1990 Speech

Statement to 44th UN General Assembly, 1989
Statement by Ambassador Samir S. Shihabi, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the General Debate at the Forty-Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York 11 October 1989

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Mr. President:
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you on your election to the Presidency of this forty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, in appreciation for you and your extensive experience in international affairs, and for your country's important role regionally and internationally. I am confident that your presidency of this session and your efficient conduct of its affairs will be a great asset to us in achieving a great deal.

I avail myself of this opportunity to express our appreciation to your predecessor, Mr. Dante Caputo, the President of the Forty-Third Session of the General Assembly, who conducted our work with objectivity and wisdom that earned him the gratitude and appreciation of all.

It is also my pleasure to reiterate our thanks and appreciation to the Secretary-General Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar, for his ceaseless efforts over this year, as in previous years, in continuously striving to secure opportunities for peace, and reducing tension in crisis areas, as well as for his persistent endeavors to solve international problems, whether political or otherwise. His personal qualities have had great effect in contributing to what has been achieved in these fields.

Mr. President:
The role of the United Nations in providing for a relaxed atmosphere and in contributing to the processes of reconciliation, and the resolution of disputes, and in facilitating the means to eliminate the causes of dangerous conflicts between states, is a major objective of the Charter of the United Nations Organization. It gives us pleasure to witness the United Nations in performing this role, and to see the two great powers, in particular, realizing that in the United Nations they have an organ to which they can resort for help in realizing the present different stages of understanding. It is an appreciation that needs no explanation to show the importance of the fields of multilateral relations and its positive influence on bilateral relations. As we discuss the importance and value of multilateral relations, I have to mention the constructive role the Gulf Cooperation Council is playing within the framework of the Arab League and in coordinating and unifying the foreign and internal policies of its member states. We welcomed the formation of the Arab Cooperation Council and the Maghreb Unity Council, which represent two groups of Arab countries, within the Arab League, and which aim to consolidate cooperation and solidarity among them. We see in this regional consolidation within the framework of the Arab League, an effective practical support of the League's objectives, and the goals of the United Nations.

As we witness many signs of relaxation in the relations between the great powers, and signs of improvement in the nature of dealings between adversary blocs and at a time when the world is looking forward to the transformation of confrontation among the great powers to the arena of understanding and the solution of conflicts by peaceful means, and as the dangers of a global war with weapons of mass destruction receding gradually, raising great hopes among the nations of the world, that the danger of nuclear war between the two blocs has receded far enough to give us a feeling of peace, we find now that worldwide dangers are beginning to impose themselves on the arena, robbing the progress of mankind and threatening the existence of the human race if they are not dealt with in time.

The multifaceted environmental problems and the danger created by industrial progress, affect the safety of air and water, the livelihood of Man, the life of animals, and the health of agriculture and fertility of the soil. Added to that the damage and disruption to which the upper atmosphere is being subjected to, will affect life on earth in general.

Then there are these fatal malaises such as the spread of drugs through dangerous and criminal organizations, which have abundant means and have crossed geographic borders, and which have penetrated the sanctity of families and societies and infiltrated through all moral, human and spiritual barriers, to spread these deadly poisons to the human spirit and human vitality, in its march for peaceful existence, resulting in the destruction of the character of the citizen, and the fragmentation of social bonds, and the dissolution of the individual's commitment to the rights of the family, society, and the state. All these are dangers of which the United Nations became aware at the early stages, and it has thankfully called for mobilization of world efforts to face them.

In the economic field as well, the conditions of the developing countries are becoming worse, and the poor countries are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer. The problems of debts, protectionist policies, and declining prices of raw materials and this gap between the developing and developed countries, its causes and consequences, are the most important impediments that require an urgent solution.

Mr. President:
The process by the two leaderships, in the United States and the Soviet Union, to this stage of understanding and belief in cooperation, deserves from us much appreciation for the wisdom of those two leaderships and their ability to attain what is best for their nations and humanity at large. If the steps taken during the last two years are sufficient indicators, we hope that this agreement, despite the difficulties, will not be exposed to factors of destructive competition which must always be guarded against, and that the arrival at understanding, negotiation and cooperation is an indication of a phase of stability that will help us in solving non-military problems of global nature, as well as regional problems which affect the rights, security and peace of nations. We see in this direction, if it continues, over the present and into the future, an important role for this international forum in which the United Nations and its organs will play an effective role in facilitating the means of international understanding.

