septiembre 21, 2004
Address by Néstor Kirchner at UN General Assembly, 2004
We have come from the South to renew our resolve to participate actively in United Nations efforts to promote peace, economic development and the eradication of hunger and poverty.

 

Address by Mr. Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentine Republic.
59th session – General Assembly – 4th plenary meeting – 3 p.m. New York

I should like at the outset to congratulate you, Sir, on your election as President of the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session and to commend the outgoing President, Mr. Julian Hunte, for his work. I should also like to express once again our appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to promote peace and multilateralism.

We have come from the South to renew our resolve to participate actively in United Nations efforts to promote peace, economic development and the eradication of hunger and poverty. My country is grateful for the endorsement of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States to occupy a seat on the Security Council for that regional Group as a nonpermanent member during the period 2005-2006.

There, the Republic of Argentina will reaffirm its willingness to promote consensus aimed at strengthening international law and international peace and security. Those are values that we associate with representative democracy, respect for human rights, a fair global trade system, a better distribution of the benefits of globalization and the democratization of decision-making in international organizations.

The United Nations must strengthen itself and move forward in the establishment of valid rules and procedures to guarantee international peace and security. The report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change could play a key role in this area. Its proposals should be properly discussed and agreed upon in order to implement concrete decisions that reflect and meet the different perspectives and interests of all Member States.

We are convinced that there is no acceptable alternative to multilateral action. Only through collective debate and consensus could a majority of countries ensure genuine action. The only legitimacy for the use of force must come from the decisions of the Security Council. Because of this, we support efforts to provide the Council with greater transparency, and with the participation of the international community in its decisions, without this meaning increasing the existing privileges or establishing new categories.

The Council’s action should be innovative and express the political will of the international community, all the while recognizing the fact that the primary responsibility in avoiding conflicts will always rest with the parties involved. We firmly condemn the acts of international terrorism and related crimes that have so deeply marked the memory of the people of Argentina and of other nations of the world, making it the maximum priority. In this war against terrorism, we require the active participation and cooperation of the entire international community, based on respect for international law.

There is a necessary link between respect for human rights and the fight against terrorism. And we must preserve the balance between necessary defence and respect for human rights. In order to successfully tackle terrorism, we must ensure legitimacy by having the support of international public opinion. According to this logic, the fight transcends the purely military and predominantly unilateral reaction.

In our view, modern threats to peace come from both the criminal action of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from massive human rights violations and the absence of democratic political participation. But stability and security are also affected by hunger and extreme poverty, by social exclusion, by ignorance and illiteracy, by the spread of disease and epidemics and by irreversible damage to the environment.

As a result, understanding that peace and development mutually reinforce each other, we must work in a multilateral framework that promotes national and international economic systems based on the principles of justice, equity, democracy, participation, transparency, responsibility and social inclusion. Our commitment to peace and to the strengthening of democracy in the world requires decisive action, which makes it possible to combat hunger, illiteracy and disease. These phenomena weaken people’s autonomy and dignity and make it difficult for them to exercise their full rights as citizens.

In June 2005, the Third Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Health and the Environment, which we are preparing, will work on the assessment of our compliance with the Millennium Development Goals in the region and will submit its conclusions to the Summit of Heads of State of the Americas, which will take place in Argentina in November 2005. We know that the problems that are linked to inequality and poverty cannot be resolved with social policies that are based purely on assistance. Even when plans and programmes providing assistance are a necessary resource, we should avoid the growth of societies that are divided between those who work and those who receive assistance. In this framework, it is important for work to feature prominently on the international agenda, linked to freedom, justice, security and protection, taking into account the fact that it is the principal means of social integration.

Economic growth is a necessary prerequisite, but it alone is not enough to remedy the high rates of unemployment, lack of job security and work in the informal sector besetting our societies. In the recent past, many of our countries we have experienced periods of high growth with low rates of job creation, high concentrations of income and a significant increase in poverty. It is clear evidence of the erroneous nature of the myth that economic growth has trickle-down effects. Accordingly, it is important for us to pursue active policies that stimulate business and productive investment and give priority to the generation of decent jobs, within a new model that endows economic change with a strong ethical component.

Decent jobs are a more effective instrument for ensuring material and human progress and should become a goal during the international community during the next decade. Institutional conditions that would generate jobs are of a varied nature and depend on the specific context of every country. However, in developing countries, the ability of democratic governments to meet the legitimate demands of job creation from their societies are impaired by the protectionist measures that limit trade, especially in the agricultural sector.

The developed world spends more than $300 billion a year on production subsidies, a figure six times higher than that of the direct aid given to poor countries. The poorest countries lose almost $40 billion a year through loss of exports due to the agricultural protectionism of industrialized countries. The world and the attitude of the developed countries must change if we are to turn things around. No political system or economic plan can be sustainable while we have the current critical levels of poverty and inequality. This is not something that will favour a particular group of countries; it will promote peace and security throughout the world.

In addition, there is the problem of excessive external indebtedness, the current design of the international financial machinery and the role played by multilateral funding organizations. The 1990s, with its financial excesses at the global level, saw the expansion of already oversized debts for a large number of countries. For the sake of the development of these countries and the international financial system itself, it is important to emphasize the idea that economic growth is the central and decisive variable when it comes to capacity to pay and debt sustainability.

