H.E. Ms Anna Lindh

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden

In the General Debate of the 56th Regular Session

of the General Assembly of the United Nations

13 November 2001


Mr President,

Let me start by congratulating the United Nations and its Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is an extremely well deserved award, to a unique organisation and to a unique Secretary-General.

Let me also take this opportunity to express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday's tragedy at the JFK Airport.

Mr President,

We are all going through days of sorrow and anger. Sorrow for human suffering, for the loss of human lives, and for loss of security. Anger, because terrorism hits innocent people. Anger, also because terror is targeted at openness and democracy, and threatens our common security and welfare.

Seldom has the international community been challenged as through the terrorist acts of 11 September. The UN rose to the challenge and took the lead in the struggle against international terrorism. Seldom have we the peoples of the United Nations shown such a strong, common reaction and unity. Sweden stands whole-heartedly by the UN in its call to fight terrorism, and we express our solidarity with the American people and government in this difficult time.

We have three immediate tasks:
Firstly, all nations have to take action against terrorism, as stated in the UN resolution 1373. - Action against the financing, planning and execution of terrorist acts. - Action that makes it clear to those responsible of terror that their acts will be punished.

We support the right to self-defence of the US Government, in accordance with international law. We emphasise the central role of the Security Council.

Secondly, we must assist the people of Afghanistan in their immediate needs.

The Afghan people have suffered war, natural disasters and oppression for decades. They are held hostage by an illegitimate regime. Women and children are systematically abused. Women are denied healthcare and work, girls are practically denied education their freedom is heavily restricted. Human rights do not exist under Taliban rule. It is crucial that, in all cities now liberated from the Taliban, human rights and law and order are guaranteed.

The humanitarian situation facing the people of Afghanistan is acute. The UN, and all its member states, must increase efforts to relieve the needs of the Afghan population. Closed borders must be opened immediately, both for refugees who seek asylum and for the secure transport of emergency supplies.

Thirdly, we must assist the people of Afghanistan in the reconstruction of their country. Restoring this ravaged nation into peaceful co-existence must include a political process leading to a representative government that respects human rights and fosters a democratic development. The role, protection and participation of women must be high on every policy agenda.

Mr President,

While addressing these immediate tasks, we must not lose sight of our long-term agenda.

A year ago, here in New York, heads of State and Government from 147 countries adopted the Millennium Declaration. Their message was clear: only by working together can we meet the challenges of globalisation.

Today, we need to build coalitions and to join forces, not only against international terrorism, but also to fight other global problems.

We need to join forces in the fight for global justice. Globalisation and openness make people aware of what they have and of what they lack. People wish to participate. People wish to share the benefits of development. This is positive and a challenge for the international community's ability to narrow the gaps between rich and poor.

Globalisation creates wealth but the wealth must be more equally distributed.

Today, more than one billion people live in absolute poverty. The Millennium Summit pledged to halve poverty by the year 2015. This is a welcome commitment, but still not enough. Political efforts should be combined with economic, technical and scientific progress. Development co-operation, trade and agricultural policies must aim at poverty eradication. The instruments are there, and the possibilities of our time are better than ever before but we, the governments, need to show courage and political will. We must provide hope, of freedom for the oppressed, education for the illiterate, food for the hungry, health-care for the sick and equality for women. Increased official development assistance is then crucial. Sweden is one of the few countries meeting the UN target of 0.7 percent of gross national income in development aid. I urge all developed countries, in particular the big economic powers, to make real progress towards achieving this goal.

The poorer countries must be integrated into the world economy, and the new UN roadmap is a concrete step in this direction.
The International Conference on Financing for Development, in Mexico, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where Swedish Prime minister, Mr. Göran Persson will participate, could be the starting points for new partnership arrangements between government institutions, civil society and the private sector - a partnership for global justice.
HIV/aids is one of the greatest threats to humanity in our time. In some countries, large parts of entire generations fall victim to the disease. Millions of children are orphaned. Economic progress is hampered and development opportunities are lost. All member states need to show strong political and financial commitment, and solidarity. Sweden welcomes the new Global Fund to fight HIV/aids, and will contribute 60 million USD over the next three years to the Fund.

 A new round of broad negotiations in the WTO can make an important contribution to world-wide growth and development. But the interests and concerns of developing countries must be properly addressed. All efforts must be made to liberalise trade. The example set by the European Union, to open its market for "everything but arms", should be followed by others.
Developing countries should receive support in building their capacity to fully integrate into the world trading system and the global economy.

The global responsibility, in terms of providing more resources and greater market access to developing countries, is clear. But the main responsibility for development rests with the governments and peoples in developing countries. Good governance and sound national policies are prerequisites for sustained development and poverty reduction.

