GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE DOMINATED BY TERRORISM, IRAQ ISSUE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA

20 September 2002
GA/10065

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE DOMINATED BY TERRORISM, IRAQ ISSUE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA

20/09/2002
Press ReleaseGA/10065

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

19th Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE DOMINATED

BY TERRORISM, IRAQ ISSUE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA

188 Speakers Took Part in Debate,

Including 33 Heads of State, 14 Heads of Government

The fundamental necessity and continuing relevance of multilateralism as the guiding principle of the United Nations and world affairs had generated a sound base for the deliberations of the General Assembly’s fifty-seventh session, delegations were told this afternoon as the Assembly concluded its general debate. 

The high level of participation at this year’s debate underscored the importance of the gathering, Assembly President Jan Kavan (Czech Republic) noted in his closing remarks.  Among the 188 speakers, the Assembly heard 33 heads of State, 14 heads of government, 14 Deputy Prime Ministers and 110 Foreign Ministers. 

The opening of the general debate had followed the day of mourning in commemoration of the attacks of 11 September 2001, he continued.  Throughout the entire debate, countries had reiterated the need to uphold the unprecedented unity of the anti-terrorist coalition and continue the common fight against international terrorism. 

The debate also had a major impact on the state of international affairs, he noted, as clearly demonstrated by the development of the situation in Iraq.  Time and concrete actions would show if the Iraqi offer was credible.  He hoped, however, that the call for both multilateralism and compliance with United Nations resolutions would shape future policies towards Iraq. 

The urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was ever more pressing and represented a major concern for most speakers, he added.  Support for the endeavours of the Quartet and compliance by both parties were essential for further progress, and much more detailed work still had to be done.  In addition, special attention had been given in the debate to the issues of Africa’s development and its future, including United Nations support to the emerging New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative.

Among those addressing the Assembly this afternoon was Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi, Vice-President and Minister of Health of Palau, who said that while

the great majority of nations remained united in their desire to see terrorism defeated, those who supported or condoned the events of 11 September were encouraged to hear speakers talk of waiting for a consensus before acting to remove credible threats to national and international stability. 

Palau, she said, fully supported the United States in its resolve to preempt further attacks and loss of life.  The laudable goal of multilateral action could not justify or excuse the loss of human lives resultant from giving those who supported terror the opportunity to strike first.

Stressing the importance of moving beyond confrontation and towards a common future of prosperity, the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, called on both sides of the Cyprus problem to take advantage of the window of opportunity now available to achieve a just and viable settlement.  The time to engage in a serious, meaningful dialogue was now, he emphasized.

Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Monie Captan, drew attention to the “punitive and unjust” sanctions imposed on his country.  Maintaining that peace had been restored to Sierra Leone, that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) no longer existed and that Liberia was host to many Sierra Leonean refugees, he asked why the Security Council continued to punish his country.  In spite of the crisis brought on by United Nations sanctions, Liberia was committed to democracy and human rights and had organized a national reconciliation conference.

Also this afternoon, the Assembly approved the recommendations contained in the first report of the General Committee.  In doing so, it took a number of decisions regarding the organization of the current session, adoption of the agenda and allocation of agenda items.  The Assembly also approved the Committee’s recommendation that the current session recess no later than 11 December.  

In addition, the Assembly decided to include in the agenda of the current session an additional sub-item entitled “Appointment of a member of the United Nations Staff Pension Committee”, under the item entitled “Appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments”.  It also allocated that sub-item to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  

Other speakers were the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Albania.  The Foreign Ministers of Grenada, Guinea-Bissau and Somalia also spoke, as did the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic.  In addition, the representatives of Suriname, Marshall Islands and Cameroon also addressed the Assembly.

The representatives of Iran and the United Arab Emirates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

Also, statements were made on the report of the General Committee by the representatives of Gambia, Tuvalu and Egypt.

The Assembly will meet again on Friday, 27 September to consider the admission of new Members to the United Nations as well as to elect five non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to conclude its general debate. 

It was also expected to consider the first report of the General Committee on the organization of the Assembly's fifty-seventh regular session, adoption of the agenda and allocation of items (document A/57/250).

Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General regarding a request for the inclusion of an additional sub-item in the agenda of the fifty-seventh session (document A/57/231).  In it, the Secretary-General requests the inclusion, under agenda item 17, entitled "Appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments", of an additional sub-item, entitled "Appointment of a member of the United Nations Staff Pension Committee".  This follows the resignation of Victor Vislykh (Russian Federation) from the Committee, effective 31 December.  The current Assembly will therefore be required to appoint a person to fill the remainder of his term of office, which expires on 31 December 2003.   

Statements

SANDRA PIERANTOZZI, Vice-President and Minister of Health of Palau, said her country had given its full support to the war on terrorism, in spite of the limitations imposed by its size, remoteness, capacity constraints and economic vulnerability.  Revisions had been made to the law, making it easier to gather information on suspicious persons and activities, share information with other jurisdictions, block suspect financial transactions, establish penalties for transnational crimes, recognize acts of terror as crimes under the domestic legal system and streamline procedures for asset seizure and extradition to facilitate cooperation within the war on terrorism.  Yet Palau, like many other developing nations, was unable to participate meaningfully in the campaign without the support of developed States. 

She said it was deplorable that while the great majority of nations remained united in their desire to see terrorism defeated, those who had supported or condoned the events of 11 September 2001 were encouraged to hear calls for a consensus before action could be taken to remove credible threats to national and international stability.  Palau fully supported the United States in its resolve to preempt further attacks and loss of life.  The laudable goal of multilateral action could not justify or excuse the loss of human lives that might result from giving those who supported terror the opportunity to strike first.

At the same time, she said, the lack of progress on the issues of sustainable development and environmental protection suggested that goodwill and solidarity were emphasized only in matters directly affecting the developed world.  The recent World Summit on Sustainable Development had failed to address the development needs of the great majority of nations.  It was time for concrete action to give developing nations the tools to manage and speed their own development.  It was time to end the marginalization of the developing countries in the new global economy, she added.

Furthermore, those Member States that enjoyed the highest standards of living did so at the expense of the environmental integrity of the planet, she said.  Fortunately, most of the developed countries had recognized their responsibility to change past practices and endorsed the Kyoto Protocol as the only viable response to the worsening impacts of climate change. 

Urging the international community to support representation for the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the United Nations, and adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, she said it was time to take the lessons learned from the war on terror -– namely the fundamental importance of working together in response to a common threat -- and apply them to other threats facing today’s interdependent world.

LOUIS STRAKER, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that the “world needed the United Nations more today than ever before” and added that in general he supported the collective judgement of the United Nations as opposed to rash unilateral actions.  He expressed satisfaction at States uniting to fight terrorism, Iraq’s decision to readmit weapons inspectors, independence in East Timor and the support given to Afghanistan.  Recognizing the links between terrorism and international criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime, he pledged his country’s support in combating those threats.

He explained that massive external debt was leading to poverty and hindering the development of his country.  Although he had had great expectations for the International Conference on Finance and Development in Monterrey and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, he was disappointed by the “reluctance of some developed countries to give more meaningful expressions to their stated commitments”.  Calling for help to eradicate diseases, he said that his country had the second highest per capita ratio of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  He appealed to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union and other organizations to consider his country’s small size during negotiations. As a small island developing State, his country had a fragile ecosystem. Nevertheless, he expressed confidence in its ability to triumph, given the requisite support.

Welcoming the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as an imaginative new initiative, he said that Africa needed to help itself.  He singled out corruption as a major problem in developing countries in general, and mentioned that his country had responded to it by ratifying the Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Corruption.  He suggested the United Nations pass and promote its own version of an anti-corruption convention. 

He went on to express support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the United Nations, an end to the United States embargo against Cuba, a Palestinian State that would peacefully coexist with Israel and a de-escalation of tensions in South Asia.  He also called for an increase in Security Council membership and the inclusion of more developing countries in that body.

ILIR META, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Albania, said that during the past year, his country had witnessed many positive political, institutional and socio-economic developments.  The new climate of dialogue was encouraging reforms aimed at the acceleration of the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.  The political and social stability of the country was being consolidated, thus creating the conditions for positive developments in all fields. 

In implementing the commitments of the Millennium Declaration, his Government was taking the required measures to integrate the Millennium Development Goals into national development planning.  It was undertaking an extensive campaign to make the State administration, civil society and Albanian public opinion more aware of their role in implementing those objectives. 

