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UN2K: Philippines President Joseph Estrada

Statement by


President of the Philippines

at the United nations Millennium Summit

New York,8 September 2000


A Global Partnership Agenda

Distinguished Co-Chairmen,

Mr. Secretary General,


This meeting of Heads of State or Government of the member states of the United Nations is a watershed in history, and I am distinctly honored to address it. I am also pleased to congratulate our Co-Chairmen, His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia, and Her Excellency Mme. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland. I am sure that under their adroit leadership, this millennium summit will be a defining moment in the destiny of the peoples we represent.

It will be so if we provide this unique gathering not just with the symbol but with the spirit and substance of global unity. This is a time for us to forge a common destiny, and to muster the global will and commit the resources needed to enhance the lives of all the peoples of the United Nations.

Partnership for Global Peace

We enter the new millennium with the Cold War and the old world of bipolarity and superpower confrontation behind us. But peace, true peace, remains elusive. For peace is. not defined merely as the absence of war. That would be a technical peace, not a human one. Peace comes with the universal enjoyment of all freedoms, the universal respect for all human rights, the rule of justice, and the prevalence of prosperity and equity.

While the threat of a world war has now receded, wars and violence between states and within states continue to erupt. The world remains a violent place, and the multiplication and diversity of the theaters of battle have made the search for global peace much more complex than before. Terrorism, which recognizes no borders, casts a shadow of fear everywhere. Ethnic and religious conflicts are a cause of dehumanizing violence both within and across borders.

I know whereof I speak. For so long, the peace of my nation and the authority of the Filipino state have been threatened by elements seeking to dismember our land and divide our people. Like all free nations that fought long and hard for their independence from colonial masters, we cannot allow these internal threats to prevail.

My government's aim in our southern island of Mindanao is to uphold the sovereignty of the Constitution against those who would subvert it, and to defend the integrity of the Republic against those who would divide it. Our first goal is to maintain peace, for without peace, there can be no development. Our second is to pursue development, for without development, there can be no peace. The prime enemy of peace is poverty.

We have begun in earnest the reconstruction and socio-economic development efforts of Mindanao. We will not stop until we uplift the lives of all Filipinos there. In the meantime, we will keep the doors wide open for the rebels to return to the fold of the Constitution and for the lawless to return to the folds of the law.

Our situation, of course, is not unique. The same forces of discord and danger are at work everywhere. Transnational' crime, terrorism, and intolerance are as destabilizing as armies marauding across any border. To many countries, security, peace of mind, and freedom from fear are fragile possessions indeed.

On the other hand, the very uncertainties of a world in transition provide us with a challenge and an opportunity that we can address in this historic global summit meeting. We -- the largest assembly ever of the world's leaders -- can make our collective legacy to humanity here if we lay the foundations of an international partnership that will best and truly advance peace in this century.

A Culture of Prevention

First, we should adopt preventive diplomacy as the principal tool for peace of the international community. Preventive diplomacy must replace the use of military force. But where the use of force is unavoidable, as in self-defense or under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, it should be guided by clearly defined international legal norms and practice. There are dangers when a few countries with military might reserve to themselves the prerogative to determine when to use force.

As one Chinese saying goes, it is difficult to find money for medicine, but easy to find it for a coffin. Over the last few years, the world has seen far too many coffins in the wake of violent conflicts. The time is ripe for the international community to increase the use of preventive medicine.

This summit’s great contribution, We believe, Will be in championing a prevention agenda for `international peace and security. Preventive diplomacy is less fancy but more effective than "peace operations" -- peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacè-building -- all of which are reactive in nature. We should transform the culture of reaction in the United Nations into a culture of pro-action and pre-emption: the very stuff of preventive diplomacy.

True Disarmament

Secondly, we should intensify, and strive to complete early, our work on disarmament. There has been progress in this area in the past years, but the world remains exposed to nuclear disasters. Given the staggering inventories of nuclear weapons around the world and the prospects of a renewed nuclear arms race, every member of this organization should stand squarely behind total nuclear disarmament. The world needs zero nuclear weapons, not more.

