ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE FORTY-NINTH 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-ninth session of the General Assembly. Your election to this important post, no doubt, is testimony to your personal credentials and the important role being played by Côte d'Ivoire in international affairs. 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.
I would also like to commend the work of your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Samuel R. Insanally of Guyana who has demonstrated outstanding skills of diplomacy and dedication in so ably steering the work of the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly to a successful conclusion. Allow me also to pay the well deserved tribute to the Secretary-General Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali for his untiring efforts in promoting international peace and security, and justice.
The winds of change that is presently sweeping across the world gives us, more than ever before, new hopes and promises for building a better future. A future in which scarce resources would be utilized in feeding the millions of hungry mouths, to provide the basic health care to the needy, safe drinking water and a basic level of education, instead of spending them again on building military might and threaten the world with a new era of confrontation. A future which will provide a safe and clean environment in which human beings can live safely with dignity, respect and hope.
The recently held World Conference on Human Rights, the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, World Conference on Population and Development and the forthcoming World Conference on Women and the World Summit for Social Development reflects clear testimony of these hopes.
This was the dream of our founding fathers and so are they also ours.
With the demise of the Cold War, and on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, let us not hesitate once again to rededicate ourselves with more vigor and commitment to fulfill these dreams.
The United Nations must be able to evolve and promote a stronger, and more comprehensive arrangement for preventive diplomacy and peace making. Let us not allow potentially dangerous situations to escalate into those that leave the international community with no alternative but to take painful and expensive peace enforcement measures. Most importantly this Organization needs to play a revitalized role as the principal broker and the promoter of peace and justice in the world.
My delegation welcomes the present restructuring and revitalization process of the United Nations. We are hopeful that the reform process will take into consideration the concerns of all states in protecting their security, and maintenance of their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The establishment of effective means for internal oversight of the United Nations system is one of the useful steps that the General Assembly has taken. Special attention has to be given to all the issues related to the choice and the recruitment of personnel. If we are aiming at real improvement in the efficiency of our Organization, we must lay emphasis on the quality rather than the quantity, so that the United Nation's system remain a non-biased, less politicized but vibrant one.
For the Maldives the United Nations has always been and will always remain the best hope in warding off challenges to sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States. The Charter of the United Nations which we remain firmly bound to honour, recognizes the inalienable right to every nation to exist within secure boundaries, and the people of every country to live with dignity and in peace. It befalls on this world Organization therefore, to be the unequivocal guarantor of security and protection to those countries which lack the physical means to do so, or those who could simply be over-run by more powerful States.
The United Nations General Assembly will once, again at this session, deliberate on the item on Protection and Security of Small States. My delegation hopes that this important item will once again receive the same attention and support that it received during the forty-fourth and the forty-sixth session.
My delegation derives inspiration from the unwavering and renewed resolve of the international community on important security and political issues, significantly demonstrated in such cases as the Gulf crisis. The inherent vulnerability of small States was no more clearly demonstrated than in the case of the international intervention in Kuwait in 1990. Who would have indeed thought that a fully sovereign State of the United Nations, economically strong and with powerful friends would be in a position of being imminently wiped off from the political map of the world? And if a country such as Kuwait can be thrust into such a precarious position, then where lies the security of much smaller and economically weaker states? The recent instances when the United Nations took firm and decisive action certainly do highlight the importance and the effectiveness of the collective security system envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations. They further indicated to the international community the fact that a system for rapid response need to be consistently in place if international peace and security is to be maintained. The Security Council Summit of January 1992 reaffirmed its commitments to collective security as a valid principle and measure in maintaining international peace and security. My delegation believes that this is the time when urgent and deeper consideration must be given to the overall question of collective security. This is easily said but into this area comes the improvement of the skill, ability to exercise foresight and act fast, and build up of capacity and capability to move with greater coordination.
The real success in the accomplishment of the challenging task before the international community will require sincere commitment and dedication. This can only be achieved if every member of this Organization exercises the political will to settle, without any discrimination all disputes peacefully and assist the United Nations to move forward in this direction.
The recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report "An Agenda for Peace", on preventive diplomacy, peace- keeping, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building measures can serve as an extremely effective tool to this end. My delegation sincerely feels that as we all study every possible step to strengthen the structure of the United Nations in order to make it more effective and responsive to the changing world, the security of small States must be given its rightful place as priorities are reviewed and special consideration is being given to the task of the preservation of international peace, security and stability.
