Address by H.E. Dr. JANEZ DRNOVSEK

the President of the Republic of Slovenia



New York, 26 September 2003

Check against delivery!

Mr President,

Heads of State and Government,

Mr Secretary-General,

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.

Mr President,

This increasing 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 United States; the Iraqi crisis and other areas in turmoil offer further warnings.

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.

Mr President,

Over the last year Iraq has been the focus of attention for the international community. At first the course of events regarding Iraq revealed the limitations of multilateral cooperation and decision-making. Finally, they have moved on to demonstrate the limits of engaging unilaterally with the immense challenges of international security, and the limits of unilateralism. The complexity of the post-conflict reconstruction and revitalisation of Iraq demands the widest possible support of the international community and of Iraqis themselves. The UN is the only body capable of serving as the embodiment of such support. Its role in Iraq must become more active while retaining its autonomy. Only a strong UN with a broadly defined mandate will be able to fulfil the role we require of it: to serve as a factor for stability in Iraq and the entire region. And performing that role would be the best means of paying tribute to the UN representatives who tragically lost their lives in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello and his colleagues. They will live on in our memories and in our actions as well.

Mr President,

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 Afghanistan, where so recently all eyes were focused, has faded from our notice; and yet there is a clear danger that the chronic instability of this country could revert to devastating civil war.

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.

Mr President,

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 Third World. In this vein, we must have international trade rules that enable less developed countries to use their resources for their maximum benefit. The collapse of the negotiations in Cancun should be taken seriously. Developed countries should respond by accepting more of the requirements put forward by the developing countries. The Millennium Declaration and the development goals contained therein are an important response to these challenges. We must therefore contribute what we can to achieving these objectives. I would like at this point to give special mention to the fight against HIV/AIDS and I warmly welcome the special session of the General Assembly dedicated to this issue.

Mr President,

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.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 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 Slovenia. Now they need to be put into practice. Let me also reaffirm Slovenia's belief that the Security Council must be enlarged to include representation for the countries that have the most responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. At the same time there must be adequate representation for the rest of the international community, to give the Council a satisfactory level of legitimacy.

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.

Mr President,

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.

Thank you.