Mr. President,

             I greet you warmly at your election as President of this session and assure you of Nepal's full cooperation in your work. His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, the outgoing President, deserves our appreciation for the job well done. I also pay tribute to the Secretary-General for providing dynamic leadership to the United Nations.

Mr. President,

             Last twelve months have been a momentous period of convulsive events. It has been a mixed bag. Terrorism has been dented but remains a serious threat to peace. Some countries have limped back to normalcy while others have descended into chaos. All sides have accepted the Middle East road map but a new cycle of violence is undermining it. Iraq continues to be source of concern to all. The global economic slump has turned the comer but the growth remains anemic; and the Cancun trade talks have foundered.

             In these developments, the United Nations has come into sharp focus that is not always flattering. However, Nepal has an abiding faith in the United Nations and believes in its centrality for humanity's quest for shared peace, progress and justice. To small nations like ours, the United Nations is and should be the bulwark of sovereignty and defender of freedom. It has stood up to such challenges in the past; and it must prepare itself to face the future equally boldly, through a process of strengthened multilateralism.

Mr. President,

             Today, the world faces a number of threats to its peace, progress and harmony. Terrorism is now by far the most immediate threat that afflicts rich and poor, and big and small countries. After September 11, 2001, the concerted battle we have launched has pushed terror into retreat but a decisive war we must win against it is yet to be won. This scourge has not left the United Nations untouched either.

             For instance, two bombs exploded in as many months at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad killing Mr. Sergio de Mello and others and reminding grimly of the indiscriminate dark threat of terrorism. We condemn the assault on the United Nations and our profound condolences go to the countries that lost their citizens and families that lost their dear ones in those tragic attacks.

             My own nation is in the throes of terrorism, perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Maoists for last seven years. Opposed to constitutional monarchy and democratic order, the Maoists have broken the 7­month-old cease-fire, withdrawn from the talks and unleashed unspeakable violence on the people. They did so even as the Government showed flexibility to accommodate several of their demands and put on the table a comprehensive package of reforms.

             His Majesty's Government has the duty to protect the life and liberty of people and to defend freedom and democracy in the country. We will do so resolutely but responsibly. While doing so, we have kept the door of dialogue open. On behalf of the Government, I thank our friends for their understanding and assistance in our war against terror and the UN Secretary-General for his interest and concern.

             Clearly, Iraq continues to remain a serious issue. Now that the war is over the global community must agree to revert sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible, to let them govern themselves and to help them rebuild their country, The United Nations should be given an enhanced role in this process.

             A renewed violence in the Middle East has imperiled the Quartet-endorsed road map, which promises a viable state to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis. Nepal appeals to both sides to exercise maximum restraints and engage in constructive dialogue to attain a comprehensive settlement of the long festering crisis. It also appeals to Israel to reconsider its decision to remove Palestinian President Arafat.

The Security Council must take an early decision to extend security throughout Afghanistan so that rebuilding could go forward in the country. It should also augment efforts to resolve conflicts and bring stability to volatile countries in Africa and elsewhere.

             Nepal has a deep interest in, and unwavering commitment to, United Nations peacekeeping. Nepalese blue helmets have served in various missions in an outstanding manner and many of them have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace and humanity. The United Nations should continue helping poor troop contributing countries to bridge their resources gaps, and give them more say in mission planning and deployment of forces.

Mr. President,

             While fire fighting in crisis situations is urgent, the international community must look beyond the immediacy of conflicts and attempt to build an edifice of a durable peace in the world. Disarmament, development and rule of law are the pillars of such architecture. There is a moral case and enlightened self­interest for all of us to work together towards such peace.

Disarmament and confidence building measure are critical to build a culture of peace. Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to humanity and must be eliminated with their delivery vehicles, in a time­bound manner. Nuclear weapon states should steadily reduce their nuclear arsenals and the Conference on Disarmament must draw strategy to eradicate these arms.

As a nation committed to peace, Nepal welcomes the proposals to establish nuclear weapons free zones and to keep outer space free of weapons. We also stress the necessity to reinforce the chemical and biological weapons ban regimes and to strengthen measures to prevent the access of non-state actors to small arms and light weapons.

             Nepal supports the regional centers for peace and disarmament as significant tools for building confidence among nations. We are eagerly looking forward to hosting the Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific in Kathmandu. We have asked the Secretariat to revise the draft host country agreements so they are consistent with diplomatic practices and with provisions of other two centers.

Mr. President,

             Poverty is by far the most entrenched threat to peace and human dignity and development is the most daunting challenge for the world. The global community must act together to lift people in developing countries from the perils of hunger, ignorance, disease and despair. We must create jobs and opportunities to enable people to lead a decent life and to raise their stakes in peace and order.

Nepal has accorded the highest priority to poverty alleviation in its current loth five-year plan, modeled after the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Broad-based growth, social sector development, targeted programs and good governance constitute the strategy of the plan. We have liberalized the economy to foster broader partnership with the private sector, NGOs and community groups and wider space for foreign investment.

