ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO THE FIFTIETH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly on this momentous occasion of its fiftieth anniversary.
Being aware of the strenuous task that this Assembly has to perform, I remain confident of your competence to guide our work to satisfactory conclusions.
It is also my privilege and honour to pay tribute to the President of the forty-ninth General Assembly of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Amara Essy of Cote d'Ivoire for the skillful manner in which he had discharged the onerous responsibilities of the President of the forty-ninth General Assembly.
I would also like to convey my country's deep appreciation to the Secretary-General for the display of an exceptional capacity and capability to meet the daunting challenges and obstacles to his noble mission, and for his ever readiness to work selflessly not only to retain the credibility and the validity of the United Nations but also to make this organization stand tall in this rapidly changing world. My delegation sincerely wishes him every success in his unenviable task.
The United Nations is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, and many of us are advocating the need for reforming and restructuring this organization. There is no doubt in our minds that the world is passing through an era of dramatic change effecting the map of international political relations and changing the balance of economic and trade relations; a reason which would naturally justify this call. But we should not ignore the fact that this organization has succeeded in preventing a third world war - the greatest fear which persisted fifty years ago. Furthermore, this organization had effectively freed the world from the evils of colonialism and racial discrimination. It had also helped in establishing a regime of international cooperation based on the principles of equality and respect to the rule of law. If not for the noble role that the United Nations has played in many areas of human activity we would not have harvested the progress we enjoy today in the fields of disarmament, containing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promotion of human rights and many important issues such as those related to environment, the welfare of refugees, children, youth and women.
Of course there have been failures and set backs. Many a time we came across situations which made us suspect the credibility of the organization and the effectiveness of its decisions.
But the fact remains that the United Nations has served and is continuing to serve humanity; individuals, peoples and the world community as a whole with profound dignity and with a sense of purpose; guided by the noble principles of its Charter. And if we are talking about reforming or restructuring this organizations then our concentration should first be focused at the realities of today in order to transpose our collective efforts to strengthen international cooperation for the achievement of our common objectives in full accord with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Moreover, the reforming and restructuring should not only be focused on the concept of international peace and security but also should be extended to include the entire spectrum of economic and social development of the human race. In other words, the effect of reform should reach all areas of the United Nations activities, including those involving the maintenance of international peace and security, achievement of equitable economic development, revitalization of the international economic order, protection of the global environment, combat terrorism and drug trafficking, protection of human rights and promotion of democratic values and legal order within and among nations.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my compliments to the specialized agencies of the United Nations for their efforts to achieve economic growth and sustainable development. The Rio Conference on Environment, the Population Conference in Cairo, the Copenhagen Social Summit and the recently concluded World Conference on Women in Beijing, has taken us a long way in this regard.
However it is regrettable to note that in spite of the encouraging signs, the overall picture of development is not optimistic. The global Official Development Assistance (ODA) today is at its lowest in 21 years. As a least developed island state, my Government is of the view that there is an urgently felt need to reverse this situation radically. A first step will be for all industrialized countries to live up to the targets specified by the United Nations. If we work in the spirit of collective responsibility and match our efforts with the concerns of the real people in the real world, I am confident of achieving success.
As far as the principle organs of the United Nations are concerned Maldives believes that the General Assembly should continue to play its central role as the global council which has the competence and capacity for taking collective decisions and reaching consensus on important matters related to international peace and security, development and international cooperation in general.
Meanwhile, the role and functions of the Security Council should be strengthened and improved upon in a way consistent with the realities of the present time, which obviously are significantly different from the geo-political conditions which prevailed fifty years ago.
However, the Maldives is of the view that if a major restructuring exercise is to be carried out it should be a result-oriented one, which would strengthen the authority of the Council and increase its ability to implement its decisions rather than simply increasing the number of the members of the Council on a selective basis. Even if we go along with the emerging consensus to increase the membership of the Council, my country strongly feels that careful consideration should be given in the process to ensure that the Council remains a representative body for all regions and groups of nations; including, of course, the developing countries and small states, who share the responsibilities for maintaining peace and security in the world with the more developed and the larger member states of the United Nations. The main criteria should be, as we believe, the capability of the Member States to fulfill their obligations and commitments towards the United Nations and its principles, and their respect and adherence to international covenants.
Fifty years ago membership of this organization comprised of only a few countries. They had the privilege of having a say in world affairs. They created this august body, not only to safeguard their own interest, but also the interests of future generations of the entire world.
