PERMANENT MISSION OF THAILAND TO THE UNITED NATIONS
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STATEMENT HIS EXCELLENCY DR. SURAKIART SATHIRATHAI
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THAILAND AND HEAD OF THE DELEGATION OF THAILAND
AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE FIFTH-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 30 SEPTEMBER 2003
At the outset, I would like to join the international community in paying tribute to the late Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello and all United Nations personnel who lost their lives and those wounded by the terrorist attack at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. We strongly condemn this cowardly terrorist attack and reaffirm our commitment to support the United Nations in paving the way for the stability, security and sovereignty of Iraq.
On behalf of the Government and people of Thailand, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations to Your Excellency Mr. Julian Hunte of Saint Lucia upon your election to the Presidency of the Fifty-eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I am confident that, under your wise and exemplary leadership, this session, held during such a difficult time, will lead to a fruitful conclusion. I also wish to take this opportunity to commend your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, whose tireless efforts have steered the United Nations toward a constructive path during a year of difficult challenges:
This session meets at a most critical juncture or as Mr. Secretary-General put it in his address, and I quote: we have come to a fork in the road. The road that was meant to build a multilateral system to ensure the better world for the human race. It is at this critical juncture where the threats and challenges to multilateralism of the past 12 months have underscored, more than ever, that to collectively confront these threats and challenges to global peace, security and prosperity, the world cannot do without multilateralism: But as echoed by many from this rostrum, the big question is how?
As the foremost multilateral institution, the United Nations needs to carry out its mission in the context of these realities. The Secretary-General has expounded his far-sighted initiative for the proposed reforms of the institutions and the establishment of a High Level Panel of eminent personalities. Thailand lends her support to the Secretary-General's noble endeavour and hopes that during the next session, he will come up with a proposal that will take us on the right path.
Many different views, agreements and disagreements have been expressed in this hall in this general debate. This illustrates that the international community must learn to live with and be tolerant of differences. We may differ in culture, religion, and value but our differences and diversities must not become a genesis for hostility. They must be a genesis for our combined strength to enhance partnership and multilateralism. We believe that the promotion of true partnership and human security will help the UN's mission in fulfilling its noble goals.
From Timor Leste to Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the international community can be proud of forging partnership in peacekeeping operations under the framework of the United Nations. Thailand is proud to be one of the 89 countries participating in UN peacekeeping operations and wish to reiterate our commitment to continue this partnership wherever and whenever needed through our participation in the UN Standby Arrangements System.
On our part, Thailand remains firmly committed to supporting UN reconstruction and peace-building efforts, as we have done in the past in Timor Leste and Afghanistan. Thailand has already contributed 250,000 US dollars to Iraq through the International Committee of the Red Cross and is committed to providing another 500,000 US dollars for dried halal food. Military construction engineers and medical personnel are also being dispatched to Iraq to provide further humanitarian assistance. We hope that peace can eventually reign in the region.
No one deserves peace, stability and a prosperous future more than the peoples of the Middle East. Far too long have the people of that region suffered from violence, acts of terror, and despair. We call upon the international community to come together in addressing this problem. All sides must seize the opportunity to embark on the road towards a just and comprehensive peace so that the people of Israel and the people of Palestine can at last live in peace, security and harmony.
Terrorism spares no one, strong or weak, rich or poor. To succeed against terrorism, there shall be no other ways but to be united. The Government of Thailand has worked very closely with the international community to rid the world of this scourge. Domestic legislations have been amended in order to enable Thailand to cope with terrorist activities and to suppress the financing of terrorism more effectively.
To us, we take no second chance in our fight against international terrorism.
As "freedom from fear" and "freedom from want" are the two major components of human security, it is evidently clear that human security cannot be achieved because a country wants to do it all alone. Rather, human security is achieved because all countries decide to do it all to ether. It is achieved because countries are willing to forge partnership out of their differences to build strength for human security.
That is why Thailand considers the membership of the Human Security Network an important partnership strength, complementary to the core values of the United Nations for the promotion of peace and security, economic and social development, human rights, humanitarian affairs and international law.
Only two weeks ago, Thailand was proud and honoured to have hosted the Fifth Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention. It was the first time this meeting came to Asia where land mines are threat to the security of hundreds of millions of people. Throughout our presidency of the Convention until the First Review Conference in November 2004, Thailand will do her utmost to ensure much further achievements and considerable progress in the core objectives of the Convention -- mine clearance, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and universal acceptance of the Convention.
Across the continent, as one of only three OSCE Partners for Cooperation in Asia, Thailand seeks to build bridges between Asia, especially ASEAN, and Europe. We believe that, not despite of our differences in cultural and social values but because of these differences, Asia and Europe will learn the art of living together, creating a world of human security.
Narcotic drugs and pandemics transcend all borders and become a threat to human security as - much as terrorism does. Like terrorism, decisive and resolute partnership actions at all levels are required to tackle these global problems to achieve sustainable development.
