Voices From the United Nations

Voices From the United Nations

As world leaders convened at the 56th Session of the General Assembly of the UN in early November, the main topic of discussion was the fight against terrorism.



As world leaders convened at the 56th Session of the General Assembly of the UN in early November, the main topic of discussion was the fight against terrorism. But many emphasized that this fight cannot consist solely of military action. Problems such as human rights violations, economic instability, poverty and conflict in the Middle East must also be addressed. Here are excerpts from some of the leaders’ remarks:



Poverty is a fertile breeding ground for conflict and instability and even terrorism. It is therefore regrettable that very little progress, if any, has been made since the world summit on social development in Copenhagen in 1995. I remind you that the main outcome of that summit was the resolve to eradicate poverty as an obstacle to human development.

We cannot succeed in improving the lives of our people without the wholehearted engagement of the international community. The global target of reducing poverty in half by the year 2015 cannot be achieved without tangible availability of resources.

The effect of marginalization on developing countries posed by the accelerated process of globalization must be addressed as a matter of priority. The issue of meaningful market access, particularly for agricultural products, must be resolved quickly. Protectionist policies are in no country’s interest and definitely contradict the principles of free trade and the process of liberalization. In addition, resources must be made available to the World Trade Organization by our partners to enable it to provide technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries.

Solutions in the form of better terms of trade and market access must go hand-in-hand with the flow of foreign direct investment to developing countries. Many African countries have taken bold initiatives to provide a conducive environment for investors. These efforts need to be supported by clear policies by developed countries to encourage private-sector investment in Africa.

We urgently need to be freed from the burdens that are diverting vital resources from our economic development. Debt relief is necessary. It is in our common interest that our economies are restored to health in a meaningful time frame.


Minister of Foreign Affairs JOSCHKA FISCHER

The Middle East conflict is a top priority. Our hearts go out to the many innocent victims on all sides. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have a right to live free of fear, in dignity and in peace. This is indivisible not only from Israel’s right of statehood as recognized in Madrid, which is in our view inviolable, but also from its security. Germany bears Israel a special responsibility stemming from its past. Any policy that aims at destroying Israel by means of terrorism or otherwise will face determined opposition from Germany. However, we equally advocate the Palestinians’ right of self-determination and their right to their own state, Palestine. In the EU Berlin Declaration of March 1999 we stated, “The creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian State on the basis of existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best guarantee of Israel’s security.” Today this is truer than ever.

Never before has there been broader international backing for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Mitchell recommendations still form the basis for the timetable accepted by all sides, and in their spirit we call on Israelis and Palestinians alike to put an immediate and lasting end to violence and confrontation, to resume the agreed direct talks without delay and to seriously implement the negotiated cease-fires. These talks must lead to genuine negotiations on a viable political solution.


Minister of Foreign Affairs TANG JIAXUAN

Since the beginning of this year, the world economy has experienced a visible slowdown. It has been further aggravated by the September 11 incident. Developed countries have met with difficulties, while developing countries are finding themselves in more dire straits. A recent estimate by the World Bank shows that from 20,000 to 40,000 more children below the age of 5 in the developing countries will die as a result of poverty and hunger every day. The number of the poor living on one US dollar a day will increase by 10 million. Capital flows bound for developing countries will contract further. Many of the poorest countries have slid into deeper recession as a result of plummeting exports, depressed tourism and falling primary commodity prices. This cannot but arouse our serious concern. The international community must act with a greater sense of urgency and give higher priority to development.

Developed countries should act more vigorously to promote development. Macro-economic policies of major developed countries bear on the general trend of global economic development. Given the sluggish global economy, they should adopt effective measures and make greater efforts to restore market confidence and revitalize the global economy. As their development-assistance policies have an important impact on a host of developing countries, we hope that these developed countries will demonstrate a broader vision and cooperative spirit by taking into fuller consideration developing countries’ difficulties and needs in the present situation.

The United Nations has an irreplaceable role to play in international cooperation in response to globalization. It should increase its input in development and work more effectively to fulfill the development objectives set forth in the UN Millennium Declaration. The International Conference on Financing for Development and the International Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled for next year should provide opportunities for launching new multilateral cooperation projects.

Costa Rica

Minister of Affairs and Worship ROBERTO ROJAS

The respect of human rights and the promotion of human dignity, in all spheres, must be the primary guidelines for the activities of the United Nations. The protection of human beings is, thus, the only justification for peacekeeping activities. The promotion of human dignity is the only legitimate reason for pursuing sustainable development. The protection of human life is the only justification for the protection of the environment and for economic development. The basic philosophy of this organization must be, in consequence, deeply humanistic.

It is necessary to rationalize and coordinate the work of the monitoring organs, including the Human Rights Commission, in order to make them more effective. Costa Rica deems necessary a review of the national reports system with the view to making it more transparent and expeditious. We believe that member states must open their borders to the Human Rights Rapporteurs appointed by the commission in a candid and forthright manner. This obligation flows directly from the commitments undertaken under Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter. Simultaneously, we must answer positively the request for additional resources made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The existence of weapons is a catalyst of armed conflicts. Their proliferation feeds the fires of violence; worsens fighting and hatred; aggravates crime and terrorism; and favors political and social instability. Military arsenals lengthen armed conflicts and hamper peace processes while the armies consume insatiably the meager national resources. To attain peace, it is necessary to forbid the transfer of arms to rebel, extremist and terrorist groups. The transfer of weapons to those governments that commit systematic human rights violations, that do not respect democratic principles or that have not ratified the main international humanitarian law instruments should also be forbidden. We believe that it is indispensable to regulate the possession of light weapons by civilians.


Minister of State for Foreign Affairs REAZ RAHMAN

Poverty today remains the “pre-eminent moral and humanitarian challenge of our age,” as the Secretary General has put it, and hence it needs to be tackled with a due sense of priority. The Secretary General has reminded us of the commitment made by our leaders during the Millennium Summit last year to eradicate this scourge. We are glad that the recent meeting of the G-8 countries in Genoa has also attached priority to the eradication of poverty, and we would look forward to the early implementation of their commitment in a humane manner.

The role of external financial support in the development process has assumed greater importance for the fact that better education, knowledge, skill and awareness are required to be effectively integrated into the global economic and market mechanism. The decline in Official Development Assistance (ODA), which played an important role in capacity-building in the developing countries, causes serious concern to us. Bangladesh reiterates its call to the development partners to fulfill their obligation in this regard.

Over the past few decades access to the global market has been seriously limited for the products of the developing countries in general and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in particular. In this context, Bangladesh calls upon the development partners to create more access for trade, including offering duty-free, quota-free access to products from the LDCs on a secure, long-term and predictable basis, with realistic and flexible rules of origin to match the industrial capacity of the LDCs. Debt repayment is also an enormous burden on the developing countries, particularly on the LDCs.

David Montero

is an intern at The Nation.

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