ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO THE FORTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Allow me at the outset to convey to you, on behalf of the delegation of the Maldives our sincere congratulations to you on your election as the President of the forty-sixth session of the General Assembly. Your election is a tribute not only to your dedicated contribution to this Organization, but also to the country you represent, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with which the Maldives has had long ties of friendship and bonds of Islamic brotherhood. I am fully confident that your wise guidance and leadership will enable this session of the General Assembly to deal successfully with the very important issues in its agenda. Allow me also to express my delegation's deep appreciation and esteem to His Excellency Mr. Guido de Marco, President of the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly for the distinctive manner in which he had discharged his onerous responsibilities. The Maldives rejoices the admission, at this session, of seven new member states to the membership of our family of independent and sovereign nations, taking us another step forward towards the realization of the universality of this Organization. We are indeed happy to see amongst us The Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands who share with us many geographic features and entertain similar political and economic aspirations. We warmly welcome to our midst the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, two states with whom the Maldives had enjoyed a cordial and friendly relationship for a long time. We hope that their membership in the United Nations will help in providing opportunities to the peoples of Korea to reconcile their differences and live in harmony.
We are also delighted and honored to witness the return to the international community the three countries of the Baltic, Republic of Estonia, Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania. As we are about to carry out the important and the difficult task of electing a successor to His Excellency Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, allow me, Mr. President, to pay a special tribute to him and salute him with admiration and gratitude. We in the Maldives will remember him as a man of wisdom, patience, and great skill in diplomacy, and as a statesman who served the international community in difficult times with conviction and dignity. I take this opportunity to wish him well in the years to come.
We have witnessed dramatic changes in the international political scene during the past years. These changes have taken place in such rapid succession that made the world hasten to adjust itself to the changing realities. The events continue to flow one after another rendering us unprecedented opportunities for peace, and for building a new world order based on justice and equality. This makes the current session of the General Assembly a very critical one. The United Nations, being the most universal of all international organizations needs to address itself to these changes. More importantly it needs to play a revitalized role as the principal, as the broker and as the enforcer of peace and justice in the world. Let us at this moment jointly show some creativity and redefine our objectives as the founding fathers of this organization did forty five years ago, leaning on the lofty principles of our Charter.
Among other significant events in recent months, we have seen the happy ending of the "cold war" escapade, and perhaps with it the East-West competition for supremacy which sadly had haunted the human race for over forty years. While applauding the players for their vision and for their courageous decisions, we remain cautious of what the "New World Order" promises us in the future. The expectations are no doubt high, and the demands are increasing as we go on dismantling the policies and alliances which imposed on the world an unjustified status quo, inhibiting the process of peace and justice. We are particularly apprehensive of the fairness which this new order would entail for the developing countries; especially the less developed among them.
My delegation is of the view that a new world order - if there is going to be any - should be a fair and just one, based on the very principles we have strived for in the past. It should be an order of peace and peaceful co-existence, tolerance and sensible compromise. It would be direly pitiful if we allow for fads of political hegemony, extreme protectionism, hard-core nationalism and or racism to grow again under our feet in the comfort of the breeze we are enjoying today. The new order should also be one democratically formulated, and jointly implemented; an order that would address the concerns of the peoples in the North and South, East and West without discrimination or privilege. In our endeavor to establish the new world order we should never lose sight of the lofty principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The new order should have the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations as its pillars.
The responsibilities of the international community at this critical juncture of history are mufti-fold. They include in the immediate term the acceleration of the process of disarmament, peaceful settlement of on-going disputes and the strengthening of the concept of legitimacy and the rule of law in relations between and amongst the states.
In this context, we deeply appreciate the positive steps taken by the United States and the Soviet Union in the course of disarmament. In particular we welcome the recent initiative taken by President Bush by declaring the decision of the United States government to relinquish its short range nuclear weapons. We are also encouraged by the positive response from President Gorbachev. We hope that this historic decision will set the tone for the long anticipated process of eliminating all nuclear weapons, as well as the other weapons of mass destruction. We would definitely like to see an immediate halt to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, not only in the areas of conflicts but also at global and regional levels. Our attention is also focused at this juncture on the urgent need for a durable solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, at the core of which still remains the Question of Palestine. We feel that a just and comprehensive settlement to the question of the Middle East will be possible only if the process includes the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right for self-determination and the right to establish a state of their own on their homeland. We hope that the recent efforts lead by the United States aimed at the convening of a peace conference would produce positive results.
