statement by

H.E. Mr. Jan O. Karlsson

Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden

In the General Debate of the 58th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

New York

25 September 2003


885 SECOND AVENUE NEW YORK, NY 10017 TEL (212) 583-2500 FAX (212) 832-0389

Mr. President,

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2003, our Foreign Minister Anna Lindh died, murdered in a senseless crime.

One of Sweden's most prominent and respected leaders is gone. We have lost a part of our future.

She spoke for the oppressed, for the victims of human rights violations. She worked for international peace and justice, and for multilateral co-operation.

The voice of Anna Lindh has been silenced. But her burning conviction echoes with us.

Mr. President,

We meet in a time when the United Nations is facing difficulties and doubts. The capability of the United Nations has often been in question. Despite crises and shortcomings, the UN has stood the tests. The UN was indispensable in 1945. It still is.

Mr. President,

Global security cannot be reached by unilateral action. Locking ourselves in will not bring peace, development, democracy or respect for human rights. Self-reliance cannot eradicate terrorism, poverty or save our environment. We must work together, to define and address emerging challenges, for multilateral solutions.

The Secretary-General recently said: "We can no longer take it for granted that our multilateral institutions are strong enough to cope with all the challenges facing them". I welcome his challenge to us. The Nordic countries stand behind him. The UN and we, the Member States must adapt.

Reform is necessary to stay modern, responsive and efficient - and to retain the trust of the global, civil society. International solidarity must be in focus when redefining our common agenda. Realizing the goals in the Millennium Declaration is a shared responsibility.

The legitimacy and authority of the Security Council must be regained. Its composition must better reflect the world of today. I believe that an agreement on enlargement with a number of non-permanent members could be reached fairly quickly, without excluding the possibility of additional permanent members at a later stage.

The General Assembly should be revitalized and strengthened to enable vibrant debate and rapid, flexible responses to new challenges and realities. Sweden shares the call of the Secretary-General for a reinvigorated role for the United Nations in Social and Economic Affairs.

We welcome his intention to establish a High Level Panel to consider threats to our security, and the institutional reforms required for the UN to respond.

Mr. President,

North Korea has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and remains unclear about its intentions. The nuclear programme in Iran, the possession of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan, and Israel's refusal to sign the NPT continue to cause concern. In several countries nuclear weapons are accorded a growing importance in military doctrines. Discussions in the United States about the creation of a new generation of smaller nuclear arms are worrying. Such weapons would not contribute to a safer world, but risk lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

The threats from weapons of mass destruction can only be met by multilateral efforts.

The negative arms spiral must be reversed. The Non-Proliferation Treaty must be universally complied with. Sweden continues to work for this goal, together with its partners in the New Agenda Coalition.

The UN has a vital role in the enforcement of existing Weapons of Mass Destruction regimes. It is crucial that the UNMOVIC expertise is retained.

The European Union has developed a common policy on weapons of mass destruction, and has decided to become more actively engaged in this field.

We need new ideas on disarmament and non-proliferation, and on how to strengthen existing regimes. To this aim, Sweden has initiated an independent, international commission, chaired by Dr Hans Blix.

Last June, the General Assembly adopted a forward-looking resolution on the prevention of armed conflict. Sweden will continue to work for a strengthening of the capacity of the UN's practical preventive work.

Mr. President,

Our focus must be the security of the individual. Violations of human rights can never be accepted. State sovereignty implies responsibility. If governments fail to protect their people, the international community must be prepared to act.

In its report "The Responsibility to Protect" The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty points out important issues for the international community to take on. How could we make sure that sovereignty and independence never become a license to abuse people? How should the international community live up to its responsibility when states fail to protect their people?

We must make full use of instruments available to avoid war.

The Security Council must be ready to act on early warning signals on threats of mass violations of human rights. Mechanisms to prevent such situations may be intrusive in character and need to be strengthened based on accountability and international law.

As the Secretary-General said in his speech on Tuesday, the Security Council needs to seriously discuss the best way to respond to threats of genocide or other comparable massive violations of human rights. Prevention of genocide will be the topic for the Stockholm International Forum to be held in Sweden in January.

There must be an end to impunity. The International Criminal Court is now operational. The court will act as an incentive for domestic legal systems, as a deterrent to perpetrators and a universal and equal tool for justice.

Mr. President,

In 2001 Anna Lindh's 11 years old son David accompanied her to the UN. Upon entering the General Assembly he asked: "Mom, where are all the women?"

