12 November 2001


Press Release

Fifty-sixth General Assembly


49th Meeting (PM)



Agreement Must Be Reached on Unified Definition of Terrorism, Says Libya

When groups operated beyond the rule of law and countries put themselves outside international codes of behaviour, the use of force became a necessary option, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand said this afternoon as the General Assembly continued the general debate of its fifty-sixth session.   

For years, he said, the international community had paid too little attention to Afghanistan and the 300,000 Afghan children who died annually from preventable causes.  The groups now protesting against military intervention had been silent while this human catastrophe had unfolded over the last years.  Any loss of innocent life in conflict was tragic, but a failure to remove the Taliban regime and put in place a broad-based, moderate and stable Government would mean the ongoing loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the continuing suffering of the Afghan people.

Action must be taken against terrorism, said the Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, but agreement must be reached on a unified definition of terrorism.  It was unacceptable to label as terrorism the struggle of peoples to protect themselves or to attain their independence, while at the same time ignoring real terrorism and its many faces -- such as occupation, provocation and aggression, establishment of military bases on the territories of others, massacres, acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and unilateral coercive measures against other countries.

The President of Albania, Rexhep Meidani, and the Foreign Ministers of Belarus and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia addressed the situation in the Balkans.  President Meidani said that Albania would be realistic about the recent crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Albania had categorically criticized the violence in that country, because it believed political dialogue was the only way to resolve problems in a multi-ethnic society.

The Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that eight months ago, her country had been exposed to violent terrorist attacks under the cloak of a struggle for minority and human rights, by the so-called National Liberation Army, which sought to realize one aim:  the division of Macedonia and the changing of the region’s borders.  There was a strong commitment to find a political solution to the crisis.  However, her Government would also defend the country by other means, if necessary.                             

The Foreign Minister of Belarus expressed concern about the situation in Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  On the eve of the elections in Kosovo, Belarus confirmed its adherence to the principle of the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, and expressed support for the diplomatic initiative by the Russian Federation to legally reconfirm existing national borders in the Balkans.

The Foreign Minister of Suriname, Poland, Luxembourg, Morocco, Ireland, Maldives, Spain, Tunisia and Bangladesh also made statements.

The representatives of Iran, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates made statements in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m., Tuesday, 13 November, to continue its general debate.


The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its general debate.  (For more background information, see Press Release GA/9957 of 10 November.)

The Assembly was expected to hear from the President of Albania as well as other high-level government officials from various Member States.


REXHEP MEIDANI, President of Albania:  We believe the military actions taken by the anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom against the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda is justified and conforms to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  Albania has stated its determination to be part of that coalition.  The fight against terrorism must not be perceived as a clash of civilizations.  It is a fight between good and evil.  The only way to win the war is to unite against the common enemy.  The United Nations could do more to coordinate these efforts.  We strongly support Security Council resolution 1373 and call on all States to fulfill the obligations thereunder.

The goals of Albania’s four-year programme were to move the economy out of the transition phase, to engage it in economic development, to consolidate its democratic institutions and the rule of law, and to become a member of the European family.  Albania has established a welcoming climate for private entrepreneurs and foreign investment.  But terrorism is still with us.  There is also a lot of organized crime in Albania, particularly illicit trafficking in drugs, people and weapons.  Albania has to cooperate with other countries and wishes to establish good-neighbourly relations in the region.  It has established relations with the Belgrade Government.  It welcomed the fall of the Milosevic regime and the surrender of Milosevic to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.  However, we must make sure that other criminal perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing follow suit.

Albania will be realistic about the recent crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  We have categorically criticized the violence in that country, because we believe political dialogue is the only way to resolve problems in a multi-ethnic society.  We have good relations and cooperation with Kosovo as well, and appreciate the positive developments there.  The general elections of 17 November will be the first free and democratic elections there.  We hope that the Serb and other minorities will participate.  A solution in Kosovo should include territorial compensation and establishment of parallel institutions.  Too many parallel institutions are not the answer, however, because they can lead to more inter-ethnic conflicts.

