New York, September 6, 2000
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Distinguished Heads of State:
Members of Delegations:
I greet you with the greeting of Islam, the greeting of peace, in the name of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz. A large number of leaders of member states have come from diverse locations to participate in this historic Summit convened at the beginning of the third millennium.
In the name of my country, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, for his efforts and diligence in preparing for the convening of this significant global gathering. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by virtue of its belief in the United Nations Charter is committed to contribute to the success of this historic meeting, which holds so much promise for humanity.
This occasion is a great opportunity to evaluate the progress of our organization, to learn from our past failures and be attuned to present realities in order to better prepare for the challenges of the future.
It was in December 1998 that the General Assembly resolved that this Summit be dedicated to a fundamental review of the role of the United Nations, including the challenges that it will face in the new century. We all know the circumstances that led to the establishment of this organization, as well as the principles and foundations of its Charter. We are aware of the accomplishments it has achieved and the difficulties it has faced, which have been impediments to achieving the objectives of its Charter in the political, economic, cultural, and social fields.
The major question facing this distinguished gathering of world leaders and Heads of State is this: where are we today with respect to the noble objectives behind the establishment of the United Nations? The UN Charter speaks of the hope “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” If we examine the report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council dated June 20 of this year, we will realize that we are indeed far from transforming this dream into reality. The last ten years alone have witnessed the demise of five million people, most of them innocent and unarmed civilians, in armed conflicts. UN forces are now deployed in seventeen areas of conflict across the world. The report attested to the fact that in 1998 alone thirty-six wars were raging.
At a time when the Charter calls for us “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors” there are those us who speak of an inevitable clash of civilizations. While our Charter calls on us “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person” we find three billion people living on two dollars a day or less; there are one billion people, adults as well as children, who are ignorant of the basics of reading and writing; and there are one billion people who are suffering from partial or total unemployment. A starving human being who can not find a morsel to eat, or potable water to drink, or a roof to provide shelter, much less medical treatment, will find in discussions of human rights nothing but an attempt to put slogans in place of painful reality – and slogans can never feed the hungry.
These facts and realities make us truly question the reasons for our inability, until now, to address these vital issues and matters. The growing call to introduce reform in the performance and structure of the UN bodies that has been adopted by a major segment of the international community reflects an increasing feeling of the need to rectify matters within as well as outside the United Nations with a view to nearing the objectives provided for under the Charter.
The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notes the efforts currently being made to modernize and enhance the agencies of the United Nations to enable it to perform its expected role and keep abreast of evolving developments affecting international relations at the present time. In this regard, we should make sure that these reforms should not undermine the efficacy and performance of the U.N. agencies, particularly the Security Council, as it is the body concerned directly with maintaining international peace and security.
Allow me, Mr. President, to present to you certain pertinent ideas and concepts related to this vital topic.
First: when considering effecting changes in the structure of the Security Council, care should be taken that any ideas espoused will not infringe on the fundamental role of this body. For example, the proposal to expand the membership of the Security Council on the assumption of equitable geographic representation may not necessarily lead to the desired results geographically or politically. Reconsidering the right of veto that is available to the permanent members, while acknowledging that it may be impossible to achieve, will not benefit us as much as striving to limit its use against previous resolutions adopted by the Assembly and with the approval of the permanent member states themselves.
Second: greater effort must be made to emphasize the role of the United Nations as a maker, and not only a preserver, of peace. It has been proven beyond doubt that an endeavor to prevent the occurrence of conflict is more viable and less costly than exerting efforts and dissipating energies to preserve peace following the explosion of the situation. Many of the conflicts now raging could have been avoided or mitigated had we exerted greater effort to prevent the escalation of the crisis that preceded them.
Third: the reasons for the lack of stability and security, even in regions where peace has been made, are attributable to the fact that peace in certain instances and under particular circumstances is incomplete because it is based on elements of oppression and coercion instead of right and justice. Force and oppression cannot establish justice or cement peace.