Being in the crossroads between East and West, he said, his country had been a magnet for criminal activities, and a bridge for the trafficking of human beings, drugs, arms and goods.  The crises and conflicts the region had faced only contributed to that attraction.  The Government had taken concrete measures to cut off all forms of trafficking from and through its territory by punishing perpetrators and addressing the conditions that encouraged trafficking. 

He argued for the need to strengthen regional cooperation, based on the principles of good neighbourly relations, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as protection of human rights and liberties.  He said his Government viewed relations with Kosovo in the broader perspective of regional stability, cooperation and integration.  The future status of Kosovo had to satisfy a number of simultaneous requirements, namely:  the right of all its citizens to express themselves; the will of the international community; and the guarantee of stability for Kosovo and the region itself.  In addition, his Government was interested in developing cooperation and good relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 

ELVIN NIMROD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Grenada, said the events of 11 September 2001 were particularly damaging to the economies of small island States.  Hardest hit had been the tourist industry, a major source of foreign exchange for Grenada, and one that was linked to other industries.  Another casualty of the tragedy was trade, the engine of growth and development for many developing countries.  Decline in trade adversely affected their ability to import goods essential for development, thus widening the divide between developed and developing countries.  Trade barriers and tariffs, which limited access to developed markets, should be reduced.

Of equal concern to Grenada was the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  It had forced the island to use scarce resources to combat the disease.  Small countries could not stem the ravages of the pandemic without a massive infusion of resources from outside.  In that regard, Grenada applauded the establishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  However, much more had to be done.

He hailed the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Conference and the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development as blueprints for sustainable development.  Attention also needed to be paid to the Barbados Programme of Action for the sustainable development of small island developing States, embodied in Agenda 21.  Hopefully, there would be a comprehensive review of that Programme in Mauritius in 2004 to determine how to overcome difficulties affecting small island States.  As part of the African diaspora, Grenada was greatly excited by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.  The NEPAD represented the dawn of a new era for Africa’s economic development.

IOANNIS KASOULIDES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, said that in the case of his country, numerous Assembly and Security Council resolutions had yet to be implemented.  Rejecting its obligations under the Charter, Turkey was calling for the acceptance of the so-called “realities” brought about by its aggression.  The people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, were still suffering from the terrible consequences of the Turkish invasion and the continuing military occupation of 37 per cent of the country’s territory. 

It was important to move beyond confrontation, towards a common future of prosperity, democracy and regional cooperation.  Both sides should take advantage of the window of opportunity now available for the achievement of a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on Security Council resolutions.  The time to engage in a serious, meaningful dialogue was now, in view of the unique convergence of positive factors -- such as the renewed interest of the international community, the personal involvement of the Secretary-General, and the country's European Union accession process.

Regrettably, the international community had yet to see the much-expected change of attitude from the Turkish side, he said.  He called on Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership to heed the call of the international community and abandon its unacceptable policy of division and communal segregation.  Their position -- a “two sovereign States” solution and denial of the rights of refugees to their properties -- represented an anachronism in a globalized world.  Such a policy could not lead to a settlement or reconciliation and would perpetuate the suffering of all Cypriots.  He called on the Turkish side to respect Security Council resolutions as well as the high-level agreements signed by Mr. Denktash, which provided for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and envisioned a State with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and a single international personality.

He added that Cyprus had recently proceeded, in cooperation with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, with the destruction of a significant number of weapons and had decided unilaterally on the demining of the buffer zone.  Also, Cyprus was in the final stage of ratifying the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines.

FILOMENA MASCARENHAS TIPOTE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guinea-Bissau, said that her country was ready to help guarantee peace and stability within its subregion, in spite of the budgetary restraints it imposed.  Convinced that improving democracy, human rights, international cooperation and development would help restore the dignity of the people, the Government was working to develop relationships with the United Nations to combat the existing poverty in Guinea-Bissau.

It was clear, she said, that efforts to maintain peace could not be dissociated from the need to preserve economic and social stability in Guinea-Bissau.  As a member of the African Union, Guinea-Bissau was committed to increasing peace, stability, democracy, human rights, cooperation, development, prosperity and human dignity.  Its national poverty reduction strategy aimed to foster the socio-economic revitalization of the African continent through support for NEPAD.  In that quest for sustainable development, the international community was exhorted to contribute to NEPAD and Guinea-Bissau’s national efforts.

