HIS EXCELLENCY MR. ALI ABDI FARAH
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
BEFORE THE 57TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
NEW YORK, 19 SEPTEMBER 2002
President of the General Assembly Mr. Jan Kavan,
Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In what has been a year that has witnessed an exceptional lead of tragedy and uncertainty, we were fortunate to have had the effective stewardship of Dr. Han Seung-Soo, as President of the General Assembly. We would also welcome and congratulate you, Mr. President.
We welcome the admission of Switzerland to the United Nations, as we also wholeheartedly congratulate the attainment of statehood by East Timor.
Under the able and principled leadership of Mr. Kofi Annan, the United Nations has regained both relevance and credibility. The reform measures he instituted over the years have resulted in better coordination, information sharing, strengthened cohesion and greater strategic direction.
Today, the United Nations works increasingly closer with civil society in fighting diseases, addressing poverty and in responding to humanitarian emergencies. It has structured meaningful partnerships with the private sector enterprises with a view to benefit from their know-how and resources in favor of developing countries.
The Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, have brought to light the unprecedented collaboration of different stakeholders - United Nations, governments, private sector, international financial institutions, and civil society.
Last week during the numerous commemorative ceremonies marking the fateful events of "September 11, 2001", it was obvious the world remained traumatized. The reverberations of September 11 are still palpable today throughout the U.N. system and throughout the world. Within less than twenty-four hours, the Security Council took a decisive action declaring September 11 attacks as a "threat to international peace and security". The landmark antiterrorism resolution 1373 established a comprehensive mechanism for a global agenda that monitors each country's implementation of the detailed requirements. Our resolve and determination to confront the menace of terrorism is undoubtedly strong. It has awakened us to the understanding of some basic truths - human vulnerability and interdependence. The mobilization of a truly global coalition in a short period proved the common endeavor to thwart random and callous slaughter of innocent individuals regardless of their nationality, religion, sex or color. As he led the solemn ceremony marking the anniversary within the U.N. grounds, Mr. Annan said: "Everything we work for - peace, development, health, and freedom - is damaged by this horror. Everything that we believe in - respect for human life, justice, tolerance, pluralism, and democracy - is threatened by it. It must be defeated - and it must be defeated by the world acting as one". Combating terrorism has, therefore, required more aggressive law enforcement measures everywhere.
Against the backdrop of this horror almost all countries have embarked upon an extraordinary string of actions that amount to a wholesale reorientation of their policies - particularly foreign policies. We have in this respect witnessed countries pursuing policies to reach out to others; improving ties, or embracing broader visions; or accepting new strategic relationship. 9/11 has spawned new alliances, and has put the spotlight on long-established ones. No wonder, it also generated stricter controls over the movement of people particularly people of certain faiths, backgrounds, complexions or regions. We are living in a dangerous world, no doubt, and vigilance is of prime importance. But, in the exercise of all this, let us be careful not to demean our grief for those victims and their families. As one editorial in a respected paper news observed: "What happened a year ago was terrible, but our shock and our respect for the suffering of those left behind should not cloud our judgment about unrelated issues". In the words of the Secretary General while speaking last week on the first anniversary of that unspeakable tragedy: "Today we come together as a world community because we were attacked as a world community. May the memory of those who perished on September 11th serve to inspire a better, more just, more peaceful world for all". We hope reason will prevail over fear, prejudice and hatred.
We welcome President Bush's clearly stated commitment to explore fully the Security Council route vis-a-vis Iraq towards a peaceful resolution of this outstanding issue. We also welcome Iraq's unconditional acceptance of the return of the U.N. inspectors, thus demonstrating its readiness and full cooperation toward the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions. This is indeed an encouraging development. We must seek a political solution within the framework of the United Nations. And the United Nations has to act, and act swiftly to avert the looming crisis that will engulf a whole region, indeed seriously impact on the whole world. We are all aware of the consequences. Let us coalesce and work hard to save this region which is already in turmoil from further conflagration.
One of the gravest but neglected threats to world peace is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Djibouti agrees with the Secretary General that peace in the Middle East was shaped decades ago in Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, as further refined by the more recent resolution 1397 compromising land for peace, an end to terror and occupation, and two states - Palestine and Israel - living side by side, in secure and recognized borders. Unfortunately, the focus has shifted again - now requiring change in the Palestinian leadership, political and security reform, while simultaneously relieving Israel of the need to return to the negotiating table. The so-called "sequential" approach has failed. There is an urgency to move forward on all issues comprehensively and simultaneously. Coupled with the political impasse is the economic destruction that has resulted from the stifling checkpoints, roadblocks, incursions, destruction of buildings and supply networks. The Palestinians are in danger; a whole nation is under a virtual house arrest. There is a growing humanitarian crisis as pointed out by a number of recent reports which described in detail the malnutrition levels, breakdown of child immunization programs, increasing risk of communicable diseases and pervasive poverty. We remain steadfast, Mr. President, in our condemnation of violence and killings of innocent people, be they Israelis or Palestinians.
