13/09/2002
Press Release
GA/10047



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

4th Meeting (AM)


DRUG TRAFFICKING, TERRORISM, DEEPENING POVERTY, AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED


AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONTINUES ANNUAL DEBATE


New York City Mayor Addresses Member States


As the general debate of the fifty-seventh United Nations General Assembly continued this morning, world leaders from throughout the world vowed to confront the wide-ranging threats to national security -- including drug-trafficking, terrorism, protracted conflict, deepening poverty and nuclear proliferation -– which consistently disrupted efforts aimed at ensuring peace and stability.


Alvaro Uribe Velez, President of Colombia, described a tragic terrorist attack that had killed 21 people during his inauguration last month, and said each year his nation buried nearly 34,000 of its sons who fell victim to violence. Hijackings, kidnappings and deadly assaults were daily occurrences.  “Violence makes our people poorer every day”, he added.  “It discourages investment, hampers economic growth and diverts valuable resources that could be used to overcome social backwardness.”


He said Colombia’s problems were a potential risk to the democratic stability of the region.  While Colombia was determined to confront those problems and to quiet critics of its society and government, global assistance was vital, particularly since so much violence was financed through the drug trade.  Indeed, drugs had the capability for mass destruction equivalent to that of the most feared chemical weapon.  “Do not send us your weapons”, he said.  “Destroy your markets for drugs and help us with aerial interdiction and drug seizures.” 


Atal Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India, said that terrorism did not start on 11 September -- that was merely the day it announced itself on the global stage. Those who spoke of “underlying” or “root” causes of terrorism, offered alibis to terrorists and absolved them of responsibility for their actions, such as the attacks on the United States and the 13 December attack on the Indian Parliament. For its part, India wanted an end to the cross-border terrorism that had claimed the lives of thousands of innocent lives and denied entire generations the right to a peaceful existence with normal economic and social activity.


He said the international community had taken some collective decisions in the fight against terrorism, but he wondered how Pakistan could claim to be a crucial partner in the international coalition against that scourge if it


continued to use terrorism as instrument of state policy against India.  The Security Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee should now move beyond information compilation and legal assistance to enforcing compliance by States known to be sponsoring, sheltering, funding, arming and training terrorists.


Pierre Buyoya, President of Burundi, stressing that sporadic cross-border fighting and deepening poverty were constant threats to stability in the Central African region, said international assistance was essential to help keep peace processes on track.  After the establishment of transitional institutions last year, the political climate had improved markedly.  While problems associated with such transitions continued, the people of Burundi continued to aggressively pursue solidarity and peace.  Indeed, Burundi had taken the option of peaceful dialogue, and hesitancy on the part of others would not shake its conviction or its overall quest for peace. 


He said the work remaining in that regard was enormous, but it could be done.  The challenges ahead, particularly continued rebel violence, were of great concern.  He called on all rebel factions to cease violent activities.  All means must be taken to ensure that the peace process in the Great Lakes region was not taken hostage.  Burundi would do its part to maintain friendly relations with its neighbours.  He called on Burundi’s traditional partners for further assistance, particularly to ensure the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the rebuilding of infrastructure.


       Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, said the main challenge to the United Nations and the international community's system of values was posed by the regime that governed Iraq.  That regime had systematically ignored the resolutions of the United Nations.  A response was both necessary and indispensable to safeguard the world from the danger posed by the massive build-up of unconventional weapons of mass destruction.


He echoed the sentiments of others that it was exactly that regime's defiance that should move the United Nations family to action.  He urged the international community to use all diplomatic and political means available to redress that situation and act within the framework of the Organization to safeguard global security from that very real threat.  The lesson to be drawn from 11 September was that haste could lead to carelessness, but delay in taking necessary action could lead to terrible consequences.


In other business this morning, it was announced that Mauritania had made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in

Article 19 of the Charter.


Also speaking in this morning’s debate were:  Milan Kucan, President of Slovenia; Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo; Marc Ravalomanana, President of Madagascar; Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan; Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius; Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; and Joseph Deiss, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.


Prior to the opening of the general debate, Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, addressed the Assembly.


The General Assembly will continue its general debate this afternoon

at 3 p.m.

Background


The fifty-seventh United Nations General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate.  Prior to convening the plenary session, the current mayor of the City of New York was expected to address Member States.


