THE HONOURABLE BILL GRAHAM
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CANADA
TO THE FIFTY-SEVENTH
THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 12 SEPTEMBER 2002
Thank you Mr. President.
I would like to congratulate you
on your election as President of the General Assembly and assure you of my delegation's
cooperation as you undertake your important responsibilities.
Yesterday, people the world over paused to remember the victims of the tragic events of one year ago. I had the opportunity of attending the interfaith service yesterday, where you and the Secretary-General spoke movingly about how the commemoration of this event must reinforce this institution's vocation as the forum dedicated to achieving world peace. Canadians entirely subscribe to the sentiments that you expressed. The attacks of last September were a cruel and devastating blow to the United States and, indeed, to us all. I am proud to say that Canadians stood in solidarity with our closest ally at that terrible moment. When the terrorists struck that day, they were also attacking the very principles of international law, security and humanitarianism that are embodied in the UN Charter. We believe that our ultimate response to the challenge of September 11 is thus to rededicate ourselves to our beliefs and to the principles upon which the United Nations was founded.
Now, more than ever, the main challenge for each of our countries, and for the United Nations, is to manage our interdependence. Environmental degradation and endemic poverty, the proliferation of disease and epidemics, the increasing threat of terrorism and organized crime: these are serious, complex issues that no one nation can confront alone. To succeed, our countries must work together, while also drawing on the expertise of civil society. Such cooperation is a formidable challenge, and one that the UN is best suited to meet.
Recognition of our interdependence in no way threatens our respective sovereignty. In fact, it gives each of us even more tangible means to act, and to succeed, through the sharing of our information, resources and initiatives.
The principles of multilateralism are best articulated in the Millennium Declaration, which assigns a decisive role to the United Nations Charter-and rightly so, for it is much more than our constitution. Indeed, it is our heart and soul. It reconciles national interests with the highest moral and ethical standards; standards that must govern the actions of each state. For us, the Charter is the key to unlock the door to the world of peace, security and justice that we hope to build.
The terrorist threat leads us to work together and, tragically, illustrates the extent of our interdependence. It demonstrates the urgency of finding solutions that are equal to the task at hand, and whose effectiveness hinges on new partnerships among our countries.
Our reaction to terrorism must be steadfast, to be sure, and we must make no concession to the agents of terror. But if we want our reaction to be truly effective, it must enhance both national security and individual human security. In fact, democratic governance, as well as security, find their most solid foundation in societies in which rights and freedoms are respected and where, as a result, dissidence more often than not takes constructive, rather than violent, forms.
What's more, the fight against terrorism challenges us to find ways to open our hearts and minds to the diversity of our world, its cultures and its religions. Now more than ever, we must promote dialogue and understanding, and encourage people to be tolerant of other people. In this way, we will help to eradicate at its source much of the pain in the world today, which all too often translates into rising hatred, extremism and fanaticism of all sorts.
Multilateralism has definitely proven its worth over the past year. For example, dozens of countries have offered their resources and experience to Afghanistan's new leaders, as members of the coalition against terrorism or of the Afghanistan Support Group. They have also contributed to the various UN programs seeking to establish political stability and representative government.
The G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, concluded at Kananaskis in June, is another concrete example of our joint commitment to battle terrorism and other threats to peace. Canada, as Chair of the G8, was a strong advocate of this major effort designed to strengthen international security and strategic stability. Canada will continue to work to make this initiative a success.
At all times, Canada is ready to offer its support wherever it is needed, and we encourage the international community to continue to do likewise. We also believe that the multilateral approach is useful in addressing the obvious challenges posed by sustainable development. In this regard, the consensus that emerged from the Monterrey Conference calls on all countries to work hand-in-hand to forge broader partnerships between developed and developing countries.
The situation in Africa cries out for action. For too long now, inaction has taken a heavy toll in terms of human suffering. However, hope is beginning to shine through. The New Partnership for Africa's Development, devised by African leaders determined to meet the challenges of self-development and endorsed-at Canada's urging-during the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, seeks to provide the people of Africa with conditions founded on good governance and democracy, while ending their marginalization and offering them the chance to achieve prosperity.
