H.E. Ms. ANA PALACIO
THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SPAIN
AT THE FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL
NEW YORK, 17 SEPTEMBER 2002
The world has changed since we last met in this General Assembly
a year ago. The twenty-first century commenced on 11 September 2001 and our
great collective challenge is to ensure the pre-eminence of International
Law in international relations. The United Nations is the natural forum for
this legal culture and legitimacy.
In this context, and with this ambition, as mentioned by the
Secretary-General when he referred to the lofty goals of peace, the rule of
law and the preservation of the international order, it is for me an honor
to address this General Assembly on behalf of Spain, a candidate to a nonpermanent
seat in the Security Council. Should we be elected, we are determined to devote
all our efforts and our capacity to fulfill this great responsibility.
One year ago, the world became aware of the horror of terrorism
that threatens us all. We asked ourselves then about the future course of
the international community and about the role of the United Nations in the
shaping of international relations in the 21-st century.
Uncertainty still persists, but it is now dear that interdependence
among countries and regions will be the core of a newborn international civil
society. States must cooperate with each other in order to make the best use
of the opportunities and to fight against threats together. Because today
neither opportunities nor threats are solely of a local nature.
The hour of Law has come, and the United Nations, as depository
of the political and legislative legitimacy of the international community,
must be the center of gravity in the definition of this new framework. The
United Nations is the organization that can and should impose, if need be
through the use of force, collective decisions taken by the community of States.
The occasions in which the United Nations have been able to
respond to the demands of the international community are also a success of
the Member States. In the same way, when the United Nations have been unable
to find solutions to existing problems it is the Member States who should
be bear the responsibility for that failure. We all make the United Nations.
Its failures are also our failures, and its success our success.
Terrorism is a clear example of this and of the need to react
firmly together. Each terrorist attack is an attack against us all and we
must all react. Terrorists do not respect borders; borders should therefore
not constitute an obstacle for the collective fight against this scourge.
Who can seriously think today that this problem cannot affect him or her?
The United Nations are fully conscious of how seriously terrorism
threatens the principles on which the United Nations Charter rests, and which
constitute the foundations of our civilization. Security Council Resolution
1373 has placed international cooperation against terrorism on a substantially
different level, directing us to a cooperation which is essential for the
international community to fight against those who attack our essential values
of life, freedom and democracy.
The growing importance of International Law has a most direct
bearing upon the intense activity of this Organization in favor of human rights.
Allow me to refer in this context to a hideous, silent violation of human
rights. Violence in the family is a scourge that primarily affects women,
children, and older people of all cultures, regardless of their level of economic
How can we, for instance, explain or shamefully ignore and,
therefore, indirectly accept, that violence against women should cause more
deaths and disabilities than cancer, traffic accidents, or even war? Can we
tolerate this situation? As a woman, and as a human being, clearly NO.
In this same context, the International Criminal Court is an
essential legal instrument to ensure that serious violations of fundamental
rights do not remain unpunished. Notwithstanding its subsidiary nature, it
represents the most significant progress in the structuring of the international
community since the UN Charter.
In the framework of this reinvigorated International Law, this
Organization must pay special attention to the challenges derived from new
technologies, in particular from biotechnology. We do not want an uncontrolled
science of unclear objectives determining the future shape of our societies,
reproducing in the real world the terrifying allegory of Aldous Huxley's Brave
New World. Spain -that has with other Members of the European Union- ratified
the Bioethics Treaty of Oviedo, which bans cloning for research purposes,
recalls the fact that Article 11 of the International Declaration on Cloning
and Human Rights, approved by UNESCO in 1997 and by this General Assembly
in 1998, already bans human cloning for reproduction purposes. Therefore,
it is necessary to go beyond that prohibition in the new Convention.
In spite of these encouraging results, development and the fight
against poverty, disarmament and regional crisis such as the Middle East are
problems for which we have not found a solution yet. Let's have a look at
those issues, in Pablo Neruda's words: "...not to fill our hearts with
salt, but to walk in knowledge."
In the difficult struggle for development, we should invest
both our efforts and our hopes. Yesterday I made reference to the Monterrey
and the Johannesburg Summits, as well as to NEPAD.
We must combat poverty by recognizing the rights and liberties
of the people and promoting the rule of law.
Speaking of development, I wish to insist again on the importance
of the situation of women in the world. They're position, their explicit or
implicit relegation, their status as a whole are very often clearly unfair,
and is at the root of the deficiencies of many societies. Let us remember
that the advancement of women in our societies is not only an OBVIOUS RIGHT.
It is probably the most effective and PROFITABLE STRATEGY to cope with the
persistent nightmare of underdevelopment.
In any case, poverty must be eradicated wherever it exists,
in the poorest countries as well as in the middle-income countries that join
the global economy while undergoing fragile political and economic processes.