Albania had established good relations with other countries in the region, and has utilized the cooperation processes in the South-East European Stability Pact to the maximum.  The Government will maintain its commitment to creating infrastructures within the framework of other regional initiatives.  We are convinced that integration has to start at home.  We have to do more to bring our country in tune with the European Union.  Albania is one of nine candidates for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Conflicts between States, terrorism and organized crime, the gulf between poor and rich countries, natural disasters, energy problems and HIV/AIDS have long been studied in the international community.  Current developments show more than ever how vital the United Nations has become in ensuring peace and security and promoting sustainable development.  Beyond those challenges, there are the problems the United Nations faces in its own reform process.  These reforms must be achieved as soon as possible.  The United Nations should become genuinely representative.  It must implement not bureaucratic but effective non-bureaucratic measures to ensure that its actions and policies bear more fruit.

MARIA E. LEVENS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Suriname:  The social and economic effects of 11 September have not yet been fully assessed, but the devastating effects are being felt in the Caribbean in terms of lost income, for example in tourism and trade.  Natural disasters have also hit the region.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries suffer from two main problems, one being limited access to global markets because of stringent trade rules, and the other being World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.  An institutional arrangement should be made between the United Nations and the WTO to allow developing countries easier access.

Regional ties have been strengthened.  If the international community agrees that human-centred development is at the top of the global agenda, we must achieve it together.  Next year, the Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development will both be opportunities to advance development.  Other issues on which development efforts should focus include the struggle against HIV/AIDS, gender equality and ageing.

While protecting the environment is a responsibility of all countries, the trans-shipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean is of particular concern to my region.  The signing of the Kyoto Protocol by so many States was reassuring in that regard.

Although globalization has not been favourable to most developing countries, the attacks of 11 September showed how interdependent the world is.  The loss of life was directly felt in the United States and in more than 60 countries around the world, and that clock cannot be turned back.  As a United Nations family, we are called upon to practice tolerance and to search for the root causes of terrorism.  They have to be discussed and dealt with to protect all our peoples and interests.

WLODZIMIERZ CIMOSZEWICZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland:  Perhaps as ominous as terrorism itself is the fact that in some countries, such monstrous acts of violence have met with sympathy from those who are destitute, deprived of any hope, frustrated and desperate.  We need to remove the grounds on which many perceive terrorists as present-day Robin Hoods.  But that does not release us from our responsibility to take a careful and courageous look at these phenomena, which tend to consolidate inequalities and diverse social calamities.

This horrible scenario, where public order and safety is threatened, passenger planes hijacked and destroyed, deadly viruses spread or water poisoned, must not be repeated.  We have to defeat those who participate in or contribute to such threats.  However, we need to reconsider our positions on how to respond to the needs of millions of those who every day suffer from hunger, disease and lack of clean water.  For them, the same and the only question arises every morning -– how to survive.  Extreme poverty deprives people of their inherent dignity, human rights and chance for a better tomorrow, thus pushing them to take desperate steps.

Over the past few years, it has been eloquently argued that globalization is a positive force, which will ultimately usher in an era of prosperity, stability and global harmony.  Alas, this has not come true.  This calls for a new approach to international cooperation, a new role for multilateral institutions, and the renewal of courageous political decisions and inter-governmental accords.  On the one hand, it calls for greater moderation from the strong and, on the other, for more determined endeavours from the weak and poor, who must be convinced that their consistent aspiration to improve their lot will ultimately pay off.

The struggle against terrorism must not obscure the need for the United Nations to discharge the mandate it was entrusted with by the international community.  This holds not only for security problems, but also for socio-economic cooperation, protection of human rights and humanitarian issues, especially those concerning refugees and the environment.  Of major importance is the elaboration and adoption of a package of regulations and commitments for development aid, indebtedness and trade.  This brings me to emphasize the significance of fully implementing the principles and practical measures embodied in the Millennium Declaration.  We are mindful, of course, that the translation of that programme into practical steps cannot be the responsibility of the United Nations alone.  It is also essential for other institutions and organizations, including financial, trade and regional ones, to act.

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHEM, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya:  We, in Libya, have been subjected to various forms of terrorism, including State terrorism, and realize better than others the depth of Americans' feelings after the cruel 11 September attacks.  My country has therefore condemned those painful events.  We denounce terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  It is imperative that effective action be taken to put an end to terrorist practices and to eliminate all the reasons and motives for terrorism.  Before all of this, though, we must agree on a unified definition of terrorism.

