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General Assembly - 53rd Session (1998-1999)

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


PLENARY


  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on the occasion of the Fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    New York, December 11, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Open-ended Informal Consultations of the Plenary
    New York, December 3, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    New York, November 30, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters
    New York, November 20, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency
    New York, November 2, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, On the Secretary-General's Report on the work of the Organization
    New York, October 5, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at the 53rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
    New York, September 23, 1998


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the occasion of the Fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Mr. President,

As we meet here to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we look back and recapitulate not only the reasons and circumstances of its birth, but primarily the developments in the fifty years that followed. Sparked by the Declaration, the endeavours to promote and develop human rights have generated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, followed by a wide spectrum of human rights instruments adopted since the sixties.

For the international community, the driving purpose has been to guarantee for each individual the basic aspects of his social existence. However, in the real world, the effectiveness of safeguards for noble values such as honour, dignity, personal liberty and equality is still open to question. Many of those internationally recognized and guaranteed instruments have been deplorably blunted by reservations of states parties, intended to accommodate different national laws. In this context, the credit should go to the international community seeking to promote human rights to the maximum extent, but above all to human rights activists for their unfailing effort to promote human rights in everyday life.

The Czech Government has recently appointed, as a part of its strategy for more effective fulfilment of international commitments in the human rights area, a Government Representative for Human Rights . This institutional change will be shortly followed by new legislation designed to deepen and reinforce human rights protection and secure full compliance with international obligations.

The 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration has been well publicized in the Czech Republic. To mark this event, the United Nations Information Centre, the publicly funded media and civic associations have initiated numerous exhibitions, symposia, concerts and conferences.

Mr. President,

Earlier this year, the Statute of the International Criminal Court having jurisdiction over the most heinous international crimes, in particular genocide, other crimes against humanity and war crimes, was adopted in Rome. It is gratifying and indeed highly symbolic that the international community took this step of truly historic significance during the year of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration. Putting an end to impunity of individuals responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights will certainly be instrumental in deterring the commission of such crimes in the future, thus contributing to uphold respect for human rights worldwide and to make the world a better, more just and safer place to live in for generations to come.

The Czech Republic is at present completing, as a matter of priority, the respective domestic procedures with a view to become a signatory of the Rome Statute in the near future. We intend to continue to work hard towards achieving the establishment of an operational, effective and independent Court both domestically, by taking up the various actions required for ratification of the Statute and through our active participation in the work of the Preparatory Commission.

In conclusion, let me express the hope that the strife for better implementation of indivisible, universal human rights will meet with increasingly strong response of the global community.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Open-ended Informal Consultations of the Plenary

Mr. President,

Let me first thank you for initiating a discussion on this important item, and let me also thank Madame Deputy Secretary General for introducing the theme of today´s deliberations.

The Czech Republic is strongly in favor of the SG proposal to designate the 55th session of the GA as the Millennium Assembly.

We all realize that the Program for Reform and the actions already taken in implementing its proposals do not go far enough to address political realities of this decade and of the new millennium. The Millennium Assembly gives us the opportunity to consider changes of a more fundamental and political nature than those contained in the SG report.

We agree with the SG's proposal for the Millennium Summit, the Millennium Forum and the Special Commission, as contained in document A/52/850.

It is clear that a timely and thorough preparation is the key to the success of this event. We need to use the remaining time effectively to think through and develop the ideas and topics for the main theme, "the UN in the 21st Century," to focus the Millennium Summit debate and achieve concrete results.

To this end, the SG proposes to prepare a report on the Millennium Assembly's theme and submit it to the member states by midsummer of the year 2000. While we agree with the SG that the wide spectrum of sources would provide us with a variety of interesting views, we also believe that the role of GA and the Member States in the preparatory process should not be overlooked. No other sources can give answers to certain issues like SC reform, ECOSOC reform, regional groups reform etc. These issues should be "precooked" here and included in the main theme package.

Another problem may arise in connection with the proposed deadline for the submission of the SG report, midsummer of the year 2000. It seems unrealistic to expect the heads of States and Governments to digest and react to such a far reaching document in a short time. Therefore we would prefer to have the report at an earlier date.

