In the name of Allah, most compassionate, most merciful.
Blessing and peace be upon the Most Noble of Prophets
It gives me pleasure at the outset of the 55th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations to convey to Your Excellency our sincerest congratulations for your election to the Presidency of this session. Your election to this important position reflects the respect of the international community for you personally, as well as the appreciation of the member states for the positive role-played by your country, Finland, in the international arena.
I am confident that your presidency of this session will contribute effectively to our efforts in achieving the objectives toward which the international community aspires under the present international circumstances.
I also wish to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to your predecessor, Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, Foreign Minister of Namibia, and president of the previous session of the United Nations General Assembly, who managed the affairs of the session with great competence and experience that deserve our compliments and appreciation.
I am also pleased to express my thanks and appreciation to His Excellency, the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan, for his continuous and tireless efforts to achieve peace and enhance security and stability in our modern world. As well as for the competence and ability he has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, in leading the affairs of this organization relying on his rich and exceptional experience in the international arena. In particular, I wish to commend His Excellency for his sincere and extensive efforts exerted in organizing the Millennium Summit, which, God willing, will contribute to achieving fruitful results with positive effects for our peoples and nations while stepping into a new century filled with challenges and opportunities.
On this occasion, I wish to welcome the Republic of Tuvalu to the membership of the United Nations, hoping that its membership will enhance the effectiveness of the organization and its noble objectives.
The present session of the General Assembly followed immediately the conclusion of the Millennium Summit, a unique historical event. The world leaders met in a dignified gathering that exemplified the unity of the human race and the collective striving of human beings to live in peace, security and prosperity.
This summit presented a valuable opportunity to reflect on and discuss all that can lead to a better life for humanity. The world leaders pledged in the final communiqué of the summit to exert all possible efforts to achieve peace, security, and disarmament and eradicate poverty and disease. They affirmed the equality among all nations in sovereignty, respect for territorial integrity, political independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The Summit also provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate the course of this organization throughout its history which was filled with opportunities and challenges so as to enable it to achieve its declared principles and objectives. In this regard, a thorough and candid evaluation of the course of the United Nations was presented by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince and the Head of the Saudi delegation to the Millennium Summit. He discussed the challenges and problems that obstruct the course of the United Nations and prevent it from achieving the goals and objectives that the human community aspires to.
His Royal Highness presented a number of ideas and notions that represent a valuable contribution to the exerted efforts that aim to promote and vitalize the role of the United Nations. He mentioned the importance of linkage between modernizing the organization’s mechanisms and the nature of the issues it confronts. The effects of these reforms should consider the viability and performance of the agencies of the United Nations in a way that enables it to fulfill its required role on a level that provides the means to deal with the new developments that are taking place in modern international relations.
One of the most notable features of the New World Order is the emerging phenomenon of globalization, which has occupied a large portion in the current political thought of nations, being a developed framework for international relations. We view globalization as a phenomenon that should reflect the natural closeness between nations to achieve social justice, overall development, equality among nations and broadening the horizons of cooperation in a manner that serves the issues of peace and security, and stability throughout the world.
However, and I am quoting here from the speech of His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz before the Millennium Summit: "we hope that the United Nations will support us in standing against a globalization that results in the hegemony of the strong over the weak, increases the causes of the oppression and exploitation of nations, and fostering injustice and inequality in international relations. We particularly warn of the ramifications of unbridled globalization and its use as an umbrella to violate the sovereignty of states and interfere with their internal affairs under a variety of pretexts especially from the angle of human rights issues" end of quote.
The United Nations calls for a civilized dialogue, declaring 2001 a year for dialogue among civilizations. This comes at an appropriate time to represent a civilized response to those who propagate the themes and theories of conflict and an inevitable clash of civilizations. A dialogue among civilizations in fact represents a constructive beginning to achieve globalization in its positive sense and its human aspect, something that all peoples and nations aspire for. A dialogue among civilizations would contribute to strengthening the values and principles of understanding and cooperation among cultures and civilizations. It will further promote respect for other religious beliefs and the inherited civilizations of other nations in a way that consolidates the principles of peaceful co-existence and proliferates the culture of peace and tolerance.
The deviation from the values and principles of justice, equality and non-compliance with the basis of international legitimacy in resolving differences and disputes through peaceful means has led to the proliferation of wars and armed conflicts in many parts of the world. This has caused painful humanitarian suffering that continues to arouse the conscience of the world community.
In our region, Israel continues to take intransigent positions and is not responding to the requirements for peace. This became evident during the latest talks at Camp David where the Israeli side insisted on maintaining positions that are diametrically opposed to the principles of peace which were agreed to at Madrid and to what has been stated in the United Nations resolutions with respect to the status of Al-Quds Al-Shareef [Jerusalem]. The final communiqué of the Al-Quds Committee which convened recently Agadir and the resolution of the ministerial council of the Arab League in its 114th session, both re-affirmed the unshakable Arab and Islamic positions with respect to the issue of Al-Quds Al-Shareef and a permanent and comprehensive peace cannot be attained without reaching a just solution to this problem in a way that preserves the rights of Arabs and Muslims in accordance with UN resolutions and respects complete Palestinian sovereignty over Al-Quds Al-Shareef.
