16th Plenary Meeting, 29th September, 1987
Speech by Mr. Natwar Singh
Mr. President, your election to the presidency of the United Nations
Assembly at its forty-second session attests to your personal eminence and
distinction and our confidence in the guidance and leadership you will
our deliberations. We are particularly happy since you come from a country
which India has warm and fraternal relations. We congratulate you on your
election and look forward to working together with you.
Allow me also to pay a tribute to our esteemed friend and neighbour from
Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Humayun Rasheed Choudhury, for the effective
manner in which he conducted the proceedings of our last session.
We greet also our distinguished Secretary-General, and wish him well in
discharge of his many exacting responsibilities.
The year 1987 has special significance for us in India. Four decades ago
won freedom from colonial bondage through a unique non-violent struggle.
Independent India took its rightful place in the comity of nations. We
to strengthen the foundations of new India by keeping what is best from
tradition and by assimilating what is admirable from other civilisations.
fundamental concepts of tolerance, non-violence and equality have
our Weltanschaung. Tolerance and non-violence are embedded in our policy
peaceful coexistence and the principles of Panchshila. Equality lies at
the root of
our belief in democracy and in the sovereign equality of all nations, a
that is embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.
Even before our independence, the people of India reposed great faith in
organisation. We were present at its creation. The founder of modern
first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, proclaimed that India's attitude
the United Nations was one of wholehearted co-operation, and of unreserved
adherence, both in letter and spirit, to its Charter. It was in this
spirit that he
promised that India would:
"participate fully in its varied activities and endeavour to assume
that role in its
Councils to which her geographical position, population and contribution
peaceful progress entitled her."
In our own way, we have enedavoured to fulfil this promise. Though the
Organization has had many ups and downs in its short but chequered
commitment to it has never wavered. We are happy that it has been
enough to withstand the attempts to retreat from multilateralism and the
and budgetary pressures brought to bear upon the organization.
My delegation welcomes the significant understanding between the United
and the USSR to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces. Even though
forces constitute only a very small fraction of the world's nuclear
arsenals, we see
the significance of the understanding in the prospects it has opened up
wide- ranging agreements, which could eventually lead to meaningful
This understanding vividly demonstrates that, given political will,
measures can become a reality. It is imperative that this momentum towards
peace and disarmament be sustained. While the primary responsibility for
disarmament rests with the United States and the Soviet Union, a decision
nuclear-weapon Powers to eliminate nuclear weapons would be an important
contribution to the promotion of peace.
Not long ago, on 22 May 1987, Prime Minister Raiiv Gandhi joined with
Argentina, Greece, Ivlexico, Sweden and Tanzania in emphasizing that:
"For too long, fear and mistrust have prevented progress in
disarmament. Arms and
fears feed on each other. Now is the time to break this vicious circle and
foundation for a more secure world". (A/42/3 19, Annex).
It may perhaps be premature to believe that the "vicious circle"
is broken; that it
has perhaps been dented and we hope that the momentum will not be lost.
A historic event in this continuing struggle to save humanity from a
holocaust was the signing of the Delhi Declaration on principles for a
nuclear-weapon- free and non-violent world, in New Delhi last November.
importance lies in the fact that a major nuclear-weapon power, the USSR,
with a major non-aligned country, India, to announce 10 principles that
the way to a nuclear- weapon-free civilisation. We are happy that a
been made by the super- powers towards translating at least some of the
of the Delhi Declaration into concrete action.
The international arms race and its deleterious effect on the world
the focus of a conference earlier this month. The International Conference
Relationship between Disarmament and Development threw into stark relief
deplorable dilemma of massive global expenditure on arms, on the one hand,
the non-availability of resources for meeting the basic needs of a large
the world's population, on the other. An overwhelming majority of nations
part in it. I had the privilege of presiding over that Conference, which
at the political level for the first time, the relationship between
development. It is important that follow-up steps be taken quickly so that
conclusions of that Conference may be translated into action. May we now
that those who stayed away from those discussions will participate in this
I now turn my attention to southern Africa, where the struggle for freedom
equality continues to this day. The racist regime in Pretoria violates
every norm of
civilized conduct. Its policy of apartheid is an affront to the conscience
mankind. The Pretoria regime remains in illegal occupation of Namibia and
continues to carry out acts of aggression against the front-line States.
It is thus the
root cause of tension, instability and conflict in the region, endangering
international peace and security. It has rejected every initiative for a
resolution of the problems of the region.
In the face of the intransigence of the racist regime, the only peaceful
before the international community is to impose comprehensive mandatory
sanctions against South Africa; the alternative is violent upheaval.