Mr. President:
At a time when we perceive a positive trend in international relaxation for the solution of problems, we see that the problem of Palestine is entering a dangerous state that requires a special stand from the United Nations and its member states in which we should all bear our responsibilities.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities prevaricate in order to annex these areas in spite of the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, and in spite of the overall international stand in rejecting these Israeli attempts, condemning them and calling for their end. Then came the total Palestinian uprising. Twenty-three months have elapsed since the uprising began in which the Palestinian people in all their sectors, men, women, the elderly, and children, have risen against occupation and suppression, facing the occupying Israeli authorities and all their instruments of force and power, they are a people who are defending their right on their land against an occupier who threatens their livelihood and their existence. Peace is still an aspiration that is still being rejected by Israel and for the attainment of which it still places obstacles. This has been the case since the Arab peace initiatives began receiving world support. I mention in this regard the initiative of the Fez Summit of 1982; then there were resolutions of the Palestinian National Council of 1988, and the steps taken by the Palestinian leadership including the declaration of the Palestinian State.

As I extol on this occasion the role of our sister state, Egypt, under the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak, supporting the steadfast and legitimate Palestinian right, we witness the intransigence of Israel hindering every initiative for solution and every effort for peace.

The inhuman practices which are being committed by the Israeli authorities against the Palestinian people are the most dangerous elements that face any peace plan and the worst that the Israeli authorities can invest for human relationships with the Arab people at any time. Israel has to accept the reality for which there is no alternative: the Palestinian Liberation Organization is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It should realize that what the Palestine National Council has offered in sacrifices to put forward a peace formula and a road to peace in Palestine is Israel's opportunity for peace. The Israeli authorities have to realize that this great sacrifice is a high price paid by the Palestinian people in the quest for peace and security and the preservation of its national status.

What concerns Palestine applies as well to the Arab lands which have been occupied by Israel in the Syrian Golan Heights and southern Lebanon. It is an invasion and occupation that is rejected and must be brought to an end at the earliest possible time, if the vehicle of peace is to move.

But the Middle East is considered by Israel one field, with the Arab Maghreb and some countries in southwest Asia; for which it is building rockets, and preparing offensive weapons of mass destruction, including deadly nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological weapons. These weapons, we must never forget, are all weapons of annihilations, the destruction of which collectively is a must. Destroying only part of them is an illogical contradiction to the call for limiting these weapons of absolute destruction. The long-range missile which Israeli authorities fired toward the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean increases the indications that security and peace based on human considerations is far from the conception of Israeli politicians. But of course this will not frighten anyone. Are we to see a better realization of peace during the coming year, in which the Israeli authorities will prove a change in thinking on what is right, or will Israel spoil all opportunities for peace by insisting on an Israeli peace that cannot be acquired?

As for the situation in the Gulf, we express our appreciation to the governments of Iran and Iraq for adhering to their commitment to the ceasefire. It is the necessary step towards ending war and marching on the road to build the required bridge of peace between the two neighbors, after they have tried the horrors of war for eight bleeding years. It is imperative to point out that the state of no war, no peace is always predicated with unacceptable surprises, and that the march toward peace is a necessity. Both parties accepted resolution 598. We commend Iraq for its initiative in this regard. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and his assistants have exerted great efforts to break the ice in the current negotiations. We have to point to the urgent need to eliminate the humanitarian problems from the points of contention, because it is human, and its bearing upon the spirit of the negotiation will be positive to a great extent. We particularly point to the prisoners of war in this regard. We will support the Secretary-General and his assistants as we have always done, to reach a final solution to this conflict which threatens the security and peace of the countries in the Gulf region, as well as international security.

As you are aware, Mr. President, the tragedy of Lebanon has reached a condition that threatens the foundation of the state and its safety. The recent emergency Arab Summit conference held in Casablanca took a decision to authorize the Arab High Tripartite Committee composed of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, His Majesty King Hassan the Second, and His Excellency President Chedli bin Jadid to find a comprehensive solution to the Lebanese crisis. The high committee has put forward a special perspective to solve the problem which contains a draft plan for national reconciliation. The efforts of the high committee have succeeded in realizing important achievements until now. It achieved a ceasefire. It has convened a meeting of the Lebanese parliamentarians which is taking place at present in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For twelve days they have been exerting continuous effort to reach an agreement that will give the country its peace, to the state its constitutional institutions, conduct political reforms, and establish the sovereignty of the Lebanese state over all the Lebanese national territory.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in the name of the high tripartite Arab committee, has emphasized the need for the brothers in Lebanon to reach a unified vision that enables them to define the future of Lebanon according to the formula which they perceive will preserve the unity of Lebanon, land and people, and ensure continuous peace and total stability. The King extolled all the Lebanese parties, and other sides concerned with the Lebanese issue to intensify their endeavors to secure the beneficial objectives which all seek in this direction.

Mr. President:
The withdrawal of the Israeli forces from South Lebanon must take place and should conform to the armistice agreements of 1949, and conform with Security Council resolution 425. We look with great hope and confidence that stability, security, and peace will return to the land of Lebanon, and Lebanon will regain its civilized and constructive role and look forward to a tomorrow when peace in Lebanon will rectify what war destroyed yesterday.

