Statement by Minister Cowen T.D.,at the 56th United Nations General Assembly, 12 November 2001 Part 1
I congratulate you on your election as President of the 56th General Assembly and thank you for your successful efforts to take forward the work of this Assembly.
My colleague, Foreign Minister Louis Michel of Belgium, has already addressed this General Assembly on behalf of the European Union. Ireland associates itself fully with his remarks.
We meet at a moment of uncertainty. The spectre of war once again casts its shadow across the continents. Forty years ago, when addressing this Assembly, President John F. Kennedy warned that “mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind”. Of course, President Kennedy was addressing a different world than the one we now live in. The war he feared was a war between two great power blocs that would end in assured mutual annihilation.
Thankfully, the threat of conflict on such a scale is now a far more remote prospect, but war and conflict continue to cause enormous suffering in many parts of the world. This, together with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, chemical and biological - means that war, and its mutation, terrorism, continue to threaten mankind - our lives, our liberty and our prosperity.
This is simply not acceptable. We, the peoples of the United Nations, created, joined and sustained this organisation in the determination to save this and succeeding generations from the scourge of war. We must now demonstrate renewed and sustained commitment to the realisation of this goal.
Many speakers in this debate have spoken about the events of 11 September as a defining moment in history.
During the Twentieth Century, we faced a number of such defining moments - World War I, World War II, and the fall of the Berlin Wall which heralded the end of the Cold War. These defining moments are perhaps best reflected in the popular phrase, found on the lips of men and women of all races and creeds at such times - “things will never be the same again”. Out of such defining moments, there comes the resolve to learn the lessons of history, to change the existing order, to make sure the calamities of the past can never happen again.
In the heat and clarity of the immediate aftermath of such events, expressions of resolve are abundant. And yet, from the examples I have just outlined, it is clear that in the past our resolve has faltered as the immediate threat receded, and that the determination required to tackle the underlying causes and injustices that give rise to conflict, has proved difficult to sustain.
Today the international community is again at a crossroads. If we want a true and lasting victory over international terrorism; if we want safety, security and prosperity for our own people and our children, then we must act with sustained resolve and sustained determination.
Our immediate agenda is clear.
Action against terrorism must be pursued, resolutely, across a wide front and over a sustained period.
In undertaking this necessary endeavour let us be honest and realistic. With retributive justice must come distributive justice.
The peace and security which we crave for ourselves and for future generations will not be secured unless we simultaneously tackle the root causes of conflict; injustice, poverty and the abuse of fundamental rights and freedoms.
Too often multilateral action has been characterised as being taken in reaction to the outcomes of conflict. Last year's Millennium Declaration confirmed the public commitment of the world's leadership to resolving also the root causes of conflict. The United Nations was created out of the determination to tackle conflict and its causes. On that basis, let us this week recommit and re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the United Nations. As the Secretary-General pointed out when opening this General Debate, “none of the issues that faced us on September 10th has become less urgent”.
We must act more resolutely through the United Nations, with sustained commitment and sustained determination, to address this equally urgent agenda. We must implement with determination all UN Security Council resolutions.
Let us realise and build on the pledges we made at the Millennium Summit. Let us strive much more effectively to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Let us also improve the working of this Organisation by making it more efficient, adaptable and joined up. In the words of the Secretary-General this week, let us ensure that when the UN acts, “only the best is good enough”. Only in this way will the United Nations and its member States succeed in overcoming the massive challenges which now confront us.
In addressing this comprehensive agenda, we must not relax our efforts on human rights. This Organisation was founded out of a determination to assert human rights, the dignity and worth of the human person, and the equal rights of men and women. We must not equivocate on any of these principles. And in pursuit of this, Ireland looks forward to the imminent establishment of the International Criminal Court, and appeals for its universal recognition.
Violent conflict and internal strife are the reality of daily life in many regions and countries across the world today - the Middle East, the Great Lakes region of Africa and many other places, such as Sudan, where people are being killed and maimed. Ireland has worked hard since joining the Security Council last January to focus on the need to address these and other conflicts. We have given particular attention to Africa and to the efforts, frequently African-led, to solve the many conflicts there. We have consistently sought to highlight the humanitarian aspects of the various situations coming before the Council. We were particularly gratified during our Presidency of the Security Council last month to have presided over substantial discussions on Somalia, and on the UN's support for post-independence East Timor.
We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation of the people of Iraq. The Iraqi government can and must do more within the system set out in the Security Council resolutions to meet the humanitarian needs of its own people. For its part, the Security Council and its members must redouble their efforts to reach agreement on the outcome of its review of the sanctions regime. But we must not lose sight of the fundamental purpose of the sanctions regime; Iraq must allow verification that it has met its essential disarmament obligations.Top