The problem of Cyprus is another issue which deserve our immediate attention. While supporting the relentless efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations to resolve the question, we sincerely urge all parties concerned to make a renewed effort to reach an early settlement of the dispute on the basis of resolution 649 of the Security Council which we believe stands as a fair and a practical vehicle in the course of a comprehensive settlement of the dispute. In South Africa we have witnessed positive movements towards the abolition of the evil system of apartheid which is an affront to the entire human race. Although, there have been some changes, it is a system of which even one iota is not acceptable. Therefore, my delegation supports the continuation of international sanctions imposed on the racist regime until the whole system of apartheid is totally dislodged.
The recent initiative of the Permanent Members of the Security Council, along with the relentless efforts of the ASEAN countries, give us the hope for the settlement of the issue of Cambodia. However, we remain concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, where despite the withdrawal of foreign troops and the accords and agreements signed between the parties, the fighting is continuing, preventing millions of Afghan people from returning to their homes and resuming a normal life. We call upon all parties concerned to resolve the problem urgently.
The Gulf crisis was an experience from which the world learned many lessons. The swift and the determined reaction of the international community to repel the aggression on Kuwait should be commended. The demonstration of the working of the collective security system emphasized the need for strengthening the concept of and the mechanism for the international collective security. It also highlighted the fact that such a system needs to be consistently adhered to if international peace and security is to be maintained. Countries should not be differentiated on the basis of size, power and economic wealth in the application of the Charter. The Gulf crisis and many other recent events also highlighted the vulnerability of small states and their need for international support in facing security threats of different nature.
We remain strongly convinced that the issue of collective security, including the special problems of the small states, should be kept high on our agenda as we embark on a new international order. In the wake of the current trend towards the easing of international tension brought about as a result of dialogue and cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union, the United Nations is being asked to play an increasingly active role as the guarantor of international peace and security. It is a challenge and responsibility that the Organization can only effectively undertake with the firm and continued support of all of its members, particularly the larger and more powerful States. For small States like the Maldives, the United Nations has always been and will always remain the best hope in warding off challenges to their sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore the Maldives will be keen, with many other small member States in this Organization, once again to review the issue of protection and security of small States during the current session of the General Assembly, and we hope that we will find the same support and sympathy amongst the members of this body as we did two years ago when we initially tabled a proposal on this issue at the forty-fourth session. In this respect, I would like to draw the kind attention of member States to the Secretary General's report on the subject which recognized, inter alia, that because of their intrinsic characteristics, small States may need a special measure of attention and support and that the international community has a vested interest in safeguarding the security of small States. It also stated that small States have limited capacity to provide for their own security.
This is a very valid observation with regard to the realities that we face in our countries. We have a very narrow economic base and thus any attempt to strengthen the security forces would entail a drainage of resources from other areas of development. At the same time even a very short disruption of the political and economic mechanism of a country like ours by international adventurers such as narco-terrorists or mercenaries would do major harm to the economy that may require a very long time to recover.
Environmental degradation is an issue which the new world order should have on its priority list. It is an issue which could threaten the very existence of many of our nations present here at this Assembly today. It has been a key concern of the Maldives, given the threats posed due to global warming and possible sea level rise which could endanger the very survival of our island nation. Indeed, environmental disasters of even minor magnitude can have serious implications in countries like the Maldives as was evidenced during late May this year when we were hit by unusually strong storms causing extensive damage. I would like to take this opportunity to express my Government's sincere gratitude for the generous assistance rendered by the international community in coping with relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the Government in connection with this disaster. In concert with other South Asian nations, the Maldives is currently involved in the finalization of two important environmental studies, SAARC Study on Natural Disasters and the Study on the Greenhouse Effect and its impact on the region. It is our intention to have these two studies completed in time for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development to be held in Brazil next year. The Maldives looks forward with great anticipation to participate in this very important Conference with the hope that the Conference will be able to draw up a global environmental strategy that will ensure the protection and preservation of the environment and promote sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
No agenda of a new international order could be one without an item on the developmental issues. It is this magic term that all countries are striving for. All countries are aspiring for better development of their infrastructure, so that its citizens could enjoy a higher standard of living. However, in what should now be called the old order, the opportunities for development were not fair. A small group of countries attained an extremely high standard of living at the expense of the rest of us. The terms of trade and other economic realities have been manipulated to maintain the group of us called "the less developed countries", less developed. With the decreasing tensions in the political and military spheres it is hoped that the resources otherwise channeled to building weaponry will be utilized in helping the less developed countries attain their aspirations. This we hope would be the peace dividend.
It is with these hopes and aspirations that we are again beginning another session of this august assembly. We have an atmosphere which augurs well for the achievement of these aspirations and hopes we have had for a long time. We have never had an opportunity like this in the history of this organization. Therefore, we should not let this opportunity fade away.
I thank you, Mr. President.