CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Address by the President of the Council of the European Union
H.E. Ms. Tarja HALONEN
Minister for Foreign Affairs
54th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, 21 September 1999
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. I would also like to draw your attention to the EU Memorandum for this session which covers a whole range of issues which are important to the United Nations. Here I am able to cover only a few aspects which are important to the European Union.
I would like to congratulate you upon your election as President of the General Assembly. The European Union lends to you its full support and cooperation throughout this session. Your predecessor Minister Opertti also deserves our appreciation.
Your predecessor Minister Opertti also deserves our appreciation for the skill and commitment with which he led our work at the last Assembly session.
I would also commend the Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan for the skill with which he has steered who has skilfully steered this organisation. through another tumultuous and eventful year.The European Union pledges its support also to him the Secretary General as well as its full commitment to the United Nations.
I should like to welcome the three new members of the United Nations, the Republics of Kiribati and Nauru and the Kingdom of Tonga into our global family. Your membership is very important in enhancing the universality of the United Natio
II. The state of the world
The new Human Development Report published by the UNDP states that In overall terms substantial progress has been made in human development. However, its speed and extent have been uneven.
The United Nations has a primary role in the advancement of human development. the implementation of many of the issues covered by this report.The implementation can only be done in close cooperation between different actors: the United Nations, its Member States, its specialised agencies, international financial institutions, regional organisations and the civil society.
We need an efficient and effective United Nations which has a stable financial basis and a full commitment from all its Member States. This also means the full, prompt and unconditional payment of contributions to the UN by all. Unilateral decisions and actions to the contrary are not allowed.
The globalisation of the world economy is an unavoidable process. We see the need to put the globalisation process and macro-economic policies in closer touch with the lives of ordinary people. We consider this to be one of the challenges facing the world community on the threshold of the new millennium. The United Nations is uniquely positioned in providing intellectual leadership to ensure that the advantages of economic globalisation are equally shared by the world's population. Increasing interdependence must work for people.
The nature of crises has also changed. Most of today's conflicts take place within and not between states. We face situations where there are serious democracy deficiencies and where human rights are violated, in particular the rights of the minorities. In the worst cases states with their traditional institutions have ceased to exist We have also more often faced the problem of failed states where a state with all its institutions has collapsed. Instead of rule of law, there prevail chaos and anarchy, criminality, fighting between political entities and ethnic groups, even outright war. People suffer and die. Have we done enough to avoid these situations ? I think we have not.
On the threshold of a new millennium we could be boldershould intensify our efforts in trying to prevent these situations. We should start to consider how to elaborate some criteria and rules aiming at the prevention of humanitarian catastrophes or alleviation of profound human suffering.
The international community needs to develop freshsolutions and responses to these new and unexpected challenges.
III. UN response : Continuum from conflict prevention through crisis management to rehabilitation and reconstruction
1. Conflict prevention
The international community must play a proactive role in conflict prevention. There are several forms of action that have a useful effect in preventing conflicts. These include good governance, strengthening democracy and respect for human rights as well as progress in economic and social development as well as through good governance. The most important factor in conflict prevention is, however, a democratic society which is on a steady foundation and which guarantees human security in its widest possible sense. Democratic societies do not go to war with each other and they are also internally stable.
a) Human rights
Every human being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Human rights are essential in the maintenance of international peace and security, economic development and social equality. The United Nations has a primary role in the promotion of universal respect for human rights. They must be further integrated in all UN activities. The promotion of universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is central also to the activities of the European Union.
The 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child reminds us of the need to advance the rights of the most vulnerable - the children. The EU welcomes the recent adoption of the ILO Convention on the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. All states should ratify the Convention as soon as possible and implement it effectively.
The protection of children affected by armed conflicts also requires constant attention. It is imperative to adopt without a delay the Optional Protocol to the Convention on involvement of children in armed conflict.
The EU is concerned about discrimination against women. We underline the significance of the international human rights instruments designed to protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. The adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women will be a historic event in this session. The EU calls on all States to give serious consideration to ratifying ratify it.
