Unbeknownst to many Americans, the United Nations General Assembly did not conclude with President Bush’s high-profile address two weeks ago. Indeed, for several days afterward, heads of state and foreign ministers from around the world offered new strategies for resolving the most serious contemporary global challenges, including the future of Iraq, United Nations reform, international trade, and counterterrorism. The United Nations has long provided an essential multilateral forum for managing global problems, and it remains a vital tool for enhancing American national security.
The Center for American Progress has compiled highlights from the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The full transcript and video archive is available here.
The War on Terrorism
"Nothing justifies terrorism. It is irrational, like the Black Death, but the roots of terrorism, like those of the plague, can and must be uncovered. We can and must rationally analyze how it emerges, how it grows, so as to be able to fight it rationally… Thus, redressing the major political and economic injustices that affect our world would deprive terrorists of their popular support. The more people there are who enjoy dignified conditions around the world, the safer we will all be."
–José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister, SPAIN
"It is essential to combat all forms of terrorism as well as its sources of financing and safe-havens… The coordination of the struggle against terrorism must be assigned to an independent, professional and permanent organ located at the center of this Organization. For this reason, we propose the creation of a United Nations High Commissioner on Terrorism that would assist the Security Council, as well as the General Assembly and the ECOSOC, in the comprehensive fight against this threat and its causes."
–Abel Pacheco de la Espriella, President, COSTA RICA
"The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to host in Riyadh an international conference to combat terrorism… Its purpose is to exchange information and experience in the field of combating terrorism; to see how we can cooperate with other countries in the fight against this universal threat. We also intend to utilize the occasion to learn about scientific and practical techniques relevant not only to the combat of terrorism, but also preventing the practices of money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling."
–Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Foreign Affairs Minister, SAUDI ARABIA
"The events of the recent months have shown, and continue to show everyday, that the Iraqi people are far from stability and independence. We wonder whose interest do the events in Iraq serve? Who is to benefit from the destruction of that country in its age-old civilization? Will the events taking place in Iraq remain confined to Iraq? Or will their flames transcend its borders causing destruction and desolation in the region, like they did in Iraq?"
–Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Foreign Affairs Minister, EGYPT
"We are deeply saddened at the violence, instability, loss of life and human suffering in Iraq. We in Sri Lanka know, and have experienced first hand, the impact of violence on society and the difficulty in finding solutions to problems of governance that satisfy all parties. Security measures alone, as pointed out recently by the Secretary-General’s special representative to Iraq, will not suffice to end violence and create stability and peace. Political consensus building, reconciliation, rehabilitation and the promotion of the rule of law are essential for democracy to take root."
–Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, President, SRI LANKA
"Small countries face particular dangers in maintaining stability and security. I am referring to the increasing production, distribution and proliferation of small arms and light weapons and sophisticated ammunition. These represent our greatest security threat… Equally disturbing to us is the insufficient appreciation of these dangers by those countries which are the producers and source of the weapons. We maintain that such states have a duty to prevent illicit transfers beyond their borders."
–Keith Desmond Knight, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, JAMAICA
"In order to build sustainable peace, much more attention needs to be given to civilian aspects of crisis management. This includes demobilization and reintegration of combatants, as well as social, economic, and legal reconstruction of war-torn societies. We must make state building a central goal of conflict management and peace building, alongside the provision of basic security."
–Per Stig Møller, Foreign Affairs Minister, DENMARK
"We urge the international community to agree on a unified global response to better protect the environment, in the same way that the international community is being encouraged to respond to terrorism and other threats to global security. Our inability as a global community to agree on a unified stand on climate change and sea-level rise is most disappointing and we deplore the notion that economic growth must take precedence over environmental issues. Our very existence as a state is at stake if this thinking prevails."
–Anote Tong, President, KIRIBATI
Trade and Globalization
"The General Assembly should look more closely at innovative tools that will help spur economic growth, particularly in developing countries. Greater attention should be focused on how micro-credit or micro-finance, an area where the Philippines registered significant strides, could serve as an instrument to alleviating the conditions of the poorest of the poor. Creative ways to solve the lingering debt issue and the spiraling cost of energy, especially of oil, of the developing world should also be addressed. We need to ease the burden of debt servicing and channel those meager resources to where they are needed most."
–Alberto Romulo, Foreign Affairs Minister, PHILIPPINES
"We need to successfully conclude the Doha Round, because key issues are at stake, such as anti-dumping, the status of agricultural products and textiles, various complex issues related to intellectual property, and how to deal with pandemics using generic or low-cost drugs… What is important is not to lose the sense of progress. Progress toward free but fair trade; free but not predatory capital flows; cultural expansion but not destruction of the local; exchange of ideas but not lockstep thinking. In short, pluralism so that we can all be better."
–Ricardo Lagos Escobar, President, CHILE
United Nations Reform
"The Security Council must be representative of today’s wider membership of the United Nations and reflective of the current geopolitical and economic structure of the world. There are countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that deserve a permanent seat because of their major contribution to the sustainability of this organization, and to global peace, security and development. The time to bring them in has come."
–Benjamin William Mkapa, President, TANZANIA
"Switzerland is opposed to the creation of new seats with the right of veto, because the right of veto in its current form is undemocratic and hampers the capacity of the Security Council to act. In order to gain greater legitimacy, it is also necessary that those countries which are not members of the Security Council have more opportunities to participate in the decision-making process."
–Joseph Deiss, President, SWITZERLAND