ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE FORTYFIRST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY 7 October 1986 2
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is indeed a pleasure for me and the members of my delegation to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of this session of the General Assembly. Your unanimous election is indeed a recognition by this august body of your experience and accomplishments in your illustrious diplomatic career. It is also a well deserved tribute to your country -Bangladesh, which demonstrates exemplary courage in challenging the obstacles to rapid development and modernization. Maldives is especially pleased to see you preside over this session because of the fraternal relations that exist between our two peoples. Our shared involvement in the activities of international and regional cooperation and the primary role played by your Government and personally by you in the initiation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) are special sentiments to us. We are confident that you are amply qualified to guide the deliberations of this Assembly to a successful conclusion. My delegation would also like to associate itself with the previous speakers who have expressed their admiration for the able manner in which your predecessor His Excellency Jaime de Pinies discharged his duties as the President of the fortieth session of the General Assembly. Coming from a luminous background rich in United Nations affairs, Ambassador de Pinies’s remarkable steering surpassed our expectations. His efforts deserve special appreciation. Last year we celebrated the historical jubilee session of our Organization. The Heads of State and Government in their addresses during that session expressed faith in the United Nations. Mature as this Organization is, my President’s memorative address in that session expressly underlined our view of the United Nations. We are aware that the UN system is not without shortcomings, but we must not fail to recognise its invaluable contributions to mankind. Mr. President, The preceding year has been an eventful one. However, despite the efforts to contain the numerous crises and tensions that exist among States, the world continues to be volatile and turbulent. It is under such threatening circumstances that we are reminded of the indispensable nature of the United Nations. The SecretaryGeneral’s wise and meaningful endeavours to rectify the explosive situations are most praiseworthy. His annual report on the work of the Organization reveals the extent of his earnest and sincere efforts in dealing with the pressing, diverse and complex issues. While clutching firmly to the idea that the role of the United Nations should be strengthened, I would like to express our appreciation for his dedication to his tasks. What we, at this crucial time require, is dedication to the noble principles enshrined in our Charter to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to create conditions conducive to justice, peace and development. While such courage on our part remains shadowed by self-centred political motives, each passing year compounds the existing obstacles intensifying among other things the East-West rivalry and enlarging the North-South gap. The report of the Group of 18 High-Level Inter-Government Experts which reviewed the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations, has generated a level of attention and thought. A debate has begun. Maldives believes that the continuation of the process of reflection and reform is essential. We vitally need the United Nations as a strong and constructive force in our increasingly interdependent world. The arms race continues to rage with some States pouring billions of dollars into their military budgets. While a third of the world population is malnourished and plagued by hunger, disease and ignorance, such wanton expenditure cannot but be vigorously criticised. This Assembly proclaimed 1986 as the International Year of Peace. Yet, the year is coming to an end without any practical gains and sinking into history as only a celebration. The Geneva Summit between the two Superpowers in November last year raised our hopes for revival of Detente, but we were forced to abandon them quickly to face increased tension. As a developing State, we cannot help stressing our concern over the lack of progress in the field of arms control, disarmament and Detente. We welcome the announced agreement between President Reagan and General-Secretary Gorbachev to meet in Reykjavik, Iceland, next week. Maldives hopes that the two leaders will take into account in their negotiations not only their own national interests but also the vital interests of all peoples of the world. We are encouraged by the outcome of the recently concluded conference in Stockholm on Security and Confidence-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe. We welcome the forthcoming Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to be held in Vienna, which will provide an opportunity to continue along this road in the interest of all. Efforts to save outer space from the dangers of the arms race should be continued vigorously by the United Nations and through the United Nations. Agreements should be found and global mechanisms be evolved to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Unless we are able to generate greater political will and assume more shared responsibility on this particular issue now, we fear that our children will 3 be the ones who will suffer the consequences of our own aggressive instincts which breed nothing but hostility, violence and destruction. In this context, we wish to reiterate that, while we mark the International Year of Peace, it is important to aim at progress in action along with the demonstration of political will towards making our world a safer world. Mr. President, The concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions of the world, we believe, would contribute towards international peace and security. The people of any region have an unquestionable right to determine their priorities and work out solutions to problems facing them as long as such activities are in compliance with the broad objectives of our Charter. It is essential to respect the views of the countries of the region in applying the concepts which they wish to promote. On these principles, we supported past UN General Assembly resolutions calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South Asia. We therefore renew our support to all efforts being made by this Organization to translate this concept into reality. Mr. President, Apartheid knows no human values nor does it recognize the legitimate rights of people to uphold their own dignity. The South African racist regime has been thriving on the abhorred system of apartheid despite strong protests and disapproval by the world community. While bloodshed