The General Assembly this morning proclaimed the Year 2002 as the International Year of Mountains, by adopting without a vote, a draft resolution recommended by the Economic and Social Council.
By the terms of the text, introduced by the representative of Kyrgyzstan, the Assembly called on governments, national and international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to make voluntary contributions, in accordance with the Economic and Social Councils' guidelines for international years and anniversaries, and to lend other forms of support to the Year.
The representative of Nepal said the Year was a modest first step towards environmental stability and poverty eradication, which would contribute to sustainable development of mountain countries. The representative of France also welcomed the initiative, noting the importance of the Alps to his country and region.
Also this morning, the Assembly began its consideration of a culture of peace, with many speakers supporting the proposal to proclaim 2001-2010 the international decade for culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world.
"We should teach our young people to temper ambitions with compassion and tolerance, so we may create a new generation in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.", the representative of Turkmenistan said. The representative of Myanmar said an effectively implemented education policy, thoroughly formulated and carefully tailored to the objectives of a culture of peace, might instil in children values, attitudes and behaviour which could promote the concept.
Statements on the culture of peace were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, Ecuador, China, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Benin, Senegal, Uruguay, Russian Federation and Togo.
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At the outset of this morning's meeting, the Assembly observed a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of the late head of State of the Comoros, Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim, who passed away on 5 November. Statements were made by the representatives of the regional groups.
In other action this morning, the Assembly approved the report of the Credentials Committee. It took that action by adopting a resolution, without a vote, contained in the report.
Statements were made in explanation of position, on the adoption of the report of the Credentials Committee, by the representatives of Egypt and Iran, and the observer for Palestine.
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of a culture of peace and take action on a related draft resolution.
Assembly Work Programme
The Assembly met this morning to consider the report of the Credentials Committee, and take action on a draft resolution recommended by the Economic and Social Council. It was also expected to consider the item entitled "culture of peace" and take action on a related draft resolution.
Report of the Credentials Committee
The Assembly had before it the first report of the Credentials Committee (document A/53/556). During its meeting on 20 October, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General's memorandum stating that, as of 19 October, credentials had been submitted by 127 States. Regarding the credentials of representatives participating in the fifty-third session whose formal credentials had not been received at the time of the Committee's first meeting, the Secretary-General would report to the Committee at a later date.
Two sets of credentials for two different delegations to represent Afghanistan at the current session had been received, the Secretary-General reported. The Committee decided to defer a decision on that matter on the same basis as that of the decision taken at the fifty-second session. The Committee also adopted a draft resolution by the terms of which it accepted, subject to the decision contained in paragraph 8 of its report, the credentials of the representatives of the Member States concerned.
By the terms of the draft resolution, recommended by the Committee, on the credentials of representatives to the fifty-third session, the Assembly would, having considered the Committee's report and the recommendations contained therein, approve the report of the Credentials Committee.
Economic and Social Council
Based on the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly was expected to take action on a draft text (document A/53/L.24), by which the Assembly would proclaim the year 2002 the international year of mountains.
Recalling the relevant provisions of the action plan adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) -- "Agenda 21" -- on sustainable mountain development, the draft would call upon governments, national and international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to make voluntary contributions in accordance with the guidelines of the Economic and Social Council for international years and anniversaries, and to lend other forms of support to the international year of mountains.
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It would also invite the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to serve as the lead agency for the year, in collaboration with governments, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other relevant organizations of the United Nations system and NGOs.
It would further encourages all governments, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the international year of mountains to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable mountain development.
The sponsors of the draft text are Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zambia.
Culture of Peace
The Assembly also had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/53/370) transmitting a report containing a draft declaration and programme of action on a culture of peace. The proposals and suggestions in the report are the result of extensive consultations conducted by the Director-General of UNESCO with other representatives of the United Nations system, including relevant executive committees and interested specialized agencies.
