HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
PRINCE MOHAMED BOLKIAH
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
AT THE 58TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
TUESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2003
My congratulations to you, Mr. President and the people of St. Lucia, on your election, together with my thanks to your predecessor, Mr. Kavan for his work over the past year.
You have our full support and best wishes in all your efforts to promote the interests of the members of this assembly.
May I couple these greetings with my great appreciation to our Secretary-General and his staff. We are very grateful indeed for their dedication and service during one of the most difficult years in United Nations history.
In particular, I wish to add once more the deepest sympathy of the government and people of Brunei Darussalam to the families of His Excellency Sergio di Mello and of all who lost loved ones, colleagues and friends in the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.
His Excellency and his staff were our public servants, our representatives and our people. The attack on them was an attack on us all.
As such, it is condemned by Brunei Darussalam, as are all other acts of terrorism.
When Brunei Darussalam had the honour of becoming a member of this organization, we committed ourselves to two principles.
The first was nationhood and all that this implies in terms of the rule of international law and the procedures that govern the affairs of this assembly.
The second was multilateral decision-making and, in turn, all that this alsoimplies: respect for fellow members; sensitivity towards their deep concerns and the need for dialogue and consultation as equal partners in the conduct of international affairs, no matter how long and how frustrating the process involved.
We continue to maintain our belief in these principles, Mr. President in spite of many disappointments in the past year, particularly here in the United Nations and earlier this month at the World Trade Organisation.
We feel that they are the only basis upon which international affairs can be conducted fairly.
They apply to all
the great political and economic organisations of which we are members
and we especially look to the United Nations to uphold them.
By this token, the United Nations is whatever we ourselves make it. We form the largest coalition in history and we share responsibility for its successes and its failures.
Among those, is our failure to bring in the changes that are necessary if we are to evolve with the times in which we live.
Since 1992, this assembly has been debating specific reforms. These reforms have the support of a large majority here, including all members of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The results of our failure to build on this support and bring about much-needed reform can now be clearly seen. Our Security Council has been gravely divided and the past year has left a legacy of bitterness.
for the ordinary people we represent, the people of developing nations
year after year, the people of Iraq for the past ten years or more and
the citizens of Palestine for over half a century have been ever more
In all this time, members have been well aware of the need for decision-making at the United Nations to be more inclusive and for resolutions that reflect the international justice our charter stands for to be acted upon.
They have affirmed their wish for the United Nations to be truly multilateral. On many occasions, they have expressed the desire that the organisation reflect today's world rather than the world of half a century ago. They wish to feel truly part of the decisions it makes.
As it operates now, many observers and even many nation states feel that the actual members of this organization are too weak to act effectively in solving the great affairs of the day.
It is claimed that international affairs are now beyond the control of individual nations. They are global: global finance; global economics; global development ; global poverty; global crime; and, of course, global terrorism.
Consequently, some voices declare, an assembly of individual nations, many of them small developing nations, has no power to address such matters.
That is a depressing
scenario and, of course, none of us here really want to believe it.
But it does have one merit. It forces us to examine what the United
Nations can actually do most effectively and what it can realistically
The reply from too many of our people today, Mr. President, would be, we fear, not much.
This presents a powerful case for reform,
So, I feel we must frankly acknowledge our part in the feelings of hopelessness and frustration that are being voiced by ordinary people and indeed by many governments.
At present, restoring belief in United Nations' ability to act on their behalf is our most important immediate task.
On the one hand, the great world institutions are technically multilateral. They are run by the governments of the world. Yet, in fact, many of these governments feel excluded from the most important decisions and beyond them, many interested parties feel that they are also on the outside.
Multilateralism, in other words, appears to have its limits. Beyond them, it seems, the stronger nations take over. This basic division, we hope, Mr. President, can be brought to an end.
That is why we were so pleased to hear our Secretary-General emphasise the need for reform in his address last week. We congratulate him on the structural reforms he has overseen. We also thank him for the many times he has kept us in touch with his thinking and that of his staff and we thank him for the hopes he has continued to express about the future of our world organisation.
We still share his optimism. Nevertheless, that feeling can only be maintained If agreement on reform of the whole United Nations system is a real possibility.
We accept that the task of bringing about this kind of overall change is extremely hard. The reports of your own working group, Mr. President show a difficult pattern emerging over the last ten years. There are more and more proposals and basic approaches continually diverge. Even though we largely share the same objectives, we remain divided on the means to achieve them.
The divisions we have seen this year, however, suggest that we cannot keep postponing change. They offer a test of whether the United Nations is indeed capable of evolving. That test must be passed.
So, we continue to support work on Security Council reform and offer our strong encouragement to the Secretary-General in the wider proposals he outlined last week.
In the face of today's problems, the United Nations must continue to offer powerful reasons for optimism about the future.
We believe this calls for a determined and united effort to address the root causes of the anger of all who feel unjustly treated.
To do this, the United Nations as a whole must be a genuine partnership between nations. It must stand for shared idealism and a shared sense of human justice. This is what no other body can do.
That is what the work of Sergio di Mello and his colleagues was dedicated to.
In their memory, and in that of all who have given their lives to this organization, we all need to do a lot better at working together than we have over the past year.