His Excellency
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani
First Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Foreign Affairsof The State of Qatar

The 58th Session of the General Assembly of
the United Nations

Friday, 26 September 2003


Mr. President,

It gives me great pleasure to extend to you sincere congratulations on your election as President of the 586' session of the United Nations General Assembly, wishing you and the members of the Bureau every success.

On this occasion, I would like also to extend thanks and appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, the President of the previous session, for his great efforts in conducting the work of the General Assembly.

It also gives me pleasure to acknowledge, on this occasion, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the Untied Nations, who deserves our sincere thanks and admiration for his tireless efforts.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is experiencing today a difficult, critical and extremely complex phase in international relations and the political and strategic transformations that govern such relations and determine their objective and components. This is a result of the emergence of a new, complicated and multi-faceted set of problems and acute regional and international crises which we must seek promptly and seriously to deal with its root causes, and prevent the aggravation and widening thereof.

This necessitates that we strive to strengthen the role of the United Nations, enhance its institutions, and provide it with adequate resources to enable it to fulfill its mission all over the world. In the first instance, it is imperative that we mobilize the requisite political will to enable the international organization to shoulder its responsibilities and discharge its duties. This applies in particular to the states permanent members of the Security Council which bear the primary responsibility for achieving this objective, so that the organization can perform its functions in a genuinely democratic spirit that reflects the new international conditions and interests and aspirations of all the people of the world without exception or preference.

In this context, we stress the need for agreement on a new formula that would guarantee the reform of the composition of the council and update its method of work as the international body, which is primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. The current composition of the Council, its methods of work and its decision making process do not meet the need of the international community and do not provide the opportunity for the members of the organization to pronounce themselves on critical and decisive questions that affect us all.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, in the State of Qatar, were shocked and saddened by the horrific attack on the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. This attack claimed the lives of numerous innocent victims, including UN staff members discharging their humanitarian mission there, foremost among whom was the personal representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, in addition to numerous victims among Iraqi citizens. This heinous act of terrorism illustrates, in our view, the kind of challenges and magnitude of the grave threats besetting the work of the United Nations and the international humanitarian, organization, be it in Iraq or in other various part of the world. We also strongly condemn the acts of terrorism that targeted the UN Headquarters in Iraq earlier this week.

The difficult tragic situation currently prevailing in fraternal Iraq makes it incumbent upon us all to cooperate so as to help the Iraqi people overcome it and rid itself of its effects and repercussions. Here, I must emphasize once again the basic principles that underpin our position on the Iraqi crisis and the means to deal with it. We have consistly affirmed our commitment to the territorial integrity, national unity and sovereignty of Iraq, and our attachment to the rights of Iraqis to self determination, to the restoration of their independence and sovereignty, to rebuild their homeland and to live in dignity and freedom on their land. In this context, we look forward to the success of the international efforts to consolidate security and stability in Iraq. We call upon the Coalition Forces to achieve this essential objective and intensify their efforts, in coordination with the competent international bodies and institutions, to pave the way for the return of the country to normalcy, and allow the Iraqi people, including all its factions and political currents, to exercise their legitimate right to choose their new political leadership through free, democratic elections, expressing its aspirations, hopes and wishes. In this regard, we also welcome the establishment of the Provisional Governing Council and the interim Iraqi government which emerged from it as a significant, positive step which, we hope, would contribute to achieving the desired transition to the consolidation of democracy in the country and rebuilding and rehabilitating of the institutions of the Iraqi state. This should be accomplished through drafting a new constitution, holding free democratic elections, putting a prompt end to the occupation on the basis of a specific time-table and the reclaiming by Iraq of its rightful position in its region and in the international community.

In this context, we also call for an effective fundamental role for the United Nations in helping Iraq achieve these objectives. Moreover, the International community is called upon today to contribute promptly in helping to rebuild Iraq and meet the needs of the Iraqis in various fields, so as to build a new Iraq characterized by democracy, equality and respect for human rights.

It is worth noting here, in the context of developing the higher education infrastructure in Iraq, that H.H. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al¬Misnad, the Consort of H.H. the Beloved Emir of the State of Qatar, and the UNESCO Special Envoy of Goodwill and Higher Education, launched a lofty initiative in a statement she made before the World Conference on Higher Education held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The initiative called for the establishment of an international fund for Iraqi higher education. The objective would be to provide immediate and long-term assistance for the rehabilitation of higher education in fraternal Iraq. The State of Qatar was the first contributor to this fund by providing the sum of US$ 15 million.

