THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF PORTUGAL
ANTONIO MARTINS DA CRUZ
TO THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
15 SEPTEMBER 2002
It is with great pleasure that I congratulate President Jan Kavan for his election
to the Presidency of this General Assembly. I see in his election the acknowledgement
of the constructive role the Czech Republic has been playing in the international
arena. I also pay homage to the outgoing President, Han Seung-soo, for his efforts
and efficiency during the leadership of the work of this Assembly.
To the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, I would like to express my appreciation
for the courageous and decisive way in which he is fulfilling his mandate, in
a period in which the United Nations is confronted with multiple and complex
challenges. I would stress particularly his commitment and leadership in the
reform process of the organization that shall consider new formulas in the future
composition of the Security Council.
The Danish Presidency has already addressed this Assembly on behalf of the
fifteen members of the European Union. My country fully associates itself with
this statement, namely on the role of the United Nations in the fight against
terrorism, in peacekeeping, on the priority of respecting human rights and on
concrete follow-up to the Millennium Declaration. I would, nevertheless, like
to share with you some reflections on issues of particular importance to my
2. Fight against Terrorism
A year since the tragic events of September 11, my Government has joined in
the mourning in the United States and by the families of the victims of these
acts by participating in the commemorations to mark this sad event.
The barbaric acts perpetrated against innocent victims is a serious common threat to the international community, waking us up to the risks faced by our shared civilized values. The implacable fight against terrorism thus represents one of the most important challenges for the United Nations in this century. It demands a concerted effort from all of its Member States to avoid any more September 11 s.
We reiterate our belief that this Organization plays an irreplaceable leading
role in the fight against this common threat, both as a coordinating forum for
the reaction of the community of states and as the primary source of international
legitimacy. The respect for the fundamental rights and values that are at the
very heart of the United Nations, and the central role of our organization,
have been increasingly recognized by the international community as an indispensable
condition for the effectiveness of international action against terrorism. Of
particular importance in this context is the work of the organization towards
strengthening the international legal order, promoting the ratification and
implementation of legal instruments
For its significance, allow me to highlight the notable number of signatures and ratifications of the 12 Conventions of the United Nations against terrorism during the last year: they testify to the high degree of consciousness on the importance of these instruments in the effective and coherent prevention and fight against terrorism.
Portugal has ratified all International Conventions and is therefore fully integrated into the international judicial instruments for the fight against terrorism.
The broad international alliance, that made possible the adoption of the important resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1390 (2002) by the Security Council, has also clearly demonstrated, without faltering, that it is conscious of its responsibilities for their implementation. I would note especially the role of the Counter-Terrorism Committee created by resolution 1373, particularly with regard to financial measures.
Furthermore, I would like to recall that Portugal has supported, unreservedly,
the fight against international terrorism in the context of the regional organizations
most suited for such a role, such as NATO, the European Union, the Council of
Europe and the OSCE.
I would, however, like to stress that the fight against terrorism must not
translate into religious, ethnic or cultural fault lines; nor serve to justify
violations of human rights. On the contrary: the fight against terrorism must
be a unique opportunity to confirm our ethical and democratic values, our consistent
practice of respect for universal rights and values and our defense of tolerance.
3. Portuguese Chairmanship of the OSCE
The prevention and fight against terrorism figure prominently among the priorities
of the Portuguese Chairmanship of the OSCE. We believe the OSCE, namely through
its broad definition of security, can provide a relevant contribution to the
efforts of international coordination led by the United Nations. In this spirit,
we organized the Lisbon Conference of 12 June, which enjoyed the presence of
high-level participants from the main organizations active in the fight against
terrorism. We should seek to deepen and strengthen this effort of coordination
and these synergies.
The Portuguese Chairmanship of the OSCE also launched an initiative for an
OSCE Charter for the Prevention of Conflict and Terrorism, which should be adopted
in December at the OSCE Ministerial Meeting. It will be a political document,
based on the stock of principles and values that serve as a foundation for the
OSCE, and will act as a conceptual and normative framework for the participation
of that Organization in the fight against terrorism.
4. International Criminal Court
Portugal is proud to be among the founding members of the International Criminal
Court. The coming into force of the RomeStatute, on July 1St of this year, inaugurated
a new, era in the fight against impunity and in the affirmation of fundamental
human rights on a global scale.
The standardization of the most serious crimes and the permanent nature of
the ICC will provide the predictability that is indispensable for the effective
exercise of its function of deterrence.
It is important to underline that the ICC will act in accordance with the principle of complementarily, and the Portuguese government will continue actively to support the measures with a view to the efficient functioning of the ICC.