The report states that the fundamental task of the United Nations to save future generations from the scourge of war requires transforming not only the institutional structures and manifestations of war, but also its deep cultural roots: transforming the culture of violence and war into a culture of peace and non-violence. A culture of peace consists of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing, based
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on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence. Efforts are taken to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society. Rather than intervening in violent conflicts after they have erupted and then engaging in post-conflict peace-building, it is more humane and more efficient to prevent such violence in the first place by addressing its roots; such is the essence of the culture of peace approach.
By the terms of the draft declaration on a culture of peace, the Assembly would solemnly proclaim this declaration so that governments, authorities, educational, cultural and other institutions, NGOs and civil society as a whole might be guided by its provisions and promote a global movement for a speedy transition from a culture of war and violence to a culture of peace and non-violence in the new millennium.
The Assembly, to put into practice the values, attitudes, traditions, modes of behaviour and ways of life enunciated in the declaration, would adopt the draft programme of action at the national, regional and international level. The first part of the programme deals with its aims and strategies. One of its aims is to provide a conceptual framework to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations system and other organizations for building a culture of peace, thus preventing violent conflict. Activities to build a culture of peace would be linked to other priority activities of the international community, including human rights, democracy, development, equality of women, tolerance and the free flow of information to integrate efforts to the transformation from a culture of war and violence, to a culture of peace and non-violence.
In addition, the programme would also integrate those activities with actions for international peace and security, including the prevention of violent conflict. Also, it aims to mobilize, during the International Year for the Culture of Peace to be marked in the year 2000, a global movement towards transforming values, attitudes and behaviours to those of a culture of peace and non-violence.
The second part of the programme of action deals with specific actions to promote a culture of peace, to be undertaken at the national, regional and international levels. They include actions to promote respect for human rights; develop education, training and research for peace and non-violence; implement sustainable human development for all; foster democratic participation; ensure equality between women and men; support participatory communication and the free flow and sharing of information and knowledge; advance understanding, tolerance, solidarity among all peoples and cultures; and coordination with actions for international peace and security.
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The last part of the programme concerns the International Year for the Culture of Peace, which may serve as the occasion to launch the initiatives in the programme and as a means to engage people at all levels in a common endeavour towards a global movement for a culture of peace. The year's objectives include strengthening respect for cultural diversity and promotion of tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, dialogue and reconciliation. Specific proposed activities include the establishment and implementation of national action plans, partnerships and institutional forms which promote the objectives of the Year, and the association of the Year with regional and international activities that underline the priorities of peace, development and democracy and the central role of the United Nations system in promoting a culture of peace, including close association with the Organization's activities for the millennium.
Part four of the note, which contains the consolidated report, deals with the basic principles of education for peace, human rights, democracy, international understanding and tolerance; actions by UNESCO at the global, regional and national levels; and a programme of action from the United Nations and other international organizations for the future.
By the terms of a draft resolution (document A/53/L.25), recommended by the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly would proclaim 2001-2010 the international decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world. The Assembly would also call on the relevant United Nations bodies, particularly the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), NGOs, religious bodies and groups, educational institutions, artists and the media to actively support the decade for the benefit of every child of the world.
It would also invite the Secretary-General to submit, in consultation with Member States, relevant United Nations bodies and NGOs, a report to the Assembly at its fifty-fifth session and a draft programme of action to promote the implementation of the decade at local, national, regional and international levels, and to coordinate the Decade's activities. It would also invite Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure that the practice of peace and non-violence is taught at all levels in their respective societies, including in educational institutions.
The Assembly also had before it an addendum to the note from the Secretary-General on a culture of peace (document A/53/370/Add.1), containing the decision of the Executive Board of the Economic and Social Council taken in November. By its decision, the Board invites Member States, the United Nations system and other intergovernmental and NGOs to celebrate the International Year for the Culture of Peace in the year 2000 by memorable events; to take as of now all necessary steps to ensure the success of the Year; and to affirm the values of tolerance, mutual understanding, combating poverty and exclusion, all of which are actions that will primarily be of benefit to women, young people and the least developed countries.
