24/09/2001
Press Release
GA/9915



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

8th Meeting (PM)


DEBATING REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON WORK OF ORGANIZATION,

SPEAKERS FOCUS ON FIGHT AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM


Peacekeeping, Inter-Agency Coordination, Development Also Stressed


In the course of this afternoon’s General Assembly debate on the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization, most speakers addressed the terrorist attacks on 11 September in the host country, condemning the attacks and placing the United Nations at the centre of the fight against the scourge of international terrorism.


The representative of Egypt said there was a real structural fault in the security system established by the founding fathers of the United Nations and the creators of its Charter.  It was important that the international community take new steps to deal effectively with international terrorism.  Among other important issues that should be addressed was the explosive situation in the Middle East, due mainly to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.


The representative of China stressed that extreme poverty had exerted a stranglehold on economic development and social progress, and caused regional disturbances and armed conflicts.  Promoting development was a major issue arising from the question of peace.  The input of the United Nations was seriously insufficient in that area.  The Organization should dedicate its efforts to establishing a new international economic order of equal cooperation and common development.  It should also reform the international financial and trading system to ensure equal participation by developing countries.


South Africa’s representative, referring to the tragic events of last week, warned that whatever pain the world might be going through, it must at all costs avoid the temptations of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the other forms of prejudice and discrimination that the recent World Conference Against Racism in Durban so eloquently warned against.


He said Africa had given serious thought to questions underlying the huge disparities in development between North and South.  It had realized that developing countries could do much to help themselves before engaging developed countries on the important steps they would have to take to support them.  Africa had approached the developed world and the international development community in search of partnerships that would ensure their efforts were sustained by appropriate support measures.


Also on the issue of Africa, the representative of Guinea called for a special session of the General Assembly to address the issues raised by the New

Fifty-sixth General Assembly              - 1a -                        GA/9915

Plenary                                                       24 September 2001

8th Meeting


African Initiative adopted by the Organization of African Unity in Lusaka in July 2001.


Speakers also addressed specific items highlighted in the report. The representative of Italy said there was a need to promote more effective coordination among the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) .  Dialogue and cooperation with regional organizations should be strengthened along the lines of what was being done in Bosnia and Kosovo by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United Nations missions.  Regional organizations were often able to mobilize and express the necessary political will and experience to address and settle conflicts.


Addressing the unique situation of landlocked developing countries, Mongolia’s representative said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had played positive roles in addressing the difficulties faced by those countries, which spent an average of 14 per cent of their earnings for transport and insurance services.  There was a heavy burden on landlocked developing countries, reducing or negating any competitive advantage they might have.  Unfortunately, he said, this year’s report did not mention the problems those countries faced.


The representatives of Luxembourg, Ecuador, Romania, Liechtenstein, Uruguay, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Philippines, Egypt, Peru and Colombia also spoke.


The Assembly will meet again tomorrow, Tuesday 25 September at 10 a.m., to continue its consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization.


Background


The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization (document A/56/1, Add.1 and Corr.1).  The report has been summarized in Press Release SG/2071-GA/9911 of 20 September.  For this morning’s debate, see Press Release GA/9913 of 21 September.


Statements


SERGIO VENTO (Italy) said prevention, conflict resolution and reconstruction were three parts in a continuous process that could not be addressed separately: an integrated approach should permeate the Organization’s culture of peace.  There was a growing need for a comprehensive vision and coordination between the various phases of a conflict situation.  As a matter of course, the mandates of Security Council-authorized operations should contemplate not just an exit strategy for the peace-keeping forces deployed, but also a range of activities of reconstruction, reintegration and resettlement of former combatants, as well as institution building.


In that regard, there was a need to promote more effective coordination among the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), he said.  Dialogue and cooperation with regional organizations should be strengthened, along the lines of what was being done in Bosnia and Kosovo by the NATO and United Nations missions.  Regional organizations were often able to mobilize and express the necessary political will and experience to address and settle conflicts.


He added that conflicts, crisis situations and natural catastrophes were all dramatic realities with the lowest common denominator: the suffering they caused to the civilian population.  The international community must be able to respond more effectively to the relief needs of afflicted civilians.  The progress made last year in coordinating international actions had undoubtedly been positive, but more must be done, especially in field operations.  In that regard, the role played by the Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs was essential, and Italy intended to support it with renewed commitment.


J. ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the Organization had been actively involved in the work of achieving peace and security, and had made progress in the area of conflict prevention and peace-building, particularly in East Timor.  In disarmament, significant first steps had been taken in combating the illicit trade in small arms, but the development of missile defence systems posed threats to current and future arms control agreements.   He thanked the Department of Disarmament Affairs for organizing a meeting of non-governmental experts on ways and means to strengthen his country’s nuclear weapon-free status.


