H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa,
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Kingdom of Bahrain

to the
Fifty-Eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York
Friday 26 September 2003

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Mr. Chairman,

I have the pleasure to extend my congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of your election as Chairman of the Fifty Eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and to express my confidence in your abilities to ensure a productive and successful Session, as a representative of your friendly country of St. Lucia.

It is my pleasure also to express appreciation of the efforts of H.E. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, in presiding over the Fifty Seventh Session, and of the continuing efforts of H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary¬General of the Organisation, in reaffirming the United Nations' role in regional and international issues to fulfil the aspirations of the international community, and in particular its principal responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the world.

Mr. Chairman,

The United Nations is today nearing the end of the sixth decade since its establishment after World War II, as part of a world order accepted by all humanity to avoid the catastrophic consequences of war. Today, the world is witnessing unprecedented threats, conflicts and crises, and facing challenges that threaten the noble aims and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, a body to which the people of the world look to avoid the perils of war, to free themselves from fear and violence, and to seek justice, prosperity and peace.

Since its inception, the United Nations has carried out the responsibilities in its Charter in a range of fields relevant both to the daily lives of people, and to the international community. These have included peace-keeping operations, development programmes, conferences on the environment, promoting and expanding the role of women, protecting human rights, resettlement of refugees, combating disease, addressing national disasters, spreading a culture of peace, and reaffirming international legality and the rule of law. However, these concrete achievements in the lives of peoples and states will count for nothing in the face of regional conflicts, civil war and ethnic strife in many parts of the world.

Many resolutions important to the maintenance of peace and stability continue not to be enforced, and therefore do not address the will of the international community. All of us, leaders, peoples and governments, therefore- have moral responsibilities to reactivate and implement these UN resolutions, and we must revisit the reasons why they have not been put into effect, objectively assess why this has taken place, and study the successes and failures of the international organisation in this regard.

In order to overcome these shortcomings in the current world order, we have to summon the political will, and gather the efforts of the states and peoples which have embodied this Organisation since its inception, to narrow the gaps between hopes and realities, and to correct the misalignment between facts and ambitions, resolutions and implementation.

Mr. Chairman,

The Kingdom of Bahrain, under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, has reaffirmed its strong belief in upholding the principles and goals of the United Nations Charter, and its confidence in the ability of the UN to fulfil its historic legal responsibilities to build and maintain peace, and to strengthen its foundations.

Bahrain's leading role, both regionally and internationally, in comprehensive human development, both economic and political, has consistently been supported by United Nations facts, figures and reports over the years, the latest of which, the UNDP HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT, issued on 8 July 2003, proved this fact.

At the political level, Bahrain has moved quickly forward to entrench constitutional democracy and the rule of law, following the overwhelming popular approval of the National Action Charter, by the promulgation of its Constitution of February 2002, and the establishment of the two chambers of the National Assembly in October of the same year. At the level of civil society and human rights, and to enhance the pace of development, Bahrain has taken significant steps in enhancing constitutional guarantees of civil and political freedoms through the Royal Decree establishing the Constitutional Court in 2002, and the Workers' Trade Union law of the same year.

Reaffirming their role in society, women in Bahrain are entitled both to vote and stand as candidates in elections, and hold important positions in both public and private sectors, in addition to women's participation in the broad social activities in the Supreme Council for Women, as part of a coordinated and comprehensive system of development efforts, including mother and childcare, and achieving equality between men and women in a society which believes in the unity of the family, values equality between the genders, and respect the rights of the family.

Mr. Chairman,

The Kingdom of Bahrain, a regional centre for trade with well¬established social and economic foundations based on a historic tradition of openness, is today a hub for trade in goods and capital in a legislative and social environment in which both Bahrainis and non-Bahrainis alike enjoy the stability required for investment and the movement of capital. These laws make the country an attractive location for investors in the Gulf, and for regional projects, and Bahrain is a fine example of successful economic liberalisation.

Mr. Chairman,

Achieving this economic unity and regional cooperation between the Gulf and Middle East regions and other major trading blocs depends upon the strong foundation of a political and strategic environment conducive to achieving peace and cooperation.

In this context, achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East can only be brought about through a recognition of the inherent legal rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of their independent state, a return of sovereignty over territory occupied since 1967, and control over their economic resources, in accordance with international- legality resolutions, and the principles and aims of the initiatives for Middle East peace, and on the basis of agreements between the two sides, which must be fully respected and implemented.

The Road Map, which has gained consensus among the international community, supports to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State living in peace and security side¬by-side with Israel, as envisaged by US President George W. Bush in his peace initiative of June 2002, as reaffirmed by the international quartet of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation, and as agreed upon by the Palestinian Authority. This provides a unique, historic opportunity to achieve a balanced settlement that will restore the legitimate rights of the peoples, and achieve a delicate balance between the obligations of the parties and their rights to security and peace.

Mr. Chairman,

The recent Israeli decision in principle to remove Chairman Yasser Arafat, the elected Palestinian President, and its threats to eliminate him, is a very dangerous matter and contrary to the principles of democracy and to the rules of international law. This has been reaffirmed by the United Nations' Assembly's adoption of resolution 10/12 in its tenth Extraordinary Session held on 19 September 2003.

Bahrain, which expresses its concern at this dangerous decision, calls upon the Quartet and the international community to pressure Israel so as to prevent its implementation, which has repercussions that might reduce the current peace opportunities.

