In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful;
Blessings and peace be upon the most noble of prophets.
Distinguished heads and members of delegations:
It gives me pleasure, as we begin the work of this Session, to convey to Your Excellency, on behalf of the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our sincerest congratulations on the occasion of your election to the presidency of the fifty-first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Your assumption of this important position reflects the appreciation of the member states for you personally, as well as for the positive role played by your country in the international arena. We wish you success in fulfilling your mission and assure you of the willingness and desire of my country to cooperate fully in achieving the objectives of this session.
I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate your predecessor, Mr. Freitas De Amaral, for his effective conduct of the affairs of the General Assembly during its previous session which celebrated the Fiftieth Anniversary of our organization.
I would also like to express my sincere wishes to His Excellency, the Secretary General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who manages the affairs of this international organization with exceptional abilities and competence in the midst of a rapidly changing world. In order to deal with the increasing expectations regarding the present and future role of the United Nations, we are fully confident that a renewal of His Excellency’s tenure will provide him the opportunity to complete the plans instituted and efforts expended to reform the United Nations and restore its constructive role in the international arena.
A year has passed since we celebrated the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations. The celebration, which was attended by many world leaders, was a valuable opportunity to recall the role of the United Nations in maintaining peace and security throughout the world and in enhancing international legality. It also provided us with an opportunity to review its accomplishments and challenges over a period of fifty years.
The current session of the General Assembly represents the beginning of a new era for the United Nations which we hope will witness a consolidation of the role of the United Nations on the international scene to the benefit of its member states and in accordance with the principles and objectives of its charter. It is our firm belief that this international forum can play an effective role in managing crises, averting wars and conflicts, and providing the means for international cooperation. This belief compels us to be more persistent then at any other time in supporting this institution and enhancing its constructive role.
The international changes which have occurred over the past decade are so dramatic that they have created a new international reality with a host of new challenges. These developments offer new opportunities to reinforce the principles of the United Nations for the benefit of strengthening international legitimacy, including justice and equality among nations, the rejection of the use of force in the settlement of conflicts, as well as the preservation of the dignity of man, and providing security and prosperity for all mankind. We should also recall the fact which many world leaders referred to during the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations that the ability of this international organization to resolve global problems and crises and conflicts relies very much on the political will of member states to abide by the principles of the United Nations. It is our hope that the future will witness more determination on the part of member states to ensure achieving the objectives upon which the future of the United Nations depends.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is fully cognizant of the importance of reforming the various bodies of the United Nations so that they may fulfill their prescribed role and effectively deal with the global changes we witnessed over the past years. Among these bodies, the Security Council, as the body directly concerned with preserving international peace and security, remains the focus for reform. My country’s view was and remains that any changes to the structure of the Security Council should be geared towards enhancing its ability to accomplish its role effectively as enunciated in the Charter and to refrain from any action that would limit its effectiveness in fulfilling its purpose.
The Arab leaders, at their summit meeting in Cairo last June, expressed their firm commitment to continue the peace process which they regard as an irreversible strategic goal. The Cairo meeting confirmed that the realization of a just and comprehensive peace within the realm of international legality presupposes a serious and unequivocal commitment on the part of Israel to abide by the principles of the Madrid Peace Conference and Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, and 425, as well as the “land-for-peace” formula. The Arab leaders also made it clear that any breach by Israel of these principles and agreed-upon commitments and agreements, or any delay in their implementation would result in a setback to the peace process with all its dangers and consequences. The failure of the Israeli Government to demonstrate a degree of seriousness and commitment to the peace process comparable to that demonstrated by the Arab states is a cause of deep concern and anxiety. Since assuming office, the Government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to issue statements and undertake actions that do not serve the cause of peace. In contrast to the Arab states’ commitment to the Madrid principles, the Security Council resolutions and the land-for-peace formula, the statements made by the Israeli Government indicate an insistence on consolidating of its occupation of Arab lands, maintaining its annexation of East Jerusalem, and delaying the agreed upon re-deployment of its troops from al-Khalil (Hebron), as well as its continued closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, together with its proclaimed rejection of withdrawing from the Syrian Golan Heights. Recently, the Israeli authorities opened a tunnel under al-Aqsa Mosque, which constitutes a flagrant infringement upon the Islamic sanctuaries and a clear violation of resolutions of international legality with respect to the status of Jerusalem.
