Statement by Dr. NÚstor Carlos Kirchner

President of the Argentine Republic

New York September 25th 2003

Mr. President:

I would first like to congratulate you on your appointment to preside over these sessions and, in doing so, I would also like to congratulate the outgoing president, Mr. Jan Kavan, on his work in conducting this Assembly.

On behalf of our government, I would also like to reiterate our recognition towards the action for peace and multilateralism carried out by the Secretary General, Mr. Annan, and to express our solidarity in the face of the criminal attack, which cost the lives of several members of this organization.

We have come from the South to attend this General Assembly, in the firm belief that revitalizing this global representation forum is essential in order for international law to become once again the rational instrument enabling us to resolve conflicts and face threats. Giving back to this Assembly the major political role it played in the early days of the United Nations Organization is key to strengthening the value of security for all citizens of the world.

It is a fact that multilateralism was the foundation on which this organization was created. But it is also an undeniable fact that the Cold War and bipolarity that became the hallmark of the world from Yalta to the fall of the Berlin Wall, undoubtedly conditioned the instruments and legislation that were adopted within its framework.

An objective look at the situation -beyond any individual assessment that may be made by the members of this organization- evidences technological, military and economic supremacy of one country over the rest, which is the hallmark of the world's current situation.

We therefore consider it necessary to reaffirm our deep support for the purposes and principles inspiring the United Nations, both in order to have an organization actively participating to further peace as well as to promote mankind's social and economic development.

However, reaffirming multilateralism cannot be limited to a mere exercise in rhetoric, but requires a twofold strategy: on the one hand, intellectual openness, in order to understand the full extent of the new scenario, which is an objective one. On the other hand, a rethinking of instruments and rules making it possible to deal with this new reality using the same approach taken during bipolarity in order to prevent the world from going up in flames.

Multilateralism and security are inseparable elements, but they are not the only ones in this new equation.

The world is going through times of change, against the backdrop of globalization, which creates unprecedented opportunities as well as risks.

The greatest risk is the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Central and peripheral countries are not mere nuances in an intellectual exercise, nor are they a matter of ideology. Quite on the contrary, they reflect a grim reality in terms of unprecedented poverty and social exclusion. Our priority must be to ensure that globalization works for all and not for just a few.

This is because taking steps to improve the development of peripheral countries must no longer be only a matter of social sensibility for central countries, but also because it is a matter that has an impact on their own situation and on their own security.

Hunger, illiteracy, exclusion and ignorance are some of the basic ingredients that breed conditions for the proliferation of international terrorism or for the development of dramatic mass processes of true national migration, which have a resulting cultural, social and economic impact and, as an inevitable consequence, the impairment of the value of security for central countries.

Economic integration and political multilateralism hold the key to a future in which the world is a safer place. We need to build global institutions and effective partnerships, within the framework of fair and open trade, in addition to bolstering support for the development of those most relegated.

Encouraging collective progress and security in an intelligent way requires an understanding of the fact that the value of security is not only a military concept but one which stems from a preexisting political, economic, social and cultural scenario. Those are the central tasks for the main players on the international agenda.

In this framework, the relations of countries such as ours, and others, with the rest of the world are marked by a crushing, gigantic debt owed to both multilateral financial institutions as well as private creditors.

As a country, we recognize our responsibility for having adopted the policies of others, which led us to such heavy indebtedness. But we also urge the international financial institutions, which, in dictating such policies, contributed to, encouraged and favoured the growth of debt, to accept their own share of responsibility. It is almost a truism to point out that when a debt grows to such an extent, it is not only the debtor that is responsible, but also the creditor.

It is therefore necessary to acknowledge an actual, verifiable and, to a certain extent, common sense fact: the terrible difficulties involved in paying such a debt. Without concrete international assistance aimed at enabling indebted countries to rebuild their economic solvency and, consequently, their payment capacity, and without measures to promote their growth and sustainable development by taking concrete steps to promote their market access and the growth of their exports, debt repayment becomes an impossible dream.

Developing exports which add value to the natural resources that most indebted countries have can lay the foundations for the first steps towards sustainable development, without which creditors will have to face their losses without any other realistic options. No one is known to have succeeded in getting their money back from the dead.

In furtherance of this objective, i.e. of making a country viable in order for it to be able to pay its debts, it would be of great help to intensify multilateral negotiations for elimination of tariff and nontariff barriers hindering access of our exports to the markets of developed countries, which have larger purchasing capacity.

