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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sergei Martynov Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus at the fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly (general debate)
New York, 1 October 2003

Distinguished Mr. President,

Distinguished Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

This year, the United Nations has come close to the most dangerous brink in its more than a half-century history. And this is not only and not so much the Iraqi crisis per se. The crisis has become but a manifestation of what has really threatened the entire system of world order created as a result of World War II. The basis of this world order is unconditional primacy of international law over aspirations of individual states.

Take it away, and the world will again, as in centuries past, become a hostage to the right of the mighty. This will not merely throw us back. The beginning of the XXIst century differs from past decades and centuries in that the existence of a single global superpower will make the right of the mighty global in scale and consequence.

“We all have to recognize, that no matter how great our strength, we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please… Unless we are all willing to pay that price, no organization for world peace can accomplish its purpose”. These words by US President Harry Truman are as urgent today as they were back in 1945. We call upon everyone to be guided by them today as when our organization was being set up.

Belarus’ contribution to the creation of the United Nations, to the creation of a new system of international security was a third of our population, who gave their lives for victory of peace over war, victory of coalition of the future over coalition of the past. That is exactly why it is with special urgency that we in Belarus today feel the danger of the erosion of a just and stable world order.

Let us preserve the coalition of the entire world for global peace. Let us not allow to substitute the Security Council as the main body to maintain peace and security by the “coalitions of the willing” to use force without its authorization. Let us not forget, that only a just peace can be a stable peace.

Belarus welcomes the emerging return to the United Nations of its legitimate role in settling the Iraqi issue. This reflects recognition that a military force, or an occupation cannot solve the problem of nation-building. We hope, that this will also become recognition of the fact that a pre-emptive war is so ill conceived as a foundation for security policy.

We hope, that a new Security Council resolution on Iraq being worked out now will fully strengthen the central role of the United Nations in the earliest and urgent return to the people of Iraq of its sovereignty, its right to independently determine its political future, and its right to natural resources so that constitutional process, and later election process, could be implemented by Iraqis in the interest of Iraqis.

At the same time, Belarus is worried by the pattern, dangerous both for the future of the United Nations and for international peace, taking shape on the most urgent issues: the Security Council and the United Nations are ignored, when unauthorized military action is taken, and are invited back only in the aftermath, when their authority, experience and resources are essential for rebuilding a peaceful life. That way it was in Kosovo. This is what is happening in Iraq today.

Belarus believes in the United Nations. We believe that its central role in the most urgent issues of the present time is irreplaceable. We believe in the invariable value and justice of the supremacy of international law and fundamental principles of its Charter. New global challenges and threats merely reaffirm their indispensable nature.

As a founding member of the United Nations, Belarus sees the need to modernize and adapt the UN mechanisms and structures to the realities of a new century.

Of special importance is the reform of the UN Security Council. As has been correctly noted by the Secretary-General, it is not merely about enlarging the Council’s membership. Life itself has put on the agenda of the reform process many other aspects of the Council’s capacity to react to threats to peace and security, in particular, the Council’s attitude to the use of force “pre-emptively” by certain states against the subjects, presenting, in their opinion, perceived threats.

It is necessary to achieve a reasonable balance in the interrelationship between the main UN bodies, inherent in its Charter. A stronger role of the General Assembly is an important direction in raising the Organization’s efficiency. The potential of the Presidency of the General Assembly is underused. As an official, elected by the entire United Nations, the President of the General Assembly can and should be called upon to serve as a catalyst and organizer in searching for solution to the problems the world and the Organization are facing.

It is necessary to reform and improve the activities of the ECOSOC as coordinator of the UN efforts in economic, social and adjacent areas. Having accumulated considerable experience of work in the ECOSOC Bureau, the Republic of Belarus is ready to make a constructive contribution to these efforts. Those were exactly the considerations that guided Belarus when it proposed its candidature to the ECOSOC membership for 2004-2006.

The United Nations should pay priority attention to developing international law: new realities in international politics as well as new universal world problems should be taken into consideration. Belarus is a party to all key multilateral treaties, regulating various spheres of international life. In 2003, we acceded to a further number of such treaties, including the UN Convention against transnational organized crime and its protocols.

