Germany
 

Address
by Joschka Fischer 

Minister for Foreign Affairs 
of the Federal Republic of Germany 

at the Fifty-sixth Session 
of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 
12 November 2001

Check against delivery

Mr President, 

Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr President, I would like to begin by congratulating you warmly on your election to President of the 56th General Assembly and wishing you every success with your work. I also thank your predecessor, Mr Holkeri, for his great dedication in chairing the 55th General Assembly.

But first and foremost I would like to sincerely congratulate you, Secretary-General, and the United Nations as a whole, on being awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. With courage and persistence you have called into-question old modes of thought and have prepared the United Nations for the challenges of the new century. Germany will continue to lend you and the United Nations its full support as you go down this path.

It is now two months since thousands of innocent persons lost their lives in the World Trade Center here in New York. Across the world people mourned in an unprecedented swell of solidarity and commiseration for the victims and their families. These horrific terrorist attacks did not just strike Americans, but also innocent people from over 80 countries, members of all the major world religions and cultures. They targeted us all. It must therefore be a common concern of humanity to prevent a repetition of this tragedy or indeed something even worse.

11 September thrust a dangerous future upon the world. We now live in the terrible knowledge that no country in the globalized world is invulnerable, and that enemies within, who are determined to kill and to die, can perpetrate mass murder at any time. This eerie, awful danger has at a stroke dramatically altered the foundations of security policy as we know it. The fight against internationally operative terrorist networks will require new responses from the community of states. International terrorism is a challenge first of all for politics, the military, the police and the judiciary, but also for the economy and - very importantly - for culture. At the dawn of the twenty-first century the issue of peace and security has thus taken on an entirely new perspective.

Humanity has rarely been as united as it was on that terrible day two months ago. This unity was born of horror and compassion, but also of the realization that we can only successfully counter this new deadly threat if we combine our full force and energy. 11 September was a defining moment, a day which altered the direction of world politics. A new alliance was created. It must now be strengthened and developed into a genuine partnership. If this is achieved, 11 September could in retrospect go down in history not only as a horrific day for humanity, but also as the beginning of a new era of cooperation and multilateralism.

What drives people to commit these inconceivable crimes, to blow up themselves and thousands of innocents? From where does such uncontrollable hatred come? How can it be curbed, how can it be conquered? It is certain that any attempt to develop an effective counter-strategy must, while waging the war on terrorism, analyze the full range of causes and circumstances that permit such hatred and violence to grow.

The United Nations is uniquely suited to the task ahead. It provides the forum required for the creation of a universal coalition. Only it can give international legitimacy to the response to terrorism. It has at its disposal the instruments to manage political conflicts and the underlying development problems which nurture hatred and despair. A comprehensive strategy against terrorism must concentrate primarily on prevention. Developing such a strategy means no less than drafting a policy for a cooperative world order for the twenty-first century, a policy which no longer tolerates areas characterized by a breakdown of order, which has as its goal a world order under which all peoples can claim their full and equitable share. This includes making economic globalization more socially just for more people and supplementing it with the political globalization so urgently needed.

The Security Council responded to 11 September with rare solidarity and, with Resolutions 1368 and 1373, took decisions on concrete, internationally binding anti-terrorism measures that point the way ahead. The General Assembly too severely condemned the terrorist attacks and called for joint action against international terrorism.

This path must now be rigorously pursued with the rapid and universal ratification and implementation of the twelve UN anti-terrorism conventions and the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. We must endeavour anew to bring this project, on which we all place so much hope, to a successful conclusion. I call upon all - states which have not yet approved the present compromise to reconsider their position.

The International Criminal Court can also become a valuable instrument in the fight against terrorism. Under its Statute, it will have jurisdiction to try cases of murder "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population". There can be no doubt that the attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania fulfil this requirement. For this reason, I would like to ask you all once again to ratify the Rome Statute as quickly as possible.

