Press Release

Fifty-sixth General Assembly


83rd and 84th Meetings (AM & PM)



Action also Taken on Global Partnerships; Debate Begins on Central

America Situation, Support for Efforts on Behalf of New Democracies

The General Assembly, at two meetings today, considered four items:  building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal; support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies; the situation in Central America; and “Towards global partnerships”.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly this morning adopted a resolution on the Olympic ideal by which it requested Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the winter Olympic Games to be held in Salt Lake City, United States, from 8 to 24 February 2002, by ensuring the safe passage and participation of athletes at the Games.

The Assembly urged the International Olympic Committee to devise a special programme of assistance for the development of physical education and sport for countries affected by conflicts and poverty.

Introducing the text, the representative of the United States, the host country for the 2002 winter Olympic Games, said that through sport one learned mutual understanding, fair play, solidarity and friendship.  Those were virtues the United Nations strove to embody in its work as an example to the world community.

The representative of Greece, host to the 2004 summer Olympic Games, said the purpose of the Olympic Truce movement was far-reaching.  It could become a positive factor in international rapprochement and a useful tool for diplomacy.  In every nation or society, culture or religion, the Olympic Games were recognized as the major sporting event in the world, a unique sports and cultural festivity that should promote the values to be cherished in our global village.

The representatives of China, Monaco, Cyprus, Israel, Cuba, Belarus, Malta, Australia and Zambia also spoke on the subject.

Also without a vote, the Assembly this afternoon adopted a resolution on the item “Towards global partnerships”.  By the terms of the resolution, introduced by Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, the Assembly stressed that the principles and approaches that governed such partnerships should be built on the firm foundation of United Nations purposes.  The Assembly stressed the need for international cooperation to strengthen the participation of enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, business associations, foundations and non-governmental organizations from developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

In the discussion on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies, the representative of Bangladesh said no system of governance could claim perfection.  Yet democracy was widely accepted as the best form of governance that was ever known.  It upheld the rule of law, ensured respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and made governments and decision-making accountable to people.  Without democracy, countries did not stand a chance of achieving sustainable development.

The representative of Benin introduced the draft resolution, and the representatives of Belguim (for the European Union), Republic of Korea, United States, Romania, Philippines, Ukraine, Nepal, Yemen, Mongolia and Nicaragua also spoke on the subject.

When the Assembly turned to the situation in Central America, the representative of Guatemala said implementation of the commitments contained in the Guatemalan peace accords had not moved forward as rapidly as hoped.  He thought perhaps the signatories of the peace accords had underestimated the difficulties of promoting as profound a set of transformations as those contemplated, especially when those affected important vested interests.

The representative of Colombia spoke of the important contribution of the United Nations in Central America.  He said peacekeeping missions, and those of observation and verification, had not only supported the pacification of the region but had also contributed to the strengthening of democratic institutions and respect for human rights.  He urged the United Nations to renew the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) and called on the international community to renew its support for peace-building in Guatemala.

The representatives of Mexico, Costa Rica, Belgium (for the European Union), Norway, El Salvador and Spain also addressed the Assembly on the situation in Central America.


The Assembly was informed that consideration of the agenda item on multilingualism, scheduled for today, was postponed to a later date.

Action on the draft resolution on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies

(page 1b follows)

(document A/56/L.46) will also be taken at a later date, as will action on draft resolution concerning the situation in Central America (documents A/56/L.42 and A/56/L.45/Rev.1).

The Assembly will take up the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday, 14 December in the morning, instead of on Thursday,

13 December.  At the same meeting the General Assembly will also take up a number of draft resolutions on the Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, and will consider the follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.  The Assembly will also consider a draft resolution on the support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

The Assembly will take up the report of the Economic and Social Council on Thursday 13 December, in the morning instead of Wednesday, 12 December.

On Tuesday, 18 December, in the morning, the Assembly will take up the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Wednesday, 19 December, in the morning, the Assembly will consider the reports of the Third Committee.

On Thursday, 20 December, in the morning, the Assembly will take up emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of

war-stricken Afghanistan, together with the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security.

The Assembly meets again tomorrow, Wednesday, 12 November, at 10 a.m. to consider the reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal).


The Assembly met this morning to consider a range of issues.  They include the building of a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal, multilingualism, and support by the United Nations system for efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.  Also, the situation in Central America:  procedures for establishing a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development.  Finally, aspects of moving towards global partnerships.

Reports before the Assembly

For its consideration of the issues, the Assembly has before it a report of the Secretary-General on multilingualism (document A/56/656).  The report establishes the framework for the question by distinguishing between official and working languages in various parts of the United Nations system.  All are some combination of Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, which are both the official and working languages of the General Assembly and Security Council.  All six languages are the official languages of, for example, the Economic and Social Council, while its working languages are English, French and Spanish.  The report then describes the work of the Coordinator, who was appointed as of September 2000 to address weaknesses in the pattern of language use in the Organization.

The report notes that efforts to promote multilingualism are considered from a Secretariat-wide perspective for system-wide effectiveness.  Consultations had identified three sets of issues:  those relating to working languages of the Secretariat, those relating to the official languages used in documents and meetings, and those relating to public information.

Addressing those issues in detail, the report states that with regard to the Secretariat working languages, the host city’s language was often influential when it was also a working language.  Thus English largely prevailed at Headquarters and the United Nations Office at Nairobi.  French, Spanish or Arabic were widely used at offices in Geneva, Santiago and Beirut, respectively.  To promote multilingualism in vacancy announcements and recruitment, a Galaxy Project is being developed to automate the matching of applicants and needs, including language proficiency requirements.  The Project is expected to yield a higher number of French-speaking staff members by the second quarter of 2002.  It will also allow greater weight to be given to language skills in recruitment and promotion.  Language incentives such as allowances and salary increments are being enforced while language training is being promoted.

In the area of issues relating to the use of official languages in documents and meetings, the report recalls the rule mandating that no language version of a document may be released until all required language versions are available.  While the Secretariat makes every effort to adhere to the rule, advance copies are often made available and those are invariably in English.  The recommended action is for Member States to take a position on the pattern of ad hoc availability of courtesy and advance copies of documents.  On meetings, the recommendation is for the General Assembly to address the growing trend to hold informal calendar meetings without interpretation.  In addition, electronic versions of documents are expected to be available in all official languages by January 2002.

A section on issues related to public information details the large number of resources produced to promote global awareness of the United Nations.  The broad range of materials produced in all media as well as in official, working and local languages, includes a Web site that registers six million “hits” a day.  It offers United Nations documents and other information materials.  While multilingualism is pursued, resource limitation and decentralization on the Web site are both limitations.  Assistance from the international community has been found for the Spanish and French Web sites.  In addition, the Committee on Information will consider the question of parity on the Web during a 2002 session.  Other public information issues in which multilingualism is promoted are related to publications and information materials, United Nations Radio and Television, guided tours, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Security Division’s efforts to increase the language capacity of its staff.

The report concludes that a more balanced use of working languages in the Secretariat must be ensured, that attention must be paid to making public information materials available in official languages, and Member States must attend to the use of official languages in their intergovernmental meetings.  Effective actions to promote multilingualism would require policy guidance from the General Assembly, along with concerted efforts by the United Nations and Member States, along with adequate resources.

Also before the Assembly is a report of the Secretary-General on support by the United Nations system for efforts by governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A/56/499).  It reviews proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, held at Cotonou, Benin, in December 2000, along with the Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development adopted at the Conference.  The report also describes follow-up activities to international conferences of new or restored democracies.  It finally offers suggestions for United Nations actions.

