septiembre 14, 2005
Address by Néstor Kirchner at UN General Assembly, 2005
In this regard, we wish to reaffirm that payment of external financial commitments must not be made to the detriment of resources pledged to social areas, such as education, health, housing and employment.

 

Address by Mr. Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentine Republic.
60th session – General Assembly . 4th plenary meeting- 3 p.m. New York

 

Five years ago, the Governments of our countries gathered in this very hall, hoping to work together in solving some of the most urgent and serious problems confronting our peoples. That is how the Millennium Declaration arose, and, with it, a renewed commitment by the international community to multilateralism and respect for human dignity. Concrete goals in development were promoted, aimed at resolving the imperative issues of hunger, poverty, infant mortality rates, diseases such as HIV-AIDS and malaria and other pandemics, and issues of social and legal gender inequality.

The assessment of what we have achieved in these few years is far from satisfactory. The severity of the situation is basically the same. The modest advances in some issues, cannot, however, weaken our will or numb our conscience. Poverty, hunger and disease continue to afflict a vast proportion of women and men around the world. The absence of the rule of law and the massive violations of human rights in various parts of the world cause great suffering and deepen political instability and civil conflicts. The new and grave threats to international security have permeated the whole spectrum of international debate.

Poverty, social inequality, injustice, social exclusion and the estrangement between expectations and reality bring about an element of instability, working against the strengthening of democracy and development. A large part of the problem lies perhaps in the lack of correspondence between statements, true expressions of wish, and action. This is evident in two key areas, debt and international trade. The persistence of discriminatory and inequitable policies in international trade is part of this list of impediments to development, both for the poorest nations and for middle-income countries, such as my own, Argentina.

The prevalence of an ideological component in the policies of international credit institutions is also distressing. The so-called orthodox approach to the debt is an approach that has shown its shortcomings and inefficiency and that has worsened the conditions of poverty in the developing world, and this is perhaps the area where the prevalence of this component becomes most evident. Economic development, security and human rights are the basic pillars of the United Nations, and therefore the simultaneous progress that we achieve in all these three areas is the best assurance of international peace and the wellbeing of humanity.

With great effort, Argentina is returning to the path of development and has achieved sustained growth in its economy, while at the same time significantly reducing unemployment and poverty indices. After emerging from the crisis, indicators show a sustained growth in the economy, and a surplus in the fiscal external accounts, together with a recovery in national reserves. Argentina grew 8.8 per cent in 2003, 9 per cent in 2004 and over 9 per cent in the first half of 2005. The consolidated primary surplus is 5 per cent of GDP and reserves have increased from nearly ten billion dollars to over twenty-five billion. Exports this year will exceed forty billion dollars, with an estimated growth of about 15 per cent.

Unemployment dropped from 24 per cent in 2003 to 12.1 per cent over the first half of 2005. Poverty has dropped from 57.5 per cent to 40.2 per cent and absolute poverty rates have come down from 27.5 per cent in 2003 to 15 percent in 2004 and continue to decline. The real general salary index has risen 16 per cent.

Since overcoming default, Argentina has been strengthening its position as a target for foreign investment. Primary education enrolment is over 91.5 per cent. Illiteracy is under 3 per cent and women’s literacy rates are over 97.4 per cent. Women’s participation is growing and as a result, women hold over 33 per cent of seats in the House of Representatives and 43 per cent of seats in the Senate.

Infant mortality rates have dropped significantly from 16.8 per 1,000 to the current 13 per 1,000. Public health programmes are being implemented now covering the entire population. Drinking water supplies and sewage systems are being expanded. Through an agreement with Brazil, medicines are going to be produced in order to cover the entire population infected with AIDS at an affordable price. Regrettably, throughout this process of recovery, expansion and transformation, we did not have the support of the International Monetary Fund, which had provided support until only weeks before the convertibility regime. During its crisis, Argentina made net payments of about 13.5 billion dollars.

Like many developing countries, we continue to endure both this archaic understanding of the indebtedness issue and an international trade system that is unfair to agricultural products, where subsidies and non-tariff barriers in developed countries continue to restrain our countries from full growth based on their genuine resources.

In this sense, we call for the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, which is to be held in Hong Kong, China, to fulfil the unfulfilled promise of placing development at the centre of international trade. We are attentively following the international debate on the concept of the sustainability of external debt. We believe that international finances are too important to be left in the hands of concerted interests that affect the stability of markets, discriminate against the small investor and spawn pro-cyclical policies.

That is why, in various forums, we have proposed modifications that increase the transparency of the international financial system, free this Organization from certain financial lobbies and bring enhanced stability to the capital flow, which promotes small investors. There is neither ideology nor politics in this. We show concrete facts indicating that these financial organizations did not perform the role that they must perform. Looking ahead, our country has structured a debt reduction strategy designed to gain degrees of independence as it implements its plans for development and the growth of its economy.

In this regard, we wish to reaffirm that payment of external financial commitments must not be made to the detriment of resources pledged to social areas, such as education, health, housing and employment. We shall be firm in maintaining this position when dealing with the international credit organizations, and we reiterate our call for increased transparency and democracy and for a deep restructuring and revision of their policies, in order to ensure fairness and efficiency.

Along these lines, Argentina has, since 2004, been a co-sponsor of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, which alludes clearly to the relationship between external indebtedness and the impossibility of effective enjoyment of human rights.

In conclusion, I wish to express the fervent hope of the people of Argentina that the United Nations will continue to guide us along the path towards peace, justice and development.

Many resolutions of this General Assembly and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee have established that the question of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are a special colonial situation that must be resolved through bilateral negotiations between my country and the United Kingdom. The Decolonization Committee has made repeated declarations to that effect, and we greatly value its action in seeking a solution to this question.

We once again reaffirm the constant readiness of our country to reach a final, fair and peaceful solution to this sovereignty dispute that is of central concern to the people of Argentina. We, therefore, urge the United Kingdom to respond promptly to the call of the international community to resume negotiations.

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