The instrument best designed to bring about peace was dialogue, she said.  For that reason Guinea-Bissau encouraged the actors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to find global solutions for security and prosperity for both peoples.  She also urged the leaders of Iraq to abide by Security Council resolutions in order to avoid an eventual action under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Guinea Bissau, she said, supported reform of the Security Council in order to make it more universal and efficient.  It also supported the fight against weapons of mass destruction and the struggle to ensure access to basic resources like water, education and health.  Reducing poverty in the poorest countries was the guarantee for prosperity, stability and security and the best weapon for neutralizing terrorism. 

MONIE CAPTAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liberia, said that he supported United Nations Security Council resolution 1373 and the United Nations conventions and protocols aimed at combating terrorism.  However, he criticized the fact that Africa had no permanent representation or power of veto on the Security Council.  That was significant given that most of the conflicts under consideration by the Council were African ones.  Highlighting contributions by Africans to the United Nations, he mentioned the work of Liberian and other African peacekeepers.

United Nations sanctions against Liberia were punitive and unjust and harmful to the nation's economy, he said.  Noting that peace had been restored to Sierra Leone, that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) no longer existed and that Liberia was host to many Sierra Leonean refugees, he asked why the Security Council continued to punish his country.  Liberia, he said, was under siege by externally supported armed non-State actors, and was entitled to defend itself under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  It should, therefore, not be faced with an arms embargo.  In spite of the crisis brought on by United Nations sanctions, Liberia was committed to democracy and human rights and had organized a national Reconciliation Conference.  Peace initiatives in the country were being undertaken on two levels:  the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Mano River Union.

Turning to the Middle East, he said that both the Israelis and Palestinians had justified claims, but that they needed to work out their differences in a non-violent manner.  He called for Taiwanese membership in the United Nations.  He concluded by reiterating his displeasure with the United Nations sanctions against Liberia, but maintained that the country remained “true and resolute to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Charter”.

YUSUF HASSAN IBRAHIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia, said that despite the good intentions of the United Nations, Somalia had suffered from the neglect of the international community, especially after 1993.  The Somali conflict had seemed intractable.  It was not until August 2000 that a Transitional National Government and Parliament were constituted and a head of State, Abdikassim Salad Hassan, was elected.  That was the result of the conference held in Arta, Djibouti, attended by more than 3,000 Somalis from all regions and walks of life. 

In endeavouring to bring peace and stability to Somalia, his Government had engaged others in the subregion, regional organizations and the United Nations to assist Somalia in the search for durable peace.  He was happy to note that the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), with the support of the international community, had undertaken a serious peace initiative for Somalia.  The IGAD programme for completion of the Arta process had streamlined the various and often-conflicting initiatives for the first time. 

The IGAD, he continued, had announced that a conference for the completion of the reconciliation process would be held in Kenya on 15 October.  The Transitional Government would spare no effort to make the national reconciliation conference a success.  It was critically important for the international community to support the conference and to put in place regional and international measures to guarantee the finality of the outcomes of the conference.  The international and regional guarantees must serve notice that sanctions would be imposed on any Somali group that rejected the outcome of the conference. 

When the Somali parties agreed on a peace framework during the conference, there would be an urgent need for international peacekeepers.  There would also be an urgent need for disarmament and the rebuilding of national institutions in Somalia.  He urged the United Nations to be ready for that and plan to meet the new challenges of disarmament, demobilization and reconstruction.  The wind of peace blowing across Africa had finally reached Somalia, he said. 

JAN KOHOUT, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that the international community needed to move from a policy of containment to one of active struggle against international terrorism.  Participating in the fight against terror and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of its top priorities.  In that context, all the Security Council resolutions on Iraq should be unconditionally implemented.  Iraq’s failure to comply with the will of the international community and its efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction showed that the Iraqi regime represented an enormous risk to the security and stability of the whole world.  Although it advocated the pacific resolution of international disputes, its own history reminded the Czech Republic that peace must sometimes be defended by force.

In regard to other security concerns, he urged a peaceful and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, envisioning a peaceful coexistence between Israel and an independent and democratic Palestinian State.  Progress towards peace in Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Balkans and Afghanistan was encouraging.  On other important components of the United Nations agenda -- disarmament, arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- the Czech Republic supported a gradual process of nuclear arms reduction within the framework of the

Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as the coming into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Arguing that United Nations reform would strengthen its authority and effectiveness, he said that one of the major challenges facing the international community was to ensure that all countries had fair access to the benefits of globalization.  Development assistance and cooperation, debt relief for highly indebted countries, non-discriminatory participation in a multilateral trade system and good governance were key to furthering economic progress.  Sustainable development required stressing implementation, time-bound goals, responsibility and accountability.