Yet, many more people have died and continue to die from conventional weapons. In fact, we from small states are most worried with the recent reversal of the downtrend in weapons spending. I am appalled that while 1.2 billion people eke out an existence on less than a dollar a day, the world spent 145 dollars per person for military forces in 1997. I am even more aghast that as militaries amass more deadly weapons, agents of terror can procure arms with impunity out of the proceeds of their nefarious activities. It is time to consolidate all our efforts and deal in a comprehensive manner with the issues of disarmament, small arms proliferation and transnational crime, particularly terrorism.

United Nations Reform
Thirdly, we need to pursue the reform of the United Nations with greater urgency and vigor. In the first few years of this century, we should unite to achieve the vision of a United Nations described by the Secretary General in his opening address to the 52°d General Assembly, thus:

[A]United Nation that is focused on its prioritist, and act with greater unity of purpose, coherece of efforts and responsiveness; a United Nations that empowers both governments and people to realize goals the that will express the highest moral aspirations of humankind even as it delivers practical benefits to men , women and children in cities and villages around the world.

The most important element in U.N. reform is the restructuring of the _ Security Council. The Council should become truly representative of all the countries of the world. This means expansion of its membership and greater transparency in its working methods. If the Security Council would continue to be composed of different categories of membership, its reform should envisage expansion of membership in all categories.

But no restructuring of the organization will fully equip it for the tasks ahead if we do not provide the resources it needs. U.N. finances are in dire straits. We should show our sincerity and our resolve to work together as partners by faithfully meeting our financial obligations -to the organization. The stability and predictability of U.N. operations are incompatible with the uncertainties of its finances. We must all agree on providing the U.N. with the financial security that it needs and deserves.

Human Rights
Fourthly, we should exert all efforts to distinguish the first decade of the new century as the decade when human rights became universally respected and upheld. After all, there can be no disagreement over the primacy of human rights. In the words of the Secretary General:

Human rights are the foundation of human existence and co-existence. [They] are universal, indivisible and interdependent. [They] are what make us human [and the very] principles by which we create the sacred home for human dignity. Human rights are foreign to no culture and native to all nations.

All states desire peace and stability. But the silence of the suppressed does not constitute peace, and the stillness of the oppressed does not constitute stability. Everyone must be free to speak and to sing as they please, to dance and to discourse as they wish, to reach out or withdraw as they choose, to think and to worship as they prefer, and to choose their governors and their mode of government as they believe will serve them best. All these they must be free to do without fear and without force. Each time an individual's rights are upheld, all humanity gains. Each time they are violated, all humanity suffers.

Equitable Global Development

Last but not least, the world cannot be secure amidst starvation. Peace cannot be built without the progressive reduction and eventual eradication of poverty. Poverty is a blatant form of social injustice. It invites oppression just as oppression perpetuates it. When one is not free from want, he cannot be free from fear.

Development is a global concern that transcends political division and ideology. As an economic organism, the world has become indivisible. Yet, while unprecedented wealth is being created in a fe`v countries, destitution blights most other parts of the world.

The U.N. should be at the center of efforts to establish a global economy that uplifts all peoples and nations. Our goal is not just to have a borderless world for the unfettered movement of capital, goods and services. It is to build a global economic regime that builds productive capacities, but not income gaps; that promotes openness instead of corruption; that rewards enterprise but not greed.

I take this opportunity to request leaders of oil exporting nations to consider rationalizing the price of crude oil with the view of helping the economies of developing nations.

We want development to touch the lives of every man, woman and child. We want development to enhance the dignity and humanity of every person. We want development to bring the world's peoples closer to one another, not farther apart.


Excellencies, the world's peoples look to us, leaders of 189 nations assembled in this summit, with great expectations. They are anxious to know what future we are shaping for the global community. They will ask if we plan to get there in one or separate ways, as adversaries or as partners. They will want clear direction and concrete action.

The five components of common resolve -- preventive diplomacy, true disarmament, U.N. reform, promotion of human rights, and equitable global development -- are the building blocks of our partnership agenda, if we so choose to pursue it. We can lay the foundations today by our strong endorsement of the many initiatives the Secretary General has placed before us.

If we did that, six billion souls would know that we want the world to have peace, but only with freedom; that we want our peoples to savor prosperity, but only with fairness; and that we want our nations to enjoy stability, but only with openness.

Thank you.


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