To address these and other concerns expressed here, we support the suggestion that the question of the Millennium Assembly be considered as a separate item of our agenda. As to the format of the discussion, we are in favor of informal meetings of the General Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, The Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mr. President,

At the outset I wish to voice my country´s support for the statement delivered by Austria on behalf of the European Union and associated countries. As the Czech Republic puts continued stress on stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has been actively working for its achievement I would like to address those aspects of this issue which my country considers of particular importance.

The results of the efforts to stabilize peaceful development in Bosnia and Herzegovina confirm that we are facing a long, arduous and complicated process. There are areas with a relatively rapid progress towards the achievement of the set objectives, but also areas in which the results thus far achieved lag behind the expectations of the international community. The Czech Republic is well aware that impatience with slow progress in the solution of certain problems after such a long and bloody conflict would be out of place. Nevertheless, we share the positions of international organizations, UN member states and in particular of the Peace Implementation Council that more rapid progress could have been made in the civilian part of reconstruction. That would undoubtedly have a positive effect on the situation of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the process of economic revitalization and the strengthening of the state structure as well as on the extent of assistance provided by the international community.

The Czech Republic views the good results achieved continuously in the implementation of the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords as a positive and hopeful trend. I am glad to state that the involvement of the Czech mechanized battalion, operating in the sector under the British mandate and its activities since the very beginning of the presence of the NATO-led multinational force, has also had its modest share in this success. Naturally, we highly value the tireless efforts of the United Nations, the Office of the High Representative, the OSCE and other international organizations whose engagement in various fields in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains quite indispensable.

Thanks to the extended mandate of the High Representative, the last six months have seen progress in issues which until then seemed hopelessly blocked, such as common state symbols, common currency, common car licence plates, common passports etc. However, in spite of all the positive achievements, the present system of functioning of common institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not sustainable. We believe that all these activities will be gradually assumed by effectively functioning bodies of local legislative and executive power.

Indeed, a number of key problems are yet to be solved to achieve further progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina; to ensure integrity of the state borders, to set up a transparent and clear legal order and its practical application, just to mention the essential ones. We hope the trend towards national democracy and the development of good-neighbourly relations will continue in all entities. Thus far, the relations and contacts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of its entities with many countries of the world are much better than those with their direct neighbours.

Though this year was proclaimed "the year of returns" and the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons forms one of the pillars of the Dayton Peace Accords, no substantial progress has unfortunately been made in this field. Most of the total number of about 1.3 million refugees continue to stay abroad. Those refugees who have returned were heading for the regions which are under control of their own entity. That is why the international community should support with concerted efforts the so-called minority returns.

One of the main reasons for the small number of returnees is the ominous economic situation in their country. Economic restoration therefore appears to be one of the basic prerequisites for the future of the country. It is of utmost importance to direct international assistance to all regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This has now been facilitated by the positive trend in the Republika Srpska. However, economic growth can hardly be expected without fundamental economic reforms, including privatization and restructuring, and without active support by the population.

The Czech Republic highly regards the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and fully supports the investigation and just punishment of all crimes committed during the conflict. Though we must admit certain partial progress in cooperation with the Tribunal over the past year, its level in general is far from ideal. The Czech Republic therefore fully endorses Security Council Resolution 1207 of November 17, 1998, condemning the refusal by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate with the Tribunal.

In our view, the high turnout of Bosnians in the elections held last September and their smooth conduct, is a positive signal for the future. The voters clearly demonstrated their concern about the stabilization of the country and their ability to take the fate of the country into their hands.

Mr President,

In conclusion, I would like to recall the active involvement of my country in the process of post-war reconstruction and economic revitalization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing both human and material resources. The Czech Republic has its representatives in international organizations operating in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has been regularly sending its observers to monitor the elections. Apart from its participation in the economic reconstruction, my country is also participating in funding of humanitarian projects and democratic institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This year we have contributed, inter alia, to the International Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance and to the Mine Victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, set up by the Government of Slovenia, to the Chamber for Human Rights and to the Programme for strengthening independence of mass media. I would like to point out the determination of my country to further engage in this assistance and thus also in the "nation building" process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its reintegration into Europe at all levels.