Trafficking in human beings violates many of the most basic human rights. Most victims of this practice are women and children. Concerted international action is required in the fight against trafficking. The EU supports the work done to develop international standards to prevent these crimes and to punish the perpetrators. Measures must also be taken to help the victims of this type of exploitation.
Racism is a universal problem. Thus the elimination of all forms of racial intolerance should be the responsibility of every state. We also want to underline the input by the civil society and non-governmental organisations in this field.
The EU is committed to opposing the death penalty. We call on all those States that still impose the death penalty to progressively restrict the offences for which it may be used and insists that it be carried out according to minimum standards. As a first step, a moratorium on executions should be established. The final aim must remain a complete abolition of the death penalty. The EU will actively pursue this matter in this session.
b) Sustainable development
No doubt sustainable development in all areas enhances crisis prevention. It is important in every phase of the continuum from conflict prevention through crisis management to rehabilitation and reconstruction. People are at the centre of our concerns also in sustainable development.
The importance of environmental and social aspects of sustainable development has increased. The EU has stressed the need for comprehensive work on sustainable development in international fora. Emphasis is placed on the joint responsibility of UN Member States. Sustainable development, including environmental protection, must be incorporated into all activities.
The Buenos Aires Plan of Action sets out an ambitious and precise timetable to follow in the future negotiations on the threat of climate change. However, there are still important outstanding questions, such as the Kyoto mechanisms and capacity building of developing countries as well as transfer of technology. In the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests our common goal is to promote sustainable forest management worldwide. The EU also notes the need for international co-ordination on oceans and seas.
The European Union is fully committed to reducing by one half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries. We also support them developing countriesin their efforts to implement the international commitments and goals for sustainable development. International cooperation as well as ownership of the partner countries are needed to achieve the common goals.
Relieving the unsustainable debt burden of the poorest countries requires comprehensive and decisive action. A permanent exit from the unsustainable debt requires faster and deeper relief through the programme for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries.
The European Union confirms its full commitment to the High-Level Discussion on Financing for Development. We expect this process to increase the political will to implement internationally agreed strategies for sustainable development. The European Union emphasises a broad approach to the process and the complementary nature of the various sources of financing. All relevant actors should be included in the discussions. This process should be seen as a serious attempt to find more effective ways to assist developing countries in their integration into the world economy.
c) Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a cornerstone for global security. It is imperative that the four States that have not yet done so join the NPT.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is a key instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. As we are approaching the Conference on CTBT to be held in October the EU calls upon all States to sign and ratify the treaty.
The European Union welcomes the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. As the international community moves towards the total elimination of anti-personnel mines worldwide, recent use of these weapons is highly deplorable. We must voice concern about the misery that anti-personnel mines continue to cause to the civilian population. The EU continues to be the main contributor to demining programmes worldwide.
We are deeply concerned about the impact, accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and we have intensified our efforts to address this problem. The United Nations conference in 2001on the illicit arms trade, in all its aspects, should establish a strong programme of action for international co-operation. on small arms.
Terrorism constitutes a threat to internal and international security. Therefore, the European Union reaffirms its unreserved condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and continues to support initiatives to suppress it.
We call upon all countries to sign and ratify the international anti-terrorism conventions. We hope that the conventions under preparation on the suppression of terrorist financing and on the acts of nuclear terrorism can be adopted by the General Assembly by the end of this year.
The EU will look carefully into the proposal of Egypt and others to develop further the idea of a UN conference on terrorism.
2. Crisis management and reconstruction
As the Secretary-General has said it would be the ultimate crime to miss the chance for peace and condemn people into the misery of war. The founders of this organisation were ‘determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’. We, the succeeding generations, are far from fulfilling this expectation.
Even the best plans for prevention can fail and the international community has to address armed conflicts. They have human, social and environmental consequences, which cannot be repaired The human suffering in these conflicts is insurmountable. Millions lose their homes and become refugees. And moreover millions lose their lives. Environmental and social consequences are irreparable and costs of rehabilitation and reconstruction run high beyond anyone's means.
