56th Session of the General Assembly

November 10th, 2001

(check against delivery)

Mr Chairman,

Under the current circumstances, our presence, everybody’s presence at this General Debate, acquires a particular significance.

Every year, the United Nations prepares and submits to Member States for their consideration, a comprehensive agenda with multiple subjects different in scope and nature.

And this session is no exception. The United Nations, then,  will not stop.

Nevertheless, many things are now regarded differently.

The city of New York, this country, every country, this people, every people, the entire humankind, have been cruelly attacked by terrorism and its threat lies upon each and every of us, pending on the natural and peaceful life of the peoples of the world.

It is, thus, a global phenomenon that demands a global answer.

The Millenium Summit which brought us together in this city last year, gave us the chance to identify the issues which affect us all and those which we must face as part of a challenge that no one can avoid.

It was an agenda for peace and hope for a world affected by common problems, although in different ways.

Today, we stand in a new scenario and maybe as never before, the United Nations and each of us as a consequence, have a common goal that is to respond to terrorism,  above boundaries, ideologies, religions, races and cultures.

This commitment, undertaken with responsibility, implies every possible action pursuing peace as the ultimate goal and having as supreme guarantee the respect and observance of international law, the conventions and treaties to which we are parties.

But there is no doubt that this is not enough. We must fight every form of terrorism at every level, domestic and international, and on every front, be it legal, military, of security and intelligence, administrative and of management.

And this attitude demands from us a high degree of conviction.

Of conviction and also of trust in our shared values, belief in humankind and the assertion that life is the highest value.

Terrorism is by definition a blind and wicked phenomenon.

Blind because it does not visualize nor transmit goals that have been accepted by the others, thus sinking into irrationality.

Wicked, because it attacks with no measure people and property and introduces fear, anxiety and sometimes panic.

Nevertheless, to fight against it, it is also necessary to act upon other enemies of peace such as poverty and underdevelopment, to give to every human being good reasons to live and turn each one of us into active defenders of humankind as a common value from which no one can feel alien and against which it is imperative to fight without claudicating.

Mr. Chairman,

There is no reason or banner that justifies this violence.

This is why we must prevent poverty, marginality, abandonment and hopelessness from settling into people’s souls and turning into a favorable and pleasing echo for the criminal actions of which we become victims.

We must, then, bring together the spirit of each one of us in the struggle against terrorism, that far from helping in the solution of the problems which affect society in its whole, impacts on it creating fear and submerging it in paralysis and confusion.

We head with increasing determination towards a world, and consequently towards a society, every day more globalized.

The events of September 11 show it very clearly.  Every people and every government has been affected by these events.

We are all surrounded by what happened in a way which is deeper than ever before, because what happened not only affects the security of the people. It raises questions much simpler and more complex at the same time: how is my life going to be from now on? How is it going to be the life of my family, my children, my parents? How is it going to be the life of the rest of the people, my neighbors, my friends? How are they going to be the simple acts of my life? Shall I travel, receive mail, use public transportations or even cross bridges without thinking of it, as before?

This world and in particular the United Nations face a challenge for which they are not prepared.

We have created the technological and communications means to unify the planet, globalizing it, but we do not know -and we do not have the proper instruments- to manage and put order to this process.

We are experiencing an amazing revolution and it must be channeled; to push it forward if it stops, to limit it if it exceeds, to achieve the goals which allow the structuring of a new system of balances that acknowledges the changes in humankind in the last 50 years.

The United Nations, as well as the former Society of Nations in its time, were born as an answer to worlds that no longer exist.

The instruments and institutions created by them were the answer to those realities, replaced today by another reality in the political, demographical, cultural and religious world.

All countries, all those which are parties to this society and which together navigate space, have the obligation to contribute, each from its own diversity, to the acceptance of this new reality.

Uruguay, one of the founding members of the United Nations in San Francisco, feels this way and is willing to assume its share of the responsibility that the facts might assign to it.

We created, at that time, international financial institutions as well as other organizations dealing with  monetary and trade matters. All of them rule our conduct and determine what we have to do. But they never act in common. While the world is becoming global their decisions are fragmented and singular.

When a loan is granted to us or an adjustment is required from us, doors to markets are not being open for our products. Thus, instead of becoming part of the globalization process, we end up jailed in compartments almost isolated, in which those who have reached certain growth levels increase them and the rest, with some exceptions, lose and are each time more afar from the goals which allow the means to ensure prosperity.

Poverty not only destroys democracy. Worse, it destroys societies and opens the doorway to violence and, as we have already seen, to every form of terrorism.

Finally, we deem appropriate to reiterate that we are not duly prepared for the world we have created.

We might have not expressed in the past our thoughts on these matters, which we have always had in mind, had it not been for the thousands of innocent women and men who found death that ominous day of September 11.

To them, to whom America will always remember with love and grief, feelings we also share, we owe the most important thing: the assurance that their death has not been in vain. Their tragic fate has imposed upon us a duty.

It is time to fulfill it.