Statement by H.E. AHMED MAHER EL SAVED
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT
57th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 13 September 2002
I would like to begin my statement by extending our sincere congratulations
to you, personally and as a representative of the Czech Republic, on your election
as President of the Fifty Seventh Session of the General Assembly. I am confident
that you will steer its work - at this important juncture - with your recognized
ability and, wisdom that stem from your country's long experience in confronting
aggression and the horrors it brings. I would also like to take the opportunity
to pay tribute to your predecessor, our friend Han Seung-soo, and to his country
Korea, whose positive and effective role led to the achievement of results that
we aspire to consolidate.
I would not fail to express our deep appreciation to the Secretary-General,
Mr. Koffi Anan, who - with his experience, wisdom and perseverance - contributed
during the past six years to reasserting the standing of the Organization and
the effectiveness of its role, and to strengthening the principles upon which
the Charter was founded, all despite the obstacles and hurdles that were placed
before him either deliberately or unwittingly by those ignorant of the prominence
of the United Nations providing the opportunity, to victors and vanquished alike,
to keep abreast of the developments of the age and to realize the hopes and
aspirations of peoples for a world that is safer and more just for all.
On behalf of Egypt, I would, also like to welcome Switzerland
and East Timor, the two most recent members of the United Nations family, and
we look forward to their active participation in its work.
The current session convenes one year after the horrific tragedy
that befell the United Sates on the 1 l t' of September of last year and for
which we reiterate our condolences to it, stressing our shared sense of loss
with the families of the victims, wishing for the injured a speedy recovery,
hoping that this strong nation will overcome this ordeal and look to a future
- in cooperation with the rest of the world - forged by all of us for the inhabitants
of the planet regardless of their race or religion, without discrimination,
intolerance or bias. Egypt has stood by the United States throughout this difficult
ordeal, an ordeal whose target was not only a friendly country but also the
values and principles to which we all adhere and which relate to respect for
humankind and his right to life, to choosing to build - rather than to destroy,-
as a basis for joint action. In this regard, I would like to briefly state the
1) Notwithstanding the gravity of the tragic events that took place on that
sad day, the world neither began nor ended on 9/11. Many peoples have known
terrorism before, they have suffered from it and have resisted it - sometimes
alone - in the face of hardship and even unjustified criticism. What is new
is that the heinous crime of 9/11 has generated an unprecedented wave of constructive
international solidarity. It has confirmed what we have been stating; all along:
that terrorism is a global phenomenon that it is not associated with any particular
country, continent, race or religion. It is an expression of a propensity for
evil that remains dormant until the opportunity presents itself, either from
within or due to prevailing circumstances, for it to awaken and wreak havoc.
Thus it is important to reiterate what President Mubarak, for a number of years,
has been calling for on the convening of an international conference in which
nations pledge to participate in assuming their responsibilities to confront
terrorism, thus legitimizing theoverwhelming wave of solidarity extended to
the United States in its hour of grief and agony.
2) Combating terrorism is not meant to be the lens through which the world
views every issue and every problem. Terrorism is one of the evil phenomena
of the world and it should not lead us to forget the evils of poverty, disease,
occupation, denial of personal, national and nationalistic rights, humiliation-of
man and destruction of his livelihood by means of a bomb or by any other no
less harmful means.
Terrorism has roots and causes - and not justifications - and
I believe that, in most cases, a viable remedy for terrorism can only be found
if we drain the tributaries of hopelessness, anger and frustration that feed
the propensity for evil, otherwise their congruence becomes explosive.
3) It is both necessary and righteous that we not confuse those who are unjust
with those who are unjustly treated. The international community should not
confuse terrorism, which we reject, condemn and fight, with the legitimate right
-that conforms to standards compatible with our values - to defend against aggression,
occupation, the usurpation of rights or attempts to erase cultural identities.
A right exercised by the resistance that liberated the United States more than
two centuries ago, and that liberated Europe from the Nazi tyranny that initiated
the holocaust but ended perishing in its fire.
