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President: The Hon. Julian R. Hunte..............................................(Saint Lucia)
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Ricardo Maduro Joest, President of the Republic of Honduras, and to invite him to address the General Assembly.
President Maduro Joest (spoke in Spanish): ...
Undoubtedly, there are pressing situations that require our attention. The situation in the Middle East is of great concern to us. As in other countries, people whose ancestors came from that part of the world live peacefully in our country. They, along with all Hondurans, want peace to be a reality for the Palestinian and Jewish peoples, as well as for others in the region. Hanging by a thread, peace in the Middle East is precarious. It is our clear duty to strengthen that peace.
The President: On behalf of the General Assembly, I have the honour to welcome to the United Nations His Excellency Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of the Republic of Haiti, and to invite him to address the Assembly.
President Aristide (spoke in French): ...
Terrorism and bio-terrorism are by no means mere hallucinations. To live in freedom and to live in peace there is a need to eradicate violence wherever it may come from. May we finally see the dawn of an era of peace in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Africa, in Asia and in Iraq, wherever wars are inflicting untold suffering on mankind. Since 1989, the end of the cold war, there have been more than 60 armed conflicts claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals and creating more than 17 million refugees.
The Acting President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Royal Highness Prince `Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Tonga, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Prince `Ulukalala Lavaka Ata (Tonga): ...
Tonga continues to fully support the work of the Security Council and the call for the full implementation of its resolutions to ensure lasting peace in arenas of conflict. In the Middle East, the peaceful and lasting coexistence of two States living side by side within secure and recognized borders will continue to be elusive until the cycle of violence ends and there is a return to constructive dialogue.
The Acting President (spoke in French): I have great pleasure in welcoming His Excellency The Honourable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Independent State of Samoa, and inviting him to address the General Assembly.
Mr. Malielegaoi (Samoa): ...
We are appalled at the continuing suffering of families and communities in all parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa. We can only hope that the work to bring about stability in these areas will succeed and that communities will finally be able to live in peace.
The Acting President (spoke in French): I now call on His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain.
Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa (Bahrain) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Achieving economic integration and regional cooperation between the Gulf and Middle East regions and other major and free trading blocs depends upon the strong foundation of a political and strategic environment conducive to achieving peace and cooperation.
In that context, the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East can be brought about only through a recognition of the inalienable legal rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of their independent State, a return of sovereignty over territory occupied since 1967 and control over their economic resources, in accordance with resolutions of international legality and the principles and aims of Middle East initiatives, and on the basis of agreements between the two sides, which must be fully respected and implemented.
The road map, which has gained consensus among the international community, supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian State living in peace and security, side by side with Israel, as envisaged by United States President George W. Bush in his peace initiative of June 2002, as reaffirmed by the international Quartet comprising United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation, and as agreed upon by the Palestinian Authority. This provides a unique, historic opportunity to achieve a balanced settlement that will restore the legitimate rights of the people and achieve a delicate balance between the obligations of the parties and their rights to security and peace.
The recent Israeli decision to remove in principle Chairman Yasser Arafat, the elected Palestinian President, and its threats to eliminate him, are very dangerous matters that contravenes the principles of democracy and the rules of international law. This was reaffirmed by the adoption of resolution 10/12 at the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly on 19 September 2003.
Bahrain, which expresses its concern at this dangerous Israeli decision, calls upon the Quartet and the international community to pressure Israel to prevent the implementation of this decision, whose repercussions would weaken current peace opportunities.
Peace in the Middle East must be comprehensive; it requires the full implementation of resolutions of international legality, particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which call for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories, including the Golan Heights, and Security Council resolution 425 (1978), regarding the Lebanese territories remaining under occupation. The Middle East today faces great challenges as well as unique opportunities and crucial moments that will determine the future of the region for generations to come.
This peace must be a single and indivisible unit. That applies both to the Middle East and to the Gulf region. It is a fundamental and vital request by Bahrain and the Arab world that steps be taken by the international community, the United Nations and influential parties, in particular the United States, to normalize political, economic and civilian life in Iraq, so that the country can regain its Arab, regional and international role.
The Acting President (spoke in French): I now give the floor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, His Excellency Mr. Abubakr A. Al-Qirbi.
Mr. Al-Qirbi (Yemen) (spoke in Arabic): ...
... We welcomed the road map and prospects for a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. One year later, here we are asking whether we can indeed say that we have accomplished what we sought or taken steps towards peace in the Middle East as we had wished. Now that the Iraqi regime is no longer in place, does Iraq in fact enjoy a democratic and free system and a constitutional order, which we so ardently desire or have we in reality made Iraq a stage for violence and a hotbed of terrorism?
When my country opposed the war against Iraq, it was convinced that the United Nations was in a position to locate and eliminate weapons of mass destruction there and that the regime could be made to comply with the relevant resolutions based on international law.
