Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly


14th Meeting (AM)



Speakers Reiterate Commitment to International Anti-Terror Campaign

Reiterating their commitment to the international fight against terrorism, speakers in this morning’s debate in the General Assembly emphasized that violence and terror would never achieve peace, security or development.

Stressing that terror was condemned to lose, Shimon Peres, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, said his country had offered the Palestinians a comprehensive solution without terror, one that was close to their national aspirations.  “Terror postponed their destiny, terror postponed our willingness to end control over their lives,” he said.  Noting that smoking guns had replaced the torches of peace, he added that reducing violence would shorten political distances.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud, said Israel had recently started manipulating the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and the international campaign to combat terrorism, using them shamefully as a pretext to pursue its persecution of the Palestinians and to deprive them of their right to self-determination.  Israel had also launched a slanderous campaign of threats against Lebanon and its legitimate resistance as well as against Syria, whereas Israeli occupation of Arab territories was the origin of the conflict in the Middle East. 

Noting that the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians had been exacerbated by the violence of the past two years, Francois Lonseny Fall, Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, urged the strengthening of the fight against terrorism through the organization, in all countries, of a broad educational campaign to cultivate tolerance, respect and acceptance of others.

Sudan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mustafa Osman Ismail, called on Member States to recognize terrorism as a fluid enemy, unrelated to specific religions or countries, which must be confronted by a collective effort, in conformity with international law and under the aegis of the United Nations.  There was anxiety -- particularly in the Arab and Islamic world -- that the campaign to combat terror had been derailed by the forces of extremism and the advocates of confrontation among civilizations and cultures.

Vanuatu's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, External Trade, Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications, Serge Vohor Rialuth, warned

that the fight against terrorism should not deflect attention from critical development issues and other serious security concerns affecting the developing world, particularly small island states.  Because resources would inevitably be diverted towards the fight against terrorism, there was a risk that the development agenda of the developing world could be overshadowed.

Other speakers this morning were the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Cambodia, San Marino, Viet Nam, Mozambique and Benin.  The representative of Jamaica also spoke.

The Assembly will continue its general debate at 3 p.m. today.


The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate.


SERGE VOHOR RIALUTH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, External Trade, Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications of Vanuatu, said the war against terrorism should not deflect attention from critical development issues and other serious security concerns affecting the developing world, particularly the small island States.  Because resources would inevitably be diverted towards the anti-terrorism campaign, there was a risk that the development agenda of the developing world would be overshadowed.

He said that the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development had reminded the world that much remained to be done in addressing the development challenges facing the world's many developing economies.  The environment and the adverse impart of climate change were of extreme importance and concern.  Vanuatu, therefore, urged those countries that had not yet done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible.  He welcomed the ratification of that Protocol by Japan, the European Union, China, and the Russian Federation.

Aggressive domineering policies by the developed world continued to marginalize many of the world’s small developing economies such as Vanuatu's, he said.  There must be equal partnership and cooperation to muster support and confidence among nations, adding, “While small nations like Vanuatu are being forced to comply with conditions set by developed countries, it befits me to state that at the same time some of these very same nations resort to bullying tactics by pursuing active policies that invade national and regional positions.”

MUSTAFA OSMAN ISMAIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, called on the Member States to recognize terrorism as a fluid enemy, unrelated to specific religions or countries, which must be confronted by a collective effort, in conformity with international law and under the aegis of the United Nations.  There was anxiety -- particularly in the Arab and Islamic world -- that the anti-terrorism campaign had been derailed by the forces of extremism and the advocates of confrontation among civilizations and cultures.  The United Nations was the mechanism through which international cooperation could be achieved, but its organs needed revitalization, especially the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Noting that the United Nations Charter emphasized the role of regional organizations in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, he highlighted the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to find solutions to the conflicts in Somalia, the Sudan and the Middle East.  A successful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict must include provisions for ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories, implementing the relevant international resolutions, and recuperating the legal rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to an independent State.  It was also essential to find a peaceful solution in relation to Iraq.  That country's brave decision to allow the return of weapons inspectors should be met with a lifting of the sanctions on Iraq.