Address by the Mayor of New York City


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor of New York City, said that the Host City’s relationship with the United Nations had never been better than it was today.  Among other issues, both were committed to the pursuit of globalization, which was a major source of prosperity in the world.  While not everyone welcomed the changes created by globalization, the challenge of the time was to work through them peacefully.  The United Nations was headquartered in New York because it represented all the world’s people and New York was the world’s city, thus making New York the perfect home for the United Nations.


The terrorists who attacked the City last 11 September fell back on fanaticism and terror because of their own insecurities and weakness, he said.  He pledged, however, that New York would remain safe and open, able to welcome and protect people from all over the world -– especially those with whom the people of the United States disagreed -- because the right to disagree was fundamental to an open society.


Nelson Mandela once said that sometimes the sorrow of a great tragedy brought out the true strength of a community, he continued.  On one single morning, the United States had incurred casualties on an appalling scale, not seen since the American Civil War.  Yet, Americans were not the only victims.  Citizens from 92 countries were killed on that morning.  The tragedy of 11 September had demonstrated the true strength of the international community, whose attendance at the General Assembly showed its solidarity with the people of New York.  Just as New Yorkers had always applauded the efforts of the United Nations to rebuild ravaged societies, they now thanked the members for their contributions to the rebuilding of New York. 


Plenary Debate


MILAN KUČAN, the President of Slovenia, said that without the United Nations life would be even more uncertain, with greater social injustice and global disparities in prosperity.  The world would suffer from even more systematic violations of human rights in a large number of States and even more wars.  In spite of its acknowledged weaknesses and inefficiencies, the world Organization had delivered great works, he said.


Following the events of 11 September last year, the entire democratic world joined in the fight against international terrorism, but it became increasingly clear that even the best military weaponry of the anti-terrorist coalition could not reach down to the social roots of that evil, he continued.  Terrorism, he said was “craftily” abusing the apathy, anger and wrath of the people, trying to regain its strength by playing on religious and cultural differences intertwined with the great social rifts in the world today.


He said without global social justice, the world could not be a safe and peaceful place.  International terrorism had unveiled the negative aspects of interdependence between societies.  Much more needed to be done to strengthen the positive aspects of interdependence and to create new ones.  Positive alternatives must be found to the negative aspects of interdependence.


Mr. Kučan said that certain measures of the global community in response to the challenges of the twenty-first century, such as the special session on children, the sustainable development forum, the session on a better future for Africa, were all heralds of a United Nations gaining in political and moral clout as an organization common to all States, and one that was capable of finding the strength to carry though the announced internal reforms.  In that context, he said, Slovenia supported the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Secretary-General’s reform efforts.


JOHN AGYEKUM KUFUOR, President of Ghana, focused on the obstacles and opportunities currently facing his country and the rest of Africa.  He described the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as one of the means whereby Africa would be able to connect effectively with the global marketplace.


Africa, he said, never wanted to be perceived as the “scar on the conscience of the world”.  There was no desire on its part to be regarded as an object of pity and in need of charity.  Rather, it wanted to be part of a global community characterized by the concept of “prosper thy neighbour”, rather than “beggar thy neighbour”.  The nations of the continent needed the partnership, markets and the support of the international community to sustain its development, he said.


“In all these endeavours, however, the missing link for Africa has been the solid and sustainable framework for good governance to support the purposeful evolution of prosperous and stable nations on the continent,” he continued.  Ghana was emphasizing the education of its essentially young population, especially women, because that was the way out of poverty.  Its vibrant education campaign would, he believed, help to reduce discrimination against women. 


While Ghana recognized the potential of globalization, it called for the United Nations to provide the regulatory framework to ensure that the benefits of globalization were equitably distributed.  Speaking about security matters, he condemned the attack on the United States on 11 September 2001 as an affront to civilization and urged Member States to join in the early implementation of the Programme of Action that was adopted to stop the trade in small arms and light weapons.  He closed with an appeal for a world of greater tolerance and justice, a world in which law and order were fully respected by all nations.


PIERRE BUYOYA, President of Burundi, opened his statement with sincere expressions of gratitude for the invaluable efforts of the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, to ensure the peace process in his country remained on track.  After the establishment of transitional institutions last year, the political climate had improved markedly.  While problems associated with such transitions continued -- namely sporadic violence and political waffling –- the people of Burundi continued to aggressively pursue solidarity and peace.  Indeed, Burundi had taken the option of peaceful dialogue, and hesitancy on the part of others would not shake its conviction or its overall quest for peace. 