The report states that the main themes of the Conference centred on best practices, conflict management, maximizing of participation by youth and women, and finally, the obstacles to consolidating democracy.  The Cotonou Declaration covers a broad range of issues, from security and disarmament to development, poverty eradication and the environment.  Its recommendations are addressed to organization of civil society, the private sector, donor countries, the international community, the United Nations system and the follow-up mechanism established at the Third Conference, held at Bucharest in 1997.

In the Declaration, ministers and participants reaffirmed that the power of public authorities must be based on the will of the people and that public authorities must be accountable for their acts.  They condemned all military coups, terrorism, violence and any undemocratic means of gaining power or retaining it.  They recognized development and poverty eradication as a means of promoting democratic development.  In short, the Declaration represents a comprehensive framework for democratic principles and practices throughout the world based on international standards.  It has created a new momentum for broadening and strengthening international efforts to promote and consolidate democracy.

To achieve the aims set out, the report continues, the Declaration called upon the Secretary-General to designate a focal point in the United Nations system for support of Member State efforts and to provide assistance to the follow-up mechanism by such activities as drawing up lists of objectives, timetables and indicators, identifying applicable programmes, strengthening regional structures, identifying preconditions for attracting investment in the effort, and carrying out programmes focusing on the person instead of on institutions.  The Government of Benin held the first meeting of the follow-up mechanism in September of this year.  Two countries have offered to host the Fifth International Conference.

In an extensive section of observations, the report notes that the number of democracies across the globe doubled during the 1990s.  Support for democratizing processes must be based on the clear understanding that there can be no single prescribed form of democracy.  Democracy should be intrinsically linked to sustainable development, and the benchmark for sustainable democracy is the extent to which a State acts in accordance with universal human rights.  Many armed conflicts are rooted in the issue of the State and its use of power, while experience shows that peace and security are essential conditions for democracy.  A welcome development is the growing international trend to condemn unconstitutional removals or subversions of governments, and an overwhelming majority of States had participated in the Conferences to date.  The global work should be complemented by work at regional, national and local levels. 

Another report before the Assembly is one by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Electoral Observer Mission for the August 2001 general elections in Fiji (document A/56/611).   It states that the caretaker Government of Fiji had requested the United Nations to send observers to attend the general elections being held as part of restoring the system of constitutional democracy that was derailed by the coup d’etat of May 2000.  Overall, the Mission found that the elections were credible and reflected the will of the people of Fiji.  With full cooperation from the people and officials, the Mission observed 96 per cent of polling stations and found no evidence of systematic attempts to manipulate the electoral process for political gains.  There were several complaints and a number of technical problems, including serious issues related to the electoral rolls.  On this and other issues, the Mission had made suggestions to the authorities of Fiji, which it hoped would prove useful for the future. 

The preferential voting system prescribed by the Constitution of Fiji was considered by some to be unnecessarily complex and a cause of the high number of invalid votes.  The post-election observation revealed that there were still outstanding matters related to a full return to constitutionally democratic governance, including the establishment of a multi-party Cabinet.

The United Nations Electoral Observer Mission deployed rapidly and successfully fulfilled its purpose while working within severe time and logistical constraints.  Those who made the Mission a success should be commended, including the Member States who contributed observers, the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs, the Mission’s core team and observers, and the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji.  Most important, recognition was due to the many people of Fiji who worked tirelessly towards the restoration of democracy.

A report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala:  renewal of mandate (document A/56/391) is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 55/177 of 19 December 2000, by which the Assembly authorized the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), in order for the Mission to continue to verify compliance with the peace agreements signed between the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG).  The rescheduled implementation timetable for 2000-2004 was signed on 12 December 2000.

The report reviews how to further the consolidation of the peace-building process in Guatemala, referring, in particular, to 2002, when important ongoing processes will have to be consolidated and others begun, which, together, will seek to make peace irreversible.  The report also covers the status of implementation of the peace agreements.  Much has been achieved, but ethnic discrimination, unequal job opportunities, gender inequality, extreme poverty, and inequalities in access to basic services are jeopardizing the achievements and sustainability of the peace process.  In order to fulfil its mandate of keeping the public informed of progress in the implementation of the peace agreements, the Mission prepared eight thematic verification reports on:  exhumation procedures; commitments relating to rural development and natural resources; the situation of children and adolescents; the problem of lynchings; the climate of conflict; the participation of Guatemalan women; the situation of the National Civil Police; and the status of compliance with the Fiscal Pact.

The report also refers to the structure and staffing of the Mission and the procedures and impact of the scaling down of the Mission which began in the first half of 2001.  In its final observations, the report stresses that the timetable for 2000-2004 is a new challenge for the peace process and recommends that the General Assembly authorize the renewal of the mandate of MINUGUA from 1 January to 31 December 2002, subject to regular reports on compliance with and implementation of the peace agreements, and that the Mission be given the necessary resources for its operations.

The General Assembly has before it a report by the Secretary-General on the situation in Central America (document A/56/416).  It includes a section on the Central American process, which focuses on electoral processes, the rule of law, regional trade, economic cooperation and regional as well as extra-regional institution building.  Other sections cover natural disasters and environmental problems, the Organization of American States, with an emphasis on border disputes, and United Nations bodies and their activities in each Central American country.

New civilian-led police forces are a significant step forward in El Salvador and Guatemala, the report notes, although there are serious signs that they are not following the democratic, rights-respecting model used in their design.  Both countries must buttress internal oversight mechanisms and halt joint police-military patrols, it says.  The continuing involvement of the armed forces in public security could lead Central America into the cycle of violence and repression that led so tragically to war in the past.

The report stresses the importance of independent electoral structures to further consolidate democracy in the region.  For over a decade, citizens of the Central American countries have been exercising their choice at the ballot box, which is an important development.  But effective reforms are needed so that electoral structures can be considered fully transparent, legitimate and non-partisan.  One indication that this has not been achieved is a rising level of abstentionism, perhaps due to increased discontent and lack of confidence in the region’s political institutions.

A note by the Secretary-General transmits a report on human rights of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (document A/56/273).  It covers the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.  The report notes that during that period, MINUGUA had continued to verify compliance with peace agreements signed between the Government of Guatemala and the URNG, but that this had occurred amid severe human rights transgressions.  These include criminal violence, lynchings and “social cleansing”, with recent attacks focused on members of the judiciary, journalists and human rights defenders.

The Mission’s overall findings confirmed that the human rights situation had not improved and could be deteriorating.  The State’s failure to safeguard human rights had increased tolerance for illegal, increasingly violent phenomena, such as lynching, which occurred mainly in communities most affected by the armed conflict.  State agents had been involved in “social cleansing” operations and in obstructing judicial proceedings.  Other groups, within private security companies over which there was insufficient control, had committed crimes.

Threats and intimidation against members of the judiciary had been a habitual means of preventing crimes and human rights violations from being punished, the report says.  It was essential that the State promote an effective policy to protect judges, prosecutors, witnesses and lawyers.  It should also adopt legislation to protect human rights, so that the population has a legal framework guaranteeing its rights.  The Government should fully implement international instruments signed by Guatemala, since it did not seem to have been responding adequately to human rights difficulties.

A report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector (document A/56/323 and Corr.1) is submitted pursuant to Assembly resolution 55/215, which invited the Secretary-General to seek the views on the matter of all Member States and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector.  The report contains the views of 23 Member States, one Observer, and 27 United Nations entities.  It also gives an overview of a consultation process with representatives of business associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), existing literature and analysis of existing examples of cooperation.