We reiterate our appreciation for the courage of the Soviet decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, and for the strict adherence to the date of the withdrawal. We hope that the Soviet Union, in its brave decision, should appreciate that the regime holding out in Kabul brought upon Afghanistan the horrors of civil war for eight years. It will not be easy for the Mujahideen and their provisional government to share in governing the country and in administering the affairs of the people who suffered at its hand the horrors of war, destruction, and expulsion, and accord this regime the respectability of a state and the esteem of its people. The present continuing intransigence of the regime will not result in any good for repairing the rift between neighbors or for building bridges of understanding and good neighborliness. A failed regime which cannot secure safety and spread peace, or even impose its existence by force, when it was supported by a superior foreign army, is a regime that is finished and on its way out. Attempts at bargaining are but a pretext to prolong the tragedy of the Afghani people and their suffering. This heroic people gave the best examples in sacrifice and defense of their religion, their honor, and their country, and showed all seekers of freedom a clear road that does not accept bargaining.

The problem of Namibia is entering the final stages and it is on the threshold of enjoying independence. We hope that the world community will continue to press for adherence for a comprehensive solution until Namibia attains complete independence. The trickery and delay to which the government of South Africa is resorting, to foil the implementation of the United Nations plan in one way or another, will only have negative results upon South Africa. They should learn form the experience of others who before them colonized Africa and who before them departed from Africa. We will be glad to welcome the independent State of Namibia in the near future, as a free, independent state and an active member in the comity of nations.

Now South Africa remains, and the system of apartheid in it, which is still resisting the winds of change and the storms of adjustment, that are overcoming the set up of the society against apartheid and racial discrimination everywhere, especially on the African continent. Despite some symptoms of comprehending and understanding that the regime in South Africa displays, still the width of the gap between them and the ugliness of the relationship the white minority is still clinging in regard to the black majority, is a warning of a dangerous stage that threatens the security and stability of the region, if the officials in South Africa do no wake up quickly to the ugly consequences of their present policy, which is condemned by the whole world, and against which the states of the whole world, including ourselves, are standing together to put an end to. It will not do South Africa and its government any good to cooperate with the regime in Israel, openly or secretly in the fields of trade, industry and finance, and in the field of nuclear armament intelligence, illegal operations and training, because a system founded on apartheid is bound to change or come to an end.

Mr. President:
Politics, as we know, cannot be set straight without economics being straightened as well. The performance of the world economy was strong in many fields during last year and the beginning of this year. Gross National Product in the industrial states increased by four percent in 1988, and international trade increased by nine percent, one of the highest over the last ten years. The rate of employment in industrial countries increased by two percent in 1988 and the rate of unemployment decreased from seven and a half percent to seven percent in 1988. Against this picture, we still see the gap widening between the industrial countries and the developing countries. The official assistance and support to the developing nations has decreased, and many developing countries use their income to pay debts to debtor countries, where economic performance is improving, and the developing countries which suffer from a decrease in performance because of economic problems which represent one of the most serious obstacles to international understanding at present, despite the improvements which we pointed to earlier.

The decrease in the price of raw materials, which the developing countries export, still represents a great obstacle on the path to economic development, especially while facing, at the same time, a rise in prices of manufactured products from the industrial countries. The developing countries are still facing development problems because the industrial countries, especially those who used to govern some of them, passed down to the present governments the burdens of poverty and backwardness. These industrial countries did not uphold their duty in supporting human, material and development projects in the countries that gained independence. We have been persistently calling for the North-South negotiations to resume and to work for solutions to the problems that impede progress in this field. We also call for the limitation on protectionist policies in the industrial countries in the tariff and no-tariff forms which are basic obstacles to balanced trade and impede economic development not only in developing countries, but in industrial countries as well. We also call for intensifying the coordination of economic policies between industrial countries to revitalize the world economy and support its stability and facilitate the incorporation of the developing countries into the world economy.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is playing its positive role in serving the world economy, and in giving assistance and support, at the same time, to developing countries, most of which is in the form of grants. We draw your attention to the importance of the fact that the improvement in international relations should be accomplished by a wise balance in economic relations, especially since military expenditure is supposed to decrease in the industrial countries, and thus demonstrate their good intentions by setting aside part of these savings to support development in the developing countries and to improve economic balance justly.

Mr. President:
While we look forward to the coming year, we are hopeful that international problems will be solved. At the same time, we should our responsibilities, which are no less important, to solve the regional problems which threaten peace and security. We are hopeful that when we meet next year, we will have in our hands actual achievements so that we can tell coming generations that the future of humanity is better than it was in the past.

Thank you.