Statement by Minister Cowen, at the 57th United Nations General Assembly, 13 September 2002 Part 1
I congratulate you on your election as President of the 57th General Assembly. I look forward to working closely with you as the Czech Republic, a good friend of my country, moves ever closer to membership of the European Union.
Our thanks are due to Mr. Han Seung-soo for his work as President of the 56th General Assembly.
I am delighted to welcome Switzerland as new members of the Organisation and look forward to the imminent membership of East Timor, a nation whose birth was fostered by this Organisation.
Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark has already addressed this General Assembly on behalf of the European Union. Ireland associates itself fully with his remarks.
We are all still haunted, a year later, by the shadow of the terrible events of 11 September. Last year in the delayed General Debate, I spoke about the implications of these atrocities. I set out my thoughts on the how we, as the international community, should respond. My conclusions last year and my message today are the same.
The United Nations is at the centre of our system of collective security. It is a mirror of our determination and our political will. This is the world body invested by the peoples of the world with unique legitimacy and unique authority. Around the world people look in hope and idealism to the United Nations. We must be worthy of their trust.
I want to fully endorse the Secretary-Generalìs address to this Assembly yesterday. As the Secretary-General said “ all States have a clear interest, as well as a clear responsibility, to uphold international law and maintain international order”. States must honour their international obligations. Unless we consistently call to account those who defy or flagrantly violate their obligations, our system will be discredited.
The choice we face is stark. Either we stand by and strengthen the international system and the rule of law or we invite anarchy. The great Irish poet W.B. Yeats put it graphically:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”
That was what the perpetrators of 11 September wanted. Their vicious attack was not just on the innocent people - of many nationalities, including my own - in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania; not just on the United States; but on the very values we cherish and that are the foundation on which this organisation is built.
They will have succeeded if we are provoked into abandoning these values and laws. Ultimately they can only be defeated, and the scourge of international terror ended, if we stand united in defence of our international obligations and the rule of law.
Within our system, the Security Council is charged with responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. When there are threats to international peace and security, member States concerned are obliged to bring these matter to the attention of the Security Council. When the Security Council acts in such cases all member States are obliged to implement its resolutions. Regrettably, they sometimes fail to do so.
Any law that is flagrantly violated becomes weakened over time. That is why flagrant violation and defiance of Security Council Resolutions should be a matter of the utmost concern to all member States.
The terrorist attacks on 11 September required an urgent response from the international community. It was vital that the UN Security Council was at the centre of the international community’s response. The Council, to quote the Secretary General, responded “with patience, creativity and determination.”
The Security Council adopted Resolution 1368, demanding the fullest possible cooperation of the international community in bringing the perpetrators to justice. It subsequently authorised the deployment of an international security force to Afghanistan. It put in place measures to counter international terrorism.
The establishment by the Security Council of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to oversee the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1373 was a landmark development. Its work has been instrumental in making it more difficult for international terrorist networks to organise and finance their activities.
Continued persistence and vigilance is required. We still have much more to do. We must make it impossible for the agents of international terror to operate. We must persevere with initiatives such as the freezing of assets and the denial of safe haven. At the same time, we must ensure that everything we do respects the UN Charter and the body of international human rights law we have so painstakingly constructed. That is our best guarantee against evil and its perpetrators.
In his address to this General Assembly yesterday, the Secretary-General also correctly identified four serious current threats to world peace.
First, on the Middle East. There can be no doubt that there is a need for greater urgency in the efforts to bring an end to the conflict. The vision of Security Council Resolution 242, 338 and 1397 must be implemented.
For far too long the Palestinian people have been denied their legitimate rights. Today they exist in a state of deep impoverishment. Ireland strongly believes that to reach a settlement that will give the Israeli people the security they deserve, and that will give the Palestinian people their legitimate rights and sovereignty, the parties must move forward. They must, in particular, address, not just the security issues, but also the economic and humanitarian needs of Palestinians. And they must establish a concrete target for a political settlement.
For its part, the European Union, working closely with the UN, the United States and Russia through the Quartet, will continue to encourage and assist the parties to end the conflict and move towards a permanent peace.
This conflict has been an ongoing source of suffering to the peoples of the region and of instability for the rest of the world. It remains a threat of the utmost gravity to international peace and security. We can and must give it the highest priority.
Second, Iraq. Iraq has been in violation of Security Council resolutions, in particular on arms inspection, for some considerable time. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been engaged in serious efforts to encourage Iraq to comply with its obligations under these Security Council Resolutions. We will continue to strongly support his good offices.
Let us express wholehearted agreement with the call by the Secretary-General for Iraq “to comply with its obligations for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world order. If Iraqìs defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities.”
We call on Iraq to respect its obligations and implement in full and without preconditions all the Security Council resolutions addressed to it. The weapons inspectors must be allowed in to do the work authorised by the Security Council. Iraqìs leadership has it within its own power to end the current predicament and to alleviate the great hardship on its people. It should do so without delay.
Third, it is essential for the international community to maintain its strong and active support for the Government and people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has come through great trials over the past year. We should not overlook that, despite the best efforts of the international coalition to ensure that the use of force was targeted and proportionate, many innocent Afghanis have died. We should remember them too in our prayers. Ultimately, they are just as much victims of the terrorist groups who carried out the attacks of 11 September, as those who were murdered in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Considerable progress has been achieved in Afghanistan with the help of the international community. There are clear signs that, overall, the quality of life is improving. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go if Afghanistan is to completely escape the violence and instability of the past.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains acute. The sustained and wholehearted support of the international community remains essential, therefore, if progress is to be maintained.
For our part, Ireland has been active in the Security Council, particularly in highlighting the humanitarian situation. We have pledged $12 million over the next three years, the majority of which has already been dispensed. We are also contributing personnel to the international stabilisation force.
Fourth, as regards India and Pakistan, we welcome the decrease in tension between these two countries. The risk of open conflict between two nuclear capable countries is a matter of the utmost concern to all of us. We encourage the leaders of India and Pakistan to address the underlying causes that give rise to the potential for conflict.Top