Turning to sustainable development, he said the birth of the African Union represented a great African event, which renewed hope for the continent's total liberation from conflict, poverty and underdevelopment.  In that context, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had emerged as a testimony to Africa’s ability to initiate and coordinate regional policies for the development of infrastructure, energy, the environment, communications, education, health and primary care.  The international community should support the partnership, he added.

Addressing the situation within his own country, he said the Sudan had worked for a resolution of the conflict in southern Sudan, but the rebel movement had spoiled the positive progress made at Machakos, Kenya, by escalating its military attacks and insisting on reopening closed issues.  That had forced the Government to suspend the negotiations so as to confront the rebel movement’s military agenda.  Also, the Government had worked to consolidate democracy and respect for human rights, but the international community needed to understand the impact of the armed conflict on the situation within the Sudan. 

N. HASSAN WIRAJUDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, stressed the pivotal role of the United Nations, saying multilateralism was essential in dealing with the threat of international terrorism, bringing about disarmament and solving the problems in the Middle East.  Advocating a Palestinian State living alongside a secure Israel, he also called on Iraq to comply fully with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

He said that in the long run the war against terrorism would only be won if the war on poverty were successfully prosecuted, as prescribed by the development goals of the Millennium Declaration.  For those goals to be realized, there must be an international trade regime whereby unilateral practices and protectionism gave way to genuine multilateralism.  Much depended on the implementation of pledges made at the International Conference on Financing for Development and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Multilateralism would also benefit from the natural synergy between the United Nations and regional organizations, he said.  Towards that end, the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) would sponsor a General Assembly resolution on strengthening the working relationship between that regional organization and the United Nations.  Through joint efforts, ASEAN had, since its founding in 1967, provided the region with three decades of relative peace and unprecedented economic growth, which had only been interrupted by the financial crisis in 1997.

He said that despite criticism about the time-consuming process of consultation and dialogue, Indonesia, in dealing with internal security and political problems, adhered to the spirit of democracy.  In international affairs, it stood for multilateralism.

SHIMON PERES, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, emphasizing that terror was condemned to lose, said the Middle East was still replete with national, religious and territorial disputes.  The real tragedy was that without terror, those disputes would already have been resolved.  Terror had changed the priorities, placing security before policy, and affected resources.  That included arming young men, for example, instead of desalinating vital water.  If that continued, battlefields would create deserts of sorrow, bringing more days of violence.  Campuses of learning would be replaced by camps of violence.

It could be different, he stated, noting that South Africa, Ireland, Yugoslavia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had achieved more by talking than by shooting; by dialogue rather than dispute.  Israel had offered the Palestinians a comprehensive solution without terror, a solution that was close to their national aspirations.  “Terror postponed their destiny; terror postponed our willingness to end control over their lives”, he said.  Smoking guns had replaced the torches of peace.

Reducing violence, he said, would shorten political distances.  Israel accepted United States President George W. Bush’s vision, which was supported by the “Quartet” and endorsed by Arab countries.  The vision, which had outlined a political goal and a timetable, could be considered as a road map.  What was needed now were wheels to ignite and propel the vehicle of peace; an economic wheel that led to a global market economy; an ecological wheel to let air and water flow cleanly; then a cultural wheel that would allow the descendants of Abraham to behave like a family with tolerance and solidarity.  Without wars, the region could bloom again.  “We can separate politically into two States and coordinate one economy”, he added.

Reiterating Israel’s commitment to the territorial integrity of Lebanon and respect for its need for real political independence, he said that country should not permit Hezbollah to destroy Lebanon.  He urged that country to immediately free Israeli prisoners of war, saying, “The people of the Middle East should let bygones be bygones.”

