NEW YORK, 24 SEPTEMBER 2001
STATEMENT BY H.E. Mr. FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY AND
PLENIPOTENTIARY AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE 8th
PLENARY MEETING OF THE 56th SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Agenda item 10: Report of the
Secretary-General on the work of the Organization)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Portugal thanks the Secretary-General for
his report on the work of the organization and commends him and all his staff in the
Secretariat and the other parts of the United Nations for the efforts undertaken this year
in implementing the agenda of the organization. My delegation is especially pleased that
Mr. Kofi Annan will continue as Secretary-General for a second term, giving us the benefit
of his leadership and experience in these particularly trying times.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September
present a grave challenge to the United Nations; a challenge which can best be faced by
enhancing even further international cooperation in all fields and at all levels. Let us
not forget that it is the United Nations that represents the highest and universal
expression of this international cooperation and it is, therefore, the United Nations that
must remain at the core of all international efforts.
Security, in all its aspects, is clearly
our main concern:
- How can our peoples feel safe in their homes?
- But also, how can our peoples have homes to feel safe in?
- How can we help to bring conflicts to an end?
- But also, how can we prevent conflicts from beginning?
- How can countries help themselves develop?
- But also, how can others help countries develop?
- How can we secure the rule of law?
- But also, how can we protect human rights?
- Above all, how can we help those most in need?
The issues touched upon by the
Secretary-General in his report peace and security, humanitarian assistance,
development, human rights and international law all of these matters, in and of
themselves and where they intersect, come together as a whole to provide the greatest
challenges to the United Nations as well as the very purpose of its existence.
This is made abundantly clear in the
preamble to the Charter of this organization. Those powerful words ring as true today as
when they were first declared more than half a century ago and they set out clearly what
is necessary for us the United Nations to continue to strive for.
First, we are striving for peace and
- Through the reform of the UN peacekeeping support structures
and his report on conflict prevention, the Secretary-General is addressing fundamental
needs to ensure the United Nations has the capacity to meet the challenges posed by armed
conflict. Work must proceed in erecting the organizational and resource requirements to
permit the effective planning, deployment and management of concurrent UN peacekeeping
operations in different parts of the world. Particularly important is meeting the
timelines established for rapid deployment. The recommendations of the Special Committee
on Peacekeeping Operations will be crucial to these efforts and Portugal urges the
approval of necessary resources by the relevant bodies.
- With regard to the report on conflict prevention, its
recommendations are being taken up by all organs and agencies involved and we look forward
to their comprehensive and coordinated consideration in order to translate them into
concrete measures. The Secretariats peacebuilding plan of action will also be of
great importance here as we now increasingly recognize the need for coherent strategies
for peace which run the gamut of activities from prevention to peacekeeping to
peacebuilding and back to prevention once again. The Secretary-General is right when he
writes of the need for a more effective capacity for analysis of situations. This will
lead to a more responsive and effective United Nations.
- The dangers in the proliferation of nuclear and other
weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and chemical weapons cry out for continued
international efforts at cooperation in the area of disarmament. It is imperative that
these efforts proceed.
- The struggle against the destabilizing accumulation and
spread of small arms and light weapons also represents an example of the kind of
coordinated international action that is needed to address the challenges that face us
Secondly, we are striving to provide
humanitarian assistance to those most in need.
- Natural disasters and conflicts and their toll on our
peoples around the world are uppermost in our mind; before anything, we must try to save
lives under immediate threat. United Nations humanitarian action must continue to receive
the greatest attention from our governments to ensure that the capacity is there to
address the increasingly complex situations that pose such a challenge to us today.
- Coordination, both at headquarters and in the field, is
critical to strengthen this capacity, thereby ensuring that all humanitarian actors are
able to use their strengths and particular expertise, avoid duplication of efforts and be
most effective in the provision of assistance.
- The plight of displaced persons both within and
across borders continues, deservedly, to receive the attention of the United
Nations. Portugal welcomes the Secretary-Generals decision to strengthen the
UNs capacity to deal with internally displaced people, giving due importance to
their needs for protection and for improvements in their situation.
- Access to the populations in need is, of course, crucial to
the provision of humanitarian assistance. This cannot be stressed enough. Access should be
unhindered and in conditions of safety and security, both for the humanitarian workers and
for the victims.
Thirdly, Mr. President, the United Nations
is striving for development.
- Poverty is a dire threat to human security and the war
declared on poverty by the Millennium Summit must continue. Poverty, social exclusion and
inequality lead to tensions and conflict and provide fertile ground for extremism,
fanaticism and other violent forms of political expression.
- In the globalization of the worlds economies, we must
be acutely aware of potential negative effects and globalization must be given "a
human face", so that its benefits are distributed as widely as possible.
Globalization must be a collective process of growth and progress, seeking to include not
exclude, to construct not destroy, to develop not impoverish. A regulated process of
globalization, based on free and fair trade, can have a decisive influence in spreading
the benefits of growth and contributing to the alleviation of social imbalance and ethnic
tensions, as well as of the cyclical crises that affect societies on the edge of
- The catastrophe of HIV/AIDS must continue to be high on our
agenda. The death and suffering caused by this terrible disease are tearing countries
apart, particularly in Africa. This alarming situation needs the concerted action of the
international community. Portugal fully supports these efforts and commends the
Secretary-General for his particular commitment to this critical struggle.
Finally, Mr. President, we are striving for
human rights and international law.
- As the Secretary-General points out, the reports to the
Commission on Human Rights paint a bleak picture of the status of human rights in the
world today. We must continue to strive for the universal respect for human rights and the
United Nations and its human rights treaties provide the framework for the protection of
the rights of individuals, particularly those most vulnerable.
- Portugal supports the important work of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, whose office should be provided with the necessary
financial and human resources in order to respond to the crisis situations it is faced
with on a daily basis. Voluntary contributions to the UNHCHR are, of course, important but
it is the regular budget of the United Nations that must ensure the provision of such
resources and so avoid disruptive fluctuations in the levels of financing.
- Finally, I turn to international law, which the
Secretary-General rightly considers the sine qua non of a world of order and
justice. Strengthening the respect for the rule of law in international affairs is a
crucial task for the organization and we welcome the efforts of the Secretariat in this
regard. The ratification of treaties, codifying the commitments undertaken by Member
States for international cooperation, and the growth of international law in general are
critical to this process.
- As is the work of the ad hoc international tribunals and of
the International Criminal Court in ensuring that there be no impunity for war crimes and
other violations of international humanitarian law. The Rome Statute has indeed opened a
new chapter in international law and we fully subscribe to the Secretary-Generals
appeal to Member States to establish their consent to be bound by the Statute and to
support the important cause of the Court.
I have addressed the four broad areas of
the UNs activities covered in the Secretary-Generals report. Of course, I
could not be exhaustive in my comments and many issues I did not mention deserve equal
attention from the United Nations. What I wish to stress here today is the importance of
concerted, international cooperation in meeting all of these challenges. Thus can we
continue to strive to accomplish the aims set out in the Preamble of the Charter of these
Thank you, Mr. President.