STATEMENT BY D.R JORGE CASTAŃEDA
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ORDINARY SESSION
13 SEPTEMBRE 2002, NEW YORK
Heads of State and Government,
The international community is undergoing a defining moment. A year after the terrible attack against the United States, in which men and women from 80 different nations perished, we have the responsibility to decide, together, the direction that the international system shall take in the coming years.
Mexico is well aware of the magnitude of the challenges faced by our organization today: the urgency of redirecting globalization along a more humane path; of fighting the poverty that divides the world community; of making possible the type of development that respects the environment; of finding formulas for resolving the many conflicts and wars that now affect millions of people around the globe; of effectively fighting international terrorism; of guaranteeing respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person.
Confronting these challenges in a responsible and visionary way is more important today than it has ever been. In the present circumstances, however, moral outrage or the inevitable difficulties of consensus building could cloud judgment or give rise to pressures to act hastily or unilaterally. Mexico is convinced that the only legitimate course of action in this context is to adopt a multilateral perspective that favors agreement and collective endeavor, so as to benefit the international community as a whole, as well as each individual member of this community. Mexico thus reaffirms here today its commitment to the continuation of a system of international security that gives the Security Council responsibility for maintaining world peace. In fulfilling this mandate, the Security Council must base its actions on the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, such as the peaceful resolution of disputes, which has been a fundamental aspiration of the community of nations since the middle of the last century and one of my country's most deeply held ideals.
Mexico strongly believes that the Security Council is the proper body that can today adopt the necessary measures to achieve a lasting solution to the situation in Iraq. That is why we welcome the pronouncement made yesterday by President George Bush regarding the importance that collective debate and decision will have, during the days and weeks to follow, in determining the actions that must be taken with regard to Iraq. Nevertheless, we cannot fail to recognize that the scope of action open for the members of the Council and the international community as a whole will invariably involve complex challenges in the days ahead.
We unequivocally condemn Iraq's continued failure to comply with the resolutions of this organization regarding disarmament and the renunciation of weapons of mass destruction, and we reiterate the importance of that nation's immediate compliance, without any preconditions, with the Council's resolutions regarding the return of UN inspectors. But we also recognize that noncompliance with Security Council resolutions has occurred in other junctures, at other times, at different latitudes.
Today, we believe it is essential for the Council to be given the necessary time and support in order to facilitate the return of the UN inspectors, and we therefore support President Jacques Chirac's recent proposal to set a specific period of time for meeting this objective.
Additionally, as a responsible and committed member of the Security Council, Mexico believes that any decision that may result from a possible Iraqi noncompliance regarding the resolutions on this subject, should be adopted only after the following two conditions have been met. First, that a clearer evaluation of Iraq's actual weapons capacity be carried out -including both technologies and vectors, as well as its intention to use them or the ability of terrorist groups to gain access to them- based on reports issued by the United Nations inspection mechanisms or on additional information that individual countries could provide. Second, that an agreement be reached among the Council's member nations, together with other countries directly involved, regarding the steps that must be taken in light of the above evaluation or as a result of Iraq's refusal to allow the return of inspectors within its territory.
Mexico believes that unilateral military action taken without first consulting the Council would undermine the foundations of the new world security architecture and could affect the consensus that has been reached in the battle against international terrorism as a result of the attacks made a year ago against the United States.
Mexico appears today before this General Assembly determined to assume an active and purposeful role in building a new world order. This determination to favor dialogue and cooperation with other nations is a reflection of the democratic change that has taken place in my country in an environment of social harmony, unrestricted; freedoms, economic stability and the strengthening of the rule of law. This process has also given Mexico a new sense of confidence regarding its ability to contribute to the goals of the international community.
Mexico's determination to play a more active and constructive role in the world at large has led us to incorporate, as central elements in the definition of our national interest, subjects and perspectives that have global dimensions and impact. Promoting world development, defending human rights, and strengthening democracy and sustainable development are examples of this commitment that goes beyond borders and traditional notions of sovereignty. The efforts we are undertaking in the pursuit of global ideals will also enable us to more vigorously promote our national values and interests.
