New York, 1 October 2003


Mr. President,

Multilateralism and the United Nations have gone through a trying time since the last General Assembly started. At the same time as multilateralism has been challenged by unilateral actions it has also been proven that multilateralism and multilateral cooperation as well as the United Nations are needed perhaps more than ever. The discussions in the WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun also point to the need of open and broad discussions on preserving a multilateral trading system based on mutually agreed rules. International cooperation is needed in crisis management and prevention of crises, in disarmament and arms control, in promoting human rights and international law in general, in enhancing sustainable development, in strengthening the global governance of environmental issues, in creating coherence and cooperation in economic and social questions among other things. In order to do this a more efficient and effective United Nations is needed. The United Nations system must deliver solutions to increasingly complicated challenges be it Iraq, the Middle East or coherence between trade and development or financing for development. Member States should through their political will give the United Nations the support it requires in order for it to be a true actor in world affairs. We need to be more efficient and more result oriented.

The development and strengthening of the United Nations pose a major challenge in this particular juncture. UN structures - the Security Council included - require reform and the whole organisation requires better resources. This is a prerequisite also for a comprehensive implementation of the Millennium Declaration, which forms a demanding agenda for the United Nations for years to come.

Despite different emphases and definitions given to freedom of action or joint actions, all the prerequisites exist for strengthening multilateral cooperation. As a member of the European Union, Finland is involved in the discussion on the significance of multilateralism and on the terms for promoting global security. This should be one of the main topics in this General Assembly, too.

Mr. President,

In addition to what was said in the statement of Italy on behalf of the European Union I should now like to focus on two issues that require multilateral cooperation in particular: they are harnessing globalisation and weapons of mass destruction.

The biggest challenges in the future will be the challenges to international peace and security, which become broader and broader in their scopes and the globalisation process as well as managing these two together through multilateral cooperation.

Globalisation affects everyone: some can benefit from it, some become more marginalized by it. Globalisation stems from a countless number of decisions made in the private sector and beneath or outside public institutions. But we must be able to influence, through the UN and other international organisations, corporate and public sector decisions which direct globalisation. There are many ongoing processes that try to make globalisation more inclusive and bring everybody to the realm of its benefits.

The Finnish Government together with the Tanzanian Government is launching the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy. Ultimately, the global governance pursued by the Helsinki Process is characterised by the democratisation of international relations, by the way that globalisation and its by products can be managed through more equal participation in decision-making of international rules and norms. One of the key tasks of the process will be to devise and develop new solutions for global problems. We will also focus on global economic agenda and on human security.

The international players in globalisation include, in addition to states and multinational companies, the continually growing network of non-governmental organisations. Many of the organisations take a critical or negative stand on globalisation, but do not hesitate to adopt procedures that are characteristic of globalisation or to build networks across national borders. Out of a vast array of organisations I could name two which are perceived as opposite: the World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum. Both are, however, concerned with the same challenges in the same world. One of the aims of the Helsinki process is to bring these two processes closer to each other.

Global approach to international peace and security and multilateral security system based on cooperation are largely axiomatic principles for Finland and for our partners in the European Union. But security problems linked to globalisation, and solutions to them, do threaten to divide the international community. Peace is nowadays much more than absence of war. Development and peace are intertwined in an inseparable manner and both of them are being affected by globalisation.

Mr. President,

Another major issue that requires multilateral cooperation is the weapons of mass destruction and prevention of their proliferation.

Effective global governance requires universally agreed norms and rules setting standards for behaviour to be followed by all states as well as by non-state actors. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are clearly an issue that affects the international community as a whole. No state can ignore these dangers. Today more than ever, we need to step up our collective efforts to halt the proliferation worldwide.

Most effective way to address global security threats is the multilateral system of binding international agreements. The existing system of treaties built over the decades needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We need to reinforce our commitment to the prohibitions of chemical and biological weapons and prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons with the objective of their total elimination.

Promoting the adherence to multilateral treaties and obligations is not enough. It is equally important to ensure that commitments are fully implemented. The international community cannot tolerate precedents of non-compliance with the legal undertakings which would put at stake the whole non-proliferation regime.

In cases where states have difficulties in implementing treaty obligations due to lack of legal or technical verification expertise, appropriate support and assistance should be offered by the relevant organisations and participating states.

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) remains the cornerstone of our efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. In our view the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty constitutes an essential and irreplaceable building block to contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons, thus contributing to nuclear disarmament. Finland attaches great importance to the entering into force of this Treaty. We urge all states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the CTBT as soon as possible.

In combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction new initiatives and new approaches are called for. In order to complement international instruments we need fresh perspectives on how to confront the problem of weapons of mass destruction. Finland welcomes new efforts - open to all - such as the G 8 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction.

The United Nations and in particular the Security Council have the primary responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. Finland is in favour of enhancing the role of the United Nations in issues related to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We agree with the Secretary-General that the United Nations and the Security Council should look at the enforcement of weapons of mass destruction regimes. The UN has valuable expertise and experience in the field of verification. Finland believes that this verification and inspection competence should be maintained.

By focussing on weapons of mass destruction I do not want to say that small arms are any less dangerous. They need due and growing attention by the international community. In some countries and in some crises small arms are a means of massive destruction and a major cause for loss of lives - mostly civilians.

The multilateral institutions should respond to new challenges. Being multilateral is not sufficient in itself. In the work of the General Assembly Finland underlines the importance of setting clear priorities, tackling issues that are most relevant in today's security environment. People across the world would have difficulties to understand if the UN is trying to resolve the problems from the yesterday's world.

Mr President,

Before concluding let me express my government's deep satisfaction with the fact that the International Criminal Court has become reality and is operational. The ICC is a cornerstone in the efforts to enhance respect for international humanitarian law and human rights. We remain committed to ensuring the Court's success and appeal to States which have not yet ratified the Rome Statute to become parties to it.

Thank you, Mr. President.