|Date||22 October 1995|
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Agenda item 29
Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations
Special Commemorative Meeting of the General Assembly on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations
I have the honour this morning to open the Special Commemorative Meeting on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 48/215 B of 26 May 1994 and 49/12 B of 24 May 1995.
Distinguished Heads of State, Heads of Government and other High Dignitaries of State, Excellencies:
It is my privilege to thank each one of you for coming from all parts of the world to the Headquarters of the United Nations in order to participate in the Special Commemorative Meeting of its fiftieth anniversary and, by doing so, to give public testimony of your praise for the achievements of the last 50 years and of your strong commitment to preserve and reform this commendable Organization.
This is your home, and the future of the United Nations will be what you, Excellencies, decide it to be. The destiny of the United Nations is in your hands.
But what is to be done? Is this an Organization worth preserving in view of its past? And what shall we do with it in view of its future?
During the first 50 years of its history, the United Nations has not been able to achieve all of its ideals but it has not been the sterile, ineffective, not-to-say harmful, instrument which its detractors accuse it of being. We humbly acknowledge the mistakes, omissions and faults, but let us not forget the successes, the victories, the good that has been done for the benefit of all mankind.
Should we regret having founded a universal Organization to attempt to maintain peace among nations and to affirm the primacy of law and justice? Do we consider it a mistake to have adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure that these rights are respected by all and to contribute to the democratization of an increasing number of countries?
Do we deny the principle of self-determination of peoples, decolonization, the end of apartheid?
Do we not recognize that development aid to the poorest countries on the planet is essential?
Do we admit to being wrong when we set the most recent priority to protect nature and the environment?
Excellencies, no. We have not been wrong -- neither in 1945 nor during the last 50 years. Our principles, our values, our ideals were then and are now politically valid, morally worthy and humanely just. We should be proud of them.
Does this mean that everything is perfect at the United Nations? Obviously not.
But let us not be misled by criticism. There is, of course, reason to rectify many things, but it would be a serious mistake for mankind to allow the United Nations to die.
If the goals and purposes of the United Nations are positive and welcome, and if the Organization has been and continues to be able to realize them even though with limitations and shortcomings, we should not be ashamed of our support to the United Nations. We must simply reform it.
Supporting the United Nations -- that should be our collective pledge in this Special Commemorative Meeting. Reforming the United Nations -- that should be our political commitment during these three days.
We must not allow this Organization to die at the hands of its critics, nor to perish for lack of commitment of its supporters. Therefore I ask you: Please tell the world that freedom, justice, development and human solidarity are magnificent values worth living and working for. Please tell your peoples that we must all help each other for the survival and benefit of humanity. Please tell your Governments and Parliaments that, with the necessary reforms and changes, the United Nations needs money to function, support from Member countries to function well, and wisdom and generosity from us all to save and help those human beings most in need.
Excellencies, at the very beginning of these unique and historic meetings, may I share with you these three wishes:
Let us praise the United Nations and its "founding fathers".
Let us fight the destructive critics of the Organization and not allow them to be the United Nations "liquidating fathers".
Let us take upon ourselves the noble and necessary task of becoming, from today, the "reforming fathers" of the United Nations.
If we do so, we will deserve the respect of future generations, especially when they celebrate -- surely in this same Hall -- the hundredth anniversary of the United Nations.
I now call upon the Secretary-General.
May I welcome you all, Kings, heads of State and Government of the world. Welcome to your home, the home of the world's peoples. Welcome to the forum of the United Nations, the forum of peace, concord and development. Welcome to you all, and heartfelt greetings for your leadership.
We meet to commemorate 50 years of the United Nations. How can we shape the next 50 years to serve people's needs? The world of the twenty-first century will confront two great opposing forces: globalization and fragmentation. A new dialectic has already begun.
Globalization will generate a number of problems. Financial flows of vast magnitude sweep across the world. Alarming environmental events will expose the planet to permanent damage. Transnational crime will grow. The global communications revolution will generate pressures which our national institutions were not designed to address.
Fragmentation also will characterize the future. The remote and impersonal forces of globalization will cause people to seek security in smaller groups. Fragmentation can breed fanaticism, isolationism, separatism and the proliferation of civil war.
The United Nations can help deal with the dialectic of globalization and fragmentation and help solve the problems it will create. It can do so because the United Nations was designed to be both the world Organization and the Organization of its Member States -- designed, therefore, to respond both to global concerns and to the needs of Member States and their peoples. As if in training for precisely this moment, the United Nations in 50 years has gained experience in dealing with both globalization and fragmentation.
In response to globalization, the United Nations defined human rights for the global community. It fostered the progress of international law. It transformed the law of the sea. Through a continuum of global conferences it is promoting international consensus on new global issues of disarmament, environment, population, social development and migration.
In response to fragmentation, the United Nations has been called upon to respond to civil wars: Katanga, Cambodia, El Salvador, Angola and Mozambique. To prevent fragmentation, the United Nations is promoting democratization both within and among States. Within States, issues of identity and ethnic separatism will be decided by the ballot box, not by the gun. Among States, democratization will promote the full participation of all States in world affairs.
But the United Nations cannot play this role if the present trend continues. The United Nations is trapped by a second dialectic. The problems of globalization and fragmentation have caused vast responsibilities to be given to the United Nations, but the United Nations has not been given the resources required to accomplish the tasks imposed.
The financial crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem: Member States simply do not regard the United Nations as a priority. This is sad news to report to this Meeting. I appeal to you to give the United Nations a firm financial base. If steps towards this cannot be set in motion by the end of this year, I urge you to give serious consideration to calling a special session of the General Assembly to deal with the financial crisis of the Organization.
This historic Meeting is a time for you, the leaders of the world, to consider what you want from the United Nations. I respectfully ask you to do this.
I thank the Secretary-General for his statement.
Before I call upon the first speaker this morning, may I again remind all delegations of the five-minute time limit. I hope that if there are exceptions they will be as limited as possible.