New York, Thursday, September 25th, 2003
Check against delivery

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During the past two years the attacks of 9-11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in Africa, have brought turmoil to the world.

The United Nations has never been more necessary, yet perhaps never has its efficacy been so questioned nor until the bombings last month in Baghdad, have its people been the object of such massive direct attack.

In the Principality of Andorra, encircled by the high mountains of the Pyrenees, we have lived peaceably and democratically between our neighbors for over seven hundred years. Since 1419, our Parliament has met to debate the problems of our people. It was not only our small size and isolation that kept us apart from the wars that ravaged Europe. Rather, our desire for independence, the unity of our people, and also our ability to get along with our powerful neighbors, has made Andorra one of the oldest democratic states in the world.

In the past half-century, since the founding of the United Nations, the world has changed, and Andorra with it. Less than a century ago it was only possible to arrive in Andorra on a horse. Now the roads bring us 12 million tourists each year. Telephones, computers, satellites, and soon airplanes, bring the world to Andorra. And we in turn have reached out to the world. In my grandparents time, Andorrans never traveled far from their mountains. Now we are world travelers. One of the proud moments in the long history of our country was the day in 1993 -ten years ago- when we became a member state of the United Nations. We joined with great hopes and all these years we have believed in its crucial role, despite the crises that may have cooled that belief.

The attack on the United States of America marks the beginning of a very complex step to relations among nations and of a difficult equilibrium among different areas of our planet. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were both set in motion by this attack. One had the support of the United Nations, the other did not. While there is no point in returning to this debate, two questions must be addressed.

First, can the United Nations effectively respond to threats to world stability?

Second, to what degree will its member states be willing to work within the framework of the United Nations?

Perhaps a cooling of passions will enable us to address these difficult issues clearly.

We are all too aware of the difficulties and dangers that beset both the citizens of these countries and the troops of member states who are working to bring stability to these places. We hope for a rapid solution to the myriad difficulties involved in ending the series of sad and painful events that have taken place within these countries over the past few years. The United Nations has a critical responsibility in fostering a constructive outcome for the Afghan and Iraqi people and resolving tension throughout the Middle East. In this regard, I would like to express our confidence in the United Nations to bring an end to this complex and cruel conflict, crucial step for the stability of the region and important fact for the future of Mankind. The United Nations will know how to find new ways to adequate solutions and will play a leading role in the establishment of new paths.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As politicians, we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the needs of our citizens. We are students at the University of the National Will. The most successful among us have cultivated a second sense of everyday desires, frustrations, and goals that are important to our citizens. If we live in a democratic state, and ignore these needs, the voters will quickly look for others who do not.

The United Nations is a different kind of university. Here the lessons of national self-interest must give way to an international understanding. In this University of the World, our previous studies, by which I mean our own political careers, can only help us in the short term. But what we study together here are long-term lessons that can ensure the long-term survival of the world we share.

Although Andorra is small in scale, like many partners in the UN,, what we smaller nations have to contribute is larger than our proportionate geographic scale or the relative size of our population. Indeed, our small size has made us by necessity careful observers of the needs of others. And our centuries of independence have taught us responsibility to our citizens. and our neighbors. We have never forgotten the bonds that link us to the world. Our history has taught us this.

Legend has it that Andorra was founded by Charlemagne, who was-we must remember-one of the historical key players in those battles between Islam and Christianity. But in the thirteenth century it was the religious tension between the Count of Foix, who was a Cathar sympathizer, and the Catholic bishop of Urgell that led to a balanced agreement that resulted in the independence of Andorra. Andorra came into existence partly as a buffer state between two powerful lords and between two approaches to Christianity: the orthodox one and the Cathar.

The Cathars are only a distant memory now. But I raise this question here because it points to the battleground of belief. Whereas once the Church summoned councils to struggle over the problems of heresy, we now gather at the United Nations not to insist on one form of belief, but to recognize and sustain the common ethical base that unites all beliefs, all ideologies, under the unshakable canopy of the 1948 declaration of Human Rights.

