Address by H.E. Dr. JANEZ DRNOVSEK
the President of the
AT THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL DEBATE
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Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN is a great and good idea, born of human suffering and a universal desire for a better world. Despite the many difficult challenges it has faced through more than half a century of history, it has always had an important role to play. It has succeeded because it has been able to adapt, and on meeting new obstacles has found a modus operandi to achieve its objectives, though not always to the desired extent. Particularly worthy of mention are its achievements in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and the development of international law and the universal values that international law upholds.
The role the UN has played until. now is clear proof that not every issue that faces the international community can be resolved unilaterally or even bilaterally. In a time of growing global interdependence there are more and more problems that countries cannot solve alone or even in cooperation with a smaller number of other countries.
The multilateralism of the UN must therefore not be built on values that promote the short-term benefit of individual countries or interest groups. Instead, it must be grounded in an awareness that no one can be satisfied in the long-term, if surrounded by people living in destitution, without even the basic necessities of human dignity. Values grounded in this awareness must, as the global interdependence of the human race increases, become an inseparable component of relations between countries.
global interdependence is also seen in the
sphere of security, the most fundamental pillar of human welfare. Economic,
inter-ethnic and religious tensions are no longer limited to single
states or regions, but can now have potentially global effects. The
most drastic warning of this came in the terrorist attacks on the
There is no doubt that we can only effectively fight international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through the broad cooperation of many countries. The UN played a central role in building an international coalition against terrorism and must continue to play that role.
As we fight against the universal evil of terrorism we must ensure our eyes remain focused on upholding the great gains of our civilisation. And human rights take pride of place among those achievements. Sometimes we cannot avoid the Hobbesian dilemma between security and freedom. Still, we must be aware that the sacrifice of freedom for security frequently results in achieving neither. We must therefore ensure that international commitments to respect human rights are upheld.
The international community has taken an important step in the protection of human rights with the creation of the International Criminal Court. It is our sincere hope that the most serious crimes against humanity do not go unpunished and that the Court will succeed in putting an end to such crimes through its independent operation.
Over the last year
We should not allow the focus on the most visible crises
and on the fight against terrorism to lead to the neglect of other dangers
to global peace and security. Just one example would be the areas of
Africa that require assistance both in ending conflicts and tackling
the root causes of such unrest. Even
Nor could we neglect the region of South-Eastern Europe, which posed one of the most serious threats to global peace and security throughout the 1990s. South- Eastern Europe is now peaceful. However, the success or failure of its post- conflict stabilisation is still dependent on the active involvement of the international community. We must therefore devote sufficient attention to political and social consolidation in this region.
The world cannot respond to the Iraqi crisis by reducing
it to an issue of military security or potentially even engaging in
the increasing militarisation of international
security. We must focus on the source of the threats to international
security. We must work hard towards responsible and sound development
that does not widen the gap between rich and poor. We must move beyond
a developmental pattern that worsens differences
and tensions. Instead we have to ensure sound
prospects for all, including those in the so-called
The objective increase in global interdependence requires a strengthened role for this global organisation. To secure that, we must therefore revitalise the UN and adapt it to meet these new challenges.
has accomplished a great deal so far in the field
of rationalising UN operations and increasing
efficiency. We congratulate him on these achievements
and will support him in his continued efforts to this end. We
welcome wholeheartedly the SecretaryGeneral's
intention to establish a High-Level Panel of eminent personalities to
look at current challenges to peace and security and to review the functioning
of the major UN organs with a view to recommend ways of strengthening
the Organization. A number of questions and proposals relating to the
revitalisation and reform of the General Assembly
have already been identified and they have
the support of a majority that includes
Putting to one side the changes required in the UN's functioning, it should be pointed out that many misconceptions about the United Nations derive from a lack of information about the organisation. On the basis of the experience it has gained to date, the UN may do well to consider expanding its own global network of universities. Such universities would be subordinate to national legislation, and would offer a high quality education in the spirit of the UN. This policy offers numerous benefits. Students would learn a great deal about the UN, while the UN would be contributing to increasing the level of education, as well as spreading its core values.
Globalisation has opened our eyes to the vital realisation that the whole human race is interdependent, in its very essence. We must respond to the new challenges of globalisation by strengthening our efforts to ensure that values are also globalised; those very values the UN has done so much to develop: international peace and security, respect for human rights, solidarity, and environmental protection. In this all-important process, the United Nations must continue to play a leading role. To this end, it is our responsibility to make the UN capable of enacting these values and hence its admirable purpose. And thus, to make this world a better place to live in.