13/11/2001
Press Release
GA/9964



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

51st Meeting (PM)


WHILE FOCUS ON TERRORISM WARRANTED, WORLD’S ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITICAL,

HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS NEED ATTENTION, GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD


Although focus on the current effort against international terrorism was warranted, there were other dimensions of the global agenda that should command the world's attention, said Pierre Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica, as the Assembly continued its general debate this afternoon.  That agenda included a wide range of economic, social, political and humanitarian problems faced on a daily basis by the poor and disadvantaged of the world.


Once again a lack of commitment in the fulfilment of a stated goal was evident -- that of official development assistance (ODA).  The reality was that trade preferences were eroding, and official assistance flows were declining, while historical ties with former partners in development were fading.  It was imperative that steps be taken in the multilateral trading system to ensure the development of small, vulnerable economies, and prevent their further marginalization, Mr. Charles said.


The representative of Malaysia said that the continued need for an inflow of official development assistance would become even more critical with the advancement of globalization.  Unless the ODA situation improved, developing countries would be further marginalized in a rapidly globalizing world. Regrettably, many developing countries had not benefited from global trade liberalization because of their inability to access the markets of developed countries.  Several developed countries maintained protectionist regimes and subsidies, even as they insisted on opening up the markets of developing countries in the name of globalization.


The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that one of the major challenges to the United Nations today was that of global poverty that had resulted from colonialism in the past and continued to be aggravated due to the inequitable monetary systems and neo-colonial policies.  It had also become a factor that spawned conflicts, diseases and hunger and hampered the independent and creative life of people and their enjoyment of the right to development.


Out of the 1.2 billion people who lived on less than a dollar a day,

300 million were in Africa, stated the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia. The New Initiative for Africa was indeed a timely response.  He only hoped that, unlike previous blueprints for Africa's socio-economic development, the New Initiative would not be left to gather dust.  It would appear that for the first time, Africans were in the driving seat, and their principal partners in


development should complement Africa’s efforts by providing the necessary resources as a matter of urgency.


The terrorist acts had seriously damaged a rapidly globalizing world economy, said the representative of the Bahamas.  The small economies of the Caribbean had experienced massive disruption since they were vulnerable to external shocks and are dependent on tourism.  In addition to a significant loss of employment in various sectors, government revenues had fallen and foreign reserves were threatened.  The CARICOM had moved quickly to assess the implications and then issued the Nassau Declaration on International Terrorism in October, which set out actions governments could take to mitigate the impact of the damage.


The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein said that the United Nations must address the root causes of terrorism, which were poverty, social exclusion and marginalization and the lack of basic education.  Common efforts, however, could only be successful if they focused on stopping financial flows to terrorists.  The international community must not venture into other areas of international financing under the disguise of fighting terrorism.  He stated clearly that bank secrecy as practised in Liechtenstein had never provided, and never would provide, protection to terrorists or their financial transactions.


The Foreign Ministers of Greece, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Burundi, and the representatives of Tajikistan, Brunei Darussalam and Viet Nam also addressed the Assembly.


The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. Wednesday, 14 November, to continue its general debate.


Background


The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate.  (For more background information, see Press Release GA/9957 of 10 November.)


The Assembly was expected to hear from the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Dominica as well as from high-level government officials from other countries.


Statements


PIERRE CHARLES, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Dominica:  The current effort against international terrorism is important, and our focus on it is warranted, but there are other dimensions of the global agenda that should also command the attention of the international community.  They comprise a wide range of economic, social, political and humanitarian problems faced on a daily basis by the poor and disadvantaged of the world.  At the Millennium Summit last year there was general agreement on issues that needed urgent attention and goals to be achieved.  One year later, those goals appear to be as far from being realized as ever.  The prospect of reaching the objective of a 50 per cent reduction in the number of persons living in poverty worldwide by the year 2015 is suffering from the tepidity of efforts to deal with the root causes of poverty.  Contributions from industrial countries are woefully inadequate, and adjustments in the strategies of international financial institutions are slow in coming.


The international community also seems to have lost interest in a crisis the Secretary-General has labelled “the greatest public health challenge of our times”.  As front page news, HIV/AIDS had a short life after the General Assembly special session six months ago, but the disease claimed millions of lives last year and created millions of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa –- the region that continues to have the highest rates of infection.  The global AIDS and health trust fund proposed by the Secretary-General is clearly not realizing its spending target of $7 to $10 billion.  And achieving the stated goals of bringing to a halt and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 is now very much in doubt.