He said the work remaining in that regard was enormous, but it could be done.  The challenges ahead, particularly continued rebel violence, were of great concern.  He called on all rebel factions to cease violent activities.  All means must be taken to ensure that the peace process in the Great Lakes region was not taken hostage.  Burundi would do its part to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors.  He added that the ill-effects of the protracted violence had been exacerbated by the continued deterioration of the economy.  He called on Burundi’s traditional partners for further assistance in that regard, particularly to ensure the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, the provision of medical supplies and the rebuilding of infrastructure.


He said that Burundi supported the creation of a world fund to combat poverty, as well as a similar fund for protecting the environment.  In that regard, Burundi was eagerly awaiting the follow-up of the recently concluded Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.  He hoped that the wider international community would recognize that the NEPAD could positively inform global efforts to ensure development for all.  He said that the issues of poverty, environmental protection, ending terrorism, combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic and ensuring sustainable development required international cooperation and solidarity.  The United Nations must lead the way.


ALVARO URIBE VELEZ, President of Colombia, said that each month Colombia lost as many people to political violence as had died as a result of the attacks of 11 September.  Each year, Colombia buried 34,000 of its citizens, suffered numerous hijackings, kidnappings, and internal displacements and lost four points of the country’s gross domestic product to violence.  Colombia’s democratic security policy was meant to protect every citizen from those problems, not to persecute real or imagined ideological enemies.


As Commander-in-Chief, he said that he was committed to observe and respect human rights rigorously.  Failure in that might lead to a reduction in violence, but would never bring reconciliation.  The strength of the armed forces however, needed to be increased, as did citizen support for the legitimate institutions of the State.  Citizen fear of guerillas and paramilitary forces needed to be broken, and community-based links with democratic institutions must be built. 


Colombia's problems posed a risk to the democratic stability of the region, thus necessitating the world’s involvement, he said.  It must be understood that drugs had the capability for inflicting mass destruction equivalent to that of the most feared chemical weapon.  “Do not send us your weapons,” he said.  “Destroy your markets for drugs and chemical precursors.  Help us with aerial interdiction and drug seizures.”  Colombia needed resources to offer peasants payment for destroying drugs, and support for ending the financing of terror.


The Colombian commitment to security was not in opposition to dialogue, he said.  Colombia had requested the good offices of the United Nations through a special adviser of the Secretary-General.  However, less rhetoric and more action was needed.  The violence described above was financed through the international drug trade and waged with weapons not made in Colombia.


Colombia, pledged President Uribe Velez, would continue to honour its international financial commitments, but significant bilateral and multilateral economic support was needed, in order to pay the social debt.  The money contributed would not be used to pay for wasteful expenditures, nor to salvage bankruptcies, but would be invested in the interest of the poor, to ensure governability.


DENIS SASSOU-NGUESSO, President of the Republic of the Congo, said two years ago during the Millennium Summit, the international community expressed its desire to ensure sustainable development for all.  A particular aim of that historic meeting had been to halve the number of the world’s poor by 2015.  Unfortunately, the lack of peace, conflict and insecurities were undermining many efforts at ensuring sustainable development.  The international community should redouble its efforts to help maintain worldwide stability, particularly in the Middle East, where the situation was unraveling at an alarming rate. 


He said that the people of Central Africa were longing for peace and security.  Having suffered years of conflict, Central African States had only one desire –- to bring and end to the infernal cycle of violence.  He called on the international community to help keep the peace processes on track and frank negotiations underway in neighboring countries, such as Angola, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In that regard, he drew the Assembly’s attention to the work being done by the Advisory Committee on Central Africa.  That group’s recommendations, which would be presented to the Assembly later in the session, deserved broad support from the international community.  Central Africa needed to regain peace and security, in order to fulfil its enormous potential.


Sadly, the people of the region were suffering from such poverty and underdevelopment that they were being hindered from participating in the changing global environment.  He went on to say that his nation had been facing major challenges since the transition process had been launched in 1997.  But, in spite of myriad setbacks, new democratic institutions had been established following democratic and free elections earlier this year.  That major achievement would allow progress in many other areas, including consolidation of national unity, promotion of human rights and improving the economy. 


