FAILURE OF NATO TO ACT IN KOSOVO WOULD HAVE RISKED DISCREDITING UN PRINCIPLES, SAYS U.S. PRESIDENT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

GA/9599
21 September 1999

FAILURE OF NATO TO ACT IN KOSOVO WOULD HAVE RISKED DISCREDITING UN PRINCIPLES, SAYS U.S. PRESIDENT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

21 September 1999


Press Release
GA/9599


FAILURE OF NATO TO ACT IN KOSOVO WOULD HAVE RISKED DISCREDITING UN PRINCIPLES, SAYS U.S. PRESIDENT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

19990921

Four Heads of State Heard at Morning Meeting

The actions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Kosovo had followed a clear consensus, expressed in several Security Council resolutions -- that atrocities committed by the Serb forces were unacceptable, William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, told the General Assembly, this morning during the second day of its General Debate.

"Had we chosen to do nothing in the face of this brutality, I do not believe we would have strengthened the United Nations. Instead we would have risked discrediting everything the United Nations stands for", he said. The actions of NATO in Kosovo helped to vindicate the principles and purposes of the Organization's Charter, and to give the United Nations the opportunity it now had to play the central role in shaping the province's future. NATO had acted in Kosovo to stop a campaign of ethnic cleansing in a place where there were important interests at stake and where there was also the ability to act collectively.

He went on to say however, that while collective military force was both appropriate and feasible, at other times concerted economic and military pressure combined with diplomacy was a better answer, as it was in making possible the introduction of forces in East Timor.

Igor Ivanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that after it had been painfully tested by the Balkan and Iraqi crises, the issue of strengthening the authority of the United Nations was now the centre of attention. The international community could take coercive measures only in accordance with the Charter and decisions by the Security Council. Non-legitimate means could only compromise the rightful aims. It was therefore from that standpoint that his country assessed the concept of "humanitarian intervention". Coercive measures should not be allowed to become repressive mechanisms to influence States and peoples regarded by some as not being to their liking. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could and should be the main United Nations peacemaking partner in Europe.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9599 6th Meeting (AM) 21 September 1999

Tarja Halonen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said peacekeeping operations alone could no longer meet all the requirements without the increased efforts of civilian crisis management. The Union strongly emphasized civilian crisis management. Reconstructing societies following conflict required civilian police and administrators from all fields of civil activity.

Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, said that membership of the Security Council still did not reflect vastly altered international circumstances. The need for reform of that body was now a prerequisite for the very existence of the United Nations. The stark realities of the situation in the world must be reflected in an increase of numbers, and also in the principle of equitable geographical representation and participation. It was unjust that developing countries should remain totally unrepresented in the permanent membership of a body entrusted with such power and authority.

Also this morning, the Assembly extended its deepest sympathy to the Government and the people of China on the tragic loss of life and extensive material damage caused by the disastrous earthquake in the province of Taiwan.

Statements were also made by the Presidents of Peru and Guatemala and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue its General Debate.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to continue its General Debate. It was expected to hear from Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru; William Clinton, President of the United States of America; Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe; and Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen, President of Guatemala. It was also expected to hear from Igor Ivanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; James Victor Gbeho, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana; and Tarja Kaarina Halonen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland (on behalf of the European Union).

Statements

ALBERTO FUJIMORI, President of Peru, said that in the midst of the twentieth century, the majority of the world had remained submerged in the social, cultural and technological conditions of the twentieth century, nineteenth century or even earlier times. The conversion of economies to adapt to globalization had social costs that might be assumed, provided that they ensured a future with development and well-being and not renewed frustration. The latter might occur if, instead of being strengthened, national economies were weakened by an economic aperture based on unequal or unjust terms of exchange. The undesired reaction could be to take up once more, economic proposals that had already been set aside.

As was the case with other countries, Peru bore a heavy legacy of injustice and backwardness, he said. However, it also had an extraordinary vocation towards the future that had made it possible for it to become an emerging economy within the last ten years. That vocation had allowed it to defeat the totalitarian project of the "shining path" and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). The latter group had seized the residence of the Japanese ambassador in 1996.

Both internal and external peace were essential for the coming of the new era, he continued. Ecuador and Peru had proposed to enter the twenty- first century without the undesirable baggage of the nineteenth century. The 1998 Peruvian-Ecuadorian Peace Agreement had opened up possibilities for Peruvian and Ecuadorian development, thanks to savings in resources that were once assigned to defence. It had reaffirmed that Latin America was a mature region, which rejected the idea of war.

Nevertheless, the tranquility within the region had been perturbed by the alliance of drug traffickers with terrorists, he said. Those criminal activities had achieved in some cases power that was vast enough to challenge governments, aside from disturbing the world economy, since illegal drug money

might have infiltrated productive, commercial and even political activities. Therefore, terrorism and drug trafficking represented a threat to modernity and good government. "Poverty, terrorism, drug traffic and racial discrimination are the major barriers that do not allow us to glimpse this new era that we propose to reach as civilized people".

