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Australian PM John Howard Speech To UN2K Summit












150 EAST 42 ID STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10017 TELEPHONE 212 351‑6600

Distinguished Co‑Chairmen, Secretary‑General, Fellow Leaders

The ideals a nation holds for itself, and for others, are often found more in the everyday speech of its people than in the rhetoric of politics or diplomacy.

Thus in Australia, it is said that all men and women, and by extension all nations, are entitled to a 'fair go'. For Australians, those two short words carry within them the universal right to freedom, for the peaceful pursuit of prosperity and for the attainment of self reliance and self respect.

And at the beginning of a new century, it is appropriate to recognize the effort and achievement,of the United Nations in striving for these goals.

Australia was a founding member of the UN. And in all the years since, our fellow member states have never found us wanting in practical support for countries in distress, for international human rights or the pressing economic needs of the developing world. Indeed, bridging the economic divide must remain a key objective for us all.

We are, and will always be, committed to the United Nations Organization and the principles of mutual support upon which it was founded. The concept of a 'fair go' requires not merely passive observance of others' efforts but active assistance in their endeavours.

Australia is blessed with natural resources, animated by the creativity of people drawn from around the globe, and shares with every other nation on earth ties of history or geography or culture or mutual interest.

And in claiming our rights as a sovereign nation, we freely acknowledge the contribution we must make to others. We know that for nations, as with individuals, no rights come without responsibility, no prosperity comes without price.

For that reason, since 1948 Australia has willingly participated in over thirty UN peacekeeping and peace monitoring operations, including UN efforts in Korea, the Middle East and Cambodia. Most recently, we acted upon the specific request of the Security Council to help restore safety and security to the people of East Timor.

The success of the INTERFET operation is self evident and I wish to acknowledge, without qualification, the utter professionalism and dedication of every member of the international forces. Australia has also been proud to be a major contributor ‑ both through its significant involvement in the UNTAET peace‑keeping operation and through its aid program ‑ to the continuing effort under UNTAET.

The road to true peace and prosperity for East Timor will be long and it will be hard. The tragic incident overnight at Atambua, close to the East Timor border, illustrates the continuing danger of the situation and the threat posed by the militia.

Your continuing support will be vital if East Timor is to complete the journey begun by the UN a year ago towards true independence and autonomy for the East Timorese people.

Finally, Fellow Leaders, we all want this organization to be well‑equipped to meet the challenges of the future.

Australia believes that this can best be done through the UN focusing on its core strengths and responsibilities, such as the peaceful resolution of disputes, disarmament and the relief of suffering and want.

We also believe that aspects of the UN treaty committee system need reform. Australia's recent experience has been that some of these committees give too little weight to the views of democratically‑elected governments and that they go beyond their mandates.

Australia will intensify its work with other states on reform of the treaty committee system. We have recently announced a series of measures aimed at improving the operation of the UN treaty committee system. Australia's strategic engagement with these committees will be dependent on the extent to which effective reform occurs.

Australia endorses calls to expand the Security Council's permanent and non‑permanent membership in line with today's realities and to improve the Council's effectiveness and authority. A better geographical spread is needed. In particular, Australia has been a long‑standing supporter of permanent membership of the Security Council for Japan.

Over the coming weeks, Australia will have the honor of hosting the first Olympic Games of the new Century. I hope that this Summit and the Games, each in its own way, will help cement the cause of peace throughout the world.


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