It is my pleasure to extend to you and to your friendly country Gabon our sincere congratulations on your election as President of the Fifty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly. We are confident that you will direct the work of this session in a highly capable and efficient manner.
I would also like to express our appreciation to your predecessor Mr. Julian Hunt, the Foreign Minister of Saint Lucia, who as President of the previous session of the General Assembly managed its business with wisdom and expertise.
On this occasion, I would like to convey the deep appreciation of the Kingdom to his Excellency Kofi Annan for the sustained and diligent efforts he has been exerting to maintain international peace and security, and also his commendable endeavors aimed at invigorating the role of the United Nations, enhancing its functions, capabilities, and effectiveness in the pursuit for peace and stability in our world.
The cogent speech given by his Excellency last week is worthy of praise because it contained significant blueprint and guidelines in how to promote the resiliency of the international order. There is definitely a dire need when tackling global issues to patch up the holes in the international order so that it is not applied selectively or in an abusive manner.
The tremendous global changes and the magnitude of the challenges facing the international community today necessitate a deep look into the work techniques of the United Nations, its structure, and the functions of its existing organs, with the objective of enhancing its ability to prevent and resolve conflicts and to preserve world peace and security.
In this respect, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the call for reforms to secure broader membership of the Security Council in such a way as to improve geographical representation, promote transparency in its operation, avoid the application of double standards, and ensure the adoption of measures to enhance the credibility of its work and guarantee respect for, and compliance with, its resolutions.
Among the important reforms needed to be introduced to our organization is the rationalization of the veto power. By this I mean that the permanent members of the Security Council should pledge not to invoke their right to veto in the case of resolutions and procedures that are adopted to implement previously agreed upon resolutions.
There is also an imperative need to re-establish an optimal balance between the General Assembly and the Security Council, to enhance the role of the Economic and Social Council, and make for closer coordination among United Nations funds, programs, and activities.
We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations and the multilateral international order since our international community is in dire need of a unified and mutually supportive stance for the purpose of attaining sound and just solutions to the prevailing global problems. Thus, we call for a general consensus upon the rules pertaining to the regulation of international behavior. These rules should be based on respect for the values, traditions and principles that are deeply rooted in the conscience of mankind, and should promote constructive cooperation and the achievement of security, peace, stability and prosperity for all nations.
Humanity has been afflicted by the growing danger of the phenomenon of terrorism. It is a phenomenon that does not discriminate between one society and another. Today, we are in dire need of mobilizing all possible efforts to increase international cooperation to combat international terrorism, and confront those who instigate and finance it. Terrorist groups have been crossing borders and regions, and expanding in different nations and continents.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, is collaborating with the international community to eliminate this global evil. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has affirmed its full support for the Security Council resolutions relating to terrorism and has taken the necessary steps to close any loopholes in its regulations concerning the collection of donations for charitable activities that might be used for illicit purposes. It has established a public commission entrusted with the task of supervising and organizing the activities of all charitable organizations in order to streamline their operations and to prevent those with bad intentions and evil objectives from using them for illegal purposes.
The Kingdom was among the first signatories of the Arab Agreement on Combating Terrorism, and other similar agreements emanating from the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It has also has acceded to nine international anti-terrorism conventions and agreements. In this context, the government of Saudi Arabia has recently taken a series of measures that are indicative of its seriousness and determination to fight terrorism. Its strategy of pre-emptive action to forestall criminal acts has achieved success in the fight against this deadly epidemic and earned the praise and admiration of the international community.
Yet, crimes committed by a handful of criminals and misguided felons cannot justify incriminating a whole society or an entire culture, since terrorism can strike any city and target any interests regardless of the nationality, religion or ethnic origin of the victims. Terrorism is a global phenomenon that calls for joint action and cooperation by all countries, and requires the collaboration of the concerned international organizations, to confront it, and to deliberate on the effective ways and means to eliminate it.
It is on the basis of these facts that I am pleased to announce before your esteemed gathering that the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to host in Riyadh an international conference to combat terrorism, scheduled for February 5 through 8, 2005. Its purpose is to exchange information and experience in the field of combating terrorism: to see how we can cooperate with other countries in the fight against this universal threat. We also intend to utilize the occasion to learn about scientific and practical techniques relevant not only to the combat of terrorism, but also preventing the practices of money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. The conference is also expected to provide an opportunity to study the culture and mindset of terrorists and the structure of terrorist organizations.
Official invitations to this conference have been extended to concerned international organizations as well as to countries that have suffered or are suffering from terrorism. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes the participation of all those invited, and hopes that the outcome of the conference in terms of deliberations and recommendations will constitute an important addition and a great support to international efforts in eradicating the roots and causes of this dangerous phenomenon.
The setback in the peace process and the mounting wave of violence and extremism in the region are largely attributable to the pursuit by the Israeli government of policies that are totally incompatible with the fundamental principles of the peace process, notably the land for peace principle. These principles emanate from a broad frame of reference that involves Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 242 and 338; the United States Administration’s vision of the two states, an Israeli state and an independent Palestinian state living side by side. The Arab initiative continues to stand as a credible basis for the security and stability for all the peoples of the region because it ensures a lasting, just and comprehensive solution to the question of Palestine as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.
It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to exert maximum efforts to get the peace process moving towards its desired goals, particularly now that this process has stalled and has met with indifference and lack of concern, even in its humanitarian aspect that was expected to mobilize the conscience of the international community in defense of universally recognized human values.
Furthermore, peace cannot be achieved by unilateral Israeli measures designed to create new realities on the ground for the purpose of prejudicing the final outcome of political negotiations that will supposedly tackle the delicate issues of the final settlement. The Palestinian question cannot be solved, nor can the Arab-Israeli conflict be ended, through sheer force, aerial bombardment, guided missiles, assassination of Palestinian activists, destruction of infrastructure, usurpation of property, violation of rights, and the imposition of collective punishment. Peace will be achieved and security will prevail only when the United Nations resolutions are implemented, the provisions of international law are respected and applied, and the principles of justice and equality are observed.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns the continuous escalation against the Palestinian people and the Israeli Government’s insistence on establishing and expanding its settlements. We also condemn the continued construction of the separation wall that has annexed extensive Palestinian lands in unprecedented defiance of the ruling of the International Court of Justice that decided the illegality of this wall and ordered Israel to dismantle it, and was followed by a General Assembly resolution which demonstrates the consensus of the international community on this issue.
However, if Israel is serious about withdrawing from Gaza and the dismantling of some settlements, we stress that such an action should proceed in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, in conformity with the requirements of the ‘roadmap’, and under the supervision of the quartet committee. The proposed withdrawal should come about as a first step towards a complete and full withdrawal from all the Palestinian lands, including Al-Quds.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closely monitoring the endeavors aimed at eliminating all forms of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East and making it free from all such lethal weapons. In this respect, we call upon the international community to adopt an even-handed approach, refrain from applying double standards, assume its legal and moral responsibilities, and urge the Israeli Government to refrain from the development of its nuclear program, and subject its nuclear installations to the inspection and safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
We are profoundly distressed and gravely concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq where tragic incidents, heinous acts of violence, and the horror of kidnapping innocent people seem to be a daily affair. Faced with this dreadful reality, we can only urge the Iraqi people to mend fences and work hand-in-hand to support the efforts of their transitional government towards establishing the security, safety, and well-being of their country, preserving its national unity and independence, and ensuring the restoration of its effective and positive role in the international arena. We also call upon the United Nations to play a greater role to assist the Iraqi Government to meet the requirements of the ongoing political process, including the conducting of the general election that will hopefully lead to a permanent legitimate government, while proceeding with the efforts of reconstruction.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has presented some ideas regarding the deployment of Islamic troops into Iraq, with the consent of the Iraqi Government and under the supervision of the United Nations, to replace, but not supplement, the multilateral forces. These ideas, however, have not materialized, albeit their premises and bases deserve consideration and follow-up.
With respect to developments in the brotherly country of Sudan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, profoundly moved by the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur, is supportive of the efforts of the Government of Sudan to restore stability in the region, and of its cooperation with the relief organizations and others to address the humanitarian situation resulting from the crisis. We hope that the efforts of the Government of Sudan and those of the African Union are given sufficient time to restore security to the region and to ensure the well-being of its people in this respect. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has initiated an ongoing airlift operation, using Saudi cargo planes, to provide direct humanitarian assistance to the region of Darfur, including medical and food supplies, tents, and power generators. Moreover, there are Saudi relief teams in the region who have established clinics inside camps and hospitals and equipped them with doctors, medicine, and medical supplies. In addition, wells have been dug to provide camps with potable water.
Human development and economic prosperity are major keys to the attainment of a better future for the developing countries. To reach this objective, the developed and the developing nations can act together to achieve great success. My country has contributed to the promotion of the development process in developing and least-developed countries by adopting and implementing many development projects and extending generous assistance to these countries through its national agencies as well as through regional and international organizations, in order to enable them to overcome the problems of poverty and underdevelopment.
While we appreciate the concern expressed by the Group of Eight at their Summit on Sea Island regarding the future of the Middle East, and their desire to help the countries in the region develop and progress, we believe that the process of helping developing nations to initiate political and economic reforms should not be imposed or dictated from without, but rather be a catalyst to assist the reforms in these nations. Outside interference on the question of reforms can only result in disrupting and stalling a process that is already underway. For reforms to be effective and lasting they should reflect the actual needs of the concerned societies and conform with the stage of development in the reforming states. Of course there is much that the advanced countries can provide in this process, especially in the areas of investments, the liberalization of international trade, encouraging international economic cooperation, and the opening up of their markets. We believe that removing protective measures such as trade barriers and tariffs, and the doing away with preferential assistance that hinders the ability of the developing countries to enter the markets of the developed countries, can take us a long way towards achieving the desired goals of development.
There is, moreover, a need to exert the necessary effort to help those countries to overcome their problems and their deeply-rooted political conflicts.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, based on its position of responsibility and its effective role in the international oil market, has continued consistently to meet its obligations to ensure the stability of the oil markets in order to guarantee the continuity of the world’s economic growth. To achieve this, it has increased its production capacity to ensure the availability of enough supplies and to control the surge in prices.
In this regard, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took the initiative in establishing the Energy Forum and hosting its General Secretariat in Riyadh. This has become a platform to discuss ways and possibilities of cooperation and dialogue between the consumers and producers, whether members of OPEC or non-members. These countries should seek to intensify cooperation amongst themselves in order to ensure stable markets for the strategic commodity, petroleum, and to guarantee the continuous growth of the global economy.
In conclusion, our world continues to be plagued by serious problems and destabilizing conflicts. There is, therefore, continued need to do more in the way of increasing a collective international effort to consecrate the concept of dialogue and raise the level of understanding, mutual contacts, and acquaintance among nations and between cultures, and embark on a serious effort to propagate the culture of peace in order to achieve for our fellow human beings the human dignity and prosperity they deserve. We need to do more to put an end to the wave of violence and work for the attainment of justice and the termination of racial discrimination.
God Almighty said in the Holy Qur’an: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the most honorable of you with Allah is the most pious.”
Blessings and peace be upon you.