International development cooperation plays a vital role in the development of mechanisms necessary to enhance the trade competitiveness of developing countries.  The strengthening of financial systems and development of human resources are clearly undermined by declining levels of official development assistance (ODA).  It is generally accepted that were industrialized countries to meet their promise of providing 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA, the developing world would be much further along in solving many of its problems.  As a substitute for this unmet promise, developing countries have been told to place greater reliance on foreign direct investment, most of which bypasses the most needy and the smallest economies.


The unique characteristics of small vulnerable economies give a clear indication of the challenges they face in improving their development prospects and adjusting to liberalization and globalization.  Many of those economies are at the crossroads.  The reality is that trade preferences are eroding and official flows are declining, while historical ties with former partners in development are fading.  It is therefore imperative that steps be taken in the multilateral trading system to ensure the growth and development of those economies, and prevent their further marginalization.

GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece:  We may not know how to define terrorism, however the world, with near unanimous voice, condemned the 11 September events.  From the ruins of this tragedy, there is a clarion call to change this world -- a call to create a moral order and a world community of values where a genuine sense of justice can prevail.  This means that our responsibilities must reach beyond our borders.


There is a need for a universal response to the challenges this global village faces.  It underlines the need for standards concerning principles and practices that guarantee justice, from the Middle East, to Cyprus, to Afghanistan, to Kosovo.  In our search for a common moral code we must not allow a clash, but seek a dialogue, of cultures.  Greece has always stood at the crossroads of cultures.  We are proud to be European and Balkan and Mediterranean.  The commitment to dialogue is also a commitment to reach specific, practical results that will enhance our region’s ability to establish well-respected values and principles to deal with problems such as terrorism.


Two years ago I stood before you with my Turkish colleague expressing the hope of a new beginning in our relations.  Today, I can report significant progress.  We are constantly adding confidence-building measures to assure peace in the Aegean.  We are cooperating in the fight against crime, drug trafficking, illegal migration and terrorism.  Our trade has doubled. Our neighbour’s path towards the European Union -- a path we wholeheartedly support -- has provided a new framework through which many of our remaining differences shall be resolved. The “architecture of trust” we are building in south-east Europe is, however, significantly hindered by the situation in Cyprus.  Cyprus is a tragic example of where our shared sense of justice and our shared code of values has gone astray.


Both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities could benefit from the island’s membership in the European Union.  It is a win/win situation. Our constant reference to United Nations resolutions that clearly call for the creation of a bi-zonal, bicommunal Federation cannot be interpreted as a desire for outside imposition.  This call expresses our deep belief in justice for Cyprus.  I appeal to both the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots -- and in particular Mr. Denktash -- to use the United Nations framework to establish a just solution.  Let us break down this last Berlin Wall in Europe and help create a common future for the citizens of a free Cyprus.


JAN KAVAN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic:  We are witnessing a significant process leading to new relationships in the international community.  The creation of an anti-terrorist coalition so quickly was encouraging.  This momentum must be strengthened to solve other pressing problems, especially those that will fight terrorism by reducing tensions and promoting justice and stability.  In facing global challenges, it is important not to let the fight against terrorism be replaced by a clash of civilizations such as Osama bin Laden called for.  It is also important to work actively for change.  The Czech Republic is doing its share, including by becoming a candidate for the presidency of the next Assembly.


The immediate objective of finding and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks on the United States was the first priority.  However, that could be done while other phases were undertaken, in particular using the three-pronged strategy that Pakistan’s President had before the Assembly -– going after the main culprits, then after their organizations, and finally addressing unresolved disputes around the world to find solutions for them.


After hearing four days of messages from the world’s leading political figures, it is clear that many countries beyond the European Union are arguing that the fight against terrorism must combine military action and decisive efforts to eradicate the root causes of terrorism.  Long-seething conflicts provide fertile soil for terrorism, since frustration, despair and powerlessness lead to alienation, extremism and lawlessness.  Political solutions, on the other hand, reduce tensions, promote peace and take the wind out of the sails of those who forward the absurd myth that terrorist actions can bring about any effects other than the loss of innocent lives and the exacerbation of problems.