The concepts of democracy and fairness should prevail, he said. It was important to promote democracy within countries, as well as between countries and peoples. Democracy did not only apply to the internal organization of States but to international relations that determined the destinies of the world. Human rights raised to their maximum power or expression were the rights of all people, and all people were entitled to the future.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, President of the United States, said that globalization was not inherently divisive. Open trade and new technology had been engines of progress, helping hundreds of millions of people to see their prospects rise by marketing the fruits of their labour and creativity abroad. With the right investments in education, developing countries should be able to keep their best talent at home, with access to global markets for goods, services and capital. "We must refuse to accept a future in which one part of humanity lives at the cutting edge of a new economy, while another lives at the edge of survival", he said. "We should start by remembering that open markets advance the very blessings and breakthroughs we want to spread".

The United States had striven to keep its markets open during the recent global financial crisis, he continued. It also wanted to launch a new global trade round when the World Trade Organization met in Seattle in the near future and was working to build a trading system that strengthened the well- being of workers and consumers, protected the environment and made competition a race to the top, not the bottom. That was why Members had come together at the International Labour Organization (ILO) to ban abusive child labour everywhere in the world. Humankind did not face a choice between trade and aid, but a challenge to make both work for people in need. Aid should focus on what works -- credit for poor people starting businesses, keeping girls in school, and meeting the needs of mothers and children. Development aid should be used for development, not to buy influence or finance donors' exports.

The group of seven industrialized nations (G-7) had adopted a plan to reduce by up to 70 per cent the outstanding debt of the world's poorest countries, he continued. It was also necessary to take action to halt global climate change. The most vulnerable members of the human family would be hurt first and most if rising temperatures devastated agriculture, accelerated the spread of disease and flooded island nations. No country could break the bonds of poverty if its people were disabled by disease and its government

overwhelmed by the needs of the ill. With United Nations leadership, the world had come close to eradicating polio, and he had asked the United States Congress for a major increase in funding to finish the job. Addressing the global AIDS epidemic, he said was seeking another $100 million for prevention, counselling and care in Africa. Today, he committed the United States to a concerted effort to accelerate the development and delivery of vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases that affected the developing world.

The second resolution that he hoped the international community would make was to strengthen its capacity to prevent, and if possible stop, outbreaks of mass killing and displacement. When faced with a deliberate, organized campaign to murder whole peoples or expel them from their land, the care of victims was important, but not enough. It was necessary to work to end the violence. Sometimes, collective military force was both appropriate and feasible. At other times, concerted economic and military pressure combined with diplomacy was a better answer, as it was in making possible the introduction of forces in East Timor. Of course, the way the international community responded would depend on the capacity of countries to act and on their perception of their national interests. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) acted in Kosovo to stop a campaign of ethnic cleansing in a place where there were important interests at stake and where there was also the ability to act collectively. The same consideration brought Nigerian troops and their partners to Sierra Leone and Australian and others to East Timor.

"What is the role of the United Nations", he asked. Even in Kosovo, NATO's actions followed a clear consensus, expressed in several Security Council resolutions, that atrocities committed by the Serb forces were unacceptable. "Had we chosen to do nothing in the face of this brutality, I do not believe we would have strengthened the United Nations. Instead we would have risked discrediting everything the United Nations stands for", he said. NATO's actions in Kosovo helped to vindicate the principles and purposes of the Organization's Charter, and to give the United Nations the opportunity it now had to play the central role in shaping the province's future.

The third resolution he proposed for the international community should be to protect children against the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the future. "We must reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and make fast progress on a treaty to ban production of fissile materials", he said. He once more called on the United States Congress to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Weapons of mass destruction must

be denied to those who might use them. However, despite all the obstacles President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had placed in the path of the international community, "we must continue to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people", he stressed. At the same time, Mr. Hussein could not be allowed to flout 40 successive Council resolutions and rebuild his arsenal. Just as important was keeping deadly weapons from terrorist groups. He said he had always supported his country meeting all of its financial obligations to the United Nations and he would continue to do so.

R.G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that the free and fair elections held in Nigeria had ushered in a democratic dispensation worthy of the attention of the United Nations. That transformation should inform the international community that Africa has said "no" to the institutionalization of the route map from the barracks to the state house, which the military had traversed with impunity. Further, he said, the return to peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia was ample testimony of Africa's renewed quest for democracy, peace and stability.

Aggression under whatever pretext should be condemned by the United Nations, the President said. He registered sincere gratitude to President Chiluba of Zambia and the South African Development Community, for intervening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and bringing the rebels on board the peace process there. He emphasized, however, that the success or failure of a continued peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be determined by the availability of both human and material resources. An inadequately funded peacekeeping operation would be a clear manifestation of Africa's increasing marginalization in the new world order, he said. He hoped that the United Nations would render the requisite support to sustain this achievement.

