ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE FOURTYFOURTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, Excellencies. Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is indeed a pleasure for me and the members of my delegation to extend to you, Mr. President, our sincere congratulations on your election as President of the forty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Your election to this high office is a well deserved tribute to your personal qualities and experience. I am fully confident that under your able and wise leadership this Assembly will further consolidate on the gains achieved during the past year. My delegation also associates itself with the previous speakers in expressing our appreciation for the dedicated efforts of your distinguished predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Dante Caputo, for the exemplary manner in which he has discharged his duties as the President of the forty-third session of the General Assembly. Mr. President, As in previous years, my delegation wishes to note our satisfaction with and gratitude to the assiduous and unrelenting efforts undertaken by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations in the cause of peace, and international harmony. We pay tribute to his untiring efforts in promoting conditions conducive to the realization of the noble principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We praise and congratulate him for the successes the Organization has achieved in recent years. More particularly, we praise him for the renewed faith and the regeneration of confidence in this Organisation and its ability to play an instrumental role in the peaceful settlement of disputes. Mr. President, Today we find ourselves at an important crossroads. Recent years have witnessed a welcome positive change in the international political climate. The confrontational tone of the superpower relations of not too long ago continue to show signs of thawing. At the same time, a number of regional and sub-regional conflicts have taken momentous strides towards resolution. Many more protracted conflicts show signs of hope and movement. Though one might argue that the present situation is invariably delicate, the progress made can hardly escape note and is indeed worthy of recognition. Developments in southern Africa, and more particularly Namibia, with regard to the implementation of the United Nations Independence Plan, are signals of hope that are welcome. Amidst the hopes there are still dark reminders of the precariousness of global political reconciliation. A number of outstanding problems remain unsolved. Several of these, such as the conflicts in the Middle East continue to simmer. It is therefore in this sense that we are at an important crossroads. We feel that there is enough goodwill to set in motion the process of evolution towards peace and stability. We see signs that the human intellect is resourceful enough to devise ideas that are conducive to our survival. Fresh concepts of peace and security have gained currency. At the same time, we continue to live under the dark shadow of nuclear devices. The proliferation of nuclear weapons, both horizontally and vertically, is a tragic reminder of the difficulties and obstacles which exist between mankind and lasting peace. On the economic front, hard choices need to be made. The I980s have witnessed one of the longest spells of growth for the industrialized countries. Moreover, the situation in the South, particularly in the Least Developed Countries, continues to deteriorate. Benefits of trade continue to be disproportionate. Commodity prices have not regained their value in real terms. Aid flows continue to be inadequate. The debt burden facing many Third World countries are stifling economic growth and efforts for development, causing political instability. The link between economic development and environment has been recently recognized. It is encouraging to note the high profile given to environmental issues at the Paris Summit of the Group of Seven in July this year. In this regard, it is of particular interest that there is an increasing awareness and acceptance that certain technologies have a deleterious effect on the environment. The question remains about how these technologies could be replaced through global programmes of cooperation. Mr. President, No single fact or no single object defines our moment in civilization more than does the existence of large nuclear arsenals. We have the horrible capacity to destroy our planet several times over, either by accident or by design. Nuclear weapons instill fear and beget mistrust and insecurity. They have a remarkable tendency to set hostile relations in concrete. They aggravate the security dilemma of States and ossify a conflictual mode of behaviour. This, therefore, fuels the arms race and the shares of arms budgets soar while expenditures that are benevolent tend to plummet. Mr. President, The United Nations Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development served a timely reminder of the opportunity Costs of armaments, both 3 nuclear and conventional. However, Mr. President, the opportunity cost of nuclear weaponry is not only development. The international political climate, the security perceptions of States as well as the environment are actual and potential sacrifices of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the potential for horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons issues the stark and grim warning that regional rivalries would be on an evermore shorter fuse and cataclysm, that much more closer. It is in view of these strong objections to nuclear weapons and their proliferation and deployment, that my delegation has consistently and strongly supported United Nations calls for disarmament. Mr. President, The confidence that can be derived from genuine arms reduction has a pervasive effect on the security environment. The transition that many of the world’s conflicts are making towards negotiations and understanding owes a great deal to the improved relations between the Superpowers which is itself, in part, inspired by the historic arms reduction agreement of December 1987. It is, therefore, for this reason that Maldives has always supported all efforts for general and complete disarmament, including the total elimination of chemical and bacteriological weapons and reduction in conventional armaments. Mr. President, We also believe that nuclear-weapon-free zones and zones of peace could inspire trust, goodwill and cooperation amongst States, transforming the regions into secure communities contributing towards global peace and security. We therefore support calls for the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones and zones of peace. Mr. President, I would like to express my delegation’s fullest support for the people of Namibia, with our sincere hopes that 1989 will go down in history as the year in which the people of Namibia achieved their independence. Mr. President, Apartheid is an affront to mankind and a crime against humanity. No amount of tinkering round the edges can placate the sense of outrage and indignation felt by the world community towards this immoral practice. No amount of cosmetic change can provide justice and dignity to the oppressed majority in South Africa. We in the Maldives express our solidarity with the oppressed majority in South Africa in their struggle against apartheid. We condemn unequivocally the system of apartheid and condemn the Pretoria regime for its continued defiance of the resolutions of this Organization and world public opinion. It is unfortunate that the international community has been less than unanimous on the implementation of sanctions against the racist regime in South Africa. Mr. President, 4 By far the greatest conflict in our time has been and continues to be the conflict in the Middle East. At the heart of this conflict is the question of Palestine. However, it is only in recent years that the Palestinian issue has exercised even a reasonable amount of concern in some key States. The search for peace continues to be frustrated by the hard-line and obstinate policies of Israel. Meanwhile, the situation in the Occupied Territories continues to deteriorate. The 22 month long Intifada reiterates the intensity of the situation posed by the Zionist occupation of Palestine and other Arab territories, including Jerusalem. The Government of Maldives strongly condemns the use of brutal force and the blatant abuse of human rights by Israel against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. We also deplore the continued defiance by Israel of United Nations resolutions and its violation of international law and all norms of civilized behaviour. We reiterate our full support and solidarity with the people of Palestine in their just struggle for self-determination and independence. We therefore welcome the overwhelming international support to the uprising which is being viewed as the just and valiant struggle of the Palestinian people for the restoration of their inalienable rights. We extend our wholehearted support to the proposal for an early convening of an international conference on the Middle East with full and independent participation of Palestine. The situation in Lebanon continues to remain volatile. The civil war, now in its fifteenth year, continues to take an increasing toll in human life. We fervently hope that with the developments taking place in the region and elsewhere, the question of Lebanon could also be solved in a manner which would restore the independence and national integrity and alleviate the suffering of its peoples. We welcome the efforts undertaken by the members of the Arab League, both in the past as well as at present to resolve the situation in Lebanon and request the international community to give their support to the people of Lebanon in their efforts to solve their problems. Mr. President, On a more hopeful note, we are pleased that, contrary to some early pessimistic assessments, the cease-fire agreed between Iran and Iraq in the Gulf has held firm indicating the sincerity of the parties to the conflict. We welcome the commitments undertaken by them to resolve the conflict. In particular we applaud the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General in the resolution of this conflict and urge both parties to consolidate the momentum of peace created and envisaged by the ceasefire. Mr. President, While we welcome the positive developments taking place in Afghanistan by the withdrawal of foreign troops, we regret that the situation has not been completelysettled. We reiterate our call upon all parties concerned to strictly adhere to the provisions of the Geneva Agreements in order not to frustrate the prevailing opportunities for a just and lasting solution to the problem. We urge upon the international community to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to 5 enhance relief and rehabilitation of refugees as well as for the long-term reconstruction of the ravaged country. Mr. President, The Kampuchean problem has taken positive strides towards a solution. We welcome the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Kampuchea, and appreciate the diplomatic efforts to obtain a comprehensive and lasting solution to the dispute, including the Jakarta informal meeting as well as the recent International Conference in Paris. However, realizing the delicateness of the current situation we call upon all parties concerned to exercise restraint, demonstrate good faith and to work towards national reconciliation and a comprehensive political solution. Mr. President, The process of reunification of peoples should be through peaceful means and by the creation of conditions conducive for reconciliation, peace and stability among those sharing the same aspirations. We remain optimistic about the prospects of peaceful national reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. Maldives, however, reiterates itself that this can only be achieved by direct dialogue and negotiations between the peoples concerned and the solutions reached should be entirely at their discretion without outside interference. The good offices of the United Nations can be utilized for these peaceful negotiations. Mr. President, Another issue that needs our attention is the situation in Cyprus. This prolonged inter-communal dispute should be solved urgently with due regard to the national integrity of the nation and the aspirations of its people. We welcome the recent high level contacts between the two communities and hope that the revived intercommunal dialogue would lead to inter-communal reconciliation on the basis of equality and integrity for both communities. We commend the tireless and sincere efforts of the Secretary-General in searching for a settlement to the conflict. Mr. President, As I have already noted, the world economic situation continues to be bleak for the developing countries. Their situation has been worsened by the constrained flow of aid since the early l980s, rampant domestic inflation, crippling debts and by the exorbitant burden of debt-servicing. The situation is aggravated by their falling share in international trade as well as by persistent negative trends in their terms of trade, owing to protectionism as well as by the upsurge in unilateralism and other practices that jeopardize the multilateral nature of trade. Despite recent measures whereby the resources of the international finance