Addressing UN Assembly, Karzai says nations must remain resolute against terrorism
The United Nations General Assembly concluded the first day of its annual high-level debate today, hearing a call by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the international community to continued its united stand against terrorism.
In his first address to the Assembly as leader of Afghanistan, President Karzai stressed that the threat posed by terrorist groups required resolute commitment on the part of all nations "to fight this evil to the end" and pledged that the country "will never permit our soil to be used for any subversive activities against any of our neighbours and countries in the region, and we expect the same."
While Afghanistan was a Muslim country and its people believed in the teaching of Islam, the country rejected any abuse and misuse of the holy name of Islam by extremist groups to justify violence, death and destruction, President Karzai said. "My vision of Afghanistan is of a modern State that builds on our Islamic values promoting justice, rule of law, human rights and freedom of commerce, and forming bridges between cultures and civilizations; a model of tolerance and prosperity based on the rich heritage of the Islamic civilization," he said.
The Afghan leader also highlighted his administration's achievements over the past eight months, noting that the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and the peace process was completely "on track." Despite such achievements, however, Afghanistan was realistic about the countless challenges and problems it would have to confront, foremost of which was security. He appealed to the donor community to follow-up on its pledges for rebuilding the country, noting that actual contributions fell far short of the $4.5 billion promised in Tokyo.
For his part, President Vojislav Koštunica noted that he was the first democratically elected leader of Yugoslavia in nearly 60 years to address the gathering of world leaders. His country had joined a large group of European nations in transition building their future on the common values of respect for human rights, democracy, free market economies and commitment to European and Euro-Atlantic integration, he said. Yugoslavia knew only too well that peace in the region, attained at great sacrifice, must never be threatened again.
While there has been progress in Yugoslavia's relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, President Koštunica said he was saddened to see that the situation in Kosovo was far less encouraging, as it remained a factor of political instability and a centre for organized crime networks. Furthermore, the plight of 250,000 internally displaced persons still in Serbia and the unstable security situation remained obstacles to serious discussions on the final status of Kosovo.
Leading off the afternoon session of the Assembly, President Luis Ángel González Macchi said Paraguay had taken a firm position against terrorism and had implemented the resolutions of the Security Council. It had also signed the 12 international agreements on terrorism, as well as the Inter-American convention on terrorism, developed within the context of the Organization of American States. Paraguay also supported the establishment of an international legal foundation for combating terrorism and urged support for the Convention on Terrorism proposed by India.
Paraguay was also proud to have been one of first 65 States to ratify the Rome Statute, but the independence, impartiality and purpose of the International Criminal Court needed to be preserved, President González Macchi stressed. Furthermore, Paraguay was pleased to be a member, for the first time, of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and would work toward the noble aims of that body.
In his statement, President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera began with an evaluation of the transformation process that came in the wake of the cessation of hostilities in Guatemala. Full reconciliation had not yet been achieved but work was being done to make the country a tolerant, non-exclusionary, democratic society.
While much had been done as part of the peace agreements, there were setbacks, President Portillo Cabrera noted. "The fact is, we confront an overall international situation that is unfavourable, one that has had negative effects on our economy," he said. Even so, several components of the country's strategy to reduce poverty had been put into effect. "These are long-range policies whose fruits will be fully appreciated by only later generations," he noted.
Panama's President, Mireya Moscoso, said the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States had targeted not only that country, but also humanity as a whole. Calling terrorism "the gravest threat to international security," she said Panama had taken steps to counter the menace by ratifying key treaties and tightening controls on financial flows. At the same time, she stressed that the fight against terrorism must be accompanied by "real possibilities for growth in developing countries." Towards that end, she called for a more just and equitable trade system.
Concerning the UN Security Council, President Moscoso said Panama hailed its work over the past year and supported expanding its membership. She cautioned, however, that in considering categories of permanent and non-permanent members, efforts should be made to ensure that no changes were introduced leading to a reinstitution, in perpetuity, of privileges that for years have been proven obsolete.
The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, voiced his country's support for the United States, which had suffered despicable terrorist attacks one year ago. Equatorial Guinea was firmly committed to the international fight against terrorism, he said, adding, "more disturbing still are the manifestations of a covert terrorism carried out under the pretext of defending human rights." The war on terrorism should not serve to encourage intolerance or political extremism, he stressed.
The President said that shortly after the Commission on Human Right had decided to terminate the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for Equatorial Guinea in April, terrorist activities had begun in the country. Those responsible had been arrested and would now be tried, but some pressure groups were attempting to use the forthcoming trial to launch a new campaign of defamation against the country. In the face of those manoeuvres, he said, "I reaffirm before the international community that we are determined to preserve the spirit of cooperation and consensus with all political groups to ensure the smooth conduct of the upcoming presidential elections."
Stressing the inextricable link between development and the environment, the President of Micronesia, Leo Falcam, said that the world could not hope to support six billion people at the current level of consumption seen in the developed countries. There was universal recognition of the reality of the problem of climate change and its causes, he noted, and therefore all countries must work together to develop effective mitigation strategies to prevent further damage.
The Assembly's current session "provides a genuine opportunity for the world community as a whole to take note of our recent conferences, to seize the initiative and set a course towards tangible progress on the issues we all agree to be of common concern," President Falcam said.
Echoing that theme, President Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe noted that preserving the earth was perhaps the United Nations most difficult challenge. "Whatever we do to bring prosperity to our land, we must do it in a way that respects the water and air and flora and fauna that make up our islands' environment," he said. "We must find a way to make progress that supports and sustains life rather than destroying it."
President de Menezes also called attention to the "grinding poverty" that afflicts half of the global population, saying the world could not endure with a division between rich nations and poor ones. Poverty was more insidious, more pervasive and more deadly than even war, he said, needlessly killing many millions of men, women and children every year.
Norway's Prime Minister, Kjell-Magne Bondevik, said that the international community's response to terrorism must be global and comprehensive, and efforts strengthened to maintain peace and security. He also noted that the root causes of the scourged must be addressed and called on the all UN Member States to fight extremism and fanaticism, protect and promote human rights, resolve conflicts and eradicate poverty.
"The  Millennium Declaration has set out the precise objectives - to which we are all committed," Mr. Bondevik said. "We cannot afford to fail. Development must be built on a global partnership, in which all partners have clear responsibilities."