In the name of Allah, most compassionate, most merciful.
As we embark upon the Fiftieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, it is with pleasure that I convey to Your Excellency, on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our sincerest congratulations on the occasion of your election to the presidency of this important Session which marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of this international organization. Your presidency also reflects the appreciation of the international community for the role your country plays in the international arena. We wish you success in the pursuit of your mission and wish to assure you of the desire of our country, as one of the original signatories of the U.N. Charter, to cooperate with you in achieving the desired objectives of this important Session.
On this occasion, I also take this opportunity to congratulate your predecessor, H.E. Mr. Amara Essy, for his effective conduct of the affairs of the General Assembly during its previous Session.
I also wish to take this opportunity to note the sincere efforts of H.E. the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to enhance peace and strengthen security in many parts of our world which continue to experience tension and face challenges.
Fifty years have elapsed since the historic San Francisco Conference which culminated in the signing of the United Nations Charter and the dawning of a new era in international relations, based on certain principles which may be regarded as the gist of the lessons learned from the experience of two devastating World Wars causing immense suffering to humanity.
In spite of the fact that the principles of the Charter have not always been fully adhered to by all the members of the United Nations, the fact remains that its ability to continue to exist and function throughout half a century, during which great contributions in the humanitarian, cultural, and social fields were made through its various bodies and specialized agencies, makes it deserving of our full appreciation and support.
Although the Agenda for the current Session does not differ greatly in its content from that of previous Sessions, the international community looks at this Session with special interest. It is our hope that the Fiftieth Anniversary of the establishment of this Organization will have a positive impact on strengthening the fundamentals upon which it is based, in a manner that enables us to deal with a number of pressing issues which remain on the Agenda from previous Sessions. We should utilize the festive spirit of this Session to crystallize ideas and adopt decisions that meet the hopes and expectations of our states and peoples.
The United Nations Organization has, over the past fifty years, experienced multiple crises which have, as a result of their intensity and complexity, threatened international peace and security. We are all keenly aware of the fact that the ability of this international organization to deal with global problems and crises relies very much on the political will of member states to abide by the principles of the Charter.
As the intense rivalry that prevailed during the Cold War era afflicted this organization with impotence in dealing with issues of war and peace, the changes we have recently witnessed have reinforced our hope in asserting the basic role of this organization, namely the preservation of international peace and security. Regardless of whether the present situation constitutes a new international order or not, what is certain is that we are facing new realities and experiencing fundamental changes in the conduct of international relations. The international changes which have occurred over the past years were so dramatic as to make us encounter a new international reality with a host of new challenges. They also offered a new opportunity to reinforce the principles enshrined in the Charter 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.
The brutal Iraqi aggression against the State of Kuwait in 1990 constituted, by all accounts, a clear challenge to all the principles upon which the U.N. Charter is based, and signaled a flagrant violation of the dynamics of the prevailing system. The immediate and courageous decision of the international community to confront this aggression was a unique example, which must be emulated every time the international community faces a similar aggression. The principled position of the international community was manifested in a series of historic resolutions passed by the Security Council, which called for the reversal of the Iraqi aggression, and the restoration of legitimacy and sovereignty to the State of Kuwait along with measures to prevent a recurrence of that tragedy. We have always considered these resolutions as a cohesive legal structure in which the comprehensive and total implementation of the contents of all the resolutions pertaining to that brutal aggression represents a basic requirement before entertaining the possibility of easing or lifting the sanctions imposed by the Security Council.
We are fully aware of the difficulties and suffering experienced by the fraternal Iraqi people as a result of the continuation of the sanctions, and have repeatedly expressed our sympathies for the Iraqi people in this regard. Nonetheless, everyone is aware that the responsibility for this suffering lies solely with the Iraqi regime, which continues in its policies of maneuvers and deceptions in connection with U.N. Security Council Resolutions, particularly its refusal to accept Resolutions 706, 712 and 986 dealing with the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.
Our experience with the Iraqi regime and its aggressive intentions, as the reports by Mr. Rolf Ekeus, the Chairman of the U.N. Special Commission for the Elimination of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (UNSCOM) so clearly indicate. Moreover, the recent revelations by one of the pillars of the Iraqi regime who defected to Jordan were so alarming as to justify our insistence on the need to unmask the nature of the intentions of the Iraqi regime as a basic requirement prior to any review of these sanctions. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Mr. Ekeus and his esteemed team in their efforts to achieve this goal, yet we have noticed that the serious information provided by the Iraqi defector vastly exceeds the information gathered by UNSCOM during five years of continuous work. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to start searching for ways and means to enhance the scope and performance of this commission so as to enable it to fulfill its important task in the various aspects of inspection, verification, and observation.
