BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
AT THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN
THE DIVINE IN NEW YORK
21 SEPTEMBER 2003
of the Clergy, Excellencies, family and friends:
with the spiritual leaders and congregation of the Cathedral
of St John the Divine, and all others gathered here today
in this beautiful church, is among the most welcomed privileges
that I will have as President of the Fifty-eighth Session
of the United Nations General Assembly.
to thank The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean of
the Cathedral, for his kind invitation, and for the opportunity
to share some of my reflections on the United Nations, particularly
on its role in the maintenance of world peace, an area in
which the church is also challenged to make a meaningful
in a world, and a time, when interdependence is a way of
life, and international cooperation is an imperative.
I believe the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi
Annan, put it succinctly when he said, "no single country
has the capacity to cope with the political, economic, environmental
and technological challenges of an interconnected world."
We are at a juncture when multilateralism offers the global
community not just the best, but the only way forward.
pivotal role that the United Nations has played over the
past fifty-eight years, in ordering the affairs of peoples
and nations, has placed it at the centre of multilateralism.
It has therefore fallen to the organisation to address and
resolve a wide range of global problems, in areas including
socio-economic development, human rights, health, and peace
United Nations has demonstrated its impressive capacity
to contend with the world's problems, by the significant
successes it has accomplished. Decolonisation has been one
of its most outstanding accomplishments, increasing its
membership from 51 to 191 sovereign and equal states. United
Nations successes have inspired confidence in the organisation's
ability to formulate and implement further policies and
programmes for the benefit of all human kind.
times, however, the United Nations has been seriously challenged
by the enormity of the problems confronting it, and the
high expectations many have of the organisation. This has
led some to assert that the United Nations has lost its
prestige, and to question its relevance.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the organisation's
efforts in the area of international peace and security,
in the wake of developments pre and post military action
criticism could not be taken lightly by an organisation
established following a devastating world war, whose member
states enshrined among its Charter principles pledges, "to
practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another,
as good neighbours" and "to unite our strength
to maintain international peace and security". Peace,
therefore, is one of the main organising principles of the
the United Nations is responding to the formidable challenges
that intra-state and inter-state conflict present to peace
and security - be they in Iraq, the Middle East, Africa
or Asia. This requires member states to cooperate to thwart
the unbridled and unprincipled use of force in international
relations, and to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We may not always get the results we want, but this is not
to say that our efforts are not without merit or that we
been said that violence begets violence, and that peace
will not necessarily follow war. It has also been said,
that there is not one road, but many roads to keeping the
peace. We need only reflect on issues such as poverty, the
inequitable distribution of the world's resources, health
pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, trade imbalances, violations
of human rights and fundamental freedoms, transborder crime,
weapons of mass destruction and terrorism to agree that
there are other, and significant threats to international
peace and security.
me pause here to reflect on the recent terrorist attack
on the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad, and the senseless
killing and injury of people working in the service of humanity.
As human beings, I know that we all share the grief and
loss which that incident inflicted on the families and friends
of the victims, and on the international community as a
whole. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and his
staff, are among those who felt the loss and grief caused
by the Iraq bombing deeply and personally, losing some of
their cherished friends and colleagues, and knowing of the
injuries suffered by others. This is an opportune time to
pay tribute to Secretary General Annan and his staff for
the essential role they play in helping the United Nations
to reach the goals and objectives we member states set out
United Nations is challenged, now, to address the root causes
of conflict and war and to break the cycle of destruction
and rebuilding, that these evils engender. In economic terms,
this is a bargain - the price of war has consistently proved
to be higher than the cost of peace.
the years, the United Nations has built a strong support
system for its continuing efforts to address the underlying
causes of many of the destructive tendencies we are witnessing
in the world today. Specialised agencies including the World
Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
help to implement the Charter responsibility - to promote
economic and social advancement of all peoples. The world
is a better place because these organisations help to create
the conditions in which we can live as good neighbours.
a culture of peace is part of the process of building a
better world. If we are to succeed in this endeavour, this
culture must be a way of life for all people.
that the church is an important stakeholder in developing
a culture of peace, and in supporting the United Nations
in its initiatives for peace.
to the church and our spiritual leaders that people look
for guidance, growth and development. It is our spiritual
leaders that help to build our value system that will guide
us during our lifetime, values such as tolerance, social
justice and respect for the rule of law, human rights and
fundamental freedoms. We will, therefore, continue to look
to the church and spiritual leaders to encourage all to
make a contribution, each in their own way, by working to
develop our common, and not our competing interests, and
by using their moral authority to promote the ideals of
the United Nations Charter, particularly those extolling
the dignity and worth of each human person.
honoured by my association with the United Nations, and
particularly by the distinction afforded me to serve as
President of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly.
My country, St Lucia, has always believed in the United
Nations, and has been the beneficiary of many of its policies
and programmes, including the decolonisation process. My
Prime Minister, Government and I believe in the high ideals
of the organisation, which holds our best hope for a better
United Nations is an honest broker in world affairs, and
its good works, including in keeping the peace, have been
recognised worldwide. Over the years, the organisation's
accomplishments have earned it high accolades, including
the Nobel Peace Prize.
there is much work to be done. Being a product of its member
states, however, the United Nations can only be as effective
as we want it to be. In short, if we want a strong and viable
United Nations, able to play its essential role, and to
keep the peace, we all have to play our part. Are we, the
people, ready to do so? I know that I am. I hope we all
God continue to bless the United Nations and to bless you