septiembre 25, 2003
Address by Néstor Kirchner at UN General Assembly, 2003
Let us rise to the challenge of thinking anew for a new world. To combine different ideas and create practical means to put them into practice in the service of the people we represent is our duty.

 

Address by Mr. Néstor Carlos Kirchner, President of the Argentine Republic
11th plenary meeting, General Assembly
Thursday, 25 September 2003, 10 a.m. New York

At the outset, allow me to congratulate you, Sir, on your election to preside over the Assembly at this session. I would also like to congratulate the outgoing President, Mr. Jan Kavan, for his work at the head of this Assembly at the previous session.On behalf of my Government, we would also like to reiterate our gratitude for the efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to promote peace and multilateralism, and to express our solidarity in wake of the criminal attack that claimed the lives of several staff members of this Organization.We have come from the world’s South to the General Assembly with a firm belief that revitalizing this global representative forum is essential for international law to become once again a rational instrument for resolving conflicts and facing threats. Restoring the major political role that the Assembly played in the early days of the United Nations is key to strengthening security for all citizens of the world.

Indeed, multilateralism is the cornerstone of this Organization. But the cold war and bipolarity that characterized the world after the Yalta Conference until the fall of the Berlin Wall undoubtedly shaped the instruments and legislation that were adopted within that framework.

Any objective look at the international situation that that goes beyond the particular biases of individual Members of the Organization will reveal another hallmark of the world today: the technological, military

and economic supremacy of one country over all the rest. We therefore consider it necessary to reaffirm our determined support for the purposes and principles that underpin the United Nations, so that it can actively work to promote peace and the social and economic development of humanity.

But, it bears repeating, we must not limit our commitment to multilateralism to words alone. Promoting multilateralism requires a dual strategy. First, an open mind is needed to objectively grasp the full extent of the new state of affairs. Secondly, we need to reconsider the instruments and rules so to cope with this new reality just as was done during the era of bipolar politics in order to save the world from destruction. Multilateralism and security are inseparable but are not the only factors in this new equation.

The world is changing against the backdrop of a globalization that is creating unprecedented opportunities and risks. The greatest risk is the widening gap between the rich and poor. To divide the world into central and marginal countries is not merely an academic exercise or a matter of ideology. Quite the contrary, such definitions reflect a grim reality of unprecedented poverty and social exclusion. Our priority must be to ensure that globalization works for all, and not just for the few. Promoting the development of the marginalized countries is no longer simply a matter of social conscience on the part of the central countries. It has an impact on their situation and security. Hunger, illiteracy, exclusion and ignorance are some of the basic elements that fuel the spread of international terrorism and cause violent and massive national migration flows, which have cultural, social and economic consequences. They also inevitably threaten the security of the central countries.

Economic integration and political multilateralism hold the key to safer future world. We need to build global institutions and effective partnerships within the framework of fair and open trade and to bolster support for the development of those most in need. If we are to promote collective security intelligently, we must understand that security is not just a military issue; it depends on political, economic, social and cultural factors as well. These are the key challenges on the current international agenda that the main actors must meet.

In this framework, the relations between countries like ours and others in the international community are affected by a huge and crushing burden of debt owed to multilateral financial institutions and private creditors. We accept our share of responsibility for having adopted policies that caused this indebtedness. But we also call on the international financial institutions — which contributed to, encouraged and promoted the growth of that debt by dictating their terms — to accept their own share of responsibility. It goes without saying that when debt grows to such an extent, not only the debtor but also the creditor bears responsibility. It is therefore necessary to acknowledge the tangible, verifiable and rather obvious fact that repaying such a debt entails great hardships.

Without specific international assistance to enable indebted countries to restore economic solvency and thereby their ability to repay debts and without measures to foster their growth and their sustainable development by taking concrete steps to promote their market access and growth of exports, debt repayment remains a pipedream. Promoting exports of finished products based on the natural resources that most indebted countries have can lay the foundations for sustainable development, without which creditors will have to face their losses without any other realistic options.

