Statement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Sixty-Fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York
I have pleasure in expressing to Your Excellency my sincere congratulations on your election as President of this sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Your election was a token of esteem not only for you personally but also for the positive role that your country, Switzerland, is playing at the international level. I am fully confident that your presidency of this session will make an effective contribution to the achievement of the goals that the international community is pursuing under the present international circumstances.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to your predecessor, H.E. Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, who directed its work in such a wise, objective and commendable manner. I also have pleasure in reaffirming my appreciation for the continued efforts of H.E. the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, in directing the work of this international organization and promoting its message aimed at achieving peace and security in our contemporary world, which is still suffering from numerous types of conflicts, challenges and crises.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is proud to have been among the signatories, in San Francisco, of the Charter under which the United Nations was established. My country believes in the importance of full universal commitment to the fundamental principles and noble purposes of the United Nations for which that Charter was drawn up, including the regulation of relations between states, the maintenance of international peace and security, respect for the principles of international law and international legitimacy, and rejection of all forms and manifestations of violence and extremism.
These noble purposes and lofty goals are fully in keeping with the magnanimous Islamic Shari’a, since the eternal message of Islam is unificatory and non-divisive, just and equitable, egalitarian and non-discriminatory, and advocates cooperation among all the peoples of the world in order to further their welfare and happiness and safeguard their rights and dignity.
Accordingly, the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud emphasizes the need to put the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations into actual and effective practice in a non-selective manner and without any double standards. My country’s government is also aware of the need to modernize and develop the United Nations and its organs so that they can play the role required of them.
The desired reform is achievable by giving the General Assembly a basic role, comparable to that played by the Security Council, in the maintenance of international peace and security. We also need to ensure that this goes hand in hand with an earnest and credible approach in which the principles of international legitimacy, the provisions of international law and the requirements of international justice are respected.
The important reforms in this field include restriction of the use of the right of veto by requiring the permanent members to undertake not to avail themselves of this right in order to veto measures designed to ensure the implementation of resolutions previously adopted by the Security Council. There is also a need to strengthen the role of the Economic and Social Council and ensure closer coordination among United Nations funds, programs and activities.
We were deeply grieved to learn of the disastrous floods that have afflicted our brothers in Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands have been made homeless when their homes were destroyed, their farms washed away and their villages inundated. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, will spare no effort in assisting the victims of the disaster, providing relief and mitigating the plight of the needy, and will continue to dispatch financial and in-kind assistance, field hospitals and land and air rescue and first-aid teams, in confirmation and continuation of my country’s commitment to playing its humanitarian role in assisting states afflicted by natural or man-made disasters, including wars and armed conflicts.
The contributions that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making, either directly or through specialized international organizations, in the field of emergency relief are well known. In this connection, I would like to appeal to everyone to do their utmost to ensure that the entire international community makes a concerted effort to provide assistance and relief, in an urgent and effective manner, for all victims of disasters and wars in such a way as to affirm the unity, cooperation and solidarity of mankind in the face of catastrophes and adversities.
The Middle East problem continues to be one of the largest obstacles to world peace and security. In fact, Israeli occupation seems to remain as the only colonial polity after the decline of colonialism and the end of policies of ethnic discrimination. All the Arab countries, acting through the League of Arab States, have supported all the initiatives and endeavors aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, from the Madrid Conference to the present day. They have consistently and repeatedly declared their commitment to peace as a strategic option. In fact, more than ten years ago, they presented a comprehensive peace plan, the substance of which was wholly based on the principles of international law and United Nations resolutions. The Arab Peace Initiative guarantees the right of all states to live in peace and security, and lays the foundations for a normalization of relations between all the Arab states, including the independent Palestinian state, and Israel.
My country played an active and effective role in supporting the peace process throughout this period, participated in all the international peace conferences and presented the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted not only by the Arab states, but also by the Islamic states as a whole, and was supported by almost all the countries of the world. Accordingly, the Arab countries hope that the direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis will achieve their objectives in light of the invitation of the International Quartet, which affirmed the terms of reference on which there is an international consensus.
The moment of truth has come and the crossroads are clearly and plainly visible to us all. This was eloquently expressed by U.S. President Barack Obama when he said that the window for a two-state solution may be closing soon. The consequences of failure this time are too catastrophic to imagine. We all hope that the Government of Israel will take this valuable opportunity to respond, albeit belatedly, to the Arab overtures for peace and to the international consensus based on the necessity of applying the two-state solution in order to put an end to this sanguinary conflict that has been constantly threatening international peace and security for the last six decades.
To this end, Israel merely needs to restore the rights that have been usurped and undertake to abide, like other countries of the world, by the principles of international law and United Nations resolutions, including a complete end to all settlement activities which aim to change facts on the ground and thus jeopardize the peace process and render the negotiations meaningless.
