Statement by

H.E. Ms. Anna Lindh

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
In the General Debate of the 57th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

19 September 2002

Mr. President,

All speakers in this debate have reflected over the year that has passed since September 11. It's been a most dramatic year, and it is time for the international community to draw some conclusions from it.

One thing is clear: The United Nations responded quickly and resolutely to the terrorist acts in the United States. The organisation acted with speed and determination to counter this threat to global security.

To me, that is yet another proof that the UN is indeed indispensable.

We all know what the terrorists want: To hurt open societies, to replace co-operation with confrontation, to bring down democracy.

But we can never let the terrorists prevail in their ambition.

Nor can we tolerate the suppression of political opposition, or the persecution of religious or ethnic minorities, under the guise of anti-terrorism.

In fact, it is by ensuring global respect for international law, for human rights and social justice, that terrorism loses much of its fertile ground.

The struggle against terrorism proves it once again: That multilateral action and a global response are the only sustainable means to meet common challenges.

Mr. President,

Fighting terrorism and building peace require global co-operation.

The Secretary-General said last week that "when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations."

That is true also in the case of Iraq.

The defiance of Iraq in the face of the Security Council must come to an end.

At the heart of the issue lies the question of weapons of mass destruction. These are weapons that can bring suffering and death to millions of people, also far away from Iraq.

We want to be sure that Iraq fulfils its obligation to halt all programs for developing such weapons. We also want to make sure that any weapons of mass destruction that may already have been developed are now destroyed.

This is the task of the UN weapons inspectors. I welcome the announcement that Iraq is willing to let the inspectors return, without conditions. This time Iraq has to cooperate fully with the United Nations. That will also be the right way to go to suspend the sanctions.

But if that does not happen, to quote the Secretary-General again, "if Iraq's defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities." That could be a very delicate decision for the Council, weighing the risks of various options. But the credibility of the United Nations requires that Iraq is made to fulfill its obligations.

Mr. President,

Sustainable development requires global co-operation.

Around the world, poverty and oppression can be exploited by extremists and give rise to conflicts and war. Global co-operation is needed to prevent that from happening. International security and regional stability require building democracy, respect for human rights, poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Globalisation makes it clear that social responsibility is required not only of governments, but of companies and individuals. In short: Of all of us.

Ecological sustainability is the basis for human survival. Development and environment are interlinked. In Johannesburg, our nations made a commitment to realise the Rio-vision: The mutually supportive integration of environmental and development goals.

The launch of the Doha Development Agenda opens for an equitable and responsive global trading system. New global partnerships have changed the way we look at patterns of production, consumption and sustainable development. But the goals we have set must be achieved. In Monterrey our common responsibility to create an environment that will enable this was confirmed.

Strong and efficient institutions are needed - at the local, regional and international level - to carry out these commitments. We need coherence and consistency. We need ownership.

One of the most serious new threats to security is HIV/AIDS. Efforts to achieve sustainable development will be in vain, if we fail in our fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases still holding entire populations at ransom.

When fundamental structures of societies are crumbling due to devastating effects of epidemics, we must recognise this as a threat to global security.

The Millennium Declaration is our reference guide. Sweden fully supports the Secretary-General's initiative to launch a strategy for the successful attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Reaching those goals would in itself be the best way to prevent violent conflicts. Behind the immediate symptoms of conflicts, we often find deep-rooted structural causes.

Already now, however, much more can be achieved if diplomatic, economic and military means are used in a co-ordinated way. Regional organisations, in cooperation with the UN, have an important role. The implementation of the SecretaryGeneral's report, Prevention of Armed Conflict, is crucial.

Mr. President,

Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires global co-operation.

There is an urgent need to put an end to the occupation and to the spiral of terrorist acts, violence and confrontation which has caused so much suffering and bloodshed in the Middle East.

I deeply regret the two recent terrorist attacks in Israel. I strongly urge both parties not to let the peace process be held hostage by extremists.

The future of the region depends on a peaceful, sustainable and just solution being. reached, based on international law and the relevant UN resolutions. One way to achieve this is presented in the road-map recently adopted by the European Union, building on the proposal from the Arab League meeting in Beirut.