We cannot condemn terrorism and fight it when it hits one country and turn a blind eye when it hits other countries.  It is unacceptable to label as terrorism the struggle of peoples to protect themselves or to attain their independence, while at the same time ignoring real terrorism and its many faces -- such as occupation, provocation and aggression against peoples, establishment of military bases on the territories of others, massacres, training extreme elements in certain countries and facilitating their arrival in other countries to carry out criminal acts, acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and unilateral coercive measures against other countries.

The United Nations could be more effective in carrying out its duties if drastic reforms were introduced to the structures of its organs and new methods of work were developed.  Many proposals have been submitted, but they did not resonate with certain powers that care only for their narrow selfish interests.  The international community has thus far failed to solve the Palestinian problem.  This is essentially due to disregard of the core of the problem, namely that a land was usurped and its people kicked out.  Ending the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation cannot be realized through plans that are never implemented.  The solution must focus on the return of the Palestinian people to their homeland and the establishment of a democratic non-racist State in which all citizens are equal.  Any other solution will be a fabrication that will only perpetuate the Palestinian tragedy.

Over the last nine sessions we have reviewed the dispute over the Lockerbie incident.  We request that the Security Council lift the sanction it imposed on the Libyan people, since Libya has fully responded to the requirements of its relevant resolutions, a fact confirmed by the Secretary-General.  All expectations were that the Scottish Tribunal would acquit the two Libyan suspects in the incident in view of insufficient evidence.  However, the judgment of 31 January 2001 contradicted those expectations.  The conviction issued by the Tribunal was a political decision.  We call on all Member States to take the necessary action to secure the immediate release of the convicted Libyan citizen, counter delays in the lifting of sanctions imposed on Libya, and support fair compensation for the material and human losses it has suffered as a result of the sanctions.

PHIL GOFF, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand:  Terrorism appears to set no limit to its consequences.  Those responsible for it foreshadow a willingness to use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.  The potentially catastrophic effects if they are able to carry out that threat demand an urgent and comprehensive response to preempt such an attack.  We cannot allow the rule of terror to replace the rule of law.  We cannot tolerate the damage that terrorism has already done to the global economy.  We cannot allow terror to threaten basic human rights to life and property.  Time and again over the past three years the Security Council has called on the Taliban to prevent the use by terrorists of Afghanistan to launch strikes against other countries.  Those resolutions and the sanctions which accompanied them have been ignored by the Taliban.  Where groups operate beyond the rule of law and countries put themselves outside international codes of behaviour, the use of force becomes a necessary option. 

However, multilateral action and cooperation on a wider front is necessary if we are to be successful in removing the threat of terrorism on an ongoing and lasting basis.  It demands comprehensive action to minimize the threat that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups.  No State should develop, test and hold weapons of this nature.  Such weapons are a threat to humanity.  Their use by States would destroy and harm innocent human beings as certainly as the actions of the terrorist group which attacked New York.  Suppression of terrorism must also involve action to deal with its causes.  States must consider whether suppression of dissident or minority groups -- rather than allowing legitimate channels to voice dissent -- leaves resort to force as the only option. 

One consequence of the campaign against terrorism has been to focus the world's attention on the situation in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan reminds us that where a vacuum is created by the absence of legitimate government and the rule of law, it will be filled by extremist elements, criminal groups dealing in drug trafficking, and terrorist organizations, all of which can operate with impunity.  The international community has too long been indifferent to the situation in Afghanistan and to the longstanding refugee crisis which has resulted from 22 years of war, famine and Taliban oppression.  Pakistan and Iran have carried a burden of 3.6 million refugees, while much of the world showed concern only when a handful of those refugees sought in desperation to enter other countries illegally. 

Too little concern has been shown internationally to the 300,000 Afghan children who die annually from preventable causes.  The groups now protesting against military intervention were silent while this human catastrophe has unfolded over the last years.  Any loss of innocent life in conflict is tragic, and extraordinary steps must be taken to try to avoid it.  But a failure to remove the Taliban regime and a failure to assist the Afghan people to put in place a broad-based, moderate and stable government to replace it will mean the ongoing loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, and the continuing suffering of the Afghan people. 

