H.E. Mr. Fernando De La Rua



the 56th Session

of the United Nations General Assembly

10 November 2001 New York

(check against delivery)

Mr. President,

    First of all, please allow me to congratulate you, Minister Han Seung-soo, for your election as President of this General Assembly. We are especially pleased that the designation went to a personality with such a remarkable career, representative of the Republic of Korea, a country that maintains a friendly relationship and intense cooperation with Argentina. I also wish to acknowledge the excellent way in which the Foreign Minister of Finland, Mr. Harri Holkeri, presided the 55th session.

    I would also like to express our satisfaction on the reelection of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for a second term, which shows the unanimous acceptance by the international community of the way in which he decisively confronted the great challenges of peace, the rule of law, and development, at such a difficult stage of international life.

    The support given to him by the member States reflects the widespread opinion held on his efforts and the work of the Organization, ratified with the Nobel Peace prize, a distinction that honours those who work at the service of the United Nations and to its clear-sighted Secretary-General.

    This distinction also comes at a moment when the full relevance of the United Nations has become dramatically current, as a result of the criminal attacks against the United States of September 11th. I thus wish to renew our solidarity and commitment with its government and people; it was an attack against us all, against all humankind.

    Those events have shown that terrorism can hit any State and that no country can fight against it on its own. It is an international threat that must be confronted by the only existing institution with global reach, the United Nations, within the political and legal framework established by the Organization.

    Its role in the preservation of world peace has been always considered an essential element of international life. In the present circumstances, when terrorism has casted doubts about the validity of fundamental values established in the Charter of the United Nations, the importance of the Organization in heading these efforts is vital for all nations.

    One of the goals of the Millennium Declaration was the adoption of concerted measures against international terrorism and the need for all States to adhere as soon as possible to the relevant international conventions. The adoption of Security Council resolutions 1368 and 1373, as well as General Assembly resolution 56/1, shows that the United Nations have been up to the task, with the goal of using all means available to eradicate the threat to peace and security represented by terrorism.

Mr. President,

    Global counterterrorism action is an imperative for the international community, enshrined by the United Nations. Within the guidelines adopted by the Organization, all States, groups of States or regional organizations must contribute to this common fight.

    The Argentine Republic expresses its full commitment to the fight against terrorism. Our Nation suffered twice, in 1992 and 1994, attacks of this nature, and their remembrance allows us to understand the grief caused by the innocent victims.

    The resolutions recently adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly have been complemented by other instruments that reflect the increasing will of the majority of States to define, without exceptions, any terrorist act as criminal and unjustifiable, whatever the goal of the perpetrators. Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilian population, which in times of war are considered crimes by international law, can only be deemed extremely serious crimes in times of peace.

    The resolutions and conventions adopted until now have established a series of specific measures and rules to foster judicial and police cooperation, have criminalized many acts of terrorism and have enshrined the principle that all States must prosecute and punish the perpetrators. It is particularly important to note that in the latest conventions furthered by the United Nations it is categorically established that under no circumstances those crimes might be considered political crimes, so that there are no doubts about the obligation to investigate the facts and punish the offenders.

    Argentina is a party to the majority of the treaties already in effect and is progressing in the process of ratifying the remainder, among them, the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, 1997, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, 1999. We support the conventions currently under consideration, that should be finalized before the end of the year, i.e. the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism, and we hope that the negotiations on a convention of a general nature will be successfully concluded. The existence of political discrepancies or different interpretations related to other situations should not distract us from the urgent need to develop an instrument that takes into account all aspects of this phenomenon.

    At the hemispheric level, we have put into practice the regional system of self-defense and collective security established in the Inter-American Treaty of Regional Assistance. At the same time, we have fostered the full operation of the Inter-American Counterterrorism Committee and the drafting of an Inter-American Convention, which will supplement those at the universal level, as well as the convening of a special conference on hemispheric security.

    At the regional level, MERCOSUR countries are promoting measures aimed at enhancing technical and operational coordination, cooperation and assistance among the different agencies entrusted with the fight against terrorism on the field.

