President of Romania,

in the General Debate of the 56th Session of the

    UN General Assembly

 (New York, November 10, 2001)
                                                                         Check against delivery!

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My most sincere congratulations go first to His Excellency Mr. Hang Seun Soo for his brilliant election as President of the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly. His outstanding personal qualities and the consistent valuable contributions of his country, the Republic of Korea, to UN activities are clear guarantees that the stewardship of the current session of the General Assembly, which started under dramatic and sorrowful circumstances, has been entrusted to a safe pair of hands.

I would also like to renew my heartfelt congratulations to our distinguished Secretary General for the well-deserved award of the Nobel Peace Prize and for his re-election to another term in office. Romania will continue to support his commendable endeavours towards reforming the Organization in a way that should enable it to cope effectively with the challenges, old and new, of our modern world.

Mr. President,
The horrific terrorist attack of September 11 was a rude awakening for all of us. It brought into focus both the abyssal evil we have to confront and the high value of human solidarity in the international response to it. It also shed new light on some problems that the international community has been facing for quite a while and accelerated certain processes, the far-reaching consequences of which are still not easy to predict.

There can be no ambiguity or half measures when it comes to condemning and effectively combating terrorism and militant, violent fanaticism of any kind. The tragedy that befell the United States and the UN host city affected all humankind and created a new resolve to bring to justice the perpetrators and those who support, abet or harbour them. We share the views of the President of the United States, Mr. George W Bush, that what is at stake is not just America’s freedom but this is the world’s fight, the civilization’s fight, the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

Romania joined from the very beginning the international democratic community in its ongoing campaign against evil-doers and their supporters, for a safer and freer world. The consensual view of the Romanian nation, across the political spectrum, was unequivocally expressed in the Parliament’s decision to make Romania’s air, maritime and land space available to the United States and NATO and to provide access to any other facilities that our partners may require. This is tangible proof of our commitment to act as a de facto member of the North Atlantic Alliance.

My country firmly supports the relevant Resolutions recently adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council, and we have already undertaken the necessary steps to ensure their full implementation in Romania.

Regional solidarity is also essential. At a very recent Conference on the Common Fight Against Terrorism, held in Warsaw, on November 6, the Heads of State of Central and Eastern Europe reflected upon their past common experiences and voiced their determination to stand firmly united in the fight against terror for as long as it takes.  It is also appropriate to highlight here the meaningful work done by the Bucharest-based SEECI (South Eastern European Cooperation Initiative) Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime, involving active inputs from 11 countries. The Center should build upon its current activities in order to enhance its contribution to the worldwide fight against terrorism by making good use of existing liaison systems, intelligence sharing and joint task forces.

Mr. President,
I fully agree with the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, when he recently said that we must not let the terrorist attacks “distract us from the rest of the work we have to do. In no way do these tragic events make the broader mission of the United Nations less relevant”. Indeed, the new focus on terrorism should not divert us from the core business of the World Organisation.

The agenda of this session is both comprehensive and substantial. We share the view that a large portion of our work should be devoted to seeking practical ways to implement the broad agreement reached at the Millennium Summit along the lines indicated in the Secretary General’s visionary ‘Road Map’ Report.

We support the Secretary General in his efforts to integrate human rights into the whole range of UN activities. We encourage closer co-operation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN agencies and mechanisms with the regional structures that have extensive expertise in this field, such as the OSCE, whose Chairmanship-in-Office is currently held by Romania.

In close connection with the need to address in a pro-active manner the current and future hotbeds of conflict and instability, we regard the enhancement of the UN peacekeeping capability as a top priority. Additional staff and structural changes may be required, in line with the recommendations of the Brahimi Report. Recent experience in the Balkans and elsewhere has taught us that proper policing can be at least as important as the use of military might in modern-day peacekeeping and peace-building operations. That is why Romania has decided, in addition to her previous commitments in the area, to contribute with a significant contingent of military policemen to the international presence in Kosovo to assist transition from conflict to stability.

The UN can become a focal point for constructive interaction with regional or sub-regional structures and specialised organisations of the civil society in dealing with concrete problems ranging from conflict prevention to peace-building and post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable development.

Mr. President,

Probably the greatest challenge to the international community is still how to reduce economic and social disparities and to achieve sustainable growth and poverty reduction within and between all countries through appropriate policies and well-focused institution building.

World's leaders have pledged to engage political determination, financial resources and innovative policies to reduce global poverty by half before 2015. This is most commendable, but it may prove to be more difficult to accomplish than originally envisaged.

The September 11 attacks have affected not only world security but also global economy, which was already showing signs of a slowdown in the preceding months. The consequences are likely to be far-reaching and much more dangerous than those of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. The volume of international trade that increased in 2000 by almost 13 percent may decline by as much as 3 percent in 2001. People in the developing countries in particular are going to be hurt, again.