My Government believed that this war would not achieve its aims, not only because it was based on shaky foundations but also because it was difficult to predict its negative consequences. We note with regret that it has led to increased extremism and terrorism.
On the other hand, regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, my country has developed a position based on the principles laid down by the Quartet: working for the advent of a Palestinian State that would exercise full sovereignty over its territory, with Jerusalem as its capital; withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Arab territories occupied since 5 June 1967, and the return of the refugees. We were and are still convinced that a settlement can only be achieved if Israel ceases its delaying tactics and complies with United Nations resolutions. We are convinced that Israel would only accept a solution if it were imposed on it by a binding resolution. This has not yet come to pass.
The world remains silent in the face of ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. The Security Council is paralysed, unable to adopt a resolution because the United States did not use its influence, despite its positive approach, as represented in the road map, to achieve the desired solution. Therefore we wonder if we can still say that everything is fine with the world and that peace and security are within our grasp when the Middle East, East and West Africa, and East and South-East Asia have been battered by crises and conflicts?
If we tried to analyse these crises and their ramifications, we would find three major causes: first, a lack of democracy and freedoms; secondly, poverty and ignorance; and thirdly, a global order in which policies of hegemony dominate and practices of pressure are exerted against Third World States.
My country believes that we need to seriously and positively cope with these crises and conflicts. The Middle East must no longer be a hotbed of tension and crises. The following measures are necessary: first, there must be an immediate halt to the occupation of Iraq, and its sovereignty, territorial integrity and resources must be preserved. The United Nations must assume responsibility for rebuilding Iraq; a national Government must be formed with a national constitution and a democratic regime; the Iraqis must be able to enjoy full rights and freedoms, and the League of Arab States must make a contribution to such efforts within international legality. We fully support the endeavours undertaken by the Governing Council in Iraq.
Secondly, the Security Council must shoulder its full responsibilities by implementing resolutions relevant to the Arab-Israeli conflict and by implementing the road map, without any amendments by the Israelis. Tel Aviv must be prevented from carrying out the negative and pernicious act of killing or expelling Yasser Arafat, the elected President of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Authority. Thirdly, Israel must withdraw from Syrian and Lebanese occupied territory, for that is an integral part of any attempt to have a just peace in the Middle East.
We would like to recall that the Arab countries, in accordance with the Arab initiative for peace, had accepted Israel as a State in the region and had agreed to deal with it on the basis of its real interest in peace and in ending the occupation of the Arab territories.
We would also like to recall that my country subscribes to the efforts made by the United Nations regarding measures resulting from the Conference on Disarmament, which will allow us to adopt an international treaty putting an end to the arms race. There is a need to encourage confidence-building measures on the national and regional level. The Middle East must be a region free from weapons of mass destruction. Israeli nuclear installations must be submitted to international inspection. We must reject the policies of selectivity and double standards for this issue and many others.
The phenomenon of international terrorism is not unique to a single colour, religion or doctrine. It is an obstacle to world peace, security and progress. Various international coordination efforts to contain this phenomenon have failed because of lack of vision and faulty approaches. The Republic of Yemen has greatly suffered from terrorism. It has tried to take all possible measures to cope with this ill. We hope that there will be united efforts by the international community to eradicate this scourge and to finalize a comprehensive convention against international terrorism.
Yemen renews its appeal for holding an international conference under the aegis of the United Nations to define the causes of this phenomenon and to finalize a strategy that contains solutions to the origins of this destructive phenomenon. My country also believes that the efforts of the international community must be focused on putting an end to any and all political pressure exerted on certain countries and on opposing any attempt at threats or use of force and interference — using terrorism as its excuse — in the internal affairs of various countries. The Republic of Yemen joins many countries in calling for the need to differentiate between terrorism as a phenomenon and national struggle against foreign occupation by all means, as is the case with the legitimate and just struggle of the Palestinian people.
The Acting President (spoke in Spanish): I now call on His Excellency Mr. Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba.
Mr. Pérez Roque (Cuba) (spoke in Spanish): ...
Cuba believes that we should not, and cannot, relinquish multilateralism; that we should not, and cannot, relinquish the United Nations; and that we cannot, and should not, relinquish the struggle for a world of peace, justice, equality and development for all. Cuba therefore believes that we must achieve three immediate objectives.
First and foremost, we must put an end to the occupation of Iraq, hand over real control to the United Nations immediately and begin the recovery process to re-establish Iraq’s sovereignty and put in place a legitimate Government decided upon by the Iraqi people. In addition, the scandalous distribution of Iraq’s wealth must cease immediately. That will be beneficial for the United States, whose young people are dying in Iraq while waging an unjust and inglorious war. It will be beneficial for Iraq, whose people will be able to turn over a new page in their history. It will be beneficial for the United Nations, which has also been a victim of that war. And it will be beneficial for all of our countries, which have had to suffer international economic recession and an increase insecurity that is threatening us all.
