1998 Speech

Saudi Arabia's statement to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly
Statement by H.E. Dr. Nizar Obaid Madani Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the General Debate of the Fifty-Third Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York 9 Jamad II 1419 (September 29, 1998)

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Mr. President:

I am pleased to express my sincere congratulations to Your Excellency for your election to the presidency of the 53rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. As much as your election is an appreciation of you personally, it is also an appreciation of the role played by your country, Uruguay, in the international arena. I am confident that your presidency of this Session will be an effective factor in achieving the objectives towards which the international community aspires during the present circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity to convey to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Hennadiy Y. Udovenko, the President of the 52nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, our appreciation and esteem for conducting the Assembly’s work effectively, wisely, and objectively.

I am also pleased to express my appreciation and esteem to His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who manages the affairs of this international organization with excellent competence and experience, and who exerts continuous efforts and persistent endeavors to achieve peace and security in our modern world which still faces many kinds of conflicts and various forms of crises and challenges.

Mr. President:

A hundred years ago this year, the late King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Saud began the initial stages to rebuild and unite the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the principles of tolerant Islamic beliefs. In the process of unification, the late King Abdul Aziz was also establishing the groundwork of a modern state which combines, on the one hand, the adherence to Islam as a belief, a system, and a way of life, and on the other hand adopting advanced forms of development and modernization. Since then, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which adheres to the religion of Islam, continues to play a significant international role because it follows a foreign policy which conforms with the basic principles on which this Organization is based, and the noble objectives for which the United Nations Charter was formulated: these being in accordance with Islamic law in matters pertaining to the conduct of inter-state relations. The eternal message of Islam unites and does not divide, establishes justice and does not inflict injustice, equalizes and does not discriminate. It urges work and cooperation among all to spread these sublime principles and to realize security and prosperity for humanity as a whole.

Abiding by these principles, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since its founding, continues to believe in constructive dialogue and peaceful coexistence among nations and peoples. It endeavors to cooperate and respect the principles of international law and legality, rejects violence and terrorism in any shape or form, and does not interfere in the affairs of others or allow others to interfere in its own affairs.

According to the same principle, the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, is intent on performing its role in the international arena in such a way as to assist in creating the most favourable conditions which will lead to realizing the aspirations of the international community in security, peace, stability, and prosperity.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is proud of the fact that it was one of the original signatories of the San Francisco Charter, it is also proud to be careful to adhere to the principles and fundaments that are contained in the Charter. It also consistently endeavors to put these principles and fundaments to actual application.

Based on these considerations, Saudi Arabia would like to confirm its earnestness to work for the support of the United Nations Organization and its Specialized Agencies, considering it to be a viable framework for cooperation between countries and peoples, an important forum for dialogue and understanding, and an effective means to solve disputes and diffuse crises.

In this regard, my Government is quite cognizant of the importance of modernizing the agencies of our Organization in a manner that enables it to play its required role, and on a level that enables it to deal with the new developments that are taking place in modern international relations. The Security Council, being responsible for preserving international peace and security, remains the pivot on which reform ideas have been expressed in different forms and shapes. In this regard, my country’s point of view was, and still is, based on a deep conviction that any restructuring of the Security Council must endeavor to improve its capabilities to perform its role effectively according to the Charter and to make its objectives more active in implementing its resolutions and in dealing with international crises, as well as to meet with the will of the General Assembly in a manner that achieves the required harmony and desired objectives.

Mr. President:

As we seek more cooperation, we have to look back to history and delineate the obstacles which the United Nations faced, and which hindered it from achieving more cooperation that has become necessary for peace, stability and development. We have to hold the countries which base their international relations on principles that contradict the Charter responsible for creating those obstacles, and to apply the means which are contained in the Charter to oppose such practices.

The insistence on violating the principles of the Charter and refusing to adhere to the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, as well as non-compliance with them, constitute a blatant challenge to the Charter, which we must firmly confront in a manner that is consistent with its objectives.

Mr. President:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in accordance with its objectives of achieving peace, security, and stability in the Middle East, supported the peace process from the very beginning, and participated as an observer in the Madrid Conference. It also actively participated in the multilateral negotiations, and will continue to support the peace process in its international activities and contacts.

In addition, the Arab countries, in conformity with the Arab Summit which was held in Cairo in June 1996, unanimously adopted a firm position which stipulated that peace is a strategic Arab option. This affirms that there is no Arab retreat from this firm position.

What is regrettable, and a cause of grave concern, is that after a glimpse of hope for peace in the region, and after the feelings of optimism that peace was possible, the peace process, which started in Madrid on the principle of international legality, United Nations resolutions, and the principle of land-for-peace, faces repeated obstruction from the present Israeli government. This government endeavored to follow policies that are based on retreating from the principles of the peace process that was decided in the Madrid Conference, as well as from the agreements signed with the Palestinian National Authority, and continues to refuse to resume negotiations with Syria from the point which was previously reached.