LYDIE POLFER, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Relations of Luxembourg:  In this first session of the twenty-first century, the Assembly begins its work under the shadow of terrorism.  The attack was aimed at a country practicing the values  of democracy, tolerance and multiculturalism to which most aspire.  There is a clash of cultures between North and South, but the discussions since the attacks have shown that the antidote to self-absorbed woundedness is a dialogue among civilization.

Regardless of the actions being taken to find and punish the persons responsible for the attacks, it is vital to respect human rights in making decisions.  The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is a primary focus of attention.  Luxembourg has already pledged E6.9 million toward a global fund to which the European Union will contribute E320 million.  Among the highest priorities for the Afghan people itself is creation of a representative Government.  And while there seems to be no direct link between the situation in the Middle East and the events of 11 September in the United States, it is evident that all our efforts must now be expended on resolving the situation in a way that gives the Palestinian people a State and ensures Israel’s security.

Regional stability plays a big role in global security, whether in the Balkans, Africa or Asia.  It is gratifying that United Nations peacekeeping efforts have become stronger, with the comprehensive approach making a clearer connection between peacekeeping and development needs in specific situations.  Humanitarian and peacekeeping concerns, however, are not the entire sum of tasks before the international community.  Building democracy and strengthening of the rule of law are equally important, calling for an end to impunity and for basic safeguards, such as the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

Last September, the heads of State and government came together in New York and affirmed the importance of the United Nations through the Millennium Declaration.  Luxembourg is carrying out the commitments made there.  The amount of its official development assistance (ODA), which at present is 0.71 per cent, will rise to one per cent by 2005.  In addition, Luxembourg is seeking a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the 2013-2014 biennium.

MOHAMED BENAISSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco:  We have all been shaken by the terrorist acts that took place on 11 September.  It was an attack on innocent lives and all the values we hold dear, whether cultural, religious or political.  Those events are epic in their resonance, and it is still not clear how far-reaching the consequences will be.  Morocco fully condemns terrorism, and calls on all countries to mobilize and eradicate terrorism at its very root. Morocco is a multi-ethnic state founded on tolerance and respect for international law and it will do everything it can to assist.

The problem of the Middle East is one of most serious regional conflicts the world has faced over the past 50 years.  Recently we have seen an escalation of this conflict that has cost the lives of hundreds of women and children, and that is why we have condemned these attacks on Palestinian villages, homes and schools. We must stop the vicious circle of violence and reprisals.  But peace for Palestine will have to entail an Israeli withdrawal from all the land it has occupied since 1967.  This must take place in full compliance with international law and conform to the decisions of the Madrid Conference, which called for an exchange of land for peace.  We also feel concern for the people of Iraq, whose suffering is the direct result of sanctions against that country.  We hope that ongoing talks will end these sanctions and relieve the despair of Iraqi civilians. We support the independence of Kuwait and also the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq itself.

Africa is still prey to bloody conflicts.  The international community must adopt a new and pragmatic approach to help consolidate peace in Africa and initiate dialogue between warring parties.  We have always wished to see a Union of the Arab Maghreb as a regional organization of peace.  But efforts to establish a Maghreb organization depend upon finding an enduring solution to the problem of the Western Sahara.  The conflict there is a stumbling block, preventing any implementation of proposals for stability and peace.  The Settlement Plan did not come to a halt because of identification problems, but because of the huge difficulties mentioned by the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council.

Council resolution 1359 requested that the parties in the conflict in the Sahara begin negotiations on a draft framework agreement known as the Baker Plan. As the Secretary-General put it, this was a last chance to reach rapid settlement of the Sahara conflict.  We accepted the draft framework agreement and are ready to continue cooperating with the Council, the Secretary-General and his personal representative, James Baker, to reach a peaceful settlement.  In compliance with International law, we invite all other parties to start negotiation for a political resolution to this artificial conflict.

Spain continues to occupy two Moroccan cities, and that goes against the values and principles of the international community.  We consider a good relationship with Spain to be one of our basic strategic goals -- but Spain must show an understanding of Morocco’s rightful claim to the cities of Sebta and Mellilia.

MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus:  The consequences of the terrorist attacks of 11 September continue to be felt as painfully pressing.  We believe that the United Nations should be at the centre of developing strategy and tactics to combat terrorism.  We see it as critical that Member States now fully understand the unbreakable links between development, peace and security in the context of globalization.  The recent tragic events in the United States reaffirm this interdependence.  The international Conference on Financing for Development must lay grounds for a new international consensus on global economic and financial issues.

While addressing those challenges, we must not weaken our focus on the area of international security and disarmament.  The rising curve of military expenses is of particular concern in the present alarming international situation.  We have significantly contributed to the international non-proliferation regimes of weapons of mass destruction.  As a nation that voluntarily relinquished possession of nuclear weapons, Belarus is determined to press for legally binding guarantees to non-nuclear States, including the elaboration of an appropriate international convention to this end.  Belarus considers the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 as a critical component of maintaining strategic stability.

The situation in Afghanistan is of particular concern to the international community.  Military force is not capable of resolving all the complex problems that have been building up for years.  A sophisticated nexus of tensions within Afghan society can only be unraveled by means of a balanced domestic dialogue based on strict compliance with the standards of international law.  We are also concerned about the situation in Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  On the eve of the elections in Kosovo, Belarus confirms its adherence to the principle of the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and supports the diplomatic initiative by the Russian Federation to legally reconfirm existing national borders in the Balkans.

The economic, social and humanitarian aspects of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster cannot be overestimated.  The people inhabiting contaminated areas have been unable to return to their normal way of life.  There is a need to further rally international support to mitigate and minimize the aftermath of the catastrophe.  We appreciate the initiative of the Under-Secretary-General, Kenzo Oshima, to intensify post-Chernobyl cooperation, including through shifting its focus towards sustainable development of the contaminated areas and enhancing the region’s human capacity.  The findings of the special United Nations assessment mission to the three most affected States earlier this year should significantly contribute to understanding of what urgently needs to be done.

BRIAN COWEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland:  Action against terrorism must be pursued, resolutely, across a wide front and over a sustained period.  In undertaking this necessary endeavour let us be honest and realistic.  With retributive justice must come distributive justice.  Too often multilateral action has been characterized as being taken in reaction to the outcomes of conflict.  Last year's Millennium Declaration confirmed the public commitment of the world's leadership to resolving the root causes of conflict.  The United Nations was created out of the determination to tackle conflict and its causes.

Let us realize and build on the pledges we made at the Millennium Summit.  Let us strive much more effectively to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  Let us also improve the working of this Organization by making it more efficient and adaptable.  Let us see every government set out its commitment to reach the target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for development assistance within the next five years.  Ireland has already made it clear that it will deliver on its commitment in this regard, and we will increase our ODA budget by over $100 million next year to keep on track towards this target.  Let us reassess sustainable debt levels and provide additional relief to the heavily indebted poor countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which will suffer hardest in the present economic downturn.

In Ireland, we continue to make steady progress with our own peace process.  As delegates will be aware, the British and Irish Governments and political parties in Northern Ireland successfully negotiated a comprehensive peace settlement over three years ago, known as the Good Friday Agreement.  Since then, we have worked hard to secure the full implementation of this agreement.  Two of the most difficult and sensitive issues we had to face were putting paramilitary weapons beyond use and putting in place a new beginning to policing.  Very considerable progress has recently been made on both of these critical issues.  As a result the way, is now clear for a sustained, committed and enthusiastic implementation of all elements of the Good Friday Agreement.

From our own experience of peace-building we enumerate the most important elements of any truly sustainable peace process as follows.  First, there can be no purely military solution, since a lasting settlement must always address the root causes of conflict.  Secondly, compromise is essential.  Recognizing that extremism breeds in the absence of reason, conflict resolution demands that we rehabilitate the concept of compromise.  Thirdly, a lasting agreement must be comprehensive and address all issues of concern, even if the parties might agree to deal with them in different time-frames.  Fourthly, those in favour of peace in each community must work together -- even in the face of hostility from the enemies of the peace process in their own community.  Fifthly, the international community must support the peace process in a balanced and objective way.  Finally, those driving the peace process must rise above the politics of the last atrocity.  There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to conflict.  I do believe, however, that, if these principles were to be applied in certain other conflict situations, they could make a significant contribution to the achievement of peace and political progress.