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had played positive roles in addressing the difficulties faced by landlocked developing countries, he said.  Such countries spent an average of 14 per cent of their earnings for transport and insurance services, while other developing and developed countries pay 8.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.  There was a heavy burden on landlocked developing countries, reducing or negating any competitive advantage they might have. Unfortunately, this year’s report did not mention the problems these countries faced, though a group of such countries had asked the Secretary-General to include that topic in his annual report.  It was hoped those questions would receive due consideration in future reports.


Such acts of terrorism as those that occurred on 11 September could only be considered crimes against the peace and security of humankind.  The United Nations could and should play a greater role in the fight against terrorism, so the push for universal accession to the 12 existing global conventions for the suppression of terrorism should be continued.  He hoped that consideration of the question of international terrorism in plenary in October would provide impetus to further promote elaboration of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism.


HUBERT WURTH (Luxembourg) said the work of the United Nations must be regarded in light of the lessons of 11 September.  There was no justification for the killings, which affected the Organization as well as the host country and were an expression of disregard for fundamental human values.  The Organization could react only by being collectively strong.  Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, he said reform of the Organization must be further enhanced.  The past year’s work had been guided by the Millennium Declaration, he added.


The report stressed the complexity of conflicts, he said.  Protecting civilians in conflict areas was a priority for the United Nations and conflict prevention was the main way of implementing it.  An integrated approach was needed to avoid further tension.  In that regard, he said that participation of humanitarian agencies in some Security Council debates had been a significant contribution.  Restructuring of the peacekeeping area had progressed, as could be seen in United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).  The work being done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had resulted in progress for the inter-Congolese dialogue, and progress had also been made in the control of raw diamonds.


The humanitarian situation was not improving, he said, and women and children were suffering most.  Refugees and internally displaced persons were still suffering.  National disasters were fought more effectively with civilian management of disasters.  The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was, in that context, a cause of major concern.  At the Millennium Summit, progress had been made in many areas related to development, and ambitious targets had been set.  Luxembourg had exceeded the United Nations target for official development assistance.  International legislation must be applied against crimes against humanity and such acts as the events of 11 September.  Luxembourg had ratified the Statute for the International Criminal Court.  A strong court did not affect legitimate self-defence, he said: it strengthened it.


DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa) said the tragic events that had occurred in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania would provide new impetus to efforts by Member States to address international terrorism.  Finalizing a comprehensive convention was pivotal for the successful outcome of collective action to suppress international terrorism.  However, whatever the pain the world might be going through, it should avoid the temptations of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and any other forms of prejudice and discrimination that the recent World Conference Against Racism so eloquently warned against.


He said Africa had given serious thought to questions underlying the huge disparities in development between North and South.  It had realized that developing countries could do much to help themselves before engaging developed countries on the important steps they would have to take to support them.  Africa has approached the developed world and the international development community in search of partnerships that will ensure their efforts were sustained by appropriate support measures.


Today’s complex challenges facing the United Nations in resolving and managing conflict required that the Secretariat be adequately structured and resourced, he noted.  Peacekeeping reforms would help improve the image of the Organization, but no amount of reform would suffice if they were not backed up by the requisite political and financial support.  That was particularly important for the role of the United Nations in African conflicts.  He was also concerned by the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially in Africa, which was underscored by serious gaps identified in the United Nations response to IDPs, by the review mission of the Inter-Agency Network on Internal Displacement.  He welcomed the creation of an IDP unit in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (OCHA).


MARIO ALEMÁN (Ecuador) said the world faced threats that transcended national borders, and the United Nations was the only place where nations could deal with those threats adequately.  The role of the Organization in the area of peace and security was a basic component of its responsibilities.  Disarmament on the one hand, and conflict prevention on the other, were two sides of the same coin.  If conflicts were prevented, then there was no need for an arms race. Dialogue, negotiation and agreement should be the norm in solving international disputes.  However, the world was not moving in the right direction in terms of arms proliferation, the use of weapons in outer space and nuclear testing.


On anti-personnel mines, Ecuador had reached the target set for the third meeting of States parties to the Convention Against Anti-Personnel Mines, he said. His country had no stockpiles of mines and had destroyed over 200,000 mines, with the assistance of the Organization of American States.


He said that the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, scheduled for 2002, should not merely be a repetition of age-old hopes.  It must adopt measures to eradicate poverty, and must give true content to democratic principles and human rights.  The world should also commit itself to enforcing international law.  In particular, it must ensure that the long arm of international law reached those responsible for offences such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and the killing of one’s people.  Such measures were essential in order to build a world that was more humane.


