Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the twenty-first of September 1981 Belize joined the community of nations as an independent country and we the people of Belize enthusiastically embraced our role as a partner in the community of nations.

The United Nations played a pivotal role in securing Belize's right to self-determination and as we commemorate our independence, we express our appreciation and continued support for the work of the Organization.

Since its inception in 1945 our United Nations has, like all of us, been grappling with the constant changes in our world. In its imperfection it has endured the problems of infancy, puberty and adolescence. Each adjustment provided occasions for learning and opportunities for growth. No, we have not always grown for the better; and we have suffered the cost of our mistakes.

Still the United Nations endured, for the principles of the Charter will reverberate as loudly tomorrow as they do today and did yesterday. Our right to live peaceful and dignified lives holds true today as it did in 1945.

Two years ago world leaders assembled here in New York in an effort to rejuvenate the United Nations. This resulted in the Millennium Declaration and brought forth the Millennium Development Goals.

In these instruments we acknowledged the growing abyss between the few with plenty and the many with nothing. We made new commitments and reaffirmed old ones. We renewed yet again our ultimate goal of the improvement of humanity; a goal which we undoubtedly hold as sacred.

Since then we have held many meetings and conferences where we have merely recycled ideas and visions. Now we must aim for higher standards and make the case that as a global community we are obligated to account for how we have chosen to implement the many commitments we made.

For us implementation is a function of resources, good governance, both locally and globally, shared responsibility and partnerships. The implementation of the Millennium Declaration can only be effective through the participation and cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.

In order to ensure that the process of implementation is democratized, inclusive, transparent and accountable, we must act with shared responsibility and in partnerships of mutual respect and equality.

As we follow the road map for the implementation of the Millennium Declaration our deliberations and even more so our commitment to the Monterrey Consensus and to the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development should resonate for meaningful change that will improve the lives of our poorest people.

On the fifth of February 2002, Belize hosted the first ever CARICOM/SICA/Dominican Republic Summit. In the joint declaration issued at the conclusion of the summit, the Caribbean and Central American leaders agreed to strengthen the cooperation and to coordinate actions in areas such as education, health, poverty elimination, environment, trade and investment. Shortly our Foreign Ministers shall conclude a Plan of Action to implement the goals set out in the Declaration.

The present development paradigm requires dynamic partnerships. Belize intends to play its part in encouraging closer collaboration and cooperation between Central America and the Caribbean.

A major hindrance to development is conflict; it is costly and causes unnecessary pain and suffering, often to innocent victims. My delegation is concerned about any notion that would proffer violence as a solution to conflict. History has taught us that lasting peace can never be constructed in a climate of vengeance.

In this regard we express our grave concern over the continuing deterioration of relations in the Middle East, especially with respect to the Palestinian people. The escalation of violence in the region demonstrates the urgent need for the parties to resume peace negotiations.

The universally endorsed vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 1397 (2002), should be realized as soon as possible.

We encourage the efforts of the United Nations in facilitating a peaceful resolution on the question of Western Sahara, and support the Settlement Plan as a viable political solution to the dispute.

Conflict in its many manifestations finds its breeding ground in human desperation, frailty, and ignorance. If we can address the needs of the disaffected and the vulnerable, then we can stamp out the embers of conflict and increase the potential for international peace and security. Yes, we must address these conditions according to our national capacity, but we cannot go it alone. A multilateral approach is imperative.

Belize continues to look toward the United Nations for the global enforcement of human rights standards. On 1 July 2002 the international community witnessed the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

As a State Party to the Statute, my government shall abide by its legal obligations there under and uphold the integrity of the Court. It is our hope that all peace-loving and law-abiding nations of the world shall become parties to the Rome Statute so that the universal jurisdiction of the Court can be realized.

The Court presents the hope that there shall be an end to impunity for perpetrators of genocide, other crimes against humanity and war crimes. We see this as the start of a new system of international justice.

At this General Assembly we will be witnessing the expansion of the representative character of the United Nations. We recognize the tremendous contribution that the Swiss Confederation has played in International Relations, particularly with respect to Human Rights and humanitarian issues. Their decision to become full members of the U N will greatly enhance our work.

Likewise we are pleased to welcome the Republic of Timor Liste to our family of nations. Their struggle has been long and arduous and their admission is testament to the indispensable role of the United Nations.

It is our wish that the United Nations be the forum for the representation of all peoples of the world including the 23 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan. We must give true meaning to the principle of universality set forth in the Charter and more specifically to the affirmation therein of our faith "in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."

With the support of the United Nations, Belize became an independent nation. Before and after that time, we made every effort to resolve the territorial dispute that we had inherited from colonial times.

All previous attempts had proved futile, but in March 2000, at the start of this millennium, Guatemala and Belize agreed to initiate a unique process to resolve the dispute. We each appointed a Facilitator and asked the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States to be Honour Witness to the Process.

I am happy to be able to announce that just yesterday, at the OAS headquarters, the Facilitators presented their Proposals for a peaceful and definitive resolution of the territorial differendum.

The Proposals must be submitted by referenda to the peoples of both countries, and only if accepted by both will they be translated into Treaties of Settlement that will bring this age-old dispute to an end and create better conditions for the harmonious cooperation between the two countries, something that both our peoples yearn for. We fervently hope that this will indeed come to pass.

An essential aspect of the Proposals involves a Development Trust Fund, and we wish to thank all those countries who will so generously contribute to enabling the peaceful settlement of a territorial dispute that has adversely affected relations between not only the countries involved, but also between the two sub-regions to which Belize belongs, the Caribbean and Central America.

Four days from today, our people will assemble and reenact the events of our Independence Day. It will also be a time to renew our commitment to the principles of justice and liberty; the right of a people to self-determination, the right to development and our continued commitment to live in peace with our neighbors.

This is the legacy of the United Nations, this is our just objective.

I thank you.