24 November 1999


24 November 1999

Press Release



Ancient Greek Tradition of ‘Ekecheiria’ is Invoked Again; Text On Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic also Adopted

The General Assembly this afternoon urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the Olympic games to be held in Sydney, Australia, next year. The Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text recalling its resolution of October 1993 in which it revived the ancient Greek tradition of "ekecheiria" or "Olympic Truce", calling for all hostilities to cease during the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world in the cause of peace.

Today’s resolution, introduced by Australia this morning, also urged Member States to take the initiative to abide by the Olympic Truce individually and collectively, and to pursue, in conformity with the Charter, the peaceful settlement of all international conflicts through diplomatic solutions.

States were also called upon to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to use the Olympic Truce as an instrument to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in conflict areas, beyond the period of the Olympic Games. The games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney from 15 September to 10 October 2000 were said to have a vision which, “at the dawn of the new millennium is to be highly harmonious, athlete-oriented and environmentally committed”.

In other action this afternoon, by a recorded vote of 97 in favour, to none against with 1 abstention (United States), the Assembly adopted a text, introduced and orally amended by Argentina, on the zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic. (For details of the vote see Annex.)

The text called for the full implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and urged all parties in that country to engage in a process of political dialogue and negotiations without delay. The Assembly viewed with concern the humanitarian effect on the civilian population of the situation in Angola, and urged the Government of that country, Member States and humanitarian organizations to continue providing and increase humanitarian assistance to the country.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9669 63rd Meeting (PM) 24 November 1999

Also by the text, States were called upon to cooperate in the promotion of the objectives established in the declaration of the zone and to refrain from any action that might create or aggravate situations of tension and potential conflict in the region. They were called on to continue their efforts towards the achievement of appropriate regulation of maritime transport of radioactive and toxic wastes, while taking into account the interests of coastal States, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The President of the Assembly, Theo Ben Gurirab (Namibia) announced future plans for the session. He said the agenda item, “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity” would be up taken on Tuesday, 7 December in the morning. Reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) would be taken up on Thursday, 9 December in the afternoon. "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization" would be taken up on that day in the morning (instead of 6 December as originally scheduled).

Statements were made this afternoon by the representatives of Cyprus, Croatia, United States, Argentina, Russian Federation, Jamaica, Monaco, Togo, Nigeria, Brazil, Angola and Benin.

The Assembly will meet again on Monday, 29 November, at 10 a.m. to consider the promotion and consolidation of new democracies.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to continue its consideration on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal, and to begin consideration on the zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic.

(For background of the reports and draft resolutions before the Assembly, see Press Release GA/9668 issued today.)


SOTOS ZACHEOS (Cyprus) said the Olympic Truce was an expression of the yearning of mankind for peace, understanding, reconciliation and for the noble notion of distinction based on honest competition. In the search for excellence, every athlete was equal. Discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race and religion, politics or sex or otherwise was incompatible with the Olympic spirit. It was important to strengthen adherence to the Olympic ethic, especially the need to conduct the games in a fair way. In that context, the efforts against the use of prohibited anabolic steroids on other drugs were to be commended.

He said the latest manifestation of his country's determination to become a bridge of peace in its region of the eastern Mediterranean was the proposal by the President of Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides, for the demilitarization of the country. He renewed the appeal for acceptance of that proposal, so that his country would be able to participate in the next Olympics as a reunited and peaceful State. The decision to hold the 2004 Olympics in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic movement, was an appeal to make the twenty-first century a period of serious efforts for peace, social progress and prosperity. He hoped human rights and respect for international law would be the norm in the new millennium.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said his country, a relatively new State, had a particular affinity for the values of the Olympic ideal. While a war of aggression was being waged against it, and after it had only received international recognition some months prior, Croatia participated with distinction at the Barcelona Olympic Games. The symbolism of joining the family of nations by becoming a member of the United Nations, and participating soon after in the Olympics, was of special significance to his country in those trying times. Both were wonderful and moving events in its history.

He said while the Olympic Movement was dominated by the sportsmanship, solidarity and the promotion of mutual understanding, it could also make a very concrete contribution to a better and more peaceful world. To that end, the practical cooperation between the United Nations and the Olympic Committee in the health, environmental, humanitarian and cultural fields, represented the beginnings of mutually fruitful initiatives. Sport could serve diplomacy. "The coming together of athletes from all over the world helps us to see that we are not dissimilar as human beings", he said. "Although we come from different cultural or religious traditions, we all have similar hopes and strivings".

