9/5/2005
Press Release
GA/10346


AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETS TO COMMEMORATE END OF SECOND WORLD WAR, SPEAKERS


REAFFIRM COMMITMENT TO PEACE, STRENGTHENING OF UNITED NATIONS


Importance of Dialogue, Tolerance, Rejection of War

Stressed Along with Determination ‘Never to Forget’


As the world paused today to commemorate the end of the Second World War, the General Assembly held a solemn meeting to remember the victims of that unprecedented tragedy, and to reaffirm commitment to strengthening the world body born from its ashes.


United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said it was entirely appropriate that the Assembly commemorate the ending of the Second World War, which had brought untold sorrow to humankind.  That descent into the abyss had spared no one, and its end had unleashed a flood of feelings, especially among the survivors, some of whom had found in their deliverance evidence that a miracle had occurred.


The tasks of rebuilding towns and cities had been taken up with vigour, as had the task of rebuilding international relations, she said.  As fascism had fallen, the United Nations had risen.  As the ashes had settled and the dust cleared, a new Organization had been prepared to help prevent such catastrophes from happening ever again.  Defending the notion of humanity was the most important task facing the international community today.


Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) recalled the horrors and untold suffering that that tragedy had inflicted on humanity, to learn from the past and to build a good future, saying “We must not fear opening our eyes to this non-glorious period of history.”  Today’s commemoration must be an occasion to reaffirm common commitments to reject war as a way to settle differences, and to consider again the simple but essential values of dialogue and tolerance between all peoples. 


For Germany, stated its representative, the end of the War had presented a unique opportunity for a fresh start, built on the cornerstones of human dignity and human rights.  Germany had been given an opportunity to achieve reconciliation with its neighbours and other partners, and to contribute to a more peaceful world order.  Germany’s responsibility for the Shoah, the ultimate crime against humanity of the twentieth century, entailed a particular obligation for Germany towards Israel.  Keeping alive the memory of the Shoah and regaining the friendship of Jews in Israel, Germany and worldwide remained a task for present and future generations of Germans.


Israel’s representative said his country had an especially tragic connection to the War, representing, as it did, a people who had endured hardships throughout history, but who had suffered its worst calamity during the War.  The Holocaust represented the murder of one third of the Jewish people.  Like the United Nations itself, the State of Israel had been born out of the tragedy of the Second World War, with the determination never to forget and never to allow the events of the war to recur.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to say to the millions of victims of the War that their slaughter was not forgotten, to say to the survivors of the war’s atrocities that their suffering was not forgotten, and to say to the Allied soldiers that their sacrifices were not and would never be forgotten. 


Twice in the first half of the twentieth century, noted Japan’s representative, the world had gone through the unspeakable horrors of war, and humankind had experienced untold suffering, misery and sorrow.  Mistakes made in the past must be remembered with the resolve not to allow them to happen again.  He recalled that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had recently stated that through its colonial rule and aggression, Japan had caused tremendous damage and suffering to the peoples of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations.  The Prime Minister said Japan squarely faced those facts of history in a spirit of humility and with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology. 


Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Nigeria’s representative hoped today’s meeting would enable Member States to draw lessons from the past, which would serve as a guide to the future.  Sixty years after the War’s end, the world had continued to witness acts of hatred and discrimination based on religious, political, racial, ethnic, social or cultural differences.  Although the world had not seen anything like the magnitude of the events of the Second World War, it was sad to note that the culture of hatred had persisted and had been the cause of many conflicts throughout the world, including the tragic events in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.  “We watched with horror as these terrible episodes unfolded, as if we had learnt nothing from 1945.” 


Although the end of the War meant liberation for those in Western Europe, the Assembly was reminded today that for those in Central and Eastern Europe, the end of the War had marked the beginning of a painful chapter in their history.


Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld, who lost his entire family to the Nazis, said that for the nations liberated by the armies of the anti-Nazi coalition, the promise held by the birth of the United Nations had turned into reality.  Unfortunately, fate was not as generous to Poland and other States of Central and Eastern Europe.  The end of the War and the fall of the Third Reich did not bring to Poles full sovereignty and the independence they had been fighting for.  The 1945 decisions of Yalta, taken over the heads of Poles by the three major powers of the anti-Nazi coalition, in effect allowed the subjugation of Poland by the Stalin dictatorship.


Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of the Russian Federation, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, China, Lithuania (also on behalf of Estonia and Latvia), Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Belarus and France, as well as the observer of the Holy See.


The next meeting of the Assembly will be announced.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to hold a special solemn meeting in commemoration of all victims of the Second World War, in accordance with Assembly resolution 59/26 of 22 November 2004


Statement by Assembly President


JEAN PING (Gabon), President of the General Assembly, said that on 22 November 2004, the Assembly had stepped into the breach by adopting resolution 59/26, which proclaimed 8 and 9 May as days of remembrance to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War.  Sixty years ago, at the end of that horrendous tragedy, the international community decided to create a world organization, the United Nations, to spare future generations from the scourge of war. 


In this year of remembrance, he recalled the horrors and untold suffering that tragedy had inflicted on humanity, to learn from the past and to build a good future, saying “We must not fear opening our eyes to this non-glorious period of history.”  Today’s commemoration must be an occasion to reaffirm common commitments to reject war as a way to settle differences.  Millions were still suffering from the evil of armed conflict.  That was why today’s meeting was also an opportunity to think again of the simple but essential values of dialogue and tolerance between all peoples. 


Statement by Deputy Secretary-General


LOUISE FRÉCHETTE, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said it was entirely appropriate that the General Assembly commemorate the ending of the Second World War, which had brought untold sorrow to humankind.  That descent into the abyss had spared no one, and its end had unleashed a flood of feelings, especially among the survivors, some of whom had found in their deliverance evidence that a miracle had occurred.


The tasks of rebuilding towns and cities had been taken up with vigour, as had the task of rebuilding international relations, she said.  As fascism had fallen, the United Nations had risen.  As the ashes had settled and the dust cleared, a new Organization had been prepared to help prevent such catastrophes from happening ever again.  Defending the notion of humanity was the most important task facing the international community today.


ANDREY I. DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that the Second World War, which his people knew as the Great Patriotic War, had become the biggest tragedy for the nations of Europe and the world, regardless of which side countries were on.  He paid tribute to the huge role played by all the States in the anti-Hitler coalition.  Millions had given their lives for the victory.  He also paid tribute to the veterans of the Second World War.  The development of humankind should not be accompanied by victims of new wars.  It was necessary to put up a reliable barrier against intolerance and racism.  The main lesson of that War was that States of different political systems were able to put aside their differences to fight a common enemy.


Today, the world was facing a similar challenge from terrorism, he said.  It was only through unity and trust that the fight against that evil could be tackled.  No less relevant were the lessons of the War for shaping a new world order and international relations.  The United Nations was established to spare future generations from the scourge of war.  Its principles and norms continued to be the only basis for the establishment of a safer and just world order.  The further strengthening of the United Nations, as a key element in the collective security system meant to achieve the goal of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, was in the interest of all mankind. 


JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, recalled that the cannons had been silenced in Europe 60 years ago, ending a period when millions of men, women and children -- the citizens of many nations -- had seen their people crushed by war.  Today the international community was meeting together to say “no” to the ideologies of hatred that had resulted in the Second World War.  The memory of the War could not be a mere historical mention, but a constant reminder to all humanity of the need to mobilize all its energies and intellectual capacities to put an to end the scourge of war and to all violations of human dignity.


Today’s commemoration was an occasion to remember again the basic values underlying the United Nations, he said.  At a time when the international community was seriously debating how to make the Organization more capable of addressing the many challenges facing the world.  It was by meeting those challenges in a creative and dynamic manner that the international community could best honour the great sacrifices made during the War.  More than ever before, the United Nations and the principles of its Charter were the best means to secure the inalienable rights of all humankind.  Today also marked the anniversary of Europe Day, when a group of eminent Europeans had decided to change the course of a continent that had given rise to two destructive wars and to form the basis of the European Union.