Comprehensive solutions must be sought if terrorism is to be beaten, and all available tools must be employed.  We must concentrate on terrorist activities directly, but also on related activities, like international organized crime and drug trafficking.  Long-term developmental assistance to alleviate the most pressing problems of the developing world should be an integral part of the effort.  Political and diplomatic action to resolve situations should in no way be interpreted as negotiating with terrorists.  Terrorists can only be brought to justice -- there could be no negotiating with them.  In Afghanistan, a post-Taliban State will need help from the United Nations -- the one institution that can deliver a better future for Afghanistan and for other trouble spots.


A campaign to reduce poverty should be at the forefront of all efforts, along with the protection of human rights.  The recent conference on racism in Durban showed, by the difficulty of negotiations, that extreme intolerance and terrorism are linked.  An international legal environment is essential for prosecuting crimes against humanity. 


HUGO TOLENTINO DIPP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic: Terrorism cannot be justified in any way.  But it must also be noted that being shut out, having no hope and suffering from poverty can give birth to twisted feelings leading to indiscriminate and irrational vengeance.


We are convinced that the direction the Millennium Summit set for us was the right one -– the path of peace and prosperity among people.  The pain and inhumanity of 11 September must not divert us from the goals we set for ourselves in the Millennium Declaration.  The most prized virtue of this Organization is its commitment to human rights.  Terrorism is the antithesis of that virtue.  We must not be overcome by a spirit of retaliation, but rather apply international law and seek justice.


In 1945, the United Nations Charter highlighted, as a core concern, the need to preserve peace, after a war that had brought death to millions of human beings. There is no better way to preserve peace than to do everything we can to prevent war.  The United Nations gives us a framework that allows us to promote understanding among nations.  The unanimous adoption of the Millennium Declaration was a commitment by the world’s leaders to a kind of rebirth, and to the renewal of the United Nations to allow it to come to grips with the challenges of the twenty-first century.  The leaders determined to support all efforts to ensure the sovereignty of States and the right to self-determination of peoples still subject to colonialization or foreign domination.  The need to turn the Security Council into a body that can respond to the realities of the modern world cannot be denied.


Only by a sustained effort to create a new reality based on diversity can globalization become equitable.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) counts among its objectives a respect for human rights, but this respect will not be possible if globalization is not allied to the provision of assistance that will allow nations to develop.  We hope that the conferences scheduled by the United Nations, such as the Conference on Financing for Development and the International Conference on Sustainable Development, will shed light on these problems and how they can be addressed.


BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Gambia:  The importance of a regional approach to conflict resolution cannot be overemphasized.  We will have to blow our own trumpet by commending the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the important role that it plays in the quest for lasting solutions to problems in the Mano River area.  As stated in the Faal report, which followed a mission to West Africa some time ago, certain countries like Guinea-Bissau need special and urgent attention.  We are saddened by the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There is obviously a direct link between such practices and the prolongation of the conflict there.


Concerning the situation in Angola, my delegation continues to believe that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)'s ability to wage war must be further reduced through tighter sanctions.  We are also calling on the Council to lift the sanctions imposed on Libya.  There can be no lasting peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian problem.  The Gambia holds the view that whilst recognizing the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, we believe that the relevant United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict should be implemented.  The international community, as a matter of urgency, should find ways to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.  At the same time, the Iraqi leadership must be accountable for the Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing persons.  It is also our fervent hope that one day the Republic of China (on Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China will unite.


Out of the 1.2 billion who live on less than a dollar a day, 300 million are in Africa, and the New Initiative for Africa is indeed a timely response.  We only hope that, unlike previous blueprints for Africa's socio-economic development, the New Initiative will not be left to gather dust.  It would appear, for the first time, that we -- the Africans -- are in the driver's seat.  Our principal partners in development should complement our efforts by providing necessary resources as a matter of urgency.  A related issue is health.  We, in West Africa, would like to eradicate Malaria as a matter of urgency.


JANOS MARTONYI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary:  Hungary is participating in the highly effective global coalition responding to the terrorist attacks against the United States.  The terrorists are trying to use the excuse of religion, but that is an attempt to impose their own views and order on the rest of the world.  They were able to make their horrific impact by using the tools of globalism and by defying rules and laws and civilization’s norms.  The fight against them would not be short.  The military response was one element in that fight but it was far from the only one.  We must redouble efforts to promote the rule of law and to fight extremism.  We must also implement sustainable development goals.


The attacks will be remembered as a turning point in history, at the dawn of a new era when things could no longer go on the way they had.  The international community had found the right response to a global threat by drawing together in a solidity that will live on long after the task is done.  The United Nations has already developed a dozen conventions on terrorism.  It must now help to implement them.