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Also before the Assembly was a second addendum (document A/53/370/Add.2) containing a note submitted by UNESCO on a meeting of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) held on 30 and 31 October. The meeting was composed of the executive heads of all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The executive heads expressed their support for the culture of peace initiative and agreed that the concept was at the heart of the work of the United Nations system. They also agreed to ensure, through appropriate arrangements within the framework of the ACC, the preparation of a system-wide media and public information strategy for the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace, and the continuous exchange of information on activities to be undertaken in follow-up to the decisions that the Assembly would take on the draft declaration and programme of action. The ACC also agreed that the International Year for the Culture of Peace should be launched at all United Nations system headquarters and field offices on the International Day of Peace 1999, which is commemorated on the third Tuesday of September.
SUBHAS CHANDRA MUNGRA (Suriname), Acting-President of the Assembly, said that before taking up the items on the agenda, the Assembly would observe a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim, the late Head of State of the Comoros, who passed away on 5 November.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan), on behalf of the Group of African States, said Mr. Abdoulkarim was a pious man. He extended his condolences on behalf of Africa and the world to the Government and people of that fraternal country and to his family. He was a great statesman and one of the outstanding leaders of the Comoros. History would testify to his achievements. When he was chosen as the country's leader in elections, he had the confidence of all his people and had obtained the respect and consideration of international and regional organizations. He was committed to the development of his country based on human rights and sovereignty. He hoped Africa would have similar leaders as Mr. Abdoulkarim.
FUAD MUBARAK AL-HINAI (Oman), on behalf of the Group of Asian States, said Mr. Abdoulkarim had a very distinguished political career. He had played a prominent role in international relations, and participated actively with fellow Heads of State. His passing was a tremendous loss to the Comoros and its people.
Speaking on behalf of the Eastern European States, ION GORITA (Romania) said that it was with profound grief that the Eastern European States had learned of the death of President Abdoulkarim. As an outstanding political leader of his country, President Abdoulkarim had worked towards the well-being and prosperity of the people of the Comoros. He expressed, to the Government, the people and the family of the deceased, deep-felt condolences.
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Speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, EMILIO IZQUIERDO (Ecuador) expressed heart-felt condolences at the passing of Mr. Abdoulkarim and said that the Latin American and Caribbean Group wished to associate itself with the deserved tribute to the great statesman whose memory would always be recalled.
RODERICK RICHARD SMITH (Australia), speaking on behalf of the Western European and Other States, said that it was his sad duty to extend sincere condolences to the people and Government of the Comoros at the untimely death of its President. He had made a prominent contribution to the people since his election in 1996.
ABDALLA SALEH AL-ASHTAL (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Arab States, expressed the most sincere condolences to the State and people of the Comoros. After his election in March 1996, the President had played a great role in building the Comoros. His death was untimely and he prayed to God to give relief to the family and people of the Comoros.
REGINA MONTOYA (United States), speaking on behalf of the host country, said that her Government expressed its condolences to the State and people of the Comoros. She noted with appreciation, the assistance and support received from the President in a crashed hijacked plane incident and in the recent terrorist attacks on United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. Her Government extended its support for a legal successor to the President.
MOHAMED ABOUD MAHMOUD (Comoros) said that it was with great emotion that his delegation had listened to the tributes paid to its President. He told the Assembly that his President had died calmly and serenely and that the Government had taken note of the deceased under article 10 of the Constitution.
He recalled good memories of the President, who was a tireless defender of the people, since Comoros attained independence on 10 June 1975, he said. The President had since been exiled because of his political convictions. After spending five years in France, he returned to the Comoros to run for political office. In 1996, he ran for election and appealed to all political groups for political legitimacy. He also supported South-South cooperation. From the Indian Ocean, he emphasized a broad regional market. He further tried to strengthen bilateral relations and open up education.
In conclusion, he made an appeal to the international community to find a solution to the secessionist crisis affecting the islands in which its territorial integrity was being threatened, he said. A solution required solidarity to guarantee peace and security, and economic development. The Comoros had now been orphaned and it would like to be reintegrated into the region and world community.
