OPENING ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES MEMBER STATES TO PRESS IN TACKLING POVERTY, TERRORISM, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, CONFLICTS

17 September 2005
GA/10386

OPENING ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES MEMBER STATES TO PRESS IN TACKLING POVERTY, TERRORISM, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, CONFLICTS

17/09/2005
General Assembly
GA/10386
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixtieth General Assembly

Plenary

9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)

opening annual general assembly debate, Secretary-General urges member states

 

to press in tackling poverty, terrorism, human rights abuses, conflicts

But International Community Must Begin to Remedy

‘Distressing Failures’ on Nuclear Disarmament, Non-Proliferation, He Warns

Urging political leaders to be genuine in their commitment to United Nations reform as he opened the General Assembly’s annual debate today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Member States to press ahead this year on a package of fresh initiatives aimed at tackling poverty, terrorism, human rights abuses and twenty-first century conflicts.

But just 12 hours after world leaders attending the largest Summit in the Organization’s history pledged to take a series of “breakthrough” actions to boost development and revitalize the United Nations, he cautioned that the international community must urgently begin to remedy its “distressing failures on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament”.

Over the past year, while Member States had been content to finger-point rather than search for real solutions, the risks of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism continued to grow, he said.  “[The] stakes are too high to continue down a dangerous path of diplomatic brinkmanship”, he added, urging States to work together to strengthen all three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime -- non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses.

Mr. Annan noted that he had first spoken from the Assembly podium in 1999 on the need for the international community to act in the face of genocide and other war crimes.  And though his remarks had caused intense debate among the membership, now, some six years later, Member States had come together during last week’s 2005 World Summit to acknowledge their solemn responsibility to act.  That was both “a hard-won revolution in international affairs” and a sign that “we can find collective answers to common problems”.

Addressing the nuclear issue, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that, ironically, those who had actually used nuclear weapons continued to produce, stockpile and extensively test such weapons, in blatant violation of the NPT.  While refraining from signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, they were trying to prevent other countries from acquiring the technology to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Some powerful States practised a discriminatory approach against access by NPT members to material, equipment and peaceful nuclear technology and, by doing so, intended to impose “nuclear apartheid”.  Iran reiterated that the pursuit of nuclear weapons was prohibited in accordance with religious principles.

He said that as a confidence-building measure, Iran was prepared to engage in partnerships with the private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of a uranium-enrichment programme in Iran.  Continued technical and legal cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be the centrepiece of its nuclear policy.  In its negotiations with the European Union-3 [ United Kingdom, France and Germany], Iran had tried in earnest to prove the solid and rightful foundations of its nuclear activity in the context of the NPT, and to establish mutual trust.  The continuation of negotiations with the EU-3 would be commensurate with the requirements of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA regarding non-diversion of uranium enrichment to non-peaceful purposes in the framework of the NPT.

Ghana’s President John Agyekum Kufuor said that the current spate of catastrophes and natural disasters, as well as terrorism worldwide, had warranted the seemingly incontrovertible pronouncement that “no one is safe anywhere, anymore”.  On the one hand, the world must commend itself for rushing aid to victims wherever disaster had occurred.  On the other, the persistent mayhem and carnage from terrorism that seemed to lurk everywhere was challenging with impunity the world’s collective resolve to the limit.  The world must stand up and together seek solution to those problems.

States were increasingly looking to the United Nations to provide the framework and leadership to shape the ever-growing global village, he concluded.  The Organization had become a centre for mobilizing resources to relieve victims of natural and man-made disasters, an agency of opportunities for development, and a safety net for the weak and handicapped.  For United Nations reform to be genuinely respected and accepted, however, it must capture the spirit of common humanity, in which each was “his brother’s keeper”.

Somalia’s Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, President of that country’s new Transitional Federal Government, said the history of United Nations involvement with Somalia was a good example of its invaluable role in helping the world’s emerging nations.  Despite momentary setbacks, the Organization had been present at each juncture of the country’s history, from colonialism to independence and nationhood.

He said there was a unique chance for the Transitional Federal Government to restore normalcy, legitimacy and lasting peace, but, regrettably, those efforts were hampered by the international community’s indifference.  In addition, the United Nations arms embargo directly undermined the Government’s inherent right to form a national security force.  The Security Council must assist the Government in stabilizing the country by promptly lifting the arms embargo.

Assembly President Jan Eliasson ( Sweden) said that follow-up and implementation of the Summit outcome had been agreed as the general debate’s major theme.  Hopefully, Member States would use the opportunity to offer their observations and ideas, especially on the soon-to-be-established Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council, as well as on terrorism and Security Council reform.

It was time to face those tasks, never forgetting the Organization’s mission of serving the peoples of the world, he said, expressing the hope that leaders would continue to place the United Nations high on their agendas and press for fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals and implementation of the Summit outcome.  It was important to be as practical and concrete as possible, and to deliver results that required a spirit of compromise, civility and discipline.

Also speaking this morning were the Presidents of Nigeria, Panama, Kyrgyzstan and Colombia; the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence of Jamaica (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China); the Secretary of State of the United States, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union); and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil.

During the afternoon session, the Assembly heard statements by the Presidents of Sri Lanka, South Africa, Kenya, Paraguay, Namibia, Slovakia, Uruguay, and Equatorial Guinea; the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam; and the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Monaco and Iraq.  It also heard from the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Japan.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Sunday, 18 September, to continue its general debate.

Background

The sixtieth United Nations General Assembly opened its annual general debate this morning with a discussion of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report on the Organization’s work (document A/60/1).

According to that wide-ranging report, which touches on the United Nations efforts to maintain international peace and security, promote long-term development and the respect for human rights, and create civil society partnerships to increase the visibility of the Organization’s work, the past year had witnessed progress and setbacks, for both the world and the United Nations.

While there had been positive developments in the area of peace and security, such as the end of the long north-south conflict in Sudan, democratic elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, and improvements in the relationship between India and Pakistan, vicious terrorist attacks in Egypt, Iraq, the United Kingdom and elsewhere dramatized the magnitude of the threat of terrorism.  The devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which left an arc of destruction across some 12 countries in that region, confirmed a disturbing trend:  that the number of natural catastrophes and the numbers of people they kill are on the rise.

The report also stresses that sadly, human rights abuses still exist in many parts of the world and notes that clearly, enormous efforts are still needed to make human rights for all.  The tragedy in Darfur and the appalling suffering of the civilian population there represents one of the most flagrant violations of human rights.  The report also notes that United Nation reform had been high on the Secretary-General’s agenda over the past year.  Last March, he introduced to the Assembly his landmark report, “In Larger Freedom”, which contained proposals for far-reaching changes that would strengthen the Organization and make it more responsive the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Overall, the report notes that while the United Nations is responding imaginatively to the ever-changing needs of the international community, much remains to be done to ensure that it can be strengthened so that its work can make our world fairer and freer and more prosperous and more secure.

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that the Summit had made breakthroughs in adopting strategies to fight poverty and disease, creating new machinery to win peace in war-torn countries, and pledging collective action to prevent genocide.  It had made real progress on terrorism, human rights, democracy, Secretariat management, peacekeeping and humanitarian response.  And it had opened doors to further action on global public health, global warming, and mediation.  Now the United Nations turned to a new task -- to implement what had been agreed, and work to bridge remaining differences.

On management reform, he said he would make recommendations to assist the review of all ongoing mandates agreed in the first 55 years of the Organization.  He would also thoroughly assess budget and human resources rules, and recommend ways of adapting them so that the Secretariat was administered in the most up-to-date manner.  He would also offer a detailed proposal for a one-time staff buy-out to ensure that personnel were available who were best suited to carry out the priorities that had been set.  To promote accountability, he would present a blueprint for an independent ethics office, which would protect whistleblowers and ensure more extensive financial disclosure.