Peace in the Middle East must be comprehensive, requiring full implementation of the resolutions of international legality, and in particular Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 338 of 1973, calling for withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories including the Golan Heights, and resolution 425 regarding Lebanese territories remaining under occupation. The Middle East today faces great challenges as well as unique opportunities that will determine the future of the region for generations to come.

Such peace is a single and indivisible unit, and this applies both to the Middle East and to the Gulf region. It is a fundamental desire of Bahrain and the Arab world for steps to be taken by the international community, the United Nations, and influential parties, in particular the United States, to normalise political, economic and civil life in Iraq, so that the country can regain its Arab, regional and international role.

In order for Iraqis to be able to decide their fate within a constitutional framework providing for the rule of law and guaranteeing political freedom, peace and security for all Iraq's citizens and ethnic groups, a vital legal requirement, Iraqis themselves must be allowed to rebuild economic, political and social foundations within an Iraqi national government.

Bahrain believes that the formation of a new national government in Iraq is an important step towards the brotherly Iraqi people taking over their own affairs for a better life and an increased regional and international role.

With regard to the Islands of the Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa, belonging to the brotherly United Arab Emirates, we hope that the current important and constructive dialogue between United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Iran will lead to a peaceful settlement to this issue, and contribute to peace and security in the Gulf region.

Mr. Chairman,

The international commitment to fighting terrorism, political violence and extremism has become both an international and a domestic responsibility especially, since , the events of September 2001, which caused a lot of innocent casualties.

Combating terrorism has become an international obligation in accordance with the United Nations' commitment to respecting human rights, foremost of which are the rights to life and security.

Accordingly, Bahrain has backed all international and regional efforts to combat this dangerous scourge, which threatens us all and whose effects can be felt around the world. Most recently, we have witnessed the attack on the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad, in which Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and a number of other innocent people lost their lives while serving the causes of international legality and humanity.

In this regard, Bahrain condemns the vicious orchestrated campaign waged against a sister state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by some western media agencies. We would like here to commend Saudi Arabia for its tangible and important contribution to the global campaign against terrorism to which it was exposed and suffered consequently. Bahrain fully supports and endorses all the measures taken by Saudi Arabia in its endeavor to eliminate terrorism and consolidate regional security and stability.

Mr. Chairman,

The ongoing efforts of the international community and the United Nations to eliminate nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as set out in the various conventions and international instruments designed to secure these goals and achieve transparency and inspection of all nuclear activities, must be applied to all parties concerned, without exception. This vital. demand has consistently been put forward in international foram by the Kingdom of Bahrain and other Arab and regional countries, so as to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and to spare the Middle East their dangers by declaring the region free of such weapons.

Mr. Chairman,

If international and regional peace and security, whether in the Gulf, the Middle East, or in any part of the world suffering tension, conflict and instability, is related to the political settlement of outstanding issues, then building peace requires sustainable development to raise incomes, living standards, productivity, a solution to economic issues, and the preparation of a suitable democratic environment and the liberation of civil society to be an effective partner in the decision-making process and in political, social and development projects within the framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

The challenges of today's international order, represented by the United Nations, are greater than any region or state, and encompass all areas of life and society: the economy, education,health, technology, information, particularly following the information and communications revolution and in the context of the comprehensive globalization of thought, trade, politics, war and peace.

Today, it is neither possible nor acceptable within the globalization of international relations at various levels, for one region to have complete prosperity while others are unable to conserve and utilize their resources, and suffer from incurable diseases to which countries and governments are unable to effectively respond or to provide medicine or care for the victims. In the context of globalization, the international order cannot ignore these phenomena. Summits, conferences and United Nations special sessions held over the years on issues such as human rights, the earth, development, women's rights, habitat, motherhood, children, culture and civilization, all reflect how interrelated these issues are with peace and security.

Bahrain's contribution and its effective participation at summit level, and meetings of the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions, and in particular its participation in the International Year of Dialogue between Civilizations, is clear evidence of the concurrence between Bahrain's national policies and programmes, and those of the international community. This concurrence has been further demonstrated by Bahrain's hosting of meetings of religious and civilizational dialogue in autumn 2002, and by the country's progress in political and economic liberalization.

In this regard, Bahrain hosted an Islamic-Christian dialogue meeting in October 2002, at which participants adopted a number of valuable recommendations which we hope will contribute to the efforts that are being taken in this field. Bahrain has also hosted recently, an Islamic Forum on establishing harmony between the different Islamic schools of thoughts in which a number of Muslim scholars took part. Bahrain will continue this civil role, in light of its position as an oasis of brotherhood and dialogue, and a gathering place in which different religions and cultures can live in peace.

Mr. Chairman,

The Kingdom of Bahrain, through its enlightened free will and its national awareness as a member of the international community, believes that the world today is in genuine and pressing need of a strong and revitalized United Nations, as it was after the Second World War, to maintain peace and security, and contribute effectively to enhancing the dignity and welfare of human beings.

The peace which Bahrain seeks is closely linked to national policies for development and democracy, so as to revive hope of a better future that will free the individual from fear and hopelessness, liberate him from oppression, famine, poverty and ignorance, provide him with a dignified life, and protect him from natural disasters.

Bahrain's national and international programmes are based closely on the work of the United Nations, particularly in the development, social and economic fields, as well as on the UN's humanitarian activities.

These programmes are part of a comprehensive policy within Bahrain, founded on constitutional legality, democratic openness, transparency and good governance, and which comes within the context of guarantees of individual rights and freedoms.

This is Bahrain's goal, and its commitment to peace and security within the country, the region, and the world as a whole.

Thank you.