Statement at the Debate of the 56th
Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 10 November
President of the General Assembly;
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellency, Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of
the United Nations;
Your Excellencies Ministers, Ambassadors and Representatives;
Mr President, please accept my congratulations to you
on your assumption of the stewardship of this important
We would also wish to congratulate your predecessor,
Mr Harri Holkeri, for the skilful manner in which he
guided the work of the Millennium Assembly of the United
Allow me also to salute the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi
Annan, on being elected to a second term, and together
with the United Nations being awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize for 2001.
This is because of the tireless work both of the Secretary-General
and the United Nations to realise the ideal that we
all cherish: a world in which all people can live in
peace, security, freedom, equality, and justice.
Mr President As has already been noted and as we all
know, this General Debate has begun later than usual.
The reason for this is because two months ago, the forces
of terror struck at this city, New York, the Headquarters
of this Organisation as well as Washington DC, the capital
city of the United States of America.
It is proper that we take advantage of this occasion
once more to convey our condolences and deepest sympathy
to the people and government of the United States at
the immense loss of life and property imposed on them
through a callous act of murder. We extend the same
sympathy to all other peoples who lost their citizens
as a result of the colossal outrage of September 11.
We speak here about the terrible tragedy of September
11 on behalf of our government and the people of South
Africa. We speak also on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement
and the Commonwealth.
There can be no doubt but that the peoples of the world
have to unite in action to defeat terrorism. There can
be no hesitation among any of us in the resolve to work
together to ensure that those responsible for the heinous
actions of September 11 are brought to justice.
This is so not only because many nations lost their
citizens on that terrible day, important as this is.
It is so because terrorism has demonstrated that it
has no respect for borders. It has shown in a very graphic,
tragic and painful manner, as it did also in Kenya and
Tanzania, that our very humanity renders all of us,
without exception, into potential targets of cold-blooded
Where we might have used the concept of a global village
loosely in the past, on September 11 terrorism taught
us the abiding lesson that we do indeed belong to a
global village. None within this village will be safe
unless all the villagers act together to secure and
guarantee that safety. All must act to promote the safety
and security of one and all on the basis of a shared
responsibility born of a shared danger.
Accordingly, we have no choice but to get together
in the village square to agree on the threat that confronts
us all. Together, in that village square, we have to
determine what we do about this commonly defined threat.
This is the ineluctable conclusion we must draw from
the terrorist attacks of September 11.
To guarantee world peace and security in the light
of the threat posed by terrorism requires that this
Organization, the United Nations, must discharge its
responsibility to unite the peoples of the world to
adopt an International Convention against Terrorism.
Necessarily, all of us must experience a shared sense
of ownership of this Convention, precisely because the
Convention would not merely be a statement of principles,
but a set of injunctions or prescriptions that will
be binding on all of us as states. Thus should each
one of us be ready to integrate our respective sovereignties
within a global human sovereignty defined and governed
by all of us, with none treated as superior and another
The challenge to unite the peoples of the world to
fight the common threat of terrorism brings to the fore
the need to speed up the transformation of the United
Nations so that it is able to respond to the global
challenges we face together, in an equitable manner.
This means that it needs to be efficient, effective
and responsive to the needs of humanity as a whole.
September 11 emphasized the point that even as the
democratic system of government is being consolidated
throughout the world, even as we all work to sustain
the possibility of a serious and meaningful global dialogue,
there are some who are prepared to resort to force in
pursuit of their goals.
Clearly, there must be a response. But what should
that response be?
Immediately, it is correct that we must achieve global
security cooperation so that the perpetrators of the
September 11 acts of terrorism are apprehended and punished.
Correctly, the Government of the United States has
emphasized that all action that is carried out must
be clearly targeted against the terrorists.
It has stated that such actions, including military
actions, should not degenerate into collective punishment
against any people on any grounds whatsoever, including
those of religion, race or ethnicity. Accordingly, it
is necessary that humanitarian assistance should be
extended to the people of Afghanistan. We fully agree
with the approach.
The US Government has also said that these actions
should be of the shortest duration possible, consistent
with the objective that must be achieved. Again, we
agree with this without reservation.
