H.E. Roberto Rojas
November 13th, 2001
(Check against delivery)
Allow me, in the first place, to congratulate you for your well-deserved election to preside over the work of this General Assembly. We are familiar with your valuable personal qualities and we appreciate the leadership of your country, the Republic of Korea, in the concert of Nations. I would also like to express my gratitude to outgoing president, H.E. Mr. Harri Holkeri, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, for his excellent work.
This year, the General Assembly is meeting under extraordinary circumstances. Only two moths ago, this city was victim to the most dreadful and despicable terrorist attack in world history. Even today, just a few kilometers away from this hall, we can contemplate, bewildered, the column of smoke that marks the remains of the Twin Towers. The rubble reminds us of the destruction, pain, and death caused by irrational violence and hate. Therefore, I cannot let pass this opportunity without reiterating the deepest condolences of the People and Government of Costa Rica to the People and Government of the United States.
On September 11, the terrorists not only targeted New York but the whole humanity. Today, we all are victims of terrorism. Costa Rica realizes that terrorism is an extremely grave crime against humanity, which victimizes the innocent civil population and endangers the International Community as a whole. For this reason, we condemn terrorism categorically, in all its forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed while we proclaim that there is no political, philosophical, racial, ethnic or religious justification that legitimizes the commission of this crime.
The recent terrorist attacks force us to rethink the concept of International Security and to renew our commitment to mankind's basic values. When faced with cruel fear and hatred, we must raise up the flag of civilization, tolerance and brotherhood. Before irrational violence, we must take up the arms of reason, law and order. Against terrorism, we must resort to the rule of law, justice and due process, through international cooperation in the judicial and police arenas.
Faced with new treats to International Security, the Community of Nations must create effective and accurate mechanisms to ensure peace and development for all peoples. In this context, we welcome the adoption of Security Council resolution 1373. It constitutes a firm, proportional and necessary answer to the despicable acts of September 11.
Furthermore, we welcome the progress achieved in the negotiation of a General Convention to proscribe and punish terrorism in all its forms. My delegation has taken active part in the recent negotiations to solve the outstanding issues and we are grateful to the Secretary General for his personal efforts to attain a consensus solution. We call upon all delegations to be flexible and to agree to the consensus formula proposed by the coordinator of the contact group on this issue.
The struggle against terrorism must lead us to build a true Culture of Peace and Life. Right now, we have the duty to plant the seeds of peace in order to substitute the vices of destruction and conflict with the virtues of fraternity, tolerance and cooperation among all men.
Currently and thanks to scientific and technological progress, we can defeat disease, poverty, famine, hatred and war. Nowadays, we posses the necessary economic, technological and philosophical means to guarantee to each and every person the highest standards of life as well as the indispensable conditions for their fullest physical, intellectual and spiritual development.
In this context, the United Nations could and should play a central role in the construction of a future of peace and freedom. This Organization must be a fortress against war, hate and poverty. This institution must be a beacon that lights the way and points towards the goal.
With this goal in mind, the respect of Human Rights and the promotion to Human Dignity, in all spheres, must be the primordial guidelines for the activities of the United Nations. The protection of human beings is, thus, the only justification for peacekeeping activities. The promotion of Human Dignity is the only legitimate reason for pursuing sustainable development. The protection of Human Life is the only justification for the protection of the environment and for economic development. The basic philosophy of this Organization must be, in consequence, deeply humanistic.
The protection of Human Rights constitutes the cornerstone of Costa Rica's foreign policy. Costa Ricans loathe every violation of Basic Rights. We reject intolerance, hatred, inequality and war. We condemn extra judicial executions, death penalty, abortion, displacement, torture, rape and hostage taking. We find reprehensible all restrictions to freedom of speech and thought. The ethical values of the Costa Rican identity make us proclaim amore just and human society and demand greater solidarity.
This Organization's achievements in the area of Human Rights are outstanding. The codification efforts and the periodic conferences have provided the International Community with clear guidelines of conduct. Now, we must concentrate our efforts in the implementation of those norms at all levels of society, making a special emphasis on the satisfaction of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In particular, it is necessary to rationalize and coordinate the work of the monitory organs, including the Human Rights Commission, in order to make them more effective. Costa Rica deems necessary a review the national reports system with the view to make it more transparent and expeditious. We believe that States Members must open their borders to the Human Rights Rapporteurs appointed by the Commission in a candid and forthright manner. This obligation flows directly from the commitments undertaken under articles 55 and 56 of the Charter. Simultaneously, we must answer positively the request for additional resources made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Moreover, the United Nations must remain vigilant of the new challenges that threaten the enjoyment of Human Rights. We are concern by the recent developments in the area of cloning and biotechnology. For this reason, we welcome the proposal by France and Germany to negotiate an international covenant to proscribe reproductive human cloning. We believe that such instrument should forbid, in addition, all other forms of research in biotechnology that are contrary to Human Life and Dignity.