The international community has a long tradition in solving crises by peacekeeping operations. Now that the nature of crises has changed additional means are needed. Peacekeeping operations cannot meet all the requirements without increased efforts for civilian crisis management. In most crises societies and their structures are completely destroyed.
The international community is called for repair and rehabilitation. Humanitarian assistance alone is not enough. Reconstruction of societies requires the presence of civilian police and other administrators from all fields of civil activity. In most cases it is difficult, if not impossible, to find the right tools to cope with the multi-faceted conflicts.
The European Union strongly emphasises civilian crisis management. We hope that it will be more often resorted to as the principal means to manage and solve crisis. We will work actively to develop further this concept. The European Union is in the process of improving its crisis management capabilities keeping in mind that the primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security lies with the United Nations and its Security Council.
Regional organisations have a key role in the international security. For their success cooperation with the United Nations is essential. The European Union commends the Secretary-General for his efforts to strengthen this cooperation and urges him to continue this work.
a) Regional issues
South Eastern Europe/Kosovo
The crisis in Kosovo is the last in the series of conflicts that have plagued South-Eastern Europe from the beginning of this decade. Concerted efforts are indispensable in the reconstruction of Kosovo.
The European Union supports the full implementation of the resolution 1244 adopted by the Security Council. With the adoption of this resolution the United Nations regained its relevance as far as Kosovo is concerned. We also support United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and KFOR in their efforts to ensure peace, democracy and security in Kosovo. The United Nations needs the means and cooperation of all to fulfil its mandate.
The European Union supports the determination with which the United Nations is leading the civilian implementation of peaIn fulfilling its mandate the United Nations needs the cooperation of all and it also needs the means to do its tas
Reconstruction and stabilisation of Kosovo and the whole region is a major task and requires the expertise and resources of many institutions. Particular attention must be paid to the co-ordination of actors and resources.
At the height of the Kosovo crisis, the European Union launched the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Its aim is to address the questions of democracy, human rights, economic reconstruction and security in a comprehensive and durable manner.
In the future wWe would like to welcome the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to join the Stability Pact as a full and equal participant and beneficiary. The current regime of Mr. Milosevic is responsible for the present isolation, and we look forward to welcoming democratic change inside Serbia. Meanwhile we are searching for ways in which Kosovo and the Republic of Montenegro could be made beneficiaries of the Pact early on.
In Kosovo there is an urgent need to put an end to the human suffering. caused by the crisis. We are concerned about the violence and the harassment of minorities which have resulted in a large number of Serbs and Roma leaving Kosovo. Urgent restoration of the rule of law is of paramount importance.
The European Union continues to fully support the efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations towards a negotiated political settlement of the Cyprus question. We urge the two leaders to accept invitations to the negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The Middle East remains a top priority for the common foreign and security policy of the European Union. As the Presidency of the Council of the EU, I visited the region early August. I was heartened.
The European Union finds it encouraging that the Middle East peace process has regained momentum and that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have started again.. The European Union finds it encouraging that Israel and the Palestinians are negotiating in earnest again. Negotiations are the only way to find a just and lasting solution to the long-standingthis conflict in the region. We welcome the signing of the memorandum on the implementation of the Wye River agreement. The as well as the resumptioEuropean Union has consistently assured the parties of its readiness to assist them in their search for peace.
All tracks of the peace process should now be activated. We urge the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli governments to engage in direct talks. The relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions form an internationally accepted basis for peace.
It is also important to make progress on the multilateral track. Mutual trust and networks of interaction must be built. Peace can and must be rooted in close regional co-operation. The multilateral track and the Barcelona process provide with ample opportunities in this regard.
The European Union warmly welcomes the result of the popular consultation of the East Timorese people on 30 August 1999. Indonesia's commitment to the full implementation of the Agreementsbetween Portugal and Indonesia is imperative. We are committed to seeing the people of East Timor enjoy the independence which they have freely chosen. The European Union pays tribute to the United Nations for the organisation of the popular consultation and lauds the courage and extraordinary work of the personnel of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the atrocities in East Timor. The Government of Indonesia retains a responsibility for law and order in the territory.
