I am delighted to join you in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. In doing so, I convey the best wishes of my Government and the people of Brunei Darussalam. We greet you in the spirit of peace and international friendship.
We are commemorating a unique historic event. No international organization has endured for five decades. The League of Nations failed after less than three. That the United Nations has survived the long and dangerous years of the cold war is no small achievement. Among its many other achievements is the way it eased the path from colonization to independence for more than 100 countries.
It is fashionable to criticize the United Nations. Some of the criticisms are valid. Bosnia and Rwanda represent failures of will and policy that will haunt all Members for a long time. We should also have more rigorous financial controls over spending, and Members must honour their dues so that the United Nations can have the resources to carry out its mandates.
But let us not forget: it is we ourselves as Members who must take the ultimate responsibility for its failures, because as an Organization of sovereign States the United Nations can do no more than its Members empower it to do.
The shortcomings of some peace-keeping operations should not obscure the honour due those who have sacrificed their lives in many successful peace-keeping and humanitarian operations. We owe much to them.
We must also give credit to the United Nations for the sterling service rendered by its specialized agencies. Health, education, agriculture and the work of other specialized agencies may not have captured the headlines, but they have contributed much to the making of a better world. Many dedicated professionals and volunteers have given valuable, if unpublicized, service.
The international environment today is vastly different from that of 1945. We face new global issues, even while several old ones still remain to be solved. Economics is high on the international agenda. Free markets and open competition have become a basis for economic cooperation. That most countries in the world are now concentrating on economic issues is an advance over a world preoccupied with ideological conflicts.
The United Nations is still the best Organization to uphold a world order based on international law and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Interdependence between nations has increased but has not displaced the sovereignty of nations as the basic principle in international relations.
The United Nations gives all Members, large and small, an equal voice. This is important for small States like Brunei Darussalam. The United Nations must change to meet new challenges, but I hope it will continue to give small nations an adequate voice in its deliberations.
It is in this spirit that Brunei Darussalam pledges to work with fellow Members to ensure that the United Nations remains a force for peace and progress.