Kingdom of

H.E. Shaikh Mohamed Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain

General Debate of the 57th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

15 September 2002, New York

Mr. President,

It is my great pleasure, at the outset, to extend to you my sincere congratulations on your election as President of the Fifty Seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to express my deep appreciation for the sincere efforts exerted by your predecessor, H.E. Han Song Su, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, in conducting the proceedings of the Fifty Sixth Session of the General Assembly and of the Twenty Seventh Special Session on Children.

I would like also to avail myself of this opportunity to extend to H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, my great appreciation for his continued tireless efforts to enhance the role of the United Nations and enable it to achieve its important message and realise the objectives for which it was created.

Furthermore, I am pleased to extend my congratulations to the Swiss Confederation, on joining the Organisation. I would like also to congratulate East Timor for attaining its independence.

It is also our pleasure to welcome the establishment of the African Union, which has succeeded the Organisation of African Unity. We trust the Union's creation will further the cause of peace and security in the African continent, and enhance the opportunities to achieve economic and social development for its peoples.

Mr. President,

The convening of this session takes place on the first anniversary of September eleventh, an event which shook the international community, shocked the human conscience, and unified international efforts to face up to an enemy that has no religion, ethnicity, race or nationality. That enemy is terrorism.

Today, on the occasion of this painful anniversary, it is incumbent upon us to again extend our condolences and sympathy to the United States of America and its friendly people, and to the families and relatives of the victims everywhere, and to condemn all forms and types of terrorism. We affirm our support for all international efforts, which seek to combat and eradicate terrorism.

Mr. President,

In line with the principles and goals in the Charter of the United Nations and with international efforts, the Kingdom of Bahrain has sought, since attaining independence, to build a modern state and a civil society wherein the human being is the focal point so that he may be prepared and qualified to cope with the political, economic and social requirements of modern life.

Taking firm and confident steps, the Kingdom of Bahrain affirms its engagement in the development and modernization process under the leadership of His Majesty Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of the Kingdom Bahrain. The country has been proclaimed a constitutional monarchy following the plebiscite on the National Action Charter, designed to promote democratic and constitutional life in the country. The municipal elections in May 2002, in which women participated both as voters and as candidates, were a success, and preparations are now underway for parliamentary elections to take place in October.

Concerted official and popular efforts are being made to ensure success in the democratic and developmental process, as provided for in the Kingdom's constitution, and in its policies and programmes in all fields. In this regard, the Kingdom has, for example, acceded to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Civic activities have been enhanced and the number of nongovernmental societies has risen. These have been promoted so that all Bahrainis may participate in expanding national efforts to ensure the well being of the people and respect f6r human rights in all civic, political, economic, social and cultural areas.

The Kingdom of Bahrain takes pride in these achievements, which have been recognised by the United Nations report on human development, 2002, which placed the Kingdom of Bahrain in an elevated position and, for the sixth time, as first among Arab states. Furthermore, the Arab human development report, 2002, has also cited these achievements, showing once again the success of the Kingdom of Bahrain's development strategy in all areas. Moreover, the leadership and the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain are proud that, in the recent UNIDO report, Bahrain was ranked 42nd among the 87 countries included in the report, and first in the Arab world.

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of Bahrain attaches great importance to the question of regional security, due to the repercussions it has on the security and stability of states and peoples. Accordingly, it has consistently sought to maintain neighbourly relations and mutual respect among states. Bahrain looks forward to the peaceful resolution of the question of the three Emirate islands, in accordance with the principles and rules of international law and in a brotherly spirit of understanding, on the basis of the recent positive developments in the relations between the states members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the Arab Gulf States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in light of the direct contacts that have taken place recently, in particular between the United Arab Emirates and Iran.

The Arab Summit, held in Beirut last March, affirmed the necessity and importance of security and stability in the Gulf region and of the restoration of an atmosphere conducive to the return of normal relations among the states of the region. It called upon Iraq to complete the implementation of Security Council resolutions relevant to the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, especially those relating to the Kuwaiti and other nationality prisoners of war, to cooperate with the United Nations with a view to alleviating the suffering of the people of Iraq, and to avoid any confrontation that may threaten the states and people of the region and the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, and which may be taken as a pretext for interference in its internal affairs.

Mr. President,

The Middle East region is currently facing great danger as a result of Israel's policy in the occupied Palestinian territories and of its crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people, including killing, blockades and destruction of the infrastructure and the economy. The events that took place in the Jenin refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip, and the daily occurrences in all other Palestinian cities are clear indications of the Israeli government's aggression and violation of international law and of its unwillingness to achieve peace and honour the international conventions that it signed.

On the other hand, the Palestinian people are resisting this ferocious assault with great courage andunder Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and other relevant UN determination, thus asserting their, right to fight the occupation and emphasizing their belief in the justice of their cause, loyalty to their legitimate leadership and resolve to defend their national rights as endorsed by the international community resolutions, on the basis of the principle of land for peace and the establishment of their independent Palestinian state on their national land with Jerusalem as its capital.

Bahrain, on the basis of its principles and in support of justice, has always stood by the brotherly people of Palestine. Bahrain affirms its full support to the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Arab summit convened in Beirut on 27-28 March 2002 based upon the vision offered by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Scud, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That vision provides for ending the Middle East conflict, the establishment of normal relations with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from occupied Arab territories to the borders of June 4th, 1967, including the Syrian Arab Golan Heights and remaining Lebanese occupied territories, and reaching a just settlement for the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 194.

