2003 Speech
 

09/29/2003
Address by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal at the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York

In the name of Allah, most compassionate, most merciful: blessing and peace be upon the most noble of prophets.

Mr. President:
It gives me great pleasure to convey to you and to your friendly country, Saint Lucia, our sincerest congratulations on your election as President of the General Assembly and would like to express my appreciation to you personally my full confidence in your ability in conducting the business of this important session competently and effectively. I would also like to express our gratitude to your predecessor, the President of the previous session of the General Assembly, Mr. Jan Kavan, who managed its business with wisdom and expertise.


I also wish to take this occasion to greet His Excellency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and to express the gratitude of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for his continuous and tireless efforts to establish peace and security in the world. I would also like to thank him for his sincere efforts and benevolent endeavors to strengthen the role of the Organization, raise its efficiency, preserve its credibility and enhance its effectiveness.
It is saddening and distressful that this session is convening while the echo still resonates in our hearts of the horrendous attack against the UN headquarters in Baghdad that took the life, among others, of one of its prominent and towering figures, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello. I avail myself of this opportunity to convey to His Excellency the Secretary-General, to all the staff of the General Secretariat, and

to the families of the victims of this tragic incident, my sincere and deepest condolences, and to express the hope that neither this incident nor the latest that took place a few days ago, will impede the efforts aimed at promoting the role of the United Nations in consolidating stability and prosperity in Iraq.

Mr. President:
The hideous attack on the UN Headquarters in Baghdad represents a challenge that can be dealt with and contained, and the necessary security conditions to minimize such occurrences in the future can be attained. However, our Organization is at this juncture facing other challenges that are more serious than what happened in Baghdad, challenges related to the very reason for its existence and to the principles stipulated in its Charter. We all recall that the UN Charter, when adopted, was founded on certain basis and principles that represented the beginning of a new era in international relations. It also reflected the essence of the lessons learned by humanity as a result of the dreadful experience of two world wars in the first half of the last century that caused many catastrophes and calamities to our human civilization.
Although the foundations and principles of our Charter have not always found the commitments they deserve from the members of this Organization -- a fact that has in many instances impeded its effectiveness and credibility -nevertheless, its ability to exist and perform throughout the past decades, and what it has provided and continues to provide in terms of valuable contributions in various humanitarian, cultural and social fields through its specialized agencies, are sufficient to award it the appreciation it deserves and what it needs in terms of support and assistance.
In the context of the comprehensive speech he gave at the outset of this session, His Excellency the Secretary-General referred with all clarity and transparency to the growing trend towards unilateral action outside the realm of international legitimacy in dealing with current problems such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This excessive trend to resort to unilateral action on the basis of the right of self-defense could undermine the principle of collective security on which the Charter was founded. We stressed this in the Millennium Declaration that was issued by the General Assembly three years ago.
Nevertheless, we have to confess that not confronting such actions effectively and with seriousness and steadfastness, and procrastinating when faced with dangers and threats such as those that emanated from the regime of Saddam Hussein, have led, it seems, to confusion and a departure from the principles of the Charter which require swift collective action in dealing with challenges that affect the security and stability of our peoples and countries.
This confusion has provided opposing arguments to the advocates of collective action and to the defenders of unilateral action, which each group is using against the other. Whoever wants to criticize the policy of unilateral action will find no difficulty in proving that such a policy could only exacerbate and increase the problems. On the other hand, those who criticize the international community for being lax in acting collectively in confronting such problems will also come up with arguments to prove that such reluctance and negligence in facing challenges is behind the eruption of the major crises in our contemporary history.
It was therefore not unexpected that a situation was reached whereby the focus turned to debate and theorization due to such divergence in views, rather than to dealing directly with current problems and deciding on practical measures to resolve them. This is exactly what happened with respect to Iraq immediately after the war.
The members of the Security Council kept deliberating on concepts and theories about the role of the United Nations and the conflicting interpretations of the objectives of the Charter, as well as what needed to be rectified in the nature of international relations, the concepts of collective and unilateral actions and the structural reforms of the international body, among other issues. Not addressed was the major issue which was supposed to be the core of the debate, and that was the situation in Iraq and the problems associated with it and the solutions needed.

