26/09/2001
Press Release
GA/9918



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

11th Meeting (AM)


ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES DEBATE ON REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL

WITH REITERATED CALLS FOR ACTION TO COMBAT TERRORISM


Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization, the General Assembly this morning concluded its debate on that agenda item, which had lasted since Monday morning following an introduction by the Secretary-General.


In the context of the terrorist attacks against the host country and city on 11 September –- the reason for the postponement of this session’s general debate -– most speakers condemned those attacks and called for multilateral action to combat international terrorism.  The Organization should be at the centre of those efforts, they stressed, and many called attention to the link between fragile international security and poverty.


During this morning’s debate, the representative of Israel said terrorism could not survive for long without the support of States and leaders.  Terrorists required safe havens, territories for training and financial assistance to fund their operations, elements that could only be provided by States.  States refusing to suppress terrorists operating in their territory must not be regarded as members in good standing of the family of nations, and must be prevented from assuming leadership roles in international organizations.  The United Nations must persevere in the creation of mechanisms with which to identify and take action against States that lent their support to terrorism.


Libya’s representative condemned terrorism in all its forms as a world problem not restricted to certain religions or countries.  Hatred for Muslims must be condemned just as prejudice against any people anywhere, he said.  All had to cooperate and coordinate to combat the worldwide scourge of terrorism with redoubled efforts -- but not for the purpose of vengeance.  Innocent people must be protected along with those involved in struggles for liberation.


Generally expressing appreciation for the comprehensive and frank report on the work of the Organization throughout the debate, speakers touched on subjects such as disarmament, the links between conflicts and poverty, trafficking in small arms, development in the era of globalization, humanitarian assistance in emergency situations, smuggling of people, the situation in the Middle East, the problems and progress of the African continent, and the Organization’s budget.


Addressing the issue of management of the United Nations, the representative of Jamaica said the fact that the Organization had not seen any budgetary growth

for the past four years had disturbing implications for its ability to respond to


new mandates and emerging issues.  The recourse to borrowing from the peacekeeping budget because of shortfalls in contributions from Member States was disconcerting.


The representative of Guatemala, last session’s president of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), said it would ratify the elementary principle that all Members must pay their dues on time, in full and without conditions.  Starting with the biennial budget for 2002-2003, it was also time to abandon the “zero growth” policy if the Organization was to meet its potential.


The representatives of Tunisia, Nigeria, Slovenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Cambodia, Myanmar, Paraguay, Fiji and Grenada also spoke.


The Assembly will meet again on Monday 1 October at 10 a.m. to consider measures to eliminate terrorism.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its 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. 


Statements


PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) noted with satisfaction that the Secretary-General’s report gave particular attention to conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building, within the Organization’s wider peace and security maintenance mandate.  She also welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to promoting a culture of prevention as part of the strategy for the maintenance of international peace and security, but noted that assiduous attention to the root causes of conflict was also critical to the implementation of a proactive preventive strategy in pre-conflict situations.  The strengthening of civilian missions to enhance post-conflict peace-building strategies deserved greater attention.  She was also concerned at the relative paucity of resources earmarked for rebuilding post-conflict societies.  Without such support, significant investments made in the peace-keeping phase might result in precious little return.


She said that humanitarian concerns in conflict areas highlighted the need to protect civilians in armed conflict, particularly women and children. Deliberate attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers and other non-combatants demonstrated the clear need to continue to insist on full respect for the principles of international human rights law.  It was incumbent on the international community to ensure that those who targeted civilians were brought to justice, to which end the work of the international criminal tribunals should be strongly supported.  She was also gratified at the increased sensitivity to the disproportionate effects of war on women, as well as the growing appreciation for the valuable contribution that women could make toward the prevention and resolution of conflict.


She also highlighted the need for the international community to implement measures aimed at eradicating poverty and to address the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS as well as the continued proliferation of small arms, which contributed to the escalation and perpetuation of violence.  She said that the importance of this year’s Habitat Agenda should not be overlooked as the global community set the foundation for a people-centred development agenda.


The fact that there had been no budgetary growth for the past four years had disturbing implications for the Organization’s ability to respond to new mandates and emerging issues, she said.  The recourse to borrowing from the peacekeeping budget because of shortfalls in contributions from Member States was disconcerting. 


GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) noted that the events of 11 September had occurred a bare 24 hours after issuance of the Secretary-General’s report covering the one-year period that began with the Millennium Summit.  The terrorist outrage would have implications of fundamental importance for daily life, international relations and the United Nations.  While the Assembly would look into the matter next week, both the Security Council and the Assembly had reacted immediately to underscore the indispensability of the United Nations as the only universal body to address common challenges.


He said it caused concern when the above elemental idea was questioned, as it had been at the recent World Conference against racism.  The range of matters addressed in the report, combined with the impact of the events that had shocked the world, was an eloquent confirmation that the United Nations was needed more than ever.  The significant contribution peace operations was making to preserving and building peace in various regions, particularly Africa and Guatemala itself, illustrated the point.  Other areas included the Organization’s work in the humanitarian field and with regard to HIV/AIDS, as well as its work in disarmament, in promoting cooperation for development and in forwarding the idea of openness to civil society.


Further, he said, since his country had presided over the Fifth Committee during the Assembly’s last session, it would ratify the elementary principle that all Members must pay their dues on time, in full and without conditions.  Starting with the biennial budget for 2002-2003, it was also time to abandon the “zero growth” policy if the Organization was to meet its potential.


NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the Secretary-General’s report provided the outline for collective action in carrying out the work of the United Nations.  The Millennium Declaration had symbolized a hope that would require commitment to fulfil.  The report had rightly stressed the prevention of conflict as a first priority.  A culture of prevention had to be installed as the focal point of development, through the Secretary-General’s plan for multisectoral development and confidence building, combined with a well-designed and well-coordinated peace strategy.  In that regard, the international community should work to reopen negotiations over the situation in the Middle East.


Development was another name for peace, he said.  The chapter on cooperating for development showed that the United Nations provided constant, meaningful support to governments for development activities.  The United Nations was more than a forum for those activities.  It was a tool for improving such conditions as underdevelopment, extreme poverty and the inequities created by the digital divide.  The many types of cooperation outlined in the report should be speeded up so as to integrate developing countries into the world economy.  Mobilizing resources, creating new opportunities, promoting social development and building sustainable development were just some of those cooperative activities.  The Secretary-General suggested others in paragraphs 138 and 139, in which he highlighted the crucial links between finance, trade and development.  Those paragraphs also highlighted the importance of increasing official development assistance.


The benefits of globalization could not affect all unless solutions were found for the structural problems of developing countries, he said.  That required an ever-renewed commitment by nations to rid the world of such menaces as privation.  Human dignity was one and indivisible, however -- hence the Secretary-General’s insistence on the need to honour commitments already made, especially to Africa. 


The chapter on legal norms had taken on new significance since the terrorist attack of 11 September, he said.  It had thrown stark questions at humanity, especially the one, “what should we do to protect ourselves?”  The questions and answers would be discussed next week, but one answer was clear.  Humanity could no longer continue as it had done in the past. 


ARTHUR MBANEFO (Nigeria) said that conflicts as well as global peace and security were among the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to send inter-disciplinary fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile regions, particularly the recent missions sent to West Africa, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to develop regional strategies, which would include regional actors, in finding solutions to conflicts, and appealed for financial and logistical assistance for such regional and subregional organizations.


The continued proliferation of small arms was a source of concern to his country, he said.  The international community should recognize the correlation between instability and such proliferation.  Africa was the region most affected by the devastation small arms-aided conflicts had wrought on communities, societies and States.  He urged the international community to take concrete steps to ensure the effective control of the circulation of small arms.


One of the greatest scourges facing mankind today was poverty, he said.  A situation where more than half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day was not only totally unacceptable, but was an indictment both on humanity and on globalization.  Globalization had rapidly integrated countries through trade, investment and communication technologies, but it was vital that its benefits should not be confined to a few developed countries.  He welcomed the decision of world leaders to wage a war on poverty and looked forward to the support and partnership of the international community in the New African Initiative.


