H.E. Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY 57 th ORDINARY SESSION
14 September 2002, New York
Let me begin by welcoming Switzerland's,
our Western neighbour's, full membership of the United Nations and her first
participation in the General Assembly after her accession. Without our Swiss
friends the UN would not be complete. To expand the global reach of the UN can
be seen as a positive aspect of globalization.
Having supported United Nations' efforts to bring about a solution to the East Timor conflict over many years Austria also looks forward to September 27 and wishes to congratulate East Timor on becoming the 191st Member of the United Nations.
Austria fully aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished Prime Minister of Denmark on behalf of the European Union. I should like to add a few observations to that very comprehensive statement.
Let me reiterate the sympathy of the Austrian people with the victims of September 11, 2001. Austria has shown strong solidarity from the first hour after the attacks, has acted in unison with her European partners and the United Nations to combat terrorism, a resolve that strongly persists and will continue to do so.
As a former staff member of the United Nations myself, I wish to convey my country's sincere gratitude to the many dedicated people, who are in the service of the UN in New York, the other headquarters in Vienna and Geneva as well as out there in the field, for their efforts on behalf of the international community in its fight against terror.
Combating terrorism requires a global effort and a comprehensive approach: prevention, protection of the security of our countries and the basic values of freedom and human rights as well as coercive measures as a last resort. We do have to base our decisions and actions on international law.
The Security Council's Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) under the very able leadership of Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, is at the core of the UN's coordinating role.
We must ensure that all States do join and can join these efforts. To promote this goal, Austria hosted a Symposium on combating international terrorism at the Vienna International Centre in June of this year, which highlighted the capacity of the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) to provide efficient technical assistance to member States in their fight against terrorism. Austria will make an additional million EURO available for the strengthening of ODCCP.
I am glad to note that Secretary General Kofi Annan shares our view on the importance of the Vienna based UN units, as expressed in his report on the need tostrengthen the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the Secretariat. The report of the Policy Working Group on the UN and terrorism published earlier this week comes to the same conclusion.
I call upon the Member States to support this position.
It is also important to remind ourselves, that the
fight against terrorism cannot be fought with soldiers and policemen alone,
we also need to fight the root causes: the abject levels of poverty, inequality,
injustice, the lack of sustainable development and of good governance.
When it comes to dangers for world security, we also have to focus on unresolved and perilous regional conflicts, such as in the Middle East. What is needed is an effort to speedily arrive at a political solution providing for two States, Israel and Palestine, within secure and recognized borders. Austria seconds the idea of an early to be held international conference with the support of the Quartet as well as interested countries of the region, to find solutions to the political issues, such as final borders of the two States, the final status of Jerusalem and the question of refugees. Austria considers the newly designed road map of the EU towards the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State in the next three years as a basis for achieving a final and comprehensive settlement of the conflict in accordance with UN-SCR 242, 338, 1397 as well as the Arab peace plan adopted in Beirut.
While continuing to respect the elected leadership of the Palestinian people the EU has expressed its readiness to give all necessary and possible support to the reform process of the Palestinian Authority. Austria participates actively in these efforts.
Austria is also deeply concerned that human suffering in the conflict has attained unacceptable levels, be it as a result of terror or of countermeasures.
The Middle East has also garnered the attention of the international community in the context of the danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The growing tensions result from the continued non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions by Iraq. The potential perils of weapons of mass destruction endangering world peace by such policies should not and cannot be tolerated. For that reason Austria supports the tireless efforts of the Secretary General to bring about the speedy unfettered and unconditioned return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq and the full compliance with the obligations contained in all relevant Security Council resolutions.
Austria welcomes the statement of President George W. Bush seeking broad international and multilateral support and co-operation with the SC on the issue of how to deal with the threat emanating from regimes that support terror or seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Only the Security Council can' provide the legitimacy we need. At the same time it is evident that the Security Council itself has to take responsibility for ensuring full compliance with its resolutions in order to maintain world peace.
The conflict between India and Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir also needs an urgent political solution. The consequences of an escalation could be catastrophic for the region and beyond.
