Address by
Joschka Fischer
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany

57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 14 September 2002

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first of all wish you every success, Mr. President, in your responsible office. We are delighted, Foreign Minister Kavan, that, with you a representative of our Czech neighbors will preside over the General Assembly this year. I also express my sincere thanks to the outgoing President. I endorse the statement of the Danish EU Presidency.

Mr. President,

Exactly one year ago, the world was shaken by the terror of 11 September, which was disdainful of human life. Civilian aircraft were transformed into guided missiles whose deployment was planned without any regard for human life. Their devastating consequences destroyed families, shattered hopes, tore people apart, regardless of their age, gender or religious affiliation. Three days ago we remembered the victims in a moving ceremony here in New York. We have not forgotten the images of 11 September. We have not recovered from the shock. Our solidarity with the US is unbroken. We understand our American friends. Just like them, we are not prepared to live under the Sword of Damocles that terrorism represents.

The murderous attack on the people and the Administration of the United States was also an attack on all open societies. Countless states mourn countrymen among the thousands of victims in the World Trade Center. The attack could have struck any open society - but the terrorists consciously chose the US as a symbol of freedom and democracy.

We know that the new totalitarian challenge is also directed at us all. Since 11 September 2001 the community of nations thus has to look at the question of peace and security at the dawn of the 21st century from a whole new angle.

We will not be able to negotiate with terrorists like Osama bin Laden. His aim is to kill as many innocent people as possible to thus create a maximum degree of terror and fear. If these terrorists succeed in acquiring weapons that are yet more horrific, they will deploy these against us all without hesitation. Therefore we have to work together in the international coalition against terrorism to overcome and destroy this international terrorist network. The highly dangerous combination of religious hatred, smoldering regional conflicts, terrorist attacks and the danger of the deployment of weapons of mass destruction has to be prevented at any price.

But above all else we must not forget: on the one hand, terrorism has to be resolutely fought by the military and police. On the other hand, we need to solve the political and social conflicts quite rightly emphasized in the Millennium Declaration as these form the breeding ground for the emergence of terrorism. Opting for one approach and neglecting the other risks failure.

Our common goal is for the people in our countries to be able to live in safety, freedom and without want. To achieve this, we need a system of global cooperative security. A system that, unlike the former bipolarity of the Cold War, includes all levels of global policy relevant to security: the relations between great powers and their alliances, as well as the potential danger of regional crises and the threat posed by asymmetric conflicts. For one thing is clearer than ever after 11 September: terrorism threatens world peace just as much as civil war and regional conflicts. Such a system must therefore not be "toothless" but must function in all three fields through reliable verification systems and enforceable sanctions mechanisms.

I am convinced that developing such a comprehensive system of global cooperative security will be our central political task for the 21st century.

This problem can only be solved through multilateralism, that is, if nations work together. Terrorism does not stop at these borders and shaping globalization is a task that governments can no longer tackle alone. Thus the United Nations has a major role to play in developing this security system. It is the most important forum for establishing global rules. No other organization has a comparable legitimacy and credibility. Decisively strengthening its ability to act by continuing the reform course of the Secretary-General is therefore a central focus of German foreign policy.

Mr. President,

The development in Iraq fills us with grave concern. Saddam Hussein's regime is a brutal dictatorship. Under his leadership, Iraq has attacked its neighbors Iran and Kuwait, fired missiles at Israel and used poison gas against Iran and its own Kurd population. The regime is horrendous for the Iraqi people and a risk for the region. For this reason an effective containment policy and reliable military control of the no-fly zones have been implemented, and a strict sanctions regime introduced against Iraq since the Gulf War.

The regime in Baghdad must not own or produce means of mass destruction and delivery systems. Despite binding obligations from the Security Council, Saddam Hussein refuses to provide credible and verifiable answers to the pressing questions posed by the community of nations regarding his weapons of mass destruction. Therefore the United Nations has to not only maintain the pressure on the Iraqi Government, but also intensify it.

We welcome the fact that President Bush in his most recent speech, turned towards the Security Council. Even if it becomes very difficult, we have to do everything to find a diplomatic solution.

The Security Council and the member states have to make unequivocally clear to Baghdad that the unrestricted and unconditioned re-admission of the weapons inspectors in the only way to avert a great tragedy for Iraq and the whole region. The Iraqi Government has to implement all relevant Security Council resolutions in their entirety and without delay.

We do not want however any automatism leading to the use of military force. The fight against international terrorism remains highly dangerous. We have not yet managed to fully stabilize Afghanistan. Explosive regional conflicts in Kashmir, in the Middle East and in the Caucasus have to be solved or at least effectively contained.

The following central questions arise for us: have all economic and political means of pressure been truly exhausted? To what consequences would military intervention lead? What would this mean for regional stability? What effect would it have on the Middle East conflict? Are there new and definite findings and facts? Does the threat assessment justify taking a very high risk - namely, the responsibility for peace and stability in the entire region, and what is more for years or even decades? Would this meet with consent amongst the Arab neighbors? What consequence would this have for the continuation of the global coalition against terrorism? In the face of these open questions we are full of deep skepticism regarding military action and therefore remain with our approach.