As for human rights, the High Commissioner for Human Rights would move ahead to implement her plan of action, and the Organization had pledged to assist her in strengthening her Office and doubling its budget.  It had also agreed to create a Human Rights Council, for which negotiations should resume on the basis of detailed language developed in the lead-up to the Summit.

Regarding terrorism, the Summit contained an unqualified condemnation by all States of terrorism, and the United Nations must build on that to complete a comprehensive convention against terrorism in the year ahead, and forge a global counter-terrorism strategy to weaken terrorists and strengthen the international community.  The Organization must also get the Peacebuilding Commission up and running by finalizing and operationalizing it.

The Summit also had yielded an ambitious commitment to add $50 billion a year within five years for development, he continued.  Every developing country had pledged to formulate, and begin to implement by next year, a national strategy bold enough to achieve the internationally agreed development goals by 2015.  Developed countries must now deliver on their pledges to boost financing for development and relieve debt.  Progress also seemed possible towards a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system envisaged in the Summit document.

Regarding Security Council reform, success had not yet been achieved, but world leaders had called for a review of progress by the end of the year, he said.  The Organization must also urgently begin to remedy distressing failure on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Twice this year -- at the NPT Review Conference and now at the Summit -- months of negotiation had yielded silence.  States could not agree to reaffirm their existing commitments, or find a way forward, but had been content to point fingers at each other, rather than work for solutions.  Yet the world faced growing risks of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism, and the stakes were too high to continue down a dangerous path of diplomatic brinkmanship.  States should work together to strengthen all three pillars of the regime -- non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses.

Concluding, he said he had first spoken from the General Assembly podium in 1999 on the need for the international community to act in the face of genocide.  His remarks had caused intense debate among the membership.  Yet now, six years later, after many States had worked hard, civil society had become fully engaged, and genuine concerns had been addressed, States had come together to acknowledge their solemn responsibility to act.  That was a hard-won revolution in international affairs, and a signal of hope for the weakest in the world.  And it taught a vital lesion -- if the international community persevered, it could find collective answers to common problems.

JAN ELIASSON, President of the General Assembly, said that after thoroughly reviewing progress toward reaching the Millennium Goals and reforming the Organisation, the 2005 World Summit was now concluded.  Over the last three days, leaders had brought their peoples’ expectations of the United Nations but also their pain and anger over unmet needs and unfulfilled aspirations.  They said unequivocally that insufficient progress had been made toward reaching the Goals.  There was, however, strong agreement on how to move forward.  Many expected further action on debt, more quickly and affecting more countries.  On trade, many leaders had sent an overwhelming message that failure to make real progress in Hong Kong must not be an option.

He said leaders also stressed their unfailing commitment to international cooperation and to the United Nations and its mission.  It was especially gratifying that leaders expected a revitalized General Assembly to play a central role.  He offered tribute to the Secretary-General and to Jean Ping, the previous Assembly President, for their work on the outcome document.  The document was a strong foundation for work on development, security and human rights, as well as the organization of the United Nations.  Many saw it as a solid basis for the most ambitious reform agenda in the Organization’s history.  Others argued it would make little difference in the outside world.  Still others were frustrated that issues important to them had been left out or not clearly addressed.  As for which assessment was the right one, he said “the answer, I believe, is up to us”.  The world would be watching to see if leaders move forward with urgency and common purpose.

The follow-up and implementation of the Summit outcome had been agreed as the major theme of the general debate, he continued.  It was hoped Member States would use the opportunity to offer their observations and ideas, especially on the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, terrorism and Security Council reform.  After the general debate, he planned to present an outline of Summit follow-up work for the year ahead and share some thoughts on the revitalization of the General Assembly.

It was time to face those tasks, never forgetting the Organization’s mission of serving the peoples of the world.  He expressed hope that leaders would continue to place the Organization high on their agendas and press for fulfilment of the Goals and implementation of the Summit outcome.  It was important to be as practical and concrete as possible, and to deliver results that required a spirit of compromise, civility and discipline.  He said he counted on full support in this common and vital endeavour.

CELSO AMORIM, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, said history had offered the Assembly the rare opportunity to promote change, which should not be wasted.  Peace, development and respect for human rights were objectives that should unite the international community and “reform must be our motto”, he said.  The outcome document adopted at the conclusion yesterday of the 2005 World Summit had fallen far short of expectations, but it, nevertheless, provided the guidelines that would allow the Assembly and the wider global community to accomplish its tasks.

The Assembly itself must be strengthened, he said, adding that more than ever, the United Nations needed its most universal body to be enhanced as a forum where crucial issues of the day could be democratically debated.  The Assembly, therefore, must provide leadership and political guidance to the Organization as a whole.  The Assembly must also be made more agile and productive, he added.  Further, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) must again become a dynamic and influential organ.  It must help Member States find convergence on issues related to trade, finance and development in an atmosphere free of prejudice and dogma.

He went on to say the Summit’s decision to create a Peacebuilding Commission would bridge an important institutional gap and be the Organization’s sorely-needed link between security and development.   Brazil also supported the decision to create a Human Rights Council, based on the principles of universality, dialogue and non-selectivity.  And while Brazil accepted the Summit’s challenge to promote new concepts such as “collective security” and the “responsibility to protect”, it would be an illusion to believe that the international community could combat the dysfunctional politics at the root of grave human rights violations through military means alone, or even with economic sanctions.

Human security was mainly the result of just and equitable societies, which promoted and protected human rights, strengthened democracy and respected the rule of law, while creating opportunities for economic development and social justice.  The United Nations was not created to disseminate the notion that order should be imposed by force, he said.  Its decisions and actions must always be undertaken according to the principle of multilateralism.  The Charter foresaw two situations in which force could be used:  the need to maintain international peace and security and the rights to self-defence.  Mixing the two would blur the very tenets of the Organization.

Security Council reform was the centrepiece of the overall reform process, he said.  Indeed, most Member States recognized that that body needed to be more representative and democratic.  No change would be meaningful without the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members, with developing countries from Africa, Latin America and Asia in both categories.   Brazil would not accept the perpetuation of imbalances that ran contrary to the very spirit of multilateralism.  Above all, he added, a more efficient Council must be capable of ensuring that its decisions were implemented.

Recounting a litany of current challenges facing the world today, including continued brutal acts of terrorism and proliferation of deadly weapons, and the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus, he also stressed that many nations were still far from accomplishing the Millennium Development Goals, which would be critical if poverty and hunger were to be eradicated.  “This is the only war in which we are engaged.  This is the only war we can all win”, he said.   Brazil remained committed to the ideals that led to the creation of the only body of universal scope -- the United Nations -- the only body that could guarantee a future of peace and prosperity, not for the few, but for all.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, stressed that global leaders must become the architects of a better world in times of tumultuous, historical change.  Sixty years ago, at a time of transformation after one of the greatest cataclysms in history, States had joined to create the United Nations, building an institution that had helped to promote a peaceful world order for six decades.  Today, faced with the consequences of globalization and new threats to security, the terrain of international politics had shifted, and nations must embrace the challenge of building for the future.  The time for United Nations reform was now, and all States must seize that opportunity together.

The first purpose of the United Nations was to help maintain international peace and security, she said.  In 1945, the most serious threats emerged between States and across borders, but today the greatest threats, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disease, and trafficking in human beings -- emerged within States and melted through borders.  The Organization aimed to solve international problems, and today it was clear that weak and poorly governed nations incapable of ruling with justice were the principle sources of instability and conflict.