in South Africa continues to become the order of the day, the regime’s determination to protect, sustain and brace the system is growing ever stronger. It is paradoxical that while we raise the banners of human rights, some of us in this Assembly continue to support this flagrant crime by means of declared sympathy towards the regime which is committing the crime or by means of their reluctance to apply adequate measures on that regime which will compel them to abandon the system of apartheid. It is our disappointment that agreement has not been reached towards applying comprehensive and effective sanctions against the arrogant regime in Pretoria despite the pleas from the people of South Africa themselves. We feel that there is no better civilised instrument than the use of sanctions against South Africa to bring down the regime to its wisdom and force it to dismantle the system of apartheid. South Africa’s continued illegal presence in Namibia poses a direct threat to the States of the region. Two decades ago this Assembly terminated the South African mandate over Namibia. Yet South Africa continues its occupation of Namibia in utter disregard of strong and persistent condemnation of its behaviour by the international community. Regrettably the regime’s obstinate policy thrives because of thecomplicity of some other States who cooperate with her in the plunder of the bountiful and invaluable natural endowments of Namibia. The unrelenting struggle of the Namibian people is, by all standards, a struggle for freedom, a struggle against colonialism, racism and racial discrimination. We hope that those States which can exercise critical leverage would still join the world community in renouncing their selfcentred interests and in endorsing the recommendations that emerged from the International Conference for the Immediate Independence of Namibia that was held 4 in July this year. The recent 14th special session of the United Nations devoted to the question of Namibia once again brought to the attention of the apartheid South African regime, the vigilant displeasure and objection of the international community to the illegal occupation of Namibia by that regime. We are heartened by the important decision made by this august body to further our endeavours to bring pressure upon the South Africa regime. We believe that the focus of the international media and the resulting greater influence on public opinion were essential effects of that important special session. Mr. President, The solution to the question of Palestine has always deceived the world community. The question has been on the agenda of this Assembly for several decades. The plight of the Palestinians seem to be heard by the world community which only sympathizes for their plight but is not really willing to solve it. Ways and means of alleviating their problems have in fact been discussed with much consideration. However, all moves by the international community on this question seem to be blocked by Israel and often by its allies. They continue to frustrate the peace initiatives that emerge from various quarters. Over the years the Palestinian problem has spilled over and disastrously affected the security of the entire region of the Middle East. The General Assembly has reiterated over and over again that the crux of the Middle East problem is the question of Palestine. Israel with its military might continues to deepen the crisis by its occupation of more and more Arab territories. It continues to perpetuate its designed policies of expansionism through the establishment of illegal settlements in violation of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. We strongly condemn such illegal activities including aggression against the Arabs and we urge Israel to withdraw unconditionally all its forces from all the occupied Arab territories. My country firmly believes that there cannot be a just and lasting solution to the Palestine question and the crisis in the Middle East unless the inalienable rights of the Palestinians are respected and their homeland returned to them. The Palestinians and the Arabs have repeatedly expressed their readiness to resolve the problem on a just and equitable basis. In this context, we support the call to convene an international conference on the Middle East with the participation of all concerned parties. We urge all of them to enter into negotiations with the genuine intention of seeking permanent and durable peace. Maldives would extend its support to all initiatives that would restore to the Palestinians their inalienable right to self-determination, to national independence and sovereignty and to return to their homeland. We would equally support all measures aimed at restoring peace to the war-torn and smoldering region of the Middle East. My delegation is also in support of all moves that would help to abate the situations in Afghanistan and Kampuchea. We support the call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from these countries in order to pave the way for the people of these countries to determine their own affairs and to exercise their rights without external interference. We wish to place on record the appreciation of the efforts of the Secretary-General in his relentless attempts to end the warring situation in both 5 Afghanistan and Kampuchea. We are also pleased to see the willingness of the Kampuchean people in their most recent Eight-Point Proposal in view of a constructive framework for a negotiated settlement. The Charter of our Organization provides ample procedures to deal with international conflicts. Therefore, any suggestion to involve all parties concerned to seek a national reconciliation would fall entirely under the framework of the United Nations Charter. Mr. President, The Cyprus conflict has also caused untold suffering and misery to its people. This prolonged conflict should be resolved urgently with due regard to the sovereignty and national integrity of Cyprus. However, we are convinced that such solutions should take into consideration the grievances of both communities on an equal basis. My government has repeatedly resounded its conviction on similar lines, at several other international meetings. It is now a decade and half since the General Assembly declared the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace within limits to be determined. Pending the agreement on principles and modalities to implement the Declaration, the rising rivalry among the big powers for politico-economic gains coupled with commercial jealousies have virtually turned the ocean into an arena of confrontation. The presence of all types of instruments of war now pose a security threat to all the States, littoral or hinterland, in the region. We reiterate our support to and urge all States to facilitate the early convening of the proposed Colombo Conference while we express our appreciation of the efforts of the