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Credentials Committee Report
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking in explanation of position, said he recognized that the draft resolution had always been adopted by consensus and Egypt would join the consensus this year. Regarding the credentials of Israel, those credentials applied only to Israel in its borders of 4 June 1967 and did not apply to territories occupied in 1967, including Al-Quds. Egypt's acceptance of adoption did not mean recognition of Al-Quds al-Sharif as the capital. That was the same position underlined during the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Durban, South Africa. That position was contained in a letter from the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the Chairman of the Credentials Committee on 21 October, which was not mentioned in the report.
AMIR HOSSEIN ZAMANINIA (Iran) said he wanted to express his reservation on that part of the report relating to the credentials of Israel. He noted that the resolution was routinely adopted without a vote. Hence, his delegation wished to dissociate itself from that part of the report relating to Israel's credentials.
NASSER AL-KIDWA, observer for Palestine, said it was a well-known fact that the Non-Aligned Summit had recognized that the participation of Israel in the work of the Assembly should be in line with international law. Consequently, Israel's credentials did not cover the occupied territories since 1967, including Jerusalem, Al-Quds. It was also well known that the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement had mandated that the Chairman of the Bureau send a letter to the Chairman of the Credentials Committee to let him know what had been decided by the heads of State and government of the Movement. That letter had been conveyed to the Committee, after it had convened its first meeting. Therefore, he hoped that the next report of the Committee would reflect that fact.
The Assembly adopted the draft resolution recommended by the Credentials Committee in paragraph 11 of its report, without a vote.
Year of Mountains
ZAMIRA B. ESHMAMBETOVA (Kyrgyzstan) introducing the draft resolution on the international year of mountains said the year 2002 coincided with the 10-year overall review of the implementation of Agenda 21.
Mountains or highlands made up more than a quarter of the Earth's land surface and were home to approximately 10 per cent of the world's population, she said. More than half of the world's population depended on mountain resources such as water, biodiversity, recreation, agriculture, forestry and mining.
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Some such areas were of more than national or regional importance; they had global significance for the future of the planet, she said. Mountains played a global role in supplying fresh water. Since 35 per cent of the world's population was likely to experience water scarcity by the year 2025, water management and economic cooperation between riparian States was extremely important in the twenty-first century. Tourism was another important aspect of sustainable mountain development, as tourism represented the world's largest industry, employing more than 200 million people.
Local knowledge and experience were necessary to sustain ecosystems, livelihood and production, she said. However, they must be integrated carefully with new techniques and research findings. Governments must be ready to make greater investments to train and educate people in mountain regions as stewards of mountain resources. Governments had great responsibility to protect so-called peripheral regions and their vital resources.
The Agenda recognized the vital and interrelated importance of the mountain ecosystem to the survival of the global ecosystem, she added. It further emphasized the need to encourage regional, national and international networking of initiatives on mountain development.
PARAS GHIMIRE (Nepal) said that his delegation fully supported the draft under consideration. The proclamation of the year of the mountains would enable the international community to take appropriate actions to ensure sustainability of mountain countries. The draft not only recognized the need to preserve the global life-support system, but it also provided a sound basis for further substantive work on mountain development that had global significance.
The Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development was ready to contribute to attaining environmental stability and poverty eradication in the Hindu-kush Himalayas, he continued. It was promoting sustainability of mountain-farming systems and sustainable management of mountain natural resources. The Centre was also intensifying its efforts to build national capacities and to establish a strong information base and network on sustainable development of the Himalayas. The international year of the mountains was a modest first step towards environmental stability and poverty eradication, which would contribute to sustainable development of mountain countries.
HENRI ZIPPER DE FABIANI (France) said that the proclamation of the year 2002 as the year of the mountains was a welcome initiative, for which the delegation of Kyrgyzstan deserved praise. That initiative would help to raise the consciousness of the public and disseminate information on good practices in that respect. France was particularly sensitive to the efforts to preserve mountain areas, which would be possible only in the framework of international
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endeavours. For that reason, his country, together with the neighbouring countries, had concluded a convention for the preservation of the Alps.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution proclaiming 2002 the International Year of the Mountains.
