Mr. President, Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished delegates
Although the embers from the towering infernos which occurred on September 11 last have not fully died, it may nevertheless be possible to analyse the impact which that horrific disaster has had on international relations and, more particularly, the political, economic, and social consequences which it is likely to have for the world.
Such an analysis, it is to be hoped, will instruct us on how we may best respond to these new challenges and pursue the goals of global peace and development in this new twenty-first century.
Mr. President, It is fortuitous that this examination will be conducted under your Presidency since, coming as you do from the land of the morning calm, you will no doubt bring to bear on our debate not only a fresh and dispassionate view, but also a ray of hope after the long dark night through which we have passed. My delegation offers you our warmest congratulations and good wishes as you continue to guide the work of this historic General Assembly which, though inaugurated in the depths of despair, may yet hold out the promise of redemption for mankind.
I would be remiss were I not also to extend our gratitude to your distinguished predecessor, Mr. Harri Holkeri, who presided with great verve and vigour over the Assembly through very critical and interesting times. He has contributed much to the revitalization of the General Assembly.
To the distinguished Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, I convey our greetings and commendation for his steady leadership of our organization. The recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him and to the United Nations is a source of great satisfaction and pride for Guyana and, indeed, for the entire membership.
Mr. President, as was so aptly stated by the Economist of the week September 15 - 21, the terrorist attack on the United States altered the geopolitical landscape as indelibly as it did the Manhattan skyline. The world is a changed place since that horrendous event, changed in that we suddenly find, under threat, by unorthodox and hitherto unimaginable means, the values by which our organization is driven - values, the attainment of which have been the object of our onerous and protracted labours for a period extending over many decades. We cannot help but feel a sense of sorrow and shame that such a barbaric act - as the destruction of the World Trade Center and a part of the Pentagon most certainly was - could have occurred in this day and age only a short distance from this house of our common humanity.
Like most leaders of the civilized world, the President of Guyana, His Excellency Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, was swift to condemn this egregious crime. His condemnation of the perpetrators was clear and unequivocal. As a small and vulnerable state, with limited ability to defend itself in the event of encroachment on its territorial integrity, Guyana cannot accept the threat or the use of violence to resolve conflicts and disputes, whether inter-state or intea-state. All differences - no matter how complex or justified must be settled, as called for in the Charter of the United Nations, by peaceful means such as those specified in Article 33.
The violence which was visited two months ago upon some five thousand human beings - including many of our own nationals - in this our host city and, indeed, before that, upon so many other peoples and places in the world, must not only be roundly condemned but also condignly punished. The international community must now develop an arsenal of appropriate legal instruments, including a comprehensive Convention against Terrorism, to combat this new enemy of our times. The message must clearly be sent to all who would use terrorism to pursue their objectives - no matter how laudable these may be - that their actions will not be tolerated by the members of this organization and instead, will be dealt with firmly with the full force of the law.
At home and in our various regions we must build defences that are strong enough to keep out terrorism and its concomitants, such as arms and drug trafficking, and other forms of transnational crime. Within the Caribbean Community, of which Guyana is a member, we have agreed to set up mechanisms for information sharing and coordinated action to deny these criminal elements access to our territories. A Regional Task Force has been established to identify measures necessary to creating a cordon sanitaire to help insulate us from their onslaught. This is not an easy mandate since, as the immigration doors in the developed countries become more tightly closed, hundreds of hardened criminals are being deported to our countries which, because of severe financial and human constraints, are ill-equipped to handle the influx. One can only pray that our populations will not come to serious harm.
Mr. President, although perhaps not as immediate or striking as these political and security consequences, the economic and social impact of the September 11 disaster, has been no less powerful and pervasive. All countries have undoubtedly been affected by the fall out, but small and vulnerable states, such as my own, will find it especially difficult to cope with the resulting hardship. Our countries, with far fewer alternatives available to them than to the more developed because of an unfavourable international economic system, high levels of external debt and unequal terms of trade will suffer disproportionately. As always, the exporters of primary products now, as in the past, are the first to suffer a downturn in the world economy and the last to recover - a process that occurs with a frequency that is altogether depressing.