He saw what many of us seem blind to. There are too few women here, as in many decision-making bodies around the world.

Gender equality is about making use of all our human resources.

Women are strong, but are made vulnerable through legal, economic and social discrimination.

Women are made victims, of violence in war, of abuse at home, of trafficking, of sexual exploitation. For these women, gender equality is a question of life and death.

Women's equal rights to education, to a professional career, to participate in politics, are not a threat to men. The absence of these rights is a threat to the progress of mankind.

Mr. President,

Peace operations require joint efforts to be successful. The co-operation between the UN and regional organizations, such as the recent experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the EU-led police mission in the Western Balkans and the military operation in Macedonia, are examples of this. We will continue developing the co-operation between the UN and the EU and welcome the Political Declaration on crisis management.

Many painful lessons can be drawn from the violent conflicts in West Africa. Sweden welcomes the large and broadly based UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia. The international community must support the UN and ECOWAS in finding sustainable solutions for the entire region. The European Union is trying to strengthen such a partnership through the work of Hans Dahlgren, its Special Representative to the Mano River Union countries.

Women are crucial to peace and reconciliation. I welcome that gender perspectives are now incorporated into mandates and activities of all peacekeeping missions. The number of women in peace operations, at all levels, must increase. The implementation of Security Council resolution 1325, and a strengthening of the UN capacity in this field, is vital.

Mr. President,

The decision to cut poverty by half by 2015 is imperative. But we are not doing well enough. The pace in which the goal is realized is far to slow.

We need new financial mechanisms. We welcome the initiative presented by the president of Brazil.

Official development assistance needs to treble. In Monterrey the member states of the European Union agreed to increase ODA. Sweden is increasing ODA up to 0,86 percent of GDP next year. Promises must be kept.

We need to give the UN predictable, long-term financing. As president Chirac said: "Failing that we will end up with a pick-and-choose United Nations."

The main responsibility for development is borne by every country itself in promoting democracy, good governance and respect of human rights, and in creating possibilities for people to develop. This will bring prosperity.

ODA will always only be supplementary. More important is the promotion of open and fair trade rules, the dismantling of tariffs and the reduction of subsidies.

The developed countries must show the way. The Doha Development Agenda has to be brought forward. The setback in the trade negotiations in Cancun must be turned into a new start.

The Swedish government has presented a new Bill on a coherent policy for global development.

This is our way of translating the Millennium Declaration into national policy. We will put a particular emphasis on the commitment in the Millennium Development Goal number 8, that specifically is about the obligations of the rich countries.

The consequences of the climate change affect us all. The deterioration of the Kyoto Protocol must be broken.

We need a global system for migration, which protects immigrant's rights and provide security for people who cross borders to study, research or work. Sweden and Switzerland support the Secretary-General in strengthening the role of migration on the UN agenda, including the establishment of a Global Commission.

Mr. President,

The General Assembly has rightly condemned the Israeli decision to deport president Arafat. Both parties must implement their obligations in accordance with the Road Map. The Palestinian Authority must take action to cease the suicide bombings. Israel's extra-judicial killings are contradicting international law and must be stopped immediately.

The international community must do its utmost to assist the parties in the Peace Process. The Road Map should be implemented immediately, aiming at the establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state in 2005. International monitors/ observers should be sent to the area. Sweden is willing to take part in such a monitoring mechanism.

Mr. President,

Sergio Vieira de Mello and many of his colleagues lost their lives in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad about a month ago, a terrible loss for the international community.

Sergio de Mello personified, better than most, the strength and commitment of the international community at its best.

The situation in Iraq remains volatile and dangerous. We are concerned about the security of the Iraqi people, and of those who are in Iraq to ease their suffering.

The bombing in Baghdad was aimed at the purposes the UN stands for - to maintain international peace and security. It will not make us waiver. The UN will stay in Iraq. The international community needs the legitimacy of the UN, as the only authority to be derived from in helping the Iraqi people recover self-government and to rebuild their country.

The handling of the conflict must remain an exception, and not a rule. Members of the Security Council must work together in good faith. Its decisions must be upheld, with sanctions or force if necessary, and within international law.

The future of the United Nations lies in the hands of the Member States. If the UN fails, we fail. In the statements most referred to so far in this year's debate, media has competed in finding differences and disputes. But there is one thing that we all agree on. That is the belief in the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary-General, you have a world behind you!

Thank you!