ALEXANDRU NICULESCU (Romania) said the annual report was a review of recent work and an outline for future common work.  The Millennium Declaration and the road map towards its implementation set up a broad and substantial agenda for the United Nations in finding constructive solutions to the fundamental problems of an increasingly interdependent world.  Recognizing the United Nations as an instrument of global cooperation on common objectives, Romania was committed to fulfill its share of responsibility with the Secretary-General’s report as the framework.


First, he said the recent violence in the host country had sorrowed the whole of humanity.  There were not enough words to condemn the terrorism and fanatacism behind the human catastrophe.  The world community could not again afford to pay such a price in innocent lives to the perpetrators of those acts.  On 19 September, Romania’s Parliament had endorsed the National Security Council decision to open Romania’s air, territorial and maritime space facilities in support of United States actions against terrorism.


Turning to other areas, he said his country would celebrate its tenth anniversary of continuous participation in United Nations peacekeeping or peace-building activities next year.  In that regard, the first priority was to prevent the recurrence of conflict.  His country would contribute to the international presence in Kosovo with an important number of policemen to assist in making the transition from conflict to stability.   In areas related to prevention of armed conflicts and dealing with existing ones, close cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was important.  Eradication of poverty and achieving sustainable growth through appropriate policies and institution-building were other important concerns, as were the information revolution driving globalization, and the integration of human rights into the whole range of United Nations activities.


CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein) said that the United Nations had to join forces to eradicate the root cause of terrorism.  Reactions worldwide reflected a deep recognition of the need for enhanced international cooperation.  This was the momentum the United Nations had to seize, to make the world understand that it was the one forum where all could come together to agree on policies and on ways to implement them.  The Organization had a critical role to play.


The efforts of the Secretary-General to work towards a culture of prevention of conflicts, she said, had gained a sad and burning relevance through the events of 11 September.  As in every area where prevention was called for, the key issue was addressing the root causes of conflicts.  Recognizing and fighting the reasons was merely an intelligent and rational response to irrational acts which defied human comprehension.


The steps required to design such powerful responses were manifold: Enhanced international cooperation in criminal matters and the suppression of financial flows to terrorist groups came readily to mind, she said.  But it was also necessary to redouble efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, to find political solutions to longstanding situations of conflict and crisis, to strengthen the rule of law and prevent the outbreak of new conflicts.  Above all, the Organization had an urgent obligation to ensure that there was no gap between people of different cultures and civilizations.


FRANCOIS L. FALL (Guinea) said the question of peace and security was at the very heart of United Nations concerns.  The Brahimi Report was a key document in that regard.  Cooperation between the United Nations system, civil society and regional organizations had improved and would aid in conflict prevention.  Involving the financial institutions was also important, because that would help to alleviate poverty, a root cause of conflict.  The United Nations office in West Africa would also aid in providing early warning of conflicts and preventing such conflicts in the region.


On the topic of sanctions, he believed in very carefully targeted use of them.  While sanctions should be considered in some cases, they should not unduly impact civilian populations.  He supported the establishment of a “culture of protection” for civilians threatened with armed conflict.


On the issue of Africa, he called for a special session of the General Assembly to address the issues raised by the New African Initiative, adopted by the Organization of African Unity in July 2001.  He also hoped the international community would support the Secretary-General in his efforts to strengthen international security and international cooperation.


WANG YINGFAN (China) expressed support for the Assembly’s consideration next week of measures to eliminate international terrorism.  Terrorism was a salient problem that had become a major threat to international peace and security.  All countries should strengthen cooperation and make joint efforts for their common interest in preventing and combating all forms of terrorist activity.  The United Nations should play an important role, and China would contribute to strengthening international cooperation against terrorism.


With regard to the Secretary-General’s report, he recalled the section on the question of peace.  He said much progress had been made in implementing last year’s Millennium Declaration.  However, the world was still far from peaceful.  Regional conflicts were occurring one after another due to ethnic, religious and territorial disputes, as well as the fight for resources.  Other causes of unrest were issues such as drug trafficking and deterioration of the environment, the spread of diseases and refugee problems.  Finally, rampant activities by terrorists, separatists and extremists were posing a new challenge to peace and security.  In maintaining international peace and security, it was notable that the overwhelming majority of today’s conflicts occurred in economically underdeveloped countries and regions.