The report states that despite the strategic risks and operational challenges associated with partnership-building, most respondents to the Secretary-General's request for their views saw potential benefits of cooperation.  There was, however, a need for:  guidelines and due diligence procedures that did not attempt to micro-manage; increased participation of companies and business associations from developing and transition economies and from the small and medium sector; more resources for internal capacity-building; greater information-sharing and inter-agency learning; and efforts to ensure that partnerships did not undermine the intergovernmental process.

The "Global Compact" is also described in the report.  Launched by the Secretary-General in 1999 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, it is a call to business leaders around the globe to embrace and implement, in their own spheres of influence, a set of nine principles (Appendix I) in the areas of environment, labour and human rights.  Through a process of dialogue and consultation, the Global Compact has developed a three-pronged strategy:  learning, dialogue and action.

The report concludes that the number, diversity and influence of non-State actors has grown dramatically over the past 10 years.  The diversity of relationships between the United Nations and non-State actors is such that a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible.  The potential private sector contribution to development is multifaceted and needs to be harnessed in a focused and effective manner.  The greatest contribution that domestic and foreign companies can make to support the goals of the Millennium Declaration is through private investment and through concerted and transparent efforts to ensure that the economic, social and environmental impacts of that investment are positive.

The report also concludes that the growing cooperation with non-State actors does not, and should not, replace the central role and responsibility of governments in national and international policy-making and in ensuring the security and progress of their citizens.  Governments must continue to play the leadership role in setting goals and agreeing on global and national frameworks.  The resources non-State actors can contribute in terms of expertise, funding and technology, should be a complement to governmental resources, not a substitute.

According to the report, special efforts are needed to ensure that cooperation with the business community and other non-State actors adequately reflects the Organization's membership and pays particular attention to the needs and priorities of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.  To that end, increased efforts will be devoted to building the partnership capacity of domestic enterprises, business associations, foundations and NGOs in those countries and on promoting institutional cooperation between those bodies and their counterparts in developed countries.

The report suggests that Member States may wish to consider measures to encourage partnership arrangements among chambers of commerce and other business organizations in developed and developing countries.  Such arrangements could be aimed at spreading good practices, including training in technical skills and know-how, the use of new management tools and the adoption of good corporate citizenship principles in business activities around the globe.  Such partnerships have the potential to play an important role in ensuring that the benefits and costs of globalization are more equally shared and that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people.

Annex I of the report defines the private sector.  Annex II gives examples of cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector, and Annex III provides guidelines for cooperation between the United Nations and the business community.

Resolutions before the Assembly

Before the Assembly was a draft resolution on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (document A/56/L.47).  By its terms, the Assembly would request Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the XIX Olympic Games to be held in Salt Lake City from 8 to 24 February 2002.  It would request the Secretary-General to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce among Member States, drawing the attention of world public opinion to the contribution such a truce would make to the promotion of international understanding, peace and goodwill, and to cooperate with the Olympic Committee in the realization of this objective.  The Assembly would also urge the International Olympic Committee to devise a special programme of assistance for the development of physical education and sport for countries affected by conflicts and poverty. 

Further to the draft, the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-eighth session the item entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal" and to consider this item before the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, to be held in Athens in 2004.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, and Zambia.

A draft resolution on multilingualism (document A/56/L.44) is before the Assembly.  By its terms, the Assembly would recall that recruitment and promotion of staff in the Professional and higher categories must also take into account adequate and confirmed knowledge of a second official language.  It would request the Secretariat to carry out a comprehensive review of the reasons why there is a tendency in the operation of the General Assembly committees to hold informal meetings included in the calendar without interpretation, and to propose such improvements as it deemed fit. 

The Assembly would also request the Secretariat to publish statistical information concerning the acquisition policy of the libraries and documentation centres of the various organs, according to linguistic criteria, and would request the Secretary-General to submit to it at its fifty-eighth session a comprehensive report on the implementation of resolution 50/11 and of the present resolution, including any necessary statistical information on the development of the use of languages within the Secretariat.

The resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cost Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, France, Gabon, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nauru, Niger, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

By a resolution on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A56/L.46), the Assembly would encourage Member States to promote democratization and to make additional efforts to identify possible steps to support the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

The Assembly would invite Member States, the United Nations system, and other intergovernmental and NGOs to continue to contribute actively to the follow-up to the Fourth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies.

By the same draft, the Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General to continue to improve the capacity of the Organization to respond effectively to the requests of Member States by providing coherent and adequate support for their efforts to achieve the goals of good governance and democratization.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to examine options for strengthening the support provided by the United Nations system for the efforts of Member States to consolidate democracy and to submit a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session, when it would include the item in its provisional agenda.

The draft is sponsored by Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Hungary, India, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Uganda, Ukraine and United States.

A draft resolution on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (document A/56/L.42/Rev.1) would have the Assembly call upon the Government to implement the recommendations of the Commission for Historical Clarification with a view to promoting national reconciliation, upholding the right to truth and providing redress for the victims of human rights abuses and violence committed during the 36-year conflict.  It would also call upon Congress to establish, as recommended, the Commission for Peace and Harmony.

Further to the draft, the General Assembly would urge the international community to support financially the strengthening of national capacities to ensure the consolidation of the peace process in Guatemala and stress that the Mission had a key role to play in promoting the consolidation of peace and the observance of human rights.  The Assembly would also decide to authorize the renewal of MINUGUA’s mandate from 1 January to 31 December 2002 and request the Secretary-General to submit, as early as possible, an updated report at the fifty-seventh General Assembly session, regarding the continuation of the peace-building phase after 31 December 2002.

The resolution is sponsored by Colombia, Mexico, Norway, Spain, United States and Venezuela.

Another resolution before the Assembly concerns the situation in Central America: procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom and democracy (document A/56/L.45/Rev.1).  By it, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, the bodies and programmes of the United Nations system and the international community to continue to support and verify in Guatemala the implementation of all peace agreements signed under United Nations auspices and to consider the implementation of the Peace Agreements as the framework for their technical and financial assistance programmes.  The Assembly would also encourage the Central American Governments to continue to carry out their historic responsibilities by fully implementing the commitments they had assumed under national, regional or international agreements.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to lend his full support to the initiatives and activities of the Central American Governments, and to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session on the implementation of the present resolution.  The Assembly would also decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-seventh session the item entitled "The situation in Central America:  procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development."

The resolution is sponsored by Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Nicaragua and Panama.

By another resolution, towards global partnerships (document A/56/L.33), the Assembly would stress that the principles and approaches that governed such partnerships should be built on the firm foundation of United Nations purposes.  It would invite the United Nations system to continue to adhere to a common approach to partnership which includes the principles of common purpose, transparency, bestowing no unfair advantages upon any partner of the United Nations, mutual benefit and mutual respect, accountability, and not compromising the independence and neutrality of the United Nations system in general and the agencies in particular.

The Assembly would also stress the need for international cooperation to strengthen the participation of enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, business associations, foundations and NGOS from developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to continue to seek the views of relevant partners, in particular the private sector, on how to enhance their cooperation with the Organization and request him to submit a report at its fifty-eighth session, when it would include the item on its agenda.

The draft is sponsored by Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia and United Kingdom.

Introduction of draft resolution on Olympic ideal

WILLIAM J. HYBL (United States), introducing draft resolution A/56/L.47, said that through sport one learned mutual understanding, fair play, solidarity and friendship.  Those were virtues the United Nations strove to embody in its work as an example to the world community.  The General Assembly could support the ideal of teaching the youth of the world to use sport to promote peace and the well-being of society.