ADAM DANIEL ROTFELD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, said he stood before the Assembly as a representative of a nation that lost over 6 million citizens, among them over 3 million Jews and Poles of Jewish descent.  The population of Poland had decreased from 35 million in 1939 to 24 million in 1945, and the country’s territory had shrunk by 20 per cent.  Those statistics concealed the untold tragedy of millions of human beings.  During the war, the Nazis had murdered his parents and his whole family.  In Poland, his wartime fate was typical, and shared by millions.  The Second World War brought terrible experiences to many nations.  For Poland, it started on 1 September 1939, when it was treacherously attacked from the West and South by Nazi Germany.  Two weeks later, on 17 September, aggression from the East was committed by the Stalinist Soviet Union.  The list of Nazi crimes was long and terrifying, as were the crimes of Stalinism. 


For the nations liberated by the armies of the anti-Nazi coalition, the promise held by the establishment of the United Nations had turned into reality.  Unfortunately, fate was not as generous to Poland and other States of Central and South-Eastern Europe.  The end of the war and the fall of the Third Reich did not bring to Poles full sovereignty and the independence they had been fighting for.  The 1945 decisions of Yalta, taken over the heads of Poles by the three major powers of the anti-Nazi coalition, in effect allowed the subjugation of Poland by the Stalin dictatorship.  The same fate was shared by other nations of Central and Eastern Europe.  He paid tribute to all the soldiers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other nations, who had fought in the ranks of the Red Army, for their heroism, dedication and sacrifice. 


The people of Poland would not be short of commitment to reaching understanding and reconciliation with all nations, particularly their largest neighbours -- the Germans and the Russians.  Reconciliation was possible only when there was mutual striving and good will.  This day of commemoration should also be a day of reflection. 


SAGADAT NURMAGAMBETOV, five-star General, World War II, and former Minister of Defence of Kazakhstan, said that as a person who had marched thousands of war miles, who participated in the liberation of a number of European countries from fascism and who saw the end of the war in Berlin, he could say that that bloody war had caused incalculable losses and great suffering.  It was impossible to overestimate the services of those who had fought in the army and worked back home, who had sacrificed their energy and lives and who had made great effort to achieve the main goal.  The great victory of 1945 had been forged by all the constituent SovietRepublics, Russia and the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition.  In the aftermath of the Second World War, people realized that a third world war would mean the end of civilization.  Established at that juncture, the United Nations was critical for the new world order. 


He said that, from the start, the United Nations had worked to accomplish its main task -- to maintain peace, promote social progress and development and improve living standards.  The sixtieth anniversary of the Second World War was also the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations.  Today, the world faced new serious threats to its security, which had acquired new forms and truly global dimensions.  Those challenges included the threat of terrorism and transnational crime, persistent conflicts, poverty and environmental degradation.


The survivors and direct witnesses to the War’s tragic events should not allow their repetition.  There was not a single family in Kazakhstan that had not been affected, one way or another.  The country had mobilized some 1.2 million of its sons and daughters, and more than half of them had sacrificed their lives.  During those difficult war years, however, the friendship and cohesion among different ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan were strengthened.  That important factor continued to contribute to the preservation and consolidation of inter-ethnic harmony and societal stability.


Kazakhstan had consistently implemented large-scale political, economic and social reforms aimed at establishing a modern, democratic and rule-of-law State, thereby making a tangible contribution to regional and global stability and security, he said.  He called on world leaders to continue to care tirelessly about the consolidation of peace. 


ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the end of the war in Europe had been a turning point leading to the construction of the General Assembly chamber and the work that went on inside it.  The graveyards of Europe and those in every town of the United Kingdom testified to the sacrifices made in saving Europe from barbarism.  The cost of war should never be forgotten.


However, among the despair there was hope, he said.  Europeans had determined never again to go to war with each other.  Europe and the United States, as well as other nations touched by war had not just looked inward.  The establishment of the United Nations was the ultimate expression of their commitment to save the world from the scourge of war.  However, that aim had only been partly achieved.  Nearly every MemberState represented today had been touched by conflict, and the world faced other threats from disease, climate change and environmental degradation while poverty continued to be present.  More than ever the international community had the resources, technology and experience to promote human rights and enhance the rule of law, as well as the shared interest in doing so.


DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) said that the purpose of today’s meeting was to say to the millions of victims of the Second World War that their slaughter was not forgotten, to say to the survivors of the war’s atrocities that their suffering was not forgotten, and to say to the Allied soldiers that their sacrifices were not and would never be forgotten.  The courageous soldiers from numerous States represented in the Assembly hall that had risked, and too often given, their lives for goodness and compassion had come face to face with the devastation wrought by man’s potential for cruelty.  They had come face to face with darkness incarnate and with the ultimate depths of suffering and misery.


Israel, along with others represented today, was grateful to all those soldiers who had fought for freedom, hope and the faith that humanity could be redeemed and reborn from the inferno of the Second World War.  Israel had an especially tragic connection to the Second World War, representing as it did a people who had endured hardships throughout history, but who had suffered its worst calamity during the Second World War, he said.  The Holocaust represented the murder of one third of the Jewish people.  Like the United Nations itself, the State of Israel had been born out of the tragedy of the Second World War, with the determination never to forget and never to allow the events of the war to recur.


Noting that 20,000 veterans of the war resided in Israel, he said that along with the Holocaust survivors alongside whom they lived, they were living witnesses to that terrible time in history, reminding the world that the seeds of hatred could only result in horror and death.  Israel was proud of those veterans -- of their courage and sacrifice in the battlefields of Europe, and proud that they continued to honour all those victims of the Holocaust by making Israel their home.  On behalf of those veterans, and of all Israel’s citizens, President Moshe Katsav was heading the Israeli delegation to the commemoration ceremonies taking place in Moscow.


He said that having played such a crucial role in the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, and having suffered so severely, both in their military and civilian losses, the Russians should be proud of their incalculable contributions to the struggle against evil.  On that note, and on behalf of the Jewish people, Israel paid special tribute to the Russian soldiers who, along with soldiers from other States, had liberated the Nazi concentration camps.  Today’s commemoration represented an opportunity to reaffirm, once again, the founding principles of the United Nations.  Born out of the horrors of the Second World War, it had been envisioned as a temple of tolerance and harmony and it should be a home to all nations -- inclusive, just and working to foster peace between peoples.  It should be divorced from politics and committed to brotherhood.


ALLAN ROCK (Canada) recalled that the United Nations was established out of the ashes of war six decades ago.  In 1939, Canada had a tiny population on a vast area of land, and at the end of the War, it had the fourth largest fighting force in the world.  Canada had embraced and supported the United Nations in every way it could. 


At the general debate last September, Prime Minister Paul Martin had spoken about what he considered to be the main responsibilities of the international system, including saving the people of the world from war and crimes against humanity, as well as the responsibilities for the future regarding certain aspects of the common heritage, including the environment, the oceans and outer space.  Those issues could only be addressed collectively through the United Nations.  In the past six decades, growth and change had been seen in the United Nations.  But much remained to be done to make it all that it could be.  “We owe it to ourselves and to the citizens of the world to work for change in this great institution”, he said.  Canada committed itself anew to work with Member States towards that common cause. 


ANNE W. PATTERSON (United States) said that for the people of her country the end of the war had been a momentous event.  Tyranny and oppression had been defeated, and a new day of hope had dawned, but not without enormous cost.  It was, therefore, appropriate to remember the tremendous sacrifice made by countless citizens of many countries during those terrible years.  Sixty years ago United States divisions had freed major death camps at Buchenwald and Dachau, in Germany, and Mauthausen, in Austria.  British forces had liberated Bergen-Belsen and Neungamme, while Soviet forces had liberated Auschwitz in Poland and Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck in Germany.


The war was central to the American identity and it was for them a time that would remain forever a part of the nation’s collective memory, she said.


In Western Europe, the end of the war had meant liberation, she said.  In Central and Eastern Europe, however, the end of the War had marked the beginning of a painful chapter in their history.  Even as the international community acknowledged the past and confronted the scourge of anti-Semitism, today’s anniversary was an opportunity to look forward and build a future based on the shared values of shared responsibilities as free nations.  Today, as the rise of freedom was witnessed around the world, nations must take care to safeguard the dividend of peace and work with confidence to strengthen democracy at home and advance freedom abroad.


