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General Assembly - 51st Session (1996-1997)

Plenary First Committee Second Committee Third Committee Fourth Committee Fifth Committee Sixth Committee Other PLENARY Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Report of the


First Committee

Second Committee

Third Committee

Fourth Committee

Fifth Committee

Sixth Committee



  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency
    New York, October 28, 1996

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Josef Zieleniec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic to the Fifty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly
    New York, September 1996

Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Mr. President,

At the outset I wish reiterate that my delegation has associated itself with the statement presented by Ireland earlier this morning on behalf of the European Union. I shall therefore address only those issues which the Czech Republic considers of particular importance.

Mr. President,

For the International Atomic Energy Agency, 1997 will be a year of profound evaluation of what has been achieved and what might have been done even better in the course of its forty years of existence. In our view, positive results predominate both in the area of safeguards and of promotional activities. Let me review some of the major events which have taken place since the 50th session of the General Assembly .

The international nuclear-energy community, and ultimately non-nuclear states as well, have been marked by a cornerstone event - the recent entry into force of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (NSC). Concluding this Convention and opening it for signature at the 38th session of the IAEA General Conference in 1994 were two major steps toward reaching the highest possible safety of nuclear power plants all over the world.

The Czech Republic calls upon all Member States which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention. Only widest possible adherence to it will allow us to obtain the objectives of the Convention.

Mr. President,

Nuclear safety includes safety of radioactive waste management. Czech experts participate in the work of the open-ended group which is preparing the text of a Convention which would deal with this very sensitive issue. Concluding the Convention on Safety of Radioactive Waste Management is a priority for us and we believe that discussions in the Group will lead to a compromise text that could be submitted to a Diplomatic Conference in the near future.

The Czech Republic also views with satisfaction developments in the area of thwarting illicit trafficking in nuclear material and other radiation resources. We welcome the establishment of the IAEA Database of incidents in this field. It is a very useful source of information which assists Member States in identifying suppliers and potential recipients and in combating illegal cross-border transfers.

We are pleased that in the process of revising the Vienna Convention on Liabilities for Nuclear Damage, experts have managed to narrow their differences and have made remarkable progress towards finalizing its update. We would like to witness similar progress in negotiations concerning the Convention on Supplementary Funding in the near future.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic has always attached very high importance to the role of the IAEA in safeguarding nuclear facilities worldwide, in accordance with its mandate under the NPT Treaty. However, we too have realized that the present system of safeguards does not enable the Agency to detect possible clandestine and undeclared nuclear activities. It needs to be modified and strengthened. We confirm once again our commitment to the work of the Drafting Committee on the Protocol Supplementary to the Safeguards Agreements. The Czech Republic will do what it can to contribute to the earliest possible finalization of the text which should become an instrument for the more effective and efficient implementation of safeguards.

Mr. President,

The Statute of the IAEA gives it a mandate to promote the use of nuclear energy in all human activities for exclusively peaceful purposes. The Czech Republic fully recognizes the importance for many states of IAEA technical assistance and co-operation programmes and commends the IAEA for its efforts. We have never been a recipient country of this type of technical assistance yet we have always both fulfilled our pledges to the Technical Co-operation Fund and paid our contributions to the regular budget in full and on time. This is the right way to deal with financial difficulties of the IAEA and to enable the Agency to carry out all its tasks. When considering technical co-operation and assistance for Member States for the next period, the IAEA should take into account their financial discipline.

Mr. President

Despite all its efforts, the IAEA remains unable to verify the initial declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the country is still not in full compliance with its safeguards agreement. Although some progress has been made, the Czech Republic continues to appeal to the DPRK to provide the IAEA with all the information necessary to verify the correctness and completeness of the declaration, to allow access for inspectors to all installations which are to be subject to safeguards and to assist the Agency in its deliberations.

We also regret that the circumstances in Iraq make it difficult for IAEA inspectors to continue their monitoring and verification activities outside Baghdad. The Czech Republic fully supports the Agency in its continuous efforts to investigate all aspects of Iraq´s past nuclear weapons programme and to analyze the documentation gained, and calls upon Iraq to co-operate with the IAEA in resolving remaining inconsistencies.

In conclusion, I wish to express once again my delegation's appreciation and support for the work of the Agency. My delegation recommends the adoption of the draft resolution concerning the IAEA.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Josef Zieleniec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic to the Fifty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President,

Let me congratulate you on your election to the office of the President of the Fifty-first Session of the General Assembly and wish you all the best in this challenging post. I would also like to thank the outgoing President, Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral, for the outstanding manner in which he conducted the previous Session.

Mr. President,

A year ago, many world leaders gathered here to commemorate the Fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations and in particular to discuss its future prospects. No one questioned its importance as a world-wide forum for dealing with important global problems. Based on the principle of universality, it should be open to all those who are willing and ready to participate in this endeavour.