Salt Lake City’s opening ceremonies for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games were a mere 59 days away, he said.  Those would be the first games of the new century and of the new millennium.  Athletes from 80 nations, the largest number ever to compete in the Olympic Winter Games, would participate in the opening ceremonies and pledge their honour to uphold the values of fair play and honest competition. Once again, those somewhat simple but inspiring acts would reinforce the scope and power of the Olympic Movement and link athletes of the twenty-first century with those of ancient Greece.

The United Nations and the International Olympic Committee had launched joint projects in such fields as development, humanitarian assistance, health promotion, education, women, eradication of poverty and the fights against HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and juvenile delinquency, he continued.  The Olympic Solidarity Fund, established by the International Olympic Committee, would spend over $200 million between 2001-2004 to develop sport scholarships for underprivileged athletes in developing countries.  The World Anti-Doping Agency was initiated by the International Olympic Committee and composed of government representatives and sport movement leaders.  The United Nations Secretary-General had hosted the recently established International Olympic Truce Foundation last May to promote continued cooperation.

Since publication of the draft resolution, he said, the following countries had joined as co-sponsors:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Gabon, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that the Olympic spirit, initiated more than

2,000 years ago, was a distillation of humanity’s effort to seek self-development and fulfilment.  Over that long period of time, the Olympic ideal had developed gradually into a symbol of humankind’s aspiration for and pursuit of a peaceful and better world, encouraging all to overcome difficulties and achieve progress after progress.  Despite the two tragic world wars, people’s aspirations for peace and their pursuit of the Olympic ideal had never wavered, ever since Barow Pierre de Coubertin initiated the modern Olympic Games at the end of the nineteenth century.  Today, humankind had already stepped into the twenty-first century, he added, and east or west, north or south, the common aspiration of people all over the world was that the twenty-first century would be a new century marking human development and progress.

On 13 July this year, he said, the city of Beijing had won the distinction of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.  The world had seen the love and respect of a rising ancient Oriental civilization for the Olympic spirit, and its aspiration for and pursuit of world peace, friendship and development.  He extended his heartfelt gratitude to friends from all countries as well as the International Olympic Committee that had supported China in that effort.  He believed that holding an Olympic Games in China, a country with a 5,000-year history would not only represent full recognition by the world of China’s great achievements since it adopted its reform and opening-up policy, but would also offer a good opportunity for exchange between Oriental and Occidental civilizations.  China intended to prove, with real action, that Beijing would give the world an outstanding Olympic Games.

JACQUES L. BOISSON (Monaco) said that his delegation was particularly interested in the debate on sport and the Olympic ideal this year because of the excellent report of the Secretary-General and also because of the final report of the Olympic movement.  Reading those reports had made him more aware of the irreplaceable role of sporting events, which brought people together and promoted greater understanding, particularly among young people who came to sporting events from all over the world.

Sporting activities certainly helped to build a better organized and more peaceful world at the collective and individual level, he said.  Monaco was a country where sports were highly regarded.  His Government paid a great deal of attention to sport, gave much money to it and encouraged sports among young people at the school level.  There were many more sporting events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix -- the automobile rally in Monte Carlo.  In today’s world there were still many age-old conflicts, and now there were new causes of concern.  Therefore the joint initiative of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee was an opportunity for people to restart a dialogue and to reject sterile and silent distrust.

SOTOS ZACKHEOS (Cyprus) said that the great challenge ahead was to take the first practical steps towards turning into reality the observance of the Olympic Truce.  The Olympic Truce was an expression of the yearning of mankind for peace, understanding, reconciliation and for the noble notion of distinction based on honest competition.  In the search for excellence every athlete was equal; victory was the result of ability, training, hard work and perseverance.  Discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise, was incompatible with the Olympic spirit.  He added that Cyprus, a small country, had followed since its independence an active foreign policy based on the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter, which coincided with and adhered to the Olympic ideal.

It was now ever more imperative that the spirit of freedom and tolerance, as exemplified by the very essence of the Olympic ideal, be disseminated through the planet, he said.  For these turbulent times, following the abhorrent terrorist acts of 11 September, humanity must look to the idea of the Olympic spirit and the Olympic Truce as an alternative to war, destruction and the assault on civilization -- which were the goals of terrorism.  He said that the latest manifestation of Cyprus' determination to become a bridge of peace in the region, and a homeland of harmony and understanding for all communities living on the island, was the proposal of President Clerides for the demilitarization of Cyprus.  He renewed his appeal for the acceptance of that proposal, so that Cyprus would be able to participate in the next Olympics as a reunited and peaceful State, with a team that would include the best Cypriot athletes, irrespective of their background.

AARON JACOB (Israel) said that Israel was of the view that athletic competition, undertaken in a spirit of mutual respect, fairness, and good sportsmanship, was an ideal way to foster goodwill and good relations between peoples.  The values of sports were international values that transcended national boundaries and provided a medium through which diverse people could interact and promote greater understanding of one another.  The Olympic Games had long been one of the primary meeting points for nations divided by politics or geography.  In this respect, Israel supported the observance of the Olympic Truce, as an expression of the common yearning for peace and reconciliation, and he hoped that all Member States would join together in ensuring that peace and security prevailed for the duration of the Games.

He said that for the people of Israel, the idea of Olympics Games could not be separated from the memory of the horrific act of terrorist murder that tarnished the 1972 Munich Games.  At those Games, gunmen from the terrorist group Black September broke into the Olympic Village disguised as athletes and killed

11 Israeli athletes and coaches.  This disgraceful act of terrorism and murder was unprecedented in the annals of Olympic history and was the very antithesis of the Olympic ideal.  He stressed that, rather than allowing the Games to transcend politics and conflict, the Games had then been used as a vehicle for the expression of hatred and the perpetration of political murder.  This blemish on the history of the Games must not be forgotten as the world strove to ensure that future Olympic events served to broaden understanding, tolerance, respect and peace.

     ELIAS GOUNARIS (Greece) said that the purpose of the Olympic Truce movement was far-reaching.  It could become a positive factor in international rapprochement and a useful tool for diplomacy.  In every nation or society, culture or religion, the Olympic Games were recognized as the major sporting event in the world, a unique sporting and cultural festivity, that should promote the values to be cherished in our global village.

Greece would have the distinct honor to host the 2004 summer Olympic Games. The return of the Olympics to Greece, their ancient home, provided an opportunity to enrich the modern Games by restoring some of the forgotten ideals of ancient Greece.  He said his country was endeavouring to refocus on the athlete as the centre of attention and the measure of success.  In a contemporary manner, Greece aimed to organize, in the most efficient and secure way, the 2004 Olympic Games in the authentic traditions and with the original values embodied in the Olympic ideal.

In no other year could this message have been more timely, he said.  His country aimed to emphasize the importance of the issues of dialogue, tolerance, mutual understanding and cooperation between cultures, religions and civilizations.  This was an everyday challenge under the Charter of the United Nations:  to promote those issues that united and to practice dialogue on those issues that divided.  The international community needed to open ways of communication and promote dialogue among those who did not already practice it.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO (Cuba) said sport and the Olympic ideal contributed to better understanding as well as the development of friendship and fraternity among peoples.  However, the growing negative effects of globalization could also be felt in the area of sport, where the breach between rich and poor had deepened.  In the last Olympic Games, just seven countries from the first world had won

50 medals.  Developing countries did not have the means to prepare themselves for the Games because their meagre resources had to be allocated to alleviating poverty.

