THE HONORABLE BLAS F. OPLE
SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERALl ASSEMBLY
17 September 2002, New York
As we welcome our newest members, East Timor and Switzerland, we reaffirm our faith in the United Nations and the principles of the Charter.
Today, the United Nations faces more challenges and must respond to far more demands than was ever contemplated by our founders. Yet our organization remains the single most important universal and viable forum for states to interact, for nations to work together and for countries to cooperate, in preserving peace, avoiding conflict and promoting stability.
The Immediate Challenge
We believe that Iraq took a step in the right direction when it agreed yesterday to the unconditional return of United Nations weapons inspectors. But the immediate challenge facing our organization and our world is the looming confrontation that could be brought about by the need for Iraq to comply, totally and unconditionally, with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
We credit the diplomatic skills and sheer determination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the members of the Arab League with this welcome development. We will, therefore, await clear proof of sincerity in action.
But this is just a beginning. We believe that we are far from a true resolution of this issue. We must remain vigilant and continue to have faith in the Security Council. The Philippines has full confidence in the UN Security Council process. We believe that the Council will act in accord with the imperatives of world peace and security and will find the most expeditious and effective way to serve these imperatives.
Consistent with our national interest and in accordance with our Constitution, the Philippines is prepared to extend political, security and humanitarian assistance to the United States in the pursuit of its most vital interests, which coincide with our own vital interests, to defeat terrorism.
The case for compliance is compelling. The charges are highly credible and have serious implications on global security. The UN Security Council should give these charges most urgent and deep consideration. The international community has put the onus on Iraq to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions, especially on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction
Yet we certainly live in a world of consequences that can be avoided. Poverty, intolerance and inequality provide the breeding ground for terrorism. But we need not make terrorism an unavoidable consequence of these factors.
We have learned this in the one year since the shocking and tragic events of September 11. In that short span of time, we learned that terrorism cannot defeat us, we learned that terrorism cannot overcome our resolve to fight it, and we learned to the full measure of courage and bravery of the men and women who stand on the frontlines in the war against terror.
In that short span of time, we established new strategic partnerships and retooled and reaffirmed existing strategic partnerships. These are partnerships that are based on the belief that the world will never be secure unless terrorist lairs are exposed and destroyed, and terrorist supporters are brought to justice.
The Nexus of Poverty and Instability
And in the realm of what is just and what is fair, we know that globalization can contribute to the comprehensive and sustainable development of the developing world. In some cases it has. But the gap between the rich and poor countries continues to widen.
Let us again be reminded of the stark reality: 1.2 billion people live on less than a dollar a day; 1.1 billion people lack access to safe and affordable drinking water; 130 million school-age children, the majority of whom are girls, lack the means to stay in school.
The Challenge of Poverty and Develonment
The uneven opportunities for the creation of wealth and the increasing income inequality within and between countries have pushed larger numbers of people to the margins of existence.
We in the Philippines are building an open economy. We are taking concrete measures to create an open trade and investment environment in our own country and in our region. We have adapted to the realities of globalization fully aware of its concomitant risks, particularly those impinging on the well being of our vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
We firmly believe that, in general, developing countries accept the need for good governance in their public and corporate sectors. We continue institutional reform, guided by our national priorities, requirements and capabilities. We are restructuring our economy, often at great pains and high political cost.
Capital is what developing countries lack the most in their pursuit of sustainable development. The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that an additional public investment of 24 billion US dollars annually must be made in poor countries to halve the number of hungry people by the UN millennium target date of 2015.
Developing countries need more foreign direct investment, particularly in areas that will promote the sustainable use of the environment and sustained growth. We also need improved access to foreign markets.
Many developing countries must also effectively compete in areas where their comparative advantage is great, such as in agriculture. However, developing countries do not have the resources to match the subsidies agricultural producers receive in rich countries such as the 40 billion euros EU farmers receive each year, or the additional 170 billion dollars US farmers will receive over the next ten years. We can only wonder about the liberative impact for development if the subsidies of 23 cents per dollar of farm goods in the US or the 36 cents per dollar of farm goods in the EU were, instead, to be invested in developing countries.
We need to reverse the decline in Official Development Assistance (ODA), which remains below the target of .07 percent of GNP. But we should also not lose sight of the fact that aside from increased funding sources for developing countries, the flipside of the development coin should be greater restraint, care and flexibility in the use of conditionalities. Enhanced and effective debt relief, including for middle-income countries is also needed.
Efforts to reform the international financial architecture and to strengthen the development dimension of the global trade and investment regime should be sustained.
Globalization and Migration
Globalization has provided more opportunities and greater choices for people to travel the world in search of a livelihood. Ten per cent of the population of the Philippines is found outside its border. Their safety and welfare is of paramount importance to us, particularly in times of actual or potential conflict. It is time to place the welfare of migrant workers higher on the UN agenda, before the migrants issue turns into a serious humanitarian issue. We can start by becoming States Parties to the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. It is also important for developed nations to support the important work of humanitarian assistance agencies like the International Organization for Migration.
Renewed Faith in Our United Nations
Mr. President, despite the unprecedented wealth created in the last decade of the 20th century, one out of every five people live on less than one dollar a day. The 32 poorest African countries do not earn much more than the richest man on earth, the title unofficially bestowed on Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft in Seattle, the United States. And despite the grinding poverty of billions, the world spends incredible sums for military purposes, for armies and weapons of mass annihilation.
Those bent on fomenting hate and violence will find willing adherents particularly among the helpless and incorrigible poor, the dispossessed, and the disenfranchised. The hungry, the out-of-school youth, those living in the margins can become easy prey to the siren songs of terrorists and perpetrators of violence. Poverty alleviation and development are therefore key strategies in preventing conflict and fighting terrorism.
Terrorism has become a major tool for violence and instability in our world. But this is not the only menace to our collective security. Threats from organized crime, environmental degradation and contagious diseases continue to pose risks to international peace and security. The proliferation of conventional and non-conventional weapons, including small arms, continues. Civil wars and inter-state conflicts remain major causes of instability and underdevelopment. Hence, the UN must continue its important peacekeeping and peacemaking roles.
Mr. President, durable peace and progress with freedom can only be achieved through international partnerships and a renewed faith in our United Nations that should guarantee the meaningful participation by developing countries in global decisionmaking. The challenges of the world today- potential and actual conflict, terrorism violence, environmental degradation, organized crime, contagious diseases-recognize no boundaries and affect all.
In the eloquent language of the Philadelphia Declaration of the International Labor Organization, "Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere." The reason is because humanity - and human destiny - has become a seamless whole. No man is an island and the bell tolls for us too. This is the timeless vision of the United Nations, validated by all who have spoken here at the General Assembly's 57th Session. It is a vision and a bond that should unite all nations as we face new dangers and the unmarked frontiers of our collective life on this small, endangered planet. Indeed the United Nations continues to be the last best hope of mankind.