FATHULLA JAMEEL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives:  The tragedy of 11 September has reminded us that terrorism is one of the biggest challenges facing the world community today.  It has emerged as an enemy of nations large or small and a vicious threat to humanity.  In combating such a cruel enemy, it is important that international action against terrorism be supported and complemented by regional and national measures.  The United Nations, as the global organization responsible for international peace and security, must play the pivotal role in this fight.

As a people who have devoted ourselves to the Islamic faith and its values for nearly a millennium, we are deeply offended by the notion that terrorism is linked to Islam or Muslims.  On the contrary, Islam advocates peace, compassion, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.  The portrayal of Islam as an enemy of civilization or of the free world is an insult to its noble principles.  Such perversions are nothing but propaganda, hatched by evil people who wish to breed hatred among human beings, and their claims are no less harmful than terrorism itself.

Globalization is now a reality.  Many in the developed world are enjoying the unprecedented yield of globalization, while its powerful forces are depressing the fragile economies of many developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), including structurally weak countries.  This uneven playing field has indeed contributed to widening the gap between the rich and poor.  In fact, obstacles to the development of LDCs have grown in number and magnitude over the years, and have marginalized them in the world economy.

The special circumstances and needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been recognized by this Assembly on numerous occasions.  Although many SIDS may appear relatively more prosperous on the basis of per capita income, it is also a documented fact that due to the special characteristics of small islands, they are generally among the most economically vulnerable and handicapped countries in the world today.  Given these realities, the criteria for identifying LDCs needs to be refined to reflect such impediments in full.

JOSEP PIQUÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain:  The political paradigm has changed since 11 September.  An important international consensus has taken shape on the need to confront terrorism, showing that terrorism has nothing to do with differences between North and South or East or West -- nor with a supposed conflict between civilizations, since many Islamic countries are victims of terrorism.  The difference lies between those who commit terrorist acts or support those who do, and those who consider such acts as atrocities in violation of the most elementary principles of human coexistence.

The United Nations has risen to the occasion with quick and effective action, demonstrating that the Organization is indispensable in the new millennium.  The general convention on international terrorism must be finalized.  The credibility of the United Nations was at stake in this historic juncture.  Likewise, the Middle East peace process must be resumed, on a road leading to the State of Israel and a Palestinian State, coexisting peacefully within secure borders.

The United Nations must modernize quickly in line with the goals of the Millennium Summit, just as Spain has modernized in recent years and is now scheduled to hold the European Union presidency during the first part of next year.  As the natural forum for managing globalization, the United Nations must lead the world in developing instruments to combat drugs, trans-national organized crime and corruption.  The International Criminal Court is an important instrument in fighting the culture of impunity that has sheltered the most heinous crimes.  The United Nations must lead in arms control and protecting the environment, in finding new solutions to new conflicts.  In Afghanistan, it must lead reconstruction.  Everywhere, it must develop new diplomatic instruments to address humanitarian issues.  Peacekeeping operations must have clear mandates, firmly supported by a reformed Security Council.  Most importantly, the United Nations must have the necessary resources to carry out its work.  The effort on budgetary discipline must continue, but rigid positions must not prevent the Organization from facing its responsibilities.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all humanity, not just a particular group.  It was important that the recent race conference in Durban had managed to adopt a final document, showing that the most sensitive issues could be addressed.  Within days, and in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Spain would organize an International Consultative Conference on School Education, related to freedom of religion or belief, tolerance and non-discrimination.

Finally, an update is warranted on the issue of Gibraltar.  Last July, the United Kingdom and Spain agreed to restart talks within the framework of the Brussels Declaration.  A communique was issued to underscore the two countries’ political will to overcome differences and conclude talks for the benefit of all.  The Chief Minister of Gibraltar had been invited to take part in ministerial meetings.  And in reaction to the statement of Morocco’s Foreign Minister, it merits mention that the cities Sebta and Mellilia are an integral part of Spain, and their inhabitants are represented in Parliament.

HABIB BEN YAHIA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia:  Having strongly condemned the 11 September attacks on the United States, we called for sparing the innocent civilians of Afghanistan the horrors of war.  The critical human situation now demands concerted international effort.  However, Tunisia has warned about the dangers of terrorism since the 1980s, when it called for national, regional and international measures to fight the phenomenon with all means.  We reiterate our call to cooperate on fighting terrorism and all who are accomplices or perpetrators of those acts.  That also applies to those who received court sentences for terrorist acts perpetrated in their countries of origin or away from them.  This must take place without double standards, particularly in terms of granting political asylum or residency.  Adopting such measures can spare a country from extremism of all sorts.

