Hon. Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh,
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Nepalese Delegation
General Debate of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 19 September 2002

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

Let me begin by taking this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. President, for your unanimous election to preside over the 57th session of the General Assembly. My delegation pledges its full support to you and has full confidence in your ability to steer the session to its successful conclusion.

I would also like to express my delegation's profound appreciation to your predecessor, H. E. Dr. Han Seung-soo, for the excellent manner in which he guided the 56th session.

Our tributes are also due to the Secretary General, H. E. Mr. Kofi Annan, for his tireless efforts to carry out the mandate of the United Nations.

Nepal congratulates and welcomes Switzerland as a new member of the United Nations. We also look forward to having the privilege of welcoming East Timor as anew member in next few days.

Mr. President,

We are meeting here under a long and dark shadow of the terrorist attacks against the Host City on September 11, 2001. The trauma and tragedy the attacks wrought are still fresh in our memory. Our heart goes out to those children who lost their parents and those families who lost their near and dear ones.

Itself a victim of terrorism, Nepal understands the pain and peril terrorists brutally perpetrate on individuals and societies. As globalisation and technological advances have made it possible for terrorists to move people and funds across the world with ease, concerted efforts of nations will be essential to stamp out terrorism.

Therefore, we support the on-going global war terrorism and see the need for the better enforcement of the existing international law and the conclusion of a comprehensive global convention for this purpose. In Nepal, we have enacted a new law as well as rules and regulations that include provisions of relevant international treaties to which we are a party.

Opposed to democracy and freedoms, the so-called Maoist terrorists in Nepal have been taking innocent lives, abducting children to work as child soldiers, and destroying private homes, schools, and vital infrastructure. In view of this, His Majesty's Government has recognised them as terrorists and launched a campaign to protect the people and property.

We appreciate the moral and financial supports from our friends in this effort. We also deplore any suggestion that tends to equate the government's obligation to protect its citizens with the terrorists' dastardly acts of violence.

Mr. President,

Even though terrorism is the menace of the moment, other peace and security problems continue to trouble the world. The Middle East is burning and Africa is boiling with conflicts. Tension also abounds elsewhere: in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

To find a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, Nepal supports a time-bound implementation of Security Council resolution 1397 and of the Quartet agreement of April 2002. Iraq must comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and the global community must respect the sanctity and integrity of the UN Charter not to set the wider region on fire.

We are happy that Afghanistan is limping back to normalcy. Providing security coverage over the entire country should be the United Nations' priority so reconstruction could pick up momentum.

East Timor has emerged from the South Pacific as a free nation. We congratulate its people for their freedom and independence and the United Nations for helping them through the transition.

It is encouraging that Sierra Leone has achieved a measure of stability. Attempts must be redoubled to resolve the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Liberia, and in Burundi for a wider peace. The Balkans, Cyprus and the Korean peninsula should receive necessary support in their quest for peace and harmony.

Mr. President,

No durable peace will be possible without the prevention of conflicts and resolution of disputes through peaceful means. Peacekeeping, disarmament, and confidence building are the pillars of an edifice of culture of peace. Integral to lasting peace is the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and justice for all as well.

UN peacekeeping operations have proved very useful in helping to stabilise fragile situations during and after conflicts. Nepal is a major player in UN peacekeeping and has contributed over 40,000 military and police personnel so far. Our peacekeepers have served the United Nations with the outstanding competence and dedication, sustaining 42 casualties on the tour of duty.

Our commitment to UN peacekeeping operations remains robust. Supply of fully self-sustained troops is our goal, but that often becomes difficult for a poor country. Until we achieve our goal, the United Nations must continue to bridge the resource gaps through innovative means.

In our view, total elimination of nuclear weapons in a time-bound manner constitutes the cornerstone of disarmament endeavour. We as well stress the imperative for observance of the existing international treaties, ratification of CTBT and conclusion of a fissile materials cut-off treaty.

Nuclear weapon-free zones, the guarantee not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and other confidence building measures will be critical to help creating a nuclear weapons free world. Equally important is the necessity to eradicate chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction.

Small arms have taken more lives than any other weapons. We welcome the agreement that emerged from the conference on small arms and light weapons last year. Nonetheless, we underline the need for stricter controls on possession of such arms by non-state actors.

