New York, 29th September 2003

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Mr. President,

I congratulate you on your election. I wish you every success in the formidable task of leading the UN to continued relevance and credibility in these stormy times. I am confident you will build upon the legacy left by your predecessor Mr. Jan Kavan.

We commend the Secretary General for his stewardship in these difficult times.

The United Nations has been faced with extremely challenging situations over the past year. We have lost one of our most outstanding men of peace - Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mellco and many of his colleagues. There must be no repeat of such senseless and despicable acts.

Mr. President,

The new Millennium, which we all heralded with so much hope, has been plunged into turmoil. Intervening events in the last three years have changed our world forever. They have left us groping for solutions. Eleventh of September 2001, the Afghan and the Iraq war, the open confrontation between Israel and Hamas and the African civil wars shape some of the dimensions of this world disorder. Driving these crises are new realities- an all out offensive against terrorism - the arguments for pre-emption and unilateral action as an option for security - the targeting of Islamic radicalism and its fall out as religious profiling. Somewhere, the oin of global cooperation has been debased.

Mr. President,

Each year we come to this august Assembly to reaffirm our faith in the UN and our commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter. Today, we pause to grapple with doubts that have arisen about the relevance of the world body. I hasten to add that for Bangladesh this pause is short-lived. The cardinal question is not what is wrong with the United Nations but what is right with it and, how we can make it serve our purpose despite seeming setback.

Three compelling factors stand out. First, universality All 191 States of the world wish to be within the fold of the international community. Second, the flip side of globalization. The bottom line is that no one state alone can deal with the intricate problems facing our world- be it a dysfunction of the collective security system - an inteflocking economic, monetary, financial and trade grid - the challenges of globalization - international terrorism - environmental degradation - new diseases, trans-border organized crimes etc. The conclusion is clear. The UN is indispensable as the central organ for the collective management of world affairs. Third, legitimacy. As has been underlined, the greatest strength of the UN remains its legitimacy founded on the bedrock principles of international law. There is no substitute for such legitimacy. It is in this gauge that we look to the United Nations.

But as the Secretary-General notes in his report on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, "the war exposed deep divisions in the international community, with accusations of double agendas". He goes on to observe that" the war in Iraq brought to the fore a host of questions of principle and practice that challenge the United Nations and the international community as a whole." This is a sad commentary on the state of the world today.

In contrast, we have noted that wherever the UN was allowed to take its rightful role and responsibility and where it was provided with necessary support, it has achieved success, durable peace and stability. The experience of East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name only a few, have vindicated the UN's legitimacy, role and relevance. War can be won by military might. The chdienge lies in winning peace. This is what the UN with over half a century of experience in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building is best placed to do.

We in Bangladesh repose our full trust and total confidence in UN's capacity to address matters of international and global concern including peace and security. We see the UN as the source of inspiration, initiative and support in our national, regional and international endeavours. It is in this forum that we establish common standards, universal values and shared programmes. In a globalizing world no nation is an island, none can prosper alone. We therefore believe the Organization deserves the support of all of our nations, in a more active and demonstrable way. Today, more than ever before.

Mr. President,

The Secretary-General deserves our appreciation for bringing the focus of the Organization back to its socio-economic agenda. We welcome his report on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. His assessment of the progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is sobering. While signs of progress for a given region are noted, the road to 2015 is long for many nations. The ESCAP-UNDP report on MDGs has, for instance, regretted the worrying declines in ODA flows to the least developed countries. It described this as "unacceptable and unconscionable". The report also called for reforms in the international trade system to help the poorest countries.

In this backdrop, the setback at Cancun warrants early resumption of the negotiations. A breakthrough would require courageous decisions and significant compromises. Our commitment to the MDGs also requires that these negotiations be concluded successfully. The global economic situation today dictates equitable policies and fair practices in trade that have been sought in the Doha Round. The economic survival and the socio-economic stability of many nations depend on how we handle the post Cancun challenges. The stakes here are very high for all of us both in the short and the long term.