Thank you Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Related Matters

Mr. President,

There have not been many issues in this Organization recently to draw so much attention, be followed so closely, and discussed so thoroughly for such a considerable period of time as that of the Security Council reform. At a first glance, the consensus might seem within the reach. We do all want the Security Council to be geographically equitable, democratic and efficient. We do all want to improve its working methods, and almost all of us would like to see the unlimited use of the veto curbed.

However, there are certain limitations to what we can achieve here, since all of these issues are interdependent. To maintain what we have (functional and operational Security Council) and to get what we want (equitable representation, democratization, more transparency and efficiency), we have to find the balance between what is demanded and what is pfeasible, i.e. between geographical equitability and efficiency, between transparency and the need for informal negotiations, between democratization and the unlimited use of veto.

To counterbalance the additional burden on the operational ability which the enlargement would bring into the Security Council, we need to modernize its working methods and decision making process. We need to further develop the procedures that enable wider participation and transparent decision making, while facilitating prompt and effective action.

We have definitely made a great progress throughout the intensive and constructive course of negotiations in the Open Ended Working Group. Here I would like to express our thanks and gratitude to the past President of the General Assembly Mr Hennadiy Udovenko and to the two Co-Vice Chairmen of the Working Group ambassadors Breitenstein and Jayanama. Proposals have been refined and sharpened, now outlining the whole scope of aspects of the future reform. However, in spite of converging views, there is still a significant gap to be bridged.

As these issues are closely linked, they should be kept in one package throughout the negotiation and decision-making process. The agreement should be reached on the whole package. To single out and prejudge one element of the package would be quite unfortunate and would necessarily limit our possibilities of dealing with the rest of the package. In order to reach a general agreement called for in the resolution 48/26, we need to keep momentum and continue to discuss all the issues related to the Security Council reform in a positive, transparent and non-confrontational manner.

This brings me to the most frequently discussed question of today's debate, that of the majority required for taking decisions on the Security Council reform. Again, since this issue is part of the reform package, it should not be dealt with separately. The process of voting and making decisions of the General Assembly is clearly stipulated in the relevant articles of the UN Charter. First, it is essential to know the proposal to be voted on, and only after that we can decide what kind of majority is needed. An opposite approach, as proposed in the draft resolution L-16, would create dangerous precedent by bringing in a new, vaguely defined category -"resolutions with charter amendment implications"- which is a legally flawed deviation from article 108 of the UN Charter. It is unacceptable for us.

Let us be clear. We respect the declaration of the Heads of States and Governments of the Non Aligned Movement from Durban which we understand as a legitimate political appeal to the NAM member states and indeed to the whole international community to reach a general agreement on this issue.

We see a possible compromise in adopting the amendments L.42 to the draft resolution A/53/L.16 and we appeal to you Mr. President to organize further consultations in order to avoid confrontation and to find a solution acceptable for all of us.

Mr President,

Let me stress that the reform of the Security Council deserves our urgent attention. We have already seen the first signs of erosion of its credibility, caused by insufficient geographical representation, as reflected in the decision of African States concerning sanctions against Libya. It is up to us to decide what kind of Security Council we want to have in the next millennium, whether we want to continue living in a world based on post WWII realities, or if we want to make an update. There are good chances for success if we keep our dialog alive in a positive and constructive manner as we used to.

We therefore fully support the continuation of the work of the High Level Working Group in 1999 in order to examine all the proposals. We hope that this work will eventually produce concrete results that could be put on the agenda of the 55th UNGA session within the Millennium Assembly concept.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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

Mr. President,

At the outset I wish to voice my country´s support to the statement delivered by Austria on behalf of the European Union and associated countries. I shall therefore limit my intervention only to those issues which the Czech Republic considers of particular importance.

Mr. President,

In September we met at the 42nd session of the IAEA General Conference to assess not only what we had accomplished but also what was still left to be done. The principal IAEA mission remains unchanged - to promote use of nuclear energy for the benefit of peace, health and prosperity of mankind and to prevent its misuse for military purposes. To entirely fulfil its mandate the Agency needs to have a capable head of the organization, good management and an effective and efficient steering organ - the Board of Governors.

I am glad to say that the Director-General, Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei, in course of his first year in the office has proved to be both a patient diplomatic negotiator and a skilled chief-manager of the organization. I would like to congratulate him for all the achievements and wish him full success in his future work.

