Global issues must not be overlooked in anti-terror fight, UN Assembly told

Global issues must not be overlooked in anti-terror fight, UN Assembly told

The aim to eradicate international terrorism is important, but other goals on the global agenda should command equal attention, said Pierre Charles, the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica as he opened the afternoon segment of the General Assembly's high-level debate.

Those issues, he said, were agreed upon at last year's Millennium Summit, but were as far from being realized as ever, especially the goal of reducing poverty by 50 per cent by the year 2015. In that context, he said contributions from industrial countries were "woefully inadequate," and adjustments in the strategies of international financial institutions "slow in coming." Another problem the world seems to be ignoring, Prime Minister Charles said, was the one that Secretary-General Kofi Annan described as "the greatest public health challenge of our times" -- HIV/AIDS. Mr. Charles stressed that the issue had a short life after the General Assembly special session six months ago, but the disease claimed millions of lives last year and created millions of orphans in sub-Saharan African.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou of Greece said the tragic events of 11 September highlighted the need to create a common moral code through a dialogue, rather than a clash, of cultures. Turning to regional issues, he said there had been significant progress in his country's relations with Turkey, including cooperation in the fight against crime, drug trafficking, illegal migration and terrorism, and Greece wholeheartedly supported Turkey's path towards the European Union. However, he said, progress was being hindered by the situation in Cyprus. Greece's constant reference to United Nations resolutions calling for a bi-zonal, bi-communal Federation there could not be interpreted as a desire for outside imposition. He appealed both to Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to use that framework for a just solution, to break down this last Berlin Wall in Europe and help create a common future for the citizens of a free Cyprus.

The current "unusually wide" international coalition against terrorism presents a unique opportunity that should be seized upon, according to Jan Kavan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The coalition's mandate should be broadened to enable it to contribute to solving other pressing problems in a way that will help reduce tensions and promote justice. The international community should also try to avoid allowing the fight against terrorism to be replaced by "a clash of civilizations, by the war Usama bin Laden is calling for, by a war against Islam." The Czech Minister voiced his support for the three-pronged approach recommended by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, who advocated first going after individual terrorists, then moving against terrorist organizations and thirdly, to address unsolved disputes around the world in a just manner. On the Middle East, the Minister said he fully supported the right of the Palestinians to their own State, but that its final shape should be the result of bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with the full backing of the international community.

Foreign Minister Hugo Tolentino Dipp of the Dominican Republic expressed profound appreciation for condolences offered to his country following yesterday's aviation disaster in New York. Recalling the tragic events of 11 September, he said they made it clear that terrorism was the antithesis of human rights. At the same time, in exercising self-defence the principles of international law must be respected. He stressed that process of globalization must involve resolute determination to provide technical assistance and promote development. The efforts of the World Trade Organization must take account of the inequalities among nations and the poverty of millions. He stressed the need for continued funding for the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for Women (INSTRAW), which did valuable humanitarian work for women in developing countries.

For Baboucarr-Blaise Ismaila Jagne, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, many conflicts could be solved by taking a regional approach. He highlighted the role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in seeking peace for the Mano River area, which includes Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. On the Great Lakes, Mr. Jagne said his Government was "saddened" by the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). "There is obviously a direct link between such practices and the prolongation of the conflict," he said. Turning to Angola, Mr. Jagne said tighter sanctions against the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) would decrease the rebel group's ability to wage war. As for the Middle East, he said no lasting peace could be reached there "without resolving the Palestinian problem." Israel's right to exist within secure borders must be recognized, but relevant UN resolutions should also be implemented.

Emphasizing that terrorism opposed the fundamental values of civilization. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi of Hungary said the UN, which had enacted 12 conventions on the subject, had a primary role to play in strengthening international action against terrorism. He informed the Assembly that Hungary had today deposited its instrument of ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and would soon sign the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Recalling the recent anthrax episodes, he said they had highlighted the need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and to strengthen the system for the prohibition of biological weapons. He also announced that the Hungarian Parliament had on 6 November ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Ernst Walch, the Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, called for addressing the root causes of terrorism. "Indeed, isolating the extremists, exposing the perversity of their agenda, and thus preventing more misguided and disenfranchised people from joining a cause of insanity is the only way our fight will be successful in the long term," he said. At the same time, he warned that the protection of human rights must not fall victim to the anti-terror battle. "Curtailing the existing human rights standards in the name of the fight against terrorism would mean giving up our most fundamental values - the very values which those who commit terrorist attacks are out to destroy."

Thérence Sinunguruza, Minister for External Relations and Cooperation of Burundi, recalled that on 1 November, a new Transitional Government had been installed in his country. He paid tribute to all those who had contributed to this success, including the first mediator, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, as well as the current Facilitator, former South African President Nelson Mandela. Despite its determination to implement the peace accords, the new Government faced serious challenges ahead, including ongoing violence and the persistence of poverty. He deplored the armed groups in the country that continued to fight a war which was taking the lives of innocent people. If such actions persisted, he said, the Government would call on the international community and the parties to the Arusha Accord to neutralize and disarm those elements and others allied with them.

Also taking part in the debate were the ambassadors of Malaysia, the Bahamas, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Brunei Darussalam and Viet Nam.