UN regional centres for peace and disarmament are an important tool for building confidence and help the process of disarmament in their respective regions. We are grateful to member states that they have designated Nepal as host for the regional centre in Asia and the Pacific. It is however deeply troubling that the Centre is yet to move to Kathmandu, despite our full commitment to meet all those obligations that other hosts have done. We urge the United Nations to relocate the Centre immediately and not to set terms and conditions over and above what the other hosts of similar centres have accepted.

Mr. President,

One may argue that not all conflicts are products of poverty. Yet people living in poverty, deprivation and despair become easily susceptible to the evil designs of extremist elements. Hence, poverty reduction and sustainable development are an inseparable part of efforts to prevent conflicts and terrorism and to promote peace.

Indeed, developing countries must bear the primary responsibility of their development. Nepal has taken far-reaching reforms to liberalise the economy, optimise internal resources, attract foreign investment and protect the environment. Most of the public expenditure is invested in people and in poor areas. Measures have been taken to provide clean government and improve overall governance.

However, our problems are so big, their resources so limited, and the gaps between rich and poor so wide that without additional resources and market access we cannot accelerate our growth and sustain our development. So, wealthy nations will have to fulfill their commitments made at the Millennium Summit as well as at the Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg conferences. We appreciate the pledges of the European Union and the United State to raise the level of their development assistance and urge them to keep their word.

Developing countries also need a conducive global economic climate to grow. For it to happen, rich nations must strive to lift the world economy from the current recession and agree on major reforms in the international financial architecture.

More than others, least developed countries in Africa and elsewhere need increased assistance and support to break loose from their poverty trap. Developed nations should do everything in their power to meet the official development targets, provide duty-free and quota free access for LDC products to their markets, and help implement other provisions of the Brussels Program of Action.

Landlocked developing countries suffer the constraints of remoteness, high cost economies, and high transit costs. They need targeted assistance to overcome their specific hurdles, so do the small and poor island developing states.

Nepal appreciates the United Nations for its important role in propelling development in developing countries. We also welcome the timely appointment of his High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to follow up to the Brussels Program of Action.

Regional co-operation is a linchpin of attempts collectively to foster competitiveness, capacity and synergy. In South Asia, we are striving to build such co-operation under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Poverty alleviation, trade liberalisation and technical co-operation have received principal focus as precursors to the ultimate establishment of a South Asian Economic Union. The 11th SAARC summit that Nepal hosted in January this year is a testament to member states' eagerness to not let their political differences affect the process of regional economic integration.

Mr. President,

Nepal is fully committed to democracy, justice, and human rights, including those of women and children. We are strengthening the values and institutions of democracy and incorporating international human rights standards into our domestic laws. The National Human Rights Commission is fully functional and the judiciary is being revitalised.

Sadly enough, there are nearly 20 million refugees around the world and many more internally displaced persons. In Nepal alone, there are over 100,000 refugees from Bhutan, deprived of their human rights at home. With a view to finding a durable solution to the problem, Nepal has engaged in bilateral negotiations with Bhutan nearly for a decade by now. We call on Bhutan to take the negotiations as a matter of urgency and pave the way for the earliest repatriation of the refugees.

Friendly countries, the United Nations system, particularly UNHCR and WFP, and nongovernmental organisations have been generously assisting us in the maintenance of the refugees. We express our appreciation to them for the help and urge them to continue it until the refugees return home.

Mr. President,

Committed to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, Nepal underlines the necessity for United Nations reforms so that it can stand up to the challenges before it. Therefore, revitalising the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council constitutes our priority. We are in favour of reinforcing collaboration and complementarities between the ECOSOC and the Security Council in their respective and related areas.

In our view, there is an imperative for limited expansion in Security Council membership, in both categories, in such a manner that preserves the Council's agility as well as ensures equitable geographical representation. Reform in its working methods, too, must continue with a view to enhancing transparency and improving the quality of consultations, particularly with troop contributing countries.

Reform is equally essential at the UN Secretariat to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. Interagency co-ordination ought to be upgraded as well.

Central to strengthening the Untied Nations is. a vigorous Non-aligned Movement and robust Group of 77. As a member of both, Nepal pledges to work with other countries to reinvigorate these frameworks and to deepen co-operation between them and the United Nations.

Thank you Mr. President.