As for the Board, we have had intensive and lengthy discussions of a package of closely connected issues, i.e. possible size and composition of the Board, the right of Member States to belong to the particular geographical area and criteria for designating members of the Board. The Czech Republic has articulated its support to the present status quo on numerous occasions. It is our opinion that the Board in its present size and composition represents one of the most effective and efficient body of the UN system. On the other hand we understand that some Member States do not share our view. In this respect we believe that a package proposal by the Chairman of the Board comprising all aspects of the problem represents a good compromise. We welcomed the statement by the President of the forty-second IAEA General Conference that "urges the Board to redouble its efforts to achieve a solution to this long standing-issue pursuant to the mandate previously conferred on it by the Conference". The Czech Republic is prepared to take part in seeking the final solution.

Mr. President,

The mandate given to the Agency by its Statute becomes even more relevant in the light of the nuclear tests carried out in the South Asian region. The international community must not slacken its efforts in preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Czech Republic appeals to the states which have not yet done so, particularly to those with nuclear capabilities, to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty unconditionally and without delay. We also call upon the states concerned to stop their military nuclear programmes and place all their nuclear facilities under the Agency´s safeguards.

Mr. President,

There is no need to emphasize the role the IAEA plays under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the significance of the Treaty for prevention of the world nuclear armament. We took active part in the work of the second session of the PrepCom of the NPT Review Conference where, like at other fora, we advocated the principle of universality of the Treaty. The Czech Republic remains committed to the principles of the NPT and makes every effort to comply with its obligations under the Treaty.

The Czech Republic has highly appreciated the finalization of the Model Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreements. We believe its implementation will significantly contribute to a greater transparency of nuclear programmes of the countries concerned and at the same time strengthen the IAEA capability to detect in time all undeclared use of nuclear materials and energy for other than peaceful applications. We welcome that the twenty nine countries, including three nuclear weapons states, have signed the Protocol and one of them has already started its implementation. We share the view that the Protocol can become fully effective only if implemented by all states with the IAEA Safeguards Agreements. It should be in the Member States´ interest to provide clear evidence that their nuclear programmes are of the peaceful nature.

Mr. President,

I regret to say that the Czech Republic is among the countries which territories are used for illicit traffic in nuclear materials. We take this problem as a growing threat and a challenge to seek ways and means for combating organized gangs of traffickers. We are of the view that the most effective protection against illicit trafficking in nuclear materials is the strict application of the measures of the State System of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials in the countries of their origin, i.e. the countries where the nuclear materials get into the hands of unauthorized persons. Mutual co-operation between the IAEA and the Member States should also play an important role in this field. We welcome the Agency´s programme for "Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials and Other Radioactive Sources", particularly the setting up of a database of cases of seizure of smuggled material by local authorities, which we find a cornerstone of communication and early information.

Mr. President,

As a State Party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety the Czech Republic has submitted its National Report under the Convention in conformity with Articles 5 and 20 to be reviewed by the NSC Review Conference in April 1999. The Report provides comprehensive information on existing legal framework, comprising the Atomic Act and related implementation regulations, as well as a case study under the Convention for nuclear power plants.

In line of its long-term policy in the field of safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, the Czech Republic has signed the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. We attach great importance to this Convention and consider it a fundamental, legally binding instrument introducing the highest safety standards also to this very sensitive area. I would like to call upon the states which have not yet become party to the Joint Convention to sign and ratify it thus enabling its early entry into force.

Mr. President,

Let me now touch upon the issue of the IAEA technical assistance and co-operation. As I have already mentioned here, the mandate of the Agency anchored in its Statute is to promote world-wide peaceful uses of nuclear energy in all spheres of human activities. This mandate can be discharged only by means of effective, result-oriented, and cost efficient programmes of technical co-operation and assistance on one hand and of predictable financial resources on the other one. It is in the hands of Member States how the target figures proposed for the Technical Co-operation Fund will be met. The states should feel their responsibility and pay the TCF pledges in full and in time.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, allow me to express once again our high esteem for the work of the Agency and our wishes of much success in the future.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on the Secretary-General's Report on the work of the Organization

Mr. Chairman,

In his statement at this General Assembly on September 21, the Secretary General, while reporting on the work of the Organization, expressed the conviction that everybody had read his report from "cover to cover." This remark raised a laughter in the audience, but the Report he presented definitely deserves our appreciation and full attention. It is comprehensive, understandable and contains new ideas and suggestions.