The people were determined to participate dynamically in national, regional and international efforts to ensure a common future for the people of the subregion.  He expressed the Congo’s high hopes and optimism.  He was also pleased to announce that Congo resolved, along with five of its neighbors, to take up a campaign to preserve natural resources in the Congo River Basin.  It was hoped that initiative would spur other regional efforts to ensure sustainable development, particularly promoting efforts to ensure implementation of the principles of the Kyoto Protocol.


MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that terrorism was the most dangerous enemy of the new millennium, but it could be eradicated through harmonious international cooperation.  Madagascar would need special technical assistance in the fight against terrorism, in order to implement Resolution

1373 (2001) and other international treaties.


The persistence of conflict in several regions of the world, particularly in the Middle East, required a renewal of the Organization’s purpose in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as reform to make the Security Council more democratic, representative and transparent, he said.  Praising the United Nations efforts to mediate conflicts in Africa, he expressed his people’s gratitude for the United Nations aide in resolving the post-electoral situation in Madagascar.


Rapid and sustainable development was the major objective of his Government, he continued.  The key to development was a partnership between the private and public sectors, with the government working with private industry and non-governmental organizations for the benefit of the people.  Education was also of top priority for the development of peace.  The children of Madagascar would benefit from international aid in spreading digital and other technologies to Africa and other developing nations.


Committed to regaining the path to development, Madagascar realized that international cooperation was necessary for the survival of humanity in a world faced with the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.  People needed access to the fundamental human rights of health care, education and culture, and a decent income.  Globalization could play a vital role in combating impoverishment, as long as the North and South were offered the same opportunities of development.


Expressing firm support for the forthcoming convention against corruption, as well as for NEPAD, he announced that his Government was determined to make Madagascar one of NEPAD’s leading countries.  He also expressed concern over the alarming conclusions of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and pledged to make protection of the environment one of his government’s top priorities.


ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE, the Prime Minister of India, said that terrorism did not start on 11 September; that was merely the day it announced itself on the global stage.  As a country exposed to the depredations of terrorism for decades, India empathized with the pain of the American people, admired their resilience in coming to terms with the consequences, and supported the decision to counterattack terrorism at its source, he said.


The international community had taken some collective decisions in the fight against terrorism and United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) contained the essence of those decisions.  He said the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee should now move beyond information compilation and legal assistance to enforcing compliance by States known to be sponsoring, sheltering, funding, arming and training terrorists.  India wanted an end to the cross-border terrorism that had claimed the lives of thousands of innocent lives and denied entire generations the right to a peaceful existence with normal economic and social activity.


“If Pakistan claims to be a crucial partner in the international coalition against terrorism, how can it continue to use terrorism as instrument of State policy against India?" he asked.  "How can the international coalition condone Pakistan-directed killings of thousands of innocent civilians to promote a bizarre version of ‘self-determination’?”  Those who spoke of “underlying” or “root” causes of terrorism, offered alibis to terrorists and absolved them of responsibility for their actions, such as the 11 September attacks on the United States or the 13 December attack on the Indian Parliament.


On the developmental divide between the North and the South, he said that the continuation of widespread poverty, at a time when “unimaginable wealth” was concentrated in a small social layer, was totally unacceptable.  The twenty-first century had all the means to end that sad legacy of the past centuries.  What was lacking was the political will among the developed countries to sincerely and speedily address the legitimate needs of the developing countries, especially the least developed ones.


JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, Prime Minister of Japan, said in order to ensure world peace and prosperity, the international community needed to harmonize a range of efforts which encompassed not only military measures, but also initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and establishing social structures that would put and end to violations of human rights.  The United Nations should be a forum where the contributions of every State could be consolidated and implemented in the most efficient manner.  Indeed, only the United Nations was capable of carrying out such a lofty goal.  He urged the United Nations to continue its progress on all fronts, particularly reform of the Organization and the Security Council, in order to respond to new world challenges.


With that in mind, he turned to the issue of Iraq, a matter of grave concern to the wider international community.  Iraq must comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and, in particular, it must allow immediate and unconditional inspections and dispose of all weapons of mass destruction.  It was important for the international community to work together and step up diplomatic efforts through the United Nations.  It was also necessary to urgently pursue the elaboration and adoption of the appropriate Council resolutions.