One of the most encouraging events in world history is the classic manner in which the Republic of South Africa, under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela has not only eliminated the most inhuman form of racial discrimination, the policy of Apartheid, but also established democracy fully respecting all the norms of national reconciliation. It is therefore, with the sincere sentiments of warm felicitations and good wishes that my delegation welcomes the restoration of the rightful place for the Republic of South Africa in the family of nations of this Organization.
The positive developments in the Middle East seems to me to be a most valuable lesson on how sincere, determined and dedicated efforts based on peace and conciliation could pay rich dividends in dangerously volatile situations. I sincerely feel that the international community owes a debt of gratitude to the United States of America and other concerned governments for the most valuable contributions to the creation of the atmosphere for the on-going peace negotiations in the Middle East, in which, I fervently hope and pray, that the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine will be restored. It is my conviction that the present trend of events, if pursued with patience and in good faith by all the parties involved, will result in the establishment of a sovereign independent State of Palestine, settlement of the issues related to the occupied territories, and finally, reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace in that region based on principles of justice and equality.
Time and again Maldives has stressed the importance of continuing accelerated efforts towards the goal of completing the disarmament process pursued by the United Nations. My delegation firmly believes that successes in preserving and maintaining international peace, security and stability will undoubtedly depend on the progress achieved in the field of disarmament. Admittedly there has been significant achievements in this area. However, the production, stockpiling and sale of weapons of war still prevails on an alarming scale throughout the world.
Although there is a convergence of views regarding the dangers of nuclear arms, there seems to exist a desire on the part of some countries to acquire or retain nuclear weapons technology. We believe that so long as this trend continues, in an unqualified manner it will indeed be a difficult task to improve the climate of security and pave the way for a safer world for the generations to come. One of the key issues in the field of disarmament before the international community is taking a decision about the extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We remain with the conviction that it must be unconditional and indefinite extension of this treaty which should form one of the corner stones to embark on building a world which can be free of all nuclear weapons. But for the realization of this aim all the countries that posses nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology must take a responsible stand to achieve that objective. This can only come about through a sincere desire to establish a genuine international non-nuclear regime. The apparent reluctance on the part of some countries to comply with the IAEA safeguards Agreement is not in our opinion an encouraging sign. We therefore urge all those countries to join the international community in the persistent effort to establish a safer world.
My delegation also supports the concepts of the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones and zones of peace throughout the world. We feel that failure to promote this concept in all the regions of the world is a clear indication of doubt and suspicion that still prevails in the international community. Unless we are able to step over these uncertainties the chances of achieving a global disarmament is indeed bleak.
As we begin yet another session of discussions, consultations and debates on ways and means of generating our united efforts and resources to make the world a safer place for mankind and the alleviation of terrible human sufferings in many a country, we should, I firmly believe, pause to assess the tremendous responsibility we carry. As representatives of individual countries we have to consider our national interests, and united, we have an unshakable commitment to render undaunted and unwavering support to make the United Nations as effective as is humanly possible to prevent the evolution of such tragic, dangerous and explosive situations like in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia Herzegovina.
A resolution on the question of Bosnia-Herzegovina still remains to be found. We condemn the continued violence and genocide taking place in Bosnia Herzegovina and call upon the international community to take more decisive steps to implement the Security Council resolutions in order to fully carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us by the Charter of this Organization and restore the sovereignty and independence of Bosnia Herzegovina. Let us not tolerate in our time any act of genocide based on ethnic hatred or prejudice.
Similarly, my delegation is deeply concerned at the tragic situation still continuing in Angola, Somalia and Rwanda, inspite of the fact that the United Nations continues to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the sufferings of the peoples of these countries. While commending the efforts by the international community in helping these countries which are torn apart under civil strife, we feel that the assistance should not be limited to only humanitarian purposes, but it should extend beyond that; to restoring peace and stability in these countries, giving them another chance to reconstruct and rebuild their national economy.
As I glance at the world economic situation I cannot help but feel considerable dismay that despite the recent conclusion of the seven year long Uruguay round of negotiations, the developing countries have not been provided with much impetus to maintain economic growth against the increasing gap between the developed countries and with protectionism in trade still persisting.
