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


Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Plenary
21st & 22nd Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/10271
7 October 2004
 
UN MUST BE WELL-EQUIPPED TO HANDLE NUMEROUS, VARIED TASKS ENTRUSTED TO IT,
 
GENERAL ASSEMBLY TOLD DURING CONSIDERATION OF ORGANIZATION’S WORK


With conflict escalating in the Middle East, tensions simmering in parts of Africa, elections on the way for Afghanistan and Iraq, and an important mid-term review of the Millennium Development Goals looming, delegations in the General Assembly today declared that it was a critical time to ensure that the United Nations was well-equipped to handle the varied tasks entrusted to it -- from maintaining peace and security to promoting sustainable development.

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Background

The General Assembly met today to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization (document A/59/1), which takes stock of the United Nations system’s activities in the past year and emphasizes the ever-increasing scope of its tasks.  The report, covering the world body’s action in the areas of achieving peace and security; meeting humanitarian commitments; cooperating for development; human rights and the international legal order; and enhancing management and partnerships, acknowledges that the past year had been “extraordinarily challenging”.

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Statements

DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the European Union shared the view of the Secretary-General that the United Nations was going through an extraordinarily challenging year with ongoing and newly developing crisis situations.  Some of the challenges had clearly been around for a longer period of time but, in several cases, Member States were making slower progress in addressing them than the situations called for, and results in several cases had been mixed at best.  While the political crises the United Nations was facing, such as Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian question, Darfur and the Great Lakes, could seem overwhelming, several conclusions were clear.  Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations needed to be handled in a better manner, and joint efforts in combating terrorists and proliferation of weapons must be increased.

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ALYAKSANDR SYCHOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said the increase of conflicts and the demand for peacekeeping operations made it necessary to promote the participation of regional organizations capable of carrying out those activities.  He welcomed the work of the African Union in that regard.  It was also important to arrange, with the help of economically and militarily strong powers, the training of potential peacekeepers from regional associations and organizations in developing nations.  For its part, his nation had considerable military and civil potential, and was interested in broadening its participation.  Belarus called for strengthening the role of the United Nations in the political reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, and expressed regret that the Organization was not yet able to significantly influence the process of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensuring implementation of the Road Map.  The United Nations should intensify mediatory activities to solve the most problematic issues.  He supported the elimination of the political nature of the work of the Commission on Human Rights.

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AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) said that the Secretary-General’s well-reasoned report contained many issues that deserved close consideration by all Member States.  Egypt would address specific items as the Assembly took them up for detailed review throughout the session.  Today, he would focus on only a few issues of concern.  A quick look at the occupied Palestinian territories showed that despite the efforts made by the wider international community, as well as regional actors like Egypt, the situation had gotten worse.  The glimmers of hope that had seemed to point the way towards some progress had quickly disappeared.  It was clear that the occupying Power had no regard for international humanitarian law, United Nations resolutions or the Geneva Conventions.  The international community must redouble its efforts to ensure that the occupying Power met its international obligations to relieve the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

To that end, and mindful of other ongoing conflict situations, he stressed the need for the United Nations to come up with comprehensive strategies for peacekeeping, peace-building and post-conflict reconciliation initiatives.  Such strategies must also promote capacity-building efforts, particularly in States recovering from war.  That brought him to the issue of ensuring and promoting the safety and security of United Nations personnel and other relief workers.  The Organization’s efforts in that area must be based on a culture of security and a concrete chain of command.  Member States must undertake a comprehensive review of the Organization’s efforts and measures on that very important issue.

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MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) ...

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There were several fronts of conflict that must be closed through peace, reconciliation and reform, he added, placing priority on the Middle East.  The tragedy of Palestine was a source of deep anguish and anger across the Islamic world.  Israel must discontinue its indiscriminate use of force against innocent Palestinians, targeted assassinations, construction of the separation wall and expansion of settlements, and comply with its legal obligations as set out by the International Court of Justice.  A just and peaceful solution must be implemented on the basis of two States living side-by-side in peace and security.  ...

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ABDUL-DAYEM MUBAREZ (Yemen) ...

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He noted with satisfaction the decrease in the number of refugees last year, by 1 million, and paid tribute to the Organization for its efforts in that regard.  He also lauded the efforts made by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East for its work in providing assistance to Palestinian refugees, even in the face of inadequate resources.  The plight of those refugees continued to be very tragic.  Like others, he eagerly awaited the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  He also welcomed the participation of non-governmental organizations in the work of the Organization, which he said would enhance democracy.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said unstable international circumstances required further concerted efforts to address the problems confronting peace, security and development.  The United Nations was the essential and only forum to deal with the challenges and threats that were confronting the international community and the only place to promote multilateralism.  Some of the many issues in the Secretary–General’s report had been solved and some had not, due mainly to lack of consensus.  One such unsolved issue was the problem in the Middle East, which was as old as the United Nations itself.  That crisis still lingered due to the fact that there was not enough political will to solve it, particularly by one party -- Israel.  And that was despite a number of initiatives over the years by the international community and resolutions by the Security Council and General Assembly.  There had also been calls by the international community for a report to ascertain the damages caused by that conflict in the Middle East region.  He appealed to the Secretary-General to pursue the issuance of that report.

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MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) ...

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The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, he said, continued to deteriorate, and it was “alarming and very unfortunate” that the Security Council had yet to reach an agreement on the way to prevent the persistence of crimes that continued to be committed against the Palestinians.  ...

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MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that the United Nations had had a mixed bag of results in its history.  Therefore, the current debate was timely, as it offered Member States the opportunity to chart a new course forward.  While the Organization had recorded many successes, the number of conflicts around the globe continued to rise.  Citing conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, he said Nepal would continue, as it had in the past, to make troops available for peacekeeping operations.

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RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) said conflicts remained unsolved in the Middle East, while longstanding and new conflicts in the African region continued to require attention.  Courageous efforts by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism to address roots causes of conflict must be commended and supported.  Taking note of efforts of development agencies to address root causes of conflict, he said the increase in the number of peace-building and peacekeeping missions in the past year had placed greater strain on the Organization’s resources.  He urged Members States to positively respond to the call for sustained political support and an increase in financial commitment to ensure the success of peacekeeping missions.

Iraq was a clear example where nations could not go at it alone, he said, in particular with regard to reconstruction and in ensuring peace and security.  He stressed that the United Nations should have a rightful role to play in Iraq, and what was needed now was a collective will to enable the Organization to undertake its responsibility in a safe environment.  The situation in the Middle East, and the question of Palestine, remained an important cornerstone in the work of the Organization, and he expressed concern that efforts of the Security Council had been recently blocked.  The United Nations must be allowed to play a role, together with other members of the Quartet, to resuscitate the Road Map.  In order to create an environment of confidence to do that, it was necessary to consider approving the deployment of a peacekeeping force, or the placement of an international monitoring mechanism, to oversee its implementation.

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