Welcoming the establishment of the International Criminal Court, he said the Czech Republic could soon become party to the Rome Statute.  Other important issues included the advancement of women and the protection of the rights of children, the elimination of racism and discrimination, and the ban on torture and the death penalty.

IRMA LOEMBAN TOBING-KLEIN (Suriname) prayed that the United States, in spite of the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001, would prosper in peace and love with all the global family.  Suriname was a fervent advocate of dialogue to solve disputes.  “To promote unity in our society”, she said, “peace and respect for each other’s cultures are issues incorporated in our education programmes and taught at school from an early age.”  In addition, a human rights-based approach to development was the way to transform society.  No equality would be achieved unless human rights became a way of life.

If the United Nations was to maintain international peace and security, she said, then States would have to implement the resolutions and decisions taken towards that goal.  Instead of defence expenditures, priority had to be given to reaching the Millennium Declaration Goals. Suriname also welcomed Iraq’s decision to allow inspectors to return to the country, and applauded the plan to achieve peace in the Middle East by 2005.

Looking at development issues, she said poverty eradication, with an emphasis on capital growth, should be prioritized and universal education should be pursued, especially since education created an awareness of health problems, such as HIV/AIDS, and also about human rights and democracy issues.  In solidarity with Africa, Suriname supported its New Partnership and stressed that information and technology were essential for the sustainable development of peoples and societies.

ALFRED CAPELLE (Marshall Islands) revealed that his country had recently completed a process of priority setting and assessment of national policies.  It had formulated a long-term sustainable development plan that would take it

up to 2018.  That national vision incorporated the international agenda set by the United Nations.  Its policies therefore included the all-important priorities of good governance, respect for fundamental human rights, protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources.  “By linking our national priorities to the international agenda”, he observed, “we are confident that the correct policy decisions will be made".

He called for a new international development paradigm that moved away from the notion of donors and recipients and embraced the concept of mutual beneficiaries and collaborators.  In dealing with its development challenges, the Marshall Islands placed emphasis on appropriate solutions to environmental degradation and pollution, with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol being an essential step; on nuclear cleanup and non-proliferation to overcome problems far beyond the country’s financial and scientific capability to solve; and on unwavering support for the Law of the Sea Management Regime.

Turning to other matters, he said the Marshall Islands objected to the exclusion of the Republic of China on Taiwan from the ranks of United Nations Member States, and favoured the expansion of the Security Council so that its membership included both developed and developing countries.  Such a move would broaden its representativeness and reinforce its validity.  His country also called on the international community to support the newly established International Criminal Court.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the role of the United Nations was more important than ever in light of the threat of terrorism.  He envisioned a future in which people could live free of fear.  He also praised the work of the United Nations in Afghanistan.  He wanted States to find a common response to terrorism and said that his President, Paul Biya, urged for calm on the international scene and opposition to intolerance.

Insisting that the international community should treat armed conflicts with “firmness and openness”, he criticized Security Council sanctions.  Sanctions would gain legitimacy if they affected only what they were meant to affect.  In other words, he did not want them to affect innocent civilians.  He also called for enlargement of the Security Council.  Support for development of the countries of the South must remain a priority.  Never had there been so many summits on the subject of development, he said.  Yet the needs of those living in poverty, especially women and children, were not being adequately met.

The HIV/AIDS was a serious issue, he said.  He announced that the First Ladies of Africa, at the invitation of Chantal Biya, First Lady of Cameroon, would meet in his country next November to discuss problems associated with the disease. A group called “African Synergies against AIDS and Other Sufferings” would be launched at that time.  He concluded by inviting everyone to dream together of a future free of fear and full of hope.

Closing Remarks by Assembly President

JAN KAVAN (Czech Republic), President of the General Assembly, said that the high level of participation at this year’s debate underscored the importance of the gathering.  Among the 188 speakers, the Assembly heard 33 heads of State,

14 heads of Government, 14 Deputy Prime Ministers and 110 Foreign Ministers.  The important statement of the Secretary-General emphasizing the fundamental necessity and continuing relevance of multilateralism as the guiding principle of the United Nations and world affairs had generated a sound base for the Assembly’s deliberations. 