My country has also been contributing to the international efforts to rebuild Iraq. It has developed a special program which includes the building of hospitals and educational and residential units. We also have a special program in Afghanistan that contributes to the rebuilding of the country. The cost of this program has so far amounted to US$ 62 million.

Mr. President,

The Arab-Israeli conflict and the Question of Palestine are at the very forefront of those conflicts to which it is becoming imperative that we work to achieve a just, final and comprehensive solution for it, especially in the light of the accelerating and continuous deterioration marking the bloody confrontation that has been taking place for many years between the Palestinian people and the Israeli forces. It is to be noted here that we, in the State of Qatar, had welcomed the Road Map. We had also expressed our support for the efforts made by the "International Quartet Committee" to begin the implementation of the Road Map, including its various stages, on both sides of the conflict and on the basis of the vision announced by US President George Bush as a basis for the final solution of establishing two states that coexist side by side, in spite of the many difficulties, obstacles and setbacks encountered by those efforts over the past few weeks. Here we must also stress that the implementation of the Road Map can not be undertaken by one side only, i.e. the Palestinian side, but it also requires that the Israeli side fulfill its obligations and adopt the necessary actions in this context. This calls for the international community and the members of the "Quartet Committee", especially the USA, to intervene redouble their efforts and intensify pressure to induce the Israeli Government to do its part in return for the commitment by the Palestinian side to do its part. This means that the Israeli occupation forces should refrain from carrying out assassinations, and lift the siege they have imposed in the Palestinian territories, allow the Palestinian to live in security, peace and dignity on their own land, move freely in their areas, put an end to the policy of starvation, humiliation and the demolition of houses, and cease building the buffer wall that the Israeli authorities are constructing at present.

Mr. President,

In this regard, I can not but note the positive gesture we witnessed during the past few days on the part of the Libyan Government, which closed the file of the "Lockerbie Case". This was done in cooperation with the other parties concerned and in the framework of UN institutions. We should also note the positive response on the part of the American, British and French governments to these efforts, which finally bore fruition and led to the conclusion of this agreement.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The phenomenon of terrorism and extremism has constituted and still constitutes one of the most important challenges facing the world. While expressing our total rejection for and condemnation of this subversive phenomenon, regardless of its source and motives, and in all its forms and manifestations, we affirm our stand by the international community and our support for whatever steps and measures that it takes to eliminate terrorism and consolidate the underpinnings of security and stability.

Mr. President,

Democracy is an expression of responsible participation in political decision making. It involves the establishment of state institutions and adherence to the role of law in the State, provides for accountability and the appraisal of the performance of governmental institutions, and ensures good governance and safeguards the rights of citizens. As such, it is the optimum means of achieving the priorities of national development and the objective of modernization and reform to which our peoples and societies aspire.

Emanating from these principles, the State of Qatar recently conducted a referendum on a political constitution which gives women the right to political participation, as voters or as candidates for the Parliament, which will be elected for the first time through the ballot box. The constitution also regulates the relation between the government and the people, and provides for the separation of the three branches of government.

As regards human rights, an independent "Human Rights Commission" was established in the State of Qatar. This Commission submits its recommendations to the competent state authorities, with a view to developing and improving the enjoyment of civil liberties. Moreover, since promoting awareness of civil rights requires, first and foremost, the development of education and upgrading its standards and expanding it to include all segments of society, we have restructured the educational system. Also, certain well-known universities from some developed countries have set up branches in the State of Qatar.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the achievement of our aspiration lies in affirming the role of this international organization, enhancing its position and effectuating its potential. It is through this organization that we hope to establish international relations on the basis of understanding, cooperation and common interests. It is also through it that we hope to manage one day to settle crises and disputes, to eliminate the threats of violence, the use of force and terrorism, cease squandering resources and energies on wars and conflicts, and direct them, instead, in the service of development, progress and prosperity. Similarly, we aspire to build a new world based on the principles of justice, equality, liberty, democracy and peaceful coexistence among all its peoples, nations and cultures. It is an aspiration that is worthy of our peoples, our youth and our future generations. It is an aspiration to which we are wedded and which we uphold, because it constitutes the highest priority for building the world of the future, which we seek and dream of. It is a world that we hope to attain one day as an international community and as one universal family living on this planet, God willing,

Thank you, God's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you.