Fifty-sixth General Assembly
29th Meeting (AM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS TOLD ‘CULTURE OF PEACE’ NEEDS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT,
IN AFTERMATH OF 11 SEPTEMBER TERRORIST ATTACKS
Secretary-General Invited to Enlist Peace University;
New Members Are Elected to UNEP Council, Committee for Programme and Coordination
The General Assembly this morning adopted a draft resolution on the University of Peace, elected members to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and to the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) and appointed members to the Committee on Conferences. It also considered its agenda item on the Culture of Peace.
By the terms of the resolution on University of Peace, adopted without a vote, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to consider using the services of the University in conflict-resolution and peace-building efforts. It also invited Member States, intergovernmental bodies, non-governmental organizations and all the people of the world to celebrate One Day in Peace on 1 January 2002, and every day thereafter.
Introducing the draft resolution, the representative from Costa Rica said the University of Peace sought to cooperate with the United Nations in its fundamental aims in peace and security, social development and respect for human rights. A sustainable peace must include worthy living conditions for all peoples. Furthermore, social and political differences must be solved by democratic means. In its teachings, the University stressed the importance of the prevention of conflicts, training in democracy as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The Assembly elected 29 members to the Governing Council of UNEP for four-year terms beginning on 1 January 2002. They were Chad, the Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, China, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Republic of Korea, Syria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Russian Federation, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and the United States.
The Assembly, also without a vote, elected Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Uruguay to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2002.
In addition, it took note of the appointments of Austria, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Jordan, Nepal, Tunisia and the United States as members of the Committee on Conferences for three-year terms, with effect from 1 January 2002.
Introducing a draft resolution on the Culture of Peace, the representative of Bangladesh said that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the values of peace, tolerance, understanding and solidarity were being rediscovered. The culture of peace provided future generations with values that could help to shape their destiny and enable them to participate actively in constructing a more just, human, free and prosperous society and a more peaceful world.
The representative of Philippines stressed that the transition to a culture of peace and non-violence required sustainable economic and social development. This was one of the core foundations of a culture of peace for today’s children. Economic underdevelopment –- including malnutrition and poverty –- remained the missing link towards peace. It came as no surprise that the areas with the highest levels of poverty and malnutrition were also hotbeds of conflict and breeding grounds of unrest.
The representatives from El Salvador, Egypt, Namibia, Colombia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also spoke, as did the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.
The representatives from Israel and Egypt spoke in right of reply.
The Assembly was informed that consideration of the agenda item “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic idea”, originally scheduled for 25 October, was postponed to the morning of 2 November.
` Regarding the election of members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) scheduled for Friday, 26 October, the Assembly was informed that Portugal would relinquish its seat for the year 2002 in favour of Spain. Consequently, it would be necessary to conduct a by-election to fill that one vacancy.
The General Assembly meets again at 3 p.m. today to discuss the annual report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The General Assembly met this morning to elect 29 members to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme and seven members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination. It also met to appoint members to the Committee on Conferences, and to consider its agenda items “University for Peace” and “Culture of peace”.
Election to the Committee for Programme and Coordination
The Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/56/399) on Election of seven members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). The note called upon the Assembly to elect seven members, nominated by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to fill vacancies opening up on 31 December 2001, when the terms of the following members would expire: Benin, China, Comoros, Egypt, Japan, Republic of Korea and Uruguay.
The ECOSOC had nominated Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia to fill three vacancies among the African States; China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to fill three vacancies among the Asian States; and Uruguay to fill one vacancy among the Latin American and Caribbean States. The members will be elected for a term of three years, beginning on 1 January 2002.
The Committee for Programme and Coordination was set up in 1962 as the main subsidiary organ of ECOSOC and the General Assembly for planning, programming and coordination. The Committee’s 34 members review United Nations programmes in the medium-term plan, recommend priority programmes, guide the Secretariat on translating legislation into programmes, develop evaluation procedures and assist the Council in its coordination functions. It meets for six weeks in plan years and four weeks in budget years.
Appointment to the Committee on Conferences
Before the Assembly was a note (document A/56/108) by the Secretary-General on Appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences. The note stated that the President of the General Assembly would need to appoint seven members to the Committee, since the terms of office for Algeria, Austria, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal and the United States expired on 31 December 2001. The appointed members would serve for three years, beginning on 1 January 2002.