Culture of Peace
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said a culture of peace would provide future generations with values which could help them to shape their destiny and actively participate in constructing a more just, humane, peaceful and prosperous society. As the world approached the next millennium, the international community was alarmed at the endemic violence that stemmed from intra-State conflicts, social strife, deprivation, suppression of human rights, control over scarce resources, ethnicity, racism and xenophobia. The development of the culture of peace provided a conceptual framework that emphasized the importance of addressing the deep roots of war and violence.
The General Assembly, in proclaiming the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace, had recognized the value of that initiative, he continued. Together with other co-sponsors on the draft now before the Assembly, Bangladesh had initiated the proposal to proclaim the Decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world. Bangladesh was pleased to learn about a wide-range of activities relating to the culture of peace, undertaken by the United Nations system. The involvement of civil society in those activities was crucial. His delegation believed that the draft declaration and programme of action were well prepared and contained the specific actions that would facilitate the promotion of the culture of peace. He called for their adoption during this session of the General Assembly.
AKSOLTAN T. ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said a culture of peace could only be built through shared responsibility and dialogue, in an effort to banish violence, hate and the use of military power. Peace could be guaranteed if it was based on the values and principles of freedom, justice, democracy, respect for all human rights, tolerance and recognition and diversity. Left with no other option but the realization of peace through respect for international obligations and mutually agreed upon legal instruments, all parties should recognize that the maintenance of peace benefited all.
She said a culture of peace would not be a reality if it was not supported by individuals, civil societies, governments and, most importantly, the leaders of nations. "Our creativity, our sense of justice and our humanity must be our weapons." It should become a universal practice of educational institutions to instil in young women and men the values of life and peace; the principles dealing with social coexistence, human solidarity; and the respect for diversity.
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"We should teach our young people to temper ambitions with compassion and tolerance, so we may create a new generation in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.", she continued. Otherwise, irresponsibility and ignorance would continue to lead to hate and violence, social injustice and expansion of global inequality. In that regard, his country supported the idea that the item should become the central theme of the "Millennium Assembly".
EMILIO IZQUIERDO (Ecuador) said at the close of the millennium the world was clammering for a culture of peace, based on the fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and social justice. It had to start with education based on the promotion of respect for human rights, the development of critical thinking, and through providing the necessary skills for work and production. The creativity and special skills of each individual person must be developed to be peace-loving and tolerant. The link between peace, development and human rights was essential.
Three years ago, within the framework of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, a group of Latin American countries welcomed a resolution adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO. Then, last year, a report containing the draft declaration and programme of action had been received. Today, the Assembly had before it a concrete proposal. The time had come to turn concepts into action. The declaration and programme of action deserved the support of all Member States. The Non-Aligned Movement had done that in Durban, when it welcomed the adoption of the resolution appealing for a culture of peace. Ecuador, as one of the co-sponsors of the draft, recommended that it be adopted by the Assembly today.
XIE BOHUA (China) said peace and development were indivisible. Without peace and stability, economic and social development would lose its basis. Without economic and social development, peace and stability would be difficult to sustain and consolidate. To realize peace and development, the international community should establish a just and reasonable new international, political and economic order based on the principles of the basis of the United Nations Charter and the five principles of peaceful co-existence. As to differences between nations, there should be no resort to force, threat of force or the indiscriminate use of sanctions. Solutions should be sought through peaceful means and dialogue, not confrontation.
He said that a culture of peace was a process to be undertaken individually, collectively and through institutional transformation. Such a culture grew out of the beliefs and actions of the people themselves and was developed in each country within that nation's specific, historical, socio-cultural and economic context. China, therefore, believed that the concept of the culture of peace was not rigid. To promote its realization, the international community should pay full attention to the diversity of the world and respect the different approaches and means adopted by each country, according to its national conditions.
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WIN MRA (Myanmar) said the establishment of a culture of peace was bound to be a long-term process of gradual transformation. There had been a consensus on the key role in today's world. It had been generally accepted that investment in that process amounted to investment in peace and progress. The task of constructing a culture of peace required, first and foremost, disarming hatred and taming violence in their early stages. Education was the best tool in that regard, since it provided all the opportunities to do so.