These imbalances and asymmetries which seriously affect the progress of development in developing countries are now likely to become even more pronounced in the rapid process of globalization. Still, as is often said "it's an ill wind that does not blow some good". We would, therefore, wish to believe that, out of the calamity which has recently befallen us, will come an improvement in our lot. We should not be foolish, however, to think that this will happen automatically. Salvation will depend on our willingness to learn from our experience and to do better in the future. From the ashes of World War II arose the phoenix of the United Nations, giving hope to new generations that they could live in peace, prosperity and larger freedom. Sadly, the end of the Cold War did not generate a similarly bold enterprise, leaving humanity to wander aimlessly in search of a peaceful existence. We must, before it is too late, honour our commitment to the United Nations Charter and create a new vision and strategy with which we may face the challenges of this new era.
In keeping with the spirit and substance of our historic compromise, we must act responsibly to remove from our midst all threats to global peace and security. Foremost among these, is the situation in the Middle East at the core of which is the Palestinian problem stemming from the persistent denial to an entire people of the enjoyment of their basic and inalienable rights. The peace process must be immediately re-engaged with seriousness of purpose and determination to put an end, once and for all, to the senseless violence and bloodshed which has been the unhappy fate of the Palestinian people. They, as well as other peoples of the region, must be allowed to live in a state of their own, free from fear or want, within safe and secure borders. However, it is not only the Middle East which suffers from the ravages of conflict. In far too many places - in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and in Europe, the risk of violence is ever present, fuelled by a variety of factors and made more dangerous by the possibility of spreading through large swaths of territory, sometimes transcending national frontiers. To avert these threats, we must fully utilize the machinery provided in the Charter for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Not only must we insist upon the cardinal principles upon which peace relies - such as respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states - we must also employ the practical measures which the Charter sets out for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is unfortunate that the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, is too often perceived as undemocratic and opaque, giving rise to doubts about the legitimacy and effectiveness of its activities. Only a significant reform of the Council, including a restriction on the use of the veto, will generate the public confidence which that body needs to function satisfactorily. Similarly, the peace-making and peacekeeping machinery of the United Nations needs to be overhauled so as to enable the Organization to satisfy the growing demands placed upon it. Clearly, the world wants peace and wants the United Nations to provide it. We must therefore strive to ensure that the organization is adequately equipped to respond in a timely and commensurate manner.
It is important in all of this, Mr. President, that the Agenda for Peace not be allowed to diminish or displace the Agenda for Development since, were this to happen, the prospects for any durable peace would be virtually non-existent. Peace and development are inextricably intertwined, and any attempt to separate them would not only be artificial but also dangerous. We would do well to bear this in mind should recent events prompt a reordering of global priorities, and lead to a diversion of attention from economic and social issues to purely political and security concerns. Already, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attack, the President of the World Bank was reported to have said that the 2015 target for halving global poverty could not now be reached and that, in fact, poverty would increase over the next year or two. This deterioration is not easily contemplated by small economies like our own and those of the Caribbean region.
At a meeting which was held to analyse the impact of the events of September 11 on their countries, CARICOM Heads of Government adopted the Nassau action plan to enhance regional security and bolster their fragile economies to withstand the shocks resulting from the recent terrorist attacks. In Guyana our Government has just elaborated, after extensive consultations with our population, a strategy aimed at the further reduction of poverty which is undoubtedly the great bugbear to progress. However, neither of these attempts at sustainable development will succeed without the support of the international community, more particularly the developed and the multilateral financial institutions.