I would like here to reiterate what is known by everyone: that
no religion, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism, preaches terrorism.
These are all religions that proclaim lofty values and ideals. It is inappropriate
to blame them for the sins of a few of its followers who have gone astray. Our
struggle against terrorism should proceed from our collective solidarity in
cherishing life, and not from hatred that is neither the solution nor the refuge.
The world is at an extremely delicate juncture in its history.
We are at a crossroads in international relations. The Organization's enhanced
capacity to respond to the hopes and aspirations that followed the end of the
cold war and its divisions coincide with a trend to neglect that same capacity,
deepen new divisions and resort to unilateral decisions. That trend only leads
to deadlock that handicaps us from addressing issues that may determine the
fate of humanity, its ability to reconcile with nature and advanced technology
and the opportunities provided by it towards a better life free from poverty,
want, disease, oppression and fear, a life in which justice and solidarity prevail.
We therefore have to break this deadlock - which is of no benefit
to any party or cause - by renewing our commitment to the Charter and reaffirming
our determination to work together to strengthen the United Nations, enhance
its effectiveness and give prominence to its aims, and champion its objectives
in confronting both the old and new dangers that face our world. One of these
dangers is the persistence of areas of conflict and violence in the world, including
the one we suffer from in the Middle East.
The Palestinian people continue to suffer under an oppressive
occupation that refuses the judgment of history embodied by our Charter that
the age of colonialism has come to an end. An occupation that adheres to policies
reminiscent of the ages of darkness and chaos. The Arabs have extended their
hand to Israel with a unanimously adopted initiative that reflects their genuine
belief in a peace that guarantees - without exceptions or double standards -
the rights of all. If Israel has a genuine desire for peace, it must abandon
its greed and illusions, desist from its practices and aggression against the
Palestinian people and their legitimate leadership and agree to -withdraw from
all the. Arab territories that were occupied in 1967 in Palestine, Syria and
Lebanon. Thus, the independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its
capital, can be established and join all the Arab states that have demonstrated
their readiness to establish normal relations with Israel and live with it in
peace and security.
Justice, right, mutual respect and the restoration of rights to
their owners were the building blocks on which peace between Egypt and Israel
was established, securing safe borders and normal relations during the past
25 years. The other model, however, that Israel has espoused with our brethren
in Palestine has achieved neither peace nor security; rather, it has resulted
in victims on both sides falling each day paying the price for an attempt to
obstruct the natural progress of events. The international community has to
assume its responsibility in this regard without prejudice except for righteousness,
and without veering except towards justice and without ambition except for a
peace that allows the peoples of the region to forge a better) future. It must
reaffirm the necessity of abiding by the Charter and resolutions of the United
Nations and the agreements that were signed and reject any pretexts to abandon
them. The discussion on security and stability in the Middle East also relates
to the situation in Iraq, which must be dealt with in the context of the United
Nations' Charter and resolutions to which all parties must respect and adhere
and away from a course of military action. Egypt thus affirms its rejection
of inflicting military strikes against Iraq whose unity and territorial integrity
must be respected and who must for its part respect the legitimate international
will. Work must be done towards bringing an end to the extreme suffering of
the people of Iraq and terminate the embargo that has inflicted profound harm
upon it and the livelihood of its citizens and future generations.
Any discussion about the United Nations, its achievements and
its future will be incomplete without recalling the tangible contributions of
the Organization towards focusing attention on the major issues of our times
and elaborating an international consensus on some of them. This contribution
was realized through a series of conferences that were convened during the last
decade of the twentieth century and the beginning years of this century on the
environment, human rights, population, social development, women, financing
for development and sustainable development. This was also achieved through
the recommendations of the Millennium Summit of the General Assembly which represented
an attempt at shaping a conceptual framework for the Organization's work based
on peace and security for nations and individuals, development in its comprehensive
term in the economic and social fields, equality among states and respect for
the cultural diversity of nations and societies.