Education instilled tolerance in the mind and contributed to the rejection of violence in all its manifestations, he said. An education policy, thoroughly formulated and carefully tailored to the objectives of a culture of peace might instill in children, values, attitudes and behaviour which could promote the concept. To that end, a sound basis to achieve the aims of a culture of peace should encourage the establishment of national strategies which complimented the work of the Assembly.
He said it was crucially important to mobilize all available resources for the programmes's success. Although his delegation believed that the comprehensive strategy yet to be formulated would no doubt include ways and means for finding resources, it was equally important to have the fundamental and necessary resources available well before "we embark on the programme in full swing". In that respect, solid and timely financial support for the programme was of vital importance.
RICARDO G. CASTANEDA-CORNEJO (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic, said that for many centuries, wars were thought to be inevitable. That kind of thinking had contributed to forming and strengthening a culture of war, which manifested barbaric acts culminating in the Second World War. A culture of peace was now a priority for the Organization which hoped that violence could be avoided. The vision of a Central American region united in democracy and development allowed his Government to support the concept of a culture of peace, he said. The ideas contained therein, complimented the ideals of the international community corresponding to the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A culture of peace would be a process with individual and institutional aspects. The same role under taken by a State in protecting human rights would be instrumental in truly creating the conditions that allowed for a culture of peace.
National programmes of action were necessary, he emphasized. Concrete measures taken at national, regional and international levels could be consolidated and combined in connection with the application of global conferences to create a global culture of peace for the new millennium. He urged States to promote the values and attitudes to realize such a culture.
EMILIA CASTRO DE BARISH (Costa Rica) associated herself with the statement by El Salvador and said that her delegation was convinced of the need for the culture of peace to replace the culture of war and violence. Her
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country's devotion to that idea had been demonstrated through a number of initiatives. The consolidated report on the subject contained the draft declaration and the programme of action. Those texts had been prepared in a meticulous way and could provide direction for the future action on the part of the international community and the United Nations system.
It was necessary to enter the new millennium with a new concept of peace, she continued. It required a profound transformation of the mentality of the world. The culture of peace was a necessary precondition for achieving international peace and security. It was necessary to provide a secure basis for peaceful development. The International Year would allow civil society, NGOs and the international community to underscore their commitment to the promotion of human rights. The promotion of the culture of peace was one of the steps towards implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Costa-Rica was one of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution under consideration, and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.
HASSAN KASSEM NAJEM (Lebanon) said his country had always been a cradle of peace. The culture of peace should oppose all forms of ignorance and not condone hunger, poverty and foreign occupation. Such scourges jeopardized international peace and security. A culture of peace opposed the culture of war. The international community was called on to bring pressure on Israeli troops to observe the culture of peace. Israel had to cease its policy against Lebanon, while it rejected the implementation of Security Council resolutions calling for their withdrawal from Lebanon. He asked whether the obsessive war doctrine reflected in Israel's bombardment of civilian people in southern Lebanon contravened the culture of peace.
The Arabs, of whose culture peace was an integral part, found that the natural role of the United Nations was to uphold and disseminate the values of peace, he said. Hence, they had accepted the Organization's ideas for achieving peace in the Middle East on the basis of the principle of land-for-peace. Two types of cultures existed. One was a humanitarian culture of peace; the other was a culture of domination and aggression.
Human rights were the foundation of peace and progress, he said. At a time when the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was being denied, there was inaction on the part of those who claimed to defend the culture of peace and human rights. Lebanon looked forward to a world free of occupation, and where the principles of justice, equality and peace prevailed.
FASSASSI A. YACOUBOU (Benin) said that the inclusion of the item on a culture of peace gave him an opportunity to share his country's concerns about safeguarding peace. With the end of the long-feared cold war, the international community had breathed a sigh of relief. But the resurgence of intolerance, racism and phobias continued to threaten peace. The international community should work together to protect human rights and
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promote education in every human being. He welcomed the efforts of UNESCO in that field.
