the recently established

    United Nations Democracy Fund.  The resolution to establish a new United Nations mechanism dealing with the rights of minorities and the appointment of an independent expert on minority issues, were important steps forward for human rights.

    The establishment of harmonious inter-ethnic relationships was a precondition for peace in the Balkans, he continued, as he began a review of regional situations.  He said democratic changes were bearing fruit for the people of the Western Balkans, but minority rights had to be clearly defined and strictly implemented as a precondition for peace, stability and prosperity for both Kosovo and the broader region.  In the Middle East, the peace process had been given a new lease on life, but sustainability would require further consistent and bold measures on both sides.  The proper engagement of all communities was also a requirement for building a united, stable and democratic Iraq.

    Finally, he said the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was a cornerstone of international peace, security and stability.  While this year's Review Conference had failed to live up to expectations, the international community must fulfil its responsibility to preserve the Treaty's integrity, while promoting its universality.

    CHEIKH TIDIANE GADIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said the current meeting was crucial for the advancement of the disadvantaged citizens of the world.  Many on the African continent lagged behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  To fully integrate Africa into the globalization process, real global partnership was called for.  In addition to the desired increase in official development assistance (ODA), it was also necessary to improve delivery mechanisms for aid.  Even with the debt cancellation measures for the least developed countries in Africa, debt continued to hamper progress there.  He remarked that the continent would continue to fall behind if the debt burden was not completely alleviated.  While partial measures were welcome, it was necessary to envisage bolder, more durable solutions.  Senegal, under the auspices of the African Union, held a conference of African Ministers of Finance to discuss debt alleviation strategies, during which the President of his country introduced a proposal entitled "The X-Ray of African Debt".

    He remarked on what he called "the deplorable paradox" suffered by the continent, which having formed the NEPAD still continued to suffer from internal inertia, which, in turn, was exacerbated by slow multilateral support.  He made a serious appeal to the continent's development partners to turn their commitments into reality, and to help Africa with its ambitious commitments towards meeting the Millennium Goals.  He voiced support for an African Union "digital solidarity" fund, which aimed to bridge the digital divide between the South and developed countries.  He invited Member States to contribute both in cash and kind to that fund, and to extend that invitation to the private sector, as well.

    He urged Member States not to lose sight in the fight against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  Senegal had contributed more than a tenth of its budget to fight HIV/AIDS through education and awareness-raising.  That had resulted in the prevalence of that disease falling from 1.7 per cent to 0.7 per cent, but he stressed that those gains could not be consolidated without support from international partners.  He also invited the international community to support the African Union's efforts to fight genetic drépanocytose, a prerequisite to sickle cell anaemia, by supporting the group's bid to place that condition on the public health priorities list.  Similar support was encouraged to combat desertification, which had already engulfed one-third of the African continent, through the "Great African Green Wall" campaign.  He also commented on his country's support for expanding the Security Council to include permanent seats for two African countries, since two-thirds of its work was devoted to issues concerning the continent.

    MARCO VINICIO VARGAS PEREIRA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, said Costa Rica was disappointed with the Summit's outcome, which in areas such as development and human rights, reflected less than the international community's minimum common denominator.  In other areas, such as disarmament and impunity, the outcome was a real step back.  The General Assembly must set realistic goals and avoid the unachievable.  Artificial deadlines must be eliminated.  The negotiating process must be transparent, so that all States were free to participate.  A small group of States must be prevented from imposing national ambitions on the rest of the international community.  Decisions must be made through democratic means.

    He said along with Security Council reform, equal emphasis must be given to the Human Rights Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and a comprehensive convention on terrorism.  Costa Rica only favoured an increase in the number of non-permanent members to the Security Council.  The right of veto was unacceptable, especially regarding cases of genocide, war crimes and massive violations of human rights.  Costa Rica supported the Human Rights Council, which should reflect an equitable geographical distribution.  His country was against the permanent members of the Security Council automatically becoming new members of the Peacebuilding Commission.  The United Nations should play an important role in the fight against international terrorism.  He highlighted the importance of law and justice in international relations, and reaffirmed his confidence in the International Court of Justice.