This enhanced activism at the international level on Mexico's part has found expression in a set of actions that mark a clear departure in the history of our foreign policy. One of the projects that best exemplifies this global vision is the Puebla-Panama Plan, the most ambitious regional development initiative ever been undertaken in Central America. The goal of this plan is to coordinate the efforts of the private, social and public sectors of Mexico and of all the Central American countries in implementing joint development and investment projects throughout the region.
With this same determination, we are promoting a sense of community in North America, in order to articulate shared values that will lead to a common vision of regional development that is coherent, broad and longterm. Within this framework, we believe that the progressive negotiation of an immigration agreement, so as to bring order and legality to the movement of labor,in the region, is an urgent priority. From Mexico's perspective, labor flows between nations must be viewed as an opportunity for redirecting the process of globalization and reducing the gap between developed and less developed nations.
My country has also launched an intensive campaign of cultural promotion abroad through the creation of the Mexico Institute, a diplomatic instrument of the type commonly referred to as "soft power Through this strategy, Mexico is trying to present before the world the wealth, diversity and vitality of its culture, in order to build bridges between countries and regions. Strengthening cooperation and cultural bonds among our countries must be a priority of us all. That is why we welcome the return of the United States to UNESCO.
Mexico's enhanced international activism which has evolved over the past two years- has been particularly evident in our intensive work within multilateral forums. In carrying out this work, we have often been able to build on the foundations established by previous administrations. However, there can be no doubt that there is a new spirit and a new sense of purpose in Mexico's multilateral activism, nor can one doubt its importance within the international strategy that our country is pursuing.
Our most important task in the multilateral arena lies here within this Organization. The Mexican government is proud of having received the support of the community of nations in our election as a non-permanent member to the Security Council. We are participating actively in this and other forums, in order to build a new international architecture that will regulate relations among nations in the coming decades.
Mexico's role in APEC, a mechanism in which we have participated since 1993, is another eloquent example of our international activism. In October, Mexico will host the Tenth APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, at which we will continue to promote activities that foster greater prosperity for the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region.
Mexico has also vigorously promoted the renewal of international economic negotiations. The Monterrey Conference, held last March, promoted a broad and inclusive alliance among States and international organizations that contributes to a higher level of financing for development, involving a fair balance between national responsibilities and international cooperation. The Monterrey Consensus is today the basis for redirecting the course of globalization to ensure a more equitable growth that will help in the battle against poverty, and it constitutes the ideal means for placing developmental priorities at the center of the international economic agenda.
From Mexico's perspective, the Monterrey Conference is an important step in a wider sequence of international summits that seek to advance the agenda for world development. This process started last year in Doha, with the WTO Ministerial Meeting; it grew in strength by incorporating environmental concerns for sustainable development in Johannesburg; and it will move forward with the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting that will be held next year in Cancun, Mexico. The close interconnectivity of all issues related to development was also apparent during the recent Johannesburg Summit, where the positions that President Vicente Fox put forward on behalf of Mexico were widely supported.
As a result of our awareness of the new threats to international security, the Mexican government has called to update the security arrangements of the American continent. We offered to host a Special Conference on Security called by the Third Summit of the Americas, which, owing to the support of OAS member nations, will take place in Mexico in May 2003.
The importance of all those actions notwithstanding, the new role Mexico is playing at the international level is particularly evident in our promotion of human rights and democracy. My country has expressed its conviction that human rights represent absolute and universal values and that, as such, the obligation to uphold them is a duty that all governments and all peoples share, independently of borders and notions of sovereignty.
And, moreover, we have taken actions that are consistent with these convictions. That is why, and despite the mixed reaction that this has generated in Mexico, given the strong feelings of friendship that Mexican society has always felt toward several nations that are close to us, we have felt the need to express our concern about the human rights situation in those countries.