While we welcome the achievements of the UN in many areas, we are aware that much remains to be done. The recent period has shown us how difficult it would be to overcome the stalemate in the Organization brought about by the Cold War era and the North-South confrontation, and to create a new model of the UN, capable of dealing efficiently with the requirements of today's world and those of the future.

In this context we applaud the SG's proposal for the Millennium Assembly which gives us a unique opportunity to think about the concept of the Organization for the next century. As the year 2000 approaches, we should use the remaining time efficiently, preparing food for thought about what from now on should be one of our main tasks. We look forward to seeing SG's proposals for the ways to meet the Organization's forthcoming challenges and we wait for the recommendations expected to emanate from "global town meetings."

We believe that if such meetings are to be fully beneficial to the UN, it is essential that they be well focused. Relevant topics should be suggested by the Secretariat, and the meetings should be attended by the appropriate-level UN officials. The Czech Republic is going to take an active part in this process as expressed by the fact that the preparations of a conference called "Forum 2000" is under way in Prague. The conference is aimed at highlighting the global problems that mankind faces at the threshold of the 21st century.

In order to get ready for what lies ahead, we should expeditiously finalize the institutional reform and take action on the deferred SG's proposals, particularly on the specific time limits for all new mandates, the result-based budgeting system and the development account. It is obvious that the reform measures that have been implemented are already bearing their fruit. The new organization of the work program and the new structure of leadership now manage cross-cutting and overlapping policy issues more effectively. The budget has been reduced. Bureaucracy is being streamlined and the saved resources might be redirected to program accomplishment. The new structure of management makes it possible to view the problems and their causes more clearly, from broader perspective, enabling innovative solutions.

We should further elaborate on the idea of the preventive peace-building based on the observation of the wide spectrum of causes of threats to human security and on the relationship between social justice, material well-being and peace. Interesting in this context is the suggestion to extend the SC role to economic, social and development areas through closer cooperation with the ECOSOC.

We regret that the new approach in the area of disarmament has not been fully implemented yet. Nevertheless, the emphasis on the arms control agenda as essentially multilateral and the determination of the role of the United Nations as norm-setting are important steps in the right direction as is the idea of strengthening and consolidating the principles for disarmament. In this context let me express our support of the SG's idea of holding a United Nations conference on all aspects of the illicit arms trade in order to seek a global consensus on monitoring and controlling illicit arms transfers and their links with trafficking in other contraband goods.

As to the peacekeeping, we welcome the effort of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations to strengthen Organization's capacity to respond swiftly, and we also welcome the significant progress achieved in the development of the United Nations standby arrangements system and the new promising concept of "smart sanctions".

The role of the UN in strengthening the international legal order is in our view of paramount importance and, as a matter of fact, truly indispensable for ensuring the rule of law, stability and development of the global international community on the verge of the new millennium. In this year of commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide the United Nations has continued to act vigorously in protecting and promoting human rights. A genuine breakthrough in international law was achieved with the successful conclusion of the UN conference on the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The adoption of the Rome Statute is indeed of historic significance and now the challenge is to ensure that enough ratifications come to enable the court to be effectively established within a reasonable period of time. We find it particularly helpful that the Secretary-General tackles the issue of encouraging member states to ratify the Statute.

But it would not be honest to start and finish my comments merely with compliments. In one point, my delegation feels that the Report does not reflect properly what has been a common understanding in the UN already for some time. I am referring to the interpretation of the concept of sustainable development. Last year the 19th UNGASS reconfirmed the results of Rio Conference and stated explicitly that sustainable development is a balance of economic, social and environmental goals. However, the Report seems to repeat the past confusion. In Chapter II sustainable development is contained as just one item under the title "Cooperating for Development"- instead of making it (in accordance with the now dominant perception) a core concept of the whole development cooperation. And moreover, the picture of activities in this area is far too selective, giving only few random examples. In contrast to this, the sustainable development appears in much greater complexity in another part of the report, in Chapter IV, under the title "The environmental dimension". No doubt that the concept of sustