NICARAGUA

Statement by
H.E. Mr. Norman Caldera Cardenal
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Nicaragua

GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, September 18, 2002

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Distinguished Delegates,
Peoples of the World,

On 21 March in Monterrey, Mexico, the President of Nicaragua, Enrique Bolaflos, announced that "a moral renewal had been launched in Nicaragua with a crusade against public and private corruption."

On that same day, the President also announced that, a few minutes earlier, "in the spirit of the new era of moral renewal, a Nicaraguan judge had found three former officials of the previous Government and three other persons guilty of acts of corruption which impoverished our people.

The judge left the case pending against former President Aleman and eight other officials of the previous Government."

President Bolar'los continued saying: "With a view to continuing my policy of "zero tolerance" for corruption, 1 must return to my country as soon as possible to contribute, with justice and transparency, to the historic landmark constituted by this bold decision."

A few days ago, another brave Nicaraguan judge, in a parallel case, sentenced members of the former President's nuclear family to jail.

Today I come before this General Assembly on behalf of an entire people to reaffirm, with deeds, Nicaragua's commitment to governance, transparency, and accountability and to the principles of the rule of law.

There is much at stake today in Nicaragua. Not only must we punish corrupt officials and recover for our country government money that was diverted and laundered but also the results of our efforts will be crucial to the battles waged, by other peoples of our region and of the world, against this scourge.

Nicaragua's success will be an incentive for the entire international community. The failure of transparency in Nicaragua would be a bad precedent for humankind.

We have therefore not fought this battle alone. The support of more than 84 per cent of our population has been coupled with the moral and economic support of many countries, embodying the democratic values shared by we the peoples of the United Nations. To all of them, to UNDP and the international organizations that have supported us, we extend our sincere gratitude.

In order to ensure that the change we have begun is irreversible, we will need continued and sufficient support. In this way, we will preserve the great moral heritage of humankind -democracy exercised with honesty and accountability.

As linchpin of this great heritage, we are discussing human development, conceived as the State's ultimate purpose, to be attained through democratic governance, economic growth and social equity.

We construe governance as the result of doing things correctly in the political sphere - transparency, human rights and sovereignty; we see growth as the result of doing the right things in the economic and financial sphere - foreign exchange, fiscal and monetary policy and competition; and we understand equity as the result of doing things right in the social sphere - education, health, housing and gender equality.

Progress in the convergence of these three elements comprising human development will not be possible until corruption is rooted out.

Mr. President,

By its very nature, the scourge of corruption has an impact that transcends national borders. in this connection, we offer our full support to the work being carried out by the Special Committee to negotiate a United Nations convention against corruption.
From this forum, we appeal to the international community to engage in the broadest possible mutual assistance and cooperation in investigating or prosecuting acts of corruption.

Mr. President,

Terrorism is as abhorrent as corruption. This month we remember with anguish the tragedy of September 11 when thousands of innocent people perished, many of them heroically. This tragedy, like all terrorist acts, must never be forgotten. At the same time, international cooperation to deal with such crimes must remain permanent on our agenda. It is therefore essential that we coordinate activities to prevent and punish with the full force of the law such terrorist activities that cause so much pain and suffering.

Nicaragua reaffirms once again its unconditional support for United Nations activities to combat international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

In Nicaragua, we have in place a National Plan against Terrorism and Related Crimes designed to strengthen cooperation among institutions with the aim of preventing, combating and eliminating this scourge and complying with Security Council resolutions.

Mr. President,

The case of Iraq is a challenge and a test for the entire multilateral system we have been constructing. It is up to us either to help strengthen it or help weaken and fracture it.

While it is true that we are all in favour of multilateral action, it is also undeniable that inertia and inaction undermine confidence in our collective will. The multilateral system must demonstrate its dynamism, and its very raison d ettre, by taking joint, concerted and timely action to resolve conflicts.

We want a system capable of reacting with specific, timely and effective measures to the dangers that threaten international peace and security, a system that is not overtaken by circumstances.

Nicaragua considers that the immediate and unconditional return of the United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq - within a context of total compliance, can only be considered an important part of a greater effort aimed at the elimination of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, within the context of the global interests of the international community and in compliance with all pertinent Security Council resolutions.

Mr. President,

The reform of the United Nations is also part of this desire to respond effectively. Reform basically revolves around new organizational and administrative structures, which, without a doubt, have gradually enabled the United Nations to act with greater unity of purpose, coherence and flexibility.

