HIS EXCELLENCY DR. PRACHA GUNA-KASEM
SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THAILAND
AT THE 56 T" SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 15 NOVEMBER 2001
Please Check Against Delivery
Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to deliver this statement on behalf of His Excellency Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. First, allow me to join all previous distinguished speakers in expressing our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or suffered from the tragic incidents on 11 September 2001. The people and Government of Thailand share the feelings of sorrow and outrage caused by these acts of terrorism. Our condolences go to the people and Government of the United States.
I wish to extend my congratulations on your election to the Presidency of this 56th Session, and express my full confidence that, under your guidance, we shall be able to build upon the United Nations Millennium Declaration and accomplish our goals of bringing peace, prosperity and well-being to this world.
I wish also to express our warmest congratulations to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on his being conferred the Nobel Peace Prize and to the United Nations, as well as on his re-election as Secretary-General. This prestigious recognition has been made through the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General himself and the dedicated United Nations staff. The achievement of the Secretary-General has been noted in his Millennium Report, which encapsulates the United Nations activities ahead and outlines the framework for the tasks and focuses on "people" as the center for development, both at international and national levels.
After the events of 11 September 2001, the shared destiny of the world will depend greatly on how we manage to cope with these emerging new realities and growing complexities. No country is truly safe from terrorism and no one is capable of fighting it alone. Now is the time for each and every nation to contribute and participate in the joint efforts in combating terrorism.
In Thailand, we resolutely condemn all forms of terrorism and are fully supportive of all the international community's efforts in combating this grave threat to global peace and security. Thailand supports all actions against terrorism under the framework of the United Nations in accordance with relevant resolutions of the United Nations and international law. We have extended cooperation to the international community, through existing laws such as mutual assistance in criminal matters, in the form of information exchange and intelligence sharing. The Thai Government is amending existing domestic legislation and regulations to enable the country to be party to relevant international conventions, especially the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.
At the regional level, Thailand participates actively in the recent regional gatherings at the highest level where international terrorism received a high priority, namely the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Shanghai. We joined other APEC leaders in expressing grave concern over the threat to world peace and stability of the world economy caused by terrorism, and reaffirming a renewed sense of urgency to restore confidence to the global economy.
At the 7th ASEAN Summit on 5th November 2001 in Brunei Darussalam, ASEAN leaders issued a declaration outlining specific measures to further strengthen cooperation to deal with the threat of terrorism in the region. Measures proposed include enhancement of intelligence exchange and deepening cooperation among law enforcement agencies. ASEAN leaders also stressed the need to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN Dialogue Partners and within the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and affirmed that the United Nations should play a major role in this regard.
Thailand supports an international conference at the ministerial level on international terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations to be held at the earliest opportunity. This should facilitate the discussion of problems and cooperation on anti-terrorism, leading to possible concrete measures at the global level. Terrorism should not be identified with any ethnic group, faith, or nationality. Otherwise, our efforts could result in greater danger for our peoples.
(Economic and Social Development)
International terrorism has also exacerbated the slowdown in the global economy. This carries with it significant social ramifications as well. Airline, tourism, and related industries worldwide have felt the impact of international tension. Countries already struggling to recover from the recent economic slowdown are preparing to safeguard their economies from sliding further into sluggishness. Confronted with the ever-widening gap between developed and developing countries, the United Nations and member states must work together to arrest and reverse this trend.
The efforts to bridge the gap must not be confined only within the United Nations framework. The World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, which was just concluded, was a timely opportunity in which nations proved that they could work together and achieved substantial progress in pushing forward the global trade agenda for the common good of the world.
(Government Economic and Social Policies)
Since assuming office early this year, the present Thai Government has been pursuing a new approach to economic and social policy. The Thai Government has introduced a series of economic and social schemes aimed at promoting capacity building of the people at the grass roots. For instance, it has established the People's Bank and micro credit schemes for both the rural and urban poor. This is to assist each community by financing small local projects of developing and marketing the community's own product based on local know-how. In addition, more than two million small-scale Thai farmers will benefit from the Government's debt suspension scheme and a nationwide health insurance scheme.
On the issue of Afghanistan, the UN and the international community in collaboration with the Afghans themselves must move quickly to formulate modalities that would help restore order and stability. We should also render all possible assistance to Afghanistan, starting with those of humanitarian nature at this crucial time to capacity building in the near future. Thailand, for her part, will provide a fairly large amount of rice, approximately 3,000 metric tons, as food relief for the Afghans. The Thai Red Cross has also donated 10,000 blankets.
Within our own region of Southeast Asia, Thailand has reinvigorated bilateral relations with our immediate neighbors and has cooperated closely in pursuing a common vision of opening of borders. We have also decided to establish joint production bases and transportation linkages. These initiatives carry on the momentum begun last year when ESCAP adopted a resolution proposed by Thailand on the "Decade of the Greater Mekong Sub-region in Development Cooperation, 2000 - 2009." This Sub-region has been placed at the forefront of the Asia-Pacific development agenda. In addition, Thailand also has a role in keeping peace in the region. We take special pride in the fact that two Thai Generals have successively served as Force Commanders of UNTAET, which is a subsequent operation after International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET). This is part and parcel of Thailand's commitment in shouldering its fair share of international responsibility, particularly in Southeast Asia.
We envisage the United Nations playing a major role in strengthening the foundations for the future world, which is peaceful, tolerant, and sustainable for our peoples and future generations. Therefore, Thailand is fully supportive of the United Nations Year for Dialogue among Civilizations and participated actively in the recently concluded World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa.
As we celebrate this year, the 56th Anniversary of the United Nations, and as we congratulate the Secretary-General and the United Nations, we must ask ourselves: what do we expect of the United Nations? I believe we expect the United Nations to work even harder towards cultivating a culture of peace as well as improving the pace of the international social and economic development. In these endeavors, we believe rich and poor nations must contribute in their varied capacities. These national efforts must go hand in hand with those of the United Nations.
Let us focus on the immediate priorities of maintaining peace and harmony in the world. Let us pledge to work with even greater vigor together for the political, economic, social, and physical well being of our peoples. These are, and should be, the enduring priorities for the United Nations and for all humankind.