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New York, 14 November 2001


Mr. President,

On behalf of the Delegation of the Union of Myanmar, I wish to extend our warmest congratulations to you on your well-deserved election to the presidency of the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly. Your election to this high office reflects trust and confidence of all the Member States in your diplomatic skills and leadership qualities and in your ability to guide our deliberations to successful conclusions. It is also a tribute to your country, the Republic of Korea, which is in the forefront in our common efforts to achieve the goals of the Organization. In the discharge of your heavy responsibilities, may I assure you of our full support and cooperation.

-I also wish to express our deep appreciation to your distinguished predecessor His Excellency Mr. Harri Holkeri of Finland for his able leadership and valuable contribution during the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly.

May I also take this opportunity to congratulate our distinguished Secretary-General on his re-election to lead the Organization for a second term. I also wish to pay tribute to his tireless efforts and far-sighted initiatives to strengthen the United Nations. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize for our Secretary-General and the Organization is a well-deserved recognition in this regard.

Mr. President,

The international community was greatly shocked by the recent horrendous terrorist attacks in the United States of America. We are profoundly saddened by the enormous loss of lives and property. We join the international community in extending our deep condolences to the people of the United States in general and the bereaved families in particular. Whoever committed or wherever committed, terrorism in any form or under any circumstances is unjustifiable. As a nation that had bitter experiences with terrorism, both on its own soil and against its aircrafts and diplomatic mission abroad, Myanmar is against terrorism in all forms and manifestations.

The challenges of combating terrorism are both difficult and complex. Therefore it is essential that the international community come together under the aegis of the United Nations to overcome the enormous challenge.

In this regard, I commend the Secretary-General for organizing a treaty event at the United Nations Headquarters from 10 to 16 November 2001. Myanmar is a party to four of the twelve conventions on terrorism and on November 12 we signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and acceded to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

Mr. President,

In the aftermath of the economic crisis of 1997, Asian countries are still striving to bring themselves back into a path of sustained growth. However, the current slowdown in major economies of the world is threatening to negate whatever progress they have made. As these economies continue with their present structural reforms to sustain their economic recovery, they are confronted with an international economic and trading environment that is not very encouraging. This situation is creating difficulties especially for many developing countries and economies in transition. Commodity prices are declining due to weakening world demand. External financing conditions are also worsening. Factors such as indebtedness, declining official development assistance (ODA), low levels of domestic and foreign investment continue to undermine the programmes of the most vulnerable states. It is against this unfavorable backdrop that Myanmar is striving to achieve economic development of the country. There are also hindrances to our efforts to promote the well-being of our people, such as denial of the Official Development Assistance and application of unilateral and coercive economic measures. However, we are resolute in our efforts to achieve our goals by relying on our domestic resources and internal strength and putting our comparative advantages to optimum use. Our sustained national efforts for development have resulted in 8.4 per cent average annual growth in the last Five Year Plan, resulting in a substantial increase in per capita income and better living standards for the people.

Mr. President,

In their respective endeavours to bring about economic development and social progress, the developing countries continue to face formidable challenges. The debt burden, the declining ODA flow, lack of access to market and technology and decline in foreign direct investment(FDI) continue to persist. The United Nations must play a central role to help those countries help themselves. In this regard, we do recognize the important role of UN funds and programmes in international cooperation for development. However, their important role should not be undermined by practices not in conformity with the principles underpinning the operation of these funds and programmes. Moreover, they should not be used as a platform for exerting pressure on a country that needs and deserves international cooperation in its development efforts. While acknowledging the role of various funds and programmes, we are particularly appreciative of the important role of the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). In the United Nations Operational Activities for Development, UNDP serves as the principal instrument for capacity building in developing countries. Myanmar regrets, however, that the United Nations Development Programme is not allowed to have a country programme for Myanmar. While UNDP continues its useful activities in Myanmar, it is however prohibited from promoting capacity building for reasons other than those for which the UNDP has been created. In the present context of an extremely difficult economic and trading environment, denial of the right of development to a country in need of international cooperation is a matter that deserves redress in an appropriate manner.

Mr. President,

HIV/AIDS pandemic poses a serious challenge to the international community. The response of the international community and the efforts being made at national, regional and international levels to counter this global threat are very encouraging. However, the real challenge for us is the high level of resources needed to effectively combat this disease. It is therefore most welcome that a Global AIDS and Health Fund has been established. With the determination and the will demonstrated in the current efforts strengthened with adequate resources, we are convinced that we will eventually win this war on HIV/AIDS. Myanmar fully recognizes the nature and gravity of the HIV/AIDS problem and is taking necessary actions at the national level and is enhancing our cooperation at the regional and international level.