Mr President,

We need to join forces in the struggle for human rights and democracy. When rights are respected, when voices are heard, when society is tolerant society becomes safer for all.

Violations of human rights threaten the security and well-being of the individual, but also the security and well-being of a society. They cause tensions and conflicts. Sustainable development and political stability can only be built on respect for universal and indivisible human rights and on democratic development.

Discrimination in any form is unacceptable and incompatible with these fundamental principles. It is the responsibility of every government to safeguard equal rights and opportunities to men and women, as well as the rights of the child.

Those guilty of human rights violations and crimes against humanity should never find refuge behind national borders. The transfer of Mr. Milosevic to the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia demonstrates the resolve of the international community to act against impunity. It carries great symbolic value, and will contribute to the process of reconciliation.

The establishment of the International Criminal Court will strengthen our abilities to try suspected violators of international and humanitarian law. It is a matter of highest priority to have the Court operational promptly, and I urge those states, which have not yet done so, to ratify the Rome Statutes.

Sweden also welcomes the initiative by the Secretary-General to involve global business in promoting human rights through the Global Compact.

Mr President,

We need to join forces to prevent violent conflicts. We need to work against hatred and suspicion between peoples, and to stimulate a dialogue between and within cultures.

Preventing violent conflict is a primary obligation of member states under the UN Charter, but it took us half a century to start working with it systematically. We now have a better understanding of the complex root causes of conflicts. The responsibility to prevent conflict ultimately rests on every government. Successful long-term prevention cannot be imposed from the outside, but the local parties should be encouraged and assisted in containing an emerging conflict.

The Secretary-General's report on conflict prevention is a valuable contribution to the development of a global strategy. I urge all member states to take active part in its follow-up.

A core task of the United Nations is to effectively manage conflicts where prevention fails. It is the UN that provides the legal foundation for global action. Sweden strongly supports the process that the Brahimi report has set in motion. But we, the member states, have yet to provide the UN with the necessary resources to strengthen its capacities for peace operations.
The Secretary-General's efforts to strengthen the ties between the UN and regional organisations in the areas of conflict prevention and peace building are most welcome.
Co-operation with the UN is essential, when developing the EU's conflict prevention and crisis management capabilities. In Göteborg last June the Union adopted a framework for increased interaction, with the aim that the EU capacities should provide real added value for the UN.

Mr. President,

We need to join forces for peace in the Middle East. Our aim must be two states, Israel and Palestine, with secure and recognised borders. The basis is international law and the UN Security Council resolutions. The situation has deteriorated in the past year, despite strong efforts by the UN, the USA, the EU, Russia and others. A further escalation must be avoided. Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, cease the policy of settlements and put an end to the extra-judicial executions. The Palestinians must do everything in their power to stop the attacks against innocent civilians.

Sweden strongly supports the recommendations of the Mitchell-report, including a monitoring-mechanism, for an end to violence, and a revival of the peace-process.

Mr. President,

We must join forces for multilateral disarmament. A world free from weapons of mass destruction would be a much safer world. Multilateral agreements contribute to security for the individual. It has produced impressive results - chemical and biological weapons have been totally banned. Still, however, many challenges remain.

Three years ago, Sweden helped launch the New Agenda Coalition - a group of states concerned with the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, sharing a vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world. In our case, the initiative was rooted in the firm belief that both global and national security depends on multilateral frameworks and platforms.
Last year, the 187 States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty adopted by consensus a road map towards nuclear disarmament. Based on the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon-states to fully eliminate their nuclear arsenals, an action plan in twelve steps was agreed. This promising outcome was confirmed by the General Assembly. All States parties have pledged to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world under strict and effective international control. I strongly urge the four states remaining outside the Treaty, to sign and ratify it.

We have a number of important instruments to prevent testing, banning production of weapons material, and for improving verification. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty and the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards agreement pave the way for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Clearly it is now time to concentrate on their implementation.

The US plans for a strategic missile defence system risk having a negative impact on disarmament, non-proliferation and the whole NPT process. The ongoing consultations are welcome, but the outcome is still uncertain. We strongly believe that new threats of proliferation require a multilateral response, built on the already existing safety net.

Deep cuts in strategic and tactical nuclear arsenals are long overdue, and should be accompanied by effective mechanisms of verification and irreversibility. Such treaty agreements can never be replaced by unilateral declarations.

Weapons of mass destruction remain a threat to mankind. Terrorists must not be given the opportunity to threaten us with these weapons. Now is the time to reinforce efforts to contain proliferation.

Mr President,

The UN remains a unique global forum. It is the one organisation we can all equally count on, and turn to, for security, for development - as the safeguard of our common future. The UN needs to be strengthened, and it needs reform. We need the UN, and the UN needs us.

Thank you.