To develop international cooperation in the field, legal norms will need to be enhanced, perhaps through a comprehensive treaty or the holding of an international conference which would identify the legal framework and the machinery to protect the international community from the scourge.  Beating the menace will undoubtedly require a comprehensive approach, with prevention at its centre.  That will necessitate an examination of international circumstances and the influences that exacerbate terrorism.  Ultimately, it will mean having to deal with the conditions that cause a sense of injustice, of deprivation or marginalization, in order to prevent the exploitation of those feelings for fueling terrorism.

The fight will also have to stress the interaction of stability, security and peace on one hand and development progress on the other.  The Assembly’s current session provides an opportunity to develop common efforts, based on the principles and objectives set out last year, to tackle the full range of the world’s problems, whether international security or eradication of poverty.  In fact, since world security cannot not be guaranteed without eliminating all forms of poverty, marginalization and alienation, Tunisia’s President Ben Ali has launched an appeal to establish a World Fund for Solidarity aimed at eradicating poverty and promoting social development in the world’s most impoverished regions.  The Assembly has welcomed the initiative and invited the Secretary-General to undertake consultations on the issue.

Still from the perspective of world security, the situation in the Middle East must be a priority for the Security Council, which should assume an effective role in rescuing the region from a bottomless abyss of conflict.  Israel must be compelled to abide by international legal standards and to adopt urgent measures to protect the Palestinian people, including by the possible deployment of international forces.  The Palestinian people must also be accorded their legitimate right to a State, with Jerusalem as its capital.  Lifting sanctions on Iraq and Libya would also help ease tension and remove instability from the region.  Support for the newly born African Union and the African initiative known as the New Partnerships for African Development would also help.  This is an initiative to revitalize African economies and promote development by modernizing infrastructure, improving human resources and eradicating poverty. 

Finally, the United Nations must be strengthened to tackle the challenges.  In particular, the Assembly must have a bigger role in international relations.  The peace-building initiative launched by Tunisia during its Security Council Presidency should be applied regionally, with an emphasis on interdependency, control of weapons and bridging the digital divide.  To that end, the Assembly should pass a resolution to prepare for the two-part World Summit on an information society based on the International Telecommunications Union’s initiative.  Planned for Switzerland in 2003 and Tunisia in 2005, the outcome of the Summit will be a universal information partnership for developed countries to provide developing countries with assistance in the field of technological communications.

ILINKA MITREVA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:  Action is needed now, by all of us, all countries, regions, international organizations.  There is no alternative to international cooperation, as there is no alternative to the common fight against organized crime that feeds terrorism.  But there is one matter we have to keep in mind.  Different approaches towards acts of terrorism undermine our struggle.  There is no big or small terrorism, international or domestic, one that is tolerated, another that is not.  No one should be allowed to practice terror; the consequences are equally devastating.  We have to defend more vigorously than ever our shared values of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

For the past 10 years the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a factor for stability in the Balkans, has developed a democratic society.  Our inter-ethnic relations were held up as an example and applauded by the region.  Then, eight months ago, Macedonia was exposed to violent terrorist attacks, threatening to undermine all our achievements.  Under the cloak of the struggle for minority and human rights, the so-called National Liberation Army whose structure, command, control and logistics are of Kosovo provenance, set out to realize one aim:  the division of Macedonia and the changing of the region’s borders. 

Our response to these attacks was military, political and diplomatic.  The Framework Agreement of 13 August of this year, signed by the leaders of the four main political parties, is a result of our strong commitment to finding a political solution to the crisis as the best way to defend our country and undermine the goals of the terrorists.  But let me reiterate that we will also defend our country by other means, if necessary.  The cost of terrorism for Macedonia has been high -- loss of lives, destroyed homes, thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons.  The crisis also caused an economic downturn and a large budget deficit.  It had a negative impact on the country's development, increasing unemployment and poverty rates.  I therefore urge the international community, financial institutions, and particularly the European Union to address our needs at the upcoming Donor Conference and to consider the possibility of writing off our foreign debts. 