HOR NAMHONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, urged the international community to help find a solution that would bring about a viable peace to the Middle East.  Stressing that violence was not a solution, he said that the Palestinian people had the right to their own State, living in peace with Israel.  He urged both sides to have the “wisdom to understand that they are condemned to live side by side forever”.

He said Cambodia believed that Iraq's agreement to the return of United Nations weapons inspectors was an important step which would contribute to diffuse the situation in the region.  On Kashmir, he stressed the need to avoid the escalation of the conflict, which, if not properly managed, could seriously threaten regional peace and security.  “We must do what we can to ensure that terrorists do not seize the opportunity of this conflict to further complicate the present situation”, he said.

Recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula -– especially the resumption of North-South dialogue and the historic visit of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi to Pyongyang –- were significant milestones, he said.  “The renewal of political dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang and the landmark diplomatic breakthrough between Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are very much encouraging for the region”, he said.  He added that as far as the fight against terrorism was concerned, Cambodia had signed and was in the process of acceding to all conventions related to that struggle.

AUGUSTO CASALI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, discussing why terrorism existed, pointed to hunger, poverty, underdevelopment  and violations of human rights, among other things.  His country supported the initiatives and procedures of the Security Council aimed at stemming the expansion of terrorism and would itself pass a special law to counter terrorism.  San Marino also believed that dialogue and tolerance, with diversity as a universal heritage, would lead to unity among nations.  On the Middle East, he emphasized the importance of negotiations and dialogue to effect peace, stating that Israel had the right to exist within its own borders, and the Palestinians deserved the same.

San Marino had been following attentively all the major conferences held in 2002, especially those that impacted the lives of children and the aged, and encouraged sustainable development.  Children were entitled to enjoy a decent standard of living within a safe environment, while the aged would benefit from the eradication of stereotypes and prejudices.  They should, he stated, enjoy wellness, health and security during the last years of their lives.  And he regarded as fundamental the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development held  in South Africa.

He hailed the establishment of the International Criminal Court as “a great leap forward towards the progress of international law”.  Those States that had not yet done so should ratify the Rome Statute that had established the Court. Addressing the fear that the Court would endanger international peacekeeping forces, he said the Statute's articles did just the opposite.  Other United Nations bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Security Council, needed to be strengthened.  In particular, the General Assembly should intensify its cooperation with other United Nations bodies, primarily the Security Council.

FRANÇOIS LONSENY FALL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, urged that the fight against terrorism be strengthened through the organization, in all countries, of a broad educational campaign to cultivate tolerance, respect and acceptance of others.  While there had been progress in resolving many conflicts around the world, the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians had been exacerbated by the violence of the past two years.  Guinea reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian people and their leader, Yasser Arafat, and urged the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  The situation in Iraq was also of grave concern; in order to prevent further suffering of the Iraqi people, it was essential for the parties to show greater restraint -- and in that respect, Iraq’s decision to readmit the United Nations weapons inspectors was encouraging.

Working through the Mano River Union, Guinea had taken part in the decision to reopen the borders of the Mano River region and to organize a peace caravan for next October, he said.  As the West African subregion continued to be subject to illicit small arms proliferation, Guinea supported regional and international efforts to ban and to dismantle supply networks of small arms.  The consequences of armed conflicts and natural disasters principally affected vulnerable civilian populations.  Guinea itself had been hard hit by the negative socio-economic impact of regional wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau. 

The prevention and resolution of conflicts called for the eradication of poverty and disease, he said.  HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis remained of particular concern for the countries of Africa and, while the attention given to those issues at international summits constituted a positive step forward, the question of how to mobilize the resources necessary to fight them remained.  While the primary responsibility for that fight fell to Africa’s leaders, they needed to be supported at all levels –- local, national, regional and international.

Despite international commitments to eliminate poverty, he said, a large part of the world’s population continued to live in absolute poverty.  The situation was aggravated by globalization, which, in the absence of just and equitable rules, had increased the capacity of the strong to promote their interests and limited that of the weak.  However, the new African Union and NEPAD represented an effective framework for enhancing African States’ economies and integrating them into the world economy.  Africa’s vision of the future should be supported, and the commitments made for the financing of development should be honoured.