It is necessary to strengthen the Family as the basic building block of society. The Family is indispensable in the formation of healthy, productive and responsible citizens. We must also make additional efforts to support the parents' efforts in the education of their offspring. In this regard, my country recently enacted an exceptional law on "responsible parenthood" that ensures, through unprecedented judicial means, that all biological fathers will be responsible for the education and upkeep of any offspring born out of wedlock.
The efforts to maintain International Peace and Security must also be conceptualized from the point of view of Human Rights. Armed conflicts produce continuous humanitarian crises and atrocities. As long as war exists, it will be impossible to ensure the respect for the Basic Human Rights. In situations of armed conflict, all necessary measures must be taken to protect the security of innocent civilians. It is indispensable to provide them with immediate assistance, in order to prevent greater loss of life and destruction. It is also necessary to protect the Human Rights of refugees and displaced persons. Even more, at the end of an armed conflict, greater international cooperation is required to rebuild the national economy, reconstruct the lost infrastructure and restart the normal path of life.
For several years, my delegation has advocated for the strengthening of the Security Council. We have emphasized that it is mankind's only mechanism against the threats that surround it. Costa Rica has questioned the Council when it has ignored its duties and has been reduce to irrelevance. We have censored it when it has limited itself to give weak and inadequate answers to the gravest political and humanitarian emergencies. We have denounced it when it has been unable to act due to an irresponsible use of the veto or due to the national interests of some of its members. Today, the adoption of resolutions 1373 gives us new hopes. We are confident that, in the future, the Security Council will deal with other emergency situation with the same decisiveness, promptness and efficacy.
The existence of weapons is a catalyst of armed conflicts. Their proliferation feeds the fires of violence; worsens fighting and hatred; aggravates crime and terrorism; and favors political and social instability. Military arsenals lengthen armed conflicts and hamper peace processes while the armies consume insatiably the meager national resources. To attain peace, it is necessary to forbid the transfer of arms to rebel, extremist and terrorist groups. The transfer of weapons to those governments that commit systematic Human Right violations, that do not respect democratic principles or who have not ratified the main International Humanitarian Law instruments should also be forbidden. We believe that it is indispensable to regulate the possession of light weapons by civilians.
My country condemns the unilateral and disproportionate use of force and countermeasures while it supports the principles and mechanisms enshrine in International Law. We must embrace negotiation, dialog, mediation and the judicial solution of controversies. For this reason, Costa Rica fully endorses and relies on the excellent work of the International Court of Justice. We believe that the voluntary acceptance of its obligatory jurisdiction, through optional declarations, is a clear proof of good faith. However, we cannot fail to express our deep concern for the existence and presentation of new reservations to the declarations of voluntary acceptance of the Court's jurisdiction. Good faith in International Relations demands-the withdrawal of those reservations.
True and sustainable peace can only be achieved when adequate living conditions are guaranteed to all peoples; when a level of economic development high enough to enable everyone to satisfy his basic needs is attain; when Basic Human Rights are respected and when political and social differences are solved through democratic means, negotiation and dialog. Therefore, it is indispensable to invest intensely on our human resources, devoting all necessary resources to education and health. Only an educated population can live in freedom, only a healthy population can work for development, only a cultured population can integrate itself in the globalized contemporary world.
Similarly, it is necessary to ensure the sustainable use and management of the natural resources. Without a healthy environment it is impossible to attain adequate living conditions both now and in the future. We cannot ignore the damage that the destruction of thousands of square kilometers of the Earth's forests is already causing to the future generations.
Costa Rica has developed a national system of payments for environmental services with the view to alleviate the impact of "greenhouse effect" gases and preserve our forests for mankind. My country has already devoted a fourth of its national territory to the protection of forests. The production and payment of environmental goods and services has become an engine of national development. For these reasons, we are honored to be the host-country of the First Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Forum on Forests that will be held on March 2002. We are looking forward to the active and constructive participation of all the State Members in that meeting.
My delegation notes with concern the growing inequality in the area of vulnerability. States with the most fragile economies or whose inhabitants have fewer resources for prevention and reconstruction are the ones that suffer most the effects of natural disasters. During the last decade, our region, Central America, has been victim to several catastrophes that have created very serious human and material losses. The lack of financial resources imposes a hash limit on the poorest nations' capacity to prevent humanitarian emergencies. Therefore, we advocate for an increase in International Cooperation towards developing nations to enable them to design and implement programs to reduce their vulnerability.
In this context, I would like to mention the bilateral assistance that the Republic of China in Taiwan has provided the countries in the region helping them to face those emergencies. Costa Rica understands and supports the reiterated efforts of the Republic of China, with sixteen million inhabitants and a firm process of democratic strengthening and development, to obtain representation within this Organization. It constitutes one of the main industrial centers with which most State Members have strong commercial and technical exchanges. We hope that, beyond all differences, it will be possible to find shortly some agreements that will enable both branches of the Chinese people to participate, jointly, in the international fora.
Just a couple of months ago, we witnessed the cruel and abominable impact of international terrorism. Those despicable acts have caused an upheaval in the conscience of humanity as a whole. In these circumstances, the world awaits for the guidance of the United Nations. The peoples demand the decided and firm action of the International Community. The whole humanity calls upon us to fulfill the high goals that we undertook when we established this Organization.