The attack on the World Trade Center was a wake up call to the profound threat to world peace that can be posed by failing states. These areas where political and social order has collapsed offer terrorists a safe haven from which they can organize their murderous networks worldwide. The community of states urgently needs to take a closer and preventive look at the problem of failing states - but not just in Afghanistan, and not only after a catastrophe has occurred.

No conflict prevention measures have ever been undertaken in Afghanistan. Far from it. This has proven to be a fatal error. For more than 20 years, a humanitarian catastrophe has been playing itself out before the eyes of the world, in which women and children in particular have suffered. Civil war, human rights violations and abject misery have also been the nourishing ground for the unprecedented symbiosis between the terrorists of the AI Qaida group and the Taliban regime.

From there the trail leads directly to the horrific attacks in the US. As hard as this decision may be: without the use of military means this threat cannot be averted. We must not forget that the suffering of the people in Afghanistan is above all the work of the Taliban: it was the Taliban that long before 1l September increasingly impeded effective humanitarian relief, robbed women and girls of all their rights and actively supported terrorism, also with the goal of destabilizing Arab and Muslim states.

Not to react would indeed be to invite further terror and oppression and would be extremely dangerous for world peace. The dramatic nature of this threat is illustrated by Osama bin Laden's statement that he will not shrink from using even nuclear weapons. Civilian means alone are unfortunately not always enough to put an end to violence and terror.

In Afghanistan, too, the root of the tragic conflict is profoundly political, and so the solution too can ultimately only be a political one. It must come from within, must reflect the diversity of peoples in Afghan society and must be accepted by the Afghan people. But a peaceful solution also requires assistance from the international community. Afghanistan must not be left alone with its problems yet again.

A clear political and humanitarian perspective for Afghanistan is now crucial. The United Nations, should be the coordinating agency for all peace efforts. It is indispensable as the framework for the political process and as the guarantor of internal agreements within Afghanistan. Only a peace process under the auspices of the United Nations will succeed in excluding external involvement in the future and ensuring a peaceful future for the country in harmony with its neighbours. Germany and the European Union are willing to play their part towards a political solution for Afghanistan and to participate long term in the economic and social reconstruction of Afghanistan.

More than anything, the refugees and the civilian population must be helped. We cannot tolerate the fact that the Taliban is hindering humanitarian access and is using the civilian population as a shield. In particular with a view to the approaching winter, we must do everything in our power to provide the people with at least the most basic necessities and to alleviate their despair and hardship. Is it possible to establish humanitarian protected areas? To use the expulsion of the Taliban from Mazar-e-Sharif and other towns to improve the humanitarian situation? To make a town like Kabul an open city? Of course this will be very difficult, but nevertheless led us think without taboos about absolutely all ways in which we could help the people. As chair of the Afghanistan Support Group, Germany has issued an invitation to a meeting in Berlin at the beginning of December. I appeal to all states to make a great humanitarian effort now and to come to the aid of the down-trodden Afghan people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Solving regional conflicts will be of critical importance in the fight against terrorism. The Middle East conflict is a top priority. Our hearts go out to the many innocent victims on all sides. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have a right to live free of fear, in dignity and in peace. This is indivisible not only from Israel's right of statehood as recognized in Madrid, which is in our view inviolable, but also from its security. Germany bears Israel a special responsibility stemming from its past. Any policy which aims at destroying Israel by means of terrorism or otherwise will face determined opposition from Germany. However, we equally advocate the Palestinians' right of self-determination and their right to their own state, Palestine. In the EU Berlin Declaration of March 1999 we stated: "the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian State on the basis of existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best guarantee of Israel's security". Today this is truer than ever.

Never before has there been broader international backing for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Mitchell recommendations still form the basis for the timetable accepted by all sides, and in their spirit we call on Israelis and Palestinians alike to put an immediate and lasting end to violence and confrontation, to resume the agreed direct talks without delay and to seriously implement the negotiated ceasefires. These talks must lead to genuine negotiations on a viable political solution.