Hungary, for its part, is party to most of the conventions against terrorism.  It has already begun to implement Security Council resolution 1373 and will submit a detailed report on national efforts it has undertaken.  Just today, it had deposited with the Secretary-General the instrument on suppression of terrorist explosives.  It would be signed shortly.  Parliament was also strengthening legislation in such related areas as money laundering.  In light of the terrorist attack and the anthrax scare, both of which dramatized the high cost of inaction on those serious issues, weapons of mass destruction were a serious concern.


It was unfortunate that problems had prevented finalization of work by the ad hoc committee formulating a convention on the prohibition of biological weapons.  As President of the fifth review conference, Hungary hoped public opinion would influence States parties on that issue, and also on small arms.  In a similar vein, Hungary considers the International Criminal Court to be an instrument of the highest importance.  The ratification of the Rome statute by more than 40 States parties was heartening.  On 6 November, Hungary’s Parliament had accepted the Court.  The instrument of ratification  would be deposited this month.


The world has changed and we must change with it.  In the interest of civilization and security, we must reaffirm human values, as they are contained in the Millennium Declaration.  At this crossroads between millenniums, we are faced with global questions and our answers will affect the entire new century.


ERNST WALCH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein:  We are facing a new type of crisis, and the Security Council has designed a new type of response in its groundbreaking resolution 1373.  Liechtenstein will work closely with the Counter-Terrorism Committee to fully implement its provisions, and will place particular emphasis on its central aspects relating to the financing of terrorism. On 2 October I signed, on behalf of Liechtenstein, the Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.


Our common effort can only be successful if it is focused on our true goal of stopping financial flows to terrorists.  We must not venture into other areas of international financing, under the guise of fighting terrorism.  I wish to state clearly that bank secrecy, as practised in Liechtenstein, never has provided, and never will provide, protection to terrorists or their financial transactions.  The United Nations must also address the root causes of terrorism. Poverty, social exclusion, marginalization and the lack of basic education are key areas we must address.  Informed and educated policy changes are not concessions to the evil of terrorism.  Such thinking would lead to paralysis and inaction.


The United Nations is further challenged by the complex relationship between terrorism and human rights.  Curtailing human rights in the name of the fight against terrorism would mean giving up our most fundamental values -– the very values which those who commit terrorist attacks are out to destroy.  The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, was brought to the best achievable outcome -- the resolution of issues of the past and the present, and a global anti-discrimination agenda with which we all can work.  The necessary will must be mustered so that the message from Durban can reach people worldwide as soon as possible.  The events of 11 September have given additional significance to this message, since racism and intolerance can be both a cause and a consequence of terrorism.


We must change the collective conscience and awareness in all societies, and teach our children the futility and dangers of resorting to violence as a means of dealing with conflicts.  Terrorists use the most extreme forms of violence. Therefore, they must be effectively excluded from society.  We must not accept terrorism as a fact of life, but believe in our collective ability to eradicate it.  This goal may seem distant or even unrealistic, but so did the goal of eradication of slavery in the nineteenth century and the defeat of fascism in the twentieth century.  It is up to all of us to free ourselves of terrorism:  the scourge of the twenty-first century.


THERENCE SINUNGURUZA, Minister for External Relations of Burundi:  We were shocked and horrified by the 11 September attacks.  The events mark a new global challenge to the United Nations.  We fully subscribe to the relevant resolutions in the fight against terrorism.  Strengthening coordination of efforts at the national, subregional, regional and international levels is in order.


The present session takes place at a moment when the peace process in Burundi is at a critical point.  The Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi, which we signed on 28 August 2000, is beginning to be resolutely implemented.  The matter of transitional leadership for three years has been settled.  The solemn inauguration ceremony of the President, Vice-President and the government was held on 1 November.  The new Government has set as priority to bring back individuals who have been kidnapped, and to restore the country in socio-economic terms.  The persistence of war and poverty are enormous challenges.


A nameless war is still being pursued, with pillaging, rape and destruction of infrastructure.  We condemn particularly a new trend of violence:  the seizing of school children to impress them in guerrilla forces.  Our priority remains a quest for a ceasefire.  While thanking our partners for initiatives to bring the rebels into the process, I call upon all, particularly the countries in the

subregion, to impress upon the armed groups to lay down their arms and join the peace process.


