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H.E. MR. ALFONSO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
New York, 11 November 2001
Mr. President, Doctor Han Seung-soo,
Mr. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan,
Let me first of all repudiate the
monstrous attack on the people and Government of our host country, a crime
that was in reality committed against all of humanity. In condemning it
in the strongest possible terms, we associate ourselves fully with the
families of each and everyone of the victims, whatever his or her nationality,
and the residents of this great City of New York. We further identify unreservedly
with the decisions adopted last month by this Assembly and the Security
Council. We will carry on our engagement in the elimination of terrorism
in all its forms and manifestations.
Before taking up the question of our Government programme and the fulfillment of the peace agreements, as well as our position vis-à-vis certain of the items of the agenda of this session, I wish to congratulate you warmly on having been elected to preside over the General Assembly. I have no doubt that your well-proven capacity and your recognized wisdom will enable you to guide our deliberations in a fully successful manner.
I wish further to join the distinguished
representatives who have taken the floor before me in commending the Secretary-General
of our Organization, Mr. Kofi Annan. And we rejoice at the receipt by him
and the Organization of the Nobel Peace Prize.
I come from a small country that mirrors the grave problems of today's world. We still do not enjoy the benefits of the great scientific and technological achievements, but we still suffer from great social inequalities. A small country that does its best to attain peace and democracy; a country that believes in the rewards of economic freedom, but also in social justice. A country that has opened itself to the world, although the world has perhaps not opened itself to it in the same way. A country that works and produces but, under the present circumstances, is receiving less and less for its pains.
Thus, to the extent that inequality, injustice and poverty put our peace and our democracy at risk, to the same extent our contribution to world peace and democracy is diminished.
Today the struggle against terrorism is the struggle against inequality in international economic relations, it is the struggle against ignorance and injustice, it is the struggle against discrimination, intolerance, exclusion and poverty. There will be no peace if these evils are not eradicated. A peace associated with inequality, with poverty and injustice is a bad peace. And let us not forget that a bad peace is worse than war.
We are making strenuous efforts to advance in our own peace accords, which happen to coincide with our Programme of Government. The time that has elapsed since my speech at the Millennium Summit has witnessed intense activities. I can point to significant progress; but I must also admit to some setbacks, which are due primarily to a unfavorable international environment, which has affected the economy in an extremely adverse way. I draw attention to this situation in as much as full compliance with the commitments embodied in the peace agreements would be easier in a context of economic growth than in a framework characterized by serious fiscal restrictions and increased demands upon the Government.
On a different matter, I would like to comment briefly on the United Nations presence in Guatemala. I wish to reiterate our high appreciation of the United Nations Verification Mission (MINUGUA). We trust that the mandate of this body will be extended until the end of 2003, thus enabling its functions to be transferred in a progressive and orderly manner to both national institutions and, where possible, to the programmes and agencies of the United Nations.
As far as our international relations are concerned, I would like to mention the significant progress made in the process seeking to resolve a historic dispute between ourselves and Belize. In keeping with the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes between States, we have confirmed with facts our vocation for electing dialogue as the means of settling disputes. The commission of facilitators appointed last year, within the framework of the regional organization to which both States belong, namely the Organization of American States, will soon submit its report. Its fundamental aim is to work out and propose courses of action that will enable headway to be made in the legal resolution of the dispute.
We reiterate our profound support for Central American integration as well as our commitment to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Our Government has participated in significant initiatives in the area of regional and sub regional integration and is working strenuously to set aside left-overs from age-old border disputes in Central America.
As regards our position vis-à-vis other international conflicts, we hope that the differences or divisions that persist between brothers in the Middle East, Asia and Africa will be amenable to resolution through dialogue and in a peaceful manner. I also wish to use this occasion to reiterate before this august Assembly our concern over the situation of the 23 million citizens of the Republic of China in Taiwan, whose aspiration to be represented in international organizations has not yet been fully satisfied and which in the opinion of the Central American countries in general and Guatemala in particular could make a positive contribution to the promotion of peace and democracy in the world.
I would now like to comment briefly on our views regarding the principal matters with which this Assembly will have to deal at the current session.
In the first place I reiterate our full support for the United Nations as the supreme expression of multilateralism. We have no doubt that the United Nations will have a crucial role to play in the twenty-first Century. We believe that the Millennium Declaration that our Heads of State and Government adopted a year ago offers an adequate agenda for our priorities and the actions to be taken in order to accomplish the goals set.
Secondly, we also agree that it is necessary to adapt the Organization to the exigencies of globalization and of this post- cold war era. It is for us, the member governments, to further this process of adaptation, in various areas: intergovernmental fora, the efficiency and efficacy of the Secretariat, the setting of priorities in shaping the programme of activities, and the financial strengthening of the Organization.
Third, of the pending reforms the one that has received the most attention is that concerning the Security Council. One cannot but be frustrated at the limited progress made in this area at prior sessions of the General Assembly. Now, more than ever before, this should not stand in the way of a redoubling of our efforts in order to endow this body with greater efficacy, a broader representation and more transparency in its working procedures. To achieve these objectives, we advocate, inter alia, an increase in the number of members of the Council as well as a very sparse use of the veto power. We also believe that now, more than ever before, it is necessary that the work of the Security Council be monitored by the General Assembly.
Fourth, being, as we are, deeply shocked by what happened in this country on 11 September, we reiterate our full and complete opposition to terrorism. We shall support any collective action by the international community to combat this scourge. As a matter of fact we are already at work to comply with the spirit and the letter of the undertakings embodied in Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), within the parameters of a democratic society that aspires to guarantee the human rights of its members.
Fifth, we advocate the strengthening of this Assembly and we congratulate the President of its fifty-fifth session for the initiative he took to revitalize its work. We trust that this action will continue under your presidency and that it will indeed extend to the wider task of reforming this Assembly, in pursuance of the aims of the Millennium Declaration.
Sixth, we are convinced of the need to strengthen our collective capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts, both between States and at the national level. We believe that the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations provides an adequate basis for achieving this purpose.
Seventh, as regards general disarmament, we insist on the need for progress towards the total elimination of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons; the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, as well as the use of antipersonnel mines and other explosive devices. In this connection, we support all concrete actions by the United Nations to accomplish these aims, including those that look to the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones in all regions of the world. As regards the control of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, we are of the view that the results of the conference held last July to deal with this problem, while positive if allowance is made for this being the first step taken at the global level to deal with the matter, are nevertheless inadequate.
Eighth, we offer our full and active participation in the principal meetings scheduled over the years ahead, among which I wish to highlight the International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Monterrey, Mexico, next March, as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg.
Ninth, in a world characterized by ever greater interdependence, multilateral diplomacy plays a crucial role in the fight against environmental degradation. As Guatemala is a party to the main international treaties in the area of the environment, we reiterate our commitment to the maintenance of ecological balance.
Finally we consider that the United
Nations should continue devoting itself to the great unfinished business
of the twentieth century, namely the elimination of world poverty. Together
with the multilateral financial agencies, our Organization should play
a crucial role in ensuring that the benefits of globalization are widely
and evenly shared among all countries, not only among a few of them, which
requires actions at the level of each country, but also at the international
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General:
Civilization is undergoing a trial. The question is how to eliminate the universal threat posed by terrorism and at the same time maintain and renew the ethical, political, legal and social bases ensuring coexistence in a globalized world. In this respect I would like to recall the words of a distinguished Guatemalan, Otto Rene Castillo, who has written: "We have suffered on so many places the blows of the executioner and written his name so many times on so little skin, that we cannot die, for lib has no death."
May God bless and protect us.