Another purpose of the United Nations was to create a centre where nations could gather to achieve common ends, she continued.  Today, mankind was faced with a new world, and States must work together to strengthen security in an environment threatened by stateless extremists.  Calling for States to strengthen the fight against terrorists, whose acts were unacceptable by any moral standards, she said it was time to outlaw acts of international terrorism.

The United States was committed to achieving the Millennium Goals, she said, and had agreed in Monterrey that development must be a two-way street, with both developed and developing countries fulfilling their responsibilities.  Countries were now on a pace to meet the Goals by 2015, and her country was prepared to take new steps in assisting them, including the elimination of all subsidies and tariffs, if other States did the same.  The new Democracy Fund, proposed by United States President George W. Bush, was now receiving donations in cash and time for nations wishing to lay the foundations of democracy.

If the United Nations was to become the engine of global change, however, it must launch a lasting revolution of reforms that would make it more accountable to its members and faithful to its principles, she said.  Among such reforms, it should implement the proposed Peacebuilding Commission, which must work both to prevent conflicts and help to rebuild nations once they have occurred.  “The Human Rights Council must have fewer members, less politics and more credibility”, and it should never allow brutal dictatorships to sit in judgement on others.  As for the Security Council, the United States supported expanding it, including a permanent seat for Japan and increased representation for developing countries.  “The United States believes in a United Nations that is strong and effective”, she concluded.

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, President of Nigeria and current Chairman of the African Union, said the United Nations continued to play a pivotal role in the lives of all people.  For that reason, Nigeria firmly supported strengthening the Organization and protecting its ideals.

He said efforts in the Sudan had ushered in an era of hope there, and once again appealed to all sides to shed their hard-line approaches to peace negotiations.  The situation in Somalia was hopeful, and the United Nations had provided necessary help in promoting the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo.  The Organization and the European Union needed to provide substantial support to rebuild economies in Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Burundi and Sierra Leone.  The peace process in Liberia was at its most critical phase, and would be best served if Charles Taylor remained in exile during the upcoming elections and for some time thereafter while the nation rebuilt.

The failure of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was regrettable, he continued, but the wide availability of small arms and light weapons posed the greatest danger to peace and security, especially in Africa.  The June 2005 agreement on tracing illicit weapons was only a stopgap measure.  A legally binding international instrument to regulate the illicit arms trade, including transactions involving non-State actors, was needed.  Terrorism should be fought in all its forms and manifestations.

He also urged the Organization to continue its support for all initiatives of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).  With poverty endemic in Africa, the renewed commitment of developed countries to fulfil their promises in providing development aid was most welcome.  Trade was a pivotal part of economic growth.  Developed countries needed to come up with a comprehensive solution to the debt problem of developing countries, as well as drop their trade barriers.  He supported establishing a Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the proposed Human Rights Council.  That Council needed to adopt a different culture from the Commission it replaced, and should use a consistent standard in resolving cases.

As for expanding the Security Council, he said Nigeria remained faithful to the implementation of the Ezulwini Consensus to increase the number and quality of Africa’s membership in the Council.

MARTIN TORRIJOS, President of Panama, said that the United Nations should above all work to ensure that equality prevailed over the devastating divide between the developed and developing worlds.  Sadly, the full legal equality of States had yet to be achieved, but that principle should remain the Organization’s central goal.  And while there was no “one-size-fits-all” solution for all countries, broad equality and equitable distribution of benefits should be the international community’s goal.

That view, he continued, would particularly benefit developing countries, which were currently struggling with the crippling rise in oil prices, among other things.  That dramatic increase had occurred so rapidly that indeed it threatened to destabilize many countries in the region.  Dealing with matter required urgent and broad consultations between all consumer and producer States.  He also called for greater efforts to ensure scientific and information communications technology exchange in order to bridge the digital divide.  Further, there was a need to ensure equitable representation and participation in international trade markets.

While the concepts and principles aiming to eradicate hunger and poverty were so ably debated and discussed by global organizations, he urged the Assembly not to forget the human element.  Indeed, there were millions of men, women and children worldwide that were not even aware of the United Nations but who, nevertheless, fully deserved all the benefits the Organization -- and the world -- had to offer.  Fairness in the implementation of global anti-poverty strategies should be the goal.

Developing countries were not begging for favours, they were merely calling for fairness.  With that in mind, he reiterated that trade barriers and agricultural subsidies imposed by highly developed countries continued to suffocate poor nations.  This was an overarching issue that demanded immediate attention and concrete action.  He went on to say that Panama was aware of its role in this era of globalization and would take a decision on extending the Canal in the near future.

It was the international community’s duty to ensure that the world’s citizens, whatever their circumstances, were not forced to stagger from one crisis to another, he declared.  Humanity’s collective awareness would always favour long-term development and socio-economic progress and prosperity over marginalization, conflict and underdevelopment.  The United Nations had been created to ensure peace and harmony.   Panama, therefore, rejected any attempts to delay urgent action to alleviate suffering in any part of the world, particularly in those regions wracked with ongoing tension and conflict.

JOHN AGYEKUM KUFUOR, President of Ghana, said the current spate of catastrophes and natural disasters, as well as terrorism worldwide, had warranted the seemingly incontrovertible pronouncement that “no one is safe anywhere, anymore”.  On the one hand, the world must commend itself for rushing aid to victims wherever disaster had occurred.  On the other, the persistent mayhem and carnage from terrorism that seemed to lurk everywhere were challenging with impunity the collective resolve to the limit.  The world must stand up and together seek solution to those problems.

He said the absence of progress on nuclear disarmament, the uncertain future of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the stalemate within the Conference on Disarmament and the proliferation of small arms were so disturbing that peace-loving nations must condemn them unreservedly.  Now, more than ever, the international community must use a concerted approach in addressing those problems in the spirit of multilateralism underpinning the United Nations.

African nations were now showing a strong determination to end conflicts that had bedevilled the continent for decades, he said.  Stressing the importance of United Nations support for that challenging endeavour, he called for a stronger commitment towards NEPAD programmes to boost development as a major stabilizing factor in achieving peace and security.  The way forward was through partnership with the rest of the world to fuel foreign direct investment, create opportunities for employment and transfer know-how and productive endeavours to overcome poverty.  Realizing the agenda under the Doha Round of trade negotiations could also bring significant benefits to developing countries.

Noting that empowerment of women and children was progressing on the continent, he said his country had set up a Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, and that it had instituted policies and programmes to promote gender equality and enhance the status of women to enable them to make an appropriate contribution to society.

More and more, he concluded, nations were looking to the United Nations to provide the framework and leadership to shape the ever-increasing global village.  The Organization had become a centre for mobilizing resources to relieve victims of natural and man-made disasters, an agency of opportunities for development, and a safety net for the weak and handicapped.  For United Nations reform to be genuinely respected and accepted, however, it must capture the spirit of common humanity, in which each is his brother’s keeper.

KURMANBEK BAKIEV, President of Kyrgyzstan, said the Summit confirmed that the United Nations remained the organization most capable of facing global challenges, and he hoped the sixtieth Assembly session would become a major event of our time, inspiring hope in the future.  To respond to new challenges, the Organization must be reformed.  Membership in the Security Council should be expanded, and its decisions should be timely and acted upon quickly.  The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council must also be reformed, and better coordination between those three bodies was vital.

Kyrgyzstan had nominated itself for non-permanent membership on the Security Council for 2012-2013 and promised to use its best efforts to promote cooperation among all Member States, he said.  The United Nations needed to achieve a better balance in dealing with issues of development and security.  It must also overcome North-South inequalities, and countries of the South should become full participants in global decision-making.  Developed countries should increase their aid to developing countries, which should use those resources more effectively.  Debt burdens for developing countries should also be simplified.