We reiterate our full support for the freedom struggle of the people of
under the leadership of the South West Africa People's Organization. The
for a peaceful settlement of the Namibian question lies in Security
resolution 435 (1978), without bringing in any linkages.
The non-aligned countries, at their summit meeting in Harare last year,
set up the Africa Fund, with the object of assisting the front-line States
national liberation movements in southern Africa against the depredations
India is privileged to have been chosen to chair the fund, which has
operational with wide support from the international community. Those of
believe in the moral need to work for the peaceful resolution of the
southern Africa have a duty to support and contribute to the fund.
On 29 July President layawardene of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Rajiv
signed a historic agreement which has brought peace and tranquillity to
after four years. We had throughout stressed the importance and the
necessity of a
political settlement to the ethnic conflict that had plagued Sri Lanka
I should like to pay tribute to the President of Sri Lanka for signing
which is a manifestation of the fact that non-aligned countries can
problems without outside interference. Bearing in mind the recent history
conflict, there are inevitably minor hitches and problems, but they are
insurmountable. Given the existing understanding and goodwill between the
countries, they will be resolved sooner rather than later.
The situation in West Asia is gravely worrying. The core problem is the
Palestine. The people of Palestine are still denied their inalienable
including the right to establish an independent state in their homeland.
the struggle of the Palestinian people, led by the Palestine Liberation
(PLO). We urge that an international peace conference on the Middle East
convened at an early date, under the auspices of the United Nations and
participation of all the parties concerned, including the PLO.
The continuing hostilities between Iran and Iraq concern us greatly. We
historical ties with both countries. Our heartfelt desire is to see those
live in peace. The conflict between two important members of the
Movement, taking place as it does in a region which is in our immediate
neighbourhood, has consistently engaged our attention. The United Nations
been deeply involved in seeking ways and means to end the war. The
Council adopted unanimously resolution 598 (1987) and the
been engaged in important consultations relating to its implementation. We
commend and support these continuing efforts in the hope that they will
about a negotiated, mutually acceptable settlement of this tragic
India supports the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special
to secure an early and peaceful solution to the situation in Afghanistan.
The military presence of Great Powers in the Indian Ocean is ominous. Such
presence has unfortunately intensified in recent months. The heightened
presence of outside Powers is in conflict with the 1971 Declaration of the
Ocean as a Zone of Peace. It demonstrates vividly that the main objective
the 1971 Declaration is as valid today as it was when the Declaration was
What is more, it shows the futility of efforts to dilute the thrust of the
the objective of the Declaration, which is to tackle the external threat
Indian Ocean. In that context we believe that for the proposed
conference on the Indian Ocean to achieve meaningful results it will be
to ensure that all big Powers having a military presence in the Indian
participate. I come now to another neighbouring region of ours with which
have very close historical and cultural links. As we have always advocated
conflict situations, the south-east Asian question can be resolved only
political dialogue. The legitimate interests and concerns of the countries
region must be taken into account. We are encouraged by the fact that all
countries in the region want a peaceful solution and are engaged in
formula for a regional dialogue. We have seen possibilities of common
understanding emerge following the recent meeting of the Foreign Ministers
Indonesia and Vietnam. I have myself recently visited all the countries
to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Indo-China
We believe that such contacts must be strengthened and more widely
among the countries of the region.
The Korean peninsula continues to remain divided. We support the desire of
people for peaceful reunification.
There have been encouraging developments in Central America. Following the
invaluable work of the Contadora and Support Groups the Central American
have taken a regional initiative of great importance. We warmly welcome
Guatemala accord and the subsequent follow-up action. We trust that all
both within and outside the region, will co-operate fully to ensure the
this regional initiative, which offers the prospect of peace, progress and
in Central America.
We reaffirm once again our solidarity with the people of Cyprus, whose
remains divided with part of it under foreign occupation. We reaffirm our
for the unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and
Cyprus, a country with which we have traditionally had close and friendly
relations. We support the efforts of the Secretary-General to bring about
satisfactory resolution of this issue.
The events in Fiji have been deeply distressing. It is particularly tragic
that at a
time when the political parties representing the people of Fiji had come
agreement which could have taken the country on the path of national
reconciliation, the armed forces have dealt a severe blow to that process,
seizing power for a second time. Attempts to deprive citizens of the
their legitimate rights merely on the basis of their racial origin are
tenets of democracy and human rights and are contrary to the United
Charter. What is happening in Fiji has distinct and unacceptable racial
This development is reprehensible.