Protection of human rights, the rule of law, dissemination of a culture of peace and initiatives to promote dialogue among cultures and peoples constitute basic components of any effective strategy to combat terrorism and extremism and of any fruitful endeavor to prevent the outbreak of wars and conflicts, which have long caused untold bloodshed and inflicted countless tragedies and calamities on mankind. Needless to say, respect for United Nations resolutions and the principles of international law is the only way to resolve chronic international conflicts and defuse focal points of tension, thereby preventing terrorists from exploiting feelings of despair and frustration brought about by subjection to injustice, aggression and occupation.
For these noble purposes, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud launched his sincere universal appeal for the pursuit of dialogue among all followers of the religions and cultures constituting the heritage of mankind. This initiative gained the support of our General Assembly in its High Level Meeting on Promoting Dialogue and Peace during its sixty third session. Diligent endeavors are currently being made to establish a global center for dialogue, comprising representatives of all the main religions, which will operate in a fully independent and non-politicized manner.
Closer and more effective counterterrorism cooperation among member states of the United Nations and between international organizations and regional agencies would help to thwart the schemes of terrorists, which cannot be justified or associated with a particular ethnicity, religion or culture since they run counter to the teachings of all the divinely-revealed religions, which advocate tolerance, peace and mutual respect and prohibit the killing of innocent people. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made numerous contributions in the field of counterterrorism in order to further the endeavors being made to combat this dangerous phenomenon. The International Counterterrorism Conference, held in the city of Riyadh in February 2005, was attended by experts and specialists from more than 60 states and international and regional organizations.
The “Riyadh Declaration,” which was issued by the Conference, affirmed the unanimous international resolve to oppose terrorism and extremism and adopted the proposal of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for the establishment of an international counterterrorism center under United Nations auspices. This proposal was likewise endorsed by numerous international declarations, such as those issued by the Summit of Arab States, the Summit of Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab-Latin American Summit and the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Kingdom has established rehabilitation centers in which persons detained on charges of terrorism and returnees from the Guantanamo detention center receive counseling with a view to their reintegration into society and are also provided with financial assistance and vocational training so that they can find employment. In this connection, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would be most willing to share its expertise in the field of such rehabilitation programs with any other states wishing to benefit from them.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shares the concern of the international community about proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Gulf region, especially nuclear weapons. With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, Saudi Arabia emphasizes the importance of reaching peaceful solutions, and supports the efforts of the 5+1 group in this direction, which preserves the rights of Iran and the states of the region to the peaceful utilization of nuclear energy in accordance with the safeguards and standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
We call on Iran to respond positively to these efforts, which will end the crisis and dispel international doubts about its nuclear program. However, the real key to a final and effective resolution of the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle Eastern region, which has long suffered from the scourge of wars in which all types of lethal weapons have been used, lies in the transformation of the Middle East, including Israel, into a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. My country’s Government is deeply disturbed by Israel’s refusal to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as a result of which Israel’s nuclear programs, being outside the scope of international control, pose a grave threat to the region’s security and stability and reinforce the prevailing impression that the international endeavors made in this regard lack credibility and cannot be taken seriously since they are tainted by double standards and selectivity.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its sister member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council attach great importance to relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are hoping to resolve all the existing problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and particularly the issue of the three UAE Islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, by peaceful means in accordance with the principles of international law, including acceptance of the option of referring the issue to the International Court of Justice.
The Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is giving close attention to the endeavors aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals and is focusing on poverty reduction and efforts to eliminate the infectious diseases that are unremittingly taking a heavy toll of human life. In this regard, the Kingdom calls upon states to honor their pledges within the limits of their capabilities and help to meet the other goals set by the United Nations before the year 2015. My country’s Islamic values and Arab traditions prohibit it from talking in detail about its assistance to others around the world. Suffice it to say that Saudi Arabia is a major donor and partner in international development.
It is participating in a highly responsible and active manner, in the Friends of Yemen, Friends of Pakistan and Friends of Afghanistan Groups, and in all the international initiatives aimed at assisting the neediest states. Between 1973 and 2009, my country gave more than $99.75 billion in assistance to more than 95 different states. As a percentage of GDP, our help to developing nations was more than double the percentage targeted by the United Nations. Our assistance took many forms, including donations, soft loans and relief assistance.
The Kingdom donated US$1 billion to the Fund to Combat Poverty in the Islamic World, in addition to US$6 billion in debt relief. Saudi Arabia contributes to the capital of 18 international financial bodies and institutions. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia renews its appeal to the industrialized developed countries to honor their commitments in regard to direct aid quotas, debt relief in favor of the neediest countries and market access, without unjustifiable restrictions, for the exports of developing countries.