International fight against terrorism that unfolded after the tragic events of 11 September 2001 had justifiably placed the United Nations in the center of anti-terrorist efforts. The activities of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee have become a stimulating factor for forming, under the UN aegis, of a global coalition of countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Let us, however, be realistic: force alone cannot eradicate the abominable phenomenon of terrorism, at least, not forever. Injustice, inequality and indifference will bear it forth again and again, just like the accumulation of electricity in the atmosphere produces a lightning bolt. The Secretary-General is right when he states that to preserve a genuinely global coalition for fighting terrorism the world should witness progress at other fronts of the struggle for humane and just world order. Herein lie an important challenge and special responsibility for the United Nations, for permanent members of the Security Council, and for all members of the Organization.

Belarus’ principal contribution to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to conventional disarmament has been universally recognized. The greater is then the concern we feel in connection with a gradual erosion of multilateral norms in disarmament and stagnation in international bodies, above all negotiation mechanisms, in charge of international security and disarmament.

We share the appeal not to allow the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is a most important task. It should be noted, that for many years, Belarus has also initiated efforts not to allow new types of such weapons to appear.

However, has everything been done in recent years, including by the most militarily powerful states, to strengthen multilateral non-proliferation regime in all its most important aspects? Is everything being done for that today? A proper answer to this question would be ratification by all permanent members of the Security Council of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The activities of multilateral bodies in the area of disarmament should be adapted to new realities. We proceed from the assumption that the United Nations should draw a clear-cut list of priority directions in ensuring international security and generate programs to overcome real threats to mankind. Formulations of resolutions should contain clear directives to existing fora and structures in the area of international security, arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.

Only with this approach, we will be able to stop devaluating such notions as “peace”, “security” and “stability”.

I wish to inform distinguished delegations that Belarus has recently made another responsible step to strengthen these values: while possessing the world’s seventh largest arsenal of antipersonnel landmines, the Republic of Belarus has joined the Ottawa Convention on their prohibition. We count on international assistance in their elimination.

The norms of international law play a principled role in shaping just international economic order as well. The objective of providing an equal access to world markets and to the benefits of the process of globalization for all states, particularly developing countries and countries with economies in transition, has not been achieved. That is why we urge the UN member-states to pay unabated attention to the process of developing the norms and rules of international trade and commerce activities in the interests of common well-being.

After the recent failure of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Cancun leading economic powers should realize the risks resulting from delaying the negotiations within the WTO both on the issue of new rules as well as on the problem of new membership. One should not forget that providing an opportunity to all states to use the benefits of multilateral trade system meets the long-term interests of peace, security and stability.

I wish to inform the General Assembly: as its contribution to ensuring access for developing countries and least developed countries to the world market, Belarus has made a decision to extend unilateral trade preferences to a large number of such states. The National Center of Technology Transfer, set up in our country, possesses a high innovation potential and is ready for extensive cooperation with all interested states. Its institutional capacities are intended not only for our requirements, but for the interests of developing countries as well.

Mr. President,

Let me touch upon the problem of the consequences of the largest technogenic catastrophe of the XXth century, the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

We are grateful to the leadership of the UN Secretariat for consistent actions to mobilize international support in this direction. This year has been marked by the setting up of the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network and the establishment of the International Chernobyl Forum by the IAEA.

Jointly with the delegations of other affected states we have prepared for this session a draft resolution on strengthening international cooperation and coordination of efforts in studying, mitigation and minimization of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. This document aims to implement a new UN strategy on Chernobyl. We hope that it will be supported by all delegations.

The Republic of Belarus also proposes an initiative to hold in Minsk in 2006 an international conference timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The main objectives of the conference will be the search for ways to provide for normal conditions of life for people living in affected areas and exchange in experience in solving the problems of sustainable development of these territories.

We invite all interested UN member-states and international organizations to take part in preparing and holding this event.

In the area of counteracting international crime, fight against human trafficking and illegal drug trafficking should become one of the UN priorities. Our country has been actively participating in international efforts to stop modern slave trade and drug business.

Located at the crossroads of the most important transportation corridors between Asia and Europe, Belarus offers efficient interaction in solving these problems to all our neighbors and, especially, to the European Union. Common efforts are needed to fight common problems. Then, everybody wins.

Mr. President,

The global scope of problems demands a global scale of interaction involving all states without exception. The man has turned to be the master of the world after having become homo sapiens, sentient man. To become the master of its destiny, not a hostage to challenges and threats, humanity should become humanitas sapiens, sentient humanity.

I thank you for your attention.