We welcome the latest Quartet plan that outlines a three-phase roadmap to achieve a comprehensive final settlement within three years by 2005.
To complete the process of bringing peace to the Middle East, agreement between Syria and Israel must be reached, entailing Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders.
A decade ago, the Rio Conference of 1992 gave us the comprehensive Agenda 21 which contained extensive recommendations for action to reduce wasteful consumption patterns, protect the atmosphere and oceans, promote sustainable agriculture and combat poverty, among other things. The thematic conferences that followed further strengthened and expanded these recommendations and we have strong promises contained in the Millennium Declaration of 2000, particularly in mitigating the pervasive poverty and misery. Goals, targets, commitments and deadlines to reduce poverty are, therefore, given new stimulus and recognition.
The recently concluded World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg also achieved significant milestone on all crucial issues facing mankind today. All these demonstrations of goodwill however need to be backed by action. The Prime Minister of Denmark speaking on behalf of the European Union during this General Assembly debate had this to say: "in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg we reached consensus on what needs to be done. But knowing what has to be done is not enough - as world leaders we must see that it is done".
Increasing references are too often made to good governance, investment in people and economic freedoms as conditions on developing countries to qualify for development assistance. Africa has recognized the need to improve its continental responsibility in all areas of concern to our international partners, including peace and stability, democracy, human rights, and development. Through, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Africa is able to assume more comprehensive responsibility toward its conflicts and development. In return, it is greatly hoped that resources constraints that seriously militate against sustained growth and human dignity will be adequately addressed by our partners.
The issue of HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest concerns in Africa. More than 30 million people are infected, nearly 75% of those carrying the virus worldwide. The impact on development is devastating. Life expectancy has plunged in many countries. The observations made by the Head of the United Nations AIDS Program are quite apt: "If people are not alive, if people are not healthy - the people who are supposed to bring us sustainable development - then it won't happen. AIDS is a major crisis of human resources".
Building upon the outcome of the Peace and Reconciliation Conference at Arta, Djibouti, our sub-regional organization, IGAD, is spearheading a Conference to bring the Transitional National Government (TNG) and other parties in Somalia (regional administration, factions and groups) that opted to stay away from that historic gathering. The frontline states, comprising of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, have been mandated by IGAD Summit of January this year, to bring the various elements together, in order to complete the Arta process, and thus pave the way for the emergence of a broad-based government. A lot of efforts had already gone in achieving that objective, though it is fair to state that a lot also remains to be done.
Djibouti believes that a realistic roadmap is of prime necessity, consistent with current thinking:
- The majority view of the international community (U.N., AU, League of Arab States, IGAD, EU, OIC, etc) has been that the: "Arta Peace Process continues to be the most viable basis for peace and national reconciliation in Somalia".
- There has been a recognition to "complete", without preconditions, the Arta peace and reconciliation process.
- Without any ambiguity, the international community consistently called for dialogue and involvement of the Transitional Government and all Somali parties "in a spirit of mutual accommodation and tolerance, with a view to establish an all-inclusive government in Somalia based on the sharing and devolution of power through a democratic process".
These are crucial principles to guide us on the right path. We cannot afford to stray away too far from these core objectives.
Decisions regarding the maintenance of international peace and security lie with the Security Council which, despite the explosion of United Nations membership over the last three decades, has remained a highly unrepresentative body. If there is to be confidence in its decision, there has to be an expansion in its membership - both permanent and non-permanent categories - with the extension of permanent membership to both developed and developing countries. The working group mandated with the task of arriving at satisfactory conclusion has so far failed; and there is no clear prospect of overcoming any
sooner the current stalemate. More objectivity and clarity of vision are required in order to move forward.
The people in the Horn of Africa have had their share of difficulties and suffering in the past several decades that we are all now anxious for a relaxation of tensions, peace, stability and development. Djibouti truly believes in good neighborliness, cooperation and creation of opportunities for our people. We are committed to work hand-in-hand with our international partners and with our friends in the region toward resolving all outstanding issues that militate against harmony and trust.
Thank you, Mr. President