The Committee on Conferences was established in 1974 as a permanent subsidiary organ to the Assembly with a membership of 21. The Committee recommends to the Assembly the draft calendar of conferences and meetings, to avoid the overlapping of meetings in the same sector of activity wherever possible. It is also mandated to recommend the best use of conference servicing resources, advise on current and future requirements and monitor the Organization’s publications policy.
University for Peace
The Assembly had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the University of Peace (document A/56/314). The report provides details of progress made in revitalizing the University, focusing in particular on a detailed strategy and programme to develop and manage its academic programme and other peace-related activities.
Ongoing activities had been consolidated, the report states, while new activities were being initiated within the framework of a specific development programme from January 2001 to December 2003. According to the report, several donors had provided generous financial support to launch new activities and lay the foundation for a high-quality, balanced and innovative academic programme. The report stresses that extending this programme of education for peace worldwide depended on securing strong and continuous financial support in coming years.
The University for Peace was set up in 1980 in San José, Costa Rica, as a specialized international institute for study, research and dissemination knowledge on peace-related issues.
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on the University for Peace (document A/56/L.4), by which it would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its 58th session the item entitled “University for Peace”.
By the same text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to consider using the services of the University in conflict-resolution and peace-building efforts and in promoting the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace [resolution 53/243].
Also by the draft, the Assembly would invite Member States, intergovernmental bodies, non-governmental organizations and all of the peoples of the world to celebrate One Day in Peace on 1 January 2002, and every year thereafter. It would invite Member States to accede to the International Agreement for the Establishment of the University for Peace, and invite them and intergovernmental bodies, non-governmental organizations and interested individuals to contribute directly to the Trust Fund for Peace or to the budget of the University.
The draft is sponsored by Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.
Culture of Peace
Before the Assembly was a report by the Secretary-General (document A/56/349) on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. The report complies with General Assembly resolution 55/47 of November 2000 on the international decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world.
The document is based on a report by the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which details progress made to implement the programme of action on a culture of peace and on cooperation with the United Nations system. It contains sections on the Decade’s objectives; engagements of Member States, civil society, and the United Nations system; UNESCO’s responsibility, and the role of relevant United Nations bodies. Other sections highlight education for a culture of peace and non-violence; the role of civil society; the role of the media as well as new information and communications technology; reports on the Decade, and implementation of the Declaration and the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, (document A/56/L.5) affirming that the objective of the said Decade was to further strengthen the global movement for a culture of peace, following the observance of the International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000.
Under the terms of the draft, the Assembly would invite Member States to emphasize activities promoting a culture of peace and non-violence at the national, regional and international levels. It would request that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) continue distributing the Declaration and Programme of Action and related materials in various languages.
Also by its terms, the Assembly would call upon relevant United Nations bodies, particularly UNESCO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to continue promoting both formal and non-formal education to foster a culture of peace and non-violence. It would encourage civil society to adopt a programme of activities to further the objectives of the Decade, and the media to become involved, which would include expanding the Culture of Peace News Network as a global network of Internet sites in many languages.
The draft is sponsored by Bangladesh, Benin, Chile, El Salvador and Togo.
UNEP Governing Council
The Assembly was informed that 29 States of the 58 members of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme were not eligible for re-election on the Council.
The Assembly decided that when the number of candidates corresponded to the number of seats to be filled, it would dispense with a secret ballot.
Nominations from the regional groups were as follows: the Group of African States -- Chad, the Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe; the Group of Asian States -- China, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Republic of Korea and Syria; the Group of Eastern European States -- Czech Republic, Romania and the Russian Federation; the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States -- Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua and Uruguay; the Group of Western European and other States -- Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and the United States.
The Assembly then elected those nominated States as members of the Governing Council of UNEP for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2002.
Committee for Programme and Coordination
The Assembly then took up the election of members to fill the vacancies that would result in the Committee for Programme and Coordination on 31 December. The elections would be for three-year terms beginning 1 January 2002.
Elected to fill the three vacancies in the African States group were Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tunisia. Elected to fill the three vacancies in the Asian States group were China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Uruguay was elected to fill the one vacancy in the Latin American and Caribbean States group.
Committee on Conferences
The Vice-President of the Assembly, MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) informed the Assembly that, after consultations, Austria, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Jordan, Nepal, Tunisia and the United States had been appointed members of the Committee on Conferences with effect from 1 January 2002. The Assembly took note of those appointments.