NGUYEN DY NIEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that in an interdependent world, it was important to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States.  In that regard, an early end  must be put to those embargoes and blockades that for decades had been causing immeasurable sufferings to the people of Cuba, Iraq, Libya and other countries.  While arms races were re-escalating in many parts of the world, the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to start its substantive work for four consecutive years.  A way must be found to break that deadlock.

He called for effective measures to limit and mitigate the negative impacts of globalization on developing countries in order to ensure equal development opportunities for all nations.  International commitments, including those aimed at raising official development assistance (ODA) levels, building an open and equitable multilateral trading system, and removing protectionist measures, must be put into action.

To accomplish those goals, he said, the United Nations system, especially the financial institutions, must strengthen themselves through the ongoing reform process, which should focus on enhancing the role of the General Assembly and making the Security Council more democratic, representative, transparent and accountable.  He reaffirmed his country's support for candidates, such as India, Japan and Germany, that could make major contributions to the Council’s work.

In South-East Asia, he said, the ASEAN countries were determined to strengthen their unity and cooperation in order to respond to emerging challenges.  Apart from their strong commitment and devoted efforts to combat terrorism, including the recent signing of the ASEAN-United States Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, the ASEAN countries were working closely with China for the early adoption of a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.  That was another positive development towards building a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as agreed by the ASEAN leaders at their sixth summit in Hanoi in December 1998.  The agreement contributed to the promotion of confidence-building and to the peaceful resolution of all disputes.

LEONARDO SANTOS SIMAO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said it was the collective duty of the international community to effectively fight the threat of terrorism under the leadership of the United Nations.  In order to succeed, it was necessary to understand clearly and address the root causes of terrorism, foremost among which were poverty and other injustices.

He said his country had already submitted its report on legislation and measures for preventing and combating terrorism, and was in the final stages of ratifying all 12 conventions on terrorism.  However, for an effective implementation of those legal instruments, Mozambique needed support from the international community to strengthen its police, judiciary, financial system and Attorney-General’s office.

The current General Assembly session was taking place at a moment when the world was witnessing important progress regarding the resolution of conflicts in Africa, he said.  The Government of Angola and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) had concluded a Memorandum of Understanding marking the end of a protracted civil war; Sierra Leone was at peace after the successful implementation of the peace process, as well as general and presidential elections; and the recent agreements between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, as well as the understanding between the former and Uganda, had created hope that the Congolese peace process would be irreversible.  However, Mozambique was concerned about the lack of progress on Western Sahara and encouraged the United Nations, as well as the parties, to pursue further efforts in that regard.

Turning to his own country, he said that as part of efforts to fight poverty and implement the Millennium Declaration, the Government of Mozambique had approved and was implementing a Plan of Action for the Eradication of Absolute Poverty.  Its overall objective was the substantial reduction of absolute poverty through investment in education, health, agriculture and rural development, good governance and macroeconomic stability.  The Plan was partly financed by savings made through the reduction of debt by bilateral and multilateral creditors under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

KOLAWOLE IDJI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Benin, recalling that the international community had pledged at the Millennium Summit to make the world free from fear, hunger and ignorance, said the United Nations must continue to play a dynamic role in the promotion of international cooperation and the prevention of terrorism.  The fight against terror should be strengthened by a clear and precise legal definition of international terrorism, so as to prevent any individual anti-terrorism effort from compromising the global coalition.

He said Africa’s leaders had undertaken certain new political initiatives, aware that they had reached a critical stage in the continent’s development.  In establishing the African Union and NEPAD, they had distinguished the new organization from previous ones by emphasizing economic integration on the necessity of peace, security and stability for the creation of a propitious environment for development, and on good governance in the everyday running of States.  It was now time to act on the strategies devised to achieve those goals.

