Address of H.E
Mr. Ahmed Maher El Sayed
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of

At the 58th Session of the United Nations General

September 29, 2003
New York

Mr. President,

At the outset I would like to convey to you personally and as a representative of your country Saint Lucia my sincere congratulations upon your election to the presidency of the General Assembly in its 58th session. I am confident that you will lead its work with efficiency and ability. I would like to seize this opportunity to pay tribute to your predecessor Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic for his contribution to the valuable results achieved during the last session.

Mr. President,

We meet today at a critical juncture in world history. Today we need to chart and define clearly the path we wish to take in order to avert the confusion of concepts and the undermining of principles.

Doubts have been raised about the UN and its role. Attempts have been made to circumvent the UN and to ignore the fact that it was born out of the world's tragic experience in the first half of the last century. The world drew the necessary lessons from that experience concerning the need for collective action to solve problems, to prevent wars, and to enable peoples to rule themselves and to cooperate for a better future.

I believe that the stage of such doubts is now behind us. I believe that all have realized the importance of action through our organization in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity. This is the only way to save the world from new divisions and scourges. This new development places new responsibilities upon us by cooperating within the UN in a spirit that seeks unity rather than division, a spirit that seeks cooperation rather than conflict, a spirit that seeks real solutions to the problems rather than dealing with them in a manner lacking justice and respect for the Charter and thus become lacking in legitimacy and effectiveness.

The commitment to the Charter and International Law is the safety valve for the international community. The role of the UN can not be reduced to the role of the Security Council alone and the questions it can or can not address. In our opinion the UN is much larger than this. Its contributions cover all the elements of the wide ranging and complex international agenda. In this regard, we reiterate that challenges such as combating terrorism and drugs, disarmament, protection of the environment, combating AIDS, and the achievement of sustainable development can only be faced through the coordinated action in which all States large and small act in concert within an international framework that enjoys legitimacy and is conducive to the realization of common objectives.

In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for his significant role and the efforts he continues to make in strengthening the purposes and principles of the UN to enable the Organization to discharge its responsibilities and achieve its goals. Kofi Annan played a significant role in bringing the Organization back to the center of events. In the efforts of the UN to realize its noble principles, many of its staff members fall victim. In the recent tragic events in Baghdad, Egypt lost two dear brave nationals of hers who had been working ably in the service of the Organization's principles.

Mr. President,

Tragic events have struck many countries and peoples. Foremost among them were the events of 9/11 that have afflicted the friendly people of the USA, events that we fully condemn and deplore. In the midst of the agony and anxiety generated by such events inescapable conclusions have confirmed: To unite in combating terrorism on realistic, sound and legitimate basis; to avoid confusing terrorism and certain legitimate acts inspired by the wish to break the shackles of occupation, domination and injustice; to understand that the desire to combat terrorism must not become the only yardstick for judgment.

Experience has proven that combating terrorism must not fail to see the fact that it is not a product of one of the world's major cultures. It must not ignore the fact that terrorism is not confined to a certain region. The fight against terrorism must not be restricted to the perspective of security or politics. Terrorism is by nature a multi faceted phenomenon. As such, it must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner that encompasses its political, economic, security, legal and psychological aspects as well as the conditions exploited by some to justify terrorism. The UN has proven its ability to coordinate international efforts and to achieve tangible results in this field. Egypt has participated seriously in all activities aimed at strengthening international efforts against terrorism. This has been Egypt's objective all along. In 1995 Egypt launched President Hosni Mubarak's initiative to convene a high level international conference under UN auspices to consider the ways and means to combat terrorism. This initiative gave expression to Egypt's keen interest in supporting the international efforts aimed at reaching a clear and precise understanding of the fight against terrorism, including through the negotiations on the comprehensive convention to combat international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Egyptian initiative must not be misconstrued as a chance for protracted polemics or disagreement that clouds our objective. On the contrary it is a call to frame a document that expresses the international political will and reflects the international resolve to eradicate the scourge of terrorism, to restore peace and security along with justice and stability and clarifies the responsibilities of each and every member of the international community.