He said that, as a remote mountain country, Kyrgyzstan received aid, but gave back in the form of ecosystem services, such as freshwater supplied to the region.  Preventing potential ecological disasters from the radioactive waste left over from the Soviet period was proving to be an excessive burden.  The international community should help provide more financial and technical aid to deal with such high ecological risk zones.  A worldwide early warning system on acts of nature was needed.  As a first step, he suggested using Kyrgyzstan as a pilot area for preventing and mitigating natural disasters.  He also supported establishing a committee of the regional organizations under the United Nations.  Existing regional structures should participate in the work of this committee.

He said peacemaking operations should be more efficient and called for active support of international efforts to build peace in Afghanistan.  The world community should also support the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia.

ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, President of Colombia, said his country had long stood by its democratic principles and concepts, centred on security with a democratic dimension, protection of public freedoms, transparency, social cohesion, and the independence of State institutions.  Those principles of democratic security had guided the Government’s struggle against terrorism for three long years.  With the strengthening of its governance, the number of homicides, kidnappings and other terrorist crimes had declined over that period.  “We have not yet won the struggle against terrorism, but we are winning it”, he said.

That victory would bring peace and progress to Colombia and, with the illicit drug trade ousted from the country, the wider world would also be greatly relieved.  But for that, Colombia would need the participation and support of the international community.   Colombia’s concept of security, while strengthening the people’s trust in the country’s institutions, also demanded that all those who had chosen violence cease hostilities and dedicate themselves to negotiating a definite peace.  Decisive and firm action, as well as generous policies aimed at those who eschewed terror and intimidation, had led to the demobilization and reintegration of some 20,000 of the estimated 50,000 terrorists operating in the country.  The Government’s door remained open to further negotiations, he added.

At the same time, Colombia had raised the bar in its effort to combat terrorists by implementing the Justice and Peace Law, which had significantly improved on the country’s earlier effort to ensure that justice was carried out and to provide reparations to victims.  To rid the country of the illicit drugs that financed terrorist networks, the Government had increased it fumigation programme, and was also very optimistic that its manual eradication plan could lead to the destruction of some 30,000 hectares of illegal crops by the end of the year.

Turning to Colombia’s social policy, he said the country’s long-term and immediate goals were in line with the tenets of the Millennium Declaration and the similar development commitments reiterated last night in the outcome document adopted by the 2005 World Summit.  After highlighting some of the country’s efforts to provide adequate health care, boost elder care, combat poverty and ensure access to education, he said Colombia should, by the end of 2006, reach a million children with its nutrition programme.  Also, some half a million elderly citizens would receive a stipend that would allow them to cover their most pressing needs.

On United Nations reform, he said that Colombia hoped for a greater focus on the principle of multilateralism.  His country hoped the Organization would emerge stronger in the wake of the reform debate and better able to promote democracy and progressive and inclusive order in all its Member States.  The United Nations must become more austere in its spending, promote the use of and access to the Internet and other new technological advances, so that the resources saved could truly be directed to the communities that needed them.

JAMES PATTERSON, Prime Minister of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that certain nations would miss several of the Millennium Goals by decades.  Targets to decrease infant mortality, maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases and environmental sustainability would all likely be missed globally.  Limited financial resources, debt, restricted asymmetrical trade opportunities, and HIV/AIDS had been identified as major inhibiting factors.  Beyond those constraints, many developing countries had suffered devastating natural disasters over the past five years, which had disrupted economic growth, damaged production, destroyed social infrastructure and dislocated populations.

Reviewing progress since the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, he noted that developing countries had delivered on their commitments to achieve a level of economic growth and increase domestic resources and foreign exchange reserves.  There had also been a strengthened focus on South-South cooperation, which had boosted trade among developing countries and increased investment flows.  However, significant resources mobilized by developing countries had been used to finance debt owed to multilateral development banks and increase foreign exchange reserves held in developed countries.

Moreover, he continued, foreign direct investment had been concentrated and was almost confined to larger, faster-growing developing countries.  Increased official development assistance (ODA) was largely due to increased resources for emergency assistance, debt relief and technical assistance.  Trade terms had continued to work against commodity- and preference-dependent developing countries.  Consequently, new resources were insufficient for the vast majority of developing countries to invest in meeting long-term development goals.

It was agreed in Monterrey that the international economic system must be reformed and made more coherent and supportive of the development policies of Member States.  It was necessary to increase the voice and participation of developing countries in the international financial and trade institutions.  Yet, nothing had changed.  Developing countries could not allow the Bretton Woods Institutions to remain forever impervious to their calls.  To attain agreed development objectives, there must be a renunciation of the ill-conceived policies imposed on several developing countries under structural adjustment programmes three decades ago.

As for United Nations reform, it should empower the Organization, by providing resources and a clear mandate, to do at least three things.  First, it should ensure system-wide coherence, including with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), with respect to policies and operational activities impacting achievement of development goals.  Second, it should bring the resources of development-oriented arms of the United Nations to focus on development priorities identified by Member States.  Third, it should promote dialogue and partnership, review trends, particularly in resource mobilization, and implement measures to ensure that development goals could be met within agreed time frames.

JACK STRAW, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said Srebrenica and Rwanda were reminders that the world needed better ways of turning collective will into decisive action.  Of all the agreements this week, the responsibility to protect would be seen as the most significant.  If carried out, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity would never again take place right under our noses with nothing being done about them.

He said that in a world ever more closely bound together, the general threat that could emerge from a particular human tragedy could no longer safely be ignored.  Much of sub-Saharan Africa remained mired in poverty, disease and conflict.  Debt relief, trade reform and development aid were all important, but none of those could work alone.  The Governments of the developing world had a fundamental role to play in eradicating poverty.

The low level of democracy, civil freedom and good governance in the Arab world had to be addressed through regionally-led political, social and economic reforms, he continued.  Also, a new relationship with Iran, based on cooperation and respect for international norms and treaties, was needed.  Such a relationship should include a high-level political and security framework between the European Union and Iran.  In return for Iran guaranteeing its intentions concerning nuclear weapons, the two sides would work together in several fields, including civil nuclear technology.  European Union leaders would be listening closely to this afternoon’s speech by Iran’s new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

International terrorism required an international response.  Terror threats were made worse by the easy availability of weapons, he said.  Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons were already regulated, but the time had come for an arms trade treaty, which would build on existing initiatives.  He added that it was the responsibility of everyone to make sure that the Organization had the powers and resources to achieve its fundamental goals.

CHANDRIKA BANDARANAIKE KUMARATUNGA, President of Sri Lanka, said that the sixtieth landmark session of the Assembly was doubly significant for her country, which celebrated this year its fiftieth anniversary of membership in the United Nations.  Five decades on, Sri Lanka remained fully committed to the Organization.  The collective moral force of the United Nations was indispensable for a secure, peaceful and humane world, which could be realized through the honest commitment of every Member State to their individual and collective responsibilities. 

On the morning of 26 December 2004, Sri Lanka and several other countries around the Indian Ocean region had awakened to a natural disaster of unprecedented magnitude, she said.  Towering tsunami waves had struck two thirds of the coastal areas of the island nation leaving in its wake death and destruction of a scale hitherto unknown in the world.  Moved by the enormity of the calamity, Governments, the United Nations, international organizations and civil society groups across the world had rushed to help the country in a magnificent gesture of human solidarity.  Citizens of the world had reached out beyond the confines of geopolitical and other man-made barriers in one magnificent gesture of human generosity.  Sri Lanka’s profound appreciation went out to all those who had contributed to rebuilding the country.

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, her country was now in distress as it faced an ominous renewal of terror on its soil, she said.  One month ago, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had been assassinated in a calculated and barbaric act of terrorism -- one more hero who had fought relentlessly for freedom and justice had been felled by the enemies of peace and unity.  As Foreign Minister, Mr. Kadirgamar had worked tirelessly against extremist racist ideologies that employed violence to gain their divisive objectives.  For 11 years, he had warned the General Assembly of the threat posed by terrorism to the democratic way of life, not only in Sri Lanka, but also across the globe. 

For over two decades, Sri Lanka had been under sustained assault by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an armed group that employed brutal methods and suicide bombings in its campaign of terror to obtain a separate State, she said.  Disregarding the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, the group had engaged in numerous illegal and terrorist activities, including the conscription of child soldiers.  It was doubtful that the Security Council’s recent identification of the group on account of child conscription would suffice to deter such activities.  Targeted sanctions should be imposed on armed groups that undermined national and international peace and violated human rights.  Terrorism could not be eliminated through military suppression by the State machinery.  The socio-economic and cultural roots of a conflict must be redressed.  A lasting solution to the ethnic issues and terrorism could only be found through negotiations and dialogue.

She said that her Government had been the first, in 1994, to offer a negotiated settlement in place of an armed conflict, and an extensive devolution of power instead of a separate State.  In February 2002, the Government had entered into a Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE and had begun talks, with the facilitation of the Government of Norway.  Two-and-a-half years later, however, the LTTE had walked away from the peace talks for the sixth time in 18 years, and all efforts to renew the talks had so far failed.  As a measure of goodwill after the tsunami, an arrangement had been agreed with the LTTE for joint action in tsunami reconstruction work.  The Government had reaffirmed its commitment to the ceasefire and peace talks.

A peace process could not and did not operate in a vacuum, she added.  People demanded that a process of peace should include commitment and good conduct of all parties to a conflict.  When a belligerent group, a non-State actor, exploited its unique position that accrued from a peace process to use the freedom guaranteed under a democratic system of governance to strengthen itself through infiltration and coercion of civilians, organizations and political parties, it impinged seriously on the ability of an elected Government to move forward effectively in efforts at reconciliation.  The restoration of democracy, the creation of space for dissent, and the promotion of human rights in the north and east of the country were now essential requisites for a successful and meaningful peace process in Sri Lanka.  A lasting political solution could come to fruition only when the rebel group became a democratic civilian organization.

She said Sri Lanka remained firmly committed to the global endeavour to fight terrorism in all its aspects.  No cause justified the unleashing of terror upon the innocent.  Sri Lanka had ratified all United Nations Conventions to combat terrorism, and it was to be hoped that it would be possible at the current session to conclude the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to complete the international legal framework to combat terrorism through collective measures.

Sri Lanka had pledged to meet the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015, she said, and the country had already met the goals in the fields of primary education and infant and maternal mortality.  It was committed to further promoting the political and economic empowerment of women.  Poverty remained a major challenge, however, and in order to eradicate it, the country was taking further steps through the adoption of socio-economic programmes in cooperation with bilateral and multilateral development partners.  Although smallpox had been eradicated and polio was on the verge of being eliminated, other diseases, often associated with poverty, continued to take a heavy human toll in developing countries. 

The three evils of poverty, disease and terrorism plagued the world today, she said, and no country could deal with those threats alone.  At its sixtieth anniversary, the United Nations should seriously undertake comprehensive reforms in order to be fully equipped to meet new challenges taking into account the current global realities.  Member States should work together to build on the framework provided by the outcome document in order to operationalize what had been agreed to and work on what remained to be achieved.  Working together, it was to be hoped the same human spirit displayed after the tsunami would continue to prevail in addressing the socio-economic and security challenges facing the world.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, said that with the passing of the era of agnosticism, humanity today was once again joined in celebrating monotheism.  Faith would prove to be the solution to many of today’s problems.  Another hope was the common global appreciation of the sources of knowledge.  Faith and good deeds could bring deliverance and the good life even in today’s world.  On the other hand, the prevalence of military domination, increasing poverty, violence as a means to solve crises, the spread of terrorism, especially State terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the pervasive lack of honesty in inter-State relations constituted some of the challenges and threats.  How the future of the world could be influenced and how peace, tranquillity and well-being for all would come about were the fundamental questions.

He said that if global trends continued to serve the interests of small influential groups, even the interests of the citizens of powerful countries would be jeopardized, as had been seen in recent crises such as the tragic hurricane.  Iran called on other nations and Governments to move forward to a durable tranquillity and peace based on justice and spirituality.  Ironically, those who had actually used nuclear weapons continued to produce, stockpile and extensively test those weapons in blatant violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and refrained from signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  Moreover, they were trying to prevent other countries from acquiring the technology to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction were two major threats before the international community, he said.  Iran, one of the main victims of terrorism and chemical weapons, fully appreciated the difficulties ahead.  Today, the most serious challenge was that the culprits themselves were taking on the role of prosecutor.  People around the world were fully aware of what was happening in occupied Palestine, where women and children were being murdered and adolescents taken prisoner while Governments supported the occupier.  “Let me be blunter.  State terrorism is being supported by those who claim to fight terrorism.”  Could nations be deprived of scientific and technological progress through the threat of the use of force, based on mere allegations of the possibility of military diversion?

He said that some powerful States practised a discriminatory approach against access by NPT members to material, equipment and peaceful nuclear technology and, by doing so, intended to impose “nuclear apartheid”.  The Assembly should ask the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report on violations by specific countries that had hindered the implementation of article 4 regarding access to peaceful nuclear energy.  Iran reiterated that, in accordance with religious principles, the pursuit of nuclear weapons was prohibited.  It was necessary to revitalize the NPT and create an ad hoc committee of the Assembly to submit a comprehensive report on possible practical mechanisms and strategies for complete disarmament.  That committee should also be asked to investigate how material and equipment for nuclear weapons had been transferred to the Zionist regime.

Technically, Iran’s fuel cycle was no different from those of other countries that had peaceful nuclear technology, he said.  As a confidence-building measure, Iran was prepared to engage in partnerships with the private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of a uranium-enrichment programme in Iran.  Continued technical and legal cooperation with the IAEA would be the centrepiece of its nuclear policy.  In its negotiations with the EU-3, Iran had tried in earnest to prove the solid and rightful foundations of its nuclear activity in the context of the NPT, and to establish mutual trust.  The continuation of negotiations with the EU-3 would be commensurate with the requirements of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA regarding non-diversion of uranium enrichment to non-peaceful purposes in the framework of the NPT.

THABO MBEKI, President of South Africa, said that a meeting of Christian leaders in Washington, shortly before the Summit, had addressed a message to world leaders, saying that the five years since the historic commitment to eradicate poverty contained in the Millennium Declaration showed a “triumph of principle ... a failure in practice”.  The religious leader had offered their partnership to the Summit in building a global movement to realize the Millennium Development Goal promises as a crucial step towards a more just world for all God’s children.

That was a challenge to build, strengthen and direct the United Nations so that it could play its role as an eminent partner to the peoples of the world in constructing a better and humane world, he said.  The reality now, however, was that 60 years after the founding of the United Nations, the indecencies of war and violent conflict still consumed innocent lives because the United Nations lacked the will to live up to the commitment made in the founding of the Organization.