This situation adversely effects the least developed countries most since they lack the resources to overcome the odds stacked against them. I feel that further intensification of the South-South cooperation has become a grater necessity for harnessing their resources for the purposes of assisting the less developed of the developing countries and encourage their developmental efforts on the basis of collective self reliance. The United Nations and the international developmental and financial institutions should encourage and support this process.
At the same time, the North-South dialogue must not be allowed to be marginalized since it is essential to the growth of world economy on a firm foundation of partnership to promote common interests and benefits. Without this basic element, the chances to promote a stable world economy seems indeed bleak.
Decades of protracted studies, research, discussions, debates and the resulting experience have brought us to a position today to fully appreciate that development is not an achievement that is simple. It can only be achieved by a process that encompasses numerous attributes characteristic of human life,. Education, health, environment, peace, economy, socio-culture, national and international behaviors contribute to the achievement of development.
The reviews and expert opinions gathered on the Agenda for Development and the recent sessions of the Commission for Sustainable Development have indicated to us that inter-governmental cooperation involving the different agencies of the United Nations, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations must contribute to lay the ground work on which development can be built. I do not foresee any easy or quick means to achieve developmental goals. While further detailed consideration is given to this multifaceted all important question, allow me to add my voice to the need to bear in mind the great diversity of the levels of progress that member countries have been able to achieve, and the widely varying extent of resources that they could invest in this venture which is an inherent right of every nation.
As the representative of a small island State, I pay tribute to all those responsible for the planning and organization of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, in Barbados this year. I believe that appropriate recognition has now been given to the special environmental and economic circumstances of small island States in the context of the achievement of sustainable development. One of the most important outcomes of this conference seems to be a re-emphasis of the dire need of small island developing States for the development of human resources. But the assessment of the need is only a prelude to implement any program of action. What is required is a sustained effort on the part of the developing States and the necessary input both technically and otherwise by the developed countries and international organizations. Keeping in mind the Program of Action and the Declaration of the Conference in Barbados and also Agenda 21, I need hardly emphasize the urgency of stimulating positive responses of the international community to assist the island developing States both to improve the socio economic standards of the peoples in order to embark on plans for sustainable development.
At the same time we are concerned at the speed at which international conferences are being held and ambitious programs of action being drawn up without sufficient resources to implement them. I make this statement because of the experiences we are having following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, in 1992. The expectations which followed this conference have started to recede because of insufficient resources available to implement the Program of Action. One of the most outstanding results of that conference was the creation of greater awareness of the environmental problems that the international community faces. At the same time it is tragic to note that greater awareness of the predicament by those countries most susceptible to environmental damage only helps to increase apprehensions of disaster and frustration.
As an island developing country, Maldives appreciates with the tremendous achievement of the international community in establishing the rule of law on the vast stretches of the high seas which cover two thirds of the surface of the earth. It is indeed a development which will be written in letters of gold in the annals of world history that the Convention of Law of the Sea took 12 long years after its adoption to enter into force.
The question of human rights should occupy a central place in our minds when we deal with all issues of global concern. The establishment of the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner is certainly a most welcome step. But meaningful results of this step can only be seen with the provision of resources necessary for the High Commissioner to carry out his mandate, fairly and objectively, without any further financial burdens on the membership of this organization. I would also like to emphasize here that while the Universal Declaration of 1948 may be the universal guide for the future work in this area, we must not attempt to clamp down rigid uniformity of human conduct and behavior on all societies without due respect and regard to diverse cultures and religions prevailing in the world. For, it is the full understanding of this diversity that reinforces the fabric of what we call international relations and the unity of the membership of this organization.
The United Nations is being increasingly burdened with more and more onerous responsibilities of not only the preservation and maintenance of international peace, security and stability, but also assisting mankind in the realization of the goals of a safer world and a higher platform of life for the generations to come.
If this universal organization is to be successful in meeting the numerous challenges before it, I remain convinced that everyone of its members must extend unstinted support to the organization financially, technologically, militarily and in manpower resources. We cannot afford to be complacent nor could we condone any attempts to sway the work of the United Nations to any path other than that of Right, Justice and Equality as is enshrined in the Charter.
For my part, I can only reiterate the sincere commitments of the Government of the Republic of Maldives to support the United Nations and the principles of the Charter to the best of our ability. For, in so doing is there any hope of avoiding disastrous consequences. What is more, the Government of Maldives implicitly trusts the United Nations as the guarantor of the security and protection of the Republic of Maldives.
Thank you, Mr. President.