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The Security Council and regional organizations: facing the new challenges to international peace and security.
The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.
Adoption of the agenda
The agenda was adopted.
The Security Council and regional organizations: facing the new challenges to international peace and security
The President (spoke in Spanish): I thank the Secretary General of the Organization of American States for his clarifications.
The next speaker on my list is His Excellency Mr. Amre Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Mr. Moussa (spoke in Arabic ): ...
I came to this meeting in my capacity as the representative of the League of Arab States. Like other elements of the international system, the League is currently under a severe attack, given the distressing circumstances in the Middle East as accentuated by the invasion of Iraq, as well as by the deliberate failure to arrive at a just, balanced and peaceful settlement to the Palestinian question and a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The League did, however, play the role expected of it by responding to the deteriorating political and security situation in the region with regard to Palestine, Iraq and regional security. All of these tasks were an expression of our upholding and furthering the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and the Articles relevant to the role of the Security Council and of regional organizations in the peaceful settlement of disputes.
With regard to the question of Palestine, as the Council may well be aware, the League of Arab States decided at the highest level — the Council of Kings and Heads of Arab State — to launch a straightforward peace initiative calling for an end to the Arab-Israeli dispute and for the conclusion of a peace agreement with Israel that guarantees security to all the Arab States of the region — if Israel will commit to a complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, to a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees, and to accepting the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This was the decision of the regional organization in the Middle East, that is, the League of Arab States, on an issue related to peace and security in and around the region and in the world.
What was the Security Council’s position on that important initiative, which was officially brought to its attention? The Council did nothing. The initiative earned no more than a cursory mention in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002). Furthermore, also in the context of the Arab-Israeli dispute and in addition to that initiative, the States members of the League of Arab States unanimously recognized that a just and comprehensive peace, pursued in the context of international legitimacy, is the strategic choice of the Arab States. This calls for a concomitant commitment by Israel.
Did the Council capitalize on the offer? Did it try to build upon it, thereby sparing the peace process the dangers inherent in the apparent partisan support for one of the parties to the conflict on the part of some of the brokers, which pursue a policy of double standards? What did the Council do to end the complete disregard and defiance by Israel of those resolutions? Again, the Council did nothing. That was yet another failure by the Council.
In other words, the official position of the League of Arab States with regard to the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict — a conflict that is still raging and that can be ended only through a just and balanced peace — as well as to the situation of Iraq, which will trigger grave developments inside that country and at the regional level, is supportive of international legitimacy, which is the only path to justice and security and, therefore, stability and peace in the entire Middle East region.
In addition to dealing with those two major issues, the League of Arab States has defined a framework vision for regional security in the Middle East. That vision can be realized only through the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region, without exception. Disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction is just one step on the road towards making the Middle East region a nuclear-weapon-free zone, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, which makes compliance mandatory.
I would like to speak frankly about Israel’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and about the need to address the threat that they pose and to subject them to inspections as the preliminary steps ultimately leading to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, thus preventing an arms race there.
Mr. Wehbe (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...
The great importance of discussing this issue stems also from the fact that it comes at a crucial stage for regional developments, particularly those in the Palestinian question and the invasion of Iraq. There is continuous aggression against Palestinian people, which has increased with the invasion of Iraq. The Arab-Israeli conflict has continued for decades now, without the Council and the international community finding a solution. Now, we are facing a new situation in Iraq, which is very complicated.
Those two examples alone reveal our dire need, in the presence of a failure in the mechanism intended to maintain international peace and security, to improve the ways and means that the Security Council uses to maintain peace and security, by providing an opportunity for regional organizations to play an enhanced role in that endeavour.
In the light of the bitter realities in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world, Syria calls for the establishment of a network of mechanisms to ensure effective international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations — forsaking the traditional methods that have failed to date — in order to implement the principles and purposes of the Charter and those of international law and legitimacy, to put an end to international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations — particularly State terrorism — and to comprehensively put an end to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through the establishment of zones free of weapons of mass destruction in those regions and through the promotion and strengthening of agreements and conventions in that regard, not allowing any country to be exempt from such comprehensive mechanisms in a way that threatens peace and security.
We hope that, in the future, regional organizations will be in a better position to promote cooperation between themselves and the United Nations in order to guarantee peace and security in all their aspects, particularly in the light of an international environment in which in the past few weeks the Security Council and we its members have clearly failed to stop the outbreak of a war and have continued to be unable to deal with an invasion of a Member State.
We hope that the Security Council will resume its truly effective role, using diplomacy to prevent the outbreak of conflicts. Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States — whom we welcome and thank for his detailed statement, which focused on the thoughts and feelings prevailing in the Arab region and the bitterness pervading everyone’s spirit with regard to the developments now occurring in the Middle East — spoke in detail about the cooperative role that the Arab League has played without any reciprocation on the part of the Security Council. I fully concur with what he said concerning the situation in Iraq.
I welcome all the representatives of regional organizations who are present at today’s meeting, but I should especially like to welcome the representative of the European Union, who just spoke, and to emphasize that we believe in close cooperation among regional organizations. We also believe in Arab-European cooperation in all its aspects — which is a source of pride to us — in Arab-African cooperation and in Arab cooperation with regional organizations.
The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.
The meeting rose at 2.15 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. The final text will be printed in the Official Records of the Security Council . Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A.