HUGH DUGAN (United States) said today's text made Assembly history. It was the most co-sponsored text, with 180 Member States. The resolution enabled the Assembly to underscore the fact that good sportsmanship promoted a worldwide culture of peace, tolerance and understanding. "We as Member States set a powerful example to the youth of the world in swearing the Olympic truce today", he said. Education through sport was only half of the Olympic philosophy; it also needed education through culture. That combination of sport and culture was what established the ideals of peace in men, women and youth. Throughout the United States, sport and education went hand-in-hand. The recently established International Olympic Forum for Development, in which his country participated, was unifying different organizations towards a shared goal -- making physical education and sport a reality for all.

He said today's solemn appeal for peace under the Olympic Truce was a solemn moment and essentially a humanitarian action. He asked the Assembly to take note of the Olympic Movement's many humanitarian activities to promote quality of life and well-being for those living in the most disadvantaged parts of the world. The Movement, through its International Cooperation Department, had taken several initiatives in organizing activities to overcome idleness and boredom, to teach fair play, tolerance and understanding, and to build friendships. All of those initiatives had been done in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others. That cooperation, encouraged by Assembly resolutions since 1994, was a story that was not often told, but one that was at the core of building a better and peaceful world through sport.

FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said the long list of co-sponsors for the draft resolution highlighted how the international community viewed the Olympic ideal. His country supported the United Nations appeal that all countries involved in conflict should suspend hostilities for the duration of the Olympic Games in Australia next year. They should also strive to settle their disputes peacefully.

Argentina, he continued, endorsed the belief that the Olympic ideal should be used to promote a spirit of tolerance, solidarity and dignity for the whole of the human race. Those ideals reached out into the daily lives of ordinary people and did not discriminate. All athletes were on the same level and the reward for dedication was success on the field and greater glory for their country.

He said that sport was not just for the rich, but also for the poor, and a tool that nations could use to lay aside their differences. It could help in the fight against drug trafficking, by having athletes speak out against drugs. It could also be used to combat hunger, poverty and unemployment, as well as human rights violations. He also drew attention to the integrative function of sports in United Nations peacekeeping, where combatants are brought back into society through sports. He concluded by wishing Australia success in hosting the Olympic Games in Sydney.

ALEXANDRE V. ZMEEVSKI (Russian Federation) said that to be able to compete in fairness on the playing field, the Olympic ideal for harmonization and peace must be realized and the Olympic flame must illuminate the way forward for mankind to accomplish that aim in the next millennium. In June this year, President Yeltsin had made a proposal for promoting global peace and culture. He noted that what was profoundly symbolic was that the Olympics were being held in 2000, the year that heralded the dawn of a new millennium.

Russia had always been a champion of the Olympic ideal, he continued. In 1980, his country had hosted the Games and in July 1998 it had been host, under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, of the first-ever youth games. The success of those games proved that the idea was worth scrutiny and developing, making it possible that the youth Olympics become a major international event.

He stated that in September 2000, during the Millennium Assembly in New York, the Olympic torch would be lit in Sydney. Both events would be committed to tackling the goal of implementing international peace.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the Olympic ideal mirrored the fundamental objectives of the United Nations, in seeking peace and understanding among nations and peoples, and the presence of the flag of the United Nations at all Olympic events was a testament to the shared vision of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic games remained a shining symbol of man’s continuing quest to test the limits of human endeavour. Moreover, they embraced the valuable tenets of fair play, the importance of teamwork, of diligence, commitment and hard work. Moreover, the spirit of the Olympic ideal was intended to promote friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between nations and the peoples of the world.

She said Jamaica was regarded as a foremost sporting nation in a number of disciplines which had helped to create a visibility, admiration and respect, which was disproportionate to the country's demographic and economic size. Even without financial resources, proper equipment and formal training, many young Jamaicans had risen to become world-class athletes. All of them had recognized the value of sports to their stability and to the stability of their communities and of the world.