    This year's negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation rendered non-satisfactory results, he said.  Costa Rica urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income as development assistance and to eliminate all barriers and subsidies that had a negative impact on the exports of developing countries.  He also stressed the relevance of sustainable development.  In addition, he requested the General Assembly to consider in depth the recommendations of the Volker report.  It was necessary to face the mismanagement and alleged corruption within the Organization.  Costa Rica also believed the General Assembly should seriously consider the question of the representation of Taiwan in the United Nations.

    JULIAN R. HUNTE (Saint Lucia) said that a significant proportion of the critical problems the world faced were intrinsically linked to development.  In the Millennium Declaration, world leaders had defined succinctly what should be done to advance socio-economic development.  The focus now should be towards accelerating action to achieve the Millennium Goals within the agreed time frames.  His Government commended the establishment of the $1 billion emergency fund -- to be finalized later this year -- to enable the Organization to more quickly and effectively respond to humanitarian crises. 

    The sixtieth anniversary, he said, provided yet another opportunity for impetus to be given to initiatives to spread the benefits of globalization and trade liberalization more widely.  Priority should be given to ensuring that all developing countries benefited from freer world trade.  That one size could not fit all was an indisputable fact that the World Trade Organization stubbornly refused to acknowledge with respect to bananas and sugar in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and small island developing States.  The cause of development would be greatly enhanced by a positive outcome from the next round of the Doha trade negotiations, scheduled for Hong Kong in December.

    Turning to United Nations reform, he said a more influential Economic and Social Council and a United Nations development system that was strong and cohesive would ensure that the Organization implemented its development mandate effectively.  The momentum of General Assembly revitalization must be maintained.  The Security Council's mandate of maintaining international peace and security was intended by the Charter to be carried out in cooperation with the United Nations as a whole, and certainly in tandem with the Assembly.

    IVAILO KALFIN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said the just-ended 2005 World Summit had strengthened Member States' confidence that the fight to eradicate hunger, poverty and disease could be won through the provision of maximum resources, efforts to implement already agreed commitments, and reaffirmation of the global partnership between rich and poor nations for financing for development.  He called for better and more predictable aid flows, the alleviation of trade restrictions and foreign debt, promotion of economic growth and the elaboration of national good governance strategies.

    On the Summit's outcome, he said Bulgaria was in favour of reaching a new consensus among Member States on collective responses to major threats to international peace and security.  It welcomed the outcome's unequivocal condemnation of terrorism and would, therefore, urge the Assembly to consider the adoption of a United Nations counter-terrorism strategy within which long-term solutions could be found to the political, economic and social issues that fed the phenomenon.  He also reaffirmed Bulgaria's support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and called for renewed commitment to overall disarmament efforts.

    Turning next to the situation in South-Eastern Europe, he said that the international community was now approaching "crucial decisions" with regard to the future of Kosovo.  Reaching a solution would undoubtedly require readiness for compromise and bold decisions by all parties.  As for the Middle East, Bulgaria supported efforts to achieve a lasting and just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, based on the Quartet-backed Road Map peace plan.  He also joined the international community's call for a special focus on Africa, and urged the United Nations to press ahead with efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger and end conflicts on that continent.

    Referring to human rights issues around the world, he mentioned the case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been sentenced to death by a Libyan Court.  The most renowned experts on HIV/AIDS had categorically confirmed their innocence, he said, and Bulgaria would insist that the Libyan Supreme Court find a just solution during its upcoming session this November.

    ABDULLAH ALSAIDI (Yemen) said his country supported diplomacy and dialogue in the settlement of disputes, and had played a pioneering role in political reforms in its region.  Among other things, it had opened the door to the participation of women in decision-making.  On international issues, he called for shared responsibility in the global struggle against terrorism, particularly regarding the exchange of information on the financing of terrorism and the prosecution of perpetrators.  He urged the Assembly to elaborate a comprehensive convention against the scourge, which distinguished between terrorist acts and the right to exercise self-determination.  At the same time, he said Yemen condemned any indiscriminate killing of civilians.