We look forward to the return of Iraq to the fold of the international community, with its noble and industrious people, where it can play a constructive role. The suffering of the Iraqi people will remain a source of concern for us, and we remain committed to the preservation of the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
We continue to follow, with keen interest, the developments in the Middle East peace process in both the bilateral and multilateral tracks. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported this process since its inception at the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, and has actively worked to advance the bilateral talks between the Arab parties and Israel. It has also participated, through its delegations, in the various working groups stemming from the multilateral talks.
This interest, coupled with the effective participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, reflects the genuine desire of the Arab parties in the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the region. We have repeatedly emphasized that the multilateral talks are part and parcel of the peace negotiations which began in Madrid, and that they are complementary to the bilateral talks, and not a substitute thereto. It was on the basis of this understanding that we participated in the working groups. We believe that any progress in the multilateral talks is necessarily linked to progress in the bilateral talks between the parties most directly concerned.
The signing of the Declaration of Principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli Government in Washington in September of 1993, raised hopeful expectations, and signaled the first step toward the achievement of a just and permanent settlement of the question of Palestine. However, the Palestinian-Israeli agreement faced a number of obstacles as a result of Israeli intransigence, which curtailed the ability of the Palestinian National Authority to exercise its responsibilities and expand its authority throughout the West Bank, in accordance with the principles of the agreement.
The continued construction of settlements by Israel in the Occupied Territories, and its detention of large numbers of Palestinians, as well as its imposition of various restrictions on the Palestinian people, are among the practices that violate the text and spirit of the agreement. It is incumbent upon the two co-sponsors of the peace process to compel the Israeli Government to abide by its commitments by refraining from placing obstacles in the course of the negotiations and during the actual implementation of the second phase of the Declaration of Principles, which was signed recently in Washington. This should lead to the redeployment of Israeli occupation forces, prepare for the first Palestinian elections, and transfer more authority to the Palestinians. It is clear that further progress in the peace process will depend on fulfilling the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Conversely, any disregard of these rights will result in blocking the peace efforts.
With regard to the Agreements reached between Jordan and Israel, my country has already expressed its welcome of the progress realized on this track. However, we fail to see any noticeable progress on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. The issue of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is quite clear, and is related to the principle of the sanctity of international borders. On its part, Syria has demonstrated a willingness to meet the objective requirements for peace. It has raised the level of its representation in the bilateral talks and embarked upon a positive and serious effort to reach a settlement. Its constructive efforts, however, have not been matched by the Israeli side. With regard to the Lebanese-Israeli track, it is governed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 425, which calls for the immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from occupied Lebanese territory.
The question of Jerusalem -- al-Quds al-Shareef -- is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is of utmost concern for the Arab and Muslim world. The manner in which this issue is handled could determine the future of the peace process. The decision to delay negotiations on Jerusalem until the final stage of the peace talks should not be taken as indicative of the lessening of its importance, but rather as to give the peace process a chance to create the proper environment for the required good-will that would help in the successful resolution of this highly sensitive issue.
We regret that the Israeli authorities continue to take steps whose purpose is to change the demographic character and create new realities in the status of Jerusalem, with the intention of prejudicing the negotiations on the final status of the city. Our position remains that any settlement of this issue must take into account the resolutions of international legality, and in particular U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 which calls for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 252 regarding Jerusalem.
Any permanent and comprehensive settlement must also address the issue of the return of Palestinian refugees, and the release of Palestinian prisoners, as well as the issue of settlements created by Israel in the Occupied Territories, in violation of the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Principles and in breach of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
The Government of The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques has given great attention to efforts to remove the danger of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East. It has worked to make this sensitive region of the world free of all weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or biological. It is on this basis that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participated in the United Nations conference on the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty earlier this year in New York.
This position conforms with our announced support for the efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East. We believe in the necessity of tightening the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We view as necessary the establishment of controls and measures that will help in achieving progress in all aspects of this issue in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 1 of 1946, which addresses, inter alia, the issue of eliminating weapons of mass destruction.
The occupation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of the three United Arab Emirates islands (Abu Musa, the Greater Tunbs and Lesser Tunbs) 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 problem peacefully through serious bilateral negotiations. However, we have not yet seen any response to these calls, which leaves no choice but to refer this matter to the International Court of Justice.
The firm stand of the international community during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is the kind of example that should be evoked to verify the credibility of our organization. By contrast, the equivocation and weakness that characterized the international community's response to the Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a most negative example of how things could worsen and deteriorate as a result of the unchecked aggression waged by the Serb forces and their supporters in Serbia and Montenegro against the unarmed Bosnian people.
Hopefully, this war of genocide and ethnic cleansing seems to have finally made the international community seize the opportunity to put an end to this human tragedy, by demonstrating our ability to take strong and resolute positions in the face of Serb aggression.
