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        General Assembly
2 October 2003

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-eighth session
21st plenary meeting
Thursday, 2 October 2003, 3 p.m.
New York

President: The Hon. Julian R. Hunte..............................................(Saint Lucia)

The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.

Agenda item 9 (continued)

General debate

The President: I now give the floor to Her Excellency Mrs. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Niger.

Mrs. Mindaoudou (spoke in French): ...


In the Middle East, the vision of a sovereign and viable Palestinian State, peacefully coexisting with Israel, must become a reality. In this regard, it is more urgent than ever before for the two parties to the conflict to agree to a ceasefire, comprehensive adherence to which would help relaunch the road map, which is showing signs of withering. Moreover, the eventful history of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — a history marked by recurrent setbacks and dashed hope — requires us to acknowledge that only the presence of an international interposition force can guarantee an end to the bloody violence and create conditions for the effective implementation of agreements. Thus, Niger makes a heartfelt appeal to the United Nations, the Security Council in particular, to ensure that this question be reconsidered with all due attention and in full responsibility in the interest of world peace.


The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Lewis Brown, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia.

Mr. Brown (Liberia): ...


The conflict in the Middle East has inescapably attracted the attention of the world, posing the greatest challenge to international peace and security. We are saddened by and deeply concerned about the recent turn of events, which has occasioned the virtual debunking of the road map for peace and ensured a classic return to violence. Admittedly, there are serious difficulties in the search for peace for our brothers and sisters of that troubled region. However, these difficulties should neither beset us with a sense of hopelessness nor obscure the agonies and the fears that have come to characterize the way of life in the Middle East.

We therefore call on the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to recognize the right to existence of each other within recognized international borders and to foster pragmatic approaches to dialogue, peace, security and the virtues of good-neighbourliness. At the same time, we urge the Security Council to develop, strengthen and maintain international consensus on the way forward.


The President: I now call on His Excellency Mr. Rodolphe Adada, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie of the Republic of the Congo.

Mr. Adada (Congo) (spoke in French): ...


Not far from Iraq, the international community is still confronted with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This shows that the infernal cycle of violence can only lead to a dead end. The two parties must come to their senses and return to the vision set out in the road map, which provides for the creation of a Palestinian State that is independent, democratic and viable, living side by side with Israel and its other neighbours in an atmosphere of peace and security.

The Security Council approved this vision in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002) and the two parties committed themselves to respecting the road map on 4 June 2003 at the outcome of the Aqaba Summit. We must now bring them back to the negotiating table, with no pre-conditions, and demand that they refrain from any measure or unilateral action that is incompatible with the goals of the road map.


The Acting President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Abdi Hashi, chairman of the delegation of the Somali Republic.

Mr. Hashi (Somalia): ...


Recent developments in the international arena present the United Nations with unprecedented challenges. Whether we succeed or fail will depend primarily on the manner in which we address these challenges. In our view, that should be through the United Nations. We have to reinforce the principles of the United Nations Charter through which we can further cement the pillars of international legitimacy on the basis of the equality of nations big and small, rich and poor; respect for the sovereignty of peoples; non-interference in each others’ internal affairs; renunciation of the use of force in resolving conflicts; and respect for human rights.

There are Members of this Organization who violate these lofty principles with impunity. Israel is an example in this regard. Israel’s continued occupation of Arab lands seized by war; its denying the Palestinian people their dignity; the daily killings of Palestinian children; the siege of the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people and calls by Israeli officials for his killing; and the suffering and daily humiliations inflicted on the Palestinian people are of great concern to the international community. We believe that these gross violations of international law are not in the interest of Israel or peace in the Middle East. We believe that the Arab initiative, which has the support of Arab States, provides a unique opportunity for achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and specifically between Arabs and Israelis.


The President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Martin Belinga-Eboutou, chairman of the delegation of the Republic of Cameroon.

Mr. Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon) (spoke in French ): ...


In the Middle East, we must demand that the parties to the conflict — Israel and Palestine — return without delay to the negotiating table to agree on modalities conducive to the rapid and comprehensive implementation of the road map. Cameroon regrets and condemns the escalation of violence, which is seriously endangering any peaceful solution based on the letter and spirit of Security Council resolution 1397 (2002), adopted with no vote against. In it the Council affirmed

Our Palestinian and Israeli friends must get used to the idea that they are condemned to live side by side, to coexist in the geopolitical configuration forged by their rich, common history. To that end, Israelis and Palestinians will have to disarm — of course, in terms of weapon policies, but primarily disarm at the cultural level by unanimously and sincerely ridding their hearts of fear and the psychosis of war. The axiom that peace results from a balance of war-making ability and weapons should be replaced by the principle that real peace can be built only on mutual trust.