The Thai Government has declared war against narcotic drugs since taking office in February 2001. This year we made it the peak of our campaign. Our battle against the scourge of drug production and trafficking, especially methaphetamines must be all but comprehensive. Within the permit of the law, we have mounted an integrated strategic campaign, incorporating prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and suppression. We hope to be able to declare a total victory by the end of the year.
We have forged more effective partnership with our neighbours and beyond to overcome this global scourge once and for all. This past June, Thailand hosted a five-nation meeting comprising Thailand, China, India, Lao PDR and Myanmar to discuss combating transnational crimes including the issue of drug trafficking. Furthermore, Thailand ' is also forging partnership at the global level by working hand-in-hand with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as a partner with shared responsibility to counter drugs and crime in the global context.
Just as drugs tear at the social fabric of societies, diseases such as HIV/AIDS cripple human resources across the globe. Thailand commends the convening of the high-level plenary on HIV/AIDS on 22 September. We support the ongoing efforts undertaken within the framework of the Global Fund to Fight Against HIV/AIDS and Other Diseases. We also remain steadfast in our partnerships with neighbouring countries, particularly the Greater Mekong Sub-region, as well as with related UN agencies to help tackle the global challenge posed by HIV/AIDS. As host of the 15th International Conference on HIV/AIDS in July 2004, we look forward to high-level representation of the world community to share the experiences as well as forging strong partnerships and cooperation to build a united global front to deal with this pandemic.
With SARS, the disease that crippled many countries and the tourist industry the world over this year, we found that only through the prompt response and commitment of ASEAN and APEC partnership could we manage to keep the pandemic under control soon enough and calm the panicking fear which was worse than the disease itself.
The non-traditional security threats of HIV/AIDS, SARS and narcotic drugs, or "soft threats" in the words of the Secretary-General, demonstrate once again that no matter what differences each country or region may have, international cooperation and partnership are crucial to combat both the traditional and non-traditional threats to human security.
Guided by the principle of combining partnership strength from diversity, Thailand has embarked on various initiatives in bridging socioeconomic disparities at the regional and sub-regional levels to enhance peace and prosperity. The creation of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue or the ACD, now only in its second year but already comprising 22 Asian countries, representing the East, West, South, North and Central of Asia, is one prime example. Within one year of its conception, the ACD has achieved considerable progress on various cooperation programmes, even on financial cooperation. The Second ACD Ministerial Meeting in June this year adopted the Chiang Mai Declaration on the Development of Asian Bond Market. This Asian Bond Market has been heralded as the new financial architecture for the world of differences.
Thailand continues to work on partnership based on diversity and differences to create socio-economic development amongst nations. With economic disparity amongst our immediate neighbours, the Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS), initiated by the Prime Minister, Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, was the latest partnership aimed at narrowing economic gap between Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar, with a view to generating employment and income based on comparative advantage and mutual benefits. It will complement other existing bilateral and regional cooperative frameworks, and serve as a building block towards advancing ASEAN economic integration.
Thailand has chosen the theme "A World of Differences: Partnership for the Future" for the 2003 meeting of the Economic Leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC in Thailand. This APEC Leaders' Meeting in October reflects the belief that despite the diversity and differences that exist across the region, there is unlimited potential and benefit that can be tapped through effective partnership. The meeting will discuss five sub-themes, which are knowledge-based economy; promotion of human security; financial architecture for a world of differences; SMEs; and act on development pledge. In addition, the issue of counter-terrorism will also be underscored to promote economic stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. These sub-themes show that despite differences in APEC economies, partnerships on these issues can be forged for the benefit of the region and the world.
Last year, at the 57th Session, I gave a comprehensive account of Thailand's dual track strategy to attain steady economic growth with social equity. Before conclusion, allow me to report to you that our efforts to create economic and social partnership by combining and empowering the diverse strength of both the grassroots economy and the export-led business sector, as engines of growth have proved successful. We are confident that our economy rests on a secure and firm foundation that will lead us along a path of economic growth and sustainable development. Last year, the Thai economy registered a 5.3 percent GDP growth, followed by 6.7 percent growth in the first quarter of this year. This is the best economic performance since the 1997 crisis. On 31 July, Thailand has paid back all the IMF loans in full, two years ahead of schedule. The present government is committed to the eradication of poverty, as defined by the UN, by the year. 2009. Placing human security at the forefront of the Government's policies, Thailand stressed its determination to ensure the Thai people of a society free from want and free from fear.
Living in a world of differences entails misery if we keep pounding conflicts out of the differences. It entails hardship if we keep exacerbating disagreements. It entails stagnation if we keep ignoring room for compromises. It entails human suffering if governments keep turning their back to chances of partnership. And it entails devastation if we use the differences as an excuse to always differ.
But we, members of the United Nations live in a world of differences. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that our world of differences has a future - a future that does not entail misery, hardship, and human suffering because of our differences. It is incumbent upon every one of us to work with the UN institutions to ensure that our differences are turned into a pool of strength for our future. Thailand is doing her part and will continue to do so, ever more, for that future.
Thank you very much.