Statement by

H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Bahrain

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

New York
13 November 2001

Check Against delivery

In the name of God
The Gracious the Merciful
Mr. President,

We hold this Session amidst feelings of sadness and grief we are still experiencing because of the terrorist acts of 11 September that befell the United States and the thousands from more than 70 countries, who were working in the World Trade Center in New York when the vicious attack took place, resulting in great material and economic damage.

My country, the State of Bahrain, moved quickly to condemn the terrorist attacks in New York, just a few kilometres from the United Nations Headquarters, and in Washington. His Highness the Amir Shaikh Hamad Bin Essa Al?Khalifa expressed to His Excellency President George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, and the friendly people of the United States of America, the deep condolences of the Amir, the Government and the people of the State of Bahrain, for the victims of these wicked attacks, which run contrary to the teachings of all heavenly religions, basic standards of humanity, and cultural values.

The State of Bahrain has supported the international alliance against terrorism and offered its cooperation in participating in efforts to eliminate terrorism, its elements, havens and financial resources. It has done so in confirmation of its firm and principled positions against terrorism, and its rejection of all forms of violence and extremism. Such violence and extremism contradict the teachings of Islam and its tolerant values, and all high cultural and human concepts in which we believe and support.

The State of Bahrain has also followed and participated in the debates of the General Assembly in its current Session on the combating of terrorism. It shares the opinion of His Excellency the Secretary-General, Dr. Koki Anna that the shock of 11 September has united the world against terrorism, as demonstrated by the condemnation of  those horrific attacks by millions of people from all societies.

We also share His Excellency's opinion that the United Nations, through its unique structure, has an important role to play in mobilising the international community to counter and combat terrorism.

As part of its cooperation with the international efforts, the State of Bahrain has welcomed Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) on the issue of terrorism, in particular operative paragraph six, requesting member states to report to the committee of the Security Council within 90 days, with regard to the steps taken to implement the resolution.

Mr. President,

As we express our feelings of sadness at the horror of the events of 11 September we must also warn against the danger of exploiting the events to link terrorism to Islam, a religion of coexistence and tolerance, and the danger of stirring up hostility against Muslims, and igniting a conflict between religions and civilizations, instead of dialogue and interaction among them for the good of all societies of different races and beliefs.

We are pleased, in this context, to welcome the position taken by the United States of America and other friendly countries, in calling on their citizens to refrain from harming their citizens of Arab and Muslim descent, and reaffirming the spirit of tolerance, interaction, and dialogue among religions and cultures.

Mr. President,

The United Nations, which is our ideal tool with which to confront international terrorism, faces other challenges in the way of our cooperation to achieve prosperity, economic and social development, and to build a world in which justice peace and equality prevail.

In this regard, the General Assembly held this year Special Sessions including a number relating to small arms, and addressing human settlement issues and combating the Aids epidemic. Also held this year were the Economic. and Social Council's Session relating to information technology, eradication of poverty and the financing of development, and the World Conference Against Racism and Racial Discrimination, hosted by the Republic of South Africa.

The State of  Bahrain which has endorsed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, and on the basis of a deep-rooted civilization and a sustained revival aimed at strengthening the foundations of a modern state, attaining comprehensive development, further invigorating the mechanisms of civil society and enabling the Bahraini citizen to deal with current issues and the need for further advancement, today reaffirms its determination to continue shouldering its national, regional, and international responsibilities, with a view to achieving the common objectives set out in the Charter of the United Nations and the Millennium Declaration.

In this context, His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Essa al-Khalifa, Amir of the State of Bahrain, has taken the initiative of establishing a national committee comprising all sectors of Bahraini society. This Committee prepared a proposed National Action Charter that has been approved by referendum of the people of Bahrain by a majority of 98.4%, and ratified by His Highness the Amir in February this year. This Charter was part of a comprehensive plan to develop Bahraini society, update its systems and institutions, and transform it into a modern state capable of participating effectively in the interactions of the new world order, and enabling it to face the challenges and requirements of the era.

This historic step was coupled with a number of measures to improve and update constitutional and democratic institutions, reaffirm the rule of law, achieve justice, equality and equal opportunities, and enhance popular participation. Foremost among these are developments in the field of human rights, confirming the participation of women and enhancing women's role in civil society, including the right to vote and to stand for election, as well as the establishment of the Human Rights Committee of the Shura Council and the establishment of the Supreme Council for Women. The Council's mandate includes, inter alia, proposing policies to develop the role of women in civic and state institutions.

Proud of its accomplishments in the political, economic and social fields, the State of Bahrain, as it reiterates its determination to press ahead with its comprehensive development to build a modern state that can reaffirm its international position and consolidate its relations with various countries of the world, would like also to express its thanks and appreciation for the support given by the international community to the blessed steps taken by His Highness the Amir.