In this regard, I would like to reaffirm the importance of the
faithful implementation, both in letter and, in spirit, of the outcomes emanating
from these conferences; it is also important not to evade these mutual obligations
or attempt to circumvent them. Eventually, The judgment of history will not
be based on the intentions and objectives contained in political declarations
and final documents, but rather on the extent of our success in the implementation
of their content.
Any just consideration of the international economic situation
will conclude that it is impossible to continue the present disparities in the
distribution of wealth among the peoples of the Earth, the lack of democracy
in international economic decision making, the persistence of arbitrary trade
practices and monetary policies against the interests of developing countries
which lead to successive financial crises and, at times, result in the economic
collapse of many developing countries and destroy, in the space of a few days,
the gains of development accrued over decades of arduous national efforts.
Our African continent and its issues occupy a special place in
the efforts of the international community aimed at achieving economic and social
development and maintaining international peace and security in accordance with
the collective responsibility we all assume under the Charter. These efforts
proceed from a firm conviction that the United Nations, and the Security Council
in particular, has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and
security in the continent; they also proceed from our conviction that we, as
African states, are indispensable partners that bear a special responsibility
to resolve the conflicts that fragment our continent, and formulate the programs
that would extricate our peoples from the anguish of poverty to join the course
of progress and prosperity.
Our continent has demonstrated its seriousness by launching the
New Initiative for African Development (NEPAD) that was endorsed by African
Heads of State at the Lusaka Summit in 2001 and the African Union that was inaugurated
at their recent Summit in Durban last July. If African states - by embracing
these two initiatives - have adopted an approach for building their future on
the basis of the highest of ideals that represent the most noble of human thinking,
then the international community for its part should support that approach in
order to provide a better life for their peoples, open markets for their products,
inject foreign investment into their economies and assist them to solve their
The persistence of volatile conflicts and the dangers of the possession
by states, organizations or individuals of weapons of mass destruction, make
it incumbent upon us to afford more diligence to disarmament issues. At the
regional level, Egypt has repeatedly called for serious engagement to rid the
Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear weapons at their
forefront, and to place all nuclear facilities in the region, without exception,
under international supervision.
Peace and security cannot be established in the Middle East while
a grave disparity persists between the rights and obligations of the states
of the region that upsets its balance of power. The stability of the region
will only be achieved when Israel accedes to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) being as it is the only state in the region that has not done so to date.
This stability will also be attained by proceeding towards the implementation
of President Mubarak's initiative to rid the Middle East of all weapons of mass
destruction and their delivery systems.
In addition to all of the preceding, our world confronts other
ills, which represent both a challenge and an opportunity for us to assert our
ability to work together for the good of all. Efforts to combat endemic diseases
have fallen short. Several countries around the world suffer from the spread
of HIV/AIDS which threatens their stability and whose capacity and resources
disable them from containing the pandemic, thus necessitating, in such a situation,
assistance for those countries in dealing with the crisis. Our world also confronts
numerous environmental challenges such as biological diversity, climate change,
drought and desertification, all of which require the redoubling of international
efforts to address them in order to safeguard the right of future generations
to a secure life. The scarcity of water threatens the eruption of conflicts
in different regions of the world, and the international community is therefore
called upon to maximize the benefit from, and the proper management of, available
water resources while respecting and protecting the acquired rights of states
and the international agreements that govern the rights to utilize those resources.
The sheer size, complexity and scope of all these problems may lead some to submit to pessimism and frustration, but we are confident that the forces of good in the world - armed with the noble principles of our Charter for which we come here every year to reiterate our commitment - shall remain resolute to fashion a better tomorrow. We are confident that humankind shall overcome the propensity for evil so that together we can forge ahead towards frontiers made possible by unprecedented technological progress at the outset of the twenty first century, and which God commanded us to dedicate to our collective well being so that the world can live in peace, security, prosperity and harmony. This will allow the young to flourish, potential to emerge, hope to overcome fear and pain, light to prevail over darkness, and humankind to triumph over all that hinders his joyousness, freedom and advancement.