STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FATHULLA JAMEEL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE FIFTY-FIRST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. At the outset, allow me, Mr. President, to say how gratified we are to see you preside over this august Assembly. Your election to this high office is a well deserved recognition of your personal qualities and experience, and also of Malaysia’s important role in this organization and in the international arena. I have no doubt that you will lead the work of this Assembly to fruitful conclusions. It is also my privilege to pay tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral of Portugal, for the exemplary manner in which he discharged his onerous responsibilities. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Secretary-General, H.E. Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for his untiring efforts in the cause of peace and development. While we realize the difficulties and the complexity of the challenges that lie ahead in the years to come, we remain confident of his wisdom and competence in steering this universal organization towards the fulfillment of its responsibilities, in accordance with the principles of the Charter. My delegation sincerely wishes him every success in his endeavors. Mr. President, Last year, we proudly celebrated our fifty years of achievements. And as we slowly begin the countdown for the centenary celebration on behalf of the generations to come, we see ourselves coincidentally on the threshold of a new century as well. My delegation feels that this is a unique opportunity for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the purposes and principles of the Charter, with greater determination and commitment to strengthen the United Nations so that menacing trends in human relations which caused so much misery and destruction in the past could be halted and reversed, and that the existing inequalities among the nations and peoples could be eliminated, creating a new atmosphere of tolerance, mutual respect, and a new sense of shared responsibilities for development and progress.
Mr. President, Over the past fifty years, the Organization had grown four fold and has become the most representative and the only universal institution serving the purpose of maintaining international peace and security. This truly global organization has immense capability to mobilize international efforts to deal with global problems relating to economic, social and environmental issues. It also possesses the potency to promote universal standards of human rights despite the differences in the historical, cultural and religious backgrounds of nations and communities. Admittedly, the Organization has experienced rough times and has suffered several setbacks during the course of its existence. However, with the demise of the Cold War that haunted the Organization for nearly four decades, a more favourable environment has emerged, enabling us to respond collectively to the challenges of the future. Mr. President, My country is amongst the smallest, and the least developed countries of this Organization. For us, the United Nations is extremely important in safeguarding our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. For us, it is the protector of freedom and justice, particularly for the weak and the vulnerable. It is also the beacon of hope for hundreds of millions of people in the developing world for a better future free from hunger and disease. Therefore, we feel the need to steadily strengthen, revitalize and reform the Organization, in order to make it more effective, more democratic, and ready to react and respond without bias, to situations that threaten international peace and security. It was with this in mind that we joined in the initiative, way back in 1979, to include the item on the question of equitable representation on, and increase in, the membership of the Security Council, in the agenda of this Assembly. My delegation welcomes the reform and adjustment process that is presently underway and sincerely hopes that the process will not compromise the principles of the Charter which emphasizes on multilateralism, mutual respect and shared interests including the interests of the small states. In this context, my delegation feels that the proposal made by Italy at the Working Group on the reform and restructuring of the Security Council deserves our attention and careful consideration. There is no doubt that the more representative the UN is, the more democratic it would be; and the more accountable the UN is, the more efficient it would be, thus benefiting us all; small or large, weak or powerful, rich or poor. Mr. President, Reforming the Organization alone will not serve the desired purposes, unless the commitment of the member states to uphold and abide by the principles of the Charter, and their obligations are fulfilled. We are concerned that the Organization is presently undergoing the worst financial crisis in its history. We are being reminded that the main cause of the financial predicament is the failure of the Member States to meet their financial obligations on 3 time and in full. While my delegation has every sympathy towards those countries who have genuine difficulties, we note that by far the greater number of cases in arrears are those who have the capability to pay. We note with disappointment that the richest member of this organization is among those who fail or refuses to pay their dues. It is ironic that the effects of this severe financial crisis have to be borne, most adversely by the smaller and the poorer states of the organization, who in many cases are obligated under the current scale of assessment to pay more than their fair share. Inspite of its limited resources and frequent economic difficulties