The European Union took note of President Habibie's announcement on Indonesia's readiness to accept an international force to help create peace in East Timor.
We fully support the resolution 1264 adopted by the Security Council and welcome the early deployment of the multinational force. We also welcome the participation from Asian states in this force. Order, security and rule of law must be restored immediately. The European Union supports rapid action by the Security Council to decide on the mandate of an international presence.The attitude of the European Union towards Indonesia will depend on the implementation of the undertakings given by the President of Indonesia. They should be implemented without a delay and without conditions.
The European Union has agreed, for a period of four months, on an embargo on the export of military equipment and equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism. The EU has also suspended its bilateral military co-operation with Indonesia.
The European Union stresses the urgent priority to remedy the grave humanitarian situation. We are deeply concerned about the attacks on humanitarian personnel, church members and human rights defenders. We urge the Indonesian Government to allow the safe return of international humanitarian organisations and agencies to East Timor without delay. They must have secure access to displaced people to allow their safe return to their homes The EU will provide further humanitarian assistance to those in need.
The European Union also supports the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene a Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights. The European Union calls for an investigative mission by the Commission.
After the resounding vote in the popular consultation, East Timor's independence must proceed without delay as provided for in the 5 May Agreements. The Member States of the European Union look forward to recognising East Timor once the process towards independence is completed.
The European Union also emphasises its desire to see a strong, democratic and united Indonesia.
The European Union is concerned about the grave situation in South Asia. In spite of the end of the open military hostilities, following the infiltration of militants across the Line of Control, the relations between India and Pakistan continue tense. In spite of the political settlement on the open military hostilities in Kashmir the relations between India and Pakistan continue tense. The EU reiterates its appeal to restraint and to resumption of political dialogue on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, in the spirit of the Lahore declaration.
The EU welcomes the declared intention of India and Pakistan to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and encourages them to do so without a delay. The recent In the aftermath of nuclear tests last year, testing of ballistic missiles has increased the regional tensions in South Asia. by both India and Pakistan this year added fears of arms race. We encourage India and Pakistan to make further efforts in resuming call on both countries to refrain from further tests and resume their dialogue.
The Secretary General has said that the United Nations cannot rest until all of Africa is at peace. One third of the Sub-Saharan Africa is presently involved in armed conflicts. The victims of these conflicts are overwhelmingly civilians.
One third of the Sub-Saharan Africa is presently involved in armed conflicts. The victims of these conflicts are overwhelmingly civilians.
The EU strongly appeals to the parties of these and other ongoing conflicts to respect human rights and to co-operate with the humanitarian organisations. The EU will continue to make all efforts to provide humanitarianassistance to the victims.
The EU welcomes the positive trend in Nigeria since President Obasanjo took office and encouraging developments in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nevertheless we need to bear in mind that the peace processes in these countries are still fragile.
Concrete measures have been taken to strengthen African ownership and capacity to focus on conflict prevention and resolution. The EU is supporting, in close cooperation with the United Nations, the capacity of African organisations in the field of conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
A stable and democratic political environment is indispensable for sustainable development. The EU welcomes the Secretary-General's report on "The causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa" and we look forward to its effective follow-up. We hope that the open-ended working group will reach tangible results in this respect.
The first EU-Africa summit is planned to take place in April 2000. This summit is a clear signal of close cooperation between the EU and the African countries to address various, even delicate, political and socio-economic issues.
b) International law
In conflict situations it is essential to respect the rules and principles of International Humanitarian Law. A month ago we celebratedThe celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the four Geneva Conventions. It was a timely reminder that the Conventions Geneva Conventionsare as still necessary today as they were at the time of their adoption. The European Union stresses the importance of full compliance with their provisions. of the Conventions.
We also note the issuance of the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Observance by the United Nations Forces of International Humanitarian Law.
It is crucial that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community do not go unpunished. The Statute of the International Criminal Court lays the foundation to fight impunity for the most heinous crimes. The European Union is committed to the early entry into force of the Rome Statute, and to an effective International Criminal Court. The number of signatories as well as the first ratifications are encouraging. We urge all States to sign and to ratify the Statute.
