General Assembly continues high-level debate, as 14 delegations take the floor

General Assembly continues high-level debate, as 14 delegations take the floor

Kofi Annan, Han Seung-soo
The United Nations General Assembly continued its general debate this afternoon, with eight Heads of State and Government and six other high-level officials scheduled to speak.

As the first speaker to address the Assembly in its afternoon session, General Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, said his country had condemned the vicious attack against the US on 11 September, but that now was the time for introspection. "The religion of Islam, and Muslims in various parts of the world, are being held responsible for the trials the world is facing," he said, warning that this point of view was "totally misplaced. For the Pakistani leader, the root causes for terrorism were the unresolved political disputes such as in Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Kashmir and other places. He said the lack of progress in resolving these disputes had created a sense of deprivation, hopelessness and powerlessness among those affected. "The frustration gets even worse when such disputes like Kashmir and Palestine remain unsettled for decades despite the United Nations Security Council Resolutions," General Musharraf said.

The President also said his country had not been the first to initiate nuclear tests and would not be the first to resume them. Pakistan, he said, was ready to discuss with India how to create a stable South Asian security mechanism through a peaceful resolution of disputes, preservation of nuclear and conventional balance, confidence-building measures and non-use of force prescribed by the UN Charter. In that context, he said his administration was “ready to discuss nuclear and missile restraints as well as nuclear risk reduction measures with India in a structured, comprehensive and integrated dialogue.”

On Afghanistan, Mr. Musharraf expressed hope that the military operation would be as short and accurately targeted as possible to avoid more human casualties, and that the future political set-up in Afghanistan would be "home-grown and not imposed," ensuring the country's unity and territorial integrity.

Colombian President Andrés Pastrana said no country was free from the destructive consequences of the illegal drug issue, and that the scourge not only undermined the institutional framework, conspired against democracy, deteriorated governance and planted death and violence, but was also the major source of financing of terrorism and violence in the world.

President Pastrana said the shared responsibility in the fight against terrorism also applied to the fight against illegal drugs. He called for such measures as an end to coexisting with asset laundering, a halt to the uncontrolled production and sale of the chemical precursors used in illicit drug production and a stop to illegal or uncontrolled manufacturing and sale of the weapons that propagate death. "If we manage to translate these principles into reality - starting with the developed countries - with concrete facts and political will, then we will give meaning and effectiveness to the fight waged by my country for many years, against the cultivation and production of drugs," he said.

President Alejandro Toledo of Peru said that his country was actively involved in the fight against terrorism and, as such, had already presented a draft for an inter-American treaty against terrorism. Moreover, Peru had also deposited the Statute of the International Criminal Court and other treaties to the United Nations and was now part of all international binding agreements against terrorism. "We are determined unambiguously to fight terrorism, in the context of respect for religions of the peoples and their ethnicity," he said.

The Peruvian President also said that human rights violations and corruption were two faces of the same coin: impunity. It would not be possible to counteract corruption without linking this struggle with the fight against drug trafficking and money-laundering. Another important issue for Latin America was Peru's proposal for an immediate freeze on the purchase of offensive weapons in the region and an agreement to reduce military expenses. President Toledo said that if all the countries in the region agreed with his country's desire for peace, then it made no sense to continue spending money on weapons and not "investing in the minds of our people."

Stressing that the action by the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other countries against terrorism was "imperative," Slovenian President Milan Kucan warned however that the world "cannot simply rest at that." It had to make every effort to avoid dividing cultures following the principle of US versus THEM - dividing races, religions and nations into those civilized and those barbaric, and ascribing a priori fundamentalism to any religion or civilization, he said.

The Slovenian leader said the international community could not allow terrorism and crime to abuse the possibilities offered by globalization before the democratic world itself was in a position to put these possibilities to good use in finding answers to completely new challenges. Among those challenges, Mr. Kucan highlighted the pronounced divisions between owners of capital, knowledge, ideas and information technologies on the one hand, and "the billions condemned to ignorance, a life of poverty and vegetating […] on the other. He also flagged the dangers of maintaining a global economy "whose only motive and aim is profit" with no regard for people and nature.

The President of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga Ramirez, told the Assembly that his country was making a gigantic effort to fight the ally of terrorism: drug trafficking. Terrorism was "incubated and fed" to a large extent within the underground world of drug trafficking and it was clear that they were "Siamese twins and enemies of the free democracies."

Although Bolivia has irreversibly moved to eliminate the illegal coca crops used to prepare cocaine and was entering into the final stage of the Dignidad Plan, which would eliminate Bolivia from the drug circuit, President Quiroga said his country needed two levels of support to conclude the task: sustained international support for the alternative development programmes that have reduced more than 90 per cent of Bolivia's coca leaf production, and access to free trade and markets.