The participation of the entire international community would be required to plan and enact concrete strategies and programmes to promote a culture of peace, he said. He welcomed the programme of action to be submitted for adoption to the Assembly. He recommended that the theme of the fifty-fifth session of the Assembly should be "a culture of peace". Provisions should be made in 2000 to heighten awareness of a culture of peace through parliamentarians, teachers, and civil society at large.
IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said that peace did not mean just absence of war. Intolerance and absence of social dialogue should also be stemmed. On the eve of the new millennium, humankind needed to take stock of its achievements. The culture of peace meant strategy toward conflict prevention. Destructive conflicts should be diverted into peaceful development of countries. Spread of the culture of violence, xenophobia and war should be stemmed.
Senegal was devoted to the promotion of the culture of peace, he continued. In cooperation with UNESCO, it had taken the initiative to build a memorial to remind the world what slavery was about. It also considered it of utmost importance to promote education and humanistic approach. His country was a co-sponsor of today's resolution. His country believed that the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights presented an exceptional opportunity to strengthen the culture of peace.
JORGE PEREZ-OTERMIN (Uruguay) said Uruguay was by nature a peace-loving country, and could not imagine a world in constant conflict. The culture of peace, in contrast to the culture of conflict, coincided with the end of the cold war. Since 1989, 4 million people had died due to armed conflict. They were mostly civilians. The current Assembly must outline actions to be undertaken during the International Year of Peace. Efforts to create a culture of peace would integrate work towards respect for human rights, democracy, tolerance, sustainable development, education and greater participation of women.
In Uruguay, education programmes had already incorporated the ideals of the culture of peace, he said. He was particularly satisfied that, in his region, guerrilla groups had been setting down their weapons. Ecuador and Peru had set aside the threat of war and accepted the challenge of peace. The effectiveness of the culture of peace began with the family, where the child must receive initial instruction. The mass media would play a necessary role. Their duty and responsibility had not been emphasized enough in the draft programme of action. The international community must appeal to the media to undertake efforts to inculcate a culture of peace and not of violence. It had to start now. He also suggested that the culture of peace be considered as one of the principal topics of the "Millennium Assembly".
General Assembly Plenary - 15 - Press Release GA/9499 54th Meeting (AM) 10 November 1998
ALEXANDRE V. ZMEEVSKI (Russian Federation) said that his country valued the implementation of a multi-faceted and complex culture of peace that entailed respect for the rule of law. The draft put forward highlighted the need for a universal strategy along with national efforts to promote peace, such as the national conference being planned in the Russian Federation in the year 2000. Creating a stable psychological trend toward non-violence was closely linked to mutual understanding and democracy.
Work done at past international conferences showed that the creation of peace was closely linked to civil society, he said. Creating a culture of peace challenged the international community to find answers to problems and various forms of extremism. Dialogue and negotiations were important, not just for State structures, but for citizens. Broad information disseminating respect for human rights and rights of minorities was necessary in establishing non-violence as the most important concept in creating a culture of peace.
ROLAND YAO KPOTSRA (Togo) said that promotion of the culture of peace would benefit the international community in the years to come. Actions must be undertaken to involve each individual at all levels. The culture of peace needed to be embedded in each mind throughout the world.
The management of conflicts in Africa was an important aspect of building a culture of peace on that continent, he continued. There were grounds to hope that future peace agreements would be based on the ethics of the culture of peace. He hoped future actions would result in concrete action to support real African development. He welcomed the renewed interest in the centres for peace and development in three regions of Africa, which demonstrated the will to promote the culture of peace. The Government of Togo, which hosted one of those regional centres, believed that they should be revitalized so they could play a vital role in promoting confidence-building within the framework of the mechanism for conflict-prevention.
Elimination of poverty should also be an important part of building the culture of peace, he said. Many African countries still confronted economic difficulties, and any efforts to depart from the culture of violence would be flawed if the population continued to live in poverty.
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