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Czech Republic
H.E. Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister for Foreign Affairs

27 September 2008

Statement Summary

KAREL SCHWARZENBERG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that, though agreements reached at the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit had sparked some substantive United Nations reforms, more were needed.  The first step would be to reform the Security Council, making that 15-nation body more representative, transparent and legitimate.  The Council’s authority had been recently undermined by its inability to address some acute international issues and it should reassert its authority in maintaining international peace and security. 

Indeed, the overall authority of the United Nations was currently being tested, as was the political and moral responsibilities of all Member States.  Recently, a powerful permanent member of the Security Council had acted in violation of the United Nations Charter through its “systematic provocations” and military aggression against its smaller neighbour.  He said the Czech Republic had sent substantial humanitarian aid to Georgia and the international community should do the same to help those displaced by the conflict.  There was also an urgent need for an “international and impartial mission” to oversee military withdrawals in Georgia and ceasefire implementation.

Promoting and maintaining international security required concerted actions, a strengthened United Nations peacekeeping capacity, and complementary efforts by other organizations, he said.  In particular, he invited the United Nations to take a more active approach to the situation in Afghanistan and, in the Balkans, encouraged ongoing cooperation between the United Nations, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  The recent arrest and transfer of Radovan Karadzic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had been a promising sign of cooperation between Serbia and the international community. 

Overall, international criminal justice efforts should be fully supported as they helped put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes.  In the area of weapons of mass destruction and non-proliferation, it was necessary to “undertake some bold steps” to reduce the risk of misuse.  In particular, he expressed concern over the situation in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Though it was the “indispensable right of every country to exploit nuclear power for civilian purposes”, the global community should act when that nuclear power could be diverted to military purposes in breach of international commitments.

Security went “hand in hand” with development and human rights, he said.  In recent years, United Nations human rights institutions had undergone “long-awaited” reforms, but those reforms had only been partially achieved.  The Human Rights Council had been unable to tackle several serious human rights situations in a timely manner and the political imbalance in its Universal Periodic Review Mechanism further diminished reform expectations. 

Turning to the Millennium Development Goals and Africa’s development goals, he said international commitment must not wane.  The Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development and the conclusion of the Doha trade talks was an opportunity to help developing countries even further, specifically through greater trade liberalization.  The European Union had shown the flexibility needed for a positive outcome to negotiations and other key actors had to follow suit in order to get talks back on track soon.  Soaring food and commodity prices, as well as the negative impact of climate change, were hampering international development and only with strong political will could sustainable solutions be found.

[Source: GA/10757]