Mr. President,

The State of Bahrain's firm desire to imbue its relations with others with a spirit of friendship and cooperation is evidenced by its brotherly, amicable and close relations with brotherly and friendly sates. Such relations are based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of others and promotion of neighbourly relations and cooperation among states. In this respect, it is worth noting the position of both the State of Bahrain and the State of Qatar on the judgement handed down by the International Court of Justice on March 16, 2001 which ended the border dispute between the two brotherly countries, and to the statements issued by the leaders of both countries, stating that the judgement, which was accepted by the two countries, has opened a new page in their brotherly relations, which are based on agreement and cooperation, to achieve their joint interests, and represents the triumph of international legitimacy and the principles of international law.

Mr. President,

It is indeed regrettable that the ramifications of the dangerous and painful events witnessed by the Gulf region over the past twenty years still constitute a source of ongoing threat to the security and stability of the region and an obstacle to its development and growth.

The State of Bahrain, desirous to see regional and international security prevail, especially in the Gulf region which has strategic importance and in which various countries of the world have vital interests, calls once again upon Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations and to fully implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, and in particular those relating to weapons of mass destruction and to the release of prisoners of war and detainees of Kuwaiti and other nationalities, so that the efforts to lift the sanctions and to end the suffering of its brotherly people may succeed.

The State of Bahrain also hopes that, in the light of the positive developments in relations between the GCC countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, a peaceful solution will be reached to the current dispute between the latter and the United Arab Emirates over the three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, all of which belong to the United Arab Emirates.

The State of Bahrain approves of and welcomes the direct contacts that have taken place between the two neighbouring countries and hopes that the dispute will be settled by peaceful means in accordance with the principles of international law, including referral to the International Court of Justice.

Mr. President,

Since the present Israeli government, came to power, the Middle East has been witnessing serious developments that have brought back the conditions of hostility and confrontation that had engulfed the region prior to the beginning of the Madrid Peace Process in 1991. This has come about because of the aggression carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people, in addition to the oppressive actions and economic blockade that it imposes on all the territory under the Palestinian authority.

The peace process, which was based on Security Council resolutions, and in particular resolutions 242 and 338, and on the Madrid Terms of Reference, especially the principle of land for peace, has come to a dead end.

The explosive situation in the Palestinian Authority territories, with the risks they entail, which threaten the security and stability of the Middle East and put the interests of its and other states in jeopardy, makes it incumbent upon the international community, primarily the co?sponsors of the peace process, to bear the responsibilities required by the situation in order to put the peace process back on track so that its objectives may be achieved. This can only be done through the full implementation of the Security Council resolutions, calling for complete withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied by Israel in the Syrian Golan up to the boundaries of June 1967 and from the remaining occupied parts of the Republic of Lebanon, and full recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people including the right of return and the establishment of their own independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

In this regard, we welcome the statement of His Excellency the President of the United States of America, Mr. George W. Bush, on the right of the Palestinian people to establish the Palestinian state, a right supported by the European Union, the Permanent Members of the Security Council and the international community.

Mr. President,

Emphasising the role of the United Nations and reforming its machinery so that it is able to face challenges and contribute to overcoming them in a collective manner, are some of the priorities provided by the Charter and reinforced by the Millennium Declaration. The latter calls upon us to uphold the rule of law, both nationally and internationally, respect human rights, and conduct international relations in such a way as to preserve world security, peace, development and stability.

In praising the role of the United Nations, I would like also take this opportunity to express my warm and sincere congratulations to H.E. Dr. Kofi Annan, whom the member states have unanimously reelected as Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term in recognition of the unceasing efforts he has been exerting to enable the Organisation to fully play its role and achieve its objectives. Through those efforts, His Excellency and the United Nations during his time as Secretary-General have fully deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, in appreciation of their great contribution to maintaining international peace and security. I congratulate His Excellency and the United Nations for this honour.

I also have the pleasure, Mr. President, to extend to you and your friendly country, the Republic of Korea, my congratulations on your election as President of the Fifty-sixth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations hoping that you will succeed in carrying out this task. I would like also to express my thanks and appreciation to your predecessor, H.E. Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland, the President of the Fifty?fifth Session, and to commend his invaluable efforts in conducting the proceedings of that Session and the special sessions held in conjunction with it.

Mr. President,

We firmly believe in the unity of the fate of the human race, owing to the fact that we all live in a single world. Therefore we are duty bound to preserve this world and protect it from danger, war, international terrorism, conflicts, disease and poverty. For it is incumbent upon us "We the peoples of the United Nations", as stated in the Charter, to decide to practice tolerance and to live, according to the will of Almighty God, as peoples that cooperate in the pursuit of friendship, justice and peace.

Thank you.