Nicaragua, like the Secretary-General, believes that there is still great potential for progress, and that we must all ensure that the Organization's work programme includes the priorities set out in the Millennium Declaration.

Mr. President,

No reform of the United Nations would be complete without the long hoped-for expansion of the Security Council in order to respond fully and effectively to current and future needs. Similarly, we must pursue efforts to revitalize the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council in order to empower the Organization to assume its full responsibilities under the Charter.

Nicaragua shares the interest of Member States in strengthening our Organization with a view to optimising its efforts to maintain international peace and security, prevent conflicts, promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty.

Mr. President,

The recent World Summit on Sustainable Development filled us with hope and, at the same time, uneasiness. On the one hand, we saw the degree of attention being focused on the problem of environmental degradation. But on the other hand, the path to achieving that balance between development and environment is still long and arduous, particularly for the least developed countries.

Before us lies the challenge of generating greater wealth and' more jobs without harming the environment. We cannot achieve this without the support of the developed countries, which must help pay the price of the benefits they reap from our efforts.

I therefore wish to recall the consensus achieved in Monterrey, where we urged those developed countries that have not yet done so to adopt specific measures to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product as official development assistance (ODA) for the developing countries.

Mr. President,

Nicaragua is aware that intensified violence, civil and international war, the scourge of_ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), drought and poverty in recent years are the main problems afflicting the African continent. However, we note with concern that international cooperation and assistance to Africa are diminishing.
The efforts by African Governments to achieve economic growth and alleviate poverty must be matched.

Mr. President,

Development efforts have also been given direct expression in Central America, where we have reached important agreements and taken decisions that have paved the way for us to be able to say today that our region is embarking on a "new era" of its history.

On 21 June, in the city of Granada, Nicaragua, we held the Twenty-First Ordinary Meeting of Heads of State and Government of Central America. It was an opportunity to affirm our commitment to moving towards the consolidation of the Central American Customs Union, which will become a reality on 31 December 2003.

The Customs Union was conceived as a means of contributing to the economic and social development of our countries. It will promote smooth interregional trade, reduce the costs of transport owing to border delays, facilitate the movement of persons and vehicles, and, at the same time, attract international business and investments to the region.

Nonetheless, the prolonged stagnation of the international economic recovery was exacerbated in Nicaragua by uncharacteristic problems in the external sector owing to the high price of imported oil and the lowest coffee prices in history!According to data provided by Gabriel Silva, President of the Colombian Coffee Growers' Association, five years ago, coffee consumers paid 30 billion dollars while producers received 12 billion or 40 per cent. Today, consumers pay 65 billion dollars but producers receive only 5,500,000 or less than 8.5 per cent.

This critical situation, which is generating unemployment and hunger in the productive areas of Nicaragua and other producer countries, seems to be caused by the existence of a cartel of coffee-roasters, a situation that must be remedied as soon as possible through measures to promote competition in consumer markets and in the international market.

Mr. President,

Nicaragua congratulates Switzerland on recently joining the United Nations as a new member and East Timor, which is about to join. Their presence among us will contribute new ideas and approaches to strengthening efforts for a better world, and paraphrasing the representative of Switzerland's earlier statement to this General Assembly, enhancing the universality of the

United Nations, in the best interest of humankind.
In this same connection, my country, aware of the principle of universality and equality which inspired the United Nations, considers it a priority to permit the 23 million inhabitants of the Republic of China on Taiwan to enjoy the universal right to participate in international affair; through its own delegation to the United Nations, parallel to, and with the same rights of participation as, the People's Republic of China, whose Government has never exercised any hegemony over Taiwan.

Mr. President,

Nicaragua, as a founding State of this our Organization, reaffirms Its commitment to the Charter and its aspiration to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council during the elections to be held during the sixtieth session of the General Assembly.

I spoke earlier of "a new era" of moral renewal in Nicaragua rooted in the values of the United Nations. I believe that when we speak of strengthening democracy, reforming the Organization, fighting corruption, terrorism and drug trafficking, halting the arms race or giving joint, timely and effective responses to the dangers which threaten us, we are really speaking of one and the same thing: belonging jointly and severally to an Organization which holds and safeguards our trust and collective action based on the principles which united our peoples on that historic day to create the United Nations.

Thank you.