GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT REAFFIRMING CENTRAL ROLE OF UN IN MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

5 August 2004
GA/10249

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT REAFFIRMING CENTRAL ROLE OF UN IN MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

05/08/2004
Press ReleaseGA/10249

Fifty-eighth General Assembly                              

Plenary                                                    

93rd Meeting (PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT REAFFIRMING CENTRAL ROLE OF UN

IN MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

Assembly President Appeals for Observance of Olympic Truce

The General Assembly this afternoon adopted a resolution “reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of international cooperation”.

By that text, adopted by a recorded vote of 93 Member States in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 47 abstentions, the Assembly condemned acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed, and reiterated its call on all States to adopt and implement further measures to prevent terrorism and to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism.  It would also reaffirm that measures taken by States must be in accordance with the Charter and must comply with their obligations under international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

Further by the text, which was introduced by the representative of Malaysia on behalf of the Non-aligned Movement, the Assembly also underlined the need to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations in the areas of prevention and resolution of armed conflict, including relevant peace-building and development activities, as well as in the areas of peacemaking and peacekeeping.  It called on all States to ensure, through constructive dialogue, the full enjoyment, promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as well as to promote the peaceful resolution of international problems, including those of a humanitarian character, the prevention and end of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and the prosecution of those responsible for such crimes.

In explanation of the vote, the representative of the United States said the resolution was premature, since it attempted to address the matter currently being reviewed by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  The text reaffirmed some principles of international law and not others, and some references were taken out of context.  Furthermore, in its reference to weapons of mass destruction the text did not address the issue of proliferation.  The text also mischaracterized the role of the United Nations in the management of the economic system.

Also in explanation of the vote, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the representative of the Netherlands, said that the Union abstained because the text, by reaffirming and underlining certain principles without mentioning others, contained an imbalance.  Emphasis was being put on principles of the sovereign equality and the territorial integrity of nations.  However, the flip side of that was the responsibility that States had vis-à-vis their own populations.  The Charter of the United Nations contained provisions allowing the use of force and coercion under certain conditions.  Without a reference to Article 51 of Chapter VII of the Charter, the text was not complete.  It also put most emphasis on nuclear disarmament, with non-proliferation mentioned only in passing.

At the outset of this afternoon’s meeting, the President of the General Assembly, Julian Robert Hunte (Saint Lucia), solemnly appealed to all States to demonstrate their commitment to peace in the world by observing the Olympic Truce during the XXVIII Olympic Games in Athens, saying, “While conflict in the world will not cease overnight, if we could have peace for sixteen days, then, maybe, just maybe, we could have it forever”.

The sacred Greek tradition of ekecheiria (truce) constituted the cornerstone of the Olympic Games in ancient times.  Its very adoption had been dictated by the Delphi oracle as a way to put an end to the wars that at the time devastated the Peloponnese.  “The longest lasting peace accord in history was thus created”, he said.

Observing the Olympic Truce meant constructing bridges of communication between adversaries, allowing the youth of the world to peacefully participate in the Olympic Games and creating the necessary infrastructure for the continuation of dialogue and the renewal of hope for reconciliation, both during the Games and throughout the four-year period of Olympiads, he said.  He expressed confidence that the appropriate measures taken by Greece, in close cooperation with the international community, would ensure the staging of the Games in a safe and peaceful environment.

Recalling that on 3 November 2003, the Assembly had adopted resolution 58/6 urging observance of the Olympic Truce during the XXVIII Olympiad to be held in Athens from 13 to 29 August, he said that during these turbulent times, Member States were demonstrating their confidence in the Olympic Truce ideal.  This year, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, the Olympic Flame had been received at Headquarters.  “It carried the message of hope for a world free from hatred and war, a world where ideals of peace, goodwill and mutual respect form the basis of relations among peoples and countries”, he said.  [The full text of the Solemn Appeal is contained in document A/58/863.]

In other business, the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item “Multilingualism” and to include it in the Assembly’s provisional agenda of the fifty-ninth session.  It did so at the written request of the representative of France, on behalf of the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie.

