H.E. Mr. Óscar Arias Sánchez, President
24 September 2008
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ÓSCAR ARIAS SÁNCHEZ, President of Costa Rica, said he brought a message of urgency to the world body’s meeting: while leaders were deliberating, millions of people who had only recently been able to cover their basic needs were once again seeing the face of poverty. Hunger, the “abominable monster” that had been vanished for so many years, had returned to chase away the dreams of humanity as pessimism and hopelessness had taken control of the world’s economies. The poorest were the ones to pay the consequences, he added.
He decried world military spending, which had reached more than $3 billion per day, while international aid continued to trickle to the poorest countries at a snail’s pace and failed to reach the middle-income countries altogether. He observed that, while the interdependence of today’s world made everyone vulnerable, that very interdependence was also the international community’s strength. “In the past, a nation could avert its gaze from far-off suffering and scorn the pain of others. Today, that option does not exist,” he said, adding: “Every victory is shared, and so is every failure.”
On the necessity of upholding the ideals of the Charter, he declared that evil lived not only through actions, but also, and above all, through omission. To keep silent when crimes were grave and responsibilities were clear was not to remain neutral –- it was to take a stand on the side of the aggressors. The recent past held unpunished and horrendous crimes that called out, not for vengeance, but for justice. Evil should not be trivialized if the painful history of Kosovo and Bosnia, of Rwanda and Kampuchea were not to be repeated. It was, therefore, time for the international community to demand that those responsible for the crimes committed in Darfur be judged before the International Criminal Court.
“ Costa Rica will oppose any attempt to avoid this path, which is the path of peace. Forgiveness is based on memory, not in concealment; and peace will be possible only through memory,” he said, adding that if the spirit of the past called for holding people responsible for the violation of human rights, the spirit of the present called for ensuring that those rights were fulfilled today.
Continuing, he said excessive military spending was one of many ways in which Governments could indirectly hurt their peoples, particularly in developing countries, where “every long-range missile, every helicopter gunship, every tank” was a symbol of postponed attention to the needs of their people. He added that, on a planet where one sixth of the population lived on less than a dollar a day, spending $1.2 trillion on arms and soldiers was an offence and a symbol of irrationality, because the security of a satisfied world was more certain than the security of an armed one.