The United Nations, since its inception, has had on its agenda a concern for economic and social development and to that end, the soaring levels of unemployment, deteriorating standards of living, the abject poverty in most developing countries, especially in Africa, were causes for great concern, he said. Africa's fortune had continued to worsen despite the continent's best efforts. Slow growth, falling African export revenues, civil strife and continuing political turmoil were just some of Africa's nagging vulnerabilities that he felt should be addressed by the United Nations.

The President said that he would be remiss not to mention how inequitable it was that the membership of the Security Council should remain unreflective of vastly altered international circumstances. The need for reform of the Council was a prerequisite for the very existence of the Organization. The stark realities of the situation in the world must be

reflected not only in an increase of numbers, but must also take account of the democratic principle of equitable geographical representation and participation. It was grossly unjust that developing countries should remain totally unrepresented in the permanent membership of the body entrusted with such power and authority.

As we look to the new millennium, he said, let us aspire to have an international order that espouses the twin objectives of universal peace and security on the one hand, and improved quality of life for all Earth's inhabitants on the other. He said that the General Assembly should make a giant leap into the future not only in terms of making wise and bold decisions, but also of implementing them.

ALVARO ARZU IRIGOYEN, President of Guatemala, said that the most fundamental change that had come about since the signing of the peace agreement in December 1996 was the one that had occurred in the hearts and minds of Guatemalans. Of the changes that stood out the most were the way ex- guerrillas had become integrated into legality and the return of refugees. Following more than three decades of internal armed conflict that was characterized by extreme cruelty, everything had seemed to indicate that the integration of ex-guerrillas would be a complicated and perilous process.

Nevertheless, contrary to every expectation, from the time the cease- fire was concluded until the participation of the ex-guerrillas in the electoral process, the reintegration process had unfolded in an atmosphere, not only of security, but also of openness and tolerance on the part of all sectors of society, he continued. At the local level, both the refugees and the ex-guerrillas had returned to their towns. Today, in many towns development committees had been set up -- composed of returnees, ex- guerrillas, ex-members of the former civil patrols and ex-members of the armed forces, all working together -- to improve their communities and solve their problems.

Moreover, he said, at the level of public policy, peace had brought with it a volume of social investment of a quality hitherto unknown in the history of the country. The integration of the ex-guerrilla forces into society and social investment contained the fundamental elements on which a new Guatemala would be based. Inherent in the process by which that integration had taken place and the refugees had been repatriated were reconciliation, tolerance, respect for diversity and the solution to conflicts. Public investment was inspired by a social ethic and a concrete effort to improve access to opportunities for the sectors of the population that had received the least attention. Nevertheless, Guatemala's internal endeavours had taken place in a world

economic context that was unfavourable, he said. As was the case with almost all other Latin American countries, the Guatemalan economy was passing through a period of deceleration and financial contraction. Hand in hand with the consequences of global crises and persistent financial speculation, the prices of Guatemala's main export products had plummeted, together with a substantial increase in the price of its imports, such as petroleum. The negative impact of that situation had been particularly harmful to the strata of society least capable of coping.

One of the boldest and most challenging initiatives in multilateral cooperation was constituted by the efforts being directed by Central America to the economic and political integration of the region, he said. Like the other States that composed the Central American Integration System, Guatemala was convinced that that strategic association strengthened the region in its relations with a world that was increasingly competitive and reiterated its commitment to continue promoting actions to enhance the effectiveness of Central American integration.

Continuing, he said that the peace agreements were for Guatemala the strategic elements of a profound, global and all-embracing effort to change the country, he said. They represented the basic guidelines for the fundamental transformations necessary to build a different Guatemala, one that was profoundly democratic and committed to the integral and sustainable development of her people.

IGOR IVANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that the international community and the United Nations, should decisively clamp down on any manifestations of separatism and defend the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of national borders. Recently, separatism had been increasingly merging with the monster of terrorism. Even in the course of this session, measures could be undertaken to combat terrorism, including finalization of the draft convention on fighting acts of nuclear terrorism. Proposing to develop and adopt a declaration of principles of interaction between States in the fight against terrorism, Russia also supported the initiative of an anti-terrorist conference under the auspices of the United Nations, or a special session of the Assembly in 2000. The United Nations capabilities should be used more efficiently for fighting drug-related threats and organized crime.

The international community could take coercive measures, he continued, but only in accordance with the United Nations Charter and following a decision by the Security Council. Unlawful means could only undermine the rightful ends, and it was from that standpoint that his country assessed such doctrines as the concept of "humanitarian intervention". A very careful

approach should be taken to coercive measures, which should not be allowed to turn into a repressive mechanism to influence States and peoples regarded by some as not being to their liking. Russia had also come up with the initiative to consider at the Millennium Summit legal aspects of the use of force in international relations in the era of globalization and invited all countries to a wide and open dialogue on the issue.

