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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
Plenary
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/10165
2 October 2003


GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES ANNUAL HIGH-LEVEL DEBATE -- NEED FOR JOINT ACTION STRESSED CONCERNING DEVELOPMENT, IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION, WEAPONS PROLIFERATION

During Two-week Session, 189 Speakers Heard, Including 77 Heads of State
And Government, 4 Vice-Presidents, 94 Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers


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Background

The fifty-eighth General Assembly met today to continue its general debate.

Statements

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KLÁRA NOVOTNÁ (Slovakia) ... expressed concern over the deteriorating situation between the Israelis and Palestinians, and asked that both parties act responsibly and consider the negative consequences of a complete breakdown of the peace process.

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LEWIS G. BROWN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liberia, ...

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     The conflict in the Middle East posed the greatest challenge to international peace and security, he went on.  Both Israel and the Palestinian side should recognize each other’s right to exist within recognized international borders.  At the same time, the Security Council should develop, strengthen and maintain international consensus on the way forward.

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RODOLPHE ADADA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and la Francophonie of the Congo, ...

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The international community should also provide support for the Road Map as the sole means of arriving at a just and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.  Moreover, it should avoid the easy option of equating terrorism with any one religion, civilization, geographic region or fight for national liberation.

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AHMED ABDI HASHI (Somalia) ...

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The continued occupation of Arab lands by Israel denied the Palestinian people their dignity and was of great concern to the international community.  Calling this a “gross violation of international law”, he said the Arab Initiative was a unique opportunity for achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  ...

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MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said Israel and the Palestinians should return to the negotiating table and agree to implement a peace process.  Cameroon condemned the escalation of violence in the Middle East, and said both parties should get used to the idea of living side by side, as real peace could only be built on mutual trust.

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     Statement by President of General Assembly

     The President of the General Assembly, JULIAN ROBERT HUNTE (Saint Lucia), said there had been high levels of participation during the general debate, including 50 heads of State, 27 heads of government and 94 Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers among 189 total speakers.

     Having indicated his intention to listen carefully to the priorities identified by high-level participants, he said these would provide the framework of the Assembly’s work.  There had been resounding support for multilateralism and the reaffirmation of the United Nations as the primary international forum in which to address critical global problems.  Many had also expressed the view that the United Nations was now needed more than ever.  Moreover, the central role of the General Assembly as the primary advocate, supervisory and policy-making body had been repeatedly emphasized, although the need for its further revitalization had also been stressed.

     Development issues related to poverty, HIV/AIDS, the inequitable global economic system and environmental degradation had been suggested as appropriate foci for the fifty-eighth session, a view that was strengthened by the regrettable outcome of the Cancun Conference, he said.  And, as many speakers had stressed the importance of implementing the outcomes of the high-level Financing for Development Dialogue, to be held from 29 to 30 October, participation in that dialogue was expected to be high.  Strong emphasis had also been laid upon the implementation of provisions contained within the Barbados Programme of Action for small island developing States and NEPAD.

     The Secretary-General’s proposals regarding the reform of the Organization continued to command attention, he noted, as had the issue of reforming the Security Council, in spite of the general view that there had been no significant advances during the 10 years this item had been on the agenda. 

     There had been universal condemnation of the 19 August attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, as well as broad support for the Organization’s need to engage in the reconstruction of that country, in order to permit the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their own future.  Furthermore, the situation in the Middle East had broadly been considered a grave concern, while the General Assembly had been urged to send a strong message to both sides on the importance of implementing the Road Map.

     Finally, in addition to the constructive and productive atmosphere that had prevailed during the one-day high-level plenary meeting on HIV/AIDS, the amount of common ground exhibited by a large number of speakers on a wide range of issues had been striking.  It was to be hoped that the Assembly would accomplish a good deal of work during its fifty-eighth session.


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