Israel is making a big mistake if it believes that the peace process can proceed forward with total disregard for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to return to their homeland and establish their own independent state with Al-Quds Al-Shareef as its capital. Al-Quds Al-Shareef is an integral part of the Occupied Territories, and is subject to Security Council Resolution 242. Moreover, a comprehensive peace cannot be achieved without Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to the June 4, 1967 line.
We remain pained at the sufferings of the brotherly Iraqi people as a result of the continuing refusal of their government to abide by the full implementation of UN resolutions in order to allow for the lifting of sanctions.
In reiterating its concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia proposed an initiative that would allow Iraq to import all its needs of materials and goods, except those that fall within the context of military items that threaten Iraq's neighbors. Accepting such an initiative would have provided the Iraqi people with their needs and hence alleviated their suffering. However, the Iraqi government was swift in rejecting this gesture which prolonged the suffering of the Iraqi people. We hope once again that the Iraqi government will act quickly to comply with Security Council Resolution 1284 and the mandate of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and other international committees concerned with the release and repatriation of all Kuwaiti and Saudi prisoners, as well as the return of all Kuwaiti properties. We once again reiterate the need to respect Iraq's independence, unity and territorial integrity.
We also aspire to the removal of cause of tension in the Gulf region. Accordingly we hope that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will cooperate with the attempts of the tripartite committee which is entrusted with creating a conducive climate for direct negotiations between the United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to reach an acceptable brotherly solution to the issue of the three islands.
In Somalia, my country welcomes the outcome of the national reconciliation conference that took place in the city of Arta in Djibouti, which included the election of President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan. We hope that the other Somali factions will join the reconciliation efforts to promote the national accord and achieve the unity and stability of Somalia.
In Afghanistan fierce fighting is still going on with the effect of denying Afghanistan and its people the fruits of liberation from foreign occupation.
The Pakistani-Indian conflict over Jammu and Kashmir remains a source of tension between the two neighboring countries. We call on both sides to exercise utmost restraint and to solve the conflict through negotiations in accordance with UN resolutions, which allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir the right to self-determination.
The continuation of these disputes and armed conflicts that have claimed the lives of millions and depleted huge resources and caused destruction and serious damage to the environment, makes it incumbent upon the international community to exert all possible efforts to put an end to these conflicts and find peaceful solutions to them. In this regard, we look to the United Nations to exert greater efforts that reiterate its role as a peacemaker and not just a peacekeeper. It has become evident that working to prevent conflict from happening proves to be more effective and less costly than concentrating efforts on peacekeeping.
In this respect and in compliance with the principle of resolving conflicts through peaceful means, our region witnessed two important events that constituted a positive sign in relations between nations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen signed the Jeddah Treaty for the Final and Permanent international Land and Sea Borders in June 2000, that ended more then sixty years of border disputes. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabian has also signed an agreement with the State of Kuwait regarding the settlement of the question of demarcation of the shallow seas adjacent to the former neutral zone between the two countries.
The issue of disarmament is of great concern to my country and we call for greater efforts in this area, especially weapons of mass destruction. The presence of these weapons represents a great danger to international peace and security. We hope that the nuclear states fulfill the pledges they made during the 2000 Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and adhere to the total eradication of their nuclear arsenal.
In this context, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very concerned about Israel's refusal to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its maintenance of its nuclear program outside the scope of international control. Israel's refusal to adhere to the international will and join this treaty, has aborted all efforts and denied the people and countries of the Middle East their wishes for a region free from all weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the only country in the region that has not yet joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a fact that has disrupted the balance of security and threatened peace in the region.
It is imperative to stress the need to increase the effectiveness of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by making it universal and mandatory.
The cooperation in social and political issues has become a necessity that cannot be avoided or neglected. The economic and social problems of the developing countries make it incumbent upon us to come up with policies that can alleviate the effects of these problems, which in most cases exacerbate tension within and between nations. We believe that the developed countries have an obligation in assisting to combat poverty, scarcity of food, drought and famine.
It is unrealistic to apply the concept of globalization as a means to only liberalize the markets from restrictions without drafting a framework for action that stresses the need to consider the economic situation in many of the developing countries and assist these countries to move to a stage in which they can participate in development. It is therefore important for the industrialized and technically advanced countries to help those developing nations move away from selective policies in technology transfer. Moreover, globalization should be a two-way street that requires the developed industrialized nations to liberalize their markets and open them for products from developed nations.
We are committed to objectivity when dealing with environmental issues through serious and informed studies based on evidence, which takes into consideration the course of development in the developing countries. In this regard, we call upon all states to abide by the Agenda for the 21st Century and urge the industrialized states to honor their international commitments regarding the transfer of environmental friendly technology to the developing countries.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasis that we live the beginning of a new era that makes it incumbent upon all of us to strive in order to achieve the maximum possible level of cooperation and solidarity: not only to confront the political and military challenges, but to face the new waves of challenges that have resulted from the contemporary way of life with all its problems and complications that cannot be solved or managed except through an organized collective effort. Our firm belief in the important role of the United Nations in dealing with the current issues and facilitating the appropriate means for international cooperation that would handle and contain these problems, makes us more determined than ever in supporting this organization and consolidating its constructive role.
My wish is that we enter the new Millennium with greater determination and stronger will in our collective strive to establish a secure world in where values are victorious, and justice, equality and peace are dominant.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancor".
Thank you Mr. President
May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon you.