Mr. President,

Our world today is facing numerous challenges regionally and internationally. There are challenges to the logic of fairness, justice and peace. Challenges related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the slow pace of international action in the field of nuclear disarmament. We are witnessing tendencies to consecrate the right to possess, develop, and modernize nuclear weapons. Some still cling to the obsolete doctrines of deterrence. They attempt to find justifications for the use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, it has become necessary to widen the establishment of zones free of weapons of mass destruction. In this regard, I recall Egypt's repeated assertions in all international fora that rendering the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction particularly nuclear weapons, in a comprehensive manner that applies to all without exception or discrimination, is the only way to save the region and the world from the dangers that threaten all our achievements and all that we strive to achieve. It is unacceptable that Israel's possession of such weapons should remain a reality that some prefer to ignore or prevent the international community in Vienna, New York or elsewhere from facing it squarely and frankly.

Mr. President,

The Middle East region continues to suffer from the absence of peace. There were high hopes that the historical reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples was within reach after the Oslo accords, the mutual recognition and the subsequent agreements and negotiations. Yet every time the efforts failed because it would seem that the Israeli party does not yet fully share the conviction of all, expressed by President George Bush and the Quartet, that the solution is in the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, within the 1967 borders, that lives side by side with Israel in peace and security. The Palestinian people continue to be subjected to oppression, provocation, and aggression. They continue to languish under the oppression of a cruel and unfair occupation that generates the feelings of despair and frustration and leads to a spiral of violence and counter violence whose victims are innocent civilians.

It is high time for the international community to reiterate its call upon the parties to return to the negotiating table in order to implement the principles of international legality and to achieve a just peace in the whole of the Middle East region on the basis of the complete withdrawal to the 1967 borders and on the respect for rights. Egypt has continually made efforts to achieve that objective. Egypt will continue in its efforts, confident that the logic of peace will prevail over the logic of aggression. That the resolve of the peoples who yearn for the peace that achieves security and opens the door for development, will prevail over those who continue to harbor ambitions of expansion and aggression and thus put the interests of their peoples in danger. They will bear a heavy responsibility for that.

Mr. President,

The situation in Iraq is a cause for grave concern. We reaffirm anew the need for respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq. There is also the need to create the conditions conducive to the earliest possible withdrawal of the occupying forces and the discharge by the UN of a central role in assisting the Iraqis in the political and economic reconstruction of their state. Egypt affirms its readiness to contribute to the reconstruction process in accordance with the wishes and needs of the Iraqi people and in cooperation with the rest of the international community under the aegis of the UN. We look forward to the day of the realization of the aspirations of the Iraqi people and our hopes for it to become an effective and free partner working with its Arab brothers for a better future

Egypt welcomes the last agreement between the government of Sudan and the SPLM; an agreement to pave the way for a consolidated effort towards a better future for the people of a United Sudan and that ensures equality, security and prosperity for all its citizens. Egypt calls upon the international community to assist in securing the implementation of the agreement. The profound, historical ties and relations between Egypt and Sudan and our firm belief in the commonality of the hopes we entertain and the threats we face, impel us to be in the vanguard of action for the achievement of that lofty goal. It alone can guarantee the maintenance of the interests of the Sudanese people as a whole and the interests of Arab world and the African Continent.

Mr. President,

Egypt believes that cooperation for development is a cornerstone of multilateral action. The eradication of poverty is a moral, human, and political responsibility shared by the North and the South. It is the shortest route to achieve international peace and security. A fair look at the international economic situation must conclude that it is impossible to accept the continuation of the current imbalance in the distribution of wealth among the peoples of the Earth. Equally impossible to accept are the lack of democracy in the international economic decision making, the grave fluctuation in the efficiency of the work of the world international markets, the unfair trade practices against the interests of the developing countries and the policies that lead to recurrent financial crisis that eliminate, in a few days, the achievements of decades of great sacrifices. We regret that the Cancun Conference was unable to reach the desired results to afford the developing countries, as previously agreed, a real opportunity to benefit from a balanced trade liberalization, rather than make that liberalization an obstacle to the efforts they make for growth and development under difficult and complex circumstances.

Egypt has welcomed the outcomes of the UN Conferences and Summits including the Millennium Summit Declaration. Egypt has called for the full implementation of the letter and the spirit of their decisions. Hence we view with satisfaction the decision of the General Assembly in its last Session to convene a High Level meeting in 2005 to consider the implementation of the outcomes of the International Summits and Conferences.

