THE HONOURABLE GODFREY P. SMITH
ATTORNEY GENERAL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COOPERATION
FIFTY EIGHTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
NEW YORK, 30TH SEPTEMBER 2003
My delegation celebrates the wisdom of the United Nations in choosing one of our distinguished Caribbean statesmen, His Excellency Mr. Julian Hunte, to preside over this 58 General Assembly. I assure you that the energy and industry that he will bring to our work will produce meaningful results in this very important session.
We continue to be fortunate to have the guidance and strength of our Secretary General, whose skill and compassion are especially needed today. His words last Monday echoed strong and true, and we should all take heed.
And speaking of all, we need to respect the principle of universality of our Organisation. The time is now to admit Taiwan to membership of the United Nations. Taiwan has proven itself to be an exemplary member of the international community with a deep sense of solidarity toward small and poor nations.
Belize's Prime Minister has said, (and I
Which of those is safe? Indeed, in the international arena... we do seem to be in free fall toward barbarism". (End of quote.)
Not that barbarism is new, but there does seem to be a greater tolerance for it, we do seem to be more powerless to contain it.
In a world riddled with fear and dominated by terrorism, including State terrorism, we need to concentrate on what needs to be done to save our humanity.
As we contemplate the international arena, with multilateralism under threat and the development of peoples blocked by the practices of the rich and powerful, we can take comfort in one thing: that, yes, in the end ideas are more powerful than arms.
And our ideas, we the United
Nations of the world, are clearly and powerfully set out in our Charter.
Yes, the Charter needs reform; we need urgently to democratize our practice.
Small states make up the majority of our membership, and elementary democracy
demands that we have a greater say than the Charter presently allows us.
Article 1 of our Charter states the fundamental
purpose of the UN: To maintain international peace and security, and to
that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and
removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression
or other breaches of the peace...
Article 24 of the Charter confers on the
Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international
peace and security. And under Article 42, should the Security Council
consider that measures short of the use of force would be inadequate or
have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or
land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace
and security. Such action must, of course, be agreed collective
action, not unilateral action.
I ask you: is there any part of that we don't
understand? It seems perfectly simple. and clear to us small States, who
depend on the UN Charter and on respect for international principles and
international law for our very existence.
We are confronted with the question: are
we as an Organization irrelevant?
And I say: only if we make
ourselves irrelevant. And we do that only if we are determined to self-destruct.
We can call here for many lofty objectives,
as contained in our Millennium Development Goals. We can pronounce on
the many injustices facing so many peoples and countries in the present
world dispensation. But all of that would be futile if our very United
Nations would cease to be effective or become irrelevant.
And that is why I have restricted my statement
to one plea, to nations large and small, powerful or weak: keep the UN
alive, respect its Charter, abide by agreed international principles and
international law. That is all we ask, nothing more. Above all, let us
not give up what it has cost us so much time and effort, so much blood,
to bring to a modest but important stage, our multilateral system.
All civilized nations would surely agree
to this plea rather than plunge the world into barbarism.
Multilateralism or Chaos!
Long Live the United Nations!