During the recent international financial crises, multilateral funding agencies made a series of mistakes in trying to resolve these problems. The solutions proposed spread to other countries, and this greatly magnified the problem of hunger and poverty.

Argentina’s case is an example. After having applied throughout the 1990s the formulas proposed by the multilateral financial agencies, the country experienced a financial crisis that is still not entirely resolved. In 2002, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made a serious mistake in diagnosing the problem that led to major prognostic errors and poor policy recommendations.

On the basis of our more recent experience, and because of the debt experience, we conclude that we have to provide greater leeway to national authorities. We need a different relationship with the IMF, one favouring a solution consistent with the country’s capacity to pay, sustainable over the medium and long term and supportive of the principles of equality, social justice, the fight against poverty, hunger and unemployment.

We must promote the reformulation of fiscal accounting methods in the majority of countries, and in particular in the international financial organizations, with the aim of excluding investment in infrastructure, from current spending in the calculation of surpluses. We know that fiscal surpluses are necessary in order to stabilize economies and respect obligations to the international financial community, but it must be understood that no surplus is defensible. When surpluses are achieved, thanks to the elimination of investment in physical and social infrastructure, this affects the possibility of political stability and growth, which turns something that was positive for countries into an imbalance and a negative for the overall functioning of the economy.

From the tragedy of excessively indebted countries, we conclude that simple formulas which claim to be universal and applicable under any circumstance, at any time and in any place are only ideological approaches to concrete issues that must be resolved with realism, flexibility and proactive attitudes. We take responsibility for the adoption of alien policies that led us to the worst of all worlds. But it is not enough for the multilateral lending agencies simply to acknowledge their mistake in recommending, requiring and supporting such policies. What we need is an urgent and drastic structural reform of the IMF that will enable it to prevent crises and help to resolve them. From a lender of development funds it has become a creditor demanding concessions. This trend has to change. Otherwise, we will be confined to structural reforms of a theoretical nature the results of which will guarantee nothing to anyone, and then a series of self-critical reviews.

Meanwhile, in our countries inequality will increase because of the implementation of those reforms. The excluded millions those reforms have created will weep and poverty will spread. Mea culpas will be uttered, and we will see the growth in the number of poor people, if we bother to notice them. That is why we say that what is most in need of structural reform are the international lending agencies.

On another subject, we firmly support United Nations peacekeeping operations set up through the appropriate organs. This year we have doubled our military and police staff in peacekeeping operations; currently Argentina is involved in eight of the present 16 operations. The recently created United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti is of particular importance. It is the only mission established by the Security Council today that is located on American soil. The region has made a commitment to help the poorest country in the Americas to return to the path of growth and freedom and to guarantee democracy as the best way of ensuring dignity, social and economic development and full respect for human rights.
In that regard, Argentina reaffirms its position of principle based on universal respect for human rights and for international humanitarian law. The history of Argentina explains my Government’s firm position on an issue that is now part of its identity as a democratic nation.

International disputes must be settled through peaceful means. The United Nations has established, through different resolutions of the General Assembly and the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, that the question of the Malvinas South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands is a special colonial situation, which must be resolved through bilateral negotiations between my country and the United Kingdom. The decolonization Committee has expressed itself repeatedly on this issue, and we greatly appreciate its work to promote the resolution of this question. We reaffirm once again the constant willingness of my country to reach a just, peaceful and lasting solution to this sovereignty dispute, which is an issue of great importance for the people of Argentina.

We urge the United Kingdom to comply promptly with the international community’s appeal and to resume negotiations. In the southern framework, we are committed to protecting the international community’s interests in Antarctica by ensuring that all activities there are compatible with the Antarctic Treaty and with its Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection. The establishment of the Antarctic Treaty secretariat in Buenos Aires is already a reality. We are grateful for the assistance of those who always supported Argentina as home of the secretariat, which undoubtedly will contribute to achieving the main objectives of the Antarctic Treaty system.

As a peace-loving State committed to multilateralism, Argentina has always supported the
settlement of disputes through negotiation and dialogue, in keeping with equity and justice. In that respect, our country fully supports the achievement of a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to selfdetermination and to an independent, viable State, while at the same time supporting the right of Israel to live in peace with its neighbours within safe and internationally recognized borders.

We hope that the parties will resume negotiations with a view to resolving their differences and will comply with their respective obligations under the road map — a plan which Argentina, along with the rest of the international community, considers the best way to achieve a lasting and just peace in the region.
The Argentine Republic supports the attainment of the objectives of reducing hunger and poverty and the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation, which were the main topics of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg 10 years after the Rio de Janeiro Conference on Environment and Development.

The protection of the atmosphere is of special concern to us, with respect not only to the ozone layer, but to all the action needed to attenuate climate change and to help adapt to the changes that are already taking place — which are at the root of the severe weather conditions that affect developing countries in particular. In view of our concern, and convinced of the need for the prompt entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, we have invited to Buenos Aires the tenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in order to help to give greater impetus to our joint effort to adapt.

I hope to be able to welcome and host Government delegations at the high-level segment that I will have the honour of opening in Buenos Aires. For that reason, we are calling upon the Assembly to show the necessary strength, courage and resolve to create a world of justice and equity and to put an end to the unfair rules often imposed by multilateral financial institutions, which cause very difficult problems for many countries and which increase poverty.

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