Africans had been exposed to many violent conflicts since the United Nations was formed, he continued.  Urgent United Nations action was needed in Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and the Middle East.  Terrorism, non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as the growing gap between rich and poor, must be addressed.  The United Nations had dealt with those issues and had developed policies and programmes to deal with them.  The required resources for achieving the Goals had also been identified.  Why had the measures not been implemented?  What could be done to remedy the problem?  The answer was to establish the United Nations as part of a desirable system of global governance to reflect the reality that the world was more integrated than 60 years ago and the issues of peace, security, development and human rights more interconnected and more pronounced.  The Organization must be reformed and empowered to respond effectively to today’s urgent challenges.  To reverse the charge “triumph of principle ... failure in practice”, the experience of 60 years showed that “We the people” must be ready to engage in a sustained struggle to turn the vision of the United Nations Charter into reality.

HASSANAL BOLKIAH MU’IZZADDIN WADDAULAH, Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, said the world was now focused on the issue of global terrorism, an issue that was more than just the subject of personal grief and national condemnation.  It was a threat to world order and, in order to deal with it, a new, revitalized United Nations was needed to strengthen the world order.  The best way to do that was for every nation to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Referring to the world divide over issues like nuclear development, arms proliferation, globalization and the environment, he said that the United Nations, by acting in concert, was the only institution that could address the divisions.  Regarding the question of international terrorism, every possible bilateral and multilateral effort was needed in order to achieve a consensus at the United Nations as to what constituted terrorism.

Turning to the issue of specific United Nations reforms, he said that much of the Organization required restructuring all the way up through the Security Council.  Since the world had changed so much in the last 60 years, the United Nations changed with it.  A new world consensus was being sought.

MWAI KIBAKI, President of Kenya, said global problems required global solutions, and the United Nations was the only vehicle that could help attain those solutions and provide legitimacy.  The Organization remained indispensable in the maintenance of international peace and security and was pivotal to the attainment of sustainable development and the advancement of human rights.  Kenya embraced the holistic definition of collective security, which strongly affirmed the connection linking peace, development, human rights and the rule of law.  United Nations reform was a process, not an event.  Proposals that did not require amending the United Nations Charter should be quickly implemented, including the adoption of a robust counter-terrorism strategy, the strengthening of peacekeeping, the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission and Fund, and reform of the human rights system.

He said environmental protection was a major challenge in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.  International environmental governance was an integral part of realizing sustainable development.  That governance, however, should fall within the framework of the Cartagena Decision, which aimed at strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) within its current mandate through enhanced financial and scientific means.

While Kenya was gratified by the status of the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, small arms continued to end up in the hands of non-State actors, and the Secretary-General should undertake a study into the possibility of a legal instrument to control international transfers of conventional arms.  The importance of post-conflict peacebuilding had become a bigger priority after the recent successes of the Sudan and Somalia mediation efforts.  While commending the international community for its excellent response during the Oslo pledging conference for southern Sudan, Kenya urged a similar response in support of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia in setting up and implementing national security, stabilization and reconstruction strategies.

He said it was necessary to make the Security Council far more equitable and representative and to change its procedures and methods of work, in order to ensure transparency and dialogue with the United Nations membership.  The future composition of the Council should be based on the sovereign equality of States and equitable geographical representation.  Kenya welcomed the proposal to develop a stronger relationship between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.  The establishment of an African Union Security Council and an Intervention Force, planned to be realized by 2009, was aimed at advancing political stability in Africa to underpin economic development.

Kenya affirmed the centrality of gender equality and recognized the critical role that women must play in development, he said.  The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals depended on the empowerment of women.  In order to implement that objective fully, the Kenyan Government had adopted a National Policy on Gender Development aimed at integrating women into decision-making through legal, regulatory and institutional reforms.

NICANOR DUARTE FRUTOS, President of Paraguay, said reform of the Organization was crucial and its objective must be the promotion of equitable economic development.  In a selfish world with an increasing numbers of “social orphans”, global peace would be difficult to achieve.  Reform, therefore, must not be superficial, satisfying the hegemonic ambitions of a few.  The desire for world peace, and not financial clout, must determine the future direction of the United Nations.  If not, the power of money would prevail over the power of justice.

Reform should not serve to deepen already existing divisions, he said.  Development, based on equity and democracy, was needed and, in order to achieve it, greater international trade and cooperation were needed.  With a few exceptions, the promise of the richest nations to devote 0.7 per cent of their income to the least developed countries remained unfulfilled.  The decision by the United States to eliminate subsidies would greatly benefit the peoples who were suffering from an unfair economic order.

Paraguay had managed to reverse a long period of deterioration by achieving microeconomic stability, he said.  The country was working to increase economic growth and consolidate its political institutions.  Rich in development potential, Paraguay had abundant natural resources, land, water and energy.  More importantly, it had a young population that was highly motivated to grow, learn and work.  Paraguay was moving towards a competitive economy in terms of quality and innovation.  A lack of direct access to the sea, however, was an obstacle to its ambition to build a trade-based economy.

Despite great challenges, Paraguay was working to tackle poverty by financing new programmes and establishing a social protection network for its people, he said.  The country was working with great humility but strong determination to ensure a future based on democracy and freedom.  In a more just and humane world, the least developed countries must not be condemned to indifference, discrimination and backwardness.

Concluding, he said that the United Nations, 60 years after its creation, was at a crossroads with two paths before it.  It could choose the path of indifference, which would only lead to injustice, or that of far-reaching change, which would result in peace and global well-being.  Hopefully, Member States would, during the current session, commit to eliminating the suffering and frustration of billions of people around the world.

HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, said his country’s nationhood was directly linked to the United Nations, from independence 15 years ago to the elections of November 2004, and his own inauguration in March.  United Nations reform must be centred on the compelling need to better serve all peoples regardless of race, religion or status of development.  The Security Council would only be democratic when all were given the same rights, including veto power.  The veto should either be abolished or an expanded Council must accord the same rights and privilege to all members.  Otherwise, reform would be cosmetic at best and meaningless at worst.

On that crucial matter, he referred to the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, two decisions reaffirmed in August by the fourth extraordinary summit of the African Union.  Those outcomes were collective assertions that the African continent had been unrepresented for so long that it deserved two permanent seats with veto power and five non-permanent seats.  The demand was logical, reasonable and justifiable.  All other regions should support the position in order to effect real and meaningful change in the only truly international organization.

He said the General Assembly should be strengthened to make its resolutions binding and enforceable.  The highest priority should be the collective commitment to sustainable social and economic development on a global scale.  The Economic and Social Council must also be strengthened and sufficiently resourced, along with the agencies, to enable the implementation of human-centred country programmes.  Governments in developing countries had the responsibility to secure the active participation of the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders in bringing about sustainable development for all, while Governments and institutions in economically advanced countries offered genuine partnerships towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals.  In addition, low- or middle-income countries must be given more international support to reach the targets.  The support could come in the form of market access, access to financial sources such as the International Development Association (IDA) and ODA.

Finally, he said the review of the Millennium Development Goals during the Summit had shown there was still a long way to go.  Differences had to be narrowed and a common bond forged to better serve humanity.  To finish the process of decolonization, an independent State of Palestine must be established, the Settlement Plan for Western Sahara must be implemented, and the unilateral embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba must be lifted.  Those steps would signify the acceptance of collective responsibility for international peace and security and guarantee equality and justice for all, thereby giving the next generation a better future.

Ivan Gasparovic, President of Slovakia, said there was a general sense that the United Nations in its current form would fail to live up to the challenges that lay ahead.  It was, therefore, necessary to reform the Organization.  Global problems could only be addressed properly if the issues of security, development and human rights were addressed jointly.  While progress in the fight against poverty was being made in Asia, it was quite alarming how awful the situation has become in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people living in extreme poverty had grown by dozens of millions over the last decade.  The outcome document adopted at the World Summit offered new hope to stem the massive growth of African poverty.