Speaking in his capacity as the current Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and as the President of Zambia, Frederick J.T. Chiluba said that Africa was no stranger to terrorism and that, in 1999 in Algeria, it had adopted a convention on preventing the scourge. On the continent's help in fostering peace worldwide, President Chiluba said African men and women had served as peacekeepers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In turn, he said, the continent expects the international community to be full partners in the search for peace in Africa, and in that context, expressed regret that the Inter-Congolese Dialogue - an effort to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - could not take off last October due to insufficient funds.

On the economic front, the Zambian leader said Africa was not asking for charity, but more accessible conditions for its raw materials and products at prices that are fair and conducive to development. Specifically, he said Africa wanted more of the continent's countries to access the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC), so that the freed resources could be used to build infrastructure, schools, combat diseases, provide safe drinking water and invest in income-generating community activities, because "eventually these are the measures which will reduce poverty."

Ion Iliescu, President of Romania, said the greatest challenge to the international community was how to reduce economic and social disparities and achieve growth through institution-building. He commended the goal set by world leaders to cut poverty in half by 2015, but said it may prove to be more difficult than originally anticipated. "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," he said, stressing that the UN had an essential part to play in promoting the integration of the world's economy.

President Iliescu also said it was to be expected that the renewed sense of global solidarity triggered by the 11 September events would prompt the world into action to cope with the 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," he said.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, said military strikes alone could not eradicate terrorism. In its response, the world community had also to take into consideration the causes that give rise to strife and violence.

The expansion of the global economy had not eliminated gross poverty or even reduced its prevalence, he said. A sophisticated, globalized, increasingly affluent world currently co-existed globally and within countries, with a marginalized underclass. The process of globalization, deregulation and privatization had swept the world. "This new era of global relations demands bolder and more ingenious approaches to confidence building and to development as a prerequisite for international peace and security," he said. "An equitable framework to finance national and global development, to fuel expansion of international trade and foster sustainable development must be placed on the front burner."

In his statement, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Vice-President of Ghana, told the Assembly that to achieve the Millennium Declaration goal of eliminating poverty, it was imperative to help countries that have created the necessary environment for sound economic development. It was also important, particularly since the World Trade Organization conference was currently taking place in Qatar, to emphasize the critical role of global trade in generating the resources for financing development in developing countries. "The outcome of the Doha Conference, our commitment to pursuing the decisions and processes emanating from that conference, the implementation of the commitments made in the Uruguay Round and how we address intellectual property rights, should clearly determine our commitment to eradicating poverty throughout the world," he said.

Addressing the crises in several regions such as the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa, the Foreign Minister of France, Hubert Vedrine, said the problem that needed solving was one of the coexistence of peoples "who are at once close and antagonistic, deeply affected and divided by history, separated by fear and the spirit of revenge." Yet, even if the world community were to solve those crises, it still needed to create a concept of globalization with a "human face" that, among other things, distributed wealth in a fairer manner, guaranteed development everywhere and improved the state of health worldwide, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS. To accomplish that, Mr. Vedrine said a greater burden of responsibility must be borne by those who live in the "rich countries."

The Foreign Minister of Andorra, Juli Minoves-Triquell, pointed out that there seemed to be "a tragic confusion" between globalization and abstract and oppressive technology. It was this notion of modernity that seemed to be at the heart of the recent protests against globalization. While the protesters have many valid points to make, and need to be listened to, globalization and modernity were not the problem, cooperation between nations, whether economic, political, or cultural was not a threat. "Leaders and intellectuals need to reach out and embrace the limits of knowledge," he urged. "To speak out against dogmatism. To unravel facile notions of monolithic governments or global compacts."

Foreign Minister John Manley of Canada told the Assembly that the pledges of the Millennium Summit in September 2000 must not be overshadowed by the urgency of the events one year later. "Indeed, their fulfilment can and must form an integral component of how we create a strong, equitable global environment - one that can be neither attacked nor exploited by terrorists," he said. In order to achieve those goals, Mr. Manley said, national governments must take responsibility, and be held accountable, for their actions and decisions - for fighting terrorism, for undertaking political and legal reforms, for resolving disputes, and for establishing the conditions in which democracy flourishes and development is sustained.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, Stanislaus Mudenge, said the lofty objectives of the UN Charter in the economic arena would remain unfulfilled unless all Member States joined in efforts to redress inherited colonial imbalances that persisted in developing countries. In Zimbabwe, that legacy was poignantly evident in the country's racially skewed land ownership structure as a direct result of the racist policies and laws of successive colonial regimes. Such a situation had to be corrected in the interests of equity, justice, social harmony and political stability in the country and, indeed, in the southern Africa region.

Roberto Flores Bermudez, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, said that apart from terrorism, there were other threats - such as HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty - to peace and the well-being of people. The UN's special session on AIDS in June had raised the level of understanding of the scope of the epidemic, which went beyond health, as it also has social and economic implications. Meanwhile, eliminating poverty, overcoming educational backwardness and combating epidemics were all linked to economic output. For this reason, there needed to be a fair and just system of international trade, with better access to big markets and a discontinuation of agricultural subsidies in developed countries, he said.