The fact is that in international trade in food products, for example, which is Argentina's main export item, export and production subsidies continue, as well as tariff quotas, unjustified phytosanitary measures and tariff ladders, which distort the terms of exchange for primary products and seriously hamper market access for products with higher added value.

The failure of the WTO negotiations at Cancun should serve as a reminder to us in this regard, and should be remedied by achieving the sort of link we are highlighting as desirable between new business opportunities in international trade, growth of indebted countries and their debt repayment capacity. It is a paradox, and almost ridiculous, that we should be expected to pay our debt while at the same time we are prevented from trading and selling our products.

On the other hand, although it is true that the objectives of multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund include "shortening the duration and lessening the degree of imbalance in the balance of payments of member countries", as well as to "instill confidence in them through resources in order to create the opportunity for correction without the need to resort to measures that are detrimental to national or international prosperity", it is also necessary to redesign institutions such as the IMF.

Redesigning multilateral lending agencies should include changing their paradigms, so that the success or failure of economic policies is measured in terms of success or failure in the fight for growth, equitable distribution, the fight against poverty and in ensuring adequate employment levels.

This new millennium should put an end to adjustment models in which the prosperity of some is based on the poverty of others. The dawn of the 21st century should signal the end of an age and the beginning of a new cooperation between creditors and debtors.

In a nutshell, it is essential to note the close connection between security, multilateralism and economics.

The defense of human rights is a central element of Argentina's new agenda and we therefore insist on permanently supporting the strengthening of the international system for protection of human rights and the trial and sentencing of violators, all of this based on the view that respect for persons and their dignity arises out of principles preceding the development of positive law and whose origins can be traced back to the beginning of human history.

Respecting diversity and plurality and relentlessly fighting against impunity are principles that have been unwaveringly pursued in our country ever since the tragedy of recent decades.

We strongly advocate a peaceful settlement of international disputes, particularly in a matter as dear to our feelings and interests as our sovereignty dispute with regard to the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime space.

The United Nations has recognized that this is a colonial situation maintained by the United Kingdom and that it must be settled through bilateral negotiations between the Argentine Republic and the UK.

We value the role of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonialization and express our full willingness to negotiate in order to conclusively settle this long-standing dispute, a permanent objective for Argentina. We urge the United Kingdom to agree to resume bilateral negotiations to resolve this major issue.

As long as we are talking about the southern reaches, we undertake to protect the interests of the international community in Antarctica, ensuring that the activities carried out there are consistent with the Antarctic Treaty and with the Madrid Protocol on environmental conservation.

We shall take steps at the relevant fora to enable the installation of the authorities and the operation of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat at its designated seat, the City of Buenos Aires.

We express our support and wish for stable and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the inalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people to an independent and viable State, while at the same time recognizing the right of Israel to live at peace with its neighbors, within safe and internationally recognized borders.

We have mentioned progress and collective security as the global challenges of our time. We have highlighted the very close link there is today between economic problems and security. We firmly condemn all terrorist actions.

And we know what we are talking about. In 1992 and 1994 we suffered firsthand our own Twin Towers. The attacks against the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community centre AMIA took the lives of over one hundred of our compatriots. We can bear witness to the need to fight effectively against the new threats posed by international terrorism.

The vulnerability of all countries in the international community to this scourge can only be reduced through intelligent concerted and multilateral action sustained over time. The fight against terrorism requires a new rationality. We face an enemy whose logic is to trigger reactions in symmetry with its actions. The worse the better is the scenario it longs for, and that logic partly accounts for the growing, almost cinematographic, spectacularity of its operations. Legitimacy in the response and the support of international public opinion are two basic assumptions to deal with these new forms of violence.

This view places the problem of terrorism in a dimension exceeding a unilateral view or military solution. On the contrary, merely responding through the use of force, however impressive such force may be or appear to be, often ends up with the perpetrators being presented as victims. This means closing in a perfect circle the sort of perverse mindset to which we have referred.

As can be seen, in view of the complexity of the situation, it is no longer useful to take shelter in old alignments, anachronistic ways of thinking or dated structures. The new challenges call for different and creative solutions, in order not to be left behind by the changes in the world, in the technological, economic, social and, undoubtedly, in the cultural field.

Let us rise to the challenge of "thinking new" for a new world. Combining different ideas and creating practical means for them to be put to the service of the peoples we represent is our duty.