Mr. President,

Globalization, with the hope it brings in an international cooperation that benefits all, if misused could turn into an attempt at domination, at the imposition and increase in the causes of structural flaws in the international system at both the economic and political levels. Hence there is a need for measures to increase the effectiveness of international institutions and to achieve good governance which is as necessary on the international level as it is on the national one, and to create a favorable economic environment. There is also a need to adopt a comprehensive package of reforms that includes international finance and mutual respect among cultures and civilizations so that their dialogue and cooperation bring benefits to all and further the understanding between nations and peoples.

While urging the UN to continue its efforts in the promotion of international cooperation for development, Egypt would like to stress the importance of taking the cultural diversity of societies into account. It is also important to seek the discourse of acceptance of the "Other" as an equal partner without the imposition of certain models. At the same time, we would like to reiterate that this cooperation must be the fruit of a new philosophy that believes in the common destiny of mankind in a united and interactive manner, where "if a part suffers, the rest of the unit subsequently suffer". The repercussions of the economic and social problems in a given country or continent are no longer restricted or confined to it. Rather, these repercussions find their way to the rest of the world at an accelerated pace.

Mr. President,

The UN should place, among its top priorities, the conditions of the African Continent in view of the political, economic, social, and environmental challenges facing it, as well as the eruption of armed conflicts and the spread of deadly epidemics, while the riches and the resources of peoples are being plundered whether directly or through the imbalance in trade and economic relations.

The NEPAD initiative constitutes a new starting point to change the face of life on the African Continent. It is an initiative created by the Africans themselves based on their own vision of their reality and the great hopes of the African peoples for a better future and their wish to be partners with the world in development and progress. Egypt reaffirms the need to implement the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly last year which adopted NEPAD as a framework for development in Africa. Egypt calls for the development programs of international organizations to be adapted to the priorities set by NEPAD in various sectors. Egypt urges the donor countries and the economic organizations and institutions to provide support to the African countries for the implementation of NEPAD and the achievement of its desired objectives.

African countries have already established the machinery, within the African Union, required for the implementation of the initiative. The international community, as a partner of the African countries in their development efforts, is called upon to help bridge the finance gap that impedes the achievement of the objective of the reduction of poverty in Africa. This should be done through a time bound comprehensive approach that expresses the political will for the implementation of the Millennium Summit and the outcomes of the other international conferences and summits in order to transform them from mere good intentions to tangible reality. This is in the interest of the international community as a whole.

Mr. President,

Egypt's belief in the centrality of the role of the UN in today's and tomorrow's world impels it to reaffirm the urgent need for the development and the increase of the effectiveness of the Organization. This includes the reform of its main organs particularly the General Assembly and the Security Council. We all agree that there is a need for reform. We are also aware that this reform is a long process. Many of its steps have been implemented. However much remains to be done to strengthen the collective and international action through the revitalization of the General Assembly, and the reform of the work procedures of the Security Council. All states should be given ample opportunity to shoulder the responsibilities of membership in the Council. Therefore we have supported and continue to support the comprehensive approach to the reform of the Security Council. We believe that this process should be based on two main guidelines, namely the commitment to the overall concept of reform as provided for in General Assembly resolutions particularly resolution 53/30 and to refrain from the policy of taking small steps in one direction or another. Along with this, the General Assembly's open ended working group should continue to consider this matter as the only open and transparent forum available for the consideration of this important subject. The working group must abide by its mandate and its current working methods particularly the decision making process.

Mr. President,

The dangers that beset us all make it imperative that we rally around the lofty principles established in the Charter of our organization. We must translate our belief in those principles into continuous work that transcends ambitions, hatreds, illusions and the desire for domination and hegemony. Our work must proceed from a belief in the equal rights and duties of peoples. Thus we will achieve the hopes of the peoples of the Earth and we will spare them dangers and sufferings.

The path towards that objective is in the commitment to the UN resolutions and the secession of the attempts to ignore, circumvent or adapt them to serve purposes incompatible with the Charter and with the right and justice. If we uphold those principles, we will all be victors. The only vanquished will be the forces of evil and aggression. They will be defeated by our peoples hopes for a more just and secure world for all.

Thank you Mr. President.