WANG GUANGYA (China) said today was a day of remembrance and reconciliation, as declared by the Assembly, and marked the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.  He paid tribute to those courageous fighters who had sacrificed their lives during the anti-fascist war.  Sixty years ago today, the world had witnessed the defeat of Nazi forces.  An enormous cost had been paid by peace-loving people around the world.  Countless were tortured or slaughtered by Nazi camps and military forces, bringing an untold sorrow to mankind.  Today, he urged all peace-loving people not to allow the reoccurrence of such tragedy.  Tireless reconciliation efforts had borne fruits of hope. 


But even after 60 years, the ghosts of militarism and Nazism lingered on and there were those trying to distort past crimes.  It was pivotal for the international community to heighten its vigilance, in that regard.  Today’s meeting was not only to commemorate the victims, but also to remember and face up to history.  Only then could succeeding generations be saved from the scourge of war.  Sixty years ago, the United Nations was born amidst the victory against fascism.  Today, the Organization bore the main responsibility for maintaining world peace and security and promoting development.  It faced new challenges, such as lingering poverty and terrorism.  Mankind was at a new historical turning point and the United Nations was at a crucial crossroads. 


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that remembrance of the War and the unspeakable suffering that the country had brought upon its neighbours and, as a consequence, its own citizenry, was a solemn duty for Germany.  Atonement had been a defining element of German identity ever since.  Today Germany mourned all those men, women and children who had lost their lives, their loved ones or their health as victims of Nazi Germany.  The country had accepted full moral responsibility and asked for forgiveness for all the suffering inflicted upon other peoples by Germans in the name of Germany.


At the same time, 8 May was a day of liberation -- for Europeans, including Germans, he said.  Future generations would remember the dawn of a new era, founded on the promise of the United Nations.  The Charter, with its ultimate goals of peace, welfare and human rights, attempted to draw lessons from Germany’s history during those fateful war years and to ensure that such events never recurred.  In the decades after 1945 it had taken great efforts, wisdom, persistence and often courage to help shape a better world.  Setbacks had occurred almost immediately, and many would remember the immediate post-War period as bringing, among other things, years of additional suffering and renewed oppression, as well as the division of Europe and indeed the whole world.


He said that for the Federal Republic of Germany, the end of the War had presented a unique opportunity for a fresh start, built on the cornerstones of human dignity and human rights.  Germany had been given an opportunity to achieve reconciliation with its neighbours and other partners, and to contribute to a more peaceful world order.  The United States, the United Kingdom and France had extended their hands, at crucial moments and in a spirit of magnanimity and wisdom.  With European and transatlantic integration, Germany had drawn the lessons of the tragic first half of the twentieth century.  The European Union had united former enemies and had brought political, economic and social stability and prosperity to its members.  Reconciliation with Russian and other successorStates of the Soviet Union had special significance considering the enormous price their peoples had paid during the war.


In view of the suffering of the Baltic States, he said, Germany had always felt a very special obligation to support strongly their inclusion in the Euro-Atlantic community.  Poland had been the victim of particularly brutal aggression, and Germany was all the more grateful that its relationship with that country had developed into a truly European friendship.  That was also true of Germany’s other Central European partners.  Germany’s responsibility for the Shoah, the ultimate crime against humanity of the twentieth century, entailed a particular obligation for Germany towards the State of Israel.  Germany’s relationship with Israel had been and would always be a special one.  Keeping alive the memory of Shoah and regaining the friendship of Jews in Israel, Germany and worldwide remained a task for present and future generations of Germans.


GEDIMINAS ŠERKŠNYS (Lithuania), also speaking on behalf of Estonia and Latvia, said that the Second World War was a great tragedy and had left deep scars.  Today marked the sixtieth anniversary of the official end of that War.  Commemorating its end, it was important to remember all the victims of the War -- the millions who perished in their towns and villages or on the battlefields, and those who had lost their lives in the death camps and gulags -- and remember with gratitude those who fought against dictatorship, oppression, racism and aggression.  At the same time, he was convinced that commemoration of the end of the War should also refer to the legacy of that War and reveal the historical truth. 