As we meet today, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis remains at an all too familiar impasse, despite the fact everyone knows what is needed to restore peace. We all know that the targeting of civilians must stop. That the security of Israel must be assured. That settlement-building must end. That the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians must be met. That the Palestinian Authority must reform itself democratically. That the peace negotiations must resume. We all know, in sum, that a road to a peaceful future must be built, a future in which two independent, viable, secure and democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security.
Canada calls on the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel to start back on the road to peace. The people and Government of Canada will accompany you and support you every step of the way.
We also meet here today in an atmosphere of deepening tensions caused by Iraq's continued flouting the will of the international community and the differing opinions that prevail around us on how to address this situation and bring this crisis to an end. Let there be no doubt, at the origin of today's tensions is the persistent refusal of the Iraqi government to comply with its obligations to us all under United Nations Security Council resolutions. For the past 11 years, Iraq has refused to demonstrate that it has abandoned its chemical, biological and nuclear weapon research and development programs, and even today it remains unwilling to do so. But let there also be-no doubt: bringing Iraq into conformity with its international obligations must be the work of us all-together.
We believe that our ability to find a solution to this challenge-one that is consistent with and, indeed, that reinforces the international framework that we have so painstakingly constructed since the last devastating world war-will define this generation and create precedents that may determine the future direction of our world. It is with this in mind that Canada welcomes the powerful messages delivered here today by President Bush affirming his country's commitment to work with the Security Council of the United Nations in resolving this serious threat to our collective peace and security.
We therefore urge Iraq to seize this opportunity without delay, and to grant immediate and unconditional access to UN weapons inspection teams in compliance with its UN Security Council obligations. The onus is clearly on the Government of Iraq to take this step now. The onus is equally on us to ensure that our international institutions emerge from this crisis reinforced and strengthened.
Such institutions may be new-as in the case of the International Criminal Court, a body that has the potential of ensuring the integrity of our international legal system, upon which so much depends for the peaceful resolution of our differences. I had the privilege of attending the inaugural meeting of the Assembly of States Parties here in New York this week, and was encouraged by the depth of international political and public support that exists for this important new body.
The people of the world want an end to impunity. They insist that their leaders no longer turn a blind eye to gross violations of international humanitarian law, such as those we witnessed in the past century. Immunity from the law is simply not acceptable. The state parties to the ICC Statute are more than willing to put into action the proposition that we can best enforce rules of law that we have arrived at by our common accord and that we are willing to have invoked against us. For the 79 states parties that attended the Assembly of States Parties, and the many observer states close to ratifying the Rome Statute, our objective remains to work resolutely and cooperatively to make this Court a reality.
The International Criminal Court represents a major change in the way the world works. The times we live in demand many such innovative approaches. For example, in response to a call from the Secretary-General, Canada, along with others, launched the independent International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Its landmark report, The Responsibility to Protect, has shifted the parameters of the debate from divisions over intervention toward agreement on the responsibility to protect people. The report holds that sovereignty entails responsibilities as well as rights, that sovereignty is responsibility. When states are unable or unwilling to afford protection to their own people, the international community has a responsibility to step in temporarily and provide that protection. This report represents an opportunity for us to reinforce the UN in its collective security mission. It is also an occasion to affirm the UN's fundamental norm-building role, and to find better ways to prevent and, where necessary, alleviate human suffering.
Part of our shared responsibility to raise the credibility of multilateral institutions is to address their shortcomings, including the United Nations itself. We are greatly encouraged that the Secretary-General and his Deputy Louise Frechette are proposing far-reaching organizational reforms. They can count on Canada's support. We also support reform in other areas, notably the near moribund disarmament commission and its glacial progress of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, where recent gains such as the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the negotiations on an International Code of Conduct on missiles are being overshadowed by myriad compliance problems.
Certainly, there are problems with multilateralism and the institutions we have created, but that should not cause us to doubt the desirability of an effective rules-based system. Our objective should be to address these shortcomings, where we see them, reform what we must, and in the process answer the criticisms of those suspicious of an interdependent world. We will only persuade the skeptics by building better institutions to implement the international rule of law, and to find solutions to our common problems.
Let us embrace cooperation, not division. Let us expand our sovereignty by pooling it. Let us be partners in the larger enterprise of building peace and freedom. No one country can meet all the challenges of our times on its own. Let us have confidence in our common humanity. Let us make the United Nations our principal instrument for peace.
I pledge to you today that Canada will spare no effort in doing so.