In its efforts to destroy the peace process, the Israeli government continued to build “settlements” on Palestinian lands in order to alter its character and create new so-called realities. It is also adopting a policy of judaizing Holy Jerusalem by planning more settlements in and around it, as well as annexing areas with Jewish settlers and emptying it from its Arab residents. It also enacted a law to enlarge the municipality of Holy Jerusalem to include neighboring settlements to preempt the negotiations on the final status of Holy Jerusalem.

These Israeli practices have aborted the efforts of the international community which aimed at achieving a complete and just peace based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land-for-peace. Such practices have landed the peace process on a dead-end road. The behavior of the present Israeli government does not make us optimistic about the possibility of achieving the peace which the peoples of the region aspire to. Unless these practices are met by firm measures to compel Israel to completely implement its agreements with the Palestinians, respect the principles on which the peace process was founded, enter into serious negotiations with the Palestinians, with Syria and Lebanon, then all the previous efforts will have been in vain. We urge the international community, and the United States of America in particular, to continue exerting all efforts to save the peace process and to act resolutely to stop the outrageous aggression against Jerusalem which constitutes the most sensitive issue on the agenda of negotiations. Adhering to the rules of international legality and fulfilling promises is the best way to achieve peace and security. If the present Israeli government is serious in its efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians, all it has to do is to affirm its adherence to the text of the signed agreements and restart the negotiations on the unresolved issues. If the Israeli government intends to reach a state of mutual security with its neighbor, Syria, the Syrian government spared no efforts in declaring its readiness to resume negotiations with Israel from the point where such negotiations have stopped. As for tension and the cycle of violence in southern Lebanon, its end can be achieved through Israeli withdrawal from that part of Lebanon and the Western Baqaa Valley in accordance with Security Council Resolution 425.

Mr. President:

The position of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques towards Iraq is based on two fundamental bases:

One: Guaranteeing the comprehensive, total, indivisible, and non-selective compliance of the Iraqi government with the resolutions of the international legality.

Two: Insuring the preservation of the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Iraq, as well as alleviating the sufferings of the Iraqi people.

Our feelings of pain and sorrow for the sufferings of the brotherly Iraqi people, because of the hard conditions which they endure, contribute to our insistence on Iraqi compliance with all related Security Council resolutions. It is therefore with deep sadness that we received the news of the Iraqi government’s intention not to cooperate with the United Nations Special Committee concerned with the removal of all weapons of mass destruction (UNSCOM). Since the responsibility of the suffering of the Iraqi people lies solely and exclusively on the shoulders of the Iraqi government, there is only one way to rid Iraq and its people from this dilemma and allay the fears of its neighbors, and that is the true and sincere commitment to implement all Security Council resolutions and to refrain from policies of manipulation and maneuvers which are intended to circumvent these resolutions, especially those concerning the release of prisoners and detainees, the return of properties, the commitment to a modality for compensations, and total cooperation with the United Nations Special Committee.

Mr. President:

Saudi Arabia and the members of the GCC hope to establish the best of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have been particularly pleased at the recent positive signs emanating from the Iranian government, which would leave a positive impact on Iranian-Gulf relations and on the environment of peace and stability in the region.

In this connection, we welcome the positive signs in the statement of His Excellency President Mohammad Khatami before the General Assembly last week, whether on the Gulf-Iranian relations, or on the issue of armament.

We look forward to resolving the outstanding issues of dispute between the two sides especially the issue of the three United Arab Emirates islands, Greater Tumb, Lesser Tumb, and Abu Musa, by peaceful means, in accordance with the principles and norms of international law, including the option of referring the matter to the International Court of Justice if the situation so warranted.

We also express our concern for the current tension between Iran and Afghanistan. We call upon the two sides to exercise self-control and resolve their dispute by peaceful means.

Mr. President:

The continuing fighting in Afghanistan all these years is a cause of sadness and sorrow. Saudi Arabia has done all it could since the beginning of the fighting to stop the hemorrhaging of blood and to restore peace and security to Afghanistan. We support the efforts of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference to stop the fighting. At the same time, we strongly deplore the efforts to make Afghanistan a haven for sheltering and training of terrorists, which can only bring further calamities to the Afghani people.

Mr. President:

Shortly after the Serbs terminated their aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they involved themselves in another conflict, aiming, this time, at the people of Kosovo. Serb forces, witnessed by the entire world community, are flagrantly committing inhuman practices such as ethnic cleansing, deportation, terror and oppression. It would be tragic if these appalling actions are allowed to take place without being firmly checked by the international community.

Mr. President:

The Government of Saudi Arabia has regularly condemned the now common scourge of terrorism, on all occasions and in all international fora, joining its voice on the side of international efforts aimed at combating this dangerous development. Violence and terrorism are universal phenomena rather than the characteristics of a certain people, race or religion. Precisely because of the comprehensiveness and universality of terrorism, the only way to combat it is through a unified and collective international action, within the framework of the United Nations, which alone could lead to putting an end to terrorism and saving the lives of the innocent, and preserving the independence and sovereignty of the countries of the world. Combating terrorism would also require international cooperation against sheltering terrorist groups, thus banning them from exploiting territories and laws of the states wherever they happen to exist to continue their destructive activities.