The end of the War marked the end of one totalitarian ideology, fascism, and the expansion of the domination of another, totalitarian communism, he said.  The end of the War had resulted in the occupation and the renewed annexation of three Baltic States by the Soviet Union.  In commemorating those who lost their lives during the Second World War, the international community must not fail to commemorate the crimes against humanity committed by both totalitarian regimes.  In doing so, he hoped forbearance and tolerance would become the universal principles of relations between States and their residents.  Reconciliation, based on truth and open and fair evaluation of the atrocities and consequences of the War, was the best proof that lessons had been drawn from the War. 


KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea), paying tribute to those who had sacrificed their lives for the cause of peace and human dignity in World War II, said that today was not only a day of mourning, however.  It was also a moment to reaffirm collective responsibility for preventing such horrendous wars in the future.  Threats to global peace abounded, and innocents were being killed on several continents.  Terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction also posed major threats.  To counter those threats, multilateral cooperation and dialogue must be strengthened.  Disarmament and non-proliferation efforts must also continue.


Perhaps the day’s most important task, he said, was to forge a foundation of genuine reconciliation by overcoming the legacy of World War II.  In that regard, as a citizen of a country that suffered greatly during that war, he felt duty-bound to underscore the necessity of sincere and genuine atonement by those who had begun the descent into a global nightmare.  True atonement required a factual portrayal of history, and the education of the younger generations about the horror of the war.


The goal of the international community was to promote the universal values of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, he said, with the United Nations in a lead role.  He reiterated his country’s unwavering support for the Charter of the Organization and expressed sincere desire for true reconciliation throughout the world.


NURBEK JEENBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) said he could not talk about victory in the Great Patriotic War without remembering the countless lives lost and the efforts of many countries.  The eighth and ninth of May had been declared days of remembrance and reconciliation.  He drew attention to those who had served both on the frontlines as well as in the background, including those working in industry and agriculture, to support the war effort. 


Today, it was possible to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the War through a unique world organization, he said.  Over the years since the United Nations had been established, the world had changed dramatically.  There were now new threats and challenges, such as terrorism and all its manifestations.  He paid tribute to those who had fought in the War and commemorated the memory of those who had died. 


PETER TESCH (Australia) said that it was with sorrow, but also sober pride, that his country joined other Member States in commemorating the end of the Second World War.  When war had been declared, in September 1939, the young nation had quickly responded and had joined other countries with which it had historical ties.  Australians had fought alongside Britons, Poles, Canadians, South Africans and many other nationalities in all theatres of the war.


He said the United Nations Charter remained eloquent testimony to the goals that had united the world at the end of the War, in 1945, and which still did so today.  The service and sacrifice of those who had fought in the war should not be in vain and the international community must ensure that the Organization evolved to meet the new challenges posed by disease, poverty, war and the denial of fundamental human rights.  Only in that way could the international community honour those who had gone before.


ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said that his country had lost millions in the Great Patriotic War.  Belorussians today recalled those who gave their lives in that War.  Time did not always heal all wounds.  Today, for Belarus, there were no enemy States in the world.  Each drew his or her own lessons from the past.  For his country, which was literally burned to the ground in the war, the main lesson was the understanding that such a thing must never happen again.  The nightmare of war, and the suffering and death of millions, had forced humankind to tremble.  Sixty years ago, the international community had found the courage to rise above mutual mistrust and create a new system of international relations.  The key principle behind that was enshrined in the United Nations Charter -- the non-use of force. 


The victors of the last world war cherished their convictions, and were certain that what they were doing was right, he noted.  They agreed on the main point, which was the sacred endeavour to preserve life, at whatever cost.  What must force the world, once again, to tremble to overcome the temptation to succumb to age-old grievances and spur mankind to the abyss of destruction?  “If we wish to continue to live in this world, we must live together in peace”, he said. Applying that simple truth was the least that could be done to commemorate the lives that had perished in the last world war.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) recalled that 60 years ago peace had finally prevailed at the end of one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.  It was appropriate to honour the memory of all the victims of that atrocious war.  Sixty years ago had been born also a new hope for Europe, which had been devastated, exhausted and shattered.  In a number of years the Franco-German alliance, the transatlantic alliance and the European project had permitted Europe to reconnect with the highest traditions of its civilization.  The Europeans had taken their place among nations.