It was regrettable that some of those medals were won by talented athletes who participated in sport for profit or competed under other flags than their own, he said.  Cuba regretted that practice, and was against the buying and selling of sports talents.  The Olympics must be a right of poorer countries and not a monopoly of the rich.  In Cuba, the teaching of sports was free, thus making a reality of the aspiration that sports were the right of the people.  It had developed the International School of Physical Education and Sports, inaugurated this year in Havana, for people of the developing world.  Almost 8,000 sports specialists had provided services in dozens of countries.

Cuba supported draft resolution L.47 because it was a useful text, he said.  But it was not co-sponsoring the draft because it represented a step back.  The Olympic Truce presupposed a halt to all hostilities during the Games, but that concept had been eliminated from resolution L.47.

SERGEI LING (Belarus) said his country, which in the recent decade had become a fully integrated member of the international community, viewed the social functions of sports and physical culture as an integral part of the process of the creation of the Belarussian statehood, as well as an instrument of its intention to maintain friendly and partner relations with all the countries of the world.  Sports and physical culture were one of the key State policy priorities in Belarus, because of their impact on the solution of social problems, especially in the field of maintenance and improvement of health protection for children, teenagers, students and all the citizens of the country.

He added that there was a well-established sports infrastructure in Belarus, with large numbers of stadiums, sports halls and clubs, swimming pools, and training centres, and more than 9000 “open sports courts”.  In the years 1997-2000, sports teams from Belarus had won 247 medals, 53 of them gold in global competition including last year’s Olympic Games in Sydney.

He said contemporary global challenges and threats required global and comprehensive reaction.  The means available in the arsenal of the international community in order to achieve peace must be explored.  Sports were a powerful source for achieving that goal.  In fact, the Olympic Games in Sydney, on the threshold of the new century and new millennium reaffirmed the close interrelationship between sports and peace.  Today these symbolic links must be of particular importance for all.  Belarus would do its utmost for the strengthening of that unity.

SANDRA VASSALLO (Malta) said that the Olympic Games were rich in symbolic significance, as relevant today as they were centuries ago in ancient Greece.  She recalled that the Games owed their origins to a treaty which conceived the concept of the “sacred truce”, according to which conflicts in the Greek world came to a halt throughout the duration of the Games.

The Olympic Games could be considered a diplomatic tool, she said, which enhanced United Nations efforts to promote peace.  The Games offered the same search for cooperation, understanding and fruitful interaction, leading to dialogue and initiatives on a multitude of issues.  Gone were the days when, for whatever reason, countries felt they had to boycott the Games.  Now all countries participated and competed side by side.  It was gratifying to watch the athletes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea marching together during the Australian Games in 2000.

The significance of addressing the issues of development, protection of the environment, education, the eradication of poverty and the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as the fight against drug abuse, violence and juvenile delinquency -- all of which featured on the United Nations agenda -- was further emphasized by the organization of the Games, she said.  The Games gave younger generations role models that promoted healthy lifestyles, and some athletes represented ethnic minorities.  The participation of those athletes went beyond physical strength and performance.  It symbolized courage and the intrinsic universal value of all peoples and all cultures.

ROSEMARY CROWLEY (Australia) said that the Olympics were important for a number of reasons.  For example, the Games were a major exercise in building capacity for the host country, from physical infrastructure to broad cultural activities.  People came from all over the world to see sporting excellence and at the same time participate in the host country’s society, activities and culture. The resolution before the Assembly affirmed some of the underlying principles that the international Olympic movement shared, and the role that sports could play in helping to build stronger communities.

While United Nations practices and principles were well met through the resolution, she said that it was important that the opportunities presented by the Olympic Games themselves were used to put those principles into practice –- for example non-discrimination in bringing sporting opportunities to women as well as men.  The Olympics were a young people’s forum par excellence.  Their skills, training, hard work and dedication, their sacrifices for their sport, their pride in representing their nation and their celebration of other contestants were some of the vital ingredients in the present resolution.  Young people were the future, and the challenge of this resolution must be accepted in order to leave them a better world.

MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that the International Olympic Committee had cooperated very effectively with the United Nations General Assembly by organizing round tables for national Olympic committees whose countries had been or remained in conflict situations in Africa, in the framework of the International Year of a Culture of Peace.  Zambia was among the countries represented at the World Conference on Olympic and Sport Volunteerism in New York last month, in the framework of the International Year of Volunteers.

Since 1993, he said, the General Assembly had adopted, by consensus, three additional resolutions on the Olympic Truce, introduced by the countries hosting the Olympic Games.  In fact, the resolution introduced by Australia and adopted in 1999 had had 180 co-sponsors, a record in this Assembly’s history.  He believed that it was the United Nations duty to promote peace and human understanding for the well-being of society by encouraging the Olympic Truce.

Action on draft resolution A/56/L.47

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, resolution L.47 on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal.

Additional co-sponsors of the draft were Canada, India, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Russian Federation, Thailand, United Kingdom, Suriname and Mauritius.

Introduction of draft on new or restored democracies

JOEL ADECHI (Benin), introducing draft resolution A/56/L.46, said that from 4to 6 December 2000, the Fourth International Conference of New and Restored Democracies had met in Cotonou.  The fact that it had been so well attended showed how interested States were in the topic.  That strong participation also demonstrated the hope of all peoples for an international order based on United Nations Charter principles.  He thanked Mongolia for taking the initiative to host the Fifth Conference on New and Restored Democracies in 2003, and announced that Yemen had also stated its intention to hold one of the conferences.  He also extended his thanks to all the delegations that had helped in the drafting of the resolution.

He announced that since publication of the present draft text, the following countries had joined as co-sponsors:  Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Sweden, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Russian Federation, Albania, Mauritius, Belize, Canada, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, United Kingdom, Paraguay, Australia, and Niger.

STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, said the declaration of the fourth meeting of the International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, held in Cotonou, Benin, contained recommendations including designation of a coordination “focal point” within the United Nations system.  Such a focal point would support the efforts of Member States to consolidate democracy.  With its universal dimension and its experience, the United Nations could play a major part in promoting democracy.

Democracy was not only a universally recognized ideal and objective, but also a fundamental right of citizens.  The democracy process could not simply be summarized as the holding of elections.  Any democratic system must also offer the population the possibility of participating fully and effectively in all spheres of society.  It was the essence of democracy that civil society be strengthened. Democracy was first and foremost respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The fight against all forms of discrimination, and for equality between men and women, was also a fundamental aspect of democracy.  Democracy and the rule of law were inseparable, and democracy was undeniably linked to sustainable development, he said.

Consolidating democracy was one of the key objectives of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Community’s cooperation policy.  There was no pre-established formula for democracy.  There was more than one road to democracy and each country would get there via its own route and at its own pace.  That did not mean that States could not learn from the experience of others.  A democratic culture was the best safeguard against conflicts and terrorism, as it guaranteed the peaceful and equitable settlement of disputes.  Over the last decade, an increasing number of countries across the globe had adopted a democratic system, and countries in which the representatives of the people derived their authority from free, democratic and pluralist elections were now in the majority in the world.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDURY (Bangladesh) said that no system of governance could claim perfection.  Yet democracy was widely accepted as the best form of governance that was ever known.  Democracy upheld the rule of law, ensured respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and made governments and decision-making accountable to people.  In Bangladesh, the experience of the past and the realities of today demonstrated quite clearly that there was no alternative to democracy, if the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms were to be respected.  Democracy and development were inseparable in the context of the present-day world.  He believed that without democracy, countries did not stand a chance of achieving sustainable development.  It was democratization that could help States effectively address the problems and potentials of development in the new century. 