it faces, I am pleased to say that my country continues to pay its share of contribution in full, as we are convinced that only resources, and efforts can produce results. Meanwhile my delegation believes that the efforts of the international community to reform the administrative and budgetary functioning of the United Nations should aim at utilizing the scarce resources of the Organization more efficiently. In this regard, the efforts of the Secretary-General to achieve a more lean and effective Secretariat that would be geared to take on the challenging tasks entrusted to it warrant recognition. We also welcome the recent measures towards eliminating redundancy, duplication and waste, for only a sound organization can ensure the success of its mission. Mr. President, The world has never offered a greater opportunity than today to address the much needed developmental problems and challenges. The international community has emphasized the importance of a revitalized and enhanced system of international cooperation for development. The sheer number of major international conferences held during the past few years, and the collective resolve documented offer adequate testimony to this strong desire. The outcome of these conferences had fostered a common concept of sustainable economic development for the betterment of mankind as a whole. However, despite all these positive developments in the international economic and social scene, my delegation is convinced that unless these ambitious programmes are backed by the necessary resources and the political will, no change can be achieved. We also feel that all activities of international economic and development cooperation, including those undertaken by the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), must be coordinated and closely linked with the development strategies and programmes of the United Nations system. After all, this Organization remains as the most representative institution. Mr. President, While the globalization and liberalization of the world economy had given the opportunity for some developing countries to assume a more prominent status in the world economy, the Least Developed Countries (LDC), the category to which my country unfortunately belongs, had continued to get marginalized. The standard of living in LDCs has in effect declined over the years, and the poverty level has intensified in many of these countries due to indolent economic growth, which in turn 4 remain subservient to outside factors. The overall decline in the Official Development Assistance (ODA) over the years had further aggravated the condition of the LDCs at a time when aid is most needed. This unfavourable situation, if allowed to drag on, can be calamitous for countries with severe resource constraints and fragile infrastructures like the Maldives. For this reason, my delegation can only voice its appeal for priority action on various international development commitments, such as the Paris Declaration and the Program of Action for LDCs for the 1990s. These have been endorsed at various recent global conferences. Admittedly, liberalization of trade has resulted in greater trade. However, liberalization has also meant the loss of the only advantage that the LDCs had - their privileged status and consequent loss of their markets. Liberalization, therefore in effect, has contributed to marginalization of many developing countries. The inherent obstacles and vulnerability of small states, particularly small island states, deserve special attention. Small island states, like my own, require favoured treatment to prevent them from slipping back from their well earned achievements. In this context, I also wish to express the need for an incisive examination of the criteria for LDC status, and related issues including the graduation process, in order to do justice to the poorest among the poor countries when the criteria come up for review next year. Per capita index used to categorize countries for assistance purposes is no longer adequate. Particularly, in case of small states, it fails to capture the special problems faced by these countries and their vulnerability to external shocks. In this context, the development and use of a ‘vulnerability index’ along with other criteria may be feasible in order to minimize these inadequacies. On the other hand many of the poorest countries are still entangled in a web of external debt, from which they are unlikely ever to be able to free themselves. My delegation believes that more steps should be taken to lift the debt burden from the poorest and the most indebted countries, by increasing debt relief measures of bilateral creditors and greater involvement of multilateral agencies in this responsibility. The developed countries also can help in eliminating the situation by demolishing the barriers still maintained by them against the imports from the less developed countries, and in particular those who are suffering from the burdens of external debt. Poverty cannot be eliminated through charity but by co-operation. In this context, we welcome the proposal of the OECD countries to cut the number of people living in absolute poverty by half in the next two decades. Mr. President, We are fully committed to the efforts of the international community to safeguard the global environment especially by building the capacity of the United Nations to promote sustainable development for all. We welcome the work carried out by the Commission on Sustainable Development in this regard and are looking forward to the forthcoming UNCED review conference in 1997. My delegation is confident that this review process will give the international community the opportunity to rededicate itself once again to the preservation of the global environment. Concerted 5 efforts on all fronts only can produce