He said extreme poverty exerted a powerful grip on economic development and social progress in some regions to cause regional disturbances and armed conflicts.  The international community must strike at the roots of the problems.  It must help developing countries solve the more fundamental issue of economic backwardness.  Past experience had demonstrated that the most effective way to prevent or resolve conflicts, and to realize lasting peace and common security, was to resolve differences and disputes through dialogue, negotiation and consultation.


With regard to disarmament, he continued, a series of negative developments in recent years had led the international security situation of multilateral disarmament and arms control process into a stalemate.  The United Nations must take the necessary steps to prevent that dangerous situation from going further.  Among other measures, it must adopt with an overwhelming majority a resolution to prevent an arms race in outer space.  Finally, in the area of promoting development, which was a major issue related to the question of peace, the input of the United Nations was seriously insufficient -- and the situation must be changed.  Countries were placing ever-higher expectations on the United Nations.  It should dedicate its efforts to establishing a new international economic order featuring equal cooperation and common development, with a reform of the international financial and trade system to ensure equal participation by developing countries.


            FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said universal or regional conventions that established ways to prevent global terrorism were steps in the right direction. However, the conclusion of legal instruments might not be enough to combat terrorism.  Efforts to eliminate poverty and promote development efforts must also be considered.  All nations must be firmly determined to institute a number of measures to eliminate international terrorism.


       He added that it was important for the international community to continue to address the problems of the least developed countries.  Another major problem for the international community was the environment.  Deterioration of the environment was a global enemy which could lead disastrous results for the human race.  While environmental legislation in the last 10 years had proliferated, such conventions were either not implemented or not enforced.  If such a trend continued, then the world would face a future that was either unsafe or insecure.


The humanitarian work of the United Nations in addressing natural disasters and other emergencies was commendable, considering the lack of resources available for those activities, he said.  However, there were serious deficiencies in the United Nations response to such problems precisely because of that lack of funding.  There was a need for more information on such deficiencies and on what measures needed to be taken to shore up those gaps in funding.


SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said it was encouraging that Member States had pledged to move the activities of the United Nations in the field of international peace and security from a "culture of reaction" to a "culture of prevention".  Concerning the Brahimi report on United Nations peace operations, he said it was appropriate that the Secretary-General continued to increase interdisciplinary fact-finding missions and dispatch special envoys and representatives to their respective regions, while encouraging regional organizations to play a more active role in peace-making efforts.


He appreciated the Secretary-General's continued interest in peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, most recently reflected in his statement welcoming the resumption of ministerial talks between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  With regard to disarmament, he shared the Secretary-General's assessment on the low levels of international cooperation.  However, since multilateral disarmament negotiation was largely contingent on the current international security situation, it was important not to lose sight of the virtues of patience and optimism.


A focused approach to development issues was also needed, he said, with a special emphasis on bridging the digital divide and promoting development in Africa.  In this context, the strengthening of United Nations relations with the Bretton Woods institutions and the private sector was very timely and relevant.  He briefly touched upon the topic of global partnerships and noted the allocation of a separate chapter in the report to the issue.  This was a clear reflection of the ever-increasing importance of forging global partnerships with civil society, namely, the business community, academia and NGOs.


ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said the Organization must continue its efforts to eradicate poverty.  Only stable societies could be the foundation of an international order where peace and security ruled.  In order to achieve such societies, it was important, in addition to the necessary economic and social development -- that respect for popular sovereignty be upheld, leader accountability be maintained, and basic rights and the rule of law respected.  He noted with concern that there was a gap between the norms of human rights and their application.


A culture of preventing conflicts, taking into account social, economic and political problems, could constitute one of the most efficient tools for the realization of the Organization’s objectives in the field of peace and security.  He called on all States to renounce arms of mass destruction.  The excessive and destabilizing accumulation of conventional arms, small arms in particular, was also a reason for concern.  He continued to support implementation of the Programme of Action adopted at last July's Conference on the illicit trade in small arms.


He reiterated his appreciation for the work of OCHA, but expressed concern at the continuing attacks on humanitarian personnel.  It a was fitting that the Secretary-General had placed the International Criminal Court and the International Tribunals in the chapter on juridical order and human rights.  His country had incessantly worked towards development of the ICC.  In the field of management of the Organization, the approval of resolutions on comprehensive human resources reform and on scales and quotas were among the most important decisions taken during the 55th session.  They would permit the Secretariat to be more flexible in human resources management.


ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that the most efficient way to maintain international peace and security was to concentrate on the prevention of conflicts by addressing their root causes.  His country was party both to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, and he to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and urged other countries to work for the universal adoption of those agreements.  He called on them to continue work on the issues that remained contentious following the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.