He said that 60 years ago had also been born a new hope for the world.  Notably, it had been the United States, with some others, that had laid the first foundations of the United Nations, which, at that time, just as today, responded to deep popular aspirations.  The United Nations Charter offered Governments a sure base for effective collective security.  There were, 60 years later, more reasons than ever to remain faithful to the Charter’s ideals.  The end of decolonization had placed all States on an equal footing; the end of the East-West conflict, a long-standing factor of paralysis for the Organization, had opened a new era; and all over the world human rights, democracy and the rule of law were now recognized as the touchstones for the flowering of individuals and of human society.


AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African States, said that the Second World War was not only an historical event of the first order, but also marked a turning point for humanity.  The memories of the War must not grow dim, but become a stern lesson for the present generation and generations to come.  The international community must recommit itself to strengthening the United Nations to fully empower it to discharge its responsibilities. 


Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, the world had continued to witness acts of hatred and discrimination based on religious, political, racial, ethnic, social or cultural differences.  Although the world had not seen anything like the magnitude of the events of the Second World War, it was sad to note that the culture of hatred had persisted and had been the cause of many conflicts throughout the world, including the tragic events in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.  “We watched with horror as these terrible episodes unfolded, as if we had learnt nothing from 1945.” 


The world had also witnessed an unprecedented rise and sophistication in the act of terrorism, he added.  The international community must not be daunted or intimidated by brazen assaults on its collective psyche.  He hoped today’s meeting would enable Member States to draw lessons from the past, which would serve as a guide to the future.  


KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) noted that twice in the first half of the twentieth century the world had gone through the unspeakable horrors of war, and humankind had experienced untold suffering, misery and sorrow.  That must not be repeated.  Mistakes made in the past must be remembered with the resolve not to allow them to happen again.  Only by learning from the past could humanity make progress into the future.  Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in his recent address to the Asian-African Summit, had said that through its colonial rule and aggression Japan had caused tremendous damage and suffering to the peoples of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations.  The Prime Minister said Japan squarely faced those facts of history in a spirit of humility and with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology.  It had resolutely maintained its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means without recourse to the use of force.


In that spirit, the Japanese people had striven to rebuild their country since the end of the War as a free, democratic and peace-loving nation, he said.  Peace treaties had been concluded with former belligerents States, and the obligations assumed had been fully and sincerely implemented.  The Japanese people had worked hard to recover from the devastation of their country, to reconstruct their institutions and rebuild their industrial base.  Since becoming a member of the United Nations, Japan had made assiduous efforts to contribute to the Organization’s ideals and objectives, ranging from development, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, to disarmament, arms control and conflict resolution, and peacekeeping operations.  That had been partly to give back to the international community, but was more a reflection of Japan’s genuine desire to dedicate itself to promoting the ideals and objectives of the United Nations Charter.


CELESTINO MIGLIORE, observer of the Holy See, said that among the roots of the Second World War was the exaltation of State and race, and the proud self-sufficiency of humanity based on the manipulation of science, technology and force.  The rule of law was no longer a vehicle for the application of justice.  Even if it was accepted under some circumstances that a limited use of force could be inevitable to fulfil the responsibility to protect every State and the international community, it must be realized that peaceful resolutions of dispute were possible, and no effort should be spared in achieving them.  Global peace and security would only be achieved if the international community respected human life and dignity, and was committed to the social and economic development of every country and every person. 


Also, the Second World War, as with all the wars of the twentieth century, illustrated how war termination policies and post-war operational planning were essential to the aim of restoring justice and peace and of protecting.  In the light of the material and moral devastation of the Second World War and the nature of war since, the time had now come to focus on how to quickly and effectively establish just and lasting peace, which was the only admissible goal for the use of force.  Thus, the existing international legal instruments covering conduct and activities after war needed to be reinforced and extended with a reference to the rapidly changing global environment.  He shared the Secretary-General’s concern that the United Nations fully address the challenge of helping countries with the transition from war to lasting peace, and supported the creation of a peacebuilding commission. 


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