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H. E. Mr. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President

25 September 2008

Statement Summary

JOSÉ LUIS RODRÍGUEZ ZAPATERO, President of the Government of Spain, noted that in a few weeks it would be 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been adopted.  That instrument was a testament to the international community’s determination to make itself a better world.  The international community was already halfway through the required period for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and the Universal Declaration, along with the targets set by the Goals, were perhaps the most noble investments in personal dignity in human history.

The international community should not be complacent in working to achieve the Goals and human rights for all.  The Millennium Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were falling short of expectations, and even with the passage of time, things had not improved.  He stressed that poverty was a crime against humanity, and that it was not a result of natural forces but the actions and omissions of man, especially those in positions of leadership.

He said that, eight years ago, the world pledged to deal with poverty, yet, in his  opinion, needs in that area were the same or even greater than ever.  The world could not afford to sit back or excuse its commitment to eradicating poverty and protecting human rights.  Also, the international community needed to work towards a new financial order to prevent situations such as the current global crisis.

He said that, in the last four years, Spain had posted the highest increase in development assistance.  He also lauded his country’s human rights record, and noted that a universal moratorium on the death penalty should also be instituted by 2015.  He urged Member States to join Spain in helping to abolish the death penalty.  He further called for an extension in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the eradication of poverty.  Those objectives should not be put off with resignation or selfishness.

The international financial crisis that had begun one year ago was spreading to the rest of the world and there was a risk that the poorer countries would suffer more, he said.  That crisis showed, bluntly, the need to regulate economic spheres.  The role of Governments needed to be stressed to rationalize markets, and international financial bodies needed more support.  Finally, he stressed that dialogue should be elevated over intolerance and hate to achieve peace.  Arbitrary injustice should be eliminated with ending the discrimination of women.  Development must be sustainable and not uncontrolled.  “We need the United Nations,” he said.

[Source: GA/10754]