He went on to say that, while terrorism remained a critical issue on the Assembly’s agenda this year, there were other challenges the United Nations must address, namely the consolidation of peace and nation-building, the environment and development nexus, and nuclear disarmament.  He called upon all States to accede to international conventions related to terrorism, so that relevant international norms could be developed.  Japan would respond to threats where weapons of mass destruction might be used in acts of terrorism by joining global efforts to prevent the proliferation of those weapons.


On nation-building, he said Japan attached great importance to extending post-conflict assistance for the consolidation of peace.  In that regard, Japan had developed a mechanism to enable it to cooperate effectively in broader areas, most positively manifested in recent peacekeeping initiatives in such places as East Timor.  Japan had also taken positive steps to ensure that peace and reconciliation initiatives for Afghanistan and the Middle East were stepped up.  He added that, for Africa, peace and stability were prerequisites for development and Japan would actively support the efforts of African States for conflict resolution.


Turning next to the environment and development, he said it was important to utilize all available financial means to enhance human resources, which were the engine of nation-building.  He added that Japan would convene the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development in October 2003, as well as host the international ministerial-level conference on water, in March of that year.  On nuclear disarmament, he said that Japan -- the only country to have ever suffered nuclear devastation –- had a significant role to play.  It would do its utmost to keep the world safe and free of nuclear weapons and to that end would propose a draft resolution on “a path toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons” during this session of the Assembly.  


ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that the sophisticated infrastructure of the terrorist organizations that was used to inflict that monstrosity of 11 September 2001 must be dismantled, at any cost.  All energies and efforts should be mobilized to never let that happen again.  Mauritius was committed to remaining fully engaged in the global coalition against terrorism and would continue to work together with other States to take all measures -- nationally, regionally and internationally -- so that the scourge of terrorism was never visited upon unsuspecting civilians and countries. 


He said, "we are alive to the chilling reality that no country is or ever will be safe until the war against terrorism is finally and completely won".  He condemned cross-border infiltration, which must be stopped.  The threats posed by international terrorism had heightened the need for collective action to preserve world peace and security.  While efforts were combined to wage a war on terrorism, the international community should continue to work towards global disarmament and the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction within a specified time frame.  He reiterated his appeal for the early convening of a conference on nuclear disarmament.


Fortunately, there was a new dawn in Africa and the stark realization that, without enduring peace and stability, there would be no sustainable development.  He congratulated African leaders who had spared no efforts in the search for solutions to conflicts and crises.  There was cause for optimism -- the days of doom and gloom for Africa were on their way to extinction.  The Indian Ocean region was again poised for stability and development and he applauded the return to constitutional rule in the Comoros and the consolidation of democratic institutions there.  Also welcome had been the formation of a government of national reconciliation in Madagascar and the efforts underway to undo the damage of the recent crisis there. 


In the Middle East, where the death toll rose daily, he wanted to see the early establishment of a Palestinian State, side-by-side with Israel and based on agreed and secure boundaries.  Palestinians needed a State machinery, which observed the fundamental norms of a democratic system, with responsibility and accountability on the part of the leaders.  They alone had the absolute right to elect their leaders, when elections were held on 20 January 2003.  Further, Iraqi authorities should comply fully and unconditionally with Security Council resolutions and allow arms inspectors to fulfil their mandate.  The United Nations system was the best guarantee for international peace and security. 


SILVIO BERLUSCONI, Prime Minister of Italy, said that the barbarous acts of 11 September roused in all a common will to respond to defend human rights and the values of freedom, peace, justice and development.  In order to defeat terrorism, it was necessary to globalize freedom and promote global economic development.  Italy would continue to support the military, financial, judicial, police and intelligence cooperation that had already achieved important results in the struggle.


Italy was also committed to eradicating poverty and disease, he said, through increases in development aid, the cancellation of poorer countries’ debt and support for the Group of 8’s action place for Africa, launched in Genoa under Italy’s presidency.  Italy had also proposed an “e-government” initiative -– a completely computerized and digitalized universal model of public accounting, public administration, and its primary functions -– designed to help achieve standards of good governance. 


In its first stage, he continued, the assistance necessary for the implementation of the system would be provided to those countries that wished to adopt it.  In its second stage, the adoption of the system would be mandatory for countries desiring development assistance.  In the third and final stage, industrialized and developing nations would forge special partnerships for the implementation of specific projects.  Other initiatives supported by Italy were the “de-tax”, “Education for All” and “Global Fund against HIV-AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis”.


