ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO THE FORTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to the presidency of the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly. Your election to this important post, no doubt, is a testimony to your personal credentials and the important role being played by your country in international affairs.
I would also like to commend the work of your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Stoyan Ganev of Bulgaria who has demonstrated outstanding skills of diplomacy and dedication.
It is also my pleasant duty to pay tribute to the Secretary-General Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali for his untiring efforts in promoting international peace and security.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to the six new States, Andorra, the Czech Republic, Eritrea, Monaco, the Slovak Republic, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who have joined us during the past year. I am confident that their participation and contribution will further enrich the work of this organization.
The end of the Cold War came with promises. Promises of a better future. A future without the threat of nuclear holocaust. A future in which scarce resources would not be spent on building military might. A future in which millions of starving will be fed, provided with the basic health care needs, safe drinking water and a basic level of education. A future which will provide a safe and clean environment with the right to sustainable development. A future in which the dignity of the human being will be respected.
This is the vision that gave rise to this august Organization in 1945. We have rededicated ourselves to this vision with a renewed vigor following the demise of the Cold War. The moral authority of the United Nations has been reasserted over military might. A number of protracted conflicts have shown signs of movement towards resolution. International cooperation in addressing global issues such as environment, disarmament, international peace and security and human rights reached new heights.
As a consequence the United Nations gained new respect and has been entrusted with new responsibilities. In order to live up to its heightened expectations the Organization must continue to receive the unwavering commitment of its member States.
The Republic of Maldives would like to take this opportunity to renew its commitment to the Principles and Objectives of the Charter of the United Nations.
These changes in the work of the United Nations reflect corresponding changes in the political, economic, and security landscape that underpins efforts at international cooperation. In view of this reality the Security Council of the United Nations needs to be reformed and restructured. We should be careful not to have a piecemea~ approach to this. Any expansion of the Council and the status of the members should be based on the principles of equitable and balanced representation. We should formulate principled criteria that would reflect the political, economic and demographic realities of the world today.
The events in Bosnia-Herzegovina have shamed us all. A State member of the United Nations has been subjected to naked aggression. The entire population of a small country is being progressively exterminated through deliberate genocide. Systematic rape of Bosnian girls and women is being used as an instrument of war. Men, women and even children have been forced out of their homeland into besieged enclaves.
We need to examine why the international community has failed to stop the carnage taking place in that country. Regional, international and direct diplomacy have been applied, yet to no avail. At a time when the world community has re-dedicated itself to the sanctity of human rights it is a tragic shame that systematic violation of these same rights has gone unpunished due to a lack of will on the part of the international community.
We condemn the continued violence and genocide taking place in Bosnia Herzegovina and call upon the international community to take more decisive steps in order to fully carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us by the Charter of this Organization. We fully recognize the inherent right to self-defense as prescribed in the Charter. We believe that the right to self-defense comprises the most fundamental right, the right to life.
A permanent solution to the situation in Bosnia should be found by peaceful means and within the parameters of the Charter of the United Nations amongst which is the principle of territorial integrity.
The continued violations of the basic rights of the human being taking place in Angola and Somalia are of serious concern to us. The events in Somalia, especially the attacks on the United Nations peacekeeping personnel are grave developments threatening the genre of this Organization. United Nations involvement in Somalia now raises several questions, including the sincerity of the warring parties to receive the assistance of the international community to overcome the extreme poverty that has ravaged the entire country.
Today, this Organization is learning a very expensive lesson, both in terms of human life and financial resources, in providing humanitarian assistance and in seeking to protect the people of these countries. It is indeed ironic and tragic that peace keepers themselves have become targets of violence. My government condemns such violence in the strongest possible terms and believes that those responsible in perpetuating such acts should be brought to justice.
These experiences are demonstrating that unless the parties involved are sincere in finding a peaceful solution and avoiding violence, the United Nations will by itself be not in a position to perform miracles.
Developments taking place in South Africa have been encouraging. The very active and high-level role currently being played by the United Nations in facilitating an end to political violence and promoting negotiations to establish the democratic and nonracial state in South Africa is commendable. My government also commends the ANC and the government of South Africa for their positive attitude in working out the details of the multi-party elections. In this connection the recent agreement to set up the multi-party transition committee is a welcome development. We feel that the era of apartheid which is an affront to human dignity is coming to an imminent end. In this context, we urge all parties concerned to refrain from violence and actions that would subvert the peace process.
Our hope is that when we meet here in New York next year, we will have amongst us the true representatives of the South African people and that this Organization will be able to benefit from their experiences and knowledge.
The Arab Israeli peace talks that began in 1991 have made remarkable progress. The signing of the declarations of the principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel in Washington last month is historic. In this context I would like to express our admiration to the PLO and the people of Palestine for their courage and determination to find a comprehensive and peaceful solution to the question of Palestine.
The Maldives also pays tribute to the Government of the United States of America and other concerned governments for the important role they are playing in the Middle East peace talks. It is our earnest hope that this agreement will lead to the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestine people to self-determination, sovereign independence and the establishment of a national home land on their own soil.
The tragic consequences of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait are still of serious concern to the international community. All outstanding issues, such as the border dispute and the release of Kuwaiti and third country prisoners still being held in Iraqi jails should be immediately settled. The resolutions of these issues in conformity with international law and practice will contribute to the elimination of tension and the restoration of security and stability in the region. In this regard, the Government of Maldives welcomes the completion of the work of the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission and the endorsement of the report of this Commission by the United Nations Security Council. We also feel that the acceptance of the report of the Commission by Kuwait is a very positive step indicative of their eagerness and sincerity towards a comprehensive solution. The government of Maldives urges Iraq to adopt an equally positive attitude in the interest of peace, security and stability.