He welcomed the addition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to the United Nations Development Group.  The financing for development process would result in a new development cooperation framework backed up by political will and adequate financial resources.  He called on the United Nations to be effective in raising funds for the cause of African development, and to contribute to effective implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries.


While administrative and management reform were important, he said, so too was strengthening of the means by which the United Nations made policy.  The need to revitalize the General Assembly and reform the Security Council could not, therefore, be forgotten.  Recalling last year’s resolution calling for the President of the General Assembly to assess the Assembly’s discussion of the report of the Secretary-General, he hoped that this session’s President would be in a position to take appropriate action.


AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said there was a real structural fault in the security system established by the founding fathers of the United Nations and the creators of its Charter.  It was important that the international community take new steps to deal effectively with international terrorism.  Among other important issues that should be addressed was the explosive situation in the Middle East, due mainly to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian occupied territory.  African stability was also an important factor.  Africa, in endorsing its New African Initiative at the Lusaka Summit, had set out a long-term road map for development and peace.  That should solidify cooperation in Africa and allow the continent’s countries to share in the fruits of globalization.


There was a large gap between human rights standards on the one hand and implementation of those standards on the other, he said.  There was a need to promote human rights so they were not limited to political rights but also to social and economic rights and the right to development.  It must also be remembered that the eradication of poverty and promotion of sustainable development for all were the responsibility of countries in North and South alike. As the world examined approaches to addressing poverty, those approaches should not be restricted to just the national level.  National efforts led only to a widening gap between developed and developing countries.  There was also a need to find employment for young men and women.  In that regard, Egypt would host the Summit on Youth Employment in Alexandria in 2002.  He called on all countries to participate in that summit, which would address a problem that had plagued developed and developing countries alike.


OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said he shared the view that humanity needed to go from a culture of reaction to one of prevention, with appropriate mechanisms to handle the underlying causes of conflicts.  Regional or subregional approaches could be highly useful in achieving strategies to resolve complex emergencies.  The strategies, however, must be based on clear concepts with clearly defined operations.  The Organization’s meagre resources must be directed to prevent conflicts with maximum efficiency, safeguarding budgetary stability and avoiding unsustainable financial pressure on poor countries.


He said a culture of conflict prevention presumed a reduction in weapons expenditures and an elimination of the risks in accumulating weapons.  It also meant reducing the amount of a country’s resources that went into procuring weapons.  While the Organization was not a substitute for a country’s essential responsibility in laying the solid foundation for its own development and stability, his country had benefited from United Nations help in rescuing institutionality and democratic order for the general elections held in May.


There was no substitute for respecting the human being, he said.  Yet human rights were violated with incredible cruelty in many regions of the world.  The Secretary-General’s recommendations for protecting civilians in armed conflict should be applied.  They should be reinforced with the international political and juridical scaffolding to guarantee that armed groups respected international humanitarian law.  In line with the moral and juridical obligation of member countries not to permit impunity of persons responsible for war crimes or systematic violation of human rights, Peru had ratified the Rome Statute.


Finally, he recalled that the greatest challenge facing the international community at this stage of development was to eliminate poverty.  More than 4

billion men and women currently lived on $2 or less per capita.  “What global market can thus exist?” he asked.  Another $50 billion a year would be needed to achieve the major goals of the Millennium Declaration, he added.  An additional $4 billion would be needed for humanitarian assistance and $20 billion a year would be needed for public goods across the world.  It was an enormous challenge that faced the global community.  It would be overcome when the world developed the conscience of a single humanity.  “This will not be easy.  It is imperative,” he concluded.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said he was concerned that the Secretary-General’s report did not give enough emphasis to the problem of terrorism.  The report should have provided open and direct reference to efforts of the Secretariat and the United Nations system in fighting terrorism.  The international community must exert even greater efforts to combat international terrorism.


There were many States that had been severely impaired by domestic conflicts, he added.  In that regard, the United Nations must maintain close contact with regional and subregional groups to prevent conflict.  Also, considerable efforts must be taken to reduce the consumption of drugs, which not only lead to destabilization of the consuming States but also corrupted and destabilized producing States.


An immediate solution must be found for the internal conflict in Colombia, he said.  Significant progress had been made in that regard in the last year with the help of the United Nations and the international community.  Talks that would lead to the signature of peace agreements had been started by his country.  The norms of humanitarian law and respect for human rights were upheld in that effort to bring peace to Colombia.  His country needed even greater effort from the international community in order for such efforts to be successful.


Also not addressed by the Secretary-General’s report was the financial situation of the Organization, he said.  He noted that new assessments were established for the regular and peacekeeping budgets.  Such new scales set forth new requirements and new guidelines to ensure that the Organization would be more stable from an economic standpoint.


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