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Mr. President,

Your election to the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly is a tribute to your vast experience and accomplished diplomatic skills. It is also an honour to your country, the Republic of Korea, with which my country enjoys the most cordial and friendly relations. Please accept our congratulations.

May I also express our gratitude and appreciation to your immediate predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland, for the able manner he managed the affairs of the 55th Session.

Mr. President,

I wish to express the heartfelt gratitude of the Government and People of Ghana to Member States of the UN, for reposing their trust and the destiny of this universal organization, again, in the hands of an illustrious son of Ghana and Africa, Mr. Kofi Annan, for the next five years.

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded joinfy to the Secretary-General and the United Nations is in recognition of their devotion to the pursuit of global peace and security. On this occasion, we can only endorse the sentiments expressed by Mr. Annan that the qward should serve as an impetus to achieve greater laurels in the service of humanity.

Mr. President,

The last century witnessed laudable achievements in the political, economic, scientific and technological spheres. Despite these positive developments, history, in the end, will remember it for the numerous conflicts with their attendant socio-economic disruptions, environrnental degradation, the emergence of hitherto unknown diseases and the persistence of poverty among the greater majority of our people.

Mr. President,

The tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, awakened the world to new challenges confronting international peace and security. The fight against terrorism must be a collective action guided by the purposes and principies of the United Nations Charter and international law. Ghana welcomes the international community's response to confront this threat to peace and security. We also applaud the swift response of the Security Council and the General Assembly, which did not only condemn the attacks, but also took measures aimed at confronting terrorism. Resolution 1373 (2001), which outlines measures that all countries, irrespective of size, wealth or might, should adopt to forestall and combat terrorism, must be pursued by all peace loving nations

Mr. President,

As we forge ahead, our quest to free the world of terrorism would be enhanced by adequately addressing both the symptoms as well as the underlying causes that nurture such criminal acts. Developing countries should be provided with the necessary resources to playa meaningful role in confronting these challenges.

The threats and crimes against humanity have reinforced our belief in the early establishment of the International Criminal Court, to enable the global community deal appropriately with such phenomena. We, therefore, urge all Member States who have not yet ratified the Statute, to do so, to enable it come into effect.

Mr. President,

The proliferation of conventional weapons, notably small arms and light weapons, has been of great concern to the government and people of Ghana. They are now the weapons of choice and the tools for promoting violence and conflicts in Africa. Such weapons have always been used against the most vulnerable in society, especially women and children.

We, therefore, welcome the Programme of Action adopted at the recent UN Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons. While it does not meet all our concerns and expectations, we still consider it as the beginning of a process that would lead to an internationally binding instrument on managing and controlling such weapons.

Mr. President,

Conflicts, particularly in the developing world, have robbed us of the opportunities to improve the circumstances of our people.

Sustainable development can only be achieved in an environment of peace and security. Ghana will continue to live up to its Charter obligations and play an active role in international peacekeeping to assist the United Nations in its task of maintaining global peace and security.

Mr. President,

Only a year ago, world leaders, at the Millennium Summit, committed themselves to provide leadership to create a better world which upholds human dignity, equality and equity at the global level, through the elimination of poverty and the creation of a conducive environment for development.

To achieve this, it is imperative that the international community takes concrete steps to assist countries which have created the necessary environment for sound economic development. This will enable them reach their potential for sustained growth through conducive polices on debt, market access, transfer of technology, increased flows of capital and foreign direct investment (FDI) and enhanced official development assistance (ODA).

It is important, particularly at this moment when the WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference is taking place in Doha, Qatar, to emphasize the critical role of global trade in generating the resources for financing development in developing countries.

The outcome of the Doha Conference, our commitment to pursuing the decisions and processes emanating from that conference, the implementation of the commitments made in the Uruguay Round and how we address intellectual property rights, should clearly determine our commitment to eradicating poverty throughout the world.

Mr. President,

We believe that the success of our efforts at the global level would depend largely on the quality of governance in our respective countries. We cannot claim to uphold the dignity of every human being or make claims to social equity if we fail to uphold democracy, rule of law, combat corruption, and strengthen institutions of governance.

It is therefore gratifying to note that in the past few years, democracy has begun to take root in Africa. This trend should be encouraged and consolidated with support from the international community.

It is for this reason that Ghana fully endorsed the Constitutive Act of the African Union which, among other things, rejects unconstitutional changes of government and reaffirms the respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance.

The decisions we took in Lusaka, during the last Summit of the OAU, on the African Union and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), have reasserted Africa's leadership and responsibility for the continent's development agenda. Ghana intends to play its part through positive diplomacy and co-operation with other African countries, to accelerate regional integration and make Africa a zone of economic empowerment.

Africa accepts its primary responsibility for its own development. However, the contribution of its development partners will continue to be crucial. In this connection, the outcomes of the International Conference on Financing for Development to be held next year in Monterrey, Mexico and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa will be critical tests of our willingness to tackle concretely the challenges we set ourselves in the Millennium Declaration.

Mr. President,

At the onset of the new millennium, we hope that gender issues will continue to engage the attention of the international community. The adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, and the subsequent adoption of the further actions and initiatives by the Twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly last year, indicate the universal recognition of empowering women as partners in socio-economic development.

As a result of the great importance that Ghana attaches to the advancement of women, our government has elevated the national machinery for the advancement of women into a full-fledged Ministry headed by a Cabinet Minister. We are determined, through practical measures, to make our women full and effective partners in the development of our country.

Mr. President,

After protracted negotiations, Ghana welcomes the remarkable success achieved by the General Assembly at the 55th Session in the adoption of the resolutions on the scale of assessments for the regular and peacekeeping budgets. It is our considered view that both resolutions should, therefore, ensure the financial solvency and viability of the organization.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to reassure this Assembly of Ghana's abiding commitment to the United Nations and its ideals. The Organization is the best means available for maintaining international peace and security and promoting fruitful international co-operation. We must all resolve to strengthen our will to make it more effective and redeem the majority of our people from wars, disease and poverty by providing it with the financial and material resources commensurate with its responsibilities.

I thank you, Mr. President