Fourth: the adoption by the United Nations of the topic of human rights, which was enshrined in the Human Rights Conference held in Vienna in April 1993, is appreciated and commended by us. It is unfortunate that the issue of human rights is often used as a means of pressure and a tool of extortion, with the aim of achieving certain political and economic interests. We regard human rights as a gift to mankind from the Creator, and not one gratuitously granted by one human being to another. Such human rights exist in the roots of every human civilization, and are not a monopoly of one culture. It is absurd to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs or principles.
Fifth: the trend towards globalization that we support and endorse is one that helps foster links between cultures and promotes closeness among all peoples and nations, and expands the prospects for cooperation. 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 oppression and exploitation of nations, and fosters 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 as stated earlier.
Sixth: it is fitting for the United Nations to adopt the call for establishing cultural dialogue among nations and to dedicate part of its time and effort to examining what each culture has to offer by way of contributions and ideas related to the concept of human rights. We are in dire need of a formula that can bring together the universality of such concepts and the importance of respecting those things that are sacred, that no culture can dispense with or bargain over.
The introduction of certain structural and organizational reforms to enhance the performance of the United Nations and increase its efficacy may be necessary in the current era. There is, however, a firm reality that cannot be ignored or avoided. It has to do with the ability of this organization to carry out its mission and shoulder its established and evolving responsibilities, will always remain dependent on the political will to actually implement the principles enshrined in its Charter, including adherence to the organization’s resolutions and recommendations in the political arena. The reason why many issues remain unresolved is because of lack of adherence on the part of one or both parties in a dispute to the principles and resolutions of the United Nations. For example, Security Council Resolution 425 regarding Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, although adopted unanimously, had to wait more than twenty-four years for Israel to abide by and implement. The Palestinian and Syrian tracks in the Middle East peace process pass through numerous obstacles and difficulties as a result of the lack of seriousness on the part of the Israeli government in adhering to the requirements of the peace process based on the UN resolutions and the principles of the Madrid Conference, especially the principle of land for peace, in addition to Israel’s failure to abide by the agreements it has signed. This comes at a time when the Arab countries continue to regard the goal of peace as a strategic and irreversible option, demonstrate flexibility, take initiatives, participate in all activities, and exert every effort that emanates from the peace process. The cause of the failure of Camp David is attributable to the attempts of Israel to overlook two basic facts related to the core and essence of the peace process: First, the Holy City of Jerusalem, Al-Quds, which is part and parcel of the Arab territories occupied in 1967, and is subject to Security Council Resolution 242. Second, the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, an issue that this Organization has addressed in many resolutions, in particular Resolution 194.
With respect to the Syrian track, we can find no explanation for its faltering, except for the continued intransigence of the Israeli government, and its lack of interest in meeting the requirements of the peace process that necessitate Israel’s withdrawal to the June 4 lines, in accordance with the principle of land for peace.
In the Arabian Gulf region, the Iraq-Iran war continued to rage for an extended period after the adoption of a Security Council resolution calling for cessation of hostilities. War between the two neighboring countries only stopped after the two parties responded and submitted to the provisions of the aforementioned resolution. We in the Arabian Gulf region, however, are still suffering from problems resulting from the Iraqi government’s lack of full adherence to its commitments to the Security Council resolutions that were issued following Iraq’s invasion of the State of Kuwait in 1990. This lack of adherence has caused continued suffering for the brotherly people of Iraq as a result of the economic blockade and the continued uncertainty of Iraq’s intentions towards its neighbors, which is reaffirmed by the threatening language used at the highest levels of the Iraqi leadership.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, wishing to help the people of Iraq obtain their basic needs, has supported the development of the program of oil for food. My country earlier brought forward specific ideas, within the framework of an integrated initiative, that would allow Iraq to import all its needs of materials and goods with the exception of those that fall within the context of military items, especially those related to the production and development of weapons of mass destruction. It is unfortunate that all efforts exerted in this respect have always foundered against Iraq’s wall of rejection, and its disregard for all regional and international initiatives that have been put forward. Our empathy for the pains of the continued suffering of our brothers in Iraq as a result of the policies of their government is equal only to our continued concern for the need to uphold Iraq’s independence, and the unity and integrity of its territories.