The situation created by NATO air strikes against military sites of the Bosnian Serbs, located near Sarajevo, has provided a real opportunity for extracting this war-torn nation from its tragic situation, and placed it on the road to a meaningful settlement. Any just and durable settlement of this conflict must ensure the rights of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to sovereignty, independence and unity within its recognized international borders. It is also of the utmost importance to prosecute war criminals and subject them to trials for their war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We would like to express our appreciation for the efforts of President Clinton to reach a just settlement between the conflicting parties. We also appreciate the efforts made by H.E. President Jacques Chirac of France in promoting cooperation and coordination between the International Contact Group and the Islamic Contact Group. We hope that any settlement pertaining to the status of minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina also comprises the situation of the Albanian minority in Kosovo.
Somalia continues to experience instability and political chaos complemented by acts of terrorism and bloodshed. In spite of all the efforts expended to extract this nation from its dilemma, instability and lack of security remain a feature of this troubled land. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has attempted many times to contain the conflict in Somalia and to bring about national reconciliation between the various factions. It has extended a helping hand and provided humanitarian assistance and relief to the Somali people, and urged all factions to allow reason to prevail and place the interests of the Somali people above all else and work toward national reconciliation.
It is in this spirit that we appeal to the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, who have not been able to reap the fruits of their victory against foreign occupation as a result of the conflicts between their various factions. Since the outbreak of this conflict, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has endeavored, under the guidance of The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, to put an end to this fratricide. These efforts were crowned with the Makkah Agreement, signed in 1993. We continue to urge all factions of the Afghani Mujaheddin to immediately put an end to the fighting by complying with the Makkah Agreement in letter and spirit, in order to move in the direction of reconstruction and development to enable their nation to resume its proper place in the international community.
Among the conflicts that continue to rage in Asia is the Pakistani-Indian dispute over Jamu and Kashmir. We believe that the appropriate solution to this conflict lies in implementing the resolutions of the United Nations and in following the course of negotiation and dialogue, which could lead to an end to this long-standing dispute.
We also regret the continuation of another conflict, namely, Nagorno-Karabakh. The problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, which emerged as a consequence of the Armenian occupation of part of the territory of Azerbaijan, is still unresolved, in spite of all the efforts expended thus far. We see in this occupation a departure from the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts, and it is therefore incumbent upon Armenia to withdraw its forces from Azerbaijani territory, and transfer this issue to the negotiating table for the purpose of arriving at a peaceful settlement, which assures the legitimate rights of the Azerbaijani people.
This brief overview of some of the problems which continue to exist in the international arena, whose resolution depends on the commitment of the members of this organization to the principles of the Charter, is not intended to diminish the important role this organization has played in the settlement of other problems; thus enhancing our hope for a better future for the United Nations.
The recent resolution of long-standing problems in Cambodia, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland, as well as the historic changes in South Africa, will contribute to affirm the international trend, which the Secretary General of the U.N. was keen to emphasize in his two reports, "An Agenda for Peace" and "An Agenda for Development." These two reports focused attention on a new approach for the United Nations, based on the principles of the U.N. Charter and international legality.
We are confident that the ideas contained in these reports render important contributions to the General Assembly's efforts to strengthen the role and effectiveness of the United Nations. In this connection, the primary role of the Security Council, as the body most directly concerned with the maintenance of international peace and security, has to be asserted. Any efforts aiming at increasing the ability of the Security Council to act in accordance with the U.N. Charter must have as its goal the improvement of the effectiveness of the Council, and the avoidance of any measures that could lead to the erosion of its prescribed role.
A cursory review of world economic problems, and the role played by the United Nations in international economic cooperation, would demonstrate that the success of our organization 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 managed, through serious negotiations, to iron out many of the difficult issues, and thus scored unprecedented breakthroughs in very sensitive areas, as in the establishment of the World Trade Organization, we are still concerned about the continuing phenomenon of trade protectionism. The barriers emanating from this policy pose serious challenges to our belief in the importance of allowing market forces to play their natural role in economic affairs. The way to rectify this situation is through serious international efforts to remove these barriers, especially restrictions under the guise of protecting the environment. These restrictions undermine the development efforts of the developing countries whose, process of development is the cornerstone for peace and stability.
The development plan presented by the Secretary General is greatly appreciated and we should all strive to transform it into a real tool for promoting economic and social development on the global level. We believe that the developed countries can play an important role in this area, which will be beneficial to all countries, rich and poor.
As we prepare to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a founding member of this international organization, confirms its commitment and continues its efforts to enhance the role of the United Nations and strengthen its capability to preserve international peace and security, and to promote international cooperation within the framework of international legality.
We hope, with all sincerity, that all other member states will share this desire when dealing with the issues before this historic Session, so as to arrive at a successful conclusion that meets the aspirations of our countries and peoples for peace and security. To quote a verse from the Holy Qur'an: "Allah will not change the situation of a people until they change what is in their souls."
May peace and the blessing of Allah be bestowed upon you.