Mr. President,

Let me take this opportunity to apprise the august assembly about the political situation in our country. As you are aware, Myanmar is in the process of establishing a multi-party democracy with a sound economy. All the measures that we have taken are directed towards that end in a focused manner. This is the course of action, which we will pursue steadfastly to its logical end, that is until democracy is firmly established. Learning from our bitter experience in the past as well as from the lessons of other countries with similar experience, we take great care to ensure that the transition to a new system is peaceful, smooth and effective and that the foundations we are striving to lay are placed on a firm ground.

We have also been taking effective measures for national reconsolidation. We have reached arrangements with 17 out of 18 armed groups who are now joining hands with the Government in national development endeavours. In the same vein, we are making national reconsolidation efforts also with the political parties. Here, let me stress what the Secretary General has so rightly outlined in his report. Our national reconsolidation efforts are homegrown and our goal of building a peaceful and democratic society can only be successfully achieved by the people of Myanmar.

Mr. President,

Myanmar continues to make relentless efforts to combat the scourge of narcotic drugs. We have made considerable headway in the suppression of opium and heroin. The latest figures show that opium production has declined by 38 per cent. To achieve this we have tackled the problem in a holistic manner. We have strengthened our legislation. We have enhanced our enforcement capacity. We have combined this with a development programme to find alternative livelihood so that people in remote areas do not have to resort to growing opium.

While we are taking effective measures against cultivation, production and trafficking of opium poppy, we are also taking action against the danger of amphetamine-type stimulants(ATS), relatively new but equally dangerous narcotic drug. Due to its availability and affordable price, the wide spread use of ATS among youths is an alarming situation in our sub region. This situation calls for renewed efforts at the national level and stepped-up cooperation at the sub-regional level.

To enhance cooperation at the regional level, Ministers from Myanmar, China, Thailand and Laos met in Beijing in August and agreed to cooperate closely to fight the problem. Our efforts have achieved tangible results in seizure of drugs and traffickers involved.

Mr. President,

Myanmar fully understands how important and urgent it is to combat this scourge to mankind. We have the firm commitment at the highest political level and the determination to translate these commitments into practical and effective measures within the set timeframe.

Mr. President,

I wish to inform the Assembly that we have also enhanced our cooperation with the United Nations system. We continue our cooperation with Mr. Razali Ismail, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the UN, who had completed his fifth visit to the country in August. Another visit towards the end of this year has also been agreed to. Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Right visited the country two times early this year.

Determined to resolve the issue of forced labour, Myanmar is fully cooperating with the International Labour Organization (ILO). In September 2001, the High Level Team of the ILO paid three-week visit to Myanmar to objectively assess the practical and implementation of and actual impact of the legislative, executive and administrative measures adopted by the Government to eliminate the practice of forced labour. The Government extended full cooperation to the team in arranging their meetings in Myanmar and fact-finding trips to various parts of the country identified by it. Most importantly, we gave the team unfettered freedom and unlimited access to carry out its mandate successfully.

Mr. President,

Now let me make a few observations concerning the work of the Organization. Last year, our Heads of State and Government and leaders had gathered in this Assembly Hall and charted a roadmap to guide our future actions. All our work and energies must be directed towards how effectively to use this roadmap to reach a peaceful and developed world. Peace and development of the nations are the twin objectives of our Organization. While globalization has considerably reduced our planet to a village level, the issues we face to achieve peace and development are global in scale and complexity. As we are acutely aware, no one country is capable of resolving these issues on its own. It is only through concerted efforts and genuine partnerships that we will be able to address these issues of global scale. We believe that as the only universal forum with the most comprehensive mandate, the United Nations must play a central role and coordinate our actions in these efforts. At the same time the United Nations must be further strengthened and vitalized to be able to carry out its global mission effectively and expeditiously. This would require the further strengthening of its organs and institutions. On our part, we must provide the Organization with the resources and the level of support needed to implement its mandate. It is also vitally important to give real effect to our pledges with concrete actions if our Organization is to be successful in building a world of peace and development.

Mr. President,

The United Nations is an organization of sovereign states . While we have common interest in many areas, there are also areas where the members have diverse interests, areas where national interest of one member is at variance with another member or a group of member states. But in this rapidly globalizing world, there is no other avenue but that of cooperation. When one member's interest is at variance with another, we should try to find a common ground. If we have good will and understanding towards each other and if we use it as a basis in resolving our differences, there are no issues that are insurmountable. It is on this basis that Myanmar intends to cooperate with fellow members of the Organization in our endeavours to attain the common aspirations of mankind, peace, economic development and social progress of peoples the world over.

I thank you, Mr. President