Mr. President,

The development policies and programmes of the Government led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia underpin the Millennium Development Goals. Our resource allocation in the social sector remains high and we have prepared a three-year 'Economic Growth, Poverty Reduction and Social Development Strategy.' This is a major initial policy framework. We look forward to working closely with our development partners in its implementation.

The governance paradigm in the recent decades has happily embraced the fundamental tenets of democracy. In Bangladesh, we have the necessary institutions in place. We are reforming them, modernizing them and expanding them. As a thriving democracy ourselves, we support UN efforts at promoting rule of law, good governance and human rights. We believe all human rights including the right to development should be pursued in a comprehensive manner with a holistic approach.

Mr. President,

The past one-year has seen serious developments in the international peace and security situation especially in Africa and the Middle East. Bangladesh has taken a positive and constructive approach to these issues. We have consistently supported the efforts of the United Nations in this regard. We have done this as a matter of our commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

In practical terms, Bangladesh has remained a major partner of the United Nations in its peace and security mission. Over the past two decades, Bangladesh participated in UN Peacekeeping operations across four continents including the most perilous ones. We are currently among the largest contributor of troops and other personnel to UN peacekeeping operations with a total exceeding three and a-half thousand in 8 missions in Cote d'Ivoire, Western Sahara, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia Eritrea, Kosovo, Timor L'Este and Georgia. We are committed to take part in the proposed UN mission in Liberia.

The people of Iraq inherit an ancient and glorious civilization. The present situation in Iraq should be resolved preserving the interests of the Iraqi people and longterm peace, security and stability of the region. Bangladesh reiterates its support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the country. We stand ready to take part in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq in the true spirit of brotherhood that characterizes the relationship between our two nations. We reiterate our call for ensuring a clear, effective and credible role for the United Nations in Iraq's transition to democracy and in the country's reconstruction. Bangladesh supports the forthcoming international conference for Iraq reconstruction convened by the UN and looks forward to a successful outcome.

The recent developments in the Middle East are extremely worrying. It is clear that the progress made from Oslo through Madrid and ever since is now seriously threatened. The Road Map that the Palestinian side accepted with great courage has not been seriously accepted or implemented by the other side. Pre-conditions have been imposed making peace difficult. The Israeli practices - that are well known to this Assembly - continue to be applied in occupied Palestine. There are gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and fundamental human rights. The vicious and criminal pronouncement to expel and even assassinate President Yasser Arafat calls for global condemnation in the strongest terms. They run counter to global demand for a peaceful settlement and establishment of a Palestinian State to live side by side with its neighbours.

Bangladesh reiterates her support for early establishment of a sovereign, independent State of Palestine in accordance with relevant UN resolutions. We call for a more active role of the UN, and we ask the Security Council to assume its responsibilities toward the people of Palestine. We urge the diplomatic Quartet to intensify their efforts to prevent further escalation, address the threats against President Arafat, Nobel Peace Laureate and undisputed leader of the Palestinian people. We urge that the peace process be restored to its track. We call for renewed efforts toward a comprehensive solution of the Middle East issues in a given time frame.

Mr. President,

International terrorism remains a scourge. In the post -September 11 context, it has taken centre-stage of our global concerns. We reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Bangladesh is party to several international conventions on combating terrorism. We are processing accession to the remaining. We are actively involved in the elaboration of an Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. It will strengthen the Convention by incorporating provisions including those contained in the recent Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1373.

Bangladesh attaches great emphasis on disarmament We believe that it is closely related to international peace and security. We also believe that it has a direct relationship with development. Bangladesh is party to all international disarmament treaties covering nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weapons. Seeking general and complete disarmament is our Constitutional commitment. International peace and security, human security and the security of our planet have been the prime considerations in making our policy choices.

We have supported all efforts at disarmament. We continue to believe in the value of all measures, even partial at arms control and disarmament. Our conviction has been vindicated by the progress in the control and ban of a number of weapons. The multilateral track including the Conference on Disarmament needs to be revived.