Mr. President:

The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is a source of danger to peace and security in South Asia. We call for finding a peaceful solution to this problem in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, and allowing the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination in a direct form.

Mr. President:

The Government of the Two Holy Mosques is keenly interested in the ongoing efforts that seek to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East including the Arabian Gulf region. This is demonstrated through its support of the efforts of the Arab League as specified in the resolution of the Arab League Council during its 101st Session, which called for making this sensitive part of the world a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in all its kinds: nuclear, chemical and biological.

We are greatly worried as a result of Israel’s continued refusal to join the NPT, thus keeping its nuclear programs outside the range of international inspection, constituting a serious threat to the region. While we reject double standards that allow Israel to be excluded from nuclear disarmament, we have also expressed our concern regarding the nuclear tests begun by India and followed by Pakistan, in view of the dangers these tests present to the region.

We believe in the urgent need to increase the effectiveness of the Non-Proliferation Treaty through the activation and universalization of the IAEA system of guarantees. Also, we consider it of the utmost importance to establish the necessary controls and measures that would assist in achieving progress towards the goal of comprehensive disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in conformity with the United Nations resolution number I issued in 1946. One such step that may be taken beyond inspection and monitoring is to create a disincentive for proliferation by taking collective measures against any country that uses nuclear weapons.

Accordingly, we urge all states that have not yet joined the NPT to take up all necessary steps leading to their accession to this treaty and subject all nuclear installations to the system of international guarantees, since this would have conducive impact on world peace and stability.

Mr. President:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers environmental issues and environment protection of key importance as evidenced in the prominent place given it in our domestic and foreign policies. This is because we believe that a decent life for mankind is directly connected with the environment. This explains the fact that the Kingdom has participated in all relevant conferences and international gatherings and arrangements. We have also become a party to several regional and international agreements that are geared to this cause.

We only hope that the international efforts relating to the problems of the environment be formulated in a balanced and objective manner based on scientific facts and studies that take into account the needs of development in the developing world. We call upon all states to abide by the agenda of the 21st century. We also urge the industrial states to live up to their obligations regarding the transfer of technology to the developing nations.

Mr. President:

The emerging forces of globalization and their seemingly rampant nature forces upon us the need to tame and channel the energies so that our peoples could benefit from the global village. We are called upon today more than ever to cooperate and act cohesively with the goal being not to challenge globalization but to tame it and shape it to serve the interests of our people and allow for diversity in social and political systems and avoid the gray uniformity which we thought had died with the passing of the Cold War. Also, globalization needs to be shared and molded in a way that conforms with our religious values and aspirations in order to produce a balanced world in which benefits are shared and opportunities are open to all to live in security and prosperity. A world in which principles of justice and peace prevail and rule.

Mr. President:

It is important to stress in this regard that the principles of open economies and free world markets are not an end in themselves but a means to the improvement of the human condition by enhancing the standard of living for everybody through expanding exports and benefits. Such ideas cannot be achieved by developing countries unless there are changes in the opportunities afforded them in the form of human resources, infrastructure, and financial and administrative regulations. Consequently, developing countries are required more than ever to intensify their development in order to be integrated in the international economy. Also, we have to consider closer cooperation in international fora to deal with the issues of development and drafting a detailed agenda that fulfills the ambitions and aspirations of developing countries within the framework of the new economic order.

In this context, we cannot ignore the important role needed to be played by the developed countries through fulfilling their international commitments to the developing and less developed countries either by direct or indirect aid as well as debt cancellation and rescheduling of foreign debt. Developed countries must also allow free and easy access to the exports of the developing countries to their markets and refrain from adopting trade measures that create barriers to the flow of such exports.

In this regard, it must be noted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is pleased to contribute within the limits of its means to the development of developing countries at the bilateral as well as the multilateral levels. Out of the Kingdom’s desire to participate in the efforts aimed at reaching a better future of the international economy, Saudi Arabia applied for membership in the World Trade Organization. With the support of our friends, we hope to finalize the accession procedures soon.

Mr. President:

The issues I have dealt with, and which have political, economic, security, and social dimensions, confirm the need for our Organization to assume its role in preserving security and peace in the world as well as realize the aspirations of all the peoples to live in security, and enjoy stability and prosperity. Our firm belief in the role that the United Nations can play, in dealing with crises, the efforts to avoid the horrors of war, and preparing for international cooperation, make us more determined than any time before, to support this Organization and emphasize its positive role. It must have a larger role in dealing with crises management before they occur by exercising preventive diplomacy in order to maintain international peace and security. We have greater hopes that the Organization will continue its march to achieve these goals firmly and with strong determination and will.

I cannot find more suitable words to end my statement than to quote this verse from the Holy Quran:

“And say: Work, soon will Allah observe your work, and His Messenger, and the Believers.”
Thank you, Mr. President.