Mr. President,

The oppression to which the Palestinian people are subjected, and the ongoing situation that threatens security and peace in the Middle East and the world, requires the immediate intervention of the Security Council and the international community to stop the Israeli practices against the Palestinian people and to reactivate the Arab peace initiative at the regional and international levels, since this initiative represents a viable basis for any move towards the achievement of just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Bahrain has welcomed the initiative of the United States Secretary of State in calling for the convening of a peace conference in the Middle East, on the basis of the ideas and principles put forward by the Arab Summit in the Arab Peace initiative, and the relevant international resolutions, hoping to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East that will lead to stability and security, and which will end the cycle of conflict and violence and bring instead a cycle of fruitful cooperation.

Bahrain has reaffirmed this position by welcoming the positive ideas included in His Excellency President Bush's address on the Middle East on 24 June this year for the settlement of the Middle East conflict within the framework of the resolutions of international legitimacy, and with a view to establishing two states, Palestine and Israel, to live side by side.

The Arab side has clearly demonstrated, through the Arab peace initiative and by welcoming the ideas put forward by President George W. Bush, its interest in security and stability in the region. The Israeli side has yet to detail what plans it has for peace and what position has it taken vis-a-vis the Arab peace initiative and the ideas of His Excellency President Bush. What is needed now is a translation of those ideas and plans into practical steps for the benefit of peace, in order to bring an end to the present deteriorating situation.

Mr. President,

In light of the legacy of religion and civilization of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as reflected in the constitution and various national laws, and as affirmed by political practice, which focus, inter alia, on the right to life, security and peace, we reaffirm our rejection of all types and forms of terrorism.

We also welcome the convening of an international conference on terrorism to be held under the auspices of the United Nations with the objectives of, among other things, reaching an internationally agreed definition of terrorism, that differentiates between unacceptable terrorist acts and the legitimate struggle and resistance taken up by peoples under foreign occupation for national liberation, self determination and self defence, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, to which we adhere by word and deed.

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of Bahrain has followed with interest the successive developments in Afghanistan- a country that has not enjoyed stability and has suffered the ravages of war for many years. It has welcomed the measures taken by the provisional government of Afghanistan with a view to promoting security and stability and restoring normal life for the people. Furthermore, it has cooperated fully with the committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) concerning financial and logistic measures against terrorist activities, in line with the concept of collective action within the United Nations framework.

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of Bahrain, prompted by its firm belief in the importance of maintaining security and stability in the region and in directing the region's potential towards the financing of development projects to raise the standard of living and achieving development and progress, has supported all initiatives taken to create zones free of nuclear weapons, and all confidencebuilding measures in such zones. These measures have included the creation of a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, foremost of which are nuclear weapons, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions. Hence, we call upon the United Nations to press Israel to accede to Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, with all its nuclear facilities being subject to the IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards System.

Mr. President,

Dialogue and tolerance among states and peoples contribute to the promotion of understanding and to the maintenance of international peace and security. Based on this conviction, and underlining the importance it attaches to General Assembly resolution 53/22 of 6 November, 1998 concerning the United Nations Year for Dialogue among Civilisations, the Kingdom of Bahrain has hosted an intellectual forum organized in cooperation with the government of Japan. A number of intellectuals from the Arab and Islamic worlds and from Japan took part in the forum, convened last March under the title "The Dialogue Among Civilisations". The forum sought to promote dialogue between the Arab Islamic civilizations and other civilizations so that different cultures may become closer to each other.

In furtherance of this approach, the Kingdom of Bahrain will also host the tenth Session of the Islamic-Christian Dialogue to be held 28-30 October 2002. Its objective is to promote better understanding between world's religions and cultures, and to enhance interaction and exchange so as to preserve the progress that has been made and invigorating an informed outlook for a future wherein cooperation for the interest of the whole human race, without discrimination, can take place.

Mr. President,

Through cooperation, the international community has been able to eradicate a number of diseases and epidemics, but HIV/AIDS poses a scientific and medical challenge, endangering human life in certain regions and destroying the social and economic fabric of a number of countries. It is our duty to intensify our concerted efforts in a comprehensive manner to face up to the challenges at the national, regional and international levels. In this regard, we greatly appreciate the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Twenty-sixth Special Session on HIV/AIDS, held in New York in June 2001.

Mr. President,

The World Summit on Sustainable development, held recently in Johannesburg, has provided a favorable opportunity for the review and evaluation of the achievements of the last ten years, identification of impediments and challenges, and development of strategies and designation of the objectives and priorities of common action. It is our hope that all states will implement the provisions of the Johannesburg Declaration and will address the challenges facing all states, especially the developing states.

In this context, Mr. President, the Kingdom of Bahrain would like to affirm once again the importance of practical and efficient application of the contents of the Millennium Declaration with regard to development and the role of the international community and international organizations in supporting national efforts in this field.

Mr. President,

We are confident that the United Nations, with the determination of its member states, political will, and studious work, is capable of exerting efforts towards our shared goals of peace, economic prosperity, and social justice, that will spread throughout the world. It is in our interests for all of us to work in cooperation and solidarity in order to make our organization the main engine of our activities, so as to achieve a better world, in which peace, security, prosperity and justice prevail for all states and peoples.

Thank you.