Members of delegations:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, like its sister members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, exerts the utmost effort to strengthen peace and stability in the Arabian Gulf region, and to create an environment conducive to economic development and fruitful cooperation among neighboring states. From this basis, the GCC states have been desirous that their relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran be based on good neighborliness, mutual respect, and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and on adopting peaceful means as an approach to resolving disputes between two parties. The continued problem of the three islands located between Iran and the United Arab Emirates still constitutes an impediment to developing relations in the required manner.
The establishment of the tripartite panel to clear the atmosphere between the two parties, and prepare for direct negotiation between Iran and the UAE, embodies our desire to reach a solution to this problem. We hope the panel is accorded support to enable it to reach its desired objective.
On the other hand, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is very much concerned with future relations among the states of the region, considers the border treaty signed and ratified by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its neighbor the Republic of Yemen, together with that signed with the sisterly State of Kuwait concerning the offshore area contiguous to the former neutral zone, as indicative of satisfaction and hope. These two significant events can be considered as models to be emulated in resolving border disputes and conflicts between neighboring countries.
We meet today to recall together the principles and objectives of the international organization designed to achieve security, peace, and the well-being of all people in the world. Many parts of our world are in the throes of regional and ethnic wars and disputes, and national and tribal border problems and conflicts. Confrontation between the Mujahedeen factions is still raging in Afghanistan, preventing this country and its people from reaping the fruits of liberation from foreign occupation. The people of Chechnya are subjected to shades of oppression and violence in which many unarmed and innocent victims perish as a result of the dominance of the principle of using force over the option of negotiation and peaceful resolution of the Chechen problem. The issue of the Pakistani-Indian dispute over Jammu and Kashmir is still a source of tension and instability between two neighboring countries. This calls on us to request the two parties to exercise a maximum level of self-control and resolution of the conflict through negotiations in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations that grant the people of Jammu and Kashmir the right to self-determination.
In Africa, fighting and armed conflicts are repeated in numerous parts of the continent, especially in the Horn of Africa, which may exacerbate wounds and expand the circle of misery and poverty. In this context we count greatly on the wisdom of the leaders of this great continent to give prominence to the higher interest of their countries and resolve disputes through peaceful means. We are saddened to find that the dispute between the two neighbors, Eritrea and Ethiopia, has evolved into a devastating war that has killed many of the young people of the two nations, made refugees of hundreds of thousands, and exposed the infrastructure and economic capacities of the two countries to destruction and waste. We therefore call on the two parties to make a success of the peace plan prepared by the Organization of African Unity that calls for resumption of negotiations in order to stop the bloodshed and avoid the material and moral losses sustained by both sides.
In a nearby area, the Somali problem has been going through a number of developments, most notably, the convening of the reconciliation conference in the Republic of Djibouti. We welcome the positive results of the conference, which included the election of legislative and executive officials to steer the country on the road of peace and reconciliation. We hope that the Somali leaders who did not take part in the peace conference join the process soon in order for Somalia to resume its proper and constructive role in the Arab and international arenas.
The Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques devotes a great deal of attention and interest to the efforts targeting elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region, including the Arabian Gulf, through support of the endeavors of the League of Arab States in accordance with the resolution in its 101st session calling for making this sensitive part of the world an area free from weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, chemical, and biological. In this respect we are very concerned about the continued refusal of Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its maintenance of its nuclear program outside the scope of international control, a situation that constitutes a serious threat to the security of the region.
It is imperative to exert maximum effort to increase the effectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by implementing the warranty system of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and making it global. We are of the opinion that controls and standards should be set up to help make progress in all areas of eliminating weapons of mass destruction in accordance with United Nations Resolution Number 1 of 1946.
The phenomenon of terrorism is still widespread in all parts of the world, although fluctuating considerably, and still requires greater effort from our organization in order to contain and combat it. The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always denounced all forms and shapes of terrorism, and added its efforts to those of the international community to address this serious phenomenon. What should be emphasized in this respect is that extremism, violence, and terrorism are global phenomena, not restricted to any people, race, or religion. In view of the internationalism and comprehensiveness of this phenomenon, addressing and combating it effectively can only come through agreed-upon international action within the framework of the United Nations, that ensures the elimination of terrorism, conservation of innocent life, and preservation of the supremacy and stability of the State.