She said her Government had taken decisive steps to recognize the link between sports and cultural activities and the growth and development of young people. In that regard, sports could act as a vehicle to economic development as well as a distraction for unemployed youth. The construction of sport facilities had therefore been a major focus of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) which, launched in 1996, supported community-based projects.

JACQUES L. BOISSSON (Monaco) said his country had a genuine commitment to sport. Despite its small size, Monaco had a large number of sports organizations and was headquarters for many different international associations. Monaco was also outspoken against all forms of negation of the Olympic spirit.

To ensure maximum participation by young people, the Government had introduced physical education programmes for children from the age of 5. His country also sought to promote mass sports for youth in about 70 different disciplines by providing first-class facilities. In addition, particularly gifted youth received financial aid to help them attain their goals.

He expressed support for the Truce and appeals made on belligerence to the Olympics and the Winter Games. In February 1998, at Nagano, the Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly had made a solemn appeal for a truce –- a hold to conflict -– by repeatedly stressing the tangible value of that initiative. He pointed out that at the Atlanta Games, athletes had rallied around the appeal against poverty. Other missions to which the IOC was committed included ethnic understanding, and an initiative launched in the Balkans to aid refugees in Kosovo.

Action on Drafts

The Assembly adopted the draft resolution on building a peaceful and better world through sports and the Olympic ideal (document A/54/L.26) without a vote.

The Assembly then turned to the draft resolution on Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic (document A/54/L.35.)

Introducing the draft, FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said that since its inception 14 years ago, the Zone of peace and cooperation in the South Atlantic had been a forum for discussion and for building closer cooperation between the African and South American coastal states. In terms of its success, the Zone had managed to achieve its goals and allowed countries with very different cultures to come together to work towards common interests.

In terms of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and trafficking in arms, Argentina and the rest of the member States of the Zone were convinced that it was important to establish and maintain peace in the area with the least diversion possible into arms. The African and South American countries had also launched a valuable initiative with its goals of resolving disputes peacefully.

With respect to human rights, he was satisfied with the progress toward sound governance and transparency in the region. Peace and development were interdependent and inseparable.

He reaffirmed his country’s willingness to cooperate to attain the goals set by the Zone and added that in terms of humanitarian assistance the “Blue Helmet Initiative” had assisted in Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Angola. He called on other Member States to take account of the noble goals of the Zone and to give the draft resolution their support, by adopting it by consensus.

He concluded by making an oral amendment to paragraph 10 of the draft resolution for the paragraph to read as follows: “Also welcomes the signing of the peace agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front in Lomé on 7 July 1999 and calls upon the respective parties to implement the agreement fully. Commends in this regard the President of Togo and the Economic Community of West Africa States, together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone, and all those involved in facilitating the negotiations in Lomé on their contribution to this achievement. Further welcomes the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 1270 (1999) of 22 October 1999 on the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone”.

SIMBAWA AWESSO (Togo) said specific action by the United Nations relevant to the goals of the Zone was eloquent proof that, after 14 years the Zone offered support to the Organization in its tenacious efforts to build a world of peace. The Zone had also extended its scope to cover such issues as the environment, marine biology resources and others, including disarmament, protection of the marine environment and the resources it contained. Those should be priorities of Member States. He noted that the issue of nuclear disarmament was already covered by instruments allowing for the realization of that objective.

There was no need for the destabilizing effect of the illegal trade in small arms, he said. Environmental protection was of prime importance and the lack of technology and capacity for monitoring made it difficult to detect the dumping of radioactive material into the sea, or cases of illegal fishing activity.

G.B. PREWARE (Nigeria) said Member States of the Zone sought a South Atlantic free of nuclear weapons, and the Treaties of Pelindaba and Tlatelolco represented a significant move towards that end. Along with the Treaties of Rarontoga, of Bangkok and of the Antarctic, they had turned half of the globe into a nuclear- weapon-free zone. He was also pleased with the progress in the zone in fostering regional peace and cooperation through enhanced understanding, and political and socio-economic contacts. He noted progress during the past year toward the resolution of some conflict situations, that posed a threat to peace and security. He cited progress towards the restoration of peace and democracy in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau.