Statement by the President

The President: We have come to the end of the general debate of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly. It is noteworthy that this session attracted the highest level of participation since the Millennium Summit. Among the 189 speakers, the Assembly heard 50 heads of State, 27 heads of Government and 94 Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers.

I express my sincere appreciation to every head of State or Government, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for their active participation, their constructive contribution to the debate and their support for my stated priorities.

When I opened this general debate, I indicated that I would be listening carefully to the priorities identified by high-level participants, which would provide the framework for the Assembly’s work. What I have heard gives a clear indication of where Member States are on many of the critical issues that will be before the Assembly.

There was resounding support in the general debate for multilateralism and for the reaffirmation of the United Nations as the primary international Organization to address critical global problems. In fact, many expressed the view that, in these unsettled times, the United Nations and multilateralism were needed now more than ever.

The central role of the General Assembly as advocate and as a supervisory and policy-making body was a point consistently made. However, continuing revitalization efforts were urged, in order to permit the Assembly to deal effectively with challenges both old and new.

Development and the prosperity of countries and regions received much attention from high-level representatives. They supported the view that the fifty-eighth session should give appropriate focus to issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, equity in the global economic system and the preservation of the environment. The regrettable outcome of the Cancún round of negotiations gives new impetus to calls for full consideration of development issues by the General Assembly, including the Millennium Development Goals. Some speakers reminded us that the outcome of the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, set for 29 and 30 October 2003, will be critical to the work we will do in the area of development. Therefore, we expect wide representation and high-level participation in the High- Level Dialogue.

Strong support was expressed for the 10-year review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. This should augur well for the successful review and implementation of its outcome.

Considerable attention was given to Africa’s development needs, as well as to the requirement to keep these matters high on the Assembly’s agenda. Many stressed the need for continued international support for the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and for cooperation and support to bring peace and stability to the African continent.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report on the work of the Organization, gave us thought-provoking insights into his priorities for the coming year. In this context, we have noted the Secretary-General’s proposals on United Nations reform, including the establishment of a high-level panel of eminent persons to review these matters for our consideration.

Security Council reform continued to command attention. The general view was that the Assembly should continue this work, notwithstanding the fact that efforts made in this area for more than a decade had not yielded any tangible results.

I do not recall a statement in which the situation in post-war Iraq and the need to urgently address all its aspects were not emphasized as a priority for the United Nations. This was an area in which general support was expressed for initiatives to bring relief to the people of Iraq and to permit them to take responsibility for their own future.

Almost without exception, all condemned the brutal attack on the United Nations premises in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 and the loss of life and injury to United Nations staff. It was agreed that the attack was the latest and most formidable challenge to the United Nations and to the security of United Nations staff. There was support for the Secretary-General’s initiative to review the matter of safety and security of United Nations staff.

The situation in the Middle East was considered to be a matter of grave concern. It was thought that the General Assembly could send a strong message to both sides in the conflict — Israel and Palestine — to put an end to bloodshed and violence. Implementation of the proposed road map was seen by many as a viable means of bringing long-lasting peace to the Middle East.

The one-day high-level plenary on HIV/AIDS, which took place on 22 September 2003, immediately

preceding the general debate, was considered by all to have been both constructive and productive. The views expressed in both the plenary and the interactive debate underscored the need for a cooperative approach in addressing this most devastating pandemic.

Those are my brief, personal observations of salient issues raised in the general debate, which I thought I should share with the Assembly. As I reviewed the many statements, I was struck by the common ground among speakers over a wide range of issues. This makes me hopeful that we will be able to do good work in the General Assembly during the fifty-eighth session.

Our leaders have given direction to the work we are to do, and political support for it. We must now carry forward the commitments they have made, if the hopes and aspirations expressed are to be realized.

Let me conclude by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Vice-Presidents of the General Assembly for their assistance and cooperation in the conduct of the work of the general debate. I wish also to thank the dedicated Secretariat staff, particularly those who have worked with me, and to commend them for their support and cooperation.

May I take it that it is the wish of the General Assembly to conclude its consideration of agenda item 9?

It was so decided.

The meeting rose at 6.25 p.m.

This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. 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. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.

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