The vast majority of member states who are represented here today, including small states like my own country Maldives, were deprived of their freedom in one form or the other. It was the principles on which this organization was founded that helped shaping the events which eventually led to the restoration of the legitimate rights of the deprived peoples in all continents across the globe.
Now, ours is a community of nations who share the same values and depend on each other in achieving our common and individual interests. Among the Member States of the United Nations there is a large number of small states which are actively interacting with other Member States, not because they merely need the cooperation of the others in their survival and existence, but because they actually are inseparable parts of this large interdependent world.
What the United Nations is trying to do is to promote peace and justice, eliminate racial and religious prejudices and set up universal standards for aspects of our lives which effect our dignity as equal human beings. Small states are participating in this endeavor with the same conviction that the larger countries have. Therefore it is more than tangible that small states are given the opportunity to play their role in decision making and carrying forward the torch of our common mission.
As I first mentioned, the reform of the United Nations must be comprehensive and should include the three main organs, the specialized agencies, and all aspects of the United Nations' work and activities; a reform which would change the United Nations truly in to a "mission-oriented and result-oriented" organization. Therefore, my delegation feels that it is important to maintain an effective coordination between the open-ended working groups which are already being established, and that we should, by all means, avoid producing a partial package of improvement.
As the world anticipates to see a revitalized United Nations we should pause to review the current world situation.
In this context it is with great disappointment we see that the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina remain as critical as ever. We are still witnessing destruction of life and property, violation of human rights, defiance of the resolutions of the Security Council by the Bosnian Serb leadership. Continuing deterioration of the situation had led many of us doubt the applicability of the arms embargo. Many of us, furthermore, fear the consequence of the partitioning of Bosnia-Herzegovina on the basis of ethnic composition of this independent state. We urge the international community to exert its influence on the Bosnian Serbs to accept the settlement now being proposed, which, we feel confident, will result in a comprehensive and viable solution to this tragic episode. Meanwhile, we wish to express our deep appreciation to the countries which are contributing bravely to the efforts of the United Nations Protection Force under extremely difficult conditions.
The situation in the Middle East seems to be improving through the peace process. United Nations has continuously supported the rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination and independence. The recent accords which enables the Palestinian people to exercise a degree of self rule is certainly a good basis for realization of this objective. While appreciating the important role played by the sponsors of recent initiatives, we feel that the United Nations should continue to give support to the people of Palestine and enhance by all available means the fulfillment of their legitimate rights.
The recent events which took place in the Islamic Federal Republic of Comoros once again portrays the vulnerability of small states to terrorism and the activities of mercenaries which threatens not only the security and stability of small states but also threatens the democratic institutions and lawful existence of governments. This time the victim was again a small island state in the Indian Ocean. But we have seen that such acts of terrorism which took many innocent lives have taken place in many parts of the world and rather frequently. Recalling the United Nations General Assembly resolution 49/31, on the "Protection and Security of Small States" my Government calls upon the international community to take all necessary steps to prevent mercenaries in carrying out their criminal acts.
Giant steps have been taken towards universal disarmament. During the Conference earlier this year when the Non Proliferation Treaty was discussed, Maldives supported the indefinite extension of the NPT with the firm conviction that it plays a central role in containing the danger of nuclear weapons or proliferation. Treaties have been concluded on chemical and other weapons of mass destruction. It is our fervent hope that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be signed before the end of 1996. In the meantime, it is most important at this juncture that all States refrain from testing nuclear devices, and those who aspire to achieve nuclear weapon capability should refrain from developing them. Instead, efforts must be made to dismantle all existing nuclear weapons and free the world from this dreadful menace, further the countries of each region should agree to establish nuclear weapon free zones, thus striving collectively towards a nuclear weapon free world. Furthermore, my Government believes that the course of universal disarmament will translate itself into an increase in available resources that can be used for urgently needed humanitarian and social development needs.
As mankind awaits the dawn of the twenty-first century with great expectations for peace and justice, and for the emergence of United Nations which will carry forward the noble mission for which it was created, we the government and the people of Maldives renew our commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter and pledge that we will do what ever is possible, in cooperation with other Member States to uphold these principles and work towards a better future. My delegation wishes to extend its felicitation to all member states of this organization on this occasion of the fiftieth anniversary and congratulate the world body for its tremendous achievements.