Combating terrorism also requires international cooperation in not harboring terrorist elements and groups, and preventing their ability to exploit the territories and laws of the states in which they reside, and to make use of them as a springboard for their destructive activities, irrespective of the pretext or justification.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has great concern for issues of the environment and the necessity to protect it. It has accorded this topic a prominent place in its internal and foreign policies, considering that safeguarding human life is closely related to the surrounding environmental and climatic conditions. In this context, the Kingdom has effectively participated in conferences, symposia, and international agencies related to the environment and its protection, in addition to being a signatory to numerous international conventions related to this topic. We hope that the international effort in dealing with environmental issues should proceed on the basis of serious, informed scientific studies, while also taking into consideration the progress of development in the developing nations. In this context we call upon all states to adhere to Agenda 21, and the industrial countries in particular to meet their international obligations concerning the transfer of environmental technology to the developing nations.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has contributed to the acceleration of the progress of developing nations, and the less developed countries in particular. It has approved and implemented numerous development programs and granted generous assistance to such countries in order to enable them to combat poverty and underdevelopment and set them on the path to development and stability. The objective of achieving global economic balance and cementing the pillars of comprehensive economic development can only be achieved by continued collective effort based on recognition of joint responsibility towards this issue. While we fully and strongly support the principles of the multilateral trade regimen within the framework of the World Trade Organization, our doubts as to the equity of this regimen are mounting, particularly in the circles of those countries that have started to feel that their share of trade benefits are continuing to ebb. With the passage of time, we find the gap between the rich states and the developing states ever increasing, especially in the fields of education and technology. This has deepened the huge differences between the vast riches of the developed world and the poverty of the developing countries. The North-South dialogue has not achieved results that contribute to narrowing the gap with a view to achieving the desired equality. Matters have been aggravated by rich countries putting obstacles and impediments before the industries of developing countries that are striving to enter the markets of industrial nations. At a time when we have hopes that the World Trade Organization will rectify defects in world trade, it is unfortunate that we note that this organization is not based on specific and objective rules with respect to the process of joining its membership. We therefore demand that this Summit ensure the internationalism of the World Trade Organization and strive to facilitate the accession of states currently negotiating to join the agreement under terms that do not burden these countries more than do the obligations undertaken by WTO’s earlier members. This can be accomplished by granting developing countries the adequate flexibility required by the circumstances of their development. In short, there is need for a transparent and simplified process of accession in line with the principles and regulations of the World Trade Organization and in harmony with the objective of achieving development and stability for all. In addition, we consider it important that the United Nations itself take an active role in the process of controlling the expansion of the chasm between the rich and the poor nations, and make this one of its salient objectives. This may require the United Nations to play an active role with respect to the activities of international financial and economic institutions that are proliferating with a diversity of objectives and purposes. This shortcoming can only be rectified by the supervisory and coordinating efforts of the United Nations in this matter. Realizing economic development, laying the underpinnings of social stability, and addressing environmental and population problems must take a prominent position in the priorities of the United Nations in its coming historic epoch.
The aforementioned issues, with their political, security, economic, and social dimensions, emphasize the degree to which our international organization must play its role in maintaining security and peace in the world, and in achieving prosperity and progress for our people. Our firm belief in the significant role that can be played by the United Nations in dealing with crises, attempting to obviate the horrors of war, and furnishing the means for international cooperation, makes us more insistent than ever to support this Organization so that it maintains its benevolent progress according to its noble principles and objectives.
In the context of the Kingdom’s concern for strengthening this role and enhancing international cooperation, it has signed and ratified numerous international treaties and conventions arrived at through the encouragement and patronage of this international body, including:
- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution number 34/180 dated December 18, 1989.
- approval of the Kingdom’s accession to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
In conclusion, I would like to extend to you my thanks and appreciation for listening. I ask God that our efforts be successful and that we return home with our spirits full of hope and optimism for the future of this Organization, a future that is the future of us all.
May God’s peace and blessings be upon you.