The continued deterioration of the economic situation in the country is of grave concern.  The worst kind of fraternicidal war, together with three years of unjust embargo, have plunged the country into extreme poverty.  We have also suffered from drought.  The health situation has deteriorated, as HIV/AIDS and other diseases continue to rage among our weakened people.  Access to drinking water has been seriously deteriorated at a time when many dwellings, schools and health centres have been destoyed.  We urgently appeal to our partners to fulfil their promises, made at the pledging conference last December.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia):  As an Islamic country, we are very concerned that a group of misguided people identified as Muslims carried out terrorist acts in the name of our sacred religion.  They have tarnished the good name of Islam, which stands for peace, and have tried to equate their creed of terror with that of our faith.  We are grateful to President Bush and other world leaders in categorically rejecting the stereotyping of Islam and Muslims with terrorism.  However, we believe there should be an immediate cessation of bombing in Afghanistan to spare the hapless people there from further harm and suffering.


The situation in Palestine and the Middle East continues to be a matter of serious concern to the international community.  The Mitchell report offers a good basis to bring the situation back to the negotiating table.  We regret that the Israeli side rejected major parts of the report, including the call for complete cessation of settlement activity -– one of the main causes for the current cycle of violence in occupied Palestinian territory.


To enable developing countries to participate and benefit equally from globalization, adequate funding for development is required.  The continued need for an inflow of ODA will become even more critical with the advancement of globalization and the shift to a new knowledge-based economy.  Unless the ODA situation improves, developing countries will be further marginalized in a rapidly globalizing world, characterized by rapid change, high technology and stiff competition.  Regrettably, many developing countries have not benefited from global trade liberalization because of their inability to access the markets of developed countries.  Although globalization carries with it the notion of free trade, many developed countries maintain protectionist regimes and subsidies as basic instrument of economic policy, even as they insist on opening up the markets of developing countries in the name of globalization.


ANTHONY ROLLE (Bahamas):  International terrorism has defiantly issued a challenge while the world is promoting human rights, social progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms.  The terrorist acts have seriously damaged a rapidly globalizing world economy.  The economies of both industrialized and developing countries are grim.


The small economies of the Caribbean have experienced massive disruption since they are vulnerable to external shocks and are dependent on tourism.  In addition to a significant loss of employment in various sectors, government revenues have fallen and foreign reserves are threatened.  Member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) moved quickly to assess the implications and then issued the Nassau Declaration on International Terrorism in October.  It sets out actions governments will take to mitigate the impact of the damage.  It also unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and reaffirms CARICOM’s commitment in the multifaceted fight against it, appreciating mutual support with the international community during this period.


The Bahamian parliament had enacted already, in September, a measure prohibiting any person dealing with property, or any financial institution licensed in the Bahamas, from transacting business with Osama bin Laden, Al Queda or any individuals or entities associated with them.  In October, the Bahamas signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.  It now awaits the adoption of a comprehensive convention on terrorism that would take the other instruments into consideration.


Funds had been diverted from development activities to implement sweeping security changes shortly before the recent hurricane compounded the economic setbacks caused by the events of 11 September.  The hurricane caused extensive damage to infrastructure, agriculture and vegetation.  Globalization and trade liberalization are central issues on the world’s agenda, because the social costs of globalization remained serious challenges for many countries in the developing world.  In July, the Bahamas submitted its application for accession to the World Trade Organization.  It hoped the application received the requisite support.


LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea):  The principles of respect for national sovereignty and equality that constitute a cornerstone of international relations are undermined by certain forces that take "strength" as a means for achieving everything.  We are exposed to constant threat from the huge armed forces, including nuclear weapons, deployed around the Korean Peninsula under the pretext of a "threat from North Korea".  This notwithstanding, we will as ever defend our sovereignty and the socialist system of our country and advance convincingly along the road chosen by ourselves.  It is totally irrational to say that the United States deploys huge armed forces in and around the Korean Peninsula and conducts large-scale military exercises against us to advance peace.


Our missile programme is of a purely peaceful nature and does not pose a threat to any country that respects our sovereignty.  It makes no sense for the United States to argue that it would establish a "missile defense" system out of fear of our missiles, while possessing thousands of nuclear bombs and missiles that could extinguish humankind many scores of times.


The large-scale terrorist incident in the United States on 11 September was regrettable and tragic.  It reminds us of the gravity of terrorism.  Now in Afghanistan unprecedented human loss and material damages are brought about by the military operation of the United States.


One of the major challenges to the United Nations today is global poverty, that has resulted from colonialism in the past and continues to be aggravated due to the inequitable monetary systems and neo-colonial policies.  It also becomes a factor that begets conflicts, diseases and hunger and hampers the independent and creative life of people and their enjoyment of the right to development. 


RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan):  While combating terrorism in any region, the international community should be guided by similar criteria and act in a consistent manner.  This session should consolidate the legal framework in the struggle against international terrorism.  Early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on Combating International Terrorism and the Convention on Combating Acts of Nuclear Terrorism could be of great significance.  The future of Afghanistan must be determined exclusively by the Afghan people, and its territorial integrity must be ensured.  We are profoundly concerned with the grave humanitarian situation there.  We attach great importance to the battle against drug production and export, since it helps to deprive international terrorism of a major source of financial support.


Only by applying all available mechanisms of multilateral international institutions can the widening of the gap between the rich and poor countries caused by globalization be stopped.  Tajikistan faces a long-term problem from the damage caused by the civil conflict.  The problem of combating poverty will remain one of the priorities for the Government of Tajikistan.  However, the high level of external indebtedness prevents resolution of the problem and hampers the post-conflict peace-building process.  It is important for the international community to be more dynamic and flexible in easing the debt burden.


In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of large-scale natural disasters.  Tajikistan has suffered a large-scale drought.  In the context of globalization, natural and technical disasters demand an adequate global response.  It is essential that the international community unite its efforts in preventing natural disasters and eliminating their consequences, in training personnel, and in exchanging experience and the results of research.  Among the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century, the problem of access to fresh water is one of the most urgent issues.  We are pleased that Tajikistan’s initiative of proclaiming 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater received wide-scale support.


SERBINI ALI (Brunei Darussalam):  The existence of terrorism is a grim reminder that the United Nations agenda set over the last half of the twentieth century has yet to be completed.  There are many unwelcome legacies from the past 50 years.  Although none justify acts of terror, many offer justification for deep resentment and profound despair.  Perhaps the most apparent of all is the situation in Palestine, where the justice implicit in the Security Council’s resolutions is still denied what is now a third generation of Palestinians.  We welcome the recognition given by many world leaders to the principle of a Palestinian State, and hope that all concerned parties will act with urgency to bring this about.


As we all know, dispelling feelings of past injustice is an extremely difficult task.  In essence, we believe it must involve new approaches to security.  Brunei Darussalam is trying to do this through the Association of

South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, where we seek common understandings through consultation and various confidence-building measures. Members have recognized the complex nature of modern conflict, and have accepted that its roots are often deep and intricately entwined.  It can be the result of long-standing territorial claims, centuries-old animosities, and instinctive suspicions or conflicting ideologies, or it can be as basic as local land disputes or a simple lack of basic resources.


This year, the Forum has been looking into the very challenging area of preventive diplomacy.  The members see dialogue and consultation not as a series of meeting but as a process, which may never end.  In the long run, the process itself may become the solution.  We believe that the key to security today is the capacity to think locally, regionally and globally at the same time.  To us, this means that a positive, forward-looking United Nations is crucial.  It is here that all nations can renew and strengthen the tolerance and friendship that are the real building blocks of security.


NGUYEN THANH CHAU (Viet Nam):  The pressing task of combating international terrorism must not overshadow the other challenges of the new century.  Those include poverty, the widened development gap, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a deteriorating environment and regional tensions or conflicts.  The programme of action for the new millennium was set out a year ago in the Millennium Summit Declaration.  Numerous initiatives were taken in that regard throughout the year.  The most pressing priority on the agenda is the eradication of poverty on a global scale.

The underside of international political and economic life is clearly visible behind the globalization spearheaded by the Information Technologies  revolution.  The gap between rich and poor has widened, and adverse circumstances in international relations have emerged, underscoring disadvantage and vulnerability of developing countries.  The challenge is to make globalization a driving force of development instead of leaving billions of people in abject poverty.  Yet, ODA was declining, particularly in contributions to the development organizations of the United Nations system, at a time when fuller and equitable participation in international economic life should be intensified.


Furthermore, development requires an environment of peace and stability.  Complex implications of conflicts around the world plus the intensification of an arms race are not conducive to development.  The escalation of violence in the Middle East is of particular concern.  The embargoes imposed on Cuba, Iraq and Libya should also be lifted to enable them to concentrate on development and national reconstruction.  The ASEAN countries have determined to build a zone of peace, development and prosperity by coordinating efforts to cope with regional as well as global challenges.  Active support in implementing regional and national plans would promote peace, stability and development in the region and the world.


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