Statements by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel is prepared to resume negotiations without preconditions are no more than an attempt to distance himself from the Madrid-based principles and fundamentals of the peace process, in particular the land-for-peace formula. Such a position only indicates a serious setback. Hence, we call upon the two co-sponsors of the Madrid Peace Conference, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, to exert their utmost efforts to ensure the continuity of the peace process based on the principles and the fundamentals upon which it was launched, and to resume negotiations on all tracks in order to attain a just and permanent settlement. We value the positive and constructive positions pertaining to this matter as reflected in the statements of the European Union in Florence and that of the Group of 7 in Lyon. Furthermore, we reiterate our call to all concerned parties to fulfill their commitments to provide economic assistance to the Palestinian people. While we call upon members of the international community to increase their economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, we should remember that actions undertaken by Israel prevent the Palestinians from benefiting from this aid. Moreover, any efforts exerted to achieve regional cooperation would be meaningless and ineffective unless accompanied by tangible progress in the peace process on all its tracks.
The issue of Jerusalem -- al-Quds al-Shareef -- is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is of utmost concern to the Arab and Muslim world. The manner in which this issue is dealt with could determine the future of the peace process. We regret to see the Israeli authorities continue to undertake measures aimed at changing the demographic composition and creating new realities in the status of Jerusalem, with the intention of prejudicing the negotiations on the final status of the city. The position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains that any settlement of this issue must take into consideration the resolutions of international legality, and in particular U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 which calls on Israel to withdraw from territories it occupied in 1967, and Security Council Resolution 252 pertaining to al-Quds al-Shareef. It is natural for any permanent and comprehensive settlement to address the issue of the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and the release of Palestinian prisoners, as well as the issue of existing settlements and those being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Territories in violation of the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Principles and in total disregard of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
The honorable and firm stand taken by the international community following the brutal Iraqi aggression against the State of Kuwait in 1990, including the adoption of a series of historic resolutions by the Security Council to reverse the aggression and restore to the State of Kuwait its legitimacy and sovereignty, constitute the kind of firmness we hope the United Nations will always demonstrate whenever we are confronted with such flagrant challenges against the security and well-being of a member state. The position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this issue is unwavering. We have always remained supportive of these actions to ensure comprehensive and total compliance with all Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Iraqi aggression against the State of Kuwait.
The Iraqi Government has to comply fully and sincerely with the demands of international legitimacy as stipulated in these resolutions, including Resolution 986, and to refrain from any actions or pursue policies that might obstruct the implementation of this resolution.
The position of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques regarding Iraq is based on two major principles. First, to ensure a comprehensive and total compliance with all Security Council Resolutions by the Iraqi Government, and secondly, to reiterate our commitment to the preservation of the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, and to alleviation of the suffering of its people. However, we are concerned with the possibility that the latest developments in northern Iraq might threaten the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq, since certain neighboring countries have attempted to interfere in the conflict in the Kurdish areas under various guises.
In light of these realities, we have to be very careful lest the situation lead to an erosion in the international alliance which is responsible for full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions, foremost of which are the release and repatriation of all prisoners of war and detainees from Kuwait and other countries, the return of stolen assets, compliance with the mechanism for compensation, and full cooperation with the efforts of the U.N. Special Commission for the Elimination of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (UNSCOM). These are the objectives the international coalition should strive to fulfill, bearing in mind the need to avoid any measures which might damage the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq.
The Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed great interest in the efforts leading to the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East, including efforts geared towards keeping this sensitive part of the world free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. From this premise, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia actively participated in United Nations Conference on the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, held in New York last year.
This position is in conformity with the support expressed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for efforts to achieve a comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We believe in the need to make the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty more effective through the activation of the Safeguards System of the International Atomic Energy Agency so as to become universal. We also see a need to adopt measures and criteria that would enhance the desired process in all areas of dismantling weapons of mass destruction in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 1 of 1946, which addresses, inter alia, the issue of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction. In this respect, we urge all states that have not yet become parties to the treaty, to take the necessary steps to do so, thus contributing to the maintenance of world peace and stability.
The occupation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of the three Islands belonging to the United Arab Emirates (Abu Musa, the Greater Tumb and Lesser Tumb) is a source of great concern, not only to the United Arab Emirates, but also to the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council as a whole, who desire to have the best possible relations with their neighbor, Iran. We have repeatedly urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to the call of the United Arab Emirates to settle this long outstanding problem peacefully through serious bilateral negotiations. Consequently, we call again upon the Government of Iran to cease imposing a status quo by force, and to cease implementing measures for unilateral construction on any of the three islands. Furthermore, we also call upon the Government of Iran to initiate peaceful means to resolve this dispute in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, including acceptance to refer this matter to the International Court of Justice. In view of the continuity of the conflict, the Security Council should place this issue on its agenda.