The European Union reiterates its commitment to the early entry into force of the Rome Statute, and to an effective, functioning and credible International Criminal Court. The steady increase in signatories as well as the first ratifications are encouraging. We urge all States to sign and to ratify the Statute as soon as possible.
IV. Response by the European Union
One of the principal objectives of the Amsterdam Treaty is to strengthen the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. To achieve this we have created new units and instruments to deal with the increasing challenges in the field of foreign policy.
The new policy planning and early warning unit will monitor and analyse development in different areas relevant to the EU. It will provide assessments of foreign and security policy interests and identify areas where the policy should focus in the future. It will provide timely assessments on potential conflict situations. We hope the new High Representative, Mr. Solana, and the work of this unit will give new impetus and visibility to the Union and increase our ability to act in crisis situations.
Mr. Javier Solana was nominated the Secretary General of the Council. He shall also act as the EU's High Representative for its common foreign and security policy and be assisted by the new unit. We hope this will give new impetus and visibility to the Union and increase our ability to act in crisis situations.
The Amsterdam treaty also creates new instruments like the Common Strategies which are comprehensive strategic approaches to different geographic areas. In the future they common strategiesare likely to address also thematic issues, such as human rights. Through these Strategies we hope to further improve our coordination and set clearer goals for our Common Foreign and Security Policy.
In accordance with the Amsterdam Treaty we are going to consistently improve our capacity for conflict prevention and crisis management, by developing a Common European Policy on Security and Defence. The EU will thereby increase its ability to contribute to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter.
V. Into the new Millennium
a) Follow-up to the global conferences of the 90's:
A number of global conferences have been organised by the United Nations. We have achieved important results and created a much-needed global network of safety. The Member States of the United Nations are politically and morally committed to the actions that form a global agenda for implementation.
However, five years later the assessment and review of progress show thaimplementation of commitments is regrettably slow. It is of utmost importance to focus on the implementation, particularly at the country level.
One of the priorities for the European Union is an effective, integrated and co-ordinated implementation and follow-up of all these conferences. This is a more cost-effective and efficient way to turn the commitments into reality. The implementation should be further enhanced in the existing machinery of the United Nations though improving its functions.
b) Millennium Assembly
We should be able to take a rejuvenated and still relevant United Nations also into the new Millennium. Otherwise it will lose its unique role which it has because of its global and universal nature.
We should seize the opportunity for renewal by finding an appropriate and a truly new way of conducting the Millennium Assembly. We should find innovative ways of interaction between all global actors to inaugurate the new Millennium. The result of this assembly should be forward-looking and strengthening the Organisation.
The Millennium Assembly should give new direction for renewal. The EU supports the overall theme "The UN in the 21st century" proposed by the Secretary-General. In the view of the EU the focus should be on poverty eradication in the context of globalisation.
The EU supports the overall theme "The UN in the 21st century" proposed by the Secretary-General. In the view of the EU the focus should be on poverty eradication in the context of globalisation.
Poverty eradication is a major challenge for the international community now that the world population is reaching six billion and nearly a quarter of them still live in poverty. It is one of the greatest challenges left pending at the end of the twentieth century.
With the new Millennium we should also recognise the increased importance of the input and participation of the civil society in the search for solutions. This is one of the cornerstones of the new era in international cooperation.
c) UN reforms
The European Union has strongly supported the Secretary-General's reforms and we continue to do so. We are concerned about the ‘reform fatigue’ because reform is not an event, but a constant process of renewal. Its purpose it to develop the capacity to meet with new demands and to respond to new challenges. No modern organisation can survive without change. The UN must continue to be relevant, effective and efficient in world affairs.
d) UN finances
In order for the United Nations to be modern and cost-effective it needs a sound and stable financial basis and the full commitment of all Member States to its principles and purposes enshrined in the Charter. All Member States must pay their contributions on time, in full and without conditions. This is the common responsibility and binding commitment that Member States take upon themselves when they join the United Nations. In this respect no unilateral decisions and actions are allowed.
Thank you, Mr. President.