Italy’s commitment to the United Nations, exemplified by its financial support and commitment of troops for peacekeeping operations, was clear, he said.  The main challenge facing the United Nations today, he said, was Iraq’s continued defiance of the international community’s will.  The international community needed to make use of all available diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve the problem.  But, if there was no substantial change, it would be necessary to act within the framework of the United Nations to safeguard global security from a real threat.


On the issue of the Middle East, Mr. Berlusconi expressed support for the work of the "Quartet", as well as for convening an international convention to assure peaceful coexistence between two independent States with safe and secure borders.  Terrorist attacks needed to cease, and free and fair elections needed to be held to advance the democratic reform of the Palestinian Authority.  The economic gap between Israelis and Palestinians also needed to be narrowed.  In support of that goal, Italy had presented a plan to rebuild and support the Palestinian economy and offered to host peace negotiations.


ALEXANDER DOWNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said the coalition against the war on terrorism had accomplished a great deal.  The United Nations decisive response after 11 September had created a framework for Member States to join forces in suppressing, prosecuting and punishing terrorist acts and financing.  All Member States must implement the commitments made in Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).  The United Nations now faced another great challenge.  For over a decade, Iraq had flouted legally binding obligations to disclose and eradicate its weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq had defied United Nations resolutions, inspections and sanctions.  Iraq had ignored some 23 of the 27 obligations imposed on it under 16 Security Council resolutions. 


Until it dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programme, Iraq was a grave threat, he said.  Up until 1998 United Nations weapons inspectors had done much good work in finding and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but because they were thrown out of Iraq in 1998, their work was never finished.  Four years later, there was little doubt that Iraq had been working hard to rebuild its chemical and biological weapons programmes.  Serious questions also remained about Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.  Iraq must give immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to inspectors to all areas, facilities, equipment, records and Iraqi officials.  If Iraq had nothing to hide, then it had nothing to fear.  Member States must demonstrate clear and collective determination to uphold the Council's authority and to ensure that its resolutions were implemented in full. 

The terrorist threat had given new urgency to disarmament and non-proliferation goals and demanded a renewed effort to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, both to non-State and State actors, he said.  Australia intended to pursue practical measures through international non-proliferation treaty regimes and export control arrangements.  Other challenges must also be dealt with, including transnational crimes.  Combating people smuggling and trafficking in persons was particularly important to Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.   Australia welcomed the addition of the International Criminal Court to the international legal framework.  The United Nations work in East Timor was an example of how the Organization made a difference.


To be effective, the United Nations must be focused, matching its activities to its capabilities and to the priorities set by Member States.  Key organs of the Organization must be reformed; in particular, the Security Council should be expanded.  It was also important to think about the relationship between the key organs and the Secretariat.  Time was not a free good, nor were meeting services, Secretary-General's reports and the capacity of Member States to provide resources.  Major United Nations conferences had become so large that their fundamental purposes had been obscured.  Australia strongly supported the process of reform proposed by the Secretary-General for his second term.  It provided a unique opportunity to re-tool the Organization to build on its strengths.


JOSEPH DEISS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, in his country’s first contribution to the general debate of the General Assembly, said “We feel that we are where we belong”.  He went on to say that his country would devote itself primarily to the issue of international peace and security.


While stressing the need for a broad-based perspective on security, one that would incorporate the notion of human security, he said, “Men, women and children must be able to live in this world without fear of death, starvation and despotism.  In particular, we must protect vulnerable individuals and groups”. That would involve stopping the recruitment of child soldiers, eliminating anti-personnel mines, and stopping the proliferation of small arms.


He said Switzerland held the view that only the United Nations legitimized the use of force when international peace and security were threatened.  Thus, action against Iraq required joint action.  “There is undeniably a need to act, to act with determination, in order to ensure implementation of United Nations resolutions", he said.  “But action must be taken together, within the United Nations.”


For as long as men and women were exploited, children mistreated and the death penalty carried out, Switzerland would also do everything in its power to defend human dignity.  At the current General Assembly, his country would commit itself to adopting the draft Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture.  Also, the International Criminal Court would enjoy support from Switzerland, and it would work to convince other States to ratify the Rome Statute.  The Court was an essential tool for dealing with serious violations of the fundamental freedoms and would ensure the better application of international humanitarian law.  He closed on a positive note, giving the assurance that Switzerland would provide its full support to the United Nations, while maintaining, as he stated at the beginning of his address, its neutrality.


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