We are now in the 21" Century and not the middle ages, but those who then were fundamentalist Christians and who resolved everything with anathemas, crusades and exiles, have given place to other forms of religious intolerance of different persuasions. It is shameful to see that even today people are being killed or kill in the name of their God.

The work that the United Nations accomplishes, therefore, does not simply give lip-service to diversity. We need to advance, in all moral seriousness, an ethic of diversity that goes beyond recognizing the value of tolerance and multi-culturalism, and strives to implement shared ethical beliefs in the service of world understanding.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1278, the strategic importance of Andorra lay in its proximity to the border between Catholic Europe and Al Andalus, Islamic Spain. The road that led to the great city of Cordoba-where the philosophy of Aristotle was retranslated from Greek and Arabic into Latin and reentered the thought of the Christian West in the "Renaissance of the Twelfth Century"-passed near our country.

In the center of that city, the Muslim rulers built an astonishing mosque with a forest of columns made all the more beautiful by the presence, within it, of a synagogue. Such was its beauty that it was not destroyed when the Christians captured the city but converted into a Cathedral, just as the great basilicas of Constantinople, became the great mosques of Istanbul when that city fell to the Ottoman Empire a century later.

What if we could learn from the events that have marked history, making use of the lessons of peaceful coexistence, avoiding past mistakes and appreciating the moments of opening between cultures in previous centuries?

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in a world of vast contrasts where the technological progress, used dangerously or simply without precautions has made life more dangerous and on a global scale.

Where once the great plague took years to make its way across Europe, modern plagues travel across the globe in a matter of hours, be they biological viruses or computer viruses

Pollution and global warming concerns us all. The strange climactic shifts of recent years, the pollution of our great oceans and lakes, threaten our environment. And perhaps most dangerously, nuclear weapons threaten the life of everyone on the planet. All of these calamities, here already or forecast, demand international cooperation if we are to survive.

It is most sad that some of those who can do most to avoid the degradation of life on earth, continue looking in another direction, at the balance sheets of the big companies who contaminate the earth most, and continue to apply an energy policy based on the uncontrolled exploitation and low cost of limited resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have become a little world.

We have become like a small country, rather like Andorra, where everybody knows everybody else's business. In becoming smaller, the need to combat poverty and suffering has become all the more important. We cannot forget that images from more fortunate countries are beamed into the lives of people existing in difficult or even life-threatening circumstances across the world. No matter that these images may be propaganda and distortions of the truth. Our modern technology, the source of so many comforts and advantages, is also demonstrating the full scale of our differences.

We must learn to treat all members of the world as we would like to treat our own citizens. We need to insist on a decent life for everyone, for all of mankind.

Andorra is committed to aiding development around the world. Since 1995 we have regularly increased our budgetary contributions and hope to devote 0.7% of our budget to foreign aid within two years. Our philosophy of development supports the institutions of the United Nations, looking to small-scale solutions that foster self-reliance and local initiative. We are particularly enthusiastic about projects aimed to children, education and those that help women to establish their own businesses. We are also committed to encouraging sustainable farming because we recognize that proper farming practices provide the best defense against catastrophic crop failures. To this end, Andorra also proposes within the next year to become a member of the FAO.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The insignificant part in the Andorran budget devoted to the purchase of weapons, resulted in the composer and singer Pete Seeger dedicating us a song during the 1960's. His verses still echo today, just like when he made a whole generation sing "We will overcome".

Many things have happened since those days and Andorra doesn't even put four dollars and fifty cents towards'its defense budget. We don't spend a cent.

With what is squandered in new and old weapons, the whole of mankind could live correctly. We could eliminate illness.

Education and culture would be made available for all. This way we could end fanaticism, and all those who abuse the ignorance of the people, would end up with no victims nor lackeys.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us try and make some use of these long debates and speeches which we applaud with diplomatic courtesy, often without even hearing them. Too much is at stake for all of us.

Thank you very much.