However, there was no single uniform guaranteed model for democracy.  A democratic institution must be evolved from the inherent values in any particular society.  The democratic order of a State must reflect the culture, history and political experience of its people.  On the other hand, the power of public authorities must be based on the support of the people, expressed freely in periodic elections without intimidation and conducted by universal suffrage.  However, the conduct of elections did not mark the end of the process.  A democratic system must also provide opportunities for people to participate fully in all aspects of their social life.  That explained the need to strengthen the democratic instruments that allowed people to participate in shaping societal consensus. 

Bangladesh was seriously engaged in decentralization of power to local bodies, with a view to bringing democracy to the grass-roots level.  His Government was also encouraging increased participation of women in different decision-making bodies.  That had resulted in the election of a number of women parliamentarians in the recent elections, as well as in other local government bodies.  Bangladesh believed in the right to development within the human rights regime; an independent Commission on Human Rights was therefore going to be established in Bangladesh.  His Government had also created the office of an Ombudsman to ensure transparency and accountability in the Government.  He added that in the context of social development, education and health care had received priority attention.  

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) reaffirmed that democracy, development, peace and human rights were fundamentally linked and mutually reinforcing, while democracy and sustainable development both thrived on good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.  Development was best sustained in a democracy that nurtured free enterprise and upheld human rights.  Without development, however, human decency suffered, democracies became vulnerable and could fall prey to undemocratic forces.  The need to promote democratization in State-building and peace-building operations was growing.  The United Nations must coordinate the actions of departments and agencies to avoid costly overlaps and make the most of resources.

He saluted the landmark Cotonou Conference as the first of the four New and Restored Democracies Conferences to have taken place on the African continent, thanking Benin for hosting it.  He said his country would host the Second International Conference of the Community of Democracies in October.  It would capitalize on the growing international momentum for solidifying the foundation for democracy around the globe.  The two movements, the Conference and the Community, should strengthen their involvement.  The process of democratization was inherently slow and fraught with setbacks and sidetracking.  It was imperative to collaborate. 

JOHN DAVISON (United States) expressed his country’s support for the movement to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies, and its appreciation of the efforts of Benin in hosting the Fourth Conference last year in Cotonou.

A profound democratic revolution had reshaped the world political order and helped secure global economic prosperity over the past quarter-century, he said.  Democracy ranked high among the fundamental values that had helped create that freer, more stable and prosperous global arena.  It was a truly universal system of values, but one that could not be taken for granted.  Rather, democracy was sometimes fragile and its success required hard work every day.  Its powerful message had helped transform the lives of countless people in large and small ways.

As the international community promoted and consolidated new or restored democracies, it built a stronger, more prosperous and ultimately freer world.  If it acted wisely, future historians looking back at this millennium would identify the growth and consolidation of democracy as one of the United Nations greatest achievements and most important legacies.

ALEXANDRU NICULESCU (Romania) said that in December last year, in Cotonou, Benin, 111 delegations had adopted a Declaration containing a renewed commitment of States to the goals of democratization, as well as recommendations addressed to the private sector, civil society and the United Nations to increase their support and cooperation for the promotion and consolidation of democracy.  It was indeed the common responsibility of all States to work together to prevent and combat acts that constituted barbaric attacks against freedom, against humanity and the security of the individual, and at the same time to uphold democratic values, norms and achievements. 

Animated by that belief, and convinced that regional organizations had an important role in advancing and complementing United Nations work in preventing and combating such acts, Romania had worked (while exercising the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)) to strengthen the specific advantages of the Organization in the area of democracy building, of support for the rule of law and democratic institutions, of the promotion of tolerance and respect for diversity and political and cultural pluralism.  He added that election monitoring, judicial reform, human rights education, police training, combating trafficking and promoting religious freedom were only a few areas where specific projects and programmes were carried out this year in the OSCE area.

ANTONINO ROMAN (Philippines) said the United Nations should continue its efforts to consolidate representative democracy and the rule of law as a system of government for all.  Democratic governance fostered political pluralism and the effective participation of citizens in the process of nation building.  Democracy also enhanced good governance and the ethical discharge of public duties by those holding the reins of power.  Democracy acted as a catalytic force for sustainable development by liberating the energies and talents of peoples.  It not only promoted political empowerment but helped economic development.

While the concept and practice of democracy found divergent expression based on the unique historical experiences of peoples, they possessed the common thread of citizen participation in the process of governance.  The Philippines agreed with the Secretary-General’s view that the benchmark for a sustainable democracy was the extent to which a State acted in accordance with universal and indivisible human rights -- civil and political rights -- as well as economic, social and cultural rights defined in international human rights law.

No specific country or group of countries could claim to have perfected the pursuit of democracy, he continued.  Even established democracies had their weaknesses.  But that should not deter the resolve to further promote and consolidate democracy in the world.  The United Nations should make that one of its highest priorities in the years ahead.  The Philippines requested the Secretary-General to examine or propose options for strengthening United Nations support for the efforts of Member Sates to consolidate democracy, including the designation of a focal point to that effect.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that during the last decade alone, a number of countries around the world had adopted democratic forms of government, and more people today lived in democracies than ever before in history.  Despite such encouraging trends, the international community was facing a new challenge in the consolidation of democracy.  The tragic events of 11 September had clearly shown how fragile and vulnerable the present-day world was.  In those new circumstances, the international community had to demonstrate its ability to create a world system in which peace and security, prosperity and sustainable development were effectively guaranteed.

The full potential of democracy would only be achieved through the joint actions of the international community, undertaken with a sense of common purpose and partnership.  In that regard, he stressed the important role of the International Conferences of New or Restored Democracies, and was convinced that they made a substantial contribution to the development of practical international cooperation in that sphere.  It had provided States with an opportunity to exchange international, regional and individual experiences.

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that all political systems were imperfect, but democracy had proved itself by far the best.  It gave people voice, equality and freedom, and the possibility of becoming their own masters.  The fact that numerous countries on every continent had shed authoritarianism and embraced democracy and freedom over the last decade bore cogent testimony to the strength and popularity of a pluralistic system of governance.  A formidable challenge remained ahead, however, in forging economic and social transformations to sustain democracy.

In Nepal, extremists on both left and right continued to threaten its 11-year-old democracy, exploiting people’s vulnerabilities which were due to slow social and economic progress and lack of opportunities.  The extreme right was instrumental in fomenting the trouble that had culminated in the abrogation of Nepal’s 18-month-long experiment with democracy in 1960.  This time, it was the Maoist terrorists who had pushed the country down the abyss of mayhem and violence for more than five years.  The country had lost 2,000 lives and sustained colossal damage to property.  The terrorists, demands were outrageous, among them the abolition of the democratically elected Parliament and establishment of an interim government.

At a time when the United States-led coalition was waging war on international terror, Nepal was engaged in stamping out domestic terrorism, he said.  Since the imposition of emergency a fortnight ago, the security forces had won major victories and the Maoists were on the retreat.  Many hard-core terrorists had been killed in the battle and many more had been apprehended.  But a decisive victory would continue to elude the Government as long as it could not defeat poverty and ignorance, and it had made poverty reduction as well as providing education, health and other basic services a priority in its development plans.  Without speedy and sustainable development, democracy, human rights, justice and peace were unlikely to be achieved.  The international community should help poor new democracies to accelerate their sustainable economic development and social progress, and thus help their quest to consolidate democratic polity, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

MR. MUBAREZ (Yemen) said it was clear that the impetus toward democracy was an unstoppable tide, even in developing countries.  Democratic notions today were commonplace, and collective efforts to exchange expertise through dialogue were important.  There had been several regional and international conferences on the subject, reflecting conviction that democratic regimes were the only way to solve societies’ problems.  Despite the universality of democratic principles, however, there was no single model that could be applied to all societies, and different societies should use different models of democracy.