University for Peace
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica), introduced the draft resolution on the University of Peace, co-sponsored by Argentina, Austria, Croatia, Philippines, Greece, Guyana, India, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Russian Federation and Canada. He said that in 1980 the General Assembly had established the University for Peace for higher education and training, to achieve peace between peoples and nations through the dissemination of the principles embodied in the Charter and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The aim had been to foster an atmosphere of respect between peoples. He stressed that the first step towards peace was the education of children and young people, for them to be taught the values of respect and tolerance.
In its work, he said, the University of Peace sought to cooperate with the United Nations in its fundamental aims for peace and security, social development and respect for human rights. It was important to focus on the underlying causes of conflict in order to achieve peace. A sustainable peace must include the provision of worthy living conditions for all peoples. Furthermore, social and political differences must be solved by democratic means.
He told the Assembly the University was going through a reform in its administration and was developing a broader academic basis, including an extension of its programme to all regions of the world.
In its teachings, he continued, the University stressed the importance of the prevention of conflicts and training in democracy, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes. In the operative part of the draft resolution, the Secretary-General was requested to make further use of the University in the context of peaceful settlement of conflict and in the dissemination of information on a culture of peace. The draft invited Member States, intergovernmental bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and interested individuals to contribute directly to the Trust Fund for Peace or to the budget of the University. The draft also called upon States to commemorate a day of peace on 1 January 2002, and every year thereafter.
Additional co-sponsors to the draft resolution were Ireland, Monaco, Andorra, Ecuador, Spain, Republic of Moldova, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Gabon, Thailand, Israel, Senegal, Suriname, Cameroon, Madagascar, Malawi, Tajikistan, Cyprus and Belgium.
The draft was adopted without a vote.
Culture of Peace
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution on Culture of Peace (document A/56/L.5), said that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the values of peace, tolerance, understanding and solidarity were being rediscovered. The international community was faced with a situation where security could no longer be conceptualized in terms of a country’s defence and intelligence capability. Broader concepts were necessary to explain and address the complex reality of the 21st century. The culture of peace attempted to do just that. It provided future generations with values that could help to shape their destiny and enabled them to participate actively in constructing a more just, human, free and prosperous society and a more peaceful world.
He said that at the national level, more initiatives were needed to promote culture of peace, such as through education that placed children at the centre, and through strengthening the global movement by stressing partnerships and new information technologies. A strong civil society involvement would have a positive impact on the global movement. Several major initiatives during the previous year involving civil society had been useful. He encouraged civil society to undertake more activities to complement the initiatives of Member States, the United Nations and other global and regional organizations.
He said the draft resolution aimed to build on the previous year’s resolution 55/47 in carrying forward the work of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). He hoped the elements contained in the draft would receive the support of the entire United Nations membership and that the draft could be adopted without a vote.
He announced that Argentina, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Gabon, Guyana, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Monaco, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Senegal, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had joined as co-sponsors of the draft resolution.
JOSÉ ROBERTO ANDINO SALAZAR (El Salvador) said the issue of a culture of peace was fundamental at this time when the international community was faced with an unprecedented situation. The rapid deterioration of the international environment as a result of the attacks on 11 September was of great concern. The commitments made by Heads of States and Governments in the Millennium Declaration must be newly reaffirmed, especially those with regard to the promotion of peace and respect for people’s beliefs and for cultural diversity.
He said his country had called for an annual weeklong observance of a Culture of Peace; a resolution on the initiative had been circulated, since it was in keeping with the Decade. He called for leaving the agenda item open so that delegations could continue to consider the question and give the plenary an opportunity to act as soon as possible.
AMR MOHAMED ROSHDY (Egypt) said the world had never been in more need of a culture of peace, which would allow future generations to actively participate in a more just, human and prosperous society. He noted that promoting the culture of peace was a multi-faceted process, with changing goals and means in each stage. The international community must first identify a just and endurable peace, reach and implement peace agreements, and finally promote the culture of peace among children, stressing its necessity for their future.
He said that since the United Nations was established 56 years ago, history had been redrawing geography by adding new countries and erasing others, and geography had been rewriting history when wars were fought and new lines drawn. Among all those changes, only the pursuance of peace remained the ultimate goal of all people. Some had achieved that goal, while others were forced to live with foreign occupation and wars.