encouraging results in this daunting challenge. For the Maldives, environment is an important issue. We are conscious of the fragility of our islands and we are hopeful to be able to protect them from the potential dangers arising from global warming and sea-level rise. We are also determined to keep our country environment friendly; clean and unpolluted. Though, the land area we have is so limited, I am happy to mention that in the Maldives we have initiated a program in January this year for planting one million trees in three years; and I presume that if all countries represented here would initiate similar programs at a rate of four trees per capita, the world would be greener and cleaner in ten years. Mr. President, The importance of disarmament for the preservation and maintenance of world peace and security cannot be over-emphasized. We believe that, with the treaties and bilateral agreements concluded, and the on-going negotiations among the Nuclear Weapon States, and also with the indefinite extension of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty last year, the international community is now reaffirming its commitments to global disarmament and renewing the hopes for eventual elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. My delegation is pleased about the positive approaches taken by the Nuclear Weapons States at the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty despite the lack of consensus. We are particularly happy that the treaty has now been opened for signature. At this instance we also would like to praise the role played by the United Nations in de-mining and mine clearance, and congratulate those involved in this dangerous activity for their bravery and dedication. Anti-personnel land mines have caused enormous human suffering and continue to maim and incapacitate countless innocent men, women and children. We look forward to a worldwide ban on this horrible and inhuman instrument of killing. My delegation is firmly committed to the concept of the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones and zones of peace in the world and would like to take this opportunity to call upon all regions, especially the countries in the region of South Asia, to which we belong, to make every effort to realize the proposed NuclearWeapon-Free Zone in South Asia without any further delay. Mr. President, Internal strife generated and fanned by ethnic, religious and other factors is a recent trend, which is causing large conflagrations in some parts of the world. While our Organization gropes for effective mechanisms to respond to such exigencies, we should not ignore the serious threats posed by drug traffickers, terrorists and mercenaries, particularly to small states. Terrorist incidents have increased alarmingly over the last few years. My delegation is fully convinced that the international community should intensify its efforts to combat terrorism. The early entry into force of the Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries will be a step forward in addressing these threats. We urge 6 all States who have not yet done so, to ratify the Convention as early as possible. Similarly, my delegation would like to call for the strongest possible international action against drug traffickers who are not only poisoning the fabric of human life but also draining out the potentials for productivity and prosperity of nations by exploiting the vulnerable elements in our societies. Mr. President, Though deeply concerned over the recent violence in Palestine and in the occupied lands which resulted in the death and injuries of hundreds of men, women and children, my delegation is happy to observe that despite the numerous difficulties that exist, the Middle East peace process is continuing to move forward. We fervently hope that the agreements reached so far will be implemented fully and without further delay. The important and the critical role played by the proponents of the peace process, especially the United States, deserve the appreciation and praise of the international community and should not be forgotten. My delegation is convinced that their positive role will continue to be instrumental to the success of the peace process. At the same time, we also feel that the United Nations should continue to play its important role to provide means to the Palestinian people in their just struggle for the restoration of their inalienable rights including the right of self-determination and establishment of a sovereign State which could coexist with its neighbours in peace and harmony. Mr. President, The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is encouraging, but we need to remain alert. The Dayton Peace Accord had finally paved the way to create a lasting peace in Bosnia. The fulfillment of the commitments of the international community is, however, critical to the achievement and consolidation of full peace. We also believe that it is important and necessary to bring those responsible for the atrocities and the crimes of genocide to justice and be punished. Mr. President, My delegation remains convinced that the United Nations is the most viable and dependable universal institution today. It is up to us all to allow this universal organization to play a more central and active role in shaping and harnessing international cooperation for economic growth and development. It is also our conviction that the dedication and collective endeavor of the international community which enabled the United Nations to survive the past fifty years, will inspire us all to greater heights of unity and cooperation to preserve and maintain the principles of the United Nations Charter, promote its objectives, and strengthen this organization to better serve and enhance the well-being of the peoples of the world. Thank you Mr. President.