Yemen had committed itself to democracy and had made democracy a means of achieving development, instilling human dignity and improving standards of living.  His delegation believed that political development should go hand in hand with social and economic development.  Yemen was also trying to promote democracy through partnerships with other new or restored democracies, and had also offered to host the International Conference of New and Restored Democracies at a future date.  Yemen expressed appreciation for the report of the Secretary-General and welcomed the suggestions contained therein.  The United Nations role was very important in pushing the democratic path forward.

JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said that since the first international conference, held in Manila back in 1988, democracy had emerged as a major international trend.  A growing number of States had joined that trend as they embarked upon a process of democratization or restored their democratic roots.  The International Conference of New and Restored Democracies, as an open forum with an active participation of governments, international organizations, academia, and NGOs, represented a fitting venue for the sharing of experiences and lessons learned, as well as exploring innovative approaches to the existing and emerging challenges to democracy. 

Concerning the Cotonou Declaration, he said its recommendation for a follow-up mechanism to the Conference deserved special attention.  Its recommendations to help new and restored democracies by establishing indicators analyzing progress made in the democratization process were also very useful and practical.  With the establishment and strengthening of the institutions of representative democracy, Mongolia had passed the stage of transition and was in the stage of democratic consolidation.  As in many other States, the biggest challenge to democratic consolidation was not political but rather of a socio-economic nature, the main ones being poverty and slow economic development stemming from the difficulties of transition to a market-oriented economy. 

He commended the manifold assistance provided by the United Nations system to new and restored democracies, including Mongolia, ranging from support for promoting a culture of democracy through electoral assistance to institution and capacity-building for democratization.  Mongolia had invited the Fifth International Conference of New and Restored Democracies to be held in Ulanbataar, Mongolia, in 2003.  He concluded by stating that Mongolia had undergone significant democratic changes during the decade, including the establishment of a multiparty system, adoption of the new democratic Constitution, holding of free and fair elections and the promotion of a free and vigorous mass media.

EDUARDO J. SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua) said that Central American countries had pledged to develop peace and democracy in their region through the promotion of democracy and human rights.  The region was looking to consolidate its democracies for the benefit of future generations.  In that context, he stressed that sustainable development was a fundamental pillar that could not be dissociated from democracy.  In Nicaragua, fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights were a Government priority.  Through constructive and instructive criticism, the media could play a significant role in ensuring government transparency. 

The progress made in democratization throughout the hemisphere was noteworthy.  A vast number of countries had left behind their dictatorial regimes of the past and had implemented democratic reforms.  The mere existence of the Inter-American Democratic Charter reflected the importance of democracy to the people of the region.  The democratization process had not been easy, given the sequels of war and its negative consequences, particularly in terms of poverty.  He stressed that the implementation of structural adjustment was a heavy burden on the region's economy.  His country, and all developing countries, deserved fair international treatment, the alleviation of foreign debts and equal conditions in

world trade.  Central America aspired to just treatment by international financial institutions. 

His Government was attempting to bring public officials and citizens closer in order to increase civic responsibility.  All democratization processes must include the participation of the country’s citizens.  There had been positive results from the Government's education and awareness-raising campaigns, such as the high turnout among the young in the country’s last election.  The recent executive and legislative presidential elections in Nicaragua and Honduras had further demonstrated the significant advances made in the process of democratization in most countries in Central America. 

The meeting was adjourned.

When the Assembly met again this afternoon, it turned to its agenda items on the situation in Central America, and on global partnerships.

Introduction of Drafts

PABLO MACEDO (Mexico), introducing the draft resolution on the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (document A/56/L.42), said 29 December 1996 concluded 36 years of internal conflict in Guatemala with the signing of a peace agreement.  That agreement was the result of a six-year negotiation process under the auspices of the United Nations and had set in motion a set of political, military, economic, agrarian, cultural and other measures as part of a broad national agenda for peace.

The United Nations had played an important role in the verification process through the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), he said. The presence of MINUGUA had been very positive, inspiring confidence in the implementation process of the peace agreement.  In Guatemala there was consensus on the need for the Mission to remain in the country until 2003.  The Mission had been a success for the United Nations, but challenges remained, for which resources were necessary.  He said he was convinced the peace process was a good investment and hoped the Assembly would renew the mandate of the Mission.

He orally amended operative paragraph 13 of the text, changing the words “in view of” into “those related to”, and announced that Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom had joined as co-sponsors of the draft.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica), introducing the draft resolution on the situation in Central America (document A/56/L.45/Rev.1), said that destruction, poverty and social injustice had previously prevailed in Central America, but today there was peace.  All of the countries of the region were deeply committed to freedom and democracy, as well as to respect for human rights and the environment.  Despite economic difficulties and natural disasters, the region was taking major steps towards economic, political and social development.

Progress had been the direct result of changed attitudes on the part of the leaders and peoples of the region, he said.  Central Americans were consciously renouncing violence and embracing dialogue, democracy and consensus as the foundations of human and international relations.  The draft resolution reiterated the crucial role of international cooperation in the region and highlighted the role of different Central American bodies promoting brotherly relations with the international community.

However, he went on, building durable and lasting peace in the region was dynamic and ongoing, and was still subject to structural obstacles.  As long as not all of the region’s republics had reached a satisfactory level of sustainable environment the situation would be precarious, and it would be impossible for peace to be achieved.  The region must take effective measures to end the gap between the richest and poorest, satisfy the basic needs of the poorest, and adopt effective ways of rebuilding and normalizing after natural disasters.  The support of the United Nations was crucial in carrying out those tasks.

He announced that Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Suriname and the United Kingdom had also agreed to co-sponsor the draft.

STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking for members of the European Union, said those countries were pleased to note that the situation in Central America was progressing, despite the grave problems, social inequalities and poverty that remained.  He said the elections held in Nicaragua and Honduras could be quoted as positive examples.  The European Union intended to continue to invest its efforts in the economic and social development of the countries of Central America.

It was mainly within the San José Dialogue, which had been operating for

15 years, that the European Union and the countries of Central America maintained a dialogue and institutionalized cooperation.  In this dialogue, the European Union stressed the importance of the regional integration of the countries of Central America and welcomed the launching of the "Puebla Panama Plan" which aimed at promoting the integration of Central America with the southern states of Mexico.

The European Union was particularly attentive to the situation in Guatemala and the activities of MINUGUA.  Much remained to be done in Guatemala.  There was a need for measures to restore a climate of confidence among the population regarding the management of public spending, and the fight against corruption.  He noted the Agreement on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the introduction of an integrated rural development plan, the replacement of the Presidential general staff, and the substantial agenda of legislative reform.  He said that with the extension of its mandate, MINUGUA would be able to assist Guatemala in achieving those important objectives.  It was nonetheless clear that the international community could not replace national efforts, he said.  It was therefore essential that the State, but also the Guatemalan people as a whole, devoted themselves wholeheartedly to advancing the peace process.