The opening of the general debate, he noted, followed the day of mourning in commemoration of the attacks of 11 September.  Throughout the entire debate, countries had reminded themselves of the need to uphold the unprecedented unity of the anti-terrorist coalition and continue the common fight against international terrorism.  He did not recall a statement that had not placed the fight against terrorism and the importance of addressing related issues as a top priority. 

This year’s debate, he said, had had a major impact on the state of international affairs, as clearly demonstrated by the development of the situation in Iraq.  Time and concrete actions would show if the Iraqi offer was credible.  He hoped, however, that the call for both multilateralism and compliance with United Nations resolutions would shape future policies towards Iraq. 

The urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was ever more pressing and represented a major concern for most speakers, he stated.  The latest Quartet negotiations had introduced a plan outlining a three-phase road map to achieve the shared vision of two States -– Israel and Palestine -– living side by side in peace and security.  The recognition of security, political, economic, humanitarian and institutional dimensions was an integral part of the plan.  There was no need to stress that support for the endeavours of the Quartet and compliance by both parties were essential for further progress and that much more detailed work still had to be done. 

At the time of last year’s debate, he noted, Afghanistan was a war-torn country with leadership that oppressed its own citizens and harboured the most despicable terrorist organization in the world.  The changes that Afghanistan had experienced since then were unprecedented.  On the first day of this year’s debate, a democratically elected President of a completely different country had addressed the Assembly.  Despite all the progress achieved to date, Afghanistan faced major security challenges and was in dire need of continued humanitarian and developmental assistance.  The international community and major donors had played, and must continue to play, a decisive role in the positive changes in Afghanistan. 

In listening to the statements concerning economic development and prosperity, the message was clear -– there was no development and prosperity without peace and stability.  Time must be dedicated during the current session to further addressing and confronting the issues of poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, equitable distribution of the benefits of globalization and preservation of the environment. 

He added that during the debate, special attention had been given to the issues of Africa’s development and its future, including United Nations support to the emerging New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative.  He would ensure that the question of Africa and its development would remain high on the Assembly’s agenda.  

Right of Reply

Speaking in right of reply, MAHDI HAMZEHEI (Iran) said that the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates had this morning raised some unacceptable claims against the territorial integrity of his country.  As Iran’s position on the issue was already on record, there was no need to go into detail.  Iran was fully committed to its international obligations arising from the Agreement of 1971.  Misunderstandings over the interpretation or application of that Agreement should be addressed with goodwill and through mutually agreed mechanisms in order to find a friendly solution.  The Government of Iran had always welcomed interaction with United Arab Emirates officials and believed that dialogue between the two parties could play a determining role in removing any existing misunderstandings.

Also speaking in right of reply, HAMAD AL-HABSI (United Arab Emirates) expressed his regret at the statement made by the representative of Iran on the three islands in question.  He regretted the continued, flawed Iranian claims that ran counter to all historic facts and legal instruments, which proved that those islands belonged to the United Arab Emirates.  His Government considered Iran’s presence on those islands since 1971 as an illegal occupation, counter to the Charter.  He hoped that the Government of Iran would reconsider its policy

vis-à-vis those islands.  The issue should be resolved through bilateral and peaceful negotiations, in adherence to international law, so that the islands would be returned to the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates.  If achieved, that result would enhance good neighbourliness and further stability and peace within the region.

Consideration of Report of General Committee

Concerning agenda item 169 on the question of the representation of Taiwan, CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) regretted that delegations were only allowed two minutes to speak on the item in the General Committee due to the large number of speakers inscribed.  He wanted to clarify that the time constraint was the only reason to limit speakers to two minutes, and that it in no way set a precedent for future considerations.

ENELE SOPOAGA (Tuvalu) supported the clarification given by Gambia.  He also hoped the two-minute rule would not become a precedent for the future.  He requested that the right of members to raise issues of importance be recognized in the future. 

ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) said that his delegation had been unable to participate in discussions last week in the General Committee when it discussed item 169 on Taiwan, due to its participation in other meetings that were taking place at the same time.  He affirmed that the People’s Republic of China was the only legitimate representative of China. 

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For information media. Not an official record.