One of the most far-reaching measures we have undertaken to demonstrate our commitment to the cause of human rights is the harmonization of Mexican legislation with international instruments that protect them, with a view to ensuring that the standards established by the international community are fully in force in our country. And we have laid particular emphasis on the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups, such as women, children, indigenous peoples and the disabled.
In this process, we have also left behind the defensive attitude that prevented us from entering into a more constructive dialogue with other nations and with multilateral organizations dedicated to the defense and promotion of human rights. At the invitation of the Mexican government, many representatives of international human rights organizations have visited Mexico and contributed their vision and experience to the effort to reinforce observance of human rights throughout the country. In this same spirit of openness, the Mexican government signed a framework agreement with the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations on Human Rights that includes establishing permanent representation of that Office in Mexico.
As part of the Mexican government's efforts to strengthen the rule of law, the Mexican Senate is currently studying a draft Constitutional amendment that would allow our country to ratify the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. This reform would involve granting recognition to the international courts created by treaties to which Mexico is a party, as well as ensuring compliance with their resolutions and sentences. The amendment represents a decisive step forward in incorporating and ensuring the effectiveness of the standards of international law within our domestic environment, especially those related to the protection of human rights.
Mexico welcomes the recent entry into force of the International Criminal Court, a crucial event that reflects the determination of the community of nations to create an international system based on universal standards. However, we believe that the establishment of agreements by those who seek to prevent a given category of persons from being subject to the jurisdiction of International Criminal Court represents a grave step backward for international law. Those agreements threaten the universal reach of the provisions of the Rome Statute, they alter the spirit that led to its creation and undermine the efforts of the community of States to eliminate impunity in cases of extremely serious crimes. We call on the members of the international community to assist in consolidating the authority of the International Criminal Court, which has demanded so much time and effort to erect.
The defense of human rights necessarily leads to the promotion of democratic freedoms. Today, we see increasingly widespread recognition that representative democracy, with its institutional framework of parties, groups and organizations of civil society, as well as the legal provisions that protect civil liberties in the form of freedom of association and freedom of speech, constitutes the best way to reconcile the legitimate exercise of authority with respect for those freedoms that are essential to humanity.
Mexico's active role in drafting the Interamerican Democratic Charter-which was signed by the nations of the American continent in September 2001- is an example of my country's commitment to democratic principles. Its adoption represents an historic step forward in consolidating democracy in Latin America, a process in which, together with other nations of the region, Mexico has played a leading role. Furthermore, we are successfully promoting democratic values in other regions, as is shown by our work within the Community of Democracies, which is to hold its Second Conference in November.
The adherence of the Mexican government and Mexican society to human rights and democracy has two mutually complementary aspects: on the one hand, it implies strengthening democratic practices and institutions throughout the country, along with the observance of human rights, and to this end we are reaffirming the effectiveness of the rule of law. On the other hand, it compels us to undertake a more vigorous activism in international forums, so that we can encourage full respect for human rights and democracy throughout the world. This course of action will enable us to more firmly consolidate human rights and democracy in Mexico, so that the democratic change we have experienced becomes irreversible.
Mr. President, Delegates,
I come before you today to state that my country has returned with renewed energy to the international scene. The Mexican government has moved from defensive aloofness to constructive dialogue; from limited international legitimacy to the exercise of diplomacy based on democratic principles and unrestricted respect for human rights.
The kind of world we want to create and the actions we are willing to take -and to refrain from taking- in order to achieve it are questions that we cannot avoid at this critical moment of international redefinition. Mexico reaffirms its conviction that action based on principles and agreements must take precedence over the temptation to take unilateral responses; that universal standards must prevail over short-term interests. Our international activism and, in particular, our commitment to human rights and democracy express the belief of the Mexican nation in the essential equality of all human beings and in the duties that this implies for all our peoples and our governments.
Thank you very much.