H.E. DR. DIDIER OPERTTI
THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF URUGUAY
HEAD OF DELEGATION OF URUGUAY
FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, September 17, 2002
The profound and dizzying changes that took place in the world throughout the last decade with the end of the cold war and the acceleration of the process of globalization have not brought with them the ideal of the international society that was anticipated and global peace now seems as elusive as ever. This is the great challenge to which our Organization must rise as we begin a new session of the General Assembly, whose relevance as a coordinating body for the international community is again being put to the test.
The events of last September radically changed the perception of security in the world. The main threat to international peace and stability now comes in the form of organized multinational clandestine groups who have wide access to weapons and financial resources and who seek to sow terror with a chilling lack of basic human feelings.
Despite its cultural and religious diversity and the diversity of its political systems, and notwithstanding the marked differences in levels of development, the international community reacted to terrorism with a deep and resolute sense of solidarity, which was reflected in its decision to combat it vigorously within the framework of international law, through the appropriate conventions and fulfillment of the obligations arising from the decisions of the Security Council, based on the principles of the Charter and respect for human rights. While facing this scourge, we must not forget what the President of Uruguay, Jorge Battle, stated in his address to the General Assembly last year, that "to win over it, it is also necessary to act upon other enemies of peace such as poverty and under-development, to give to every human being good reasons to live and turn each one of us into active defenders of humankind as-a common value from which no one can feel alien and against which it is imperative to fight without giving up".
It must also be borne in mind that this ubiquitous and anonymous enemy that is terrorism invokes political pretexts related to unresolved conflicts. In this regard, Uruguay reiterates its trust in that the Palestinian authorities show proof of their peaceful aspirations through their acts, while at the same time we invite the Government of Israel to display the necessary efforts to return to the negotiating table as the only way for achieving a permanent peace.
We retain our optimism in the face of all these challenges and wish to highlight two positive developments, which indicate that the international community is moving in the right direction. First, the establishment of the International Criminal Court will contribute to the maintenance of international peace by preventing and punishing the most serious international crimes that individuals can commit. By signing and ratifying the Rome Statute, Uruguay indicated its willingness to contribute to the important process of the development and strengthening of international law, through the establishment of permanent legal institutions.
Secondly, the world has this year laid the groundwork for the management of the broad spectrum of the positive and negative impacts of globalization. The recent Summit on Sustainable Development represents the culmination of a process that complements the results of the Monterrey Summit on Financing for Development- and the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, held in Doha, which will permit the international community to coordinate its efforts to eradicate poverty and promote global development by increasing development assistance and liberalizing trade in a sustainable manner.
The overall conclusion to be drawn from these conferences is clear. If the developing countries are not given opportunities and equal conditions, both with respect to the elimination of subsidies and unfair trade practices and with respect to market access, then these countries will continue to suffer the negative effects of globalization without enjoying its benefits, thereby aggravating the political, social and economic situation in the vast majority of States in the international community. This is the path to deadlock.
Uruguay, in its firm vocation for multilateralism, belongs on a regional level to Mercosur, which being a decade old, has rooted itself as an effective actor within the international community, overcoming the dimension of an economic project and playing an active role as a stabilizer of democracy in the region, consolidating as well the rule of law and the complete respect for the fundamental freedoms and human rights.
It is therefore, as member of Mercosur that Uruguay has opted a decade ago for an ambitious policy of trade liberalization characterized by the principle of transparency, and hopes that other trading blocks in the developed world would apply the same principles and avoid the duplicity inherent in advocating the need to promote free trade on the one hand while protecting their own markets with discriminatory practices on the other. We therefore ask for reciprocity from our trading partners.
We must nor forget that this is the reason why we are now facing increasing difficulty in achieving our development goals. Like in many other countries in every region of the world, Uruguay is now experiencing an economic and financial crisis, which was completely unavoidable as a result of the severe impact of regional and extra-regional external factors.
This responds to our increasing dependency on our foreign trade, to the fall of the international prices of our products which in, their turn become non competitive due to the implementation of subsidies and other protectionist measures applied by developed countries as well as by the fast spread of the crisis in the financial systems of the main exporting markets.
To this must be added another tragic irony. Our export products cannot compete with similar goods from other countries because of their higher cost, resulting from the fact that Uruguay fulfils all of its international obligations in the labour and social fields, particularly with regard to child labour, minimum wages, social benefits and work conditions. Nevertheless, the developed countries on the one hand preach respect for human rights and the strengthening of social security, while on the other hand they purchase products that are produced at lower cost in violation of international obligations.
The phenomenon of globalization, which has developed thus far without an adequate framework of operation, has been the cause of many of these problems. We keep believing that it is within this Organization that we must continue to explore ways which lead to a political solution to the main problems that we face in common. On the one hand, the United Nations is the natural body to manage the impacts of globalization. In this process of constant change, which is accelerated by the technological advances of the so-called "information society", we recognize the potential that information technology innovations have for the development of democracy, the economy, and social progress and we note with great interest that a World Summit on the Information Society will be held next year.
On the other hand, we must bring to life once again the true purpose and meaning of international economic cooperation. True solidarity is reflected not only in the undertaking of commitments at international summits and conferences. It is expressed above all in the faithful discharge of these commitments by each State, in particular developed countries. This is the only way in which developing countries can move beyond their low levels of progress and achieve sustainable development.
All of this requires the introduction of changes in the organs and procedures of this Organization in order to ensure better representativity in its structure and enhance the efficiency of its functioning. The reform of the Security Council and the revitalization of the General Assembly are tasks that are still pending and which we must continue to pursue.
Uruguay has confidence in multilateral mechanisms for preserving and building international peace and security. It is a signatory to the Charter of San Francisco and has contributed troops to 13 United Nations peacekeeping missions since 1952. We take pride that the more than 1500 serving members of our military and police forces that participate nowadays in peacekeeping operations represent this firm commitment and our belief in this Organization.
Therefore, Uruguay shares
in its entirety the eloquent and passionate advocacy of multilateralism
reflected in the Secretary General's statement last week in this very
same room. Like him, the people and government of Uruguay reaffirm their
genuine vocation for multilateralism, deeply rooted in their spirit. As
their principle, their tradition and their conviction.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to welcome the two new members whom we are incorporating to the organization as of this General Assembly, Timor-Leste and the Swiss Confederation. Finally, I would like to congratulate you for your election as President of this Session, which we are sure that under your leadership, will be successful.