No one is known to have succeeded in getting their money back from the dead. To reach the objective of making a country viable so it can pay its debts, intensified multilateral negotiations are greatly needed to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers that hinder access of our exports to the markets of the developed countries, which have the largest purchasing capacity. Indeed, there continue to be export and production subsidies in the international trade in food products — Argentina’s main export item — as well as tariffs, unjustified sanitary measures and trade restrictions that distort the terms of trade in commodities and seriously hamper market access for finished products.

The failure of the World Trade Organization negotiations in Cancún should serve as a wake-up call to us in this regard and should be remedied by making the greatly sought-after link between business opportunities in international trade and the growth of indebted countries and their debt-repayment capacity. It is paradoxical and even ridiculous that we should be called upon to repay our debt while we are being prevented from trading and selling our products.

On the other hand, although it is true that the objectives of the multilateral institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), include shortening the duration and lessening the imbalance of payments of member countries and instilling confidence by giving them opportunities for readjustment, without taking measures that undermine national or international prosperity, it is also necessary to redesign those multilateral institutions. Redesigning multilateral lending agencies should include changing the models so that the success or failure of economic policies is measured in terms of success or failure in the fight for development, equitable distribution, the fight against poverty and maintaining adequate levels of employment.

This new millennium should banish adjustment models in which the prosperity of some is based on the poverty of others. The dawn of the twenty-first century should mean the end of an age and the beginning of a new collaboration among creditors and debtors.

In a nutshell, it is essential to take note of the close connection that exists between security, multilateralism and economics.

The defence of human rights occupies a central place in the new agenda of the Argentine Republic. We are the children of the mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and we therefore insist on permanently supporting the strengthening of the system for the protection of human rights and the trial and conviction of those who violate them. All of this is based on the overarching view that respect for persons and their dignity arises out of principles preceding the development of law, whose origins can be traced to the beginnings of human history. Respecting diversity and pluralism and relentlessly fighting impunity have been unwavering principles of our country ever since the tragedy of recent decades.

We strongly advocate a peaceful settlement of international disputes, particularly in a matter as dear to our feelings and interests as our sovereignty dispute with regard to the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

The United Nations has recognized that this is a colonial situation maintained by the United Kingdom and that it must be settled through bilateral negotiations between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom. We value the role of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and express our fullest willingness to negotiate in order to conclusively settle this longstanding dispute, a steady objective of the Argentina Republic. We urge the United Kingdom to agree to resume bilateral negotiations to resolve this major issue.

Also with reference to the Southern regions, we undertake to protect the interests of the international community in Antarctica, ensuring that the activities carried out there are consistent with the Antarctic Treaty and its 1991 Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection. We shall take steps at the relevant forums for the installation of the authorities and the operation of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat at its designated seat, Buenos Aires.

We express our support and wish for a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East based on the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self- determination and an independent and viable State, while at the same time recognizing the right of Israel to live at peace with its neighbours within safe and internationally recognized borders.

We have spoken of progress and collective security as the global challenges of today. We have highlighted the close link that exists between economic problems and security. We firmly condemn all terrorist actions. We know what we are talking about. In 1992 and 1994 we suffered, first hand, our own Twin Towers. The attacks on the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Jewish Community Center took the lives of over 100 of our compatriots. We can bear witness to the need to fight effectively against the new threats posed by international terrorism.

The vulnerability of all countries in the international community to this scourge can be reduced only through intelligent, concerted and multilateral action sustained over time. The fight against terrorism requires a new rationality. We face an enemy whose logic is to trigger reactions symmetrical to its actions. The worse, the better, is the favoured scenario, and that logic partly accounts for the increasingly spectacular — almost cinematographic — nature of its operations. Legitimate responses and the support of international public opinion are both fundamental to confronting those new forms of violence.

This view places the problem of international terrorism in a dimension that goes beyond a unilateral

or military solution. On the contrary, merely responding through the use of force, however impressive such force may be or appear to be, in many cases ends with the perpetrators being presented as victims. This closes in a perfect circle the perverse logic to which we have been referring.

As we see, in view of the complexity of the situation, it is no longer useful to take shelter in old alignments, anachronistic ways of thinking or outdated structures. The new challenges call for different and creative solutions so as not to be left behind by changes in the world in the technological, economic, social and undoubtedly even cultural fields.

Let us rise to the challenge of thinking anew for a new world. To combine different ideas and create practical means to put them into practice in the service of the people we represent is our duty.

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