These countries frequently have large pockets of domestic poverty and are
vulnerable to global economic swings. Latin America is a good example of a
continent where in the last decade an important and successful effort has
taken place to install democratic regimes, foster economic growth and open
its markets to world economy. It is crucial to ensure continued international
support when this process undergoes transitory difficulties.
Disarmament is another challenge for all of us, despite progress
achieved in fields such as Antipersonnel Mines, Small Arms or Chemical Weapons.
In this context, Spain follows the development of events related with Iraq
with understandable concern. For the sake of international security and stability
and for the welfare of the Iraqi people, we hope that the announced immediate
and unconditional return of the LIN arm inspectors in accordance with Security
Council Resolutions 687 and 1284 will be confirmed. The Iraqi regime, which
is in clear breach of these Resolutions, must destroy its weapons of mass
destruction, under the supervision of the international community. This is
the only possible path leading to a lifting of the sanctions and to the normalization
of Iraq's relations with the international community. If necessary, the international
community must accept its responsibilities in order to ensure compliance with
the Resolutions approved by the Organization, which embodies international
The citizens of our States, those who are not here with us today,
fail to understand why some regional crisis are prolonged indefinitely, causing
despair among those who suffer them, and generating a sense of injustice which
nourishes hatred and bitterness.
One such crisis is undoubtedly the Middle East conflict. Security
Council Resolutions 242, 338, and 1397, the Madrid Conference and the agreements
reached by the parties, define quite clearly the components of a peace agreement
between the Israeli and the Palestinian people. How many Palestinians and
Israelis will still have to die and how many international resolutions do
we still need so that the States of Palestine and Israel can live in peace
and mutual respect? It is necessary to culminate the peace process which begun
at the Madrid Conference. This is the goal of the Quartet's negotiating efforts,
which Spain fully supports.
And lastly, if there is a continent where conflicts seem endlessly
prolonged, that is Africa. African governments have taken significant steps
by promoting a number of encouraging peace processes. Such steps deserve to
be supported by the international community, as we stated yesterday.
We must counter these crises with our ability for dialogue and
negotiation. This has been one of the traditional guidelines of Spanish foreign
policy, which has promoted integration mechanisms, not only in Europe, but
also in Latin America and the Mediterranean, in the latter case through the
Barcelona process. Spain has always paid particular attention to its relations
with Mediterranean countries, in particular with the Arab world, with which
it maintains a privileged relationship.
In this context, I would like to make a brief reference to our relations with the Maghreb. Spain is among the Maghreb's foremost commercial partners, and one of its main investors. Hundreds of thousands of citizens from countries in the Maghreb live in Spain, making up Spain's largest resident foreign community, and contributing with their work to our economy. For years now, the Maghreb has been the main beneficiary of our international cooperation programs.
All this means that keeping strong and fruitful relations with the Kingdom of Morocco is a strategic priority for the Spanish foreign policy. An expression of this priority is the existing Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighborhood signed by both countries. The Government of Spain wishes to give an impulse to these relations in all fields and place them again at the level they should have, given the proximity between our two peoples and the importance of our common interests. I hope that my Moroccan colleague's coming visit to Madrid will be a good opportunity to advance along this path. In any case, I wish to emphasize here today that the autonomous communities of Ceuta and Melilla are an integral part of Spain, and therefore of the European Union, on equal footing with the rest of Spain's autonomous communities, and that their citizens are represented in the Spanish Parliament with the same titles and in the same conditions as the rest of Spanish citizens.
The tasks that this Organization confronts demand that its mechanisms
function adequately. Spain looks forward to the Secretary-General's forthcoming
Report on its reform. It also supports a Security Council's reform that deals
with the various aspects of the matter, and not just enlargement.
I cannot but refer to the question of Gibraltar and to the recurrent
mandates of this General Assembly urging Spain and the United Kingdom to continue
their bilateral negotiations to find a permanent solution to this dispute.
I am pleased to inform you that during the past year the Governments of both
countries have deployed intense negotiating efforts in that framework that
have allowed for substantial progress towards a solution.
We intend to continue these negotiations with a constructive spirit, and to take into account the legitimate interests of the residents of the colony, on the basis of the traditional United Nations doctrine in relation with Gibraltar, a doctrine confirmed year after year by this General Assembly's Resolutions and in the Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the time has come to solve this question in accordance with this General Assembly's relevant Resolutions, which call for the implementation of the principle of territorial integrity.
Therefore, we condemn any attempt to interfere with the sound
development of these negotiations, contravening this doctrine.
I would not like to end this speech without giving a very warm
welcome and offering my country's collaboration to Switzerland and East Timor.
During these sessions, this building is the seat of projects,
of ideas, of words. It is also the seat of action, and the action of the United
Nations, of the Organization, as well as that of each one of its member States,
cannot remain within these walls; millions of people depend on our ability
to implement all that has been discussed here in order to enjoy a better life
or simply to protect it. Spain is fully aware of this responsibility and is
ready to work alongside other members of this Organization so that words may
be transformed into deeds, and deeds into concrete results.
Thank you Mr. President.