We believe that the path to peace and prosperity in Fiji lies in the
democracy and the rule of law.
This year India achieved the unique distinction of becoming the first
pioneer investor under the United Nations regime of the oceans with the
of a deep sea-bed mine site in the Central Indian Ocean. An equivalent
has been reserved for international exploration and exploitation. We
this historic event has set in motion the international regime of deep
mining and has strengthened the rule of international law.
I now turn to the world economy, which continues to be in a state of deep
disarray. The rates of growth of even developed countries are historically
low. All future projections indicate even lower rates of growth for those
The per capita incomes of many developing countries have dropped to levels
than they were a decade ago. Commodity prices in real terms have collapsed
their lowest levels in 50 years. Despite the launching of the Uruguay
multilateral trade negotiations, the proliferation of projectionist
continues unabated. Interest rates continue to be high in real terms.
liquidity has suffered a sharp contraction in relation both to the volume
and to the needs of developing countries. The pattern of trade balance is
extremely skewed, with unsustainable surpluses in some countries and
others, and exchange rates continue to show wide fluctuations.
It is now widely recognised that the world economy faces a structural
cannot be overcome within the framework of the system instituted after the
second World War. There is therefore an urgent need for evolving
strategies informed by the explicit recognition of increasing global
interdependence. We require concerted and comprehensive policy measures in
interrelated areas of money, finance, debt, trade, resource flows and
development. The current crisis of the world economic system can be
only if we work towards a new international economic order.
In the area of international trade, the highest priority must be given to
preservation and strengthening of an open multilateral trading system, and
particularly to translating into practice the oft-repeated commitments on
standstill and rollback. It is important to ensure that the Uruguay round
negotiations leads to the emergence of a truly international trade regime
conducive to growth and development, with a clear recognition of the needs
developing countries. Multilaterlism and non-discrimination must form the
for the sustained expansion of trade.
In the area of commodities, we reaffirmed at the seventh session of the
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) the continued
the Integrated Programme for Commodities. We trust with the new
the Common Fund will become operational before the end of 1987. We also
that new round of consultations on commodities not covered by existing
agreements and arrangements will be initiated soon.
The flows of Financial resources from developed to developing countries
increased substantially and the resources of international financial
should be augmented so as to enable them to play a leading role in
finance. We are disappointed that the eighth replenishment of the
Development Association is no larger in real terms than the sixth
We are however encouraged by the recent move towards reaching agreement on
general capital increase of the World Bank.
The external debt crisis is one of the most serious problems afflicting
developing countries today. The solution to the debt crisis has to be
flexible and development-oriented, based on the concept of shared
and political dialogue. For the success of such a strategy, the promotion
objectives-such as increased access to marks for exports of developing
lower interest rates, strengthened and stabilized commodity prices, more
exchange rates and more vigorous growth-oriented macro-economic policies
major developed countries - is indispensable.
In the light of the generally dismal state of the international economic
the recent seventh session of UNCTAD must be viewed as a modest success.
least some areas progress was achieved. Viewed against the background in
the Conference was held, its major significance lies in the reaffirmation
validity and mandate of UNCTAD.
The report of the World Commission on Environment and Development is a
contribution to the subject. We are glad to note that the Chairman of the
Commission, Prime Minister Brundtland, in her address to UNCTAD VII,
allay- apprehensions that environmental concerns could be used for
additional conditionality in the lending policies of international
Institutions. The Brundtland report clearly demonstrates the importance
urgency of tackling environmental issues on a global level. If we
seriously want to
attach high priority to this objective, the international community must
additional resources for sound environmental measures. Any diversion of
resources from growth-focused to environment-focused disbursement will be
counter-productive. Poverty pollutes. Any slowing down of development can
aggravate environmental problems in developing countries.
We meet here each year in the month of September to deliberate on what
mankind. Does looking back on the past nine months fill us with hope or
This is a time for stocktaking, self-criticism and introspection. The
horizon presents a dark and sinister picture. Here and there an all too
in the clouds is visible; otherwise we seem to be looking at clouds that
Some weeks ago the world population exceeded the 5 billion mark- a
event. The drain on sources of energy is unabated. The affluent are
candles at both ends and in the middle too, while the less fortunate are
of the basic necessities of life. The daily onslaught on the environment
The economic scene is not cheering. Terrorists and fanatics disturb the
repose of nations.
The United Nations does not offer salvation, but it has paved, it can pave
create the atmosphere, provide the venue and propose the agenda for peace.
somebody has said, while it cannot, perhaps, negotiate for the world, the
Nations can help the world to negotiate.
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