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Ministers highlight impact of policy on people

Ministers highlight impact of policy on people as UN Assembly continues

As the General Assembly continued the General Debate of its 60th anniversary session this afternoon, government ministers stressed that international agreements and State activities should have concrete, positive impact on the security, rights and peaceful socioeconomic development of the world's people.

"Are we really doing enough for our people?" asked the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu, Sato Kilman, blaming international power plays that prevent strong United Nations action and calling for effective reform of the Organization. "We are now on the threshold of a new beginning, so let us not let the opportunity pass."

Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso of the Dominican Republic said that for small, poor nations, nothing could be more important than leading their people out of poverty and avoiding despair, violence and chaos. The burden of such an effort should be borne by developed and developing nations alike, he said.

"We need a new concept of sovereignty where protecting the rights of people is increasingly more important than protecting the prerogatives of State power. We must bring the human being to the centre of activities of international institutions," Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld proposed.

Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov warned against moves to divide the UN membership into rich and poor, instead of having the common goal of working together for peace. He said members were recently asked to approve a new decision-making procedure in certain agencies where those who paid more would have more votes. Now the proposal was to elect countries to the main UN human rights body on the basis of subjective criteria.

"This is a dangerous tendency. This is a clear deviation from the UN Charter. This is a road to a split in the UN," he said.

Eritrean Foreign Minister Berhane Abrehe, whose country fought a two-year war with neighbouring Ethiopia before a UN commission delineated a boundary, said: "Almost four years after the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), the dark clouds of war are again hanging over my country."

The situation was not an intractable border dispute requiring "flexibility" of the parties. "It is squarely a grave matter of an illegal and forcible occupation of sovereign territory of Eritrea, a United Nations Member State, in stark violation of Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter," he said.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Foreign Minister Raymond Ramazani Baya brought the profound gratitude of his people for the international community's investment in the peacekeeping UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and said a major remaining problem was disarming the foreign armed groups in his country, which posed a threat to the peaceful conduct of the upcoming elections.

Viet Nam's experience has shown that economic growth and the improvement of the people's lives will help strengthen peace and stability and that an environment of peace, political and social stability is indispensable for development, Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien said. "In this regard, we believe the United Nations should have a greater role to play in making these links more interactive."

Calling on the UN, too, the Foreign Minister of Malta, Michael Frendo, said illegal immigration represented a collapse of the international legal order and had to be unequivocally addressed by the world community. Countries of origin and transit needed to bear their responsibilities to uphold the rule of law and vigorously clamp down on criminal human trafficking. He added that his small island nation and its already dense population had seen the problem reach crisis proportions.

The ability to protect one's people was also dependent on a Government's ability to increase its gross national income by finding opportunities for equitable trade, some said.

"It s undeniable that trading relations between industrialized and developing countries remain marked by inequality, even iniquity," Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Youssouf Ouédraogo said. "You understand why, therefore, Burkina Faso continues to call for the suppression of unjust subsidies of exports, especially those on cotton."

"Myanmar is a multi-ethnic nation comprising over a hundred races. Immediately after independence, the country had to face the scourge of insurgency. This has posed a serious impediment in our national development endeavours," Foreign Minister Nyan Win said of his country.

"Based on the bitter lessons from the past, we have today embarked on a programme for the prevalence of law and order and stability of the nation. As we are able to build peace and stability, we have been able to focus our attention on economic development, giving priority to human resource development."

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah pointed to his country's success in reducing illicit narcotics output by 21 per cent. Besides asking rural communities to plant alternative crops, however, "we have to provide them with agricultural assistance, invest in irrigation, build roads, and provide electric power and assistance in generating non-farm employment in rural areas."

Tanzanian Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulkader Shareef said his country was nine years ahead of schedule to meet the universal primary education target of the Millennium Development Goals and on course for providing access to safe drinking water, reducing child mortality and promoting gender equality in political participation and decision-making. "With steady assistance and macro-economic and political stability, we should get closer to achieving most of the Goals by 2015," he added.

Cape Verde called for a new analysis of the whole practice of financing for development. If the poorest countries could get a breath of fresh air from such a gesture of international solidarity as debt cancellation, it might also be good to make a gesture towards those middle-income countries without natural resources, which had borrowed prudently and honoured their debt servicing, Foreign Minister Victor Manuel Barbosa Borges said.

Tongan Finance Minister Siosiua T. 'Utoikamanu, said the development agenda remained the first priority for small island developing States. Tonga welcomed the proposed increase in aid resources, but international development assistance alone would not be sufficient. It would have to be complemented by foreign direct investment, improved market access and effective development partnerships.

Albanian Foreign Minister Kastriot Islami said: "My country is definitely on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration with a clear perspective of EU and NATO membership. We consider this membership would be a contribution to peace, stability and prosperity achieved in the Western European countries during the last 50 years."

Integration in these structures meant for Albania acknowledgment and acceptance of such values as economic and political freedom, fundamental human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, social prosperity and solidarity, while simultaneously making its contribution to this community of values, he said.

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