But as it enters the second half-century of its existence, the United Nations faces increasing, ever more complex and often even conflicting demands. Its response has often been to try to do everything, eventually watering down energies and drive and thus contributing to a perception of its declining efficiency. It should, in fact, focus only on what it does best: maintaining international peace and security, promoting respect for human rights, providing development assistance and alleviating human suffering.

We therefore believe that a critical stage in its reform should consist of setting out clear-cut priorities for United Nations action. These are areas where the United Nations holds a competitive advantage, where it can act more efficiently than individual States or regional organizations, where it has proved its ability to achieve more cost-effective and rapid results than other entities.

Reform is no longer a subject for discussion. Action is needed. Significant steps in the right direction have of course already been taken. We have noted with satisfaction the gradual downsizing of the UN Secretariat in the past several years and the adoption of a no-growth budget for the current period. Similar efforts by specialized agencies have furthermore included moves towards their better coordination. We welcome the establishment of an Efficiency Board within the UN Secretariat.

Though reform is well underway, the current system is still hindered by overlapping mandates and duplication in the work of various UN bodies and specialized agencies. Departments within Secretariats suffer from insufficient coordination and oversight mechanisms, unclear priorities and bureaucratic procedures.

Intense reflection on these matters is taking place in various United Nations bodies. The working group on strengthening the UN System has discussed rationalizing the General Assembly's methods and organisation of its work, streamlining its agenda and reshaping its subsidiary machinery, as well as reforming the structures and functioning of the United Nations Secretariat. We hope that some of these ideas will mature enough to be presented as formal recommendations to the General Assembly.

Mr. President,

The financial situation of the United Nations continues to be critical in spite of reduction in peace-keeping activities. In our view, there are two main causes of this situation: the present method of assessing contributions, and arrears.

As for the first point, we believe that a new scale of assessment should be developed which would equitably reflect the economic circumstances of individual Member States and their capacity to pay, based primarily on GNP indicators.

As for the second point, it is essential that Member States fulfill their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions. Certain incentives and disincentives should be adopted to encourage Member States to honour their financial commitments. These measures, however, should not be applied to members unable to pay for reasons beyond their control.

The Czech Republic fully associates itself with the European Union´s package of financial proposals. I also recall that our share for peace-keeping operations has not been determined yet. We take this issue very seriously and have made certain specific proposals to resolve it.

Mr. President,

Security Council reform attracts extremely wide attention. As I mentioned in 1995, we support an increase in both permanent and non-permanent seats while insisting on safeguarding rapid and effective Council action. Yet, the more members, the more its effectiveness would be hindered. Therefore only a modest expansion is feasible, in our view. We oppose new categories of membership.

The criteria for new permanent members should include their level of commitment to maintaining peace, to promoting development and to meeting financial obligations toward the United Nations. We believe Germany and Japan are suitable candidates, and support expanded representation of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

The second aspect of the Security Council reform relates to its working methods. Several proposals have been submitted, including the Czech proposal of a broader interpretation of Article 31 of the UN Charter.

The proposals submitted include a number of points acceptable to the overwhelming majority of Member States. We regret that the Working Group on the Security Council has so far not reached consensus on any of them. We believe that issues not requiring amendments to the Charter should be resolved separately from those that would involve Charter amendments. We will pursue our efforts in this respect and strive for some agreement next year.

Mr. President,

Having been elected to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and having assumed the post of its Vice-President, we took on a fair share of responsibility for its work. We strongly support reform efforts to restructure ECOSOC and to enhance its efficiency and its coordinating role. It should more adequately reflect the new world economic and social situation. We believe that ECOSOC´s position within the UN system should be strengthened and its procedures streamlined. It should provide policy guidance for development activities and become the supreme steering and coordinating body for all United Nations-based programmes that fall under its purview.

Restructuring its functional commissions is a key aspect of its reform. Regional economic commissions should play a more visible role. Upgrading development cooperation with Bretton- Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization is another challenge for ECOSOC.

To reduce duplication with the General Assembly, ECOSOC should pass on to the Assembly only those issues which it does not have the power to decide by itself. On the other hand, the General Assembly should strike from its agenda those items that are fully within ECOSOC's authority.

Mr. President,

Although the two-year term of the Czech Republic on the Security Council expired at the end of 1995, we continue to pay attention to the conflicts and other events that endanger world peace and security.

The Dayton peace process gave a chance to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to other countries involved. The September 1996 elections constituted a milestone on the way to a lasting peace in the Balkans. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe performed its election task in an outstanding manner. We applaud all those who participated in these elections.