The European Union remained concerned by the acts of intimidation directed against human rights non-governmental organizations, members of the judiciary, journalists and individuals, as well as at the presence and activities of illegal security forces and clandestine structures that had been observed this year.  The impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of those crimes did no credit to Guatemalan government bodies in their role as guarantors of full respect for human rights.  The impunity they enjoyed must be combated and the tolerance, acquiescence or even complicity of certain public officials must be eliminated, he said.  The European Union was fully prepared to lend its support and assistance to this end.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that five years ago this very month, the peace agreements in Guatemala were signed, bringing to an end a conflict that had lasted several decades.  That had been the last armed conflict in Central America, and it was evident that viable peace had taken root in the region.  The main challenge now facing the nations of Central America was to combat poverty and safeguard human rights.  The peace agreements in Guatemala had probably been among the most comprehensive ever concluded in that context.  Broad and far-reaching agreements had led to great expectations in Guatemala, but much remained to be done, particularly with regard to the situation of indigenous people.

He recognized the efforts of the Government of Guatemala to have Congress pass a number of important laws related to the implementation of the peace agreements and covering social, economic, regional and land questions.  It was of paramount importance for the successful continuation of the implementation process that all political forces in Guatemala should realize that the process was necessary for the development of the country and for the consolidation of democracy.

The easiest part of the implementation process had probably been to end the armed conflict, he said.  Unfortunately, that did not mean that violence had disappeared.  The culture of intimidation and impunity gave cause for great concern, and needed to be addressed most seriously by the authorities.  Since the conclusion of the peace agreements, Norway had supported the implementation process and looked forward to the Consultative Group meeting in Washington.  He hoped that the meeting would confirm further progress in the implementation process.

GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said that he hoped the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission would be extended for the years 2002 and 2003.  His country endorsed the general thrust of the assessment presented in the Secretary-General’s reports A/56/273 and A/56/416.  Although his country disagreed with some of the specific observations contained in the reports, it agreed that implementation of the commitments contained in the Guatemalan peace accords had not moved forward as rapidly as hoped.  Indeed, perhaps the signatories of the peace accords had underestimated the difficulties of promoting so profound a set of transformations as those contemplated -- especially when they affected important vested interests.

Notwithstanding, Central America in general and Guatemala in particular were experiencing a political, economic and social transformation of historical proportions that pointed towards more plural, democratic and tolerant societies.  A comparison between an image of his country in 1990 with his country today left no doubt as to how far it had advanced.  Armed conflict and persistent violations of human rights had come to an end.  The army had been subordinated to civil society, democratic institutions were taking root, the role of women in society had been advanced and there had been marked progress towards a truly multi-ethnic, multilingual and pluricultural society.

However, he said, the difficulties his country had encountered in moving ahead with implementation had been compounded by the serious economic downturn, caused mainly by an adverse international economic environment.  Instead of the higher standards of living foreseen by the peace accords, numerous families faced unemployment and deprivation.  In spite of Guatemala’s recent tax reform, it was unable to meet all the financial implications of compliance with certain of the commitments.  For that reason, his country insisted on the need for the continued presence of MINUGUA and on the need for friends of the peace process to stay the course.  The worst that could happen now would be if Guatemala was abandoned prematurely.

NICOLAS RIVAS (Colombia) said the report on the situation in Central America underlined the important contribution of the United Nations to the region over the past 10 years.  Peacekeeping, observation and verification missions had not only fostered the advent of peace in Central America but had also contributed to the strengthening of democratic institutions and respect for human rights.  He noted the work of the United Nations Development Programme and the Department of Political Affairs in the follow-up to the peace process in El Salvador.

Central America had been transformed during the last decade, he said. Internal conflicts had been overcome by democratic governments.  Although armed conflicts and violations of human rights had ended, the region must still work hard to overcome poverty.  He cited the natural disasters which had taken place last year, as well as the unfavourable economic environment as serious obstacles to development.  He urged Central American governments to implement effective policies to address those problems.  The friendly countries of the regions, international bodies and business must also commit themselves to that aim.  Peace and democracy would not be sustained if they were not supported by sustained development.  Now was the time to renew the commitment to peace.

As a member of the Group of Friends of Guatemala, he acknowledged Guatemala’s achievements in complying with the peace agreement, as well as MINUGUA’s contribution to the peace process.  Nevertheless, recent events endangered that peace process.  He urged the United Nations to renew MINUGUA’s mandate and called on the international community to renew its support for peace-building in Guatemala.

JOSE ROBERTO ANDINO SALAZAR (El Salvador) said there were still some obstacles to be overcome in consolidating democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development in Central America.  New challenges had emerged, particularly in light of natural disasters that had occurred in the region.  But Central American countries had continued to show willingness to strengthen their political systems, and they were aware of the urgent need to advance sustainable development in the region.

He said the meeting of the Regional Consultative Group of Central America, which took place in March 2001 in Spain, had led to the Madrid Proposal.  That was considered a framework strategy to transform and modernize Central America in the twenty-first century.  The proposal aimed to promote development, improve living conditions through sustained economic growth and more equitably distribute wealth.  Its main focal points were the reduction of social vulnerability, both economic and environmental, transformation of productive sectors, sustainable management of natural resources and increased participation of civil society in development.  Those points had taken the form of 34 concrete projects, including several aimed at combating poverty, the Central American Logistical Corridor and the Meso-American Corridor, and gas and electrical connections.  The effort was defined by consensus as one to deepen, consolidate and speed up regional integration

With respect to globalization, he said Central America had taken steps to formalize free trade treaties with several countries, including the United States and Canada.  Those agreements would make it possible to increase trade and improve the standard of living of Central American citizens.  In addition, four Central American countries -– El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua -- were working towards a Customs Union.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that his country was pleased with the conduct of the elections in Nicaragua and Honduras and congratulated the two Governments and their peoples.  Central American integration was still a goal for the region, and its extension would be needed in order for those countries to make progress and strengthen democracy and its institutions.  Spain would continue to make the necessary efforts to foster integration in Central American countries, and urged Central America to continue efforts to find peaceful and lasting solutions to disputes that were impeding integration.

Next January would be the tenth anniversary of the end of the conflict in

El Salvador, he said, and the start of a peace process there was a model of success.  The events in that country had been a perfect example of a transition from a peacekeeping to a peace-building phase.  The international community should continue to support the peace process in Guatemala, and the implementation of peace agreements in that country must be completed.  Spain trusted that it would see the implementation of the fiscal pact, especially what was necessary to improve the population’s trust in Guatemala’s financial management.  Furthermore, his country believed that the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala should be extended until 2003.

Towards Global Partnerships

The Assembly then turned its attention to its agenda item, “Towards global partnerships”, on which it had held a debate on 5 November.

Introduction of Draft

JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), introducing draft resolution A/56/L.33 on behalf of the European Union and the co-sponsors, said the draft was a result of informal consultations.  He thanked the delegations involved in the drafting for their active and constructive participation in those consultations, in particular the delegation of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77 for its unfailing support for consensus.

He said the European Union attached particular importance to the matter of global partnerships with civil society, in particular with the private sector.  The commitments of the Millennium Declaration could not be achieved by 2015 without active and positive participation of all stakeholders in globalization, governmental and non-governmental.

Partnerships must serve development and help eradicate poverty, he said.  They also had potential in promotion of the objectives of the Millennium Declaration.  The draft did not impose rigid rules, but provided guidelines to form a basis of partnerships.  He underlined the importance of increasing the number of partnerships with actors in developing countries.

Action on Draft

The Assembly was informed that Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mozambique, San Marino, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Indonesia, Suriname, Israel and the Republic of Korea had joined as co-sponsors of the draft resolution as contained in document A/56/L.33.

Without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft and concluded consideration of the item.

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