Bangladesh has renounced all Weapons of Mass Destruction - Biological, Chemical and Nuclear. The situation along the borders of the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries has been a matter of global concern. As a close neighbour, we too have a legitimate cause for concern. In this context, we applaud the Secretary-General for his recent call for elimination of all nuclear weapons. The imperatives, in view also of the threats to the existing regimes and their implications do not require elaboration in this House. We would thus urge a renewed consideration of the IC) opinion and the report of the Canberra Commission.

In our region, as elsewhere- particularly when we are challenged by abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of safe drinking water, disease - our priorities should be socio-economic development; not nuclearisation. We need to foster cooperation; not prepare for confrontation.

It is with this thought that Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman conceived of institutionalised regional cooperation leading to the emergence of SAARC. We firmly believe in the value and, indeed the imperative of cooperation in our region. We hope, together we shall also be able to establish a peaceful, friendly and prosperous South Asia. We would draw inspiration from other parts of the world where regional economic integrations have worked well for their people.

Mr. President,

In today's world perhaps the most potential sources of conflict of interest within countries and among them would centre on natural resources, in particular, fresh water. We call for management of shared resources without depriving or causing damage to the economy or ecology of any of the countries concerned. For instance, there should not be any unilateral withdrawal of water from the international rivers, as such action would cause great damage to the environment, agriculture, industries and overall economy and ecology of other countries. All actions in such areas should conform to international law and norms of equity, justice and fair play. Any decision with regard to shared natural wealth should be through consultation among all concerned countries.

Mr. President,

Bangladesh identifies itself closely with the problems of Africa. We believe in the efficacy of South-South Cooperation as a useful method of benefiting from one another among societies of comparable milieu. The launching of the African Union has been inspiring, that of NEPAD, encouraging. We are confident the leadership of Africa and the people will succeed in transforming the continent to a peaceful and prosperous one. We have built greater knowledge, special bonds and closer friendship with many of the African nations through our participation in their peacekeeping and development efforts. Bangladesh will continue to work with them in addressing the challenges of building durable peace and sustainable development.

The specific problems facing the land-locked and small island developing States require special attention. We hope the Almaty conference has created a fresh impetus to address their needs. We must also accord support to countries that are in the process of transition in their economies.

Mr. President,

The nineties have seen a series of major UN conferences. Each has adopted an elaborate implementable programme of action with clear and specific responsibilities at national, regional and international levels. Monterrey, Johannesburg, and the Third UN Conference on LDCs at Brussels have reinforced the earlier commitments. The time now is to focus our efforts - individual and collective - to implementing these Programmes of Action.

The United Nations has, in the recent years made significant progress in reforming itself in organizational and substantive terms. Further progress remains to be achieved in various areas. There would be renewed demands for Security Council reforms. We continue to maintain that the reforms are essential to make the Council more representative, democratic and effective.

There would be ideas for further reform of the Assembly and other major organs. The thoughts on reviewing the Trusteeship Council could be revived. We need certainly to go further. Bangladesh welcomes the proposal of the Secretary-General to establish a High-Level Panel of Eminent Personalities for examining the challenges to peace and security. We look forward to their report. In this regard, we would underline the importance of preserving multilateralism and consensus.

Decisions on budget cuts must not compromise the functioning of the Organization; budgetary exercises must not adversely affect the interests of the developing countries in particular the least developed ones. There should be adequate provision for mandated activities in the developing countries.

It will remain our goal to bring the UN to the centre of global development efforts. ECOSOC can play a crucial role in this regard. It must examine innovative, and creative methods in its work. Bangladesh has sought election to the ECOSOC during this session. As we have done in the past in the ECOSOC, we seek to contribute to the pursuit of the UN's social and economic agenda as a member. We hope we shall receive your valuable support.

The Millennium Development Goals set a number of achievable targets in the most pressing areas. Bangladesh is committed to achieving them for our people. We shall also work closely with all other fellow nations so that these objectives are realized equally for them all. We aspire to go beyond. We urge continued focus on the implementation of the outcome of the 1990s cycle of international conferences. They represent a comprehensive agenda for humanity for our century. We must follow them up for our present, for our future generations and for the progress of humankind.

I thank you, Mr. President.