26 September 2003
Statement of THE
THE HON. SYED HAMID ALBAR,
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MALAYSIA
AT THE INTERACTIVE SESSION OF
THE MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT
NEW YORK, 26 SEPTEMBER 2003
we had agreed, we would focus, during this interactive session, on the theme: “Challenges
to and Prospects for Multilateralism”.
believe the theme is very relevant in the context of the current international
situation. Recent events have
raised a number of fundamental questions about the international system and the
role of the United Nations. They must be urgently addressed because they touch
the very core of our beliefs as a Movement – principally our beliefs
concerning the concept of the sovereignty of States, non-interference in their
internal affairs, peaceful settlement of conflict, the right of peoples to
determine their own future and the primacy of international law.
These principles, embodied in the Bandung Declaration of 1955 as well as
the Charter of the United Nations, are dear to us and define us as a Movement of
Recent international developments have also raised questions about the
role of multilateralism as well as the centrality of the United Nations in the
international system. The United
Nations is at a critical juncture in its fifty-eighth year of existence.
Its prestige and credibility are at a very low ebb, as is the morale of
its personnel. Its capacity for
action, particularly in the area of international peace and security, has been
very much reduced. Indeed, its very
independence has been questioned. Far
from playing a central role in the maintenance of international peace and
security, it has effectively been sidelined and relegated to playing a secondary
or subsidiary role – contrary to what is provided in its Charter.
The weakening of the authority of the United Nations is a matter of
serious concern to the Movement as it is to the UN Secretary-general, who dwelt
at some length on it during his address at the opening of the 58th
session of the General Assembly. The
UN is the repository of the aspirations of the international community,
particularly for the developing countries for whom the UN is an indispensable
forum for the articulation and promotion of their views on matters of vital
concern to them. For us in NAM, the weakening of the UN means the weakening of
the multilateral process and this has a direct impact on us as a Movement as
that process provides the framework and avenue for all of us to articulate our
positions on issues affecting our countries.
the context of these very worrying developments, I hope that during this
interactive session, we could address the issue of the challenges to and
prospects for multilateralism in some depth, taking into cognisance of the
pertinent points raised by the UN Secretary-General in his address.
It would be extremely useful if at the end of the session, we would be in
a position to crystallise our ideas and approaches on how best we could check
the further erosion of multilateralism, as well as to further advance it as the
governing principle of the international system.
We should consider the kind of remedial action that could be taken
collectively by the Movement so that multilateralism could be best pursued in
the context of a unipolar world we are living in.
would recall that at the Kuala Lumpur NAM Summit, the issues of multilateralism
and centrality of the role of the UN have already been addressed by the
Movement, as reflected in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Continuing
Revitalisation of NAM. Clearly, in the face of the challenges confronting the
multilateral process, it is imperative that we enhance our cohesion, unity and
solidarity. A strong and more assertive NAM would strengthen the dynamic for
multilateral action and weaken that for unilateral action. In this context, it
is imperative for NAM to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with
issues in the international arena. As an active player in the international
arena, we must dare to take initiatives in international fora, including in the
UN Security Council, where we are represented by our Member States. We must not
allow ourselves to be sidelined on issues of major importance to our countries.
At the same time, we must build broad coalitions and increased
coordination with other regional groupings, particularly the EU, which shares
NAM’s belief in the importance of multilateralism. I believe that a more
coordinated approach by NAM and the EU in this area would go a long way in
strengthening and revitalizing the multilateral process. For this purpose, it
might be worthwhile to consider establishing a mechanism for increased dialogue
and interaction between the two groupings here in New York as well at other
NAM should also strengthen its cooperation and interaction with the United
Nations Secretariat as the futures of both are interdependent on each other. We
should make every effort to support the work of the UN and to encourage it to
maintain its independent posture.
hope therefore that Ministers, in their interventions, will focus on the theme
of our discussion and suggest appropriate ways and means, approaches and
strategies that could be pursued by NAM as our collective contribution to the
strengthening of the multilateral process.