PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS

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STATEMENT DELIVERED BY H.E.MR. FELIPE

PEREZ ROQUE, MINISTER OF FOREIGN

AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT

THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 55TH

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED

NATIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 SEPTEMBER 2000

NEW YORK

 

 

 


STATEMENT DELIVERED BY H.E. MR. FELIPE PEREZ ROQUE,

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE

GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 55TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED

NATIONS,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK, 15 SEPTEMBER 2000

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. President:

 

We are living a decisive moment in the history of humankind. Over half a century after the creation of the United Nations, on the eve of a new millennium that should have brought about an era of peace among men, solidarity among nations and greater well-being for the poorest peoples, we are confronted instead by the most serious and complex economic, social, political and environmental crisis ever recalled by the human species.

 

The expectations of peace, stability and cooperation that the end of the Cold War triggered worldwide are far from becoming a reality. The emergence of a unipolar world - in which a single superpower is capable of militarily controlling the international scene, far from having meant greater security for our peoples - has ushered in a new stage in which the hegemonism of that sole superpower prevails; direct or covert interventionism under the guise of multilateral actions; insecurity for small countries; selfishness as a behavioral pattern in international relations - and the attempt to disregard the principles of equality among States, national sovereignty, self-determination, non-intervention, the non-threat or the use of force in settling disputes through peaceful means - principles that have constituted the, cornerstone of the United Nations.

 

We are also living in a world characterized by the exploitation and the horrendous impoverishment of over 1.3 billion human beings who - while suffering on a daily basis without giving up the hope of a better life for their children wonder if we still have sufficient reasons to "reaffirm faith in the fundamental rights of man, in the dignity and value of the human person," as proclaimed more than five decades ago by the founders of the United Nations.

 

The attempts of forcefully and using pressure to impose the so-called "right of humanitarian intervention" is at present the greatest threat to international peace and security. We all know that the reduced group of developed countries that - led by the United States and as allies of powerful forces - attempt to impose this perilous concept on the discussions and decisions of the Organization, would not have to fear the consequences of recognizing such right in international relations. They are not, as we are, the Euro-Atlantic periphery defined by NATO as the probable scenario for their acts of aggression - and the new strategic doctrine of this alliance is not aimed at them, but against us, as poor countries.

 

 

Actions geared at fragmenting countries and nations, at recolonizing territories and redesigning zones of influence must cease. The recent precedent of unleashing deadly wars against defenseless populations, without even consulting the Security Council, is not only a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, but it also drags the world into situations like those that once took over 40 million lives in a single confrontation.

 

How many other wars against small, poor countries must be waged for us to understand the need to respect the Charter and engage in a deep democratization process in international relations?

 

Are by any chance those who now use a threatening language with the pretense of interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries falling for the idea that the serious problems of underdevelopment, the after-effects of colonialism, famine, diseases and the consequences of the ongoing pillaging of Third World countries - as real causes of current conflicts - can be resolved through smart bombs?

 

Isn't it really paradoxical that Western powers ‑ while developing new, state killing devices - intend to prevent poor countries from utilizing conventional light weaponry essential to nations that, like Cuba, live under the permanent threat of a military aggression? So much for hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. The world will be really safer if total, complete disarmament takes place, including nuclear disarmament in particular. While it is true that light weaponry must one day be eliminated, other types of deadlier and more dangerous conventional armaments owned by a handful of developed countries must also be disposed of - the sooner the better. Mines must be eliminated; that is correct, but the threats of aggression against poor countries must be dissipated long before that.

 

Will our planet by any chance be safer if the United States finally deploys its hallucinated, costly anti-missile defense system through which that country's rulers deceive their own people by promising them protection against missiles that nobody really knows from where they could be launched?

 

Why doesn't the United Nations, instead of tamely following the hazardous death game with the Western powers, focus its attention on the so-much trumpeted yet unfulfilled purpose of setting aside a portion of the nearly US$ 800 billion currently used on military expenditures to promote development and try to save the victims of the silent war that on a yearly basis kills, through disease and starvation, more than 11 million Third World children under 5 years of age?

 

In any case, peace will not be possible if there is no development for the over 100 Third World countries that are presently observing - as stone guests -the irresponsible squandering of the wealthy, selfish consumer societies that insatiably eat up our children's future. Setting out to halve in fifteen years the number of poor people we now have is an undoubtedly remarkable endeavor, but how will the other half judge our goal if they are doomed to live like derelicts all their lives?

 

What has become of the right to development that was once so solemnly proclaimed by this very General Assembly? Don't you think, dear colleagues, that the time has come for us to calmly and firmly set out to rescue the issue of the right to development as a UN priority? Isn't it precisely now - when nobody argues anymore about the strident failure of the neoliberal policies that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed on Third World countries with a fundamentalist stubbornness to the benefit of transnational companies - that our peoples, united in a great alliance for the most basic rights, must seize the opportunity to demand a more outstanding, decisive role in these affairs by the United Nations Economic and Social Council and this General Assembly?