Turning to the issue of trade relations, he said Slovakia supported the idea of liberalizing trade through the completion of the WTO Doha Round negotiations.  It also strongly favoured debt relief for poor countries.  Regarding the threat of global terrorism, the United Nations had great potential to combat it, and the Organization must be harnessed fully through the adoption of the ideas presented by the Secretary-General at the Madrid Conference.  However, it was unfortunate that the Summit had not formulated a clear definition of terrorism.  Efforts should be redoubled to come up with a definition during the sixtieth session.  It was also regrettable that the outcome document left more questions than answers with respect to the issue of weapons of mass destruction.

On human rights, he said Slovakia supported the establishment of a Human Rights Council.  Members of such a Council should be elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly, and the Council should be composed of a smaller number of members in order to give it flexibility in responding to emerging problems.

ABDULLAHI YUSUF AHMED, President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, said the history of United Nations involvement with his country could be a good example of its invaluable role in helping the world’s emerging nations. Despite momentary setbacks, the Organization had been there at each juncture of Somalia’s history, from colonialism to independence and nationhood, and he was profoundly gratitude to those who had helped selflessly during the Somali National Reconciliation Conference and to those who continued to help in the current pursuit of a peaceful and well-governed Somalia.

He said the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) could not wait until the international community had gotten its act together for its relocation to Somalia and had, therefore, moved from Nairobi, Kenya, back to Somalia with minimal help on 13 June and without any incident, to the dismay of most sceptics.  The Government now tackled its daunting tasks inside Somalia at a much faster pace than the international community had anticipated.  It was significant in that regard that the TFG was being helped by support from the local population.  With the support of its citizens, the new Government had already made progress in recruiting and training a modest security force from all regions, in consolidating its authority over much of the country and in earning the nation’s moral leadership through responsible governance and peaceful means.

There was a unique chance for the TFG to restore normalcy, legitimacy and lasting peace, but regrettably, those efforts were hampered by the indifference of the international community, he said.  Much of the initial, cheerful pledges of assistance were yet to arrive, and it was difficult to understand the new ambivalence of the international community, which had seemingly moderated its initial enthusiasm to offer the country a consolidated Rapid Assistance Programme (RAP).  The international community must help by providing the necessary financial and political support to enable the new Government to rehabilitate the infrastructure needed to house the Government, to provide budgetary support and to tackle security issues, including the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

He said that another puzzle was the United Nations arms embargo, which directly undermined the Government’s inherent right and genuine effort to form a national security force.  Moreover, the embargo had in effect delayed the formal deployment of the African Peace Support Mission in Somalia.  It did not make any sense to help Somalis reach a comprehensive political settlement of their long conflict, while at the same time denying them the ability to build the institutions through which they would overcome the lawlessness in their country.  The Security Council must assist the TFG in stabilizing the country by promptly lifting the arms embargo.

The disintegration of the State and the absence of law and order had led to the prevalence of criminal enrichment activities by individuals and groups, including war profiteers and terrorists, he said.  They would do whatever they could, including through renewed hostilities, to resist the return of law and order.  The United Nations must establish punitive and targeted sanctions against those who might opt to spoil Somalia’s change for lasting peace.  The cost of the prolonged civil conflict was enormous, and there was now a rare chance to overcome its impact.  Africa and the region were both very forthcoming in their help to Somalia.  It was imperative that the international community extend its help as well.

TabarÉ VÁzquez, President of Uruguay, said the world’s people were living in a particular moment, and that there were few times throughout history in which circumstances had been as rich in paradoxes and as poor in paradigms as the present time.  The United Nations needed to undergo necessary reform in order to fulfil its mandate.  Uruguay was committed to United Nations initiatives and to the Millennium Development Goal of defeating extreme poverty.  It also supported the proposed Peacebuilding Commission, to which Uruguay could offer its own experience and expertise in helping to rebuild war-torn countries.  Uruguay would also continue to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, offering its expertise and experience to help improve those missions.

Turning to issues within his own country, he said the new Government, which took office just 200 days ago, would promote democracy by healing the wounds of human rights violations that had scourged the country for many years.  The new Government was reaching towards the Millennium Goals by focusing on human development, productive economic growth, a safe environment and active participation in the international arena.

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, recalled that the United Nations was created to promote the equality of all people and for the reciprocal benefit of all.  The Organization was also intended to promote the development of people throughout the world.  Presently, the global body must be given the authority to keep peace and stability to do that, with the use of force exercised only with the approval of the relevant bodies.  A Human Rights Council should be established to ensure respect and justice.

Noting that democracy was a universally embraced concept, he said there was no need to coerce States, only to guide them towards democracy.  The task of reforming the United Nations to meet its responsibilities was daunting, but necessary in a world that had changed so much from the time of the Organization’s founding.  Democracy, as the exercise of a person’s freedom, presupposed a collective will.  A democratic United Nations should ensure the equality of all members and should take actions in the service of the human being as a priority.

He said the Security Council was the organ requiring compliance with its decisions and must be the first to adhere to democratic ideals.  Reform did not necessarily mean expansion, but it applied more to the veto, which had never been an instrument for serving a purpose but for blocking the will of the majority.  If the veto had to be maintained because of interests, the African Group must also be given that right.  Other Council reforms should aim at making Council resolution binding with real consequences for non-compliance.  Some of those realizations about lapses in United Nations responses had come since Equatorial Guinea’s invasion on 6 March 2004, when no action had been taken.  It was time to define terrorism and a special session should be held on all issues relating to organized crime related to terrorism.

In closing, he said that the special concerns of his Government included the integration of women and the handling of environmental questions, which needed sensitivity.  Each State was responsible for its own part of the environment and any assistance or guidance must only be complementary to the State’s own plans.  But some areas overlapped, as in a case involving the United Kingdom and transparency in the mining industry, where responsibility for the environment belonged not only to the State but to economic operators in that State.  To address such complex questions, greater solidarity was needed among all Member States.

BEGUM KHALEDA ZIA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said the Assembly was meeting in the wake of the High-level Plenary, where bold decisions had been made to promote the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  The problems facing the world transcended national boundaries.  In a globalizing world, no nation was an island and the United Nations remained the world’s only bastion of peace, justice and development.  Reform of the United Nations was, therefore, vital.  The Organization’s mandate and agenda must be meaningful, and its administration reformed.  Expansion of its major organs must be tailored to the efficacy of the Organization.  New challenges confronted the world today, including terrorism, disease and environmental degradation.  Bangladesh condemned terrorism in all its forms and supported the early conclusion of a comprehensive United Nations convention in that regard.

In Bangladesh, sustained efforts were being made to pursue the twin objectives of responsibility at home and contribution abroad, she said.  Despite huge constraints, good progress had been made to advance democracy, development and human rights.  Democracy had taken firm roots in Bangladesh and a quiet revolution in the field of development was under way. Bangladesh had completed a poverty reduction strategy paper, which outlined a road map to meet country-specific Millennium Development Goals.  Bangladesh had achieved two of the Goals, namely, eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary schools and access to safe drinking water.  The country was steadily strengthening its democratic institutions, establishing the rule of law and eliminating intolerance.

Addressing the issue of deeply entrenched poverty, she said the products of least developed countries should be accorded immediate duty- and quota-free global access.  Specific allocation of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of the developed countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) must be earmarked for the least developed countries as ODA.  Financing for development was a critical issue, and innovative initiatives were needed.  Meeting the challenges of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction remained a continuing charge on the United Nations.  Natural disasters did not distinguish between rich and poor countries.  Bangladesh had weathered many severe floods and cyclones with a huge toll in terms of life and property.