Despite the efforts of the Macedonian Government and the international community, attempts are still being made to block the work of the Parliament, and there are terrorist provocations and obstructions to the implementation of the Framework Agreement.  The latest events in the Tetovo area, the death of three policemen and the kidnapping of Macedonian civilians are proof that violence continues.  The recent history of crises has shown more than ever the importance of cooperation and solidarity among the countries of our region, and we have acted accordingly.

REAZ RAHMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh:  We are aware that terrorism has no consistent profile, that it has many variables reflecting the increasing complexity of human society.  But this much is sure; we know what it is not.  We must emphatically stress that terrorism has no connection to any one religion or any particular region of the world.  It is a global phenomenon and should be addressed as such.

Terrorism is but one aspect of many negative forces that shape what we call globalization.  They include drugs, organized crime, the illicit transfer of small arms, money laundering, environmental degradation and new diseases.  Many of these forces have intrinsic interlinkages.  On the positive side, two crucial forces have impelled globalization –- mass consciousness of individual rights, and the impact of science and technology.  The push for individual rights, humanitarian concerns and a burgeoning new humanitarian law are reflected in the worldwide sweep of democracy.  Advances in science and technology have closed the information gap.

Today, both political and economic issues have assumed centre stage, and our attention is focused upon them.  Prime among them is the situation in Afghanistan. It is our hope that the Afghan people will have a true opportunity to choose their own system of governance, in line with democratic practices, in a post-Taliban dispensation.  We welcome efforts, with the assistance of the United Nations, to form an interim transitional Government acceptable to the Afghan people.  We also welcome two key projections.  The first is the need for a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation plan, and efforts to mobilize funding.  The second is a hard focus on ways and means to facilitate a return of refugees.  Of immediate importance is the vast humanitarian tragedy, the need to contain and minimize the loss of human lives and deliver immediate relief to refugees and displaced persons.

While new threats to peace, security and economic stability are emerging, old ones remain.  The threat of nuclear catastrophe hangs over our heads. Occupation, inter-State and intra-State conflicts, especially in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, still continue to threaten regional and global peace and stability.  We are particularly concerned about the steady deterioration of the situation in Palestine, arising from encroachment on Palestinian territories and collective punishment that has been meted out to the people.  Bangladesh will continue to maintain its unflinching support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and for the early establishment of a State of their own, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Over the last few decades, access to global markets has been seriously limited for the products of developing countries in general and LDCs in particular.  Bangladesh calls on development partners to create more access for trade, including duty-free, quota-free access to products from LDCs on a secure, long-term basis.  Debt repayment is also an enormous burden on developing countries.  We urge developed countries to expand the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative to include more indebted developing countries, with particular focus on LDCs.

Rights of Reply

SEGED ALI MAHMOUDI (Iran):  This morning the delegate of the United Arab Emirates raised some unacceptable claims against the territorial integrity of my country.  Iran has repeatedly put its position on record.  Iran is fully committed to its international obligations, especially to the agreement of 1971.  Misunderstandings of that agreement should be addressed through good-will and mutually agreed mechanisms in order to find a friendly solution.

STEWARD ELDON (United Kingdom):  In reply to the Spanish Foreign Minister’s remarks about Gibraltar, the long-standing position of my country is well known, and our Government stands by its commitment to the people of Gibraltar as set out in Gibraltar’s 1969 Constitution.  We share the view that issues on Gibraltar can only be resolved through dialogue, such as that recently resumed with Spain in the Brussels Process, and that continuing the dialogue as a means to a better future is important.  Like Spain, we welcome the attendance of Gibraltar’s Chief Minister at ministerial meetings.

ABDULLAH KHAMEES AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates):  In reply to Iran’s statement this morning, the invitation to dialogue was not expected to prompt a right of reply.  Iran’s repetitive position about our appeal to resolve the dispute over three occupied islands through the International Court of Justice is deplorable.  What disappoints us is that Iran only deals with marginal questions about the occupation, and not questions of substance.  We have documents to refute Iran’s illegal claims over those islands.  We hope Iran will agree to the positive initiative that we have reaffirmed today, in order to resolve the situation of those islands.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.