Mr. President, Your Excellencies,
Heads of State and Government,
Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the European Union, I am honoured to address the 57th General Assembly.
1) A year ago today the world woke up to a terrible new reality – but it was also the wake-up call for us to join forces and present a solid front against the perpetrators of terror, the enemies of freedom.
Not so far from here, at the heart of New Yorks pulsating business community, the Twin Towers used to stand, representing the pride of all New Yorkers in their city.
But now, they have been replaced by a gaping hole, a memento of that fateful September day when terror reared its ugly head and, for a while, the very pulse of this city seemed to stop.
For on that day terror came to America, leaving in its wake death and destruction and thousand upon thousand of sorrowing mourners.
It was the moment which marked the division of our world into civilised nations and those who use terror as their weapon.
But it was also the day which saw us take a stand against evil.
It was the day when we decided to stand shoulder to shoulder in a world-wide coalition against these men of terror and their cowardly acts.
And, when the call for action came, it was here, within these walls at the United Nations, that we met to give each other renewed hope and confidence. It was as natural as it was necessary.
Because the attack was directed against the very foundation of this organisation. Planned by cowards in their lairs conspiring against world peace and security. Launched by fanatics violating every basic law of humanity. And supported by tyranny, oppressing liberty and equality.
For make no mistake, these acts of terrorism have not weakened us, they have only served to strengthen our resolve to actively seek security and prosperity for all consistent with the United Nations Charter and international law.
And, from the outset, the United Nations has played a crucial role in the fight against terrorism.
On our part, in the European Union, there could be no hesitation. Our way was, and is, clear. We fully support the initiatives of the UN Counter Terrorist Committee.
Because we will never allow terror and fear to obscure freedom and democracy.
So the European Union intends actively to assist other nations in implementing Resolution 1373.
The EU remains committed to finalise and adopt the Comprehensive Convention against Terrorism.
And we therefore strongly urge all member states to join and implement the twelve UN conventions on terrorism.
2) The key role played by the United Nations in the fight against terrorism is a reminder of the fact that the UN itself was born out of hope, founded on the ashes of the Second World War. A war which defeated tyranny and terror.
With the adoption of the Millennium Declaration, the United Nations has been given renewed impetus to deal globally with
- conflict prevention,
- crisis management,
- humanitarian assistance,
- post-conflict rehabilitation and development, and
- disarmament and arms control.
And in the complicated area of peacemaking, the United Nations and the European Union work tirelessly to find solutions in the Middle East through the efforts of the Quartet and in finding a permanent settlement on Cyprus consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions. The EU is a major partner in the rebuilding of a new Afghanistan freed from terror.
In the Middle East, Iraq remains a major source of concern with regard to weapons of mass destruction as president Bush emphasized in his important statement this morning. Iraq must grant unconditional and unimpeded access for the weapon inspectors to Iraq and the required cooperation from her authorities to the inspectors.
Iraq is in breach of several resolutions of the Security Council on her disarmament obligations these obligations must be complied with immediately. The European Union is determined to support further efforts of the United Nations to that end. We agree with the United States that this matter should urgently be dealt with by the Security Council.
We agree with the Secretary General that if Iraqs defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities. The European Union, conscious of her obligations, remains strongly engaged in UN-mandated operations throughout the world. From holding in check the civil war in Sierra Leone to building a secure, prosperous and democratic Kosovo.
We also strongly support the initiatives to strengthen the United Nations future peacekeeping capacity. We owe it to our armed forces to ensure an efficient and robust framework for future operations.
3) But ladies and gentlemen, we must not forget that at the heart of all these conflicts are human beings. Sometimes struggling to achieve what we take for granted.
For human rights are fundamental for the life and dignity of all human beings. The primary, fundamental and essential accomplishment of the UN will one day be the full enjoyment of all human rights for everyone everywhere:
- The right of each individual to feel that life, body and property are hers or his alone. To feel safe and secure.
- The right of each individual to face authorities without fear of injustice or harassment.
- The right of each individual to learn that people can speak up for themselves with confidence and without having to fear the consequences.
Human rights are also fundamental for human prosperity and development. The European Union therefore strongly supports the efforts of the Secretary General to integrate human rights into all United Nations activities.
Sadly, cruelty towards the defenceless, violence, maltreatment and torture remain widespread. The European Union strongly supports the adoption of the draft protocol of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The European Union also advocates the universal abolition of the death penalty. No state should grant itself the right to take life. Where the death penalty still exists, we call for its use to be progressively restricted. We would like to see all nations introduce a moratorium on this form of punishment and, eventually, to end it altogether, so that it becomes a thing of the past.
Until women are in possession of all human rights, able to take charge of their lives and to achieve their full potential, sustainable development will remain but a dream. The European Union remains committed to fighting all forms of discrimination and violence against women, including murder and mutilation through a misguided sense of honour.
By the same token, we vigorously pursue the global fight against racism, discrimination and intolerance. These deplorable attitudes and actions are regrettably still part of everyday life throughout the world. They do not belong here at the doorstep of the new Millennium.
4) People do not need revenge; they want justice. They do not wish for impunity; they want accountability. This is what the International Criminal Court is about. We now have a permanent international Court that can bring those accused of war crimes and other perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern to trial.
The European Union supports the ICC as an important historic milestone. It reflects a new level of international co-operation. We are confident that the ICC will contribute to strengthening the respect for international humanitarian law and human rights.
The European Union expresses its strong hope that countries that, at present, have reservations about the Statute will join as soon as possible. We believe that the court will prove to be an effective, competent and fair legal instrument.
5) Ridding the world of persistent poverty remains the greatest global challenge of all. We have achieved significant results in the combat against poverty and misery. But the world community still has far to go if we are to meet the goals of the Millennium Declaration.
For many countries, the United Nations is first and foremost about combating poverty. How to ensure everyone access to the essentials of life; the next meal; the medicine and health care to survive; and access to basic education. These are the promises contained in the Millennium Declaration. And we must not let the world down.
Aid alone will not eliminate poverty. We know that. Developing countries can take cue from the African leaders who have taken an impressive lead with the NEPAD-initiative.
This year has seen many decisive steps taken within the field of fields of trade and development, financing and sustainable development. In Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg we reached consensus on what needs to be done. But knowing what has to be done is not enough as world leaders we must see that it is done.
The European Union played a key role in reaching this consensus and is, therefore committed to this new agenda.
- As the most important trading partner for the developing countries,
- As the world’s largest donor, providing almost half of all development assistance.
We have decided to further open our markets for exports from the least developed countries. We hope that others will follow the same path.
Translating policies on poverty eradication into sustainable development requires strong political will and true partnership in development. A major challenge now will be to turn the Monterrey consensus and the outcome of Johannesburg into reality. The European Union proposes that the UN system monitors implementation of the Johannesburg targets and agenda.
These and other important UN policy issues are spelled out in the European Union position paper.
On behalf of the European Union, I am happy to welcome the decisions of Switzerland and East Timor to join the United Nations. Two nations – one old and one new – one in the North and one in the South – they reflect the multitude and diversity of the United Nations.
At the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, young people from all over the world illustrated their dream of a world of peace and unity using all the colours of the flags of the United Nations.
But we should not content ourselves with a dream.
From the war against international terrorism, through the quest for justice, to the relentless fight against poverty, we need a strong and efficient United Nations. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give”. What better gift can we give them than unity between our nations?
Let us seize the moment and take another step towards true United Nations united in word and in deed!
Thank you for your attention,
and thank you, Mr. President.