The real aim of the terrorists is to trigger a clash of civilizations and to inflame the situation in the Near and Middle East. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to be drawn into such a conflict. We are fighting international terrorism, not Islam.

We must counter the terrorist strategy designed to bring about the clash of civilizations with a "dialogue of the cultures and religions". We need a spiritual debate based on mutual understanding that attempts to reach genuine agreement on the fundamental values that unite us. Such a dialogue presupposes the existence of shared values, but also respect for other traditions and differences between peoples. However one thing must be clear: human rights are universal, not Western values. Consensus was reached on them by the international community of states in the UN Charter and the human rights covenants.

Any dialogue must build on the universality of human rights. It must be conducted with respect for the dignity of all involved, in tolerance and openness. It must start "at home", within the cultures themselves. It can only bear fruit if it is pursued free of all constraint. And it only has a purpose if all participants are also ready to offer self-criticism.

Mr President,

The insidious anthrax attacks since I I September show that the threat from weapons of mass destruction in terrorist hands, which yesterday seemed abstract, is today a real and deadly danger. The community of states must do everything in its power to counter it with a new push for nonproliferation and global disarmament.

The dangers of dissemination to non-state groups and of regional arms races require new answers and effective, internationally enforceable criminal sanctions. In the nuclear field, the commitment contained in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to complete nuclear disarmament remains crucial. As regards biological weapons, in view of the acute threat, effective global control mechanisms must finally be created. The Chemical Weapons Convention must be more rigorously implemented. All states are called upon to participate in the negotiation of an international code of conduct on ballistic missile proliferation.

The fight now beginning against terrorism must build on the awareness that the First World cannot in the long term live secure and safe from the tensions and conflicts of the Third World. Almost one quarter of the world population is starving. 95% of those infected with AIDS live in developing countries. Africa is particularly hard hit. To the present day only a minority of the world's citizens profit from the opportunities for growth offered by globalization, from the use of the new information technologies. This state of affairs cannot be accepted, even by the rich countries - for moral reasons, but also because tensions and conflicts today spread much more quickly and widely than ever before.

It is true that the industrialized nations have not been able to keep all their promises to the poor and poorest states. They will have to invest far more effort here. The prime objective must be to help the developing countries eradicate poverty and to enhance their capacity for good governance and thus to take responsibility for their own actions. A further debt remission for the poorest countries, a genuine opening of their markets, support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the UN AIDS Fund and the goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015 are initiatives that the developing countries urgently need.

The battle against poverty cannot be won unless we take equally determined steps to preserve the natural resources on which life depends. We must take a quantum leap forward at the coming World Summit in Johannesburg towards sustainable development, improved poverty eradication and better, management of our natural resources. The Kyoto Protocol must enter into force next year. And we must strengthen the sole advocate of the global environment, the United Nations Environment Programme, institutionally, operationally and financially.

Please permit me to mention a development which has the potential to change our lives like no other: genetic engineering. If we do not act timely and agree clear and binding rules based on an ethical consensus for dealing with this new technology, things will soon happen that we cannot undo. Germany and France have sponsored a resolution in this session of the General Assembly which aims at establishing a convention on the worldwide prohibition of the reproductive clonin of human beings. I ask you all to support us in this endeavour.

Mr President,

11 September made it horrifyingly clear that the human race will not be able to live in peace and security in the absence of political order at global and regional level. This realization will now really put the reform debate on the United Nations' agenda. Increasing the UN's capacity to act by means of reform and a clear setting of priorities, a more representative and efficient Security Council and a consolidated General Assembly - this must be one of the consequences drawn from the horrendous terrorist attacks.

Germany will continue to do its utmost to bring about the strengthening the United Nations and its capacity to act, so that the world will be a more peaceful, just and humane place in the twenty-first century than in the twentieth. The future belongs to responsible governance for one world, governance not based on hegemonial claims but on cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism. If together we succeed in implementing such a policy, we will not just ultimately win the war against terrorism, but will also be able to eradicate its roots forever.