Mr. President:
The recent developments in the international arena and the nature of crisis that have lately befallen us have for the most part, placed us before a new, tense and complicated reality. But this reality, though critical and dangerous, provides us with good opportunities to consolidate the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and raise the pillars of international legitimacy on the basis of justice and equality among nations; and to renounce the use of force in resolving conflicts, in addition to preserving the dignity of the human being and striving towards attaining security and prosperity for humanity as a whole. It might be appropriate to review certain problems where the approach in handling and dealing with them constitutes a real test for the present and the future of our Organization, considering the nature and the ramifications of these problems at local, regional and international levels.
If we select the issue of international terrorism as a starting point for this review, it is imperative to stress once more the seriousness of this phenomenon and how important it is to condemn terrorism in all its forms in a manner that is clear, comprehensive, and unequivocal.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has expressed this position at different forums and international gatherings without hesitation. To prove the seriousness of its position against terrorism, my country has supported all the relevant Security Council resolutions and cooperated fully with the international community in carrying out global efforts to combat terrorism.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was among the first signatories of the Arab Agreement to Combat Terrorism, which was adopted in 1983 by the League of Arab States; and of the Treaty to Combat Terrorism of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This is in addition to being a signatory to many other treaties and agreements that deal with this issue and all its related matters.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has suffered and is still suffering from acts of terror, has launched a relentless war against Terrorism, enacted regulations that punish perpetrators, inciters, and sympathizers with terrorist activities; and has introduced counter-terrorism as one of the main subjects in the curricula of its schools, as well as taking a series of measures to close any loopholes in the way charities collect money in order to prevent funds being diverted for unlawful purposes.

Mr. President:
Counter-terrorism, and international cooperation in cracking down on terrorist groups and finding all possible means to eradicate them, are critical steps towards ridding the globe of this serious plague. Regardless of its effectiveness, this international effort directed against terrorism will not eradicate this phenomenon if handled without addressing its roots, underlying causes and spreading. We should not overlook the importance of exerting early efforts in combating drugs as being the other face of the problem. The decision to collectively confront terrorism should not be subject to hesitation and delay.
If our objective is to eliminate the potential of its reemergence, special attention must be paid to the political, economic and social conditions that serve as an environment conducive to the birth and development of radicalism and the tendency to commit acts of violence. When these conditions become so critical, there will no longer be any opportunity or potential for change or development through peaceful means.
The deteriorating situation of peoples who are suffering oppression, injustice and persecution, or who are overburdened by occupation, and the inability of the international community, for one reason or another, to find just solutions for these problems, is what creates the environment that is exploited by evildoers in misleading young people through various means of deception and in recruiting them.

Mr. President:
If the issue of terrorism represents a challenge for the international community in general, and the United Nations in particular, the Palestinian issue, which has become a constant topic on the agenda of all of the sessions of the General Assembly over the past five decades, continues to be of great concern to us, and adds to the instability and turmoil in the region of the Middle East, whose nations yearn for peace, prosperity and development.
Every one of us, and especially the people of Israel, should remember that promises of security offered by their current Israeli government are far from being fulfilled, and this is due to the policies and practices adopted by that government, which has deviated from dialogue and negotiation and opted for repression, persecution and political assassinations as an approach that subverted all proposed initiatives and proposals aimed at solving the Palestinian issue, including the Arab Peace Initiative and the Roadmap.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Roadmap, unlike the other peace initiatives, has attained support due to its international sponsorship by the `quartet', and the fact that it is based on the Madrid Accord, the United Nations Resolutions, and the vision of two neighboring countries as presented by the President of the United States. In spite of this the implementation of this plan was obstructed by the problem of imbalance in assigning the commitments and the insurmountable conditions of Israel under of the pretext of attaining security.
While the Palestinians have gone as far as they could to the possible extent in setting the appropriate environment to forge ahead with the peace process and declaring a unilateral six-week truce, Israel met all this with provocative measures such as political assassinations, building of the security wall, and expanding settlements. This could have been avoided had the international 'quartet' assumed the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the roadmap from the very beginning by providing international monitoring force.
On the other hand, the solutions that were presented to the Palestinian issue were mostly harmed by the Security Council's contradictions, especially among its permanent members in dealing with resolutions in this regard. We see Resolutions being adopted but turned to be mere ink on paper, and when time comes for its implementation, power of veto is invoked to abort implementation. The only way out of this vicious circle, from our perspective, is for the Permanent members to pledge not to use the veto power when dealing with Resolutions or measures aimed at implementing the substance of Resolutions previously adopted. This matter may be one of a series of issues that the reform team proposed by the Secretary-General should consider in order to invigorate the role of the United Nations in handling current issues and challenges.
Now I would like to mention that although the Palestinian issue represents the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict in its entirety, there are other pending issues with regard to the Syrian and Lebanese tracks that await resumption of negotiations. We believe that the Arab Initiative, which has received a historic consensus from all the Arab states, provides a possibility for achieving a just and comprehensive peace between the Arabs and the Israelis on the basis of the Resolutions adopted by the United Nations, as well as the principle of land for peace that was adopted by the Madrid conference.