Based on the determination of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to maintain the security and stability of the Arabian Gulf region, we support the wise actions taken to foster its security and stability, by the State of Bahrain. These actions were approved and supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council, hence, the safety of the State of Bahrain is part and parcel of the security of the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Nearly ten months have passed since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords which brought and end to the wave of violence and destruction which accompanied the Serb aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina. These accords did not materialize until the international community expressed enough determination and firmness against the source of Serb aggression. We hope that the recent elections will mark a new beginning for the country coupled with political stability and economic development. Nonetheless, we should not ignore the fact that peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still fragile until the peace takes root. The issue of reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international support necessary to help it cope with the difficulties resulting from years of war should be viewed as one of the conditions of peace without which the goals of the Dayton Accords can never be realized. It is also of importance to emphasize the need to apprehend and bring to justice war criminals for their crimes against humanity and ban them from holding office in the future. Their apprehension is an international responsibility that should not be taken lightly. It is also incumbent upon the international community to confront any attempt to divide the country along ethnic or religious lines.
Placing the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the road to peaceful settlement at the beginning of this year was the first of a series of positive developments in many of the troubled areas of the world. We hope that the recent announcement that an agreement has been reached between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Liberation Front will constitute an end to the confrontation between the authorities in the Philippines and its Muslim minority after a long period of tension and conflict. As to the conflict in Chechnya, we hope the current truce, and reports about the intention of the Russian government to withdraw its forces from the area will pave the way for a resolution to this crisis.
Unfortunately, other conflicts have witnessed no change in their status. The Pakistani-Indian dispute over Jamu and Kashmir is still tense and complicated and there does not seem to be any alternative solution other than following the peaceful path based on implementing the resolutions of the United Nations.
The situation in Somalia is still desperate. The country is awaiting a decision by the clan elders on a path that would save the country and their people. We urge all factions to put aside their differences and shoulder their national responsibilities by forming a national authority representing the different factions of the Somali people in order to restore unity, stability and security to that country.
In Afghanistan the fighting still rages between the different factions as a result of disagreements between their leaders in spite of all the sincere efforts of the United Nations and the good offices of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to achieve national reconciliation in that country, and this has prevented them from enjoying the fruits of their victory against foreign occupation.
The issue of international terrorism was the main topic throughout last year. Many conferences and workshops addressed ways and means of confronting this growing phenomenon that has become a source of grave concern for the international community. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognizes the need to confront this serious phenomenon and deal with it. To this end, it has voiced its support of all international efforts to confront this problem. This position was illustrated collectively in the statement issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council following its last session. The Gulf Cooperation Council states have emphasized that extremism, violence and terrorism are global phenomena that are not limited to a specific people or region, and unambiguously denounced and condemned all forms of violence and terrorism. They also expressed their support for all international efforts aimed at preventing and combating terrorism, including denying safe havens to terrorists anywhere, as well as efforts to apprehend, convict and severely punish those involved in such crimes.
A cursory review of world economic problems, and the role played by the United Nations in overseeing international economic cooperation, would demonstrate that the success of the United Nations in dealing with economic issues, and promoting international development, has also been tied to the commitment of member states to the U.N. Charter. Although the international community has so far succeeded, through serious negotiations, in resolving many of the difficult problems, and achieved breakthroughs in many sensitive areas through the establishment of the World Trade Organization, we are still concerned with the continuing phenomenon of trade protectionism which goes against our belief in the importance of allowing market forces to play their natural role in economic affairs. It is still necessary to liberate international trade from some restrictions that are still enforced, chiefly restrictions under the guise of protecting the environment. These restrictions undermine the economies of developing nations and leave a negative impact on their development, the cornerstone of peace and stability.
The Secretary General exerted commendable efforts in his “Agenda for Development” which, with concerted efforts, could become a realistic tool for enhancing global economic and social development. And here, the developed countries bear a special responsibility in building fruitful cooperation which must benefit all countries, rich and poor. We believe that increasing the amount of assistance provided by developed countries to developing countries is a cornerstone of this desired cooperation.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a founding member of this international organization, and a signatory of the San Francisco Charter, is eager that the UN continue its leading role in strengthening collective security. It reaffirms its responsibilities as a founding member of this organization. This was reiterated in a speech by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz, as delivered on his behalf by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation, during the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations. Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes this opportunity to reconfirm its continued commitment to achieving the objectives of the U.N. Charter. It will spare no effort to enhance the capabilities of the United Nations in achieving justice, and promoting security, stability, and prosperity throughout the world.
The Holy Qur’an provides us with guidance that leads us toward creative actions as exemplified in the following verse: ”Say, work. For Allah will see your work, and so will his apostle and believers .”
Thank you Mr. President, and may peace and the blessing of Allah be bestowed upon you.