Turning to the reform of the United Nations, he said that the Security Council should become more representative through the inclusion of new, influential members, including the developing countries. Preservation of the permanent Members' right of veto was indispensable for meaningful and efficient work of the Council. The issue of strengthening the authority of the United Nations after it had been painfully tested by the Balkan and Iraq crises, was at the forefront of the agenda of the current session of the Assembly. Efforts should continue to restore the role of the Security Council in world affairs.

On the issue of peacekeeping, he said that cooperation and division of labour between the United Nations and regional structures had become a priority. Such cooperation should strictly correspond to Chapter VIII of the Charter, while fully complying with the prerogatives of the Council. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could and should be the main United Nations peacemaking partner in Europe, and its peacemaking parameters were to be determined in the European Security Charter. While strengthening the legal and practical basis of peacemaking activities, special attention should be paid to the human rights dimension.

He said that Russia consistently advocated reduction of nuclear arsenals and strict compliance with the non-proliferation regime. It realized the importance of the early ratification of the START II Treaty and initiation of the START III negotiations, under which Russia would be prepared, on a reciprocal basis, to agree to further considerable reduction of strategic offensive armaments. Naturally, that process would only be feasible if the existing agreements in that field, and first of all the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), were strictly observed. The General Assembly should clearly support the preservation and observance of the ABM Treaty, which was a cornerstone of strategic stability.

JAMES VICTOR GBEHO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana, said reform of the Security Council must be guided by the principles of democracy, sovereign equality of States and equitable geographical representation. Africa's claim to at least two permanent seats should be adequately addressed. Only a periodic review of the Council's structure and functioning could ensure at all times that it avoided selectivity in dealing with issues of international

peace and security and sustainable development. The present unequal handling of the causes and management of conflicts was unacceptable since it indirectly allowed some conflicts to drag on.

Citing the need to speak out boldly against injustices on the international scene, he reiterated Ghana's concern over the continued non- compliance with key United Nations resolutions calling for an end to the commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. The economic blockade of more than three decades, as well as the United States' Helms-Burton and D'Amato legislation, were a breach of international law and a violation of the United Nations Charter. Ghana also reiterated the position of the Group of African States, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Council of the League of Arab States that the Security Council move beyond mere suspension to a complete lifting of sanctions against Libya since that country had fulfilled the requirements of the relevant resolutions.

He said that the material and human costs of Ghana's participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts all over the world had not been in vain since the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peace-building had been critical in assuring the global tranquility necessary for sustained development. It was time the international community did in Africa as much as it had done to guarantee peace in other areas, particularly the Balkans. In the past few months the kind of resources that the world had been willing and able to mobilize in the Balkans at short notice had been seen. In the absence of a similar response to the tragedies in Africa, African Member States felt discriminated against when the international community's response to conflicts on the continent continued to be muted or lukewarm.

The proliferation of small and light weapons was equally of concern since they were the tools of violence and conflict in Africa, he said. Ghana urged support for the implementation of the Moratorium on the Import, Export and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa which aimed at stemming the illicit trafficking of those weapons in the sub-region. Recognizing the related issue of the forced participation of children in armed conflicts, Ghana intended to host jointly with Canada a workshop aimed at building on the Mali Moratorium and establishing a framework for keeping children out of conflicts.

MS. TARJA HALONEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that although substantial progress had been made in human development, its speed and extent had been uneven. The United Nations had a primary role in the advancement of human development, she said, and implementation could only be successful through close cooperation between the United Nations, its Member States, its specialized agencies, international

financial institutions, regional organizations and civil society. Needed was an efficient and effective United Nations, with a stable, financial basis and full commitment from all its Member States.

Putting the globalization process and macro-economic policies in closer touch with the lives of ordinary people was one of the major challenges facing the world community on the threshold of the new millennium, she said. Since globalization of the world economy was unavoidable, the United Nations was uniquely positioned to provide intellectual leadership to ensure that the advantages of that process were equally shared by the world's population. Increasing interdependence must work for people, she said.

The nature of crises had also changed, she said. Most of today's conflicts took place within and not between states. "We face situations where there are serious democracy deficiencies and where human rights are violated, in particular the rights of minorities", she said. Although the international community had a long tradition of solving crises by peacekeeping operations, even the best laid plans for prevention could fail. Peacekeeping operations alone could no longer meet all the requirements without increased efforts of civilian crisis management. In most crises, societies and their structures are completely destroyed, she said. The European Union strongly emphasized civilian crisis management. Reconstruction of societies following conflict required civilian police and administrators from all fields of civil activity.

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For information media. Not an official record.