Mr. President:
The people of Iraq heaved a deep sigh after the removal of an unjust and oppressive regime that exercised the cruelest methods of suppression and oppression against its own people, and presented a continuous source of threat and aggression against its neighbors. The people of Iraq need to exit the ordeal of chaos and the lack of security resulted from the collapse of the previous regime to a clear vision of practical solutions to this situation. Iraq today is at a crossroad marking the end of dark era of its history and the beginning of a new one that we hope will bring about security, stability and prosperity, Iraq today is more than ever in need of an effective role for the United Nations, one that would guarantee the preservation of its territorial and national integrity and restoration of its independence and sovereignty.
The main problems that Iraq currently faces are, the lack of clarity in vision of its future and fate, that it does not yet have control over its resources, and that it is endangered by an extremely complicated and sensitive domestic situation and geographical location. Therefore, it is of the utmost necessity to set a clear timetable that would assure the Iraqis that they are close to restoring their sovereignty and independence through an accelerated political approach linked with specific commitments, whether with regard to consolidating the power of the Transitional Iraqi Government, or drafting a new Iraqi constitution that would pave the way for the formation of a legitimate national Iraqi government whereby citizens enjoy equal rights and duties.
On this premise, my country saw the Transitional Governing Council as an institution representing a positive step paving the way towards this goal. The Council of the League of Arab States in its latest Session also took a step in that direction when it allowed the foreign minister of the Transitional Government to take up the seat of Iraq. This decision was taken in the hope that it would help strengthen the nationalistic position of this Government and pave the way for Iraqis to regain their independence and assume their own responsibilities.
At a time when my country regards the role of the United Nations as of the utmost importance on the issue of Iraq, it hopes that any discussion about Iraq in this framework to concentrate on determining its needs and finding appropriate means to fulfill them, including the contribution by all member states to this noble effort. This should be done in a timely and efficient manner dictated by the situation in Iraq. Iraq is geographically and historically a pivot in our region. It possesses natural and human resources that qualify it to take a prominent role in the international community. All it needs from us is an initial push to allow it to regain its sovereignty, stability and growth.

Mr. President:
The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques lends all its attention and consideration to the efforts aimed at eliminating weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East, including the region of the Arabian Gulf. We support the efforts of the Arab League, culminating in the Resolution of its Council in its 101st Session that calls for making this sensitive part of the world free of weapons of mass destruction of all kinds: nuclear, chemical or biological.
What surprises us is that at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency is intensifying its efforts and monitoring member countries of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, we see that it continues to ignore the rejection of Israel in not joining that Treaty, thus making its nuclear program outside international monitoring. This constitutes a serious threat to the security and stability of the whole region.
Inasmuch as we believe in the importance of increasing the effectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty through activation of the guarantees system and the means of inspections and monitoring and internationalizing these means, we also believe in the importance of establishing safeguards and standards to promote development in all areas of eradication of weapons of mass destruction. Accordingly, we encourage all countries that have not yet joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to take the necessary steps to do so and to make available their nuclear installations to the international monitoring system.

Mr. President:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Delegates:
Humanity embarked into this current century full of expectations and hopes. The cruel experiences of the past have proved the futility of wars and the dangers of conflicts. Humanity is now certain about the importance of peace, the benefits of good neighborliness and the advantage of international cooperation. These expectations and hopes were reflected in the Resolution of the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations, which also included the values and principles that will guide and lead us to achieve these goals.
Three years have passed since that Declaration was adopted and we still lack the determination and the collective political will required to translate what we agreed upon, into commitments and reality. International peace and security are still a hope and expectation to many nations and peoples. Comprehensive development is still a dream to many, and is a far fetch goal that we look forward to attaining. Wherever we look, we see widespread and increasing evidence of violence and unrest, fueled by feelings of injustice, inequality, discrimination and obvious violations of human rights and legitimate aspirations. A glance at statistics and data concerning those who are deprived of sufficient food, clean water, proper sewage disposal, medical care and other necessities of decent living, present a dim and depressing picture of our state of affairs.
Although aid programs and grants, to which the Kingdom has made sizable contributions, have helped alleviate the problems facing the economies of developing nations, the majority of these countries are still struggling with their development process. The meagerness of external aid, the insistence of the industrial countries not to open their markets for the products of the developing countries, and the pressures of the accumulating debts, have led to continuous decline in productivity levels and noticeable drop in the levels of economic performance.
In the Middle East region, where countries suffer from all these symptoms, we see in the ideas included in the initiative of President Bush for promotion of development in the Middle East, many positive signs, which collectively present a model for cooperation between rich nations and developing societies. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince presented an initiative aimed at reforming the situation in the Arab region in the economic sphere, with structural reforms as well as expansion of political participation. If the region succeeds in benefiting from these two initiatives, its future will be promising.

Mr. President:
The fact that there are still chronic issues on the agenda of our organization, like the Palestinian problem, issues of comprehensive development, and the emergence of issues like Iraq, make it incumbent upon us to embark on two parallel tracks: credibility in adherence to the principles of the Charter and seriousness in the implementation of the U.N resolutions, and not to substitute practical solutions with futile and senseless arguments. Our deeply rooted conviction of the important role the United Nations can play in dealing with crises, its endeavors to avoid the horrors of war, and the stress of international cooperation, makes us determined, now more than ever before, to support this Organization and consolidate its constructive role. We want it to take a greater part in handling crises before they occur through the implementation of what is known as preemptive diplomacy rather than through preemptive wars, in order to ensure the preservation of stability and the conservation of international peace and security.

Thank you Mr. President.
Thank you all for listening

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