The United Nations has an essential part to play in promoting further integration of the world economy according to the principles of sustainable development. But let us face the reality: we live in a world where the developmental gap between the center and the periphery, between the North and the South, between the rich and the poor is still big, and getting wider. The existing mechanisms for an orderly transfer of resources appear to have been sadly inadequate. It is to be expected that the recent shock and the renewed sense of global solidarity that it has triggered would prompt us into action to cope with the underlying causes of blind anger born out of misery and hopelessness. The war against terrorism can only be truly successful if it also becomes a war against poverty, illiteracy, disease and intolerance. I honestly trust that the collective wisdom and good will of responsible politicians everywhere should be able to produce new and effective international mechanisms meant to combine the vision of sustainable, environment-friendly development with good governance and generalised observance of basic human rights.

We see disturbing signs that the increasing polarisation in terms of wealth creation goes hand in hand with a deepening knowledge divide. The emerging ‘knowledge economy’ has hardly heeded the injunctions of globalisation. It still appears in the eyes of many as self-serving and parochial. We would hope to see a new pattern of open networking, which all the players will benefit from, and so will the system as the whole. Again, the existing institutions do not seem to be creative and flexible enough to cope with this challenge. The UN system may become the catalyst for concerted action in public-private partnerships to bring the ‘digital dividend’ into every community and every home.

The knowledge gap is compounded by the ubiquitous phenomenon of ‘brain drain’. The problem is almost as old as the United Nations. How to reverse that trend into ‘brain regain’ is another major challenge facing us all. To put it in simple terms, what we have here is a not-so-hidden steady flow of subsidies from the poorer nations to the richer ones. After all, most of the education budget comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket. Banish the thought of regarding the individual as the property of the all-powerful state! That notion is dead and gone. But it may make sense to start thinking of some sort of legally binding international instruments that would be built on a broader interpretation of the concept of intellectual property to ensure a fairer distribution of the benefits of knowledge. The European Union has recently regulated the transfer of players between soccer clubs. What about a contractual arrangement between Polytechnic University x Club and Microsoft Club? Some experimental domestic schemes have worked well. Why should we not think of international intellectual partnerships, mutually beneficial for the countries having advanced technologies and infrastructure and likewise for those generating human creative energies?

In the following months we shall be engaged in the final preparations for two important United Nations Conferences: “Financing for Development” and “World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg”, aptly described as ‘Rio+10’. Both events will presumably mark significant steps forward for the global community in reaching consensus on innovative approaches to the targets of development and the availability of resources to keep it going. Romania reaffirms its commitment to the concept of sustainable development and to the recommendations of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development. Earlier this year, we hosted in Bucharest a Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Danube-Carpathian Region and a Regional Conference for the Evaluation of the "Rio+10" Process in the Central and Eastern European countries as regional inputs in preparation for the Johannesburg Conference.

It is gratifying to see that UN has been an early prime mover in promoting the ‘Information Revolution’ as an important driving force of globalisation. We commend the recent initiative of the Secretary General to set up a UN ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) Task Force with a mandate to work out a global strategy to overcome the consequences of the ‘digital divide’. In view of its excellent potential in this field, Romania is prepared to become a regional node for the United Nations ICT initiatives.

Mr. President,

Romania supports the strengthening of the UN through comprehensive institutional reforms relying on the set of proposals now before us. As the Secretary General rightfully noted, the UN should turn from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention, aiming at the root causes of the prevailing negative phenomena. We look forward to an increasingly effective General Assembly regaining its central position in the UN family, as stated in the Millennium Declaration. More efforts are needed to carry out a profound reform of the Security Council in all its aspects. We favour greater policy coherence and better coordination among the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organisation, as well as other multilateral bodies. Greater opportunities should be given to the hands-on involvement of the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society in the accomplishment of the UN’s goals and programmes.

Mr. President,

Experience shows that enhanced regional co-operation can be both the engine and the result of globalization. In a regional format States can implement innovative strategies for better access to resources and markets. Regional organisations are posed to become a significant factor of the global community. Regional co-operation makes it possible to capitalize on the advantages of globalisation while reducing its risks.

My country’s aspiration for regional integration and active insertion in the process of globalisation explains its committed participation in various forms of regional cooperation. European integration now appears as one of the most complex and efficient responses to globalisation. For an economy in transition like Romania’s the accession to the EU is not just an ambitious political goal but a challenging conscious effort to achieve conformity with the standards of an open society, based on the essential values of democracy, entrepreneurship and the rule of law.

Mr. President,
A set of policies can only be successful if it constantly relies on the fundamental aspiration of ordinary people to peaceful and decent life.

The current unprecedented level and quality of knowledge enables us to find, I am confident, the requisite resources, in ourselves and in our society, for greater tolerance, mutual respect and constructive dialogue, as opposed to the primitive inclination to hatred and intolerance.

It is incumbent on the United Nations, the only international organisation of universal vocation, to identify within itself the resources for the resolution of problems of global concern. The United Nations should keep working tenaciously to renew its structures and operational performance as we advance into the New Millennium. Romania is willing and ready to add its contribution to that effort.