institutions have been increased by the plans of some of the most developed countries to recycle part of their surplus into the developing countries, it is regrettable that on the whole, the internationally agreed target of 0.7 percent of GNP as official development assistance has not been met. Moreover, as regards the Least Developed Countries who continue to register persistent negative growth rates, the ODA target of 0.15 percent of GNP too has not 6 been met. Mr. President, Economic insecurity is not the only visible threat facing many of us in the world today. Indeed we consider the environment as one of the most important aspects of the quality of life that we have to address in the present day in our quest for economic and industrial development. We welcome the proposed United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and consider the event a valuable opportunity which should be fully utilized to promote a comprehensive approach for the environmental problems related to the development activities of mankind,. While serious efforts are being made at global, regional and national levels for environmental protection, my delegation is particularly concerned about the effects of environmental degradation especially the depletion of the ozone layer and subsequent global warming and rise in sea-level. Maldives is a low-lying archipelagic State, entirely dependent upon its surrounding seas. Any degradation of the marine ecosystem or any rise in the mean sea-level is a matter of grave concern to the Maldives. It will be recalled that two years ago we witnessed the fury of today - tidal eruptions which caused extensive damage. We have embarked upon a programme of protecting the populated islands from the possible natural calamities with the assistance of friendly countries. Tidal waves, hurricanes and typhoons are becoming an increasing phenomena and today there is a greater awareness that man’s tampering with the environment and certain technologies inimical to the environment do have a direct bearing on the behaviour of the global weather system. Maldives therefore strongly supports the call for environmental preservation and is already a party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Our interest in that issue continues undiminished and we welcome the universal interest expressed in the preservation of the environment of all. I would also like to mention that the Maldives is hosting a conference of small States on sea-level rise in November this year. We are confident that this conference will contribute towards the global efforts in addressing this important issue. Mr. President, It is an old and true maxim that the best indicator of the strength and stability of an international security system or political order is the survival of its weakest members. It is in view of this, and the implications therein, that the ever increasing dangers of terrorism and mercenaries on the sovereignty of small and weak States is appalling. Mr. President, Terrorism is not a minor irritant to anybody, least of all to the small nations whose sovereignty is not only held hostage but can be easily usurped. The very existence of this possibility in the first place does not augur well for the security of the international community. The cherished principles that have for so long contributed to the survival of the present State system and are indispensable values of our global civilization are at stake. Today, it may be us, the small States, whose 7 sovereignty can be robbed by a handful of mercenaries of a gang of bounty-hunters. Tomorrow, it could be the larger countries who, even at present, face some erosion of their sovereignty and security by acts of the same modes. The difference is that when a small State is subject to a terroristic onslaught or an invasion by mercenaries, the consequences could be irreversible, both in political and economic terms. We in the Maldives were close to becoming the victims of such a dastardly attempt in November last year. Mr. President, It is evident that acts of terrorism and mercenarism which endanger the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States need to be deterred. The security of small States are more weak than permissive of mere self-help. The implications of efforts, to strengthen their own security both on the prospects of economic development through the severe, if at all affordable, opportunity costs, as well as the impact on the social and political values and long-term implications for the sustenance of democracy in a militarized society are negative. By requesting the inclusion of an item related to the protection and security of small States in the agenda of this august Assembly, we sought to highlight the issue which I just mentioned. We brought this issue to this august forum not because we are unwilling to defend our values. Nor have we taken up the matter here because our peoples lack valour. Mr. President, Small States do have friendly States that can and have assisted in the strengthening of their security. While we are grateful for the sense of duty these friends have, it is with regret that we note that bilateral security arrangements in the international system have not yet evolved to a level of maturity whereby the interest of the weaker partner can be reassured. Nor are the socio-political identity of the weaker State and the principle of sovereign equality strong enough to be impervious to the possible vicissitudes of unequal relationships. Moreover, our political systems continue to be afflicted by misperception which can distort actions taking place with the best of intentions. Consequently, the greater the power differential, the greater the propensity to misperception and the more hapless the predicament of the weaker parties. It is for this reason that we believe that multilateral frameworks are the most feasible modes of a sound security mechanism for the weakest Members of this Organization, even if the actual support or assistance in a given situation is rendered at a regional or bilateral level. Mr. President, As I noted earlier in my speech it is my humble opinion that we are at a pivotal point, an important crossroads, in our global political development. It is our belief that we are in a particularly auspicious moment in history to forge ahead in strengthening the norms of our global political and security systems. Thus it is our sincere hope that this Organization will take a similar momentous step which would constitute a leap in ushering in a new era of security for the small States. It is our trust that this critical step would be taken which would safeguard the principles espoused by this 8 Organization and on which the survival of a large number of this community depends. I thank you, Mr. President.