2000 Speech

Crown Prince Abdullah's address at the UN Millennium Summit
Text of Crown Prince Abdullah's address as it was delivered on the floor of the General Assembly of the United Nations

HRH Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard
Address to the
General Assembly of the United Nations Millennium Summit

New York, September 6, 2000

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Mr. President:

Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations:

Esteemed delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

Peace be upon you.

In the name of my brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, I greet you all in our Islamic greeting with the hope and prayer that this Summit will meet the aspirations of the six billion peoples inhabiting our planet.

My country prides itself on being one of the founding members of this esteemed organization, the United Nations. My country prides itself also on being an active member of the United Nations since its inception. My country further reaffirms its faith that the United Nations remains humanity's great hope to "save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war", despite the obstacles it faces some times, and the shortcomings in its performance at others.

This Summit is devoted to review the past and present role of the United Nations. It is a sign of maturity and awareness to reassess how much has been achieved and how much remains to be realized on the road ahead.

In this regard, please allow me to be candid and frank as I address this issue, and ask where are we from attaining the noble objectives, which were and still are the raison d'être for the establishment of the United Nations?

How close are we to achieving the peace, which the United Nations was created to establish and maintain?

I refer to the report of the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Security Council on the 20th of July of this year. The report stated that the international community has been unable to establish world peace and security despite the United Nations' efforts to achieve the goals contained in the Charter.

I am in agreement with the statement of the Secretary General, made in his report submitted to the Security Council on the 19th of October 1999: that the work toward prevention of conflict is more effective and less costly than the process of peace-keeping. As the saying goes in Arabic, and I am sure in other languages as well, "prevention is more effective than seeking remedy".

Therefore, I am pleased to declare the contribution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of 30% of the proposed budget to the Fund for Preventive Action, which was founded by his excellency the Secretary General in order to seek ways of preventing conflict. It is my sincere hope that the efforts of the fund will lead to the fulfillment of its objectives.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Charter urged the practice of tolerance and living together with one another as good neighbors, and I ask, where are from achieving these objectives? Tolerance cannot go hand in hand with aggression and occupation.

There exists a continuing conflict throughout the last fifty years to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to assure the return of the holy places in Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] to Palestinian sovereignty that has been infringed upon and continues to be violated. This conflict was started as a result of a decision by the United Nations and continues despite the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.

We further ask: how close are we to achieve the goals of the Charter in safeguarding fundamental human rights for the dignity and worth of man at the time that three billion people, half of the human race, still live on two dollars or less per day? There are one billion illiterate human beings, and a similar number who are totally or partially unemployed.

Human rights, as we Muslims understand the concept, is an inalienable gift of the creator, no one has the right to deny it to anyone. It is certainly not a certificate of good behavior to be granted by some who claim a false moral ascendancy over others. These rights exist at the roots of all human cultures and must not be viewed in isolation of their origins. It is futile to impose on an individual, or on a particular society so-called rights alien to it or to its beliefs, or values contrary to a society's fundamental ideals.

The United Nations has decided to declare the year 2001 as the year of dialogue between civilizations. I welcome this timely decision and hope that the relevant United Nations agencies will devote part of their time and effort towards researching and identifying the contributions made by every culture to the concept of human rights. I hope they will devote similar time and efforts to looking for ways and means to reconcile the universality of the concept of these rights with the beliefs held sacred, fundamental, and inseparable by the different cultures.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is a consensus among academics and researchers that we are entering a new epoch in the history of humanity, commonly known as "globalization". This phenomenon heralds with it the promise of the disappearance of barriers, the elimination of boundaries, and the emergence of freedom of movement on unprecedented scale. Globalization promises to bring with it opportunities which can enrich the common bonds of civilization and enhance the links between human beings.

With this bright promise to humanity, there is a dark side which we all can ill afford to ignore, and which threatens specifically the poorest and smallest societies in our international community.

There are many societies that fear the loss of their distinctive identities in the face of the so-called electronic invasion. There are many societies that will face the danger of total bankruptcy when weak economies enter into competition with stronger ones. As a result, if left unchecked this dark side of globalization threatens to eclipse the brightness of the great hopes attached to it turning it into an old conflict with a new name, where the strong devour the weak, and where healthy creative diversity is totally suppressed by suffocating uniformity.

We praise the efforts of the United Nations that played an important factor in the birth of globalization. This development was accompanied by international efforts to liberate trade and restore market forces in lieu of state directed economies. Efforts were also made to ensure the free flow of ideas and information.

These trends and the efforts exerted by the United Nations to remove barriers are welcome developments. But we must remind the United Nations of its historical responsibility to regulate this tide less it turns into a flood. At the time when international efforts are gaining momentum towards globalization to reduce differences and institute a measure of commonality among nations, we perceive that this momentum, in its present form, and in the absence of regulatory measures, has caused disruption in many societies not only in the developing countries but also in the developed world.

We therefore hope the United Nations will play the role of guardian to globalization to assure that it shall not turn into a sweeping overwhelming flood, precipitating the destruction of the fabric that binds the social order in world communities, and threaten their security and stability.

I hope that my analysis does not convey an air of pessimism. My interest is to urge the international community to bear an optimistic responsibility that finds in the challenges an incentive to confront them with concrete actions.

The agenda of this meeting includes more than twenty proposals, which are aimed at improving the performance of the United Nations, and I have no doubt that your adoption of some of these proposals will bring us one step or more closer to our goals. The discussion of modalities and processes is very important; however, it will not have any effect unless there is a real change of intentions resulting in a change in the political wills of nations to affect concrete actions.

Please permit me to finish by urging this Summit to heed the Qur'anic verse relevant to all changes whether for good or bad:

"Verily never will God change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves".

Thank you and peace be upon you.