She said it was necessary for all countries to seek ways to contribute to the United Nations.  Bangladesh’s commitment to peacekeeping remained unflinching and the country supported the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission.  Bangladesh also supported the early establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian State.  In that regard, there was an urgent need to fully implement the Road Map.  Regarding Iraq, the present situation there should be resolved by preserving the interests of the Iraqi people, especially their territorial integrity.  The international community would only prevail it if acted responsibly and together.  Support for the Organization and its legitimacy remained a paramount priority.

Jean-Paul Proust, PrimeMinister of Monaco, said that 60 years after its founding the main responsibilities of the United Nations were to ensure better representation of the international community, particularly within the Security Council, the establishment of a Human Rights Council, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and the fight against poverty.  Regarding attainment of the Millennium Goals, Monaco had reoriented its international cooperation policy more efficiently to achieve them.  Monaco’s ODA was constantly on the rise and the principality continually donated funds to organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to help developing countries.

He said that the creation of a Human Rights Council and the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission would be a turning point in the history of the United Nations.  The General Assembly should also aim to strengthen the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; establish a legal bureau within the Secretariat; and work towards turning the responsibility to protect into a law.  Regarding the specific issue of rights of children, Monaco had promoted improved protections for children through the resolution on the rights of the child, adopted by the fifty-ninth General Assembly, and had reaffirmed its commitment to that issue at the Human Rights Commission.

Turning to environmental protection, he said UNEP was no longer equipped to deal with that issue due to the extremely rapid expansion of that field.  There was, therefore, a need to create a United Nations Environmental Organization.

IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI, Prime Minister of Iraq, said that the Iraqi people could be proud of their homeland.  A draft constitution would be presented for a vote in October.  It would allow law and order, justice and equality for all Iraqis.  Iraqi women would have their rights restored and grant freedom to all religions, freedom of speech and expression of opinion.  Iraq was marching towards political stability and economic prosperity, as well as regaining security.  Terrorist bombings had dropped, as had the number of assassinations.  The Iraqi military had attacked the terrorist hubs in Tal Afar, adhering to clean rules of conduct. 

He said the new political life in Iraq operated on the principles of journalistic freedom and the separation of independent legislative, executive and judiciary powers.  Oil production had increased, and more was being accomplished in the public services, health, as well as residential and road construction.  Environmental offices had declared the provinces of Iraq free from radioactive sources.  Creditor nations were urged to help by cancelling Iraqi debt, which had been accumulated through the corrupt the policies of the previous regime.  Donor countries were also urged to meet their commitments undertaken at several international conferences, including those in Madrid, Brussels and Jordan.  Iraq looked forward to having the United Nations return to Iraq and reopen its offices.  The international community was invited to help preserve the country’s grand archaeological history.

The Iraqi people were paying the price of facing terrorism, he said.  The world must support them in fighting terrorism and to rid the country of the previous Ba’ath regime’s thugs.  Terrorism knew no boundaries.  The world had united as one body in confronting the calamities such as the tsunami and Katrina.  One had yet to realize that the calamities of terrorism, if allowed, could be as devastating as natural disasters. 

He said the Iraqi people were at the forefront in the struggle against terrorism.  Iraqis asked the countries that were breeding terrorists why they did not send their young people to do humanitarian work in Iraq, and why they did not help restore security to the streets, thereby facilitating the departure of the multinational forces.  Neighbouring countries should work closely with Iraq to prevent terrorists from crossing the borders.  “We seek good and closer relationship with all countries, and especially our neighbours, and shall cooperate to serve our broad interests and protect our national sovereignty.”

Emphasizing the need for peaceful approaches to complex political problems in the Middle East, within the framework of international agreement, he called for a fair and just solution to the Palestinian issue, so that the world could affirm the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to live in full dignity and freedom on their land and to establish a sovereign Palestinian State.  Iraq also supported all efforts to keep the Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, to spread the human and civil values of peace, coexistence and tolerance, and to ensure security and stability throughout the region.  Iraq was undergoing difficult times, but its aspirations were just, and it hoped for the solidarity of the international community.

Laila Freivalds, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said the international community had failed to help children like those in Darfur, who were suffering from the scourge of armed conflict.  The world owed the people of Darfur more.  Cooperation across borders was not just a good idea, but a must.  The United Nations must adapt to new global challenges by undergoing reform.  There was a need for a multilateralism that was based on common principles, not on the smallest common denominator.

Describing the present session a crucial year for the United Nations, she said that cooperative action was vital for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and that developed nations should set a timetable for reaching the 0.7 per cent gross national income target for ODA.  There was also a need to improve efforts to prevent child mortality through the renewal of universal access to reproductive health; expand market access for goods and services from poor countries; and eliminate subsidies that distorted trade.

Calling for a higher level of awareness on climate change, she said it was disturbing that the Summit had not decided on a firm way to move forward on that issue.  There was an urgent need to initiate a process to control climate change beyond 2012.  The United Nations should also take the lead in developing a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy and conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.  It should also come up with a legal definition of terrorism during the sixtieth session of the General Assembly.

Turning to the issue of human rights, she called on the United Nations to establish an effective and legitimate Human Rights Council, noting that the Security Council should shoulder the responsibility if a State could not give its citizens the necessary protection.

Noting the Summit’s failure to deal with the issue of disarmament, she said that Member States had failed to address the threat of weapons of mass destruction, a future task that the United Nations must confront.  The pledge to form a Peacebuilding Commission was commendable because such a body would make the United Nations better equipped to build peace in worn-torn countries and help prevent them from relapsing into conflict.

NOBUTAKA MACHIMURA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said his country continued to build on a determination that it would never again follow the path to war and pursued its peaceful resolution of differences in partnership with the United Nations.  Japan needed an effective and efficient United Nations and strongly endorsed the Summit outcome document.  The commitment that the world leaders had made must be translated into action with the utmost urgency.

He said the United Nations must be equipped with a better peacebuilding capacity.  The reconstruction effort in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal would be crucial, and Japan had implemented over $110 million this year alone to see the resumption of the Road Map.  Japan was also the largest donor to the Trust Fund for Iraqi Reconstruction and had taken the lead in assisting Afghan efforts for disarming related activities.  Ensuring a sense of justice in a society struggling to recover from suffering, Japan had also led the establishment of a tribunal to try members of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Sixty summers after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said, Japan would submit a resolution to the Assembly that would present a concrete agenda to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including a call for an early entry into force of the CTBT.  The nuclear issue in both the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran should be pursued through negotiation.

He said development provided a foundation for peace and stability, and a new United Nations must serve as an effective body for promoting development.  Japan had recovered from the Second World War with assistance from all over the world.  It was able to demonstrate the value of ownership and partnership in poverty reduction through economic growth and human security.  After being a recipient of assistance and now a donor for more than half a century, Japan had contributed one fifth of the world’s ODA for the past decade.  Addressing the issues of Africa was critically important to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and Japan would double its ODA to that region in the next three years.  It would also host the fourth TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) meeting in 2008, contribute $500 million to the Global Fund on Diseases, and $5 billion to the Health and Development Initiative.  It would also take steps to address the forgotten crises in Africa.

At no time in Japan’s history had an effective, efficient and credible United Nations been more needed that today, he concluded.  The Organization’s credibility, however, was at stake.  The Security Council’s structure reflected the world of 1945.  Council reform was key to reforming the Organization, and it was the first time the Assembly had ever witnessed the tabling of resolutions calling for such change, for which a large number of Summit leaders had expressed support.  Japan’s record served as the basis for its larger role as a permanent member of a reformed Council in the context of an efficient Secretariat of integrity.  A comprehensive review should take place this year to reach agreement on a scale of assessment structure.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.