The people of Palestine, for example, had suffered for more than half a century under a ruthless occupation that had violated their human rights in an unprecedented policy of discrimination, displacement and starvation. No community could claim to be an isolated island for democracy, he continued, while practising oppression, torture and systematic assassination against civilians. As long as the Israeli occupation in Palestine continued, he said, and as long as the Israeli Government remained committed to its policy of security for Israel only, combating occupation would remain an essential legitimate right of the Palestinian people. They could not accept living as hostages in their own land, and prisoners in their homes, deprived of their basic rights and suffering from starvation, closure, random destruction and collective punishments.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace had led to deepening economic and social strife, involving ever more people worldwide, rather than to a consolidation of peace. Enhanced world peace could be measured not only by how many armed conflicts were resolved, but also by how many more children lived on more than one dollar a day. Only when that number rose would a culture of peace permeate human life. He said, the Decade for a Culture of Peace should represent a collective commitment by all to uphold the values that would establish a just and lasting peace. The formula for that was set out in the Programme of Action for the Culture of Peace; all eight areas outlined in that Programme should be implemented in an integrated manner.
He said the present International Year of Dialogue among Civilizations had established the basis for annual actions in the areas of sustainable economic and social development, planning of information and knowledge, respect for human rights and gender equality. In all those areas, the participation of youth was important, and one of the remaining five years of the culture of peace Decade should focus on youth, who were the leaders of tomorrow and the ones to carry forward the culture. As the lead agency in the effort, he said, UNESCO must receive full support, as must all agencies. They were indispensable to the Decade’s success, as were UNICEF and the University for Peace, which should receive more financial support for its activities.
EDGARDO J. ANGARA (Philippines) said it was fitting that the General Assembly was assembled to speak on the Culture of Peace -– nearly six weeks after the terrorist attacks and while bombs were falling in Afghanistan. The past few weeks had shown how vital peace was, and what could be done to preserve it. In the Philippines, he said, many children had never known peace; they were waging a silent war on hunger and malnutrition, a war they were losing. Nearly half of all Filipino children were malnourished and one in three were severely underweight. The children roamed the streets, day and night, rain or sunshine -– homeless. At night they could be seen selling just about anything to survive on the streets -– including their bodies.
He said that in his country there was a strong correlation between poverty, malnutrition and economic underdevelopment. Through decades-long “communist insurgency and Muslim secessionist movements”, Filipinos had learned that true peace could be attained only through economic well-being and security. It came as no surprise that the areas with the highest levels of poverty and malnutrition were also hotbeds of conflict and breeding-grounds of unrest in his country.
The transition to a culture of peace and non-violence required sustainable economic and social development. Economic underdevelopment –- including malnutrition and poverty –- remained the missing link towards peace. The steps the Philippines must take were clear, though difficult to accomplish. They included the modernization of the agricultural sector, improving access and affordability to quality education, the stimulation of economic growth through job creation and investment generation, and the increase of social benefits for disadvantaged groups.
NICOLAS RIVAS (Colombia) said education was a fundamental pillar for teaching the principles and values of peace based on justice, democracy, equality, solidarity and liberty to men and women of all races. On the initiative of Colombia, with the help of UNESCO, a meeting of governmental experts had convened in October 1999 to establish a Programme on the Education for Peace in the Hemisphere. The implementation of that Programme entailed teaching people values and behavior that would strengthen a political culture of peace and democracy.
An active campaign of education had to be promoted, including plans for studying themes related to peace, human rights and non-violence in all educational centers. Teachers, politicians, religious groups, artists, philosophers, workers and humanitarian activists all played a key role in the campaign to promote a culture of peace. To create such a culture, he said, all forms of discrimination and intolerance must be eliminated, human rights promoted and poverty and illiteracy eradicated. Economic and social development had to be promoted, as well as respect for the right to self-determination.
Three years ago, tens of millions of citizens had given his Government a mandate to seek peace in its internal conflict, he said. His Government was convinced that a negotiated solution to that conflict was a prerequisite for a solid basis for peace. His Government had also been actively involved in the development of a global centre to research conflict resolution in cooperation with the University of Peace. The essential task of the United Nations to promote a culture of peace was more relevant today than ever before.
KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said proper education was important in fostering the idea of culture of peace. It guided men to establish correct views on the world and gave full play to their independent ideas and creativity, thus contributing to the building of peace in countries, regions and the world.
He spoke of “erroneous education of children against the noble ideal of humankind”, asserting that the Japanese government had approved new history textbooks for middle school children last May which could only be characterized as “distorting and negating the several-hundred-years-long history of Japan’s aggression and exploitation”, which had been presented as “a history of ‘cooperation’ and ‘assistance’.”
He said those textbooks also described history as if Japanese people had experienced the same pains as the 6 million Koreans forcibly drafted as slaves by the Japanese army. Worse still, they covered up the fact of having forced 200,000 Korean women into becoming sex slaves. He said the Japanese authorities continued to defy the demand for full recognition of and an official apology for their grave crimes against humanity, punishment of the criminals and due compensation to the countries and peoples that were victims.
If Japanese children were imbued with the idea of militarism through such distorted education, he continued, they would again come to disregard other nations, resort to aggressive actions and take a road of undermining peace and security.
RENATO R. MARTINO (Permanent Observer for the Holy See) said that establishing a culture of peace and non-violence required a new language and new gestures for peace. The realization of peace could benefit from a renewed interest in the everyday examples of simple builders of peace at all levels. This would permit the nurturing of the aspiration of peace and non-violence. This was work that the United Nations and the peoples of the world had been engaged in for many years; it was an ongoing process that was hampered by too many obstacles that continued to resist the movement toward a true and lasting peace for all people.
He said situations of conflict existed in today's world where, over time, a just solution may have been refused by both parties involved. This had fostered feelings of frustration, hatred and temptations to vengeance. Reprisals, which struck indiscriminately at the innocent, continued the spiral of violence and were illusionary solutions that prevented the moral isolation of the terrorists. Any serious campaign against terrorism also needed to address the social, economic and political conditions that nurtured the emergence of terrorism, violence and conflict.
In the midst of the current tragedy, he continued, forms of systematic terrorism should not be forgotten. In some cases, it was almost institutionalized, possibly based on systems which destroyed the freedom and rights of individuals who were "guilty" of not bringing their thought into line with prevailing ideology. Those persons were often unable to attract the attention and support of international public opinion, and must not be forgotten or abandoned. Building a culture of peace was not a utopian dream, he said. It was an attainable reality, which -- even though just beyond the international community's realization -- was a worthy and reachable goal.
Rights of Reply
AARON JACOB (Israel), exercising his right of reply, said it was unfortunate that the debate had been used by the representative of Egypt to inject the rhetoric of violence into the Assembly Hall, because Egypt knew of Israel’s commitment to peace and of its far-reaching compromises which had been met with violence and terror.
He said the culture of peace in the region would be advanced if Egypt would abandon its tendency to apportion blame and concentrate more on its own conduct,
encouraging democratization and respecting mutual rights and compromise in its society and among neighbouring peoples and governments. Egypt’s peace with Israel, he said, had been an important step for the region, but that peace treaty was only one part of the equation. The culture of peace involved much more than that.
Mr. ROSHDY (Egypt) said Israel had expressed concern for the democracy of Egyptian society. Egypt’s society was a matter of internal affairs and not the concern of anyone outside it. Egypt’s concern with violence against the Palestinian people was not a matter of internal affairs. Israel had referred to Egypt reiterating hatred against Israel; if Israel practised policies that led to peace, the people of Israel would be the first to gain.
Mr. JACOB (Israel) said the Egyptian delegate had referred to Israel as a democratic State. Israel was indeed a democratic State, in an undemocratic neighborhood. Israel upheld democratic standards in the face of constant assaults. Rather than attacking Israel, the Egyptian delegate should examine his own country’s human rights record and its contribution to a culture to peace. Anti-Semitic language was language of hatred, not peace. As the nation in the region that first recognized Israel’s right to live in peace, Egypt should reconcile the region to peace, rather than stoking the flames of hatred.
Mr. ROSHDY (Egypt) said the discussion seemed to be fruitless. Peace was not a meaningless word, or treaties to be signed and retracted the following day. Peace was an implementation of honest goodwill. It began deep in people’s hearts. The difference between peace and settlement was as obvious as that between remedy and tranquillizers. How could peace be established if not all parties believed in it, he asked. He said Israeli blood was not “more precious or purer” than Palestinian blood.
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