Secondly, we must address without delay the issue of truly reforming the United Nations and, above all, undertake a far-reaching democratization process. The current situation is already untenable, as evidenced, first of all, by the Security Council’s shameful inability to prevent the war in Iraq and, secondly, by its demand on the Government of Israel to refrain from expelling or murdering the leader of the Palestinian people — a people who, in accordance with a decision the Council itself took over five decades ago, should long ago have had an independent State. That the Government of the United States has exercised its veto power on 26 occasions to protect the crimes of Israel is evidence of the fact that that unjust privilege must be abolished.
What is needed is a reform that goes back to the roots of the founding of the United Nations; that guarantees effective respect for the Charter; and that re-establishes the mechanisms of collective security and the rule of international law. Reform should also ensure the ability of the United Nations to preserve peace and to lead the fight for general and complete disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, to which many generations have aspired. Reform should also restore to the United Nations its prerogatives to fight for the socio-economic development and the basic rights of all the planet’s inhabitants, including the rights to food and life. Doing so is more necessary than ever before, given that neo-liberalism has spectacularly failed and that a new opportunity now exists for establishing a new system of international economic relations. We need to rescue the role of the United Nations and to ensure that all States, large and small, respect the Charter. But we do not need a reform that is going to founder unceremoniousl y as part of a bureaucratic process of adapting what is left of the United Nations to the interests and whims of a few, rich and mighty countries.
Finally, we need to return to a discussion of the serious economic and social problems currently affecting the world. We have to make the battle for the right of nearly five billion people to development a priority. The Millennium Assembly committed us to working for very modest and insufficient goals. But everything has now been forgotten, without even a discussion. Seventeen million children under the age of 5 will die this year, not as victims of terrorism but as victims of under-nourishment and preventable diseases. Will a realistic debate based on solidarity be held in this Hall to discuss how, in line with the Millennium Declaration, to halve by 2015 the number of people, currently over 1.2 billion in number, who are suffering from abject poverty, as well as the number who suffer from hunger, which is more than 800 million? Will there be any discussion about the nearly 900 million illiterate adults? Or will the Millennium Declaration also become a dead letter, as has been the case with the Kyoto Protocol and the decisions of 10 summits held at the level of head of State?
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. George A. Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece.
Mr. Papandreou (Greece): ...
... The United Nations can learn from our experience as it prepares to undertake necessary reforms. What the European Union has provided is not a magic wand. We have simply said that matters of war and peace are so important for humankind that they cannot merely be left up to leaders, no matter how great they may be. They cannot be left up to negotiators, no matter how skilful they may be. They cannot be left up to earthquakes, apocalypses or inspirations, however momentous they may be. What is needed is a stable, sustainable, secure environment of common values, international law, accepted practice and purpose. It is within that secure environment that we can work out roadmaps, benchmarks, milestones, target dates and goals that can become both credible and powerful tools for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the establishment of lasting institutions of stability and conviviality.
That is why the United Nations has become so important for Iraq and its people. That is why the United Nations and the Quartet are so important for the implementation of the road map to solve the Palestinian conflict and the wider Middle East conflict. If we differed in Europe on the means of dealing with Iraq, we remain united in our conviction that the United Nations has a vital role to play in the reconstruction and stabilization process. Indeed, I would argue that the current predicament in Iraq is a stark reminder that multilateral cooperation is an imperative for world peace and security. It will only be possible to bring lasting peace to Iraq if we all work together.
In referring to the importance of the role of the United Nations in Iraq we are simply stating the obvious need to create a stable international environment within which solutions can be nurtured, and where they can mature, in order to stabilize the region. It is within that context that it must be possible to realize a Palestinian State by 2005, a State that lives side by side with a secure Israel. It is also within that context that during our presidency of the European Union we placed great emphasis on engaging in a meaningful dialogue of cultures that could hopefully heal the deepening rifts with regard to how different cultures view our changing world. We also devoted considerable efforts during Greece’s presidency to strengthening Europe’s relations with the Arab world. We hope that that dialogue can continue to be an investment in, and an instrument for, furthering peace, democracy and prosperity.
The President: I now give the floor to His Excellency The Honourable Lieutenant-General Mompati S. Merafhe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana.
Mr. Merafhe (Botswana): ...
The conflict in the Middle East continues to be a matter of grave concern. All initiatives towards a peaceful settlement, including the road map promoted by the Quartet, have so far failed. The decision by Israel and others to insist on determining who in the leadership of the Palestinians they will do business with is an unacceptable precondition for genuine negotiations. Worse still, the threat to expel the democratically elected leader of the Palestinians, Mr. Arafat, is a recipe for further strife that could result in more loss of life on both sides. That development should be condemned by all who want to see peace in that land.
The meeting rose at 1.25 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.