The international community met in June this year at the Second World Conference on Human Rights to review and assess progress and setbacks in human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration in 1948. I am happy that we were able to make considerable progress in several key areas. We believe that some of the achievements of this conference will provide a new impetus to promote human rights throughout the world. However, we all need to be very realistic in addressing this very important issue. The international community should not let the promotion of human rights be used as an excuse by a few to impose uniformity in human behavior and thinking at the expense of diversity. Rather it should emphasize the significance of universality of Human Rights. We should not let this happen because we know too well the fate of societies that have tried to impose uniform thinking and behavior on their peoples. Differences amongst individuals and societies should be appreciated. It is such diversity that enriches our family of nations.
The government of Maldives has always attached great importance to disarmament and international peace and security. It is our firm belief that the production and stockpiling of armaments will only worsen the security of the entire world. In this regard the Maldives calls upon the international community not to lose the current momentum towards disarmament. We therefore, urge the concerned parties to continue to build upon past achievements, particularly in the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the control of proliferation, greater transparency in armaments and the negotiation of other confidence-building measures.
Maldives acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction early this year and, today, on behalf of the Government of Maldives, I have signed the United Nations Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. Maldives is not a country involved in the production and stockpiling of such weapons. My government's accession and signature therefore demonstrates our commitment to support all international efforts to eradicate such weaponry.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was one of the first international treaties my country became a party to after its independence in I 965. Our commitment to this treaty is unwavering because we fully realize the consequences of the proliferation of such weapons of mass destruction. My government supports the indefinite extension of this treaty beyond 1995. We believe that under the framework of this Treaty progress could be made in the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones and zones of peace. My government reiterates its full support for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free-zones and zones of peace. We feel that the establishment of such zones will further contribute to the promotion of international peace and security.
I also wish to express my Government's unqualified support for the total eradication of all weapons of mass destruction, be it chemical, biological or nuclear, and reiterate our call for the conclusion of effective agreements on a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. In this connection the Government of Maldives commends the United States for their unilateral decision to extend its moratorium on nuclear testing until the end of 1994.
The Charter of the United Nations recognizes the inherent rights of all states to self-defense. However, only a privileged few posses the ability to provide for their own security unilaterally. Small States which lack adequate financial resources for the acquisition of military equipment, and face severe constrains in manpower are never in a position to provide suitably for their own security. Any attempt by small States to build their military capabilities to a level of even near self-reliance would be a mere wastage of resources. The United Nations remains the only guarantor of security for the small States.
In the economic sphere, the world economy once again failed to meet the expected rate of growth. It continues to characterize deteriorating terms of trade for the developing countries and rising protectionism in developed countries. For decades the developing countries have sought a New World Economic Order that would eliminate the imbalances existing in the present system.
However, little has been accomplished in the realization of this goal. The scientific and technological gap between the developing and the developed countries is increasingly widening. The flow of Official Development Aid (ODA) has declined as a result of the slow growth in the economies of the donor countries.
The global arrangements and institutions established to manage economic relations amongst the states have not been able to lift the world from its present depression. This failure has serious implications for the developing countries. In order to avoid disastrous consequences, we call for an early conclusion of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which will set the tone for the future based on an open trading system.
The North-South dialogue must be re-activated on a new basis comprising of common interests and benefits and shared responsibilities. Similarly the SouthSouth cooperation must be intensified, allowing them to pool their resources and pursue concrete development efforts within the framework of collective self-reliance, and continued support for open trading Systems. The world cannot rise out of its economic disarray and be assured of stability until the North and the South can work out together, a system that encourages closer economic relations and strengthens North-South exchange.
One particular concept that needs emphasis is the inseparability of development, and the equitable sharing of its fruits as well as its responsibilities. This trilogy of Development must be simultaneously pursued with equal intensity if development is to succeed. In this regard let me reiterate my Government's firm belief that sustainable development is the only way that could guarantee the continued life on this planet earth. We need to hasten our efforts to meet the commitments we made in Rio de Janeiro last year. We call on all states to urgently ratify the Climate Convention and the Bio-diversity Convention. My Government is proud to announce that we were one of the first to ratify both these Conventions.
The establishment of the Sustainable Development Commission is a welcome development. We commend the Commission for the very productive work accomplished at its first substantive session and hope that its future work will also be of the same high standard.
The Preparatory work for the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States began during this year. My country, as a small island state regards this conference as a very important step in addressing and finding practical solutions to the unique problems facing us in our developmental efforts. We hope that the international community will continue to constructively participate in the preparatory process and the Conference itself.
The responsibility thrust upon us today is tremendous. The realization of the dreams of our peoples are in our hands. We cannot afford to be blind to the desires of our peoples to be better fed, to have safer drinking water, to have access to education and health care needs and to be free from the nuclear holocaust and the dangers of environmental degradation. We cannot afford to be embroiled in the build up of stockpiles of armaments and weapons of mass destruction while our economies are the main victims of these acquisitions of death and destruction.
We should rise above all these and become more human in all our endeavors. I have no doubt that together we can actually achieve the better future that has been promised to us.
Thank you, Mr. President.