             Improvements in the agriculture and social sectors as well as rural infrastructure constitute the core of our quest for poverty reduction and sustainable development. However, Nepal lacks sufficient resources to achieve its development objectives. Our resource constraints have become more acute due to Maoists insurgency and consequent economic disruption. Many other developing countries are in a similar situation. The global community must join forces, in a spirit of partnership, to eradicate the absolute poverty and stimulate development in developing nations. Indeed, the Millennium Summit and global conferences on financing, sustainable development, HIV/AIDS and trade have clearly laid down the way forward. We must ensure that these compacts do not fail in the crucible of implementation.

As developing countries lead efforts for their progress, development partners must keep their commitments by meeting development assistance targets and providing debt relief to the highly indebted poor countries, including all least developed nations.

             Increasing development assistance alone, however, will do little to help developing countries unless rich nations dismantle their farm subsidies and pull down their tariff and non-tariff barriers for the products from the South. Improved access to world markets is critical for poor nations to attract investment, remove their supply-side constraints and transform their economies. In this context, the Cancun trade talks must be resumed soon and in a manner that globalisation brings benefits to the poor as well.

His Majesty's Government is grateful to the World Trade Organization for deciding to admit Nepal and Cambodia as its new members. That is just the first step. Nepal needs, as other least developed countries do, duty-free and quota-free access to, and increased assistance from, rich nations to escape the poverty trap and to integrate with the global economy.

Landlocked developing countries face geographic handicaps and remoteness from the major corridors of global commerce. We welcome that the Almaty Program of Action to address their problem and thank the transit and development partners for making the ministerial meeting a success. We urge all sides to make concerted efforts to. implement the Almaty Program.

Mr. President,

             Democracy, fairness and rule of law are the building blocks of secure peace at home and across the world. With this in view, Nepal has embraced pluralistic democracy, constitutional monarchy, and inviolability of human rights and freedoms as the defining features in the present Constitution.

Our pledge to these values and ideals remains as strong as ever. Parliamentary elections postponed due to Maoist threat will be held as soon as possible and immediate steps will be taken to restore and reactivate local authorities. The Government is seriously committed to doing this.

The Government has accorded high priority to lifting the status of women, children and disadvantaged people as well as to preventing trafficking in women. It has established juvenile courts and strengthened the court system as well as tried to give the tools and resources necessary to the human rights protection and anti-corruption agencies to do their job.

Nepal firmly believes that the world community should try its level best to promote democracy, justice and fairness in world trade, global governance and international relations. In this spirit, we underscore the imperative for change in the global trade regime, for reform in international financial architecture and for help to developing countries to ride through their problems.

Speaking of justice, nearly 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Nepal are waiting for over a decade to return home in safety and dignity. We hope Bhutan will show more flexibility in the bilateral negotiations to find an early and just settlement. We call on the world community, including UNHCR, to help create a conducive climate for resolving this distressing humanitarian problem by sustaining its interest and assistance for the maintenance of the refugees at this crucial juncture.

Mr. President,

             No organization can stand the test of time unless it is prepared to carry out bold reforms. Events in the run up to the Iraq war have shown the frailty of the United Nations and underlined the imperative for immediate and balanced reforms for the Organization to secure more legitimacy, not only in the eyes of the rich but also in the perception of the poor.

While we welcome the reforms the General Assembly adopted last year, we support the Secretary­General's proposal to set up a high-level panel to seek ways to make the United Nations a vibrant, effective and efficient organization, which can come to grips with the emerging challenges.

As we see it, there is an urgent imperative for the General Assembly to reclaim its primacy at the United Nations and for the ECOSOC to make its work more visible and relevant to the ordinary people. To achieve these objectives, we must not only rationalize the agendas of these organs but also ensure that they adopt fewer resolutions that matter and that could be implemented to benefit humanity.

Reforms are long overdue to make the Security Council more democratic in its work and more representative in its structure. Nepal expresses its deep concern at the lack of tangible progress for over a decade on the issue of Council enlargement and urges all member states to scale up their efforts to achieve the goal.

             In our view, the Non-aligned Movement should play an active role in United Nations reform. It should also work closely with the G-77 to advance their shared agenda in this and other respects.

Mr. President,

             In South Asia, as elsewhere, we view regional cooperation as an instrument of South-South cooperation for collective progress in the region and the world at large. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has been inspired by that aspiration. Let us hope our region can put its political differences behind and steam ahead to find the place South Asia deserves in the community of nations.

             If our immediate and overriding preoccupation at home is restoration of peace, our commitment to regional cooperation and just and secure world constitutes an objective of equal order. The world has witnessed the resilience of the Nepalese people during difficult periods in history. We remain equally committed today to overcome the current challenge. I call on friends and well-wishers of Nepal for greater understanding and cooperation to help us help ourselves in our onward journey to peace and progress.

Thank you for your attention, Mr. President.