Sri Lanka needs support to consolidate peace, Prime Minister tells UN Assembly

Sri Lanka needs support to consolidate peace, Prime Minister tells UN Assembly

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka issued a strong appeal for international support as the country works to consolidate peace.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly this afternoon, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka issued a strong appeal for international support as the country works to consolidate peace.

Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Government had moved swiftly to end the 20-year conflict, signing a ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) earlier this year and engaging in peace talks facilitated by Norway currently under way in Thailand. At the same time, he stressed that the conflict had dragged the economy to near bankruptcy. "Resources must flow into developing the areas ravaged by war," he said. "Without international support and help with resources to build a peace dividend, the gloss on peace can be dulled. With the re-creation of opportunities for people and for growth, politicians and negotiators will be driven even harder to stabilize, advance and sustain the peace."

The early stages of talks with the LTTE are focused on resolving some of the immediate practical needs of the people, he said. These pressing day-to-day problems must be settled as soon as possible. "Already, following the ceasefire, there are signs of people enjoying their re-discovered freedom," he said. Exchange visits from the south and north have served to promote understanding, while last week "people from all over the country, from every religion and every ethnic group in society" flocked to a peace rally in the capital, Colombo.

Julian Robert Hunte, the Foreign Minister of Saint Lucia, called for the reformation of the global economic governance system. He challenged the UN "to raise its universal voice in concert with the discordant coalition opposing any unilateral determination of the fate of the planet's natural resources and the billions of poor people depending on them for survival." The UN, he said, "appears to have become complicit in its own demise, permitting principles of universality, the quest for justice and equality to become obsolete." Where they once championed the redistribution of global economic power, major UN bodies today were silent. He called for the re-establishment of the UN Centre for Transnational Corporations and urged resistance to "any attempts to weaken and marginalize the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development."

Talbak Nazarov, the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan, voiced appreciation to the UN, "which during the time of our hard trials demonstrated, in the most effective manner, its peacemaking and humanitarian capacity." Working with the Tajik Government, the UN is strengthening peace and stability in the country. On the issue of terrorism, he called for efforts to ensure a unified international legal framework for combating the scourge. "In this connection we expect the General Assembly to adopt shortly a comprehensive convention on combating international terrorism, as well as to complete negotiating and adopt a comprehensive international convention on combating acts of nuclear terrorism." He also proposed convening a General Assembly special session on terrorism next year.

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, stressed the importance of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which "demonstrates the readiness of the continent to take charge of its future." A key component of the initiative is its emphasis on good governance. At the same time, he stressed that NEPAD "cannot succeed without the cooperation of Africa's partners and the international community." In today's interdependent world, development in Africa must be the priority of all. "Realistically speaking, we swim or sink together," he said. "It would be unwise to believe that the growing marginalization and decay of Africa will have no significant adverse implications for the stability and viability of the globalizing world." For its part, Ethiopia is committed to implementing NEPAD.

Also scheduled to take part in today's discussion were Morshed Khan, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Foreign Minister of Chad, Abou Drahamane Sangare, the Foreign Minister of Côte D'Ivoire and Roberto Tovar Faja, the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica.

Other speakers expected to address the Assembly include Aïchatou Mindaoudou, the Foreign Minister of Niger, Joseph Philippe Antonio, the Foreign Minister of Haiti, Norman José Caldera Cardenal, the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, and Aksoltan Ataeva, the Chairperson of Turkmenistan's Delegation.