We believe that the elections for the first group of Judges of the ICC will
be a decisive step to guarantee the competence, seriousness and credibility
of the Court.
5. Sustainable Development
Let me stress the importance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development,
which recently took place in Johannesburg and which enjoyed the presence of
over 100 Heads of State or Government. The Johannesburg Summit was an essential
link - from the Rio Summit and together with the objectives of the Millennium
Declaration, the Doha Development Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus - in the
convergence of international efforts in such essential areas such as the eradication
of poverty and the reversal of environmental and resource degradation.
With the approval of the Plan of Implementation, with goals for 2015, it is
now time for it to be implemented, in particular in the areas in which we have
collectively established goals and targets - water, sanitation, health, education,
marine and terrestrial biodiversity, chemicals - as well as pursue steadily
the agreements in the field of renewable energies.
Johannesburg also deepened the necessary involvement of all actors in this process - civil society, economic agents and governments - through the development of partnerships for the execution of the Plan of Implementation. These new interfaces may be, after all, an added value, which will allow for renewed effectiveness in this field.
6. International Agenda for Ocean Affairs
Given our maritime tradition and geographic location, and also because of its
impact on our collective future, it is only appropriate for me to refer to the
oceans and seas. The goals and objectives established in this area in Johannesburg
contribute to guiding our efforts in this regard, and it is particularly fitting
that, also during this General Assembly, we will be celebrating twenty years
since the signature of the Convention of the Law of the Sea. This coincidence
gives us the historic opportunity to pursue an integrated consideration of the
international agenda on the oceans, as we have argued for, including here at
the United Nations headquarters.
7. Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping
During the nineties, the world experienced violent conflicts whose resolution
was, and in some cases remains, a serious challenge for the international community.
In this context, we must stress the fundamental role of the United Nations
in the maintenance of international peace and security, an undertaking for which
all Member States have a duty to work together, seeking to resolve their differences
in a peaceful manner.
Portugal actively participates in many United Nations operations: we rank 16th overall among troop contributors to UN peacekeeping operations and 1st among Member States of the European Union. We reaffirm here our willingness, and within the regional organizations of which we are a member, to work with the United Nations to strengthen its capacities for the prevention of conflict, in the search for peaceful solutions to existing conflicts and in assistance to the reconstruction of territories devastated by war.
8. Cooperation between the UN and the OSCE
Portugal, as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE in 2002, attaches particular importance
to developing cooperation between that organization and the UN in the promotion
and consolidation of peace and security. It is a collaboration that has proved
fruitful and allows for close coordination on the ground, namely in the Balkans,
the Caucasus and in Central Asia.
Preventive diplomacy is an area where the OSCE has a particular calling. The
prevention of conflicts was at the root of the Helsinki process and is today
one of the main activities of that organization, which has at its disposal a
number of adequate instruments to that end.
The prevention of conflict is not, however, solely the competence of this or
that international organization. It must be an area of strengthened co-operation
among all, giving substance to the dialogue on conflict prevention and peace
building launched by the UN Secretary-General with regional organizations. In
this context, the recent Helsingborg Conference, hosted by Sweden for the European
Union, represents an important step towards creating a common culture of prevention.
9. Peace in Angola
It is with particular enthusiasm that Portugal is following the developments
of the past few months in the peace process in Angola, which have brought to
an end the long conflict that destroyed the lives of so many in that great African
nation to which the Portuguese people are historically and emotionally linked.
Portugal, which has been involved in the search for peace in Angola for more
than a decade - having mediated the first contacts between the parties that
led to the Acordos de Bicesse of 1991 - welcomes this new phase in the process
of national reconciliation, marked by the resumption on 26 August of the meetings
of the Joint Commission foreseen in the Lusaka Protocol, presided over by the
United Nations and in which Portugal is an observer as part of the Troika.
The difficult humanitarian situation in Angola during this post-conflict period
calls for a strong and united response from the international community that
will help save the lives of those that have as their daily enemy hunger and
misery, and that will guarantee that the new hope brought by peace will not
dissipate. Conscious of its responsibilities in this area due to its special
ties to the Angolan people, Portugal, through its government and civil society,
has increased its humanitarian assistance to Angola, both at the bilateral level
as well as jointly with its European partners.
Alongside efforts towards peace building, national reconciliation and the search for solutions to the current humanitarian problems, Angola has before it also, at this time, the conditions to follow a path of political, economic and social development, within a framework of respect for the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, which will guarantee, in the near term, the quality of life to which the Angolan people legitimately aspire. In striving for the goals of national reconciliation and reconstruction, Angola can continue to count on the support and friendship of Portugal.
10. The Independence of Timor-Leste
I could not but make reference to the independence of Timor-Leste on 20 May.
This is a success story for the United Nations, as a result of the fundamental
role it has played in the transition of this territory to independence. It would
only be right to highlight, in this context, the commitment shown by the former
Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Sergio
Vieira de Mello, who I take this opportunity to thank and wish him the greatest
success in his new responsibilities as High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Timor will be, in a matter of a few days, the newest member of the United Nations.
Portugal will present, on behalf of the other cosponsors, a resolution to this
I would like to also take this opportunity to make reference to the progress
achieved by this new country since independence. In such a short period, the
Timorese people, giving proof of great maturity and of a democratic culture,
have elected a President of the Republic and a Parliament. The government and
other democratic institutions are up and running, despite existing difficulties
There is much to be done for this new country to advance on the path of sustainable
development. Portugal and the entire international community should continue
to remain committed to supporting the Timorese authorities to ensure that the
socio-economic development of the country becomes a reality.
The difficulties that still remain, however, lead us to underline the need
to consolidate the successes already gained, for which the role of UNMISET has
been a determining factor as the guarantor of internal stability and security.
This consolidation will demand still, for some time to come, the continued involvement
of the United Nations, the international community and the countries in the
region to assist this first state to gain independence in the XXIst Century.
A determining factor for the reconciliation of the Timorese people is the development
of a society that can promote and defend human rights, and the development of
a credible and swift judicial system, for which the support of the international
community will be decisive. I recall, in this context, the statement made by
the Presidency of the European Union on the Ad Hoc Tribunal on Human Rights
Violations in Timor-Leste.
In this context of the consolidation of a democratically and economically viable state, the development of good relations with its neighbors assumes the highest importance, especially with Australia and Indonesia, a friendship vital for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and for Timor-Leste in particular.
11. Switzerland - a new member of the UN
Allow me also to welcome the Swiss Confederation that as Timor-Leste becomes
a member of the United Nations during this session of the General Assembly.
12. The situation in the Balkans
Throughout the nineties, the instability of the Western Balkans was a source
of constant concern for the international community and for this Organization.
The efforts of the international community are now turned essentially towards
assistance for economic reconstruction, although it remains indispensable to
continue to implement adequate solutions for the political questions of the
various Balkan crises, namely within the different electoral frameworks to take
place in the short term.
These positive results would not have been possible without an exemplary co-operation
between the various international organizations working in the region, of which
I highlight the United Nations, the European Union, NATO 'and the OSCE.
13. Middle East
During this last year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reached unforeseen
levels of violence, greatly weakening the trust between the parties, which needs
to urgently be restored.
More than ever, a strong political involvement of the entire international
community is necessary for the resumption of a political process towards a peaceful
solution. Conscious of this responsibility, the members of the Quartet (USA,
Russian Federation, EU and UN) have not spared any effort, which we support.
It becomes increasingly evident that the resolution of the conflict can only
be reached through negotiation, since the belief has taken hold that such a
resolution must necessarily lead to the establishment of two sovereign states:
one independent Palestinian state, democratic and viable, based on the borders
of 1967, side by side with the state of Israel with its right to live in peace
within secure borders, recognized by all.
The Middle East peace process has dragged on for too long, has cost too many
lives, has had too high a political, economic and social cost for us all: it
is time for more peace and less process.
14. CPLP - Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries
The Summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, the CPLP, that
took place in Brasilia last August, welcomed Timor-Lester as its eighth Member
State, adding a new regional dimension to the Community, now present in four
Its members share common historical and cultural roots that give them a common perspective, which also, frames itself with the broad purposes of the United Nations: peace, security, stability and social and economic development.
15. NEPAD - New Partnership for African Development
Portugal welcomes the support that has been given to NEPAD as a frame of reference
for the efforts of African states in taking their destiny into their own hands.
This frame of reference represents an added value of Africa's contribution
to the United Nations development agenda, since it already includes, for the
African continent, the results of the Monterrey Conference of last March.
NEPAD also provided an essential reference in the elaboration and negotiation
of the section on Africa in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on
Sustainable Development of Johannesburg.
We believe that, in creating a clear frame of reference for principles; NEPAD
has come to strengthen the capacity of the African continent to attract the
necessary resources to support its development.
These objectives will be revisited in the next Europe-Africa Summit, which
will be held in Portugal, next April.