It is therefore imperative that the United Nations pursues actively the Agenda for Development to enable developing countries, especially the small and weak, to ride out the current political and economic storms. The upcoming High Level Conference on Financing for Development which will take place in Monterrey, Mexico next March represents a unique opportunity to examine both the internal and external constraints that significantly affect the mobilization of financial resources for development, as well as to collectively address the inefficiencies and inequities of existing financial markets. The high concentration of these markets on existing financial assets aimed at short-term profit, rather than on new assets linked to the creation of wealth and employment for longer-term development remains a source of great concern and must be remedied.
Early action is also needed to implement the key multi-sectoral recommendations emerging from the Special Session on HIV/AIDS held earlier this year, in order to address the developmental challenge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic which has caused more than eighteen million deaths worldwide. In welcoming the establishment of the Global HIV/AIDS and Health Fund, I would urge that the operational aspects of the Fund be finalized without delay in as inclusive a manner as possible.
Similarly, the World Summit on Information Society scheduled for 2003 should serve, we hope, to focus attention on the further marginalisation of developing countries and the widening of the digital divide in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.
Equally promising is the World Summit on Sustainable Development which will be held next September in Johannesburg and will give the global community an opportunity to evaluate the progress made since the UNCED in Rio 1992. While we have succeeded in raising the level of awareness of both the concept of and need for sustainable development, little else appears to have been achieved. Yet to be fully addressed are the economic, social and environmental concerns that are at the heart of sustainable development. Johannesburg will offer a critical opportunity for doing this. We should therefore be careful not to engage in a re-negotiation of the Rio principles but, rather, seek to promote the transfer of technology and provide more concessionary sources of finance for the implementation of national policies and programmes in support of sustainable development.
Mr. President, we must now acknowledge that the prevailing international system of development cooperation is deeply flawed and has failed to achieve its primary objective of increasing growth and improving the quality of life in poor countries. Inherent in the system are many debt and poverty traps that continue to ensnare millions of the world's poorest people. Not only is the experience painful, but it often deprives the poor of their basic human rights, there being a nexus, now universally recognized, between the acutalisation of human rights and economic development. It is out of this recognition that my delegation, last November, brought before the General Assembly resolution number 55/48 on the role of the United Nations in promoting a New Global Human Order.
As envisioned by the late President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, the proposal for a New Global Human Order acknowledges that the major constraints affecting economic and social progress in developing countries reside in capacity limitation in the critical areas of markets, administrative and institutional structures in both the public and private sectors, the leveraging of resources and the ability of developing countries to negotiate as equal partners in a number of forums outside the United Nations. The proposal therefore seeks to improve the effectiveness of development cooperation programmes, optimise scarce financial resources and reduce the spread of poverty. It also addresses new ways of managing development cooperation which could significantly overcome problems of aid dependence, current imbalances and asymmetries in international trade, and the high indebtedness that continues to affect developing countries.
These objectives, in the view of the Government of Guyana can be achieved through a comprehensive dialogue among governments, based not only on political and economic considerations, but also on ethical and moral principles, which are necessary to the creation of a more humane and just order. This dialogue, which began at the last session of the General Assembly will be renewed at the fifty-seventh session when, we hope, the concept will be further embedded into the international consciousness and ultimately accepted as the way forward to a more enlightened system of international relations.
Mr. President, it is entirely appropriate that this dialogue should be held within the United Nations since the multifaceted and transnational nature of today's challenges requires a multilateral, rather than a unilateral approach. There is no doubt that the United Nations is ideally suited to promote such global partnership in an international environment that requires firm, focused and inclusive governance. Given the universality of this Organization's membership, the principles and values that it has long upheld, and the growing interest of civil societies in its activities, the United Nations has a singular opportunity to exercise a leadership role in international political, social and economic policy-making.
At this time of great uncertainty and trepidation, we must recognize
more than ever, the continuing need for the United Nations Organization
which, despite its many accomplishments in its fifty-six years of existence,
is yet to yield the promise of its Charter. We must not allow complacency,
self-interest or unilateralism to compromise that global vision of the
I thank you