Mr. President,

    We must be aware that the approach to this problem will be incomplete if we do not recognize the existence of elements that nourish the subsistence of terrorism. In the framework of the increasing interdependence characteristic of this stage of the international economic life, benefits of development only touch a few States, and it becomes more evident the increasing marginalization of countries and societies who live in extreme poverty, and the tragedy of neglected or undernourished children, sickness and hunger. This uneven economic distribution, made tangible by modern communications, is a cause of frustration and even desperation in wide sectors of the dispossessed and creates the conditions for the outbreak of conflicts and confrontations, over which fundamentalist movements of different kinds are at work.

    We shall underscore here Paul VI´s fundamental statement: “developement is the name of peace”.

    Other elements, such as the fulfillment of international commitments related to assistance for development, and the creation of fairer conditions for international trade, are also essential for the economic take-off of developing nations and other vulnerable countries.

    This is a task for the international community as a whole, with a joint effort in a spirit of solidarity. It is wrong to minimize the importance of international cooperation and to leave on their own those who have problems to survive in the global economic competition.

    The launching of a new round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) could be an important signal to control the increasingly protectionist tendencies and might facilitate the world economic recovery in the short term and growth in the long term. This is a signal that will also bring additional confidence to the world financial markets. Through the launching of a new round in Qatar, the 142 member countries of the WTO could give momentum to a process that would set the foundations for a more equitable and peaceful world.

    In this context, the search for sustainable development through the opening of markets is crucial, and will lead to an increased world output that will benefit both developing and industrialized countries. This economic momentum will also have direct consequences on social aspects that should be kept in mind, such as the reduction of unemployment and, consequently, on the levels of poverty and marginality. The increase of exports could also contribute to the solvency of vulnerable economies, reducing their weakness against mobility of foreign financial capitals flows and enhancing their debt situation.

Mr. President,

    The persistence of conflicts --such as the one in the Middle East-- is an element of tension with a wide range of repercussions on that region, posing a legitimate concern for the international community. The Argentine Republic wishes to renew its support to a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on respect for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to an independent State, as well as the right of Israel to live within safe and internationally recognized borders. The use of violence and terrorism in all its forms is absolutely unacceptable and will only worsen the situation; the parties should urgently agree on a cease fire and begin negotiations on a final agreement, that until not long ago seemed unreachable.

Mr. President,

    The Secretary-General has proposed us a road map to put into practice the Millennium Declaration, which constitutes a responsible programme to confront the serious circumstances that we are going through.

    The main points proposed in that road map deserve our support, as a sound way to peace-building and strengthening our security: the rule of law to fight firmly against terrorism; conflict prevention and strengthening peace-keeping operations; reforming the sanctions regime in order to avoid affecting the civilian population; eradication of poverty and promotion of development; respect of fundamental human rights all over the world, respecting political and religious plurality; and strongly rejecting any attempt to associate certain religious creeds or nationalities with violence or terrorism.

    The United Nations have the capacity to lead these efforts, and the Argentine Republic compromises its active participation in the efforts to achieve those goals.

    We also share the importance given by the Secretary-General to putting an end to the culture of impunity, by prosecuting the perpetrators of extremely serious international crimes. In that sense, we underscore the historical importance of the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and we reaffirm our support to the measures aimed at promoting its prompt start and effective operation.

    The great majority of humankind wishes a future with peace and progress. The irrationality and violence of a minority can be isolated and defeated, on the basis of the cooperation among nations following these general principles, which we endorsed in the Millennium Declaration, and over which we propose today concrete measures. We trust that we will be up to that challenge.

Mr. President,

    I cannot conclude without recalling, as the General Assembly already knows, that the Argentine Republic maintains with the United Kingdom a dispute of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. The recovery of the full exercise of sovereignty over that part of our national territory, respecting the interests of their inhabitants and international law, is a concept enshrined in our Constitution. This issue is included in the agenda of this Organization, which through several resolutions has asked the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to find a just and definite solution to the sovereignty dispute, and in this way put and end to a colonial situation imposed by force on 1833.

    Today, following that request, Argentina ratifies once more its full disposition to resume bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom in order to solve the issue, as well as its support to the mission of good offices entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly in order to assist the parties in achieving that goal.

Thank you, Mr. President.