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Gerhard Schröder Address To United Nations

Address by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder at the Fifty-eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate you, Mr President, on your election as President of this, the 58th session of the General Assembly, and wish you every success with your work.

May I also thank your predecessor, President Kavan, for the dedication with which he chaired the 57th General Assembly.

I endorse the statements made by the Italian Council Presidency on behalf of the European Union.

Mr President,

This year is a special one for Germany's work in the United Nations.

History is both a reminder and guide to us all.

30 years ago, on 18 September 1973, the United Nations welcomed Germany back into the fold of the family of nations.

My predecessor, Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, paved the way for this move.

His standing as an antifascist inspired confidence. His passionate commitment to internationalism went far beyond the policy of détente in the East-West conflict.

In 1980 he made an urgent appeal to the community of states with a report entitled "North-South: a programme for survival".

He wrote: "The globalization of dangers and challenges - war chaos, self-destruction - calls for a domestic policy which goes much beyond (...) national items."

We are committed to this task, for, as I said, history is our guide.

It guides us towards intensive international cooperation under the aegis of the United Nations, which we must further strengthen - not least through courageous reforms.

It guides us towards a universal order based on law and human dignity, good governance and prosperity shared by all.

And it guides us towards security and peace through comprehensive prevention:

We must act resolutely by pursuing an effective multilateral strategy, wherever peace is threatened and human rights are violated.

But we must act just as resolutely to prevent conflicts and create stable structures, so that people can lead their lives in freedom and tolerance.

Mr President,

30 years ago, Germany was a country with limited sovereignty, divided by the Iron Curtain.

Today, Germany is a sovereign nation, a civil power in the heart of the united Europe.

We live in a common area of freedom, justice, prosperity and social responsibility.

This shows that justice and peace can be won.

And we will not fail to support endeavours to that end, be it in the Middle East, in Africa or other crisis areas.

Mr President,

Bearing in mind our own history, we are assuming responsibility for a cooperative policy of peace.

This we do using economic, political and humanitarian means.

But we are also, shoulder to shoulder with our partners in NATO and the EU, assuming military responsibility where there is no other way to secure peace and protect human beings.

More than 9,000 members of the German armed forces and police are currently deployed on international peace missions.

Our top priority is our commitment to peace in Afghanistan. Germany is willing to maintain its commitment there in the long term - and to increase it.

The basis for such commitments is the Charter of the United Nations. In the Unification Treaty, Germany vowed that it would only deploy its armed forces within the framework of this Charter.

The Charter provides us with "the necessary building blocks to ensure that our common humanity is an inclusive one, built on values such as tolerance and dignity".

Thus spoke Sergio Vieira de Mello, who on 19 August 2003 fell victim to an underhand criminal attack in Baghdad.

He was killed along with 22 others, including many members of the United Nations staff. They were working for the people of Iraq and their hopes of a better future.

We must honour their death by taking on their legacy and discharging the duty arising therefrom.

Our response must be to strengthen the role and commitment of the United Nations in Iraq.

Only the United Nations can guarantee the legitimacy required to enable the people of Iraq to speedily rebuild their country under an independent, representative government.

Germany stands ready to support such a process: by providing humanitarian, technical and economic assistance or also training for Iraqi security personnel.

Mr President,

international terrorism, failing states and the danger posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threaten the security of us all.

So what must we do to enhance security?

We must put the terrorists and their masters out of mischief and destroy their infrastructure.

We must prevent any further proliferation of nuclear weapons, strengthen the inspections regimes and pursue a policy of verified disarmament.

But as we know from history as well as our own experience, to follow any strategy focused narrowly on military and police aspects would be a recipe for failure.

What is needed is to address the root causes of terrorism and insecurity.

To combat fanaticism, we must ensure social and material but also cultural security.

That we can do only on the basis of a broad concept of security.

To outlaw infamy we must put an end to lawlessness.

That is the core task of the international courts of justice and especially the International Criminal Court.

And to win hearts and minds for freedom, peace and the open society, we must help people, in a secure environment, to acquire a greater stake in society and build a better life for themselves.

What this means we can see, for example, in Afghanistan. There the international community succeeded in liberating the Afghan people from the Taliban and Al Qaida yoke.

At the same time the Petersberg Conference in Bonn - held under the aegis of the United Nations - created a political framework for rebuilding the country.

This process needs our continued support, there must be sustained international commitment also to the task of building security.

In the long run, the fight against terrorism can only be won if people see that it produces benefits which are tangible in their own lives.

They need to experience at first hand that being once again part of the international community means not only more freedom and more security, but also better development opportunities and a greater stake in society.

Mr President,

There is no doubt that we have already made major strides towards realizing our common goals enshrined in the Charter.

More countries than ever before now have democratic governments. Our concerted efforts have enabled more people than ever before to put poverty behind them.

But the gap between the world's rich and poor has still not been closed, the fight against hunger, injustice and oppression is still far from won.

Eradicating poverty remains an imperative of our policy for peace and stability.

There has been a drastic fall in the number of wars fought between states.

In the Balkans, for example, resolute action by NATO and the United Nations enabled us to put an end to the wars there and prevent others breaking out.

Nevertheless, our world has become - and not just since the barbaric terrorist attacks in New York and Washington or indeed Bali, Casablanca, Moscow or Djerba - a dramatically more insecure place.

The new threats, which no country in the world can tackle effectively on its own, make international cooperation more vital than ever. They also mean new strategies are required.

That is why we need to review whether the instruments available to the United Nations are appropriate to these new challenges.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that people and their rights are protected also in situations other than inter-state wars.

They must be protected from genocide and the consequences of asymmetrical, privatized violence as well.

A political commitment to comprehensive prevention must further strengthen the United Nations' monopoly of the use of force as well as the institutions of international law.

Within the United Nations we need to muster the strength to launch overdue institutional reforms.

My Government fully supports the proposals made by the Secretary-General.

We must agree how to ensure in future an even better allocation of competences, capacities and scarce resources.

I also share the view of the Secretary-General that the legitimacy of the Security Council depends on how far it is representative of all nations and regions.

The Council must be reformed and enlarged - to include also representatives of the developing countries.

For Germany let me reiterate that in the context of such a reform we are ready to assume greater responsibility.

Mr President,

The world of the 21st century offers us, its inhabitants, ample scope to change it either for better or for worse.

Given the immense opportunities and the formidable dangers ahead, we have no choice but to strive for international partnership and to expand and strengthen multilateralism.

We will be able to make our world more secure only if we also make it more equitable.

It was for that purpose, after all, that the international community created the United Nations: that is its mandate.

Let us join together to make the United Nations stronger still, so that it can fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security and build a more equitable world.

Thank you.

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