He expressed concern at increased drug trafficking and moneylaundering in the Zone, noting that Nigeria had been a victim of those illegal activities, which penetrated and corrupted governments and financial institutions. It was determined to rid itself of the scourge, and would continue to support international efforts to do so. The implementation of its National Drug Control Master Plan formulated with assistance from the United Nations Drug Control Programme was already yielding very positive results that were evident as a growing number of drug traffickers now avoided Nigerian ports.

He said Member States of the Zone were also conscious of the dangers posed by the proliferation of small arms, and Nigeria was taking practical steps in the fight against it, including bilateral agreements with contiguous states to check the illicit trade, introducing licensing measures and maintaining a register of manufacturers to include locally produced arms.

LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic was a valuable mechanism which provided the 24 countries from the two shores of the South Atlantic, with an important framework for concerted efforts in the pursuit of the common goals of peace, and development. Moreover, it had a significant impact on the promotion of the objectives of the United Nations.

He said the potential of the Zone could be promptly put to use towards denuclearization of the region, protection of the marine environment and cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. The creation of new mechanisms for protection of the marine environment would greatly contribute to preventing accidents and to promoting the exchange of information and cooperation. On drug trafficking, he said, the coordination of efforts within the Zone could be decisive.

In order to fully achieve its goals, the concept of the Zone needed the continuing support from the United Nations system, including the United Nations Development Programme and international financial institutions. The Fifth Ministerial Meeting of Zone countries, held in Buenos Aires in October 1998, had again renewed the commitment of Member States to the objectives of the Zone. The final declaration and plan of action then adopted had set out various modalities of cooperation for the common purpose of ensuring peace, security and development.

JOSEFA COELHO DA CRUZ (Angola) said that because some members of the zone of peace and cooperation had to devote their energy almost entirely to settling internal conflicts and achieving national reconciliation, a number of decisions were not fully implemented. This was particularly the case with the fight against the traffic in small arms and light weapons, combating drug trafficking, protection of the marine environment and illegal fishing activities.

In Angola, five years had passed since the Lusaka Protocol was signed between the Government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). However, the main tasks needed to achieve a lasting peace had not yet been achieved. He cited the disarming of UNITA and the restoration of the State authority in illegally occupied areas. She said the intransigence of the rebels, under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi, to fully honour obligations, and their preference to take power by force, had plunged the country into a new cycle of violence. Because of the great number of refugees and internally displaced people in the country, the Government was engaged in a national programme of humanitarian assistance and it appealed to the international community to continue to provide and increase assistance to the most needy, so as to promote their resettlement and reintegration into the productive and development processes.

She said the Zone of Peace for the South Atlantic stood out as the only regional forum for dialogue and closeness between the African and Latin American countries. The protection of the marine environment and the preservation of the South Atlantic's living resources, along with anti-narcotic trafficking efforts, were areas of cooperation for countries of the Zone. However, given the lack of adequate resources to fully implement endeavours, her delegation strongly appealed to the United Nations system to give the appropriate assistance to Member States.

SAMUEL AMEHOU (Benin) said his country welcomed the establishment of the Zone, which was a valuable mechanism which provided its 24 member States with an important framework to pursue their goals of peace, and economic and social development. He congratulated Argentina on having hosted the Fifth Ministerial meeting which had adopted an action plan which remained an important document for those States.

He said the Zone must be spared an arms race and kept free of nuclear weapons. He welcomed the two treaties which were instrumental in the denuclearization of the region. He appealed to all member States of the Zone to support the peace initiatives in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea Bissau, and to work towards bringing peace back to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

He noted his country’s commitment to host the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of Zone members and hoped it would enjoy the support and experience of other Member States that have already done hosted past meetings.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on Zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic (document A/54/L.35), as orally amended, by a recorded vote of 97 in favour, to none against with 1 abstention (United States). (For details of voting, see Annex.)

Ms. STEELE (United States) said her country abstained as it had done in the past because recognition of international zones should be created by multilateral forums and not through United Nations resolutions.



Vote on Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic

The draft resolution of Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic (document A/54/L.35) -- as orally amended -- was adopted be a recorded vote of 97 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia,Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala,Haiti, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait,Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia,Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands,.Mew Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines,Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Yemen.

Against: None.

Abstain: United States.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Comoros, Congo, Croatia, Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, FederatedStates of Micronesia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya,Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein,Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia,Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Panama, Papua NewGuinea, Peru, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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For information media. Not an official record.