ERNEST PETRIC (Slovenia) said that in order to help ensure that there were adequate resources for peacekeeping, Slovenia decided last year to voluntarily relinquish the discount it had enjoyed in the peacekeeping scale of assessments.  He was encouraged that the Secretariat was now finalizing a practical guide for Headquarters support of missions in the field by formulating coherent peace-building strategies.  These were essential in conflict prevention, adding that such strategies must include the protection of civilians, in particular women and children.


To prevent tragedies of massive proportions like Rwanda and Srebrenica, it was necessary to prepare the ground for those of adequate preventive action, including humanitarian action, if and when it became necessary.  Conflict prevention and human security should be among central United Nations preoccupations, he said.  Effective conflict prevention must address the root causes of conflicts and embrace both short- and long-term political, economic, humanitarian and other measures.


In reforming the main United Nations organs, he said, it was important to avoid one’s own perceptions and instead try harder to come to a consensus that would best enable the Organization to adapt to a changing world.  It was equally important that the members of the Security Council understood that the legitimacy of their decisions rested on the support of the entire membership of the United Nations, and that transparency of the Security Council's work would contribute to better compliance with its decisions.


LI HYONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that when the sovereignty of States was violated, the right to economic development and even the right to survival were seriously infringed upon.  The principles of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs constituted a cornerstone in international relations as well as in inter-State relations.  The Charter of the United Nations defined maintenance of international peace and security as the main objective of the Organization, and recognition of and respect for the sovereign equality of all Member States was its fundamental principle.


He added that the United Nations should pay particular attention to ensuring that big countries refrained from threatening the sovereignty of small and weak countries and exploiting conflicts to achieve domination aims.  In international relations today, the exercise of power by big countries was tacitly acquiesced in, whereas the self-defensive measures of small countries were subject to sanctions and pressure.


The role of the United Nations, and particularly the General Assembly, should be enhanced to check such a double standard, he said.  The Assembly was the highest organ of the United Nat

ions, and should decide on all issues related to international peace and security so that other organs would not adopt resolutions going against the will of Member States.  It was necessary to take appropriate steps permitting the Special Committee on the Charter to take up that issue and present its recommendations to the General Assembly.


If United Nations activities were to be democratized, the Security Council should be reformed.  In that regard, it would be appropriate to begin reform breakthroughs by reaching agreement on the overriding issue of increasing the Council’s non-permanent membership.


MARLY CEDEÑO REYES (Venezuela) said the Secretary-General’s comments required the attention of governments faced with guiding the Organization through the ongoing transition in the international system.  Efforts must be combined to assure that tragedies such as those of 11 September would not happen again, and the Assembly could make an important contribution towards that end.  In the context of globalization, the management of global solutions to shared problems should be promoted only through actions by the Organization, which articulated the interests of States.  However, expectations were often limited because of lack of necessary support by Member States.


Despite efforts at conflict resolution, she was concerned that there still existed unusually violent situations, where civilians had become targets of groups that defied basic norms of human law.  Conflict prevention was an inescapable objective of the international community.  It should be based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and humanitarian law.  States had the primary responsibility for dealing with internal conflicts.  Trafficking of small arms worsened conflicts and threatened the security of States.  The international community should adopt measures based on international cooperation to eliminate that illegal activity.


Globalization was an unrelenting force whose benefits had been uneven, since large sectors of the world population had seen their poverty increase.  Concerted action was needed to prevent marginalization and exclusion of the peoples who had remained outside the process.  Human beings should be placed at the heart of development, and government measures for social and economic development must be supported by international cooperation.  The upcoming Conference on Financing on Development in Monterrey was an ideal opportunity to act jointly to establish financial stability and set up a new financial architecture.


ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said the General Assembly’s work this year was accompanied by sadness over the events of 11 September.  His people understood true suffering more than others, and Libya condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as a world problem, not restricted to certain religions or countries.  Hatred for Muslims must be condemned just as prejudice against any people anywhere.  All peoples must cooperate and coordinate to combat the worldwide scourge of international terrorism -- but not for the purpose of vengeance.  Innocent people must be protected along with those involved in struggles for liberation.


He said the Secretary-General had stated in a New York Times article that steps to be taken in response to the attack would restore peace and security in the world according to international law and norms.  A year ago, Heads of State had reaffirmed those international norms.  They had declared their desire to fight armed conflict, terrorism and poverty while promoting the principles of justice and international law.  That commitment must be adapted to the ever-changing international environment, in which nations and regional organizations tackled the problems of the global village through cooperation.


The United Nations' founders had wanted the Organization to be a powerful force in that process, but there was a movement to marginalize it.  Over the past weeks, the Security Council had been paralyzed because one permanent member threatened to use its veto.  As a result, the situation in that part of the world had been stalemated.  The situation must change.  The Security Council must not be the political tool of the strongest countries.


It was critical to prevent armed conflict, he said, and sanctions must not be imposed unless they were a last resort after other measures were exhausted.  The will of one State must not be imposed upon that of all others.  That had made his own country suffer from sanctions.  Overall for Africa, a strategy must be developed in cooperation with regional organizations to identify the causes of conflict.  With the New Africa Initiative adopted at Lusaka in July, African States had set out the framework for their future.  Hopefully, the General Assembly would act quickly to help Africa take care of its problems.


YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said terrorism could not survive for long without the support of States and leaders who had vowed to inspire and even epitomize the terrorist creed.  Terrorists required safe havens, territories in which they could train, and financial assistance to fund their operations.  Those three elements could only be provided by States that either directly supported, or turned a blind eye to, the actions of terrorist groups.  States refusing to suppress terrorists operating in their territory must not be regarded as members in good standing of the family of nations, and must be further prevented from assuming leadership roles in international organizations.


He said that the threat of terrorism was far from the only issue with global repercussions.  The HIV/AIDS pandemic was a catastrophe of global proportions, destroying the social and economic life of the most affected countries.  All nations, governments, international organizations, the private sector and individuals must resolve to halt the spread of AIDS and to care for those already suffering from it.  He supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to foster development and humanitarian projects in troublesome regions and to send multi-disciplinary missions to areas of tension.  To increase the effectiveness of such endeavours, the United Nations must direct special attention to facilitating improved communications between its departments and agencies, and among its staff in distant parts of the world.


Just as steps were being taken to streamline management within the United Nations system, work needed to be done to improve collective management of the forces reshaping the world, he said.  “Only by working together can we ensure that globalization conforms to the highest aspirations of humankind.  Globalization is an opportunity to bring diverse peoples together, to foster an appreciation of our differences and a respect for our common values.  It is these values that must be strengthened in all our endeavours,” he said.


OUCH BORITH (Cambodia) said it was clear that the impact of globalization benefited primarily the States that already had a strong grip on their economies, while leaving the least developed countries, such as Cambodia, with few if any resources to cope with crisis.  At the end, the rich countries were getting richer and the poor countries were getting poorer.  All countries in the world should therefore be united in their efforts to make sure that the benefits of globalization were spread more equally in order to minimize its negative impact. Such cooperation would enable least developed countries to develop and provide the necessary tools for better lives in years to come.


On the topic of HIV/AIDS, he said one of the most seriously affected countries was Cambodia.  In that light, he was very pleased with the adoption of the Declaration of Commitment on the problem of HIV/AIDS in June 2001.  However, the largest burden of such efforts to combat HIV/AIDS must fall to domestic leaderships, which must mobilize all elements of society.  The Declaration of Commitment should be translated into national platforms to combat the problem in all its forms.


Proliferation of small arms was conducive to conflict, he said.  However, the root cause of the problem was not small arms, which could be supplied by eager traffickers anytime, but conflict itself.  In that regard, conflict prevention should not only mean preventative diplomacy and peacemaking after conflict, but should also address structural conflict prevention.  Such prevention dealt with the underlying causes of conflict, such as lack of democracy, human rights and economic and social development.


U KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said that in the search for peace and security, arms control and disarmament were of critical importance.  His country was disappointed by the low level of international cooperation on disarmament, particularly in the Conference on Disarmament.  Myanmar looked forward to the commencement of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effective verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.


He called upon the Conference on Disarmament to establish, on a priority basis, an ad hoc committee to deal with nuclear disarmament and to commence negotiations for the phased programme of nuclear disarmament, leading to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.  In that regard, the early convening of an international conference on nuclear disarmament in all its respects would enable nations to identify and deal with concrete measures on nuclear disarmament.


On the topic of HIV/AIDS, he said the international community had confirmed its commitment to intensify efforts nationally, regionally and internationally.  In his country, HIV/AIDS was a disease of national concern and accordingly, Myanmar was committed to using all available resources to combat it.  It also continued to cooperate with national, regional and international partners on that matter.


ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said that the cowardly terrorist acts against the United States were also an attack against the democratic, peace-loving world.  The international community must undertake a firm commitment in favour of peace and international progress, as a legacy for future generations.


The greatest and most urgent challenges of the years to come would be to implement the development goals laid down in the Millenium Declaration, he said.  He noted two important meetings scheduled for next year -– the International Conference on Financing for Development and the Summit on Sustainable Development.  But the Secretary-General’s report should have mentioned landlocked countries and small island States among developing countries.  Those nations ran a greater risk of being marginalized and excluded from the benefits of globalization.


He agreed with the report’s view that the most difficult task facing the Organization and the international community was the eradication of poverty.  Globalization must permit all nations to develop in an inclusive and equitable framework, so that all could benefit.  He also agreed that economic growth should be accelerated in developing countries -- but how could this be achieved if developing countries were disadvantaged in international trade?  Landlocked countries had problems with transportation costs, a decisive factor in expanding the trade of any country.  If developed countries did not open their markets to poorer countries, no effort to reduce poverty would succeed.


AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said the most important recommendation in the Secretary-General’s report was that the United Nations should move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention in maintaining security and peace.  The vicious terrorist attacks two weeks ago in the United States more than underscored the urgent need for preventative diplomacy in modern political interactions.  He echoed the Secretary-General’s sentiments that Member States and regional and subregional organizations should play an increasing role in partnership with the United Nations in peacebuilding.


The Secretary-General’s report also reflected the prevailing winds of peace blowing in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.  Amicable relations and perseverance between the respective parties had brought about peace in Bougainville.  He endorsed the Secretary-General’s plea to administering agencies to seek peaceful resolutions to their troubled territories.  The best solutions for such problems could be sought within -- in the democratic norms and human rights framework all Member States adhered to.


He agreed with the need for sustained peacekeeping in Africa into the foreseeable future.  He noted that the Secretary-General’s report reflected on the sizeable humanitarian operations resulting directly from conflicts.  The correlation between the two was getting out of control in some areas, and

continuing to escalate.  Cultivating a culture of conflict prevention and of peace were ideal avenues to address some of those difficult questions.  That renewed vision might increasingly see the delivery of peacekeeping and of humanitarian action in tandem rather than as mutually independent efforts.


HAROLD FRUCHTBAUM (Grenada) said the Secretary-General’s report noted that “many States fail to sign or ratify treaties, not because of any lack of political will, but because of a simple shortage of technical expertise when it comes to the implementation of treaty provisions."  The efforts of the Office of Legal Affairs to address that problem in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research were welcome.  The demands of reporting obligations of treaties, however, remained for a significant number of States a serious difficulty requiring assistance to overcome.


He said the United Nations system, working with governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, must mobilize the necessary resources to create a long-term programme designed to furnish every young person with an introduction to basic concepts and principles of international law and international humanitarian law.  Without such an undertaking, the quest "to build a world of justice and order through respect for the rule of law and international affairs" was unlikely to succeed.


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