    On the recent developments in the Middle East, he said that Israel's pull-out from the Gaza Strip was but one step on a long path to peace.  But he warned the Assembly that Israel had not made any great sacrifice because of its withdrawal from territories it had occupied by force in the first place.  Israel must continue its withdrawal from all Occupied Territories, in Gaza, the West Bank and the Syrian Golan.  He urged the United Nations and the Quartet not to accept any promises that did not take into account the real concerns of the Palestinians.  He also called on the Organization to ensure that all relevant Security Council resolutions on Iraq were put into effect.  That would lead to an end to the foreign military presence in that country.  He went on to say that Yemen believed that all States had the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses.

    STUART BECK (Palau) said that while the World Summit's outcome might not have addressed every important issue satisfactorily, it was an excellent starting point for the hard work that lay ahead before the international community.  Palau had much to offer and much to gain from a stronger United Nations.  His country regarded the capacity-building expertise of the Organization and its agencies as central to its development.  Recalling a statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that no country, weak or strong, could realize prosperity in a vacuum, he said such a vacuum existed in many small island developing States, including Palau.  Not a single United Nations representative could be found in the country to assist it in moving forward, and the United Nations flag did not fly there.

    He said the United Nations had attempted to fill the vacuum through the creation of regional and sub-regional centres, which were quite distant from Palau's shores.  While arguably well intentioned, that tactic had failed to provide Palau with the required capacity-building. Those centres merely replicated the colonial regimes, which the Pacific islands had thrown off -- distant capitals making decisions about far-flung provinces.  To Palau, strengthening the United Nations meant strengthening its marginalized members. Palau had willingly taken its place as a responsible member of the international community. This year, it had proudly deployed a police unit to the United Nations operation in Timor-Leste.

    Palau's development challenges differed from those of many other countries, he noted.  Climate change and sea-level rise threatened to obliterate small islands, like his own.  Palau must rely on the maintenance of its extraordinary reefs and waters -- its unparalleled biodiversity -- to attract tourists.  Without those assets, it would be unable to develop a sustainable economy and to create jobs.  The other pillar of Palau's development was its fisheries, which its people had relied upon for countless generations.  He added that strengthening the United Nations should include a realignment of the regional groups to better reflect the proliferation of Pacific countries and the actual geography of the world.  Thus, he suggested the creation of an East Asia and Pacific Group, which would include Australia and New Zealand.

    EWALD LIMON (Suriname) said his Government remained committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and strongly believed that sustainable development was crucial for the achievement of international peace and security.

    Whilst his Government acknowledged its primary responsibility in the development process, he recalled the commitments made in Monterrey for the establishment of a global partnership to advance the development agenda.  He commended the various initiatives that had been launched so far, and called on development partners to continue to support the efforts of developing countries.

    Referring to the transnational nature of contemporary challenges, he said there was a need for an effective system of international cooperation to deal with both old and new threats to global peace and security.  The major setbacks in nuclear disarmament and arms control should be tackled.  He pledged Suriname's support for United Nations efforts in addressing the spread and misuse of small arms and light weapons.  Suriname also strongly condemned all acts of terrorism.  The fight against that scourge should be carried out in accordance with international law and with respect for human rights.  The root causes of terrorism must also be addressed.

    Suriname continued to believe in the values of the United Nations, and supported efforts to strengthen it through reform, he added.  There was a need for a more effective and efficient Organization that would better address the many challenges the world faced today, and also responded to the aspirations of the world's people.

    ISIKIA R. SAVUA (Fiji) said that Member States must undertake to ensure that assistance rendered to the poor, hungry and needy trickled down to them.  "Far too often, donations, funds and other forms of assistance are mired in the bureaucratic process and reduced by certain percentages to be passed off as administrative charges", he said.

    With regard to the reform of the Secretariat, he voiced his country's belief that the Secretary-General should be empowered to enact the changes he believed best suited for the Organization.  The United Nations must function with integrity and urgent concern in reducing the gap between developed and developing countries. Support was also given to the proposal to create a Peacebuilding Commission, to expand the Security Council membership to include India and Japan, to create a Human Rights Council directly accountable to the General Assembly, and to the finalization of a final draft of a declaration on indigenous rights.

