Statement by His Excellency Mr. Fathulla Jameel, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives at the fifty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join others in congratulating you on your election to preside over this august Assembly. Your election to this high office is not only a recognition of your wisdom and ability to guide successfully the work of this important session, but it also demonstrates the high regard the international community has for your country, the Czech Republic.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Han Seung-Soo of the Republic of Korea, for the exemplary manner in which he guided and accomplished the work of the fifty-sixth session.

On behalf of my Government, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Switzerland on its admission to the membership of this organization. We are also looking forward to welcoming East Timor to our midst shortly.

Mr. President,

Eight days ago, the friendly people of the United States remembered, with profound sorrow, the death and destruction inflicted upon them by murderous acts of terrorism. Those brutal and cowardly acts sent out waves of deep shock and anger throughout the world. My country was quick in condemning those attacks, and in expressing its solidarity with the people of the United States. We shared their grief, and we extended our sympathies to the American people. Today, with our modest resources, we stand with the- international community in the global fight against terrorism, and to banish the scourge of terrorism from the face of the earth.

My country believes that the United Nations, as the primary global Organization responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, must play the central role in this fight against terrorism. My country is encouraged by the swift response of the Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter after the horrifying attacks on the United States last year. Total compliance to Security Council resolution 1373 which detailed the measures to be taken by the international community to combat terrorism is of utmost importance. My country also believes that it is essential to strengthen the existing national, regional and international legal frameworks against terrorism if we are to effectively fight this war. The proposed comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the international convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism need to be finalized as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

The unprecedented economic ramifications of the events of Nine Eleven were enormous. Small island developing states, like my own, have not recovered from the adverse economic effects of the events yet, demonstrating the vulnerability of our economies. Our losses were immeasurable. Nonetheless, recent developments in the area of international economic cooperation appear encouraging. The Doha Agenda and the Monterey consensus emit new hopes for achieving sustainable development. Transforming these commitments into concrete action, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals rest on forging a new form of partnership with shared responsibility with the rest of the world. We expect the developed countries to meet their part of the understandings, while the developing countries endeavor to fulfill their obligations.

Mr. President,

My country, the Maldives, has made considerable economic strides in the past. With the continued assistance of the international community, we have demonstrated the effectiveness of official development assistance. It is true that two decades of political stability, sound social and fiscal policies, combined with hard work have improved the standard of living of our people. We are immensely proud of our modest achievements, and are grateful to those who helped us. Yet, our narrow economic base poses formidable challenges to our desire for continued economic growth. Globalization and trade liberalization have added new dimensions to our difficulties. The inherent structural weaknesses of our economy convince us that preferential access to markets and concessional capital that we now enjoy as an LDC have no alternative forms of compensation. Simply, we cannot sustain our development without these special treatments.

These reasons compel us to strongly resist the call for the graduation of our country from the list of least developed countries. We genuinely believe that the international community should continue to assist us in our quest to overcome the structural constraints impeding our arrival at a level of sustainable growth and until we overcome inherent vulnerabilities of our economy.

Mr. President,

The Committee for Development Policy will present its recommendations on the question of graduation of the Maldives from the list of LDCs to the substantive session of the ECOSOC in 2003. We urge the CDP to complete the necessary ground work in accordance with all the relevant ECOSOC and General Assembly resolutions before it pronounces its views on this very important and crucial matter.

Mr. President,

A fortnight ago, we met in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to take stock of our achievements since the Earth Summit in Rio ten years ago. The facts are disappointing and discouraging. What we have achieved over the past ten years is far less than what we have not. And while apathy keeps progress curbed, environmental degradation of the world is continuing unabated. If we are to halt and reverse environmental degradation, we must not only pledge urgent action but also execute urgent action.. As President Gayoom emphasized in his address to the WSSD, for sustainable development to happen "Agenda 21 must be implemented. The Kyoto Protocol must be universally honoured. The Barbados Action Program must be carried out. The Millennium Development Goals must be reached." My country whose survival is threatened by climate change, therefore, remains concerned over inaction and indifference on the implementation of the plans of action for environmental protection and sustainable development.

Mr. President,

We have been witnessing an unprecedented deterioration of the situation in Palestine and the Middle East. The Israeli Government has killed the peace process and has driven the region to the brink of war. The acts of aggression and the use of excessive force, coupled with political assassinations, the destruction of vital installations and infrastructure, blockades and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people, are all designed at frustrating the prospects of an independent Palestinian State. We condemn these dastardly acts, and call on the international community to compel Israel to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories and respect all relevant Security Council resolutions. The Maldives has consistently supported the just struggle of the Palestinian people to regain their inalienable rights and to establish an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds as its capital.

We believe that the United Nations has an important role to play in bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table. We recognize the efforts of the Quartet, and encourage them, especially the United States, to remain actively engaged in the search for a just, permanent and lasting peace in the region.

Mr. President,

Disarmament and arms control measures should remain a high priority on the international agenda. The international community must unite and act collectively to strengthen and enforce the non-proliferation regimes. The Maldives is party to all major multilateral instruments relating to arms control and disarmament including NPT and CTBT. We call on those countries that are not a party to these instruments to do so as soon as possible. Furthermore, my country believes that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and zones of peace in various parts of the world can contribute immensely to the efforts of the international community in this regard.

As well, we should pursue vigorously our efforts and enforce verifiable measures to rid the world from biological and chemical weapons that can cause mass destruction. My country, therefore, believes that bilateral, regional and multilateral approaches must reinforce and complement each other if we are to free the world of these deadly weapons. We also believe that, on global issues, there should be sincere commitment to multilateralism and trust in the multilateral institutions. And, the United Nations must not only be placed at the center of the multilateral processes, but should remain as the principal player responsible for grappling with these important global issues, which has such a great bearing on international peace and security.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, allow me to reiterate the firm commitment of the Maldives to the principles and objectives enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We firmly believe that the United Nations requires reform and restructuring. The aim of the reform process should be the enhancement of the credibility, legitimacy, and the universal character of the Organization. These involve the reform of the Security Council, a new working relationship, and a strong enforcement regime within the United Nations and among the member states.

Together with other members of the international community, the Maldives will work to uphold and promote the objectives of the United Nations. We remain convinced that the United Nations is the only Organization that is capable of creating a more peaceful and prosperous world for humanity.

Thank you Mr. President.