STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MR. AHMED ZAKI, MINISTER OF STATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE THIRTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, I hasten to express the shock and deep concern of my delegation over the tragic incident which occurred in Rangoon last Sunday, resulting in the deaths and injury of so many people. We convey our sincere condolences to the governments of the Republic of Korea and Burma, and to the members of the bereaved families. I join my distinguished colleagues who spoke before me, in offering my sincere felicitations on your election as the President of the thirtyeighth session of the United Nations General Assembly. My delegation remains confident that your wide experience and knowledge will assist you to guide our deliberations efficiently. I should like also to express our appreciation to your Excellency’s predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Imre Hollai, for his tireless devotion to his duties and the undaunted manner in which he rendered his services to the UN during his tenure of office. My delegation places on record the exemplary manner in which the Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Javier Perez De Cuellar, has continued to perform his unenviable task of harnessing the resources of the international community to the noble task of upholding and preserving the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. My delegation also has great pleasure in adding its voice to a very warm welcome for the delegation of St. Christopher and Nevis as it takes its seat among us, thus contributing to further the universality of this Organization. Mr. President, The thirty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly is being held at a time when the international arena is overshadowed by ever-increasing areas of tension. A broader and wiser political view of the world community, and, sustained patient efforts with greater determination are most vital to arrest the fast growing threats to world peace and security. Every possible step must be taken to stem the swift growth of forces which undermine both the United Nations and peaceful international relations. Since the continuing developments amount to a dire threat to the very basic tenets of the Charter of this Organization, it is up to the membership to assume its responsibilities more than ever before in a sincere effort to diffuse the dangerously escalating international tension. My delegation strongly feels that this thirty-eighth session of the General Assembly should not be allowed to pass by us without renewed commitments by every Member of this Organization to do its utmost to prevent, if not reverse, the continuing deterioration in international relations due to increasing overambitious political adventurism, so that nations big or small, rich or poor, weak or powerful, could enjoy their inalienable rights in an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence. As we see it, none of us, while being a Member of this august body, and therefore fully committed to the Charter, can spare any effort to pay maximum contribution for the achievement of peace, justice and the preservation of orderly international behaviour. Developments in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Kampuchea, South America, and southern Africa have, in the view of my delegation, created such levels of tension throughout the world that it frightens us to wonder how long the international situation would remain without a major conflagration. What distresses us most is the fact that more and more often the fundamental ethics of the UN Charter are abandoned or ignored under the pretext of so-called “National Security” or “Strategic Interests”. The ensuing result of chaos and anarchy is already being witnessed in many parts of the world. My delegation views these developments with utmost gravity and seriousness. Indeed, certain developments seem to justify a growing feeling that peoples and nations will be worth considering only if the interests of a greater power is served by them. Our task is to strive and strive hard for a better world, and in this spirit, we do respectfully appeal to the membership of this Organization not to delay any more, decisive and concrete action to stem the trend of deterioration in international relations. Mr. President, It is the considered opinion of my delegation that disarmament should be the priority area for concentration. It is no secret that a nuclear confrontation which, sometime in the past appeared in the far horizon, has steadily drawn closer, and now seems to be hovering just over us now. Right now we are witnessing an alarming increase in the production of not only nuclear weapons, but also all other types of weapons of mass destruction, including the so-called conventional ones. Deployment of satellites and other spacecraft for military purposes, including nuclear warfare, has added horrifying dimensions to the already dangerous situation. My delegation has always strongly supported every effort of the world community to stop the arms race and work towards complete disarmament. It is a well known fact, sir, that today while more than half the population of the world is struggling hard to attain its minimum basic essential needs for existence on earth, a few countries who enjoy the benefits of abundant natural resources, wealth and technology, seem to be quite happy to invest billions of dollars in the production and improvement of nuclear and other weapons of war. My delegation will continue, as in the past, to render every possible support to the work of this Organization to make this world a safer place for mankind. 3 Mr. President, The Middle East continues to remain in a most dangerous state. Developments during the past year have increased the gravity of the situation. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the refusal of the Israeli government to withdraw its troops from Lebanese territory has added new dimensions to an already explosive situation created by their refusal to withdraw from Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967. The international community has witnessed, with alarm and indignation, the continued policy of Israel to illegally annex more territories of the occupied land, and masterminding greater chaos in Lebanon, its acts of blatant aggression and the violation of all the norms of international law and decent human behavior. This should not be condoned by the international community. The outright rejection by Israel of the numerous United Nations resolutions cannot be overlooked in any way by this august Assembly. These developments have not only subjected thousands of innocent men, women and children to suffer death, destruction and loss of property, but also have initiated a gathering momentum which could only spark off a conflagration that cannot be restricted to a single country or region. It is therefore, imperative that the world community should extend every possible support to strengthen the present cease-fire in Lebanon, and take positive steps without any delay to stop the escalation of this continuous trend of aggression to any further levels. Even the States which sympathizes with Israel cannot deny the fact that the arrogance and the expansionist policies of Israel are responsible for the building up of tension to the present dangerously high level. We are all committed to the United Nations Charter. Its provisions are binding on all Nations who are Members of this world body. No member country, rich or poor, powerful or weak, big or small, can have any right to be an exception. Permanent membership of the Security Council does, in no way, grant any power to a country to create directly or by proxy a situation favourable only to that country in any part of the world. If every member country of this Organization is sincere about its commitments to the provisions of the Charter, action should not be delayed any more regarding the situation in the Middle East. We must ask the Security Council to invoke the relevant provisions of the Charter with regard to the arrogance and defiance with which Israel is trying to trample on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. These rights must include their right to return to their homeland and the unimpaired freedom to establish their own nation and decide on their destiny. The Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, must have the full right to participate in any steps that may be taken to achieve this end. The Geneva declaration concluded last month, in the opinion of my delegation, presents a sound framework for the international community and the parties concerned to work for a solution of this issue. Mr. President, Among other matters of major international concern are the questions of Afghanistan and Kampuchea. Sir, these are two which, in the view of my delegation, have been victims of foreign military interventions and invasions. We express our deepest 4 concern regarding these two countries because we fully endorse the United Nations resolutions which condemn such interventions, and call for the withdrawal of foreign forces from those two territories. This will enable the peoples of Afghanistan and Kampuchea to freely decide on their own destiny. One of the pre-requisites, in the case of each of these two countries, is for the respective refugees to return to their homes with security and honour. My delegation notes with deep appreciation and commendation, the unceasing efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General to find solutions to these two major issues. Mr. President, It is with alarm, dismay and frustration that we witness the increasing instance of foreign interventions in areas of Africa and Latin America. As we see it, there is not much of a difference in direct or indirect intervention or interference. The end result in either case is tragically the same: tension, unrest, internal strife, conflicts and even bloodshed. We view such developments with utmost concern because they are destroying the very fabric of not only international peace and security, but also the concept of peaceful co-existence. Never for a moment should we forget that we all are a family of inter-related and interdependent nations with diverse political ideologies, economies and social systems, who must live together in an atmosphere which is devoid of suspicion, envy and animosity. Mr. President, The question of South-West Africa and the sad and tragic plight of the people of South Africa has continued to be a matter of grave concern to the world community for a long time. In spite of persistent and repeated expressions of serious concern and indignation of the international community, the people of Namibia have been forced to remain under a regime illegally imposed upon them by the racist government of Pretoria. Here again, like Israel in the Middle East, the minority regime of South Africa has acted with scorn towards the numerous resolutions approved by this august body in full accord with the provisions of the United Nations Charter. The Pretoria regime has acted in flagrant violation of the UN Charter, all norms of international law and codes of human conduct, both with regard to Namibia and the majority of the people of South Africa. My delegation, as in the past, gives its full support to the oppressed people of South Africa itself, who remain under the inhuman policy of apartheid, and the people of Namibia under the leadership of the South-West Africa People’s Organization. We express our view that the General Assembly should request the Security Council to act without any further delay to invoke the relevant provisions of the UN Charter, while the world community continues greater political and economic pressure on the Pretoria regime in order to force it to accept the realities of the present era and act with sanity before it is too late. 5 Mr. President, It is a matter of regret for us that very little, if at all, is taking place with regard to the situation in Cyprus. The extremely slow progress achieved thus far in the dialogue between the parties concerned is being constantly out-paced by the tension prevailing there. We believe, as we have done in the past, meaningful negotiations must sincerely be pursued with a view to achieve ajust and lasting solution whereby the rights of the communities of that long-suffering country could be restored in a manner which will preserve peace in the country and ensure stability and the economic development of the people. Mr. President, The peaceful reunification of the divided peoples of Korea has been, and continues to be a matter of great interest to us. The lack of positive contact between the peoples of the North and South for the realization of the national aspirations of the people of Korea tend to create further unrest, tension, and instability. We believe that the international community should extend every possible support, opportunity and encouragement to the Korean people in order to assist them in achieving their objective. At the same time, we express our view that they must remain free from outside interference, influence and pressure in order that they may find a peaceful solution of their own choice. Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest sorrow to see two of our brotherly countries, Iran and Iraq, still waging their bitter armed conflict which has already brought, destruction and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. We maintain very friendly, brotherly relations with both countries, and this makes our grief all the more deeper. We can only express our support to the numerous appeals of the international bodies to bring about a cease-fire. We can only lend our support to the calls of the world community to these two brotherly countries to stop the war and find a solution to their disputes by peaceful means. We also pledge our support to the efforts of mediation by the United Nations Secretary-General as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement with the aim of reaching an honourable settlement to the dispute. Mr. President, Let me now turn to our region of the globe. As on previous occasions, I wish to express the immediate and deep concern of our country on the readily escalating tension created by great power rivalry in the Indian Ocean. My delegation wishes to reaffirm our full support to the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace. We believe that as long as foreign military bases and other such facilities remain in our area, tension will continue to build up. And if this trend continues, disputes can easily lead to conflicts in which these foreign military sources will have a stake. This is a very familiar chain of action and reaction in many parts of the world. On our part, we shall do everything possible, along with the other countries of the region, to prevent our area being subjected to such potential dangers. I need hardly mention 6 that another inevitable development consequent to big power military rivalry and their presence in our region, is the time, money and other resources which have to be utilized to step up the security and defence levels in various countries. During this era of world economic chaos, we can ill-afford this course of action. We firmly support the efforts of the United Nations to implement the Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace. We appeal to the world community to renew its efforts to this end. The proposed Colombo Conference is a step, we strongly feel, which must be taken with the least delay. We remain firmly convinced that this Conference will form a corner-stone in the path of the realization of our cherished objective. Mr. President, The attention and concern of this world community has to necessarily be focused on the international economic scene. Although certain glimmers of hope are observed on the horizon, the lack of will of the developed countries to initiate fast, effective steps based on interdependence to remedy the deteriorating world economy has been most disappointing. My delegation feels that the severe strain on the international trade, finance and monetary systems is an ominous sign of possible trade warfare. The failure of the 6th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD VI) held in Belgrade earlier this year to produce any encouraging results has brought frustration to the developing countries. Sir, it is true that the current economic crisis affects all groups of countries. However, the developing countries are feeling the impact in a way which cracks the foundations of economic growth and impairs prospects for years to come. My delegation wishes to emphasize the urgent need for the developed or industrialized countries to appreciate the futility of pursuing the old economic order, which can result only in further set-backs from which there can be no insulation even for themselves. With regard to the current economic confusion the world over, my delegation is of the view that, on the whole, the developing world has considerable resources, manpower and scope for technological advancement and new investments. Mr. President, My delegation records the tragic plight of the Least Developed Countries which suffer most in their earnest bid to lay out the best possible infrastructure for economic growth. Particularly distressing is the fact that the Least Developed Countries suffer from the added disadvantage of having to struggle against a lack of manpower and natural resources. The country that my delegation represents here belongs to this group of countries and my comments are not based on speculation but the factual situation that we face. In spite of the gloomy economic environment we have, we have tried our utmost to maintain a path of progress tangible with the theme of self-reliance. It is indeed a tedious, uphill task. Nevertheless we have attempted to make optimum use of whatever resources we have been able to muster. One of the most disturbing problems for the developing countries, and more particularly for the Least Developed Countries during the past decade, has been 7 their balance of payments position. The abrupt swings in the prices of primary commodities, food and energy and the continued escalation in the prices of manufactured goods, decrease in the import demands of the developed countries, and the steady rise in interest rates during the last three or four years, the fall of primary commodity prices during the same period, and above all, the alarming increase in the practice of protectionism has brought with them a series of continuous shockwaves resulting in near economic disaster for many of the Third World and Least Developed Countries. The only silver lining of the dark cloud about which I have just spoken, is the fact that the industrialized and developed countries of the world have apparently given some serious consideration to the submissions of the developing countries during the Conference on Trade and Development. We also feel that repeated submissions of the LDCs at all international fora on our developmental efforts have made some impact upon the developed countries, and it is our earnest hope that the recommendations of the 1981 Paris Conference would be given greater consideration. I must mention here that the round-table meeting held in Geneva in May this year has given my country some inspiration that will help us to invest greater energy into our economic development. Mr. President, To conclude my statement, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the noble principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirm our faith and trust in this Organization, the most useful instrument for the preservation and maintenance of world peace thus enabling the realization of the cherished ambitions of mankind for peaceful co-existence, justice, progress and prosperity. Finally may I use this opportunity to appeal to the world community not to extend any support to the tendency to overlook or by-pass the United Nations in certain instances of disputes or conflicts, because we trust, as I am sure all of you do, that the United Nations Organization is, and must always be, the most effective weapon at our disposal to be utilized in the interest of international peace and security. On our part, my delegation unreservedly supports the valiant efforts of the SecretaryGeneral to further the cause of international peace, and pledge our fullest cooperation in all sincerity. Thank You.