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Peace & development retain focus, Assembly debates

Peace and development retain focus as Assembly debate continues

The General Assembly heard ministers of governments around the world call for more urgent action on reforming the United Nations to help it better maintain peace and security, along with meeting development goals, as the 60th anniversary General Debate of that body continued on its fourth day.

"Promoting peace is the United Nations' raison d'etre," said Ursula Plassnik, Austria's Foreign Minister in supporting multilateralism, the rule of international law, and the peace-building commission proposed Secretary-General Kofi Annan and endorsed by leaders at last week's World Summit.

In Africa, regional and international cooperation was necessary in both peace-building, peacekeeping and development assistance, to rid the continent of its many conflicts, according to Morocco's Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa.

"The UN Charter governs not only relationship between nations, but also the relations of Governments to their people," Foreign Minister David Oddsson of Iceland said, urging reform of UN human rights machinery.

Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said: "We should all be both speakers of words and doers of deeds," in accomplishing reforms to meet development targets and better protect people. She added that dialogue was crucial to resolving the conflicts in her region.

Terrorism must be dealt through cooperative efforts and not through conflict, and also by reducing the gaps between rich and poor, said Mohamed Vall Ould Bellal, Foreign Minister of Mauritania.

Holding the chairmanship of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Denmark supported outreach to those States that are having difficulties in participating in the struggle against the scourge, said its Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moeller, who also affirmed the importance of arms control in the situation.

The Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic, Jean-Paul Ngoupande, said in order to deal better with such challenges, the Security Council needed to undergo reform to better represent his continent and other regions because international solidarity was essential for his own country's return to peace and security.

Supporting the peace-building commission, San Marino's Foreign Minister, Fabio Berardi, said that small countries, too, needed to be represented on the Security Council.

Peace and stability were particularly important in Iraq and the Middle East, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Comoros Aboudou Soefo said, but efforts at peace could not be undertaken without efforts to address disease pandemics, debt, famine, and poverty. He noted the striking socioeconomic inequalities between the North and the South and said the developing world would suffer the effects of marginalization and the digital divide for years to come.

The World Summit had achieved several important goals, such as the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission, but the Government of the Netherlands was disappointed by the failure to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, one of the greatest threats to mankind, Netherlands Foreign Minister Bernard Rudolf Bot said.

Turning to questions of tolerance, Mr. Bot said the best way to protect tolerance was by treasuring one's identity, while simultaneously daring to re-assess the prevailing norms and standards and constantly reminding oneself that it would be wrong to hold an entire community responsible for the deeds of individuals.

Guinean Minister of Foreign Affairs Foumata Kaba-Sidibé welcomed the decision of the Group of Eight rich countries to increase development aid and alleviate the debt of some highly indebted poor countries in Africa and she called on the international community to exert the political will to eradicate the scourge of terrorism.

Lithuania called for rapid progress in making the proposed Peace-Building Commission fully operational and said Security Council reform should not be postponed any longer. Foreign Secretary Oskaras Jusys said the Council's working methods should be improved and it membership expanded through equitable geographical representation and by taking note of major new actors and contributors on the international scene.

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Laurie Chan said the upcoming Doha trade process in December must provide stable and predictable market access for least developed countries, particularly since her country had a debt level of 100 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), while the per capita income had dropped more than 20 per cent below the country's GDP 10 years ago.

The State Secretary in the Foreign Office of Germany, Klaus Scharioth, said the composition of the UN Security Council reflected the world of 1945, not 2005 and the Council risked losing its legitimacy if entire continents were not adequately represented.

The proposal submitted by Brazil Germany, India and Japan to add permanent and non-permanent members to the Council was the only one that included a comprehensive proposal for reforming the Council and its working methods and was the only one capable of obtaining the necessary two-thirds majority in the General Assembly, he said.

Georgia needed a mechanism through which the international community would effectively support initiatives and policies directed towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts, Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili said. Georgia was experiencing "frozen conflicts" on its soil, conflicts which have led to the freezing of both economic and democratic development and producing, therefore, trafficking, criminal activities and possible terrorist activities.

Timor Leste, one of the UN's youngest countries, has made real progress in nation-building, peace-consolidation, economic development, national reconciliation, and enhanced relations with its neighbours, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta said. Malaria and tuberculosis were widespread, however, he said, and food insecurity continued to be a problem.

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