The Assembly also appointed by acclamation Tadanori Inomata (Japan) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) for a five-year term beginning on 1 January 2005 and expiring on 31 December 2009.

The representatives of Venezuela, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russian Federation and Burkina Faso also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at a date to be announced.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to appoint a member of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU).  It was also expected to consider sport for peace and development; strengthening of the United Nations system; and multilingualism.

Regarding the appointment of a member of the JIU, the Assembly had before it a note by the President of the General Assembly (document A/58/111), in which he submits Tadanori Inomata (Japan) for appointment as a member of the JIU for a five-year term beginning on 1 January 2005 and expiring on 31 December 2009.

The Assembly would also hear a solemn appeal by its President in connection with the observance of the Olympic Truce (contained in document A/58/863).  On 3 November, the Assembly adopted resolution 58/6, in which it urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce, a sacred Greek tradition, during the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad to be held in Athens, Greece, from 13 to 29 august.

Also before the Assembly is a draft resolution on reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of international cooperation (document A/58/L.67/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would condemn acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomsoever committed, and reiterate its call on all States to adopt and implement further measures to prevent terrorism and to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism.  It would also reaffirm that measures taken by States must be in accordance with the Charter and must comply with their obligations under international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

Further by the text, the Assembly would also underline the need to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations in the areas of prevention and resolution of armed conflict, including relevant peace-building and development activities, as well as in the areas of peacemaking and peacekeeping.  It would also call on all States to fully cooperate through constructive dialogue to ensure the full enjoyment, promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as well as in the promotion of the peaceful resolution of international problems, including those of a humanitarian character, the prevention and end of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and the prosecution of those responsible for such crimes.

The Assembly also had before it a letter dated 13 July 2004 from the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/58/862), in which he notes that the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolutions on multilingualism was not accorded the thorough examination it deserved at the fifty-eighth session.  Consequently, he informs the Assembly of his intention, on behalf of the States members of the Intergovernmental Agency of La Francophonie, to request the inclusion of the item “Multilingualism” as an additional question in the Assembly’s provisional agenda of the fifty-ninth session.

Statements on Strengthening of United Nations System

RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced the draft resolution on reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of international cooperation.  He said that developments in global affairs in recent years had raised and continued to raise serious concerns over the primacy of the United Nations and its relevance in the multilateral decision-making process.  The consequences of those circumstances had given rise to expressions of grave concern by several countries over the gradual erosion and weakening of the role of the United Nations as the primary interlocutor in addressing global challenges in the political, economic and social fields and in fulfilling its responsibility as envisaged in the Charter.

In the face of the serious challenges confronting the Organization, it was timely for Member States to reaffirm their unequivocal support to the United Nations.  As an attempt to facilitate consensus and minimize differences on the text, several of the paragraphs and the central ideas contained therein had been inspired or extracted from the Charter, relevant United Nations resolutions, as well as landmark declarations.  He hoped the text would receive the broadest support possible from Member States.

Explanations of Vote

Speaking before the vote, FERMIN TORO JIMENEZ (Venezuela) said that he had carefully reviewed the text, of which he was a co-sponsor.  He noted that paragraph 4 referred to changes to which he aspired in the United Nations.  Regarding nuclear disarmament, the text was unequivocal.  As for changes to the Security Council, a word was used in the text that could give rise to different interpretations.  For Council reform to be consistent, it was necessary to approach those reforms as far-reaching structural changes, including the elimination of the veto.

GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said that no country was more committed than Canada to preserving the vital role of the United Nations in international affairs.  Canada also welcomed initiatives to strengthen it.  Unfortunately, the resolution would not help achieve that objective.  It went beyond renewing the commitment to the ideals and purposes of the United Nations.  It was interpretive of those purposes and was not balanced enough to attract consensus.  It was also unfortunate that it was circulated to the broader membership only in mid-May.