Globalization must be made synonymous with the improvement of all people’s well-being, he stressed.  The world could no longer accept a marginalized Africa, ravaged by disease and war.  In the area of conflict prevention and management, interactions between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should be reinforced by the establishment of direct consultations with ECOSOC’s Special Consultative Group for African countries emerging from war.  Encouragingly, there had been signs of a clear determination in Africa to end fratricidal wars.  Thus, the progress towards peace in Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea, should be supported by the provision of financing for reconstruction.

As leader of the Office for the Coordination of the Least Developed Countries, Benin understood that promoting sustainable development –- its number one priority -– would not be easy, he said.  Previous development goals had not been met due to the reduction of ODA, the debt burden, limited market access and insufficient foreign direct investment.  Reviewing the decisions taken at Cotonou, Benin, he reiterated that each least developed country should design strategic priorities for development in keeping with its local context.  The dwindling of resources available to United Nations organs was also worrisome, he said.

MAHMOUD HAMMOUD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, said his country and its Arab neighbours had been suffering from the state terrorism that Israel had continuously practised without deterrence since the Deir Yassin massacre and the massacres of Qana and Jenin.  Lately, Israel had started manipulating the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and the international campaign to combat terrorism, as a pretext to pursue its persecution of the Palestinians and to deprive them of their right to self-determination.  Israel had also launched a slanderous campaign of threats against Lebanon and its legitimate resistance, as well as against Syria, whereas the origin of the conflict in the region was the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.

Underlining the difficulty of striving security in the absence of political, economic and social justice, he said security approaches alone and partial interim solutions could not possibly succeed in solving the Middle East conflict.  Lebanon called for an approach that made a priority of the conflict's political dimension and of the need for a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.  It was in that context that the Beirut Summit had adopted the Arab Peace Initiative in March.  It was unfortunate that Israel had responded to that initiative by escalating its aggression, reoccupying the West Bank and relentlessly targeting human lives and property.  Simultaneously, others had chosen to ignore the initiative, despite its comprehensiveness, the unanimous Arab stance and broad international support. 

After May 2000, he noted, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had commenced the implementation of its mandate after Israel's withdrawal from most of southern Lebanon.  The Lebanese Shab’a Farms and three other points along the withdrawal line remained under occupation.  Lebanon reserved its right to recover and spread its sovereignty over them.  Another important aspect of UNIFIL’s task that remained unfulfilled was the restoration of peace and security, a task that was obstructed by Israel’s continued threats against Lebanon. 

Furthermore, he continued, Israel continued to occupy the Syrian Golan and to ignore the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.  A just settlement to the problem of Palestinian refugees should be based on their right to return and on a rejection of their implantation in Lebanon.  Failure to address that issue was a time bomb that would undermine the security sought in the Middle East.  The solution to the Palestinian refugee issue could not be realized through exclusively bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as the viability of any solution required that other concerned countries, including Lebanon, be involved in the negotiating process.

STAFFORD NEIL, (Jamaica), said that dramatic events over the past year had brought old and new issues to the forefront of international attention, among them the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the ensuing war in Afghanistan, the escalating violence in the Middle East, the heightening of tensions in South Asia and more recently the threat of a new war in Iraq.  Of high importance was the situation in the Middle East, where the world had witnessed so much death, destruction and human suffering, especially among civilians. 

With regard to Iraq, he said that situation was now in the hands of the Security Council, which should adopt the appropriate measures to ensure compliance with its resolutions.  It should do so in a manner broadly acceptable to the international community and preclude unilateral actions that could lead to unpredictable consequences and wider instability in the region. 

He stressed that the international community expected the Council to act “with responsibility and courage” to safeguard the integrity of the international system and ensure the maintenance of peace.  Linked to the question of terrorism were security problems arising from continuing growth of the illicit drug trade and trafficking in guns and other weapons that had become inseparable elements of transnational crime.  That was particularly true in the Caribbean where the phenomenon had assumed alarming new proportions in the era of globalization.  A growing trade in illicit drugs and weapons was subverting the internal security of the Caribbean States and threatening social stability.

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