 

Why should we continue to allow international cooperation to virtually disappear just now that it is most needed? Are we entitled to continue discussing-year after year and with no concrete agreement reached - the right to development so strongly required by our peoples while watching, scattered and disoriented, how the Bretton Woods Institutions keep on divesting the United Nations Organization of the prerogatives bestowed upon it by the Charter? Responsibility to their children and history will be assumed by those who imposed such devastating decisions as the unbridled privatization of the national wealth in Third World` countries and the inordinate liberalization of the capital account - facilitating the outflow of the meager foreign exchange of poor countries that, out of convenience or fear, have not stood up for the rights of their peoples.

 

The Millennium Summit, that came to an end with positive results, showed once again that the devastating effects of imposing a neoliberal model in a globalized world are particularly striking Third World countries, whose socioeconomic situation, mainly in Africa, is virtually untenable. Likewise, it made it clear that unilateralism and impositions find no room in a world in which solidarity and cooperation are the only possible way for everyone's salvation.

 

After the Summit, there are no longer any doubts: it is time to act, to adopt concrete measures in order to struggle against the impoverishment and underdevelopment currently hitting most of the population on the planet. Cuba, a poor country that has nonetheless an important human capital, has already started acting. Deeds and not words are what we need today.

 

Two years ago, we put in place a Comprehensive Health Care Programme whereby nearly 2,000 Cuban health workers are rendering free-of-charge services in 16 countries of Central America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Now, with the urgent appeal of African countries, we reiterate the offer made by President Fidel Castro at the Millennium Summit to the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the developed countries to cooperate with Africa in the fight against AIDS and other terrible diseases currently threatening to wipe out a whole continent.

 

Cuba is willing to supply up to 3,000 additional Cuban doctors and medical personnel for such endeavor in Sub-Saharan Africa - who would also contribute to training African health staff on the field. But it is essential for industrialized countries to do their share and supply the necessary medications and inputs for the programme. Africa is waiting for us. Cuba stands ready. Developed countries now have the floor.

 

Mr. President,

 

Democracy within countries is sought after. Well, it is a commendable effort if there is respect for the diversity of cultures, identities, historical experiences, national realities and political models; if the right of each people to adopt with full independence the system that it deems most appropriate is effectively respected. But is there really any democracy in international relations at present?

Unfortunately not.

 

In order to attain it, let us put an end to hegemonism, let us foster development, let us replace selfishness with cooperation, let us finally respect the purposes and principles of the San Francisco Charter. Let us stop at once the arrogance of a handful if we do not want to see how the hope of a world of justice and peace for all comes crumbling down.

 

In order to attain it, let us ensure that the United Nations really contributes to building solidarity among nations and not the domination of a few over the overwhelming majority. Let us face the attempt of pressurizing the UN through the non-payment of established contributions. Let us reject the utilization of the UN to impose a new colonial order. We demand that the Security Council act as the representative of everyone and not as the servant of only one. Let us prevent it from arrogating upon itself the powers it does not have - in violation of the United Nations Charter and operating without due transparency while it decides upon life or death.

 

Democratizing the United Nations and its Security Council requires ‑ as indispensable measures - the abolition of the irritating and anachronistic veto privilege, an increase in the number of Council members in accordance with the fourfold increment in the number of member States of the Organization, the application of the principle of equitable geographical representation to the composition of such body as prevalent for all others, and the fulfillment of its obligation - as enshrined in the Charter but ignored in practice - of truly reporting to the General Assembly.

 

Now, let us be down-to-earth. Security Council reform - let us mince no words - is as far today as in the beginning. We should recognize that after seven years of fruitless efforts we have just managed to agree that it is necessary to expand the number of members of the Council.

 

Therefore, at this point we believe that we should at least work in order to proportionally increase the overall number of Council members - both permanent and non-permanent - thus ensuring adequate representation of Third World countries, as strongly reiterated by the Millenium Summit. Could the Security Council by any chance be expanded without the presence of a reasonable number of permanent members from the Third World?

 

Mr. President,

 

Forty years ago, on behalf of Cuba, the leader of a triumphant Revolution proclaimed on this same rostrum the dreams of hope and social justice for which the Cuban people had struggled throughout nearly a century. Most States now represented in this Assembly were colonies back. then. There was no talk, like today, about saving Africa, while it is ruthlessly pillaged. It was still not the time when hundreds of thousands of Cubans would go to African lands to struggle for the real rights of its people, against Apartheid, diseases and illiteracy.

 

It was the moment when the US Government set out to overthrow the Cuban Revolution that - committed to social justice and the real independence of its people - threatened, through its ethics, morality and example, the secular domination that the United States had exercised over the Western Hemisphere. It was the moment when the economic, trade and financial blockade was first implemented against Cuba - which in the course of a 40-year-old bitter economic war has engendered such shameful pieces of legislation as the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts. It is the blockade that this very General Assembly has rejected for eight consecutive years - and which is still in force despite worldwide rejection and the obvious disapproval of the people of the United States.

 

In these four decades, our people has endured, from political pressures and attempts at diplomatic isolation, to the most insidious slander campaigns; from subversion and terrorism, to the assassination attempts on its main leaders; from biological warfare to the most ruthless blockade and economic war; from the promotion of armed bands, to military invasions.. and the .threat of nuclear extermination. Today, on behalf of that same generous and courageous people, we can once again tell our Third World brothers and to all those who on any corner of the Earth defend our right to life and development that revolutionary, socialist Cuba will never cease to struggle for everyone's dreams.

 

Thank you very much.