    He said that the plight of women and children subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse could not be ignored, remarking that his country's Prime Minister had signed two optional protocols on the rights of the child, "on the involvement of children in armed conflict", and "the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography".  He noted that the time was right for action to be taken on the issue of young women who were denied the right to sexual and reproductive health.

    AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said the United Nations was an irreplaceable part of multilateral cooperation, and its viability depended on how it responded to the hopes and aspirations of every member.  The Organization's role needed to be strengthened, creating more transparency in its work and improving its organs on the basis of the widest consensus possible.  Since the present session was devoted to appraising progress in achieving the Millennium Goals, she described Turkmenistan's recent reforms, which were aimed at creating a society that ensured dignified conditions for its citizens.  Turkmenistan possessed huge oil and natural gas resources, which were the main sources of development.  National programmes during the early years of independence had created whole industries, including textiles and food processing.  Collective and State farms had been abolished, and the country was nearly self-sufficient regarding food production. 

    She said social protection of the population was of great importance.  Since 1993, Turkmenistan's citizens had received free gas, electricity, water, health services and education.  Also, housing and public transport were available at minimal cost.  Turkmenistan, as a historic crossroads, had an orientation marked by internationalism, openness and tolerance.  For the past decade, it had maintained its neutrality and committed itself to upholding human rights, including adopting specific measures to protect the rights of refugees.  She added that Turkmenistan was grateful to the United Nations for its invaluable development assistance, and that she had high hopes for strengthening the Organization and broadening its role in the world. 

    ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the continuation of armed conflicts, hunger, massive human rights violations, terrorism and the HIV/AIDS pandemic were all threats to international peace and security, and a reformed United Nations was needed to deal with them.  Speaking about the recent elections in Guinea-Bissau, he commended the people of that country for their maturity during their transition period and the presidential election.

    Referring to the conflicts that afflicted the African continent, he said that, while the issues in Africa chiefly fell on the African people to handle themselves, there was a shared notion that the international community should play a more significant role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in Africa.  United Nations organs such as the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council needed to play larger roles in order to achieve that goal. The creation of the Peacebuilding Commission was a welcome development towards that end.

    Detailing the rampant poverty that continued to plague his nation and many others, he said that scourge was not only a development issue, but a security and human rights issue, as well.  The international community should double its efforts to mobilize resources for poverty eradication.

    TIINA INTELMANN (Estonia) said she was firmly committed to strengthening the Organization.  However, she noted that, in a global and interdependent world, there was not a United Nations solution for all problems.  The Organization should continue working with the European Union and the NATO to deal with conflict, poverty and human suffering.  African peacekeeping needed to be developed, and better training for peacekeepers was required.  The role of the international community did not stop when conflicts were over.  Therefore, the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission was most welcome. 

    She said terrorism was unacceptable in all circumstances and that it was regrettable that the Summit document did not condemn the deliberate killing of civilians and non-combatants.  The Secretary-General's anti-terrorism strategy should be adopted, and the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on terrorism should be a top priority for the current Assembly session.  It was also unfortunate that no agreement was reached on non-proliferation and disarmament.  Slow progress in eradicating poverty and in realizing the other Millennium Goals was also cause for serious concern.  No State could achieve the Goals without respecting fundamental human rights, including those of indigenous peoples.

    She said the proposed Human Rights Council should be a standing Charter body, and human rights violators should not have a seat on the Security Council.  Democracy, good governance and the rule of law were extraordinarily important, and the creation of the Democracy Fund essential.  She was disappointed that there was no reference to the International Criminal Court in the Summit's outcome. 

    Right of Reply

    Japan's representative, responding to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said the qualifications of a country to Security Council membership were based on a State's contribution to international peace and security.  Further, in the joint statement on the six-party talks that had been released on 19 September, Japan and the Democratic People's Republic had stated that they had taken steps to settle differences through bilateral talks.

    Armenia's representative said, in response to Azerbaijan's statement on 18 September, that the fact-finding mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had reported in March that Armenia had no deliberate policy to establish settlers in the Nagorno-Karabakh area.  The people settling there were those who had been forced to leave their homes in Baku and other cities in Azerbaijan.  He shared the Foreign Minister's optimism that the situation would be resolved.  Misrepresentations on the ground did not help the peace process.

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