That road-map includes the holding of elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2003, aiming at the establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state in 2005. The rights of Israel and Palestine to security and statehood cannot be secured by military means.

Mr. President,

Safeguarding human rights requires global co-operation.

Addressing this issue I wish to begin by paying tribute to Ms. Mary Robinson, outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Through her strong commitment she has had an impact. She has made a difference and we are grateful to her. I warmly welcome her successor Mr. Sergio Veira de Mello and assure him of our continued cooperation and support.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Still, vast numbers of women, men and children all over the world are deprived of their declared, inherent and universal human rights.

Harassment, torture and killings take place daily, also through abhorrent practices such as genital mutilation and stoning. Sometimes the reason for a person being abused is his or her gender, religion, belief, sexual orientation, or the fact that he or she is disabled.

We have a duty to act against discrimination. The principles of non-discrimination and diversity are fundamental to a humane and decent society. The sovereignty of States must never be used as a shield behind which violations of human rights take place.

The General Assembly has taken the first step to establish an international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. This is a very welcome development.

The Secretary-General's report on how to eliminate violence against women and girls committed in the name of honour is another significant contribution. Legal, protective and other preventive measures for women and girls at risk should be addressed in a concerted manner.

Human rights are often spoken about, but we also need to put power behind the words. The creation of the International Criminal Court is a remarkable achievement in the progressive development of international law. Its fundamental purpose is to eliminate impunity for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. We all need to carefully safeguard the integrity of the Rome statute, so that its object and purpose will not be undermined.

The rights of every individual must be respected - and every individual, despite nationality or position in society, must be held responsible for his or her actions.

Mr. President,

Disarmament of weapons of mass destruction requires global co-operation.

International as well as national security depends on strong multilateral frameworks. This is no less true in the field of disarmament. There our task is to implement and reinforce the important international conventions banning or regulating weapons of mass destruction.

A verification regime is necessary to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. A failure to reach concrete progress in November will have serious consequences.

The Chemical Weapons Convention provides for the destruction of a whole category of weapons of mass destruction. This is true disarmament, and it should be implemented in a full and timely manner. The Convention will be reviewed in April next year, for the first time in its young history.

Implementing the agreements made at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences is of fundamental importance. That goes particularly_ for the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, and twelve other steps towards accomplishing that goal. As part of the New Agenda Coalition, Sweden will continue to contribute to this process.

The disarmament process should also encompass non-strategic nuclear weapons, as confirmed at the last NPT Review Conference. It is vital that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty enters into force. I call upon all states to adhere to the Treaty.

The Conference on Disarmament must start substantive work when it resumes its session early next year. It is unacceptable that a few countries continue to block progress there. Sweden, Algeria, Belgium, Chile and Colombia have recently presented a proposal for a Programme of Work, which takes into consideration the interests of all parties. I urge China and the USA to actively work for a solution.

Mr. President,

The challenges ahead of us are neither fewer than last year, nor are they smaller in magnitude. To face them we need a modern and more efficient United Nations.

A modern UN requires a Security Council that reflects the realities of today's international relations. We need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council. That issue has been discussed for many years, with little success. In the end, it is a question of the credibility and legitimacy of the organisation.

Sweden favours an enlargement of the Security Council to make room for an increased representation of member states, not least developing countries. We would like to see such a reform to have the broadest possible support. If this entails, as a first step, an enlargement limited to non-permanent members - while not excluding also new permanent members at a later stage - Sweden would support such a solution. An immediate increase would better reflect the realities of today's international community, i.e. the growing number of member states.

Mr. President,

Let me finish by greeting Switzerland - one of the United Nations' host countries - warmly welcome as a full member of the United Nations. Shortly, the Democratic Republic of East Timor - a country where this organisation has been deeply and positively involved - will also become an entirely new member of the UN family.

I see significance in this. I see proof that joint and integrated efforts by the international community can produce remarkable results. It fills me with hope that the UN has in fact entered this Millennium with vigour and determination.

I am convinced that the United Nations is on the right track. Through joint efforts, by all of us, the UN will continue to be a beacon of hope for humanity in the 21st century.

Thank you, Mr. President.