A number of changes he favoured were made, including the reference to genocide and crimes against humanity, he noted.  Unfortunately, the views of Canada on some issues and the lack of balance were not sufficiently taken on board for him to vote in favour of the text.  For example, he could not agree to raise the principles of sovereignty and non-interference without identifying the responsibilities inherent in those principles.  The text was also selective with regard to common obligations.  He had no choice but to abstain on the vote.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 47 abstentions.  (See Annex.)

Speaking after the vote, HOWARD STOFFER (United States) said the resolution was premature since it attempted to address the matter currently being reviewed by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  The text reaffirmed some principles of international law and not others and some references were taken out of context.  In its reference to weapons of mass destruction the text did not address the issue of proliferation.  He would have welcomed language acknowledging the approach established by Council resolution 1540 on the matter.  Furthermore, the text mischaracterized the role of the United Nations in the management of the economic system.  The United States had offered alternative language to matters of concern and regretted the proposals had not been accommodated.

ARJAN HAMBURGER (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said he had abstained from the vote for reasons of timing, process and substance.  He said the resolution had come too soon.  The debate on the issues referred to in the draft had just started.  He expected important input from the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change established by the Secretary-General to look into those and other questions.  It was Member States’ obligation to contribute to the discussions in the run-up to the 2005 high-level meeting, which would review the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.  Passing a resolution now, without reflecting the outcome of that debate, was premature.

He said that, although the European Union had engaged constructively in informal consultations, he regretted the fact that there had been no occasion for actual textual negotiation.  On substance, he said that by reaffirming and underlining certain principles, without mentioning others, the text contained an imbalance.  Emphasis was being put on the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of nations.  However, the flip side of that was the responsibility that States had vis-à-vis their own populations.  On human rights, constructive dialogue was a means, but not the exclusive means, of protecting and promoting human rights, as the text seemed to imply.

On the use of force and other measures, he said the Charter contained provisions allowing the use of force and coercion under certain conditions.  Without a reference to Article 51 of Chapter VII of the Charter, the text was not complete.  The text as adopted remained unbalanced, with most emphasis on nuclear disarmament, and non-proliferation mentioned only in passing, without an explicit reference to Security Council resolution 1540.  Therefore, the European Union regretted it had to abstain on a resolution on such an important issue.

TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said that in an increasingly interdependent and globalized world, it was important to strengthen multilateralism.  The United Nations should continue to play its unique role.  However, taking into account the nature of the resolution, he felt further efforts should have been made so that the text could have been adopted by consensus.  He regretted that the vote was taken, giving the impression that Members States were divided on strengthening the central role of the United Nations.

Mr. GOMEZ ROBLEDO (Mexico) said that he supported the adoption of the resolution because he fully shared its objective to strengthen the central role of the United Nations, multilateralism and development.  Like others, Mexico had participated in the consultations and would seek all means to continue cooperating with the Non-Aligned Movement on matters of common interest.  He wished additional consultations could have been held, to agree on a text that could be adopted without a vote.

He reaffirmed his unequivocal condemnation of all forms of terrorism, because they were criminal and reprehensible.  He supported measures to combat that scourge, while understanding that all measures must be fully consistent with international obligations, particularly those concerning human rights, refugees and international humanitarian law.  It was Mexico’s interpretation that reference to international law in operative paragraph 11 included all international rules pertaining to human rights, refugees and international humanitarian law.

Mr. DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said he had voted in favour of the text.  It was an important initiative towards strengthening multilateralism.  The language in paragraph 12 regarding the issue of nuclear disarmament was not fully balanced.  The process of disarmament must be comprehensive and pursued on the basis of international agreements and treaties, particularly in today’s efforts to ensure the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  However, the resolution’s emphasis on the central role of the United Nations was important.  International peace and stability rested with the Security Council.

FRANCOIS OUBIDA (Burkina Faso) said he regretted he was absent during the vote.  Had he been present, he would have voted in favour of the draft resolution.

ANNEX

Vote on Central Role of United Nations

The draft resolution reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security (document A/58/L.67/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to 2 against, with 47 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, United States.

Abstaining:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal,Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Libya, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.