New spirit of global cooperation hailed as UN Assembly continues high-level debate

14 November 2001

The spirit of cooperation created by the global fight against terrorism should be accompanied by a decision-making process that is as participatory as possible, the President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., told the General Assembly as it began the fifth day of its annual high-level debate.

This was especially true, he said, in light of the need to weave together military, financial, law enforcement, trade, intelligence-gathering and foreign aid issues. In these troubles time, it simply made no sense to isolate a proven ally in the fight against terrorism, and yet the Republic of China on Taiwan was significantly restricted in the role it could play because it had been barred from membership in the UN, the President stressed. He added that also made no sense, in this global system, to ignore an entire bloc of nations because of perceptions leftover from a prior colonial-era world. Yet, the Pacific Island countries are still being marginalized in the various UN bodies and processes. Those countries were unique entities, with distinct traditions, cultures, needs, interests and concerns and are not merely the leftovers of colonialism, he said.

Focusing on domestic concerns, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Maria Eugenia Brizuela De Avila, said her country's efforts to promote sustainable human development had been shaken this year by two earthquakes - which caused losses of 13 per cent of the GDP - and a drop in international coffee prices, El Salvador's major commodity. She also drew attention to her country's peace record in the 10 years since the 1992 peace agreements. "We are committed to continuing the process of modernization and strengthening democratic institutions," the Minister said. Turning to globalization, she emphasized that anything effecting economies of industrialized world had an effect on developing nations. As a result, the international community should pay attention to the problems affecting the global economic order and prevent them from spreading and leading to conflict-causing problems in the developing world, she said.

Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister of Finance of Nepal, stressed the need to keep weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. "Criminal acts such as the present anthrax scare in the United States and the sarin gas use in the Tokyo subway few years back are a strong testimony to the necessity of abolishing biological and chemical weapons before an appalling catastrophe befalls us," he said, adding that the proliferation of nuclear weapons and increasing likelihood of their use by terrorists highlighted the need for nuclear disarmament. Stressing the importance of anti-poverty efforts, he noted that terrorists "often exploit the vulnerabilities of the impoverished and unemployed, of the excluded and disaffected, to carry out their sinister design."

In his address to the Assembly, Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos, highlighted his country's efforts to fight the global trade in illicit narcotics. The Government had worked to fully eradicate opium production by employing crop substitution, preventive education, drug addict rehabilitation and relevant law enforcement measures. As a result, the opium-cultivated area was cut from 26,000 hectares in 1998 to 17,000 hectares in 2000. In addition, the Government had recently launched a national anti-narcotic campaign led by the Prime Minister "with a view to ensuring that Laos is a drug-free country with social order and bright future for the next generation," he said.

Louis Straker, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, pointed out that before 11 September his country had implemented sound fiscal policies that had resulted in positive economic growth. "However, after that infamous day, the economic outlook turned extremely bleak," he said. The burgeoning tourist industry had suffered "tremendously," with hotel occupancy dropping to a 15-year low. "Just as people were beginning to fly again, we had the tragedy in Queens on Monday," he said. "This plunges us deeper into economic gloom and the real and frightening possibility of recession looms ever closer."

The progress and setbacks Africa faced in resolving conflict were the focus of the address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Congo, Rodolphe Adada, who said the continent was regaining its unity, political stability and aspirations. He expressed hope that the upcoming Inter-Congolese dialogue in South Africa would move the peace process forward in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The situation in Burundi, under Nelson Mandela's mediation, was promising, he said. On the domestic front, the Congolese Minister said progress had been made in virtually every area since the 1999 cessation of hostilities agreement. A constitution was created, which was accepted by a transitional government on 2 September. More than 25,000 militia members were demobilized and their weapons destroyed, while nearly 7,000 former combatants were reintegrated into society through UN microprojects.

Also focusing on Africa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said the challenges facing the modern world obliged the continent to keep pace with history. “Even if the international environment becomes favourable, it is first and foremost for Africans to build their own continent,” he said. “African peoples are convinced that only a genuine union will put the region in a position to extricate itself from the economic destitution and violence that beset it.” Chad was particularly concerned with the situations in the Central African Republic, the DRC, Burundi, Angola, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and “the unfair embargo imposed against the people of Libya,” he said. He also pledged his country’s support for an independent Palestinian State and the lifting of the “inhuman embargo against Iraq.”

Naji Sabri, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, said his country was suffering from aggression and terrorism. Its officials and nationals had been subjected to numerous terrorist attempts on their lives, while Iraqi towns had been targeted by terrorist infiltrators coming from across the border who were sponsored, trained, financed and armed within the framework of State terrorism. In addition, for 11 years now Iraq had suffered from sanctions, which had "so far mowed down the lives of 1.6 million Iraqi civilians, the majority of whom are children and the elderly." Both the aggression and the comprehensive sanctions constituted State terrorism directed against an entire people. "'Terrorism' as a designation is also true of the use by the United States and Britain of more than 300 tonnes of depleted uranium ammunitions against the people of Iraq in 1991," he said, stressing that such acts violated the principles of international law.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, Farouk Al-Shara', said the Middle East had never known terrorism until after the 1948 creation of Israel, which had sown the seeds of terrorism and fear in Palestine and outside it. "Israel, who invented new types of terrorist practices in order to continue its occupation of Arab territories, who expelled the Palestinians from their homes and lands and who perpetrated so many massacres starting with Deir Yassin in 1948 and reaching the Massacre of Beit Reima a few weeks ago, was not taken to task about these crimes," Al-Shara' said. He added that as a result the Palestinian people found themselves with no alternative to rid themselves of the state of frustration, hopelessness and the international negligence to their plight except to start one uprising after another in the face of occupation. In order to target terrorism in the Middle East, it was necessary to target Israeli terrorism first, he stressed.

Voicing his Government's support for anti-terrorism efforts while stressing that responses must not be selective, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Guliyev, said his country had suffered a series of attacks by Armenia, but its warnings about the terrorist threat were still unheeded by the international community. He asserted that the Armenian Government was using the fight for self-determination of the Armenian population of Nagorny-Karabakh to justify its occupation of Azerbaijani territory, which resulted in the violation of the principle of territorial integrity of States. On the subject of the Caspian Sea, Mr. Guliyev said the free exploitation of national resources and their transportation to world markets was the inalienable right of sovereign States. Calling upon all Caspian Sea States to stop using force in the Caspian Sea basin, Azerbaijan instead supports an early agreement on the delimitation of the Sea on the basis of international law, he said.

Regional concerns were also high on the agenda for Tuliameni Kalomoh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Namibia, who said many countries of the South expected tangible results from the international Conference on Financing for Development to be held next year in Mexico. He also highlighted the "tremendous step" taken by African countries in the adoption of the New African Initiative, which would bring about a closer integration of the continent and make it more competitive in global markets. On Angola, the Namibian Minister said the international community should respond more decisively against repeated UNITA defiance of Security Council resolutions. Regarding the Great Lakes region, Mr. Kalomoh said aggression against the DRC constituted a violation of the UN Charter and voiced concern over what he described as "ruthless plundering of the country's natural resources." Emphasizing the vital role of the UN in conflict resolution, he pointed to the importance of reforming the Security Council.

The morning session of the Assembly was also addressed by the chairmen of the delegations of Lithuania, Vanuatu and Egypt.


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