United Nations in this respect. The hopes for the reunification of Korea are still dim despite the continued efforts by the international community. We reiterate our firm conviction that unification can only be achieved through peaceful dialogue and negotiations between the North and the South. My Government strongly feels that interference by other States in the interKorean dispute should be immediately ceased in order to allow them to reach an amicable agreement which will serve the interests of the Korean people themselves. The delegation of Maldives wishes also to stress the importance of reaching a more balanced agreement on Antarctica. The present treaty which gives special privileges to the consultative parties should consciously be replaced in favour of an equitable arrangement that would recognize Antarctica as a common heritage of mankind. Then, the resources of Antarctica could be explored and exploited in a way that would benefit all the people of the world and with due respect to the fragile environment of Antarctica. We feel that the role of the United Nations should be enhanced in this regard, and before the issue drifts out of reach. Mr. President, The world economy is still in shambles after the recess that set in at the beginning of this decade. The repercussions of that economic down-turn are still grim for the developing countries. Although recovery is taking place at the level of the industrialized countries, its results have not been adequately felt throughout the world. The stability and the sustenance of the recovery still seem to be in doubt even 6 for the industrialized countries. Retreat by the developed countries from multilateralism and international cooperation in order to resuscitate economic growth literally squeezed the economies of the rest. If the present trend of recovery is to be sustained with a broader effect on the world as whole, protectionism needs to be rolled back and concessional capital flow to the developing countries should be increased beyond the present levels, not only to enable them to service their debt which now stands at the trillion dollar mark but also to assist them to reach a level of self-reliance. It is indisputable that a healthy growth in the Third World economies is crucial and will remain critical to global economic stability. A sign which encourages hopes for change issued from the recent GATT Conference in Punta del Este, which, without a doubt, has been the most significant event of the year in the field of trade and international economic relations. The importance of the GATT Conference lies in the fact that agreement was reached to launch a new General Round of Trade Negotiations to remove the existing gloom. If the world is to extricate itself from the claws of more economic crises, the present unjust structure of the international economic system should be replaced by a New International Economic Order. The stalled North-South dialogue is a clear demonstration of the reluctance on the part of the developed countries to rectify the imbalances in the present set-up. In this regard, we welcome the establishment of a non-governmental Independent Commission of the South for development issues. We are dismayed by the paucity of assistance that was generated for the Least Developed Countries despite the Paris Conference and repeated calls for increased contributions. It is also under these circumstances that we feel that South-South cooperation should also be expanded and strengthened. Mr. President, My country belongs to the group of Least Developed Countries. As a small island developing country, the Maldives faces innumerable and formidable economic difficulties and limitations arising from its small size, remoteness from great market centres of the world, constraints in transport and communications, highly limited internal markets, scarcity of natural resources, and dependence on a narrow-based economic structure. We note with disappointment that the implementation of the Substantial New Programme of Action, the SNPA, has been extremely slow and urge those responsible to contribute generously to implement the SNPA in the remainder of this decade so that LDCs can overcome their difficulties and become self-reliant. My country is endowed with little or no natural resources except what the sea that surrounds the several hundred tiny islands [provides us with]. It is because of this special circumstance of my country and of many other small countries that we ask for special attention and assistance. In this regard, we note with satisfaction the steps that are being taken by the United Nations, specifically by UNCTAD, to alleviate the problems of island developing countries. 7 We also appreciate the sympathy shown by many other international and regional bodies towards small States and their problems. But sympathy alone will not solve these problems. Bearing in mind these facts, we stress the need for the competent organs of the United Nations system, particularly LJNDP and other financial institutions, to respond urgently to the specific needs of island developing countries. Mr. President, We are proud to belong to this Organization and participate in its activities. In a world that is teeming with hotbeds of tension, conflict and bloody wars, where mankind is hostage to the awful nuclear arsenals of his own creation, the importance and the indispensability of the United Nations cannot be over-exaggerated. Our Organization, certainly, has its problems and difficulties as can be expected. In the words of my President, and I quote: “There is no question that it has its problems and its difficulties, but with all of them there is ample proof that the world needs the United Nations.”, unquote. We feel that there is no better institutional arrangement than the United Nations to deal with grievances among States of the world. Our firm belief in the constructive roles that the United Nations is playing will not be diminished by its failure caused by deliberate and often self-centred acts of some States on some of the issues. While we remain convinced of the effective measures the United Nations continues to take, we must, at the same time, think of ways and means of further strengthening the Organization and its activities. The valuable services the UN specialized agencies are rendering to mankind cannot be easily described nor can such services be assessed. As I stated in my statement to the General Assembly in 1984, the UN agencies came into existence not only because the prominent men who created them were wise, but because the services they envisage and render are directly related to the wellbeing of mankind, irrespective of race, religion or region. In conclusion, let me reiterate my Government’s firm and sincere support to the United Nations; for this body has now become the only force on earth that could save human civilisation and reverse our drift towards nuclear catastrophe. Thank you.