Allow me to pose the further question whether a peace solution in the Middle East could not contribute considerably more to the establishment of regional stability, to the successful fight against terrorism and to the effective control and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. And in this way would the regime in Baghdad not be isolated much more effectually thus generating political pressure for change? And would this cooperative approach to find a new order for the region not be a more promising way to bring democracy to the Middle East, which would be supported by the regional powers?

Mr. President,

Nowhere is the connection between terrorism and regional conflicts more obvious than in the near and Middle East. The breakthrough to peace is therefore of paramount importance in this region of the world. The consensus amongst the international community of nations on the Middle East question is now greater than ever. We must all pull together to achieve the goal envisaged by President Bush for 2005, that two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine, can live as neighbors within secure and recognized borders. The European Union has devised a road map to achieve this goal. An early conference on the Middle East could help to build bridges and accelerate the process. Together with our EU partners, we are ready to make a considerable contribution here.

A comprehensive peace in the Middle East also has to include Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia's significant initiative contains the assurance, that the Arab world is then also ready to fully normalize its relations with Israel.

Mr. President,

Without a just and lasting solution to the regional conflicts, we will not dry up the recruitment base for terrorists and thus be able to successfully counter the asymmetric threat. Afghanistan is an obvious example here. The Taliban system has collapsed there and the al Qaida network has largely been destroyed. We are still a long way from being able to call the situation in the country stable and secure, but progress can be noted. The implementation of the Bonn Conference began with the formation of a legitimized Interim Administration. The process that was launched on the Petersburg was taken to the next level with the Emergency Loya Jirga in June. For the first time in years, the Afghan people have the chance to lead a life in human dignity based on self-determination.

However, the people in Afghanistan will only grow in courage when they see and feel that the international community is also standing by its pledges for the reconstruction of their country. The commitments of the donor countries have to materialize as concrete projects.

Mr. President,

A system of global cooperative security has to be based on a comprehensive security concept. This has to embrace not only military security but also the economy, human rights, democracy and culture. "To achieve a safer world, we must create a better world." This is how President Bush summed it up in his impressive speech to the German Bundestag last May. Shaping cooperative global security therefore also means shaping a new global economic order. It has to take account of the needs of all - the developing and the developed world alike. Resources have to be more fairly distributed; poorer countries have to be able to participate in international trade and the opportunities of globalization. This necessitates free market access for all as well as the realization of economic and political freedoms and a just and reliable legal framework.

We must not close our eyes to the problems of Africa in particular. The food situation in the south of the continent is a particular source of concern. Countless people are going hungry. Comprehensive assistance is needed here. In Zimbabwe, however, the former granary of Africa, a wholly irresponsible policy is the reason for the difficult situation in the country. In Zimbabwe, hunger is not only the result of failed harvests or droughts, but has been caused essentially by self-destructive governance - a policy that is keeping a hold on power through the suffering of its people and relies upon the fact that humanitarian conscience and the readiness to assume responsibility of the international community will reduce the consequences. We must hold this policy against the benchmarks defined by Africa itself in the NEPAD framework.

Climate and energy policy is not least a key component of a new global economic order. The Kyoto Protocol can be seen as a milestone in global climate protection. I am delighted that several countries have recently announced plans to ratify the Protocol and hope this happens as soon as possible so that it can enter into force. In the long term, a sensible energy policy - and that means above all the promotion of renewable energy sources and economical energy consumption - is the best solution to the climate problem. Therefore work has to start today. Let us not forget: difficult economic and ecological problems with their social and humanitarian repercussions will increasingly endanger stability and security, too.

Mr. President,

The realization of human rights has to be one of the pillars of a global security system. All efforts to secure peace will fail if human rights are not protected and made reality. We need a binding global set of values to prevent and overcome conflicts that emerge through inequality, injustice and the deprivation of freedom. Here, too, states are called upon to play a decisive, active role. Moreover we have to be careful today that the basic human rights are not annulled under the pretext of combating terrorism. No one has the right to anti-terrorism "bonus".

Mr. President,

Cooperative global security will have to measure up to the binding legal framework in which it is embedded. It is imperative for the globalization processes to be flanked by a growing set of international rules because international law and the rule of law constitute the indispensable foundations for peaceful and ordered coexistence. That is why the establishment of the International Criminal Court is so important to us. Its Statute entered into force on 1 July; Germany, along with all other members of the EU, is among the 79 states to have ratified it. The Assembly of States Parties gave the green light this week for the establishment of the Court. Next spring we will celebrate it's opening in The Hague. The Criminal Court is now to start work as soon as possible and as efficiently as possible. But it must not be weakened in its work from the outset.

Mr. President,

My country is applying for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the period 2003/2004. Germany wants to play an active role in developing the international security system within the United Nations that I have outlined. I would ask you all for your vote in the election on 27 September.

Mr. President,

To close let me express my best wishes to the newest members of the UN family. Since 10 September, our neighbor Switzerland has been a member state of this organization. I am particularly delighted today to be able to welcome this old European nation, which has long been associated with the United Nations in so many ways as a full member of the General Assembly.

In a few days, the 191st member will join our ranks. East Timor is a young country, which owes much to the United Nations. Its emergence is a success story for our organization and shows just how effective global consensus can be in securing peace and building state structures. We wish our friends in East Timor a successful and happy future and look forward to working with them in the United Nations.

Thank you very much.