SLOVENIA

Address by
H.E. Mr. MILAN KUCAN
the President of the Republic of Slovenia

AT THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS

GENERAL DEBATE
New York, 13 September 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Excellencies,

It was ten years ago immediately following the admission of newborn Slovenia to the UN that I addressed this august assembly for the first time. I did so with great pride, with faith in the United Nations, with gratitude for the chance given to my country to present to the international community its own views on current world affairs with a sense of responsibility for its actions not only towards its own citizens, but also towards the entire international democratic community.

Looking back at the bygone decade today I claim without the slightest reservation that without the UN life on our planet would be even more uncertain, fuller of social injustice and global disparities in prosperity, it would witness even more systematic violations of human rights in a large number of states and even more wars. In spite of its acknowledged weaknesses and inefficiencies this world organization has delivered great works. I dare say that throughout its membership Slovenia, too, contributed to this with its own active pursuit of the principles of the United Nations. It received widespread recognition for the work it accomplished as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. This is something we are particularly proud of.

The UN's decisions at the historic Millennium Summit have already placed this organization in the future realm of our global world. The violence committed by states against their own people is now faced with a new force - the ethic of the democratic world. This ethic does not recognize absolute state sovereignty or recourse to non-interference in internal affairs when systematic mass violations of human rights through state terror occur. The principle of humanitarian intervention is beginning an important process of implementing global ethics in the governance of this globalize and increasingly interdependent world. It is also a clear message to the authors of international law and to international judiciary institutions. One of the cornerstones for the next chapter in international law was erected, as was also done with the International Criminal Court. No one has responsibility only towards themselves anymore. State sovereignty is no longer untouchable. Everyone also has a responsibility towards global society for their actions, for in an increasingly integrated world the actions of one easily affect others.

Certain measures of the global community of states in response to the challenges of the 21st century, such as the special session on the future of children, the Sustainable Development Forum, the session on a better future for Africa, are all heralds of a UN gaining in political and moral clout as an organization common to all states, as an organization capable of finding the strength to carry through the announced internal reforms. In this context Slovenia supports the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Secretary General's reform efforts. This is urgently needed, as became particularly apparent on September 11th last year, on that day of tragedy not only for New York, Washington and the United States but also for all of humanity. The entire democratic world joined in the fight against international terrorism. Slovenia also did so with great resolve. No one with a sense of care for humanity just stood aside.

But as time went by it became increasingly clear that even the best military weaponry of the antiterrorist coalition couldn't reach down to the social roots of this horrendous evil. This evil is craftily abusing the apathy, anger and wrath of the people and the states left without a future, this evil is trying to regain its strength by playing on religious, cultural and civilization differences intertwined with the great social rifts in our global world. Evil understood in this way, an evil menacing with use of the most atrocious weapons of mass destruction can only be eradicated through concerted action by democratic states under the umbrella of the United Nations. It is precisely in this context that the authority and credibility of the UN is on trial. This organization has proven that we are capable of reaching common positions and decisions even concerning the actions of those who do not respect these common decisions. The UN must now have the ability not only to refer to these positions but also to implement them in concerted action. This is the responsibility that all of us are now faced with.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Globalization with all of its positive and negative aspects are a given fact. Let us do more to transform that given into something that fits the people and the rule of individual and collective human rights. This certainly cannot be achieved by trying to drive peoples, states, cultures, religions and civilizations away from their identities, by trying to place them under the common denominator of a single global identity. That would signify the collapse of our human world bearing disastrous consequences. Today's world where borders between states and particularly civilizations are less and less strict is a world full of plural identities and at the same time a world full of clearly defined national, cultural and religious entities that are beginning to open up to one another. All this plurality calls for a unique integrating factor. That factor could only be a global ethic based on -the ancient principle of reciprocity among human beings, stipulating not to do unto others what one would not want done to oneself. In times of interdependence between each and everyone of us such values are particularly important. It is based on this value that the global ethic should be developed, for it is a value that has deep roots in the millenary existence of the great religions and civilizations of our world. It is based on this value that we will be able to strengthen universal human rights and global social justice. Without such justice one cannot expect the world to be a safe and peaceful place offering people justified hope that our planet belongs to all of humanity.

International terrorism has unveiled the negative aspects of interdependence between our societies. We must now do more to strengthen the positive ones and to create new ones. The environmental, economic and ethical challenges humanity is facing today require a radical rethinking of global governance and the establishment of global responsibility. This is so much more so since we are faced with the breakdown of regulation and control in globalize trade, with an inequitable set-up for global development that generates misery and humiliation, and with a relentless preference for economic and financial logic over ecological, social and human demands. A positive alternative must be found to these negative aspects of interdependence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Present generations of statesmen, politicians, academicians and the civil society have a duty to lay the foundations for a global ethic and a United Nations Organization that offers stronger guarantees for a world no longer so fiercely divided into those peoples, nations and states with the right to a future and those who are robbed of that future by the technological and social gaps of our planet.

I am convinced in a kinder future for our world and in a more creative future for the UN. It is with this in mind that I most warmly welcome our new member Switzerland and soon also East Timor. These two new members illustrate very clearly all the disparities in our globalize world. I firmly believe that also their work in this august assembly will be transforming the UN into a community for the entire world.

I thank you most sincerely for your attention and wish you every success in further deliberations.