THE PRESIDENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SPAIN
H.E. MR. JOSE MARIA AZNAR
AT THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
New York, 6 September 2000
How will history rate the performance of the UN? It is most fitting to pose this and many other questions at this moment which we all agree is as crucial as it is symbolic for the organization at the turn of the century.
Has the UN effectively preserved humankind from the scourge of war?
Has the UN positively influenced economic development around the world?
Is the Organization suited to manage and confront the challenges of globalization?
In the light of these questions, let me remind some of the reckless critics of the Organization that we are the UN and we, the Member States, the governments thereof, are the ones who influence its performance. So it behooves us to decide what we want the Organization to be in the coming century: whether we want a useful tool to prevent war, overcome poverty and uphold human rights or whether we favor an increasingly hollow and dull forum.
The choice is ours to make. Now, as it was back in June 1945, we must seek and find common ground as to the fundamental role of the UN in our time.
The original goal of the UN was to preserve the world from the scourge of war and remains so to this day. The Security Council is the cornerstone of a system, which strives to maintain international peace and security. It is therefore a priority to achieve Council reform through a broad-based consensus, avoiding dissension among Member States that would adversely erode its legitimacy.
Other issues of Security Council reform, the working methods thereof and the veto power should be all dealt with in a most rigorous manner because although the central role of the Council within the UN system is beyond question, humankind's ethical conscience has greatly evolved over time so that the international community will not sit idle in the presence of mass-scale atrocities and human rights violations wherever they may occur.
The principle of state sovereignty is the mainstay of the international community and no one intends to question this fact. By the same token, that very principle may not be used as a shield behind which those encouraging and abetting massive atrocities find cover. In our days, armed conflicts take their heaviest toll among civilian populations, namely women and children. We must therefore seek and define an understanding of those situations in which international reaction may not be thwarted by the exercise of veto power.
Any progress achieved by mankind during this violent XX century owes to the fact that even at a staggering high cost- the notion has prevailed that human dignity is deemed more valuable than the sanctity of the state.
Other than maintaining international peace and security, the UN has set out to achieve the goal of economic development and prosperity for all. If we are to build a more just and equitable world we must overcome poverty. The recent upsurge of economic growth and technological progress give us the best chance ever to achieve our goal. It would be unforgivable if we do not gather the means to do it.
We heartily support the concrete objectives set out to this end in the Secretary General's report for the Millennium Summit, around which we may all join forces, developing and developed countries alike. Together we share the burden: the latter must provide ample resources over time to support this endeavor while the former should lay the legal, economic and political framework that will allow for an adequate use of these funds and prevent mismanagement thereof.
Let me underline our commitment to achieving the goal set forth in the World Summit of Social Development of directing 20% of our development aid to basic sectors such as education, health care, housing and employment policies.
These are the tools that help primarily those in need and lift them up from poverty. Specifically, equal opportunity in education worldwide may open new doors for a new and more confident generation. We are fully aware of the valuable role played by different social and civic endeavors, in particular NGO's, in implementing cooperation projects.
The last challenge before the UN-, and the most current one, is related to the unstoppable trend towards global integration through the development and use of new technologies. The endless possibilities at hand to share and spread information and knowledge like never before lead us towards a more independent and evolved world. The UN should enhance the many positive sides of globalization to prevent the weakest among us from being left behind.
Globalization creates new challenges, among which the need to protect and preserve the environment for future generations, the fight against organized international crime, the establishment of an international criminal justice system, and also finding a cure for globally spread diseases. To deal with those problems, the Organization remains indispensable in the threshold of the XXI century. Only the UN has the global reach and vision required to accomplish the task at hand.
Needless to say, Spain will vigorously support any and all efforts to find consensus solutions and uphold agreements. Specifically, ratification by my country of the Rome Treaty establishing an International Criminal Court is very near and we trust that it will be implemented promptly.
The manifold addresses during this Summit are laying down the challenges facing our Organization in the future. The Secretary- General's report no doubt stands as a suitable and revealing proposal for analysis thereof. Thus, let us all be convinced and therefore provide the means to make the UN in the new century the indispensable and useful tool to secure a better world for us all.