In recent weeks we have been starkly reminded of the fact that Afghanistan, which has been wrested from Taliban and AI Qaeda rule and has had a promising new start with the assistance of the international community, has yet to achieve a lasting peace and stability. The international community should remain committed and has to continue its support of the new government of Afghanistan.
The fight against terrorism and violent fundamentalism in Afghanistan has also highlighted the importance of the whole region of Central Asia. During her OSCE chairmanship in the year of 2000 Austria made it one of her priorities to draw the attention of world opinion to unresolved issues and problems of this region and the impressive potential it could unfold based upon mutually useful co-operation and of good-governance.
Turning to our own neighbourhood I want to reiterate the importance Austria attributes to EU enlargement and our firm commitment to finalize the ongoing negotiating process towards the end of this year. Austria looks forward to welcoming new members by 2004, thus turning the vision of a united Europe into reality and extending the European zone of peace, stability and welfare to the whole continent and beyond.
I am glad to note that South Eastern Europe has made substantial progress towards stability generated by various multilateral initiatives, particularly the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europa and the Zagreb Process. As an additional instrument to enhance development in this region, in May of this year the Danube Cooperation Project was launched in Vienna, the aim of which is to make use of the Danube River as an integrative factor, connecting the thirteen countries in the whole Danube basin.
The Dialogue among Civilizations, which Austria has strongly supported from the beginning, is a new and important tool of diplomacy, which should help us drain the breeding grounds of terrorism. In order to take this dialogue from the elites to the general public, we need to co-operate with the media. To this end I organized an Expert Seminar on the Role of the Media in the framework of the EuroMediterranean Partnership in June of this year. This effort is designed to hopefully lead to a "Media Code of Conduct" to emanate from the media themselves in order to create better understanding between the cultures and to commonly project messages shedding a positive light on cultural diversity.
As of July of this year, Austria chairs the Human Security Network, the only interregional grouping in the UN framework particularly propelling issues of human security. In my capacity as chairperson of this group I have put the following two issues on the top of our agenda: the need for a globally shared acquisition of a human rights culture through human rights education and for effectively addressing the enormous plight suffered by an ever growing number of children in the world exposed to the horrors of armed conflict.
The first "Human Rights City" in Europe, the Austrian city of Graz, will also host next year's Ministerial Meeting of the Human Security Network.
In this context I should also like to express Austria's strong support for the adoption of the draft protocol of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In my function as President of the Human Security Network I have also taken the initiative in the framework of the group of female foreign ministers to raise the issue of Amina Lawal in a common letter to the Foreign Minister of Nigeria in order to remind Nigeria of her obligations under international human rights law.
In the Millennium Declaration we set clear targets for our combined development efforts as Member States. We all did this in recognition of the priority attached to the fight against poverty and for a better and more equitable world.
Disastrous floods in parts of Central Europe, including my own country, in Asia and the Americas as well as droughts in other parts of the world just before the start of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg were a painful indication of changes rendering sustainable development even more important. The summit has brought about an action programme and a political declaration, which we welcome, although we would have wished to take some issues even further, such as in the field of renewable energy. I share the view of the Secretary General, that the summit has instigated global action among a wide range of actors. It has highlighted the relationship between economy, ecology, social issues and development. It has also re-affirmed the Doha and Monterrey compromises.
The follow-up will have to cut through the complexities of the process and to pursue the most pressing issues. Implementation is the key word. This will be best accomplished by sectorial conferences on the major issues involved. Austria appreciates that the summit has helped convince some major countries to join the ranks of those who have already - such as Austria - ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Before closing let me express my best wishes for a successful session of the Assembly under your guidance and allow me also to thank your distinguished predecessor, Mr. Han Seung-soo, for his leadership and his efforts toward strengthening the General Assembly.
Having returned deeply impressed from South Africa let me close by quoting a real hero and a man who stands for his principles while promoting reconciliation, Mr. Nelson Mandela. The following quote is from the entrance to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which I just visited, "To be free is not merely to put off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Thank you, Mr. President