The call has gone out that all governments and countries
should contribute whatever they can to ensure that the
common effort to find and punish the terrorists responsible
for September 11 meet their just deserts. We have responded
positively to this call because it is timely, correct
All these are important elements of what has to be
done to respond to those who committed the mass murders
of September 11.
But they also indicate the way forward as we consider
the rules that should guide us as we confront the threat
of terrorism over the longer term and beyond the critically
important operations and activities focused on the events
of September 11.
They put the matter firmly on our common agenda that
we must also achieve global cooperation for the speedy
resolution of conflict situations everywhere in the
In this regard, it is clear that the situation in the
Middle East cries out for an urgent and lasting solution.
In this context, we might recall the words of the Irish
poet, William Butler Yeats, when he said "too long
a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart".
The sacrifice of the Palestinian people should not
be allowed to drag on any longer. Whatever these long-suffering
people might themselves think and feel, it is clear
that there are some in the world who will justify their
destructive rage by claiming to be frontline fighters
for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Beyond this, we must act together to determine the
issues that drive people to resort to force and agree
on what we should do to eliminate these. At the same
time, we must make the point patently clear that such
determination does not in any way constitute an attempt
to justify terrorism. Together we must take the firm
position that no circumstances whatsoever can ever justify
resort to terrorism.
The need to realize the goal of determining the matters
that make for peace, together, once again underlines
the need for properly representative international institutions
to build the necessary global consensus.
It would seem obvious that the fundamental source of
conflict in the world today is the socio-economic deprivation
of billions of people across the globe, co-existing
side-by-side with islands of enormous wealth and prosperity
within and among countries. This necessarily breeds
a deep sense of injustice, social alienation, despair
and a willingness to sacrifice their lives among those
who feel they have nothing to loose and everything to
gain, regardless of the form of action to which they
As the Durban World Conference concluded, racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance remain
a critical part of the practices that serve to alienate
billions of people and contribute to mutual antagonisms
among human beings. The international community should
spare no effort to ensure that this affront to human
dignity is totally eradicated.
Last year, we convened in this very hall in the historic
Millennium Summit. Solemnly, and with serious intent,
we adopted the Millennium Declaration. The heavy and
urgent obligation we now face is to implement the programme
of action spelt out in that Declaration.
This constitutes and must constitute the decisive front
of struggle against terrorism.
Africa for its part has developed a New Partnership
for Africa's Development, which is a product of the
consciousness among the African people that they, themselves,
hold the key to the continent's development, security
Africans across the continent have arrived at the correct
determination that human rights, democracy, peace, stability
and justice are the fundamental building blocks for
a prosperous continent. Concomitantly, African countries
are taking measures, jointly and severally, to improve
the conditions for the much-needed investment, economic
renewal and development. Naturally, the United Nations
has a pivotal role to play in this regard.
As we meet here members of the WTO are engaged in critical
negotiations in Doha, Qatar, hopefully to agree to a
new equitable trading relationship that is fair and
just. It is imperative that there is a non-discriminatory
and equitable trading system that promotes sustainable
Soon, the Ministers of Health, the WHO and others concerned
will be finalising the details relating to the Global
Health Fund to deal with the major communicable diseases,
including Malaria, Tuberculosis and AIDS.
The Financing for Development Conference to be held
next March in Mexico will cover a range of pertinent
issues such as debt relief, official development assistance,
and foreign direct investment. As we all know, substantial
capital flows into the developing countries are critical
in the struggle to defeat poverty and underdevelopment.
All these constitute vital component parts of what
must inform the outcome of the Johannesburg Summit on
Sustainable Development in September 2002. We are confident
that the Summit will reach positive conclusions that
will include firm global, regional and national commitments
to the elaboration, integration and implementation of
economically efficient, socially responsible and environmentally
sound development policies.
Mr President, There is no doubt that our global village
has the resources and capacity to meet the needs of
all its citizens. What is needed is the collective will
of the international community to act decisively to
meet this challenge, inspired by a sense of human solidarity.
Peace and security for all, freedom and democracy for
all, prosperity for all and genuine equality in conditions
of diversity must surely be the outcomes towards which
the United Nations and all of us must strive. Our actions
must affirm the seriousness of our intent.