On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that the election results re-confirmed ethnic divisions of the country. It will not be easy for the parties to overcome this problem. The international community should therefore remain alert and continue in its peaceful engagement by committing neccessary troops and by exerting political pressure on all parties to keep the pace of the Dayton peace process. The next step in this process are local elections to be held in November. It is important that all anticipated political institutions be formed and start functioning as soon as possible.

Another area of deep interest to us is the Middle East. As a participant in the multilateral talks about peace and economic cooperation in the Middle East and one of the donor states in the area, we have consistenly voiced our full support for the continuation of the peace process based on a just and comprehensive solution of the issues. We do so again today, with renewed urgency in view of the recent tragic events in Jerusalem.

Security and stability in the Gulf region is important to the Czech Republic. We support all efforts to solve the tense situation concerning Iraq. Iraq has to unconditionally fulfill all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions in order for sanctions to be lifted and for Iraq to return to the international community. At the same time, the territorial integrity of Iraq must be preserved. We are looking forward to solving the Iraqi issue by peaceful means. For humanitarian reasons we hope that Security Council resolution 986 is implemented as soon as conditions permit.

Despite geographical distance, we are deeply concerned by conflicts in African countries, as in Angola, Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda and Burundi. My country supports United Nations efforts to rid these countries of war and suffering. Besides engendering violence, they further widen the gap between developed countries and these often desperately poor countries.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic intends to contribute to international stability and economic development. Domestically, the foundations for this policy were laid by strengthening our democratic institutions and by reforming our economy. Internationally, this effort was endorsed last December when the Czech Republic was admitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For my Government, though, OECD membership amounts also to a serious commitment to share the knowledge and experience of the Czech people with other countries, and to provide development assistance.

Solid domestic results are also a precondition for attaining membership in the European Union and in NATO. These regional arrangements are vital for Europe's security structure. Through the membership in NATO the Czech Republic intends to contribute to Europe's security and stability. The decision about our membership is one to be made by NATO members and our country. Russia's participation in discussion on European security is of course critical and we understand the need for the strategic partnership between NATO and the Russian Federation. This discussion, however, should not precondition the process of NATO enlargement.

Mr. President,

Peace-keeping is an important tool in the hands of the Security Council. However, it has its limits, insofar as hostilities often occur within states. These limits are dictated by the principles of impartiality, non-use of force except in self-defence, and consent of the parties. Following United Nations experiences in Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most recently in Liberia, unwarranted enthusiasm concerning peace-keepers has evaporated.

The Czech Republic has been actively participating in UN peace-keeping. We support the establishment of Stand-by Arrangements and intend to participate in the system aimed at expanding UN capacities to deploy its forces.

My country's participation in the Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina is our current major effort devoted to peace. The United Nations does not have peace-enforcement instruments of its own but regional arrangements are often useful in enforcing peace. Our IFOR experience only confirms this.

Last year we signed the Convention on the Safety of the United Nations and Associated Personnel and anticipate its early ratification. We hope that it will enter into force soon.

Mr. President,

The Fifth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferaton of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) reconfirmed the elimination of nuclear weapons as its ultimate goal. Concluding the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) represents a significant step toward this and we intend to sign it very shortly. It is, however, disturbing that the Conference on Disarmament did not reach consensus on this question and that the treaty was not adopted unanimously.

Every effort should be made to achieve universality of NPT membership. Perhaps the most important task is the implementation of Article VI of the treaty. The role of the Conference on Disarmament in this process is irreplaceable. Its role will be even more important as the Conference is supposed to deal with another growing problem which we want to help resolve - elimination of antipersonnel landmines.

Mr. President,

Matters of security have long ceased to be only matters of armies and weapons. Devastating social harm posed by drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking threaten the entire international community. Close international cooperation in tackling the drug menace should be our response to this dangerous challenge.

International terrorism is another source of great concern. The international community must stand united to suppress it. It is the responsibility of each state to fight terrorism and to strictly apply and abide by all international instruments in this field. We appeal to states that have not ratified the appropriate conventions to do so without delay and to implement them.

The Czech Government attaches great importance to the promotion of human rights, and in particular to activities of the United Nations in this field. An environment that upholds human rights is our best protection - as individuals and as a society. We defend human rights because it is in our own best interest.

This year the Czech Republic has been elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights. As a member of the Commission, we intend to contribute actively to its work and to meet the objectives of the international community in this field.

Mr. President,

President Havel is one of the 16 Heads of State or Government who have recently issued a statement on reviving multilateralism. The statement voices deep concern over the lack of progress, both in pace and in scope, of multilateral renewal. Nations either move forward to reform and strengthen the UN system, or we risk facing a weakened solidarity, more unilateralism and perhaps conflict and overt disregard of international law and human values.

Multilateral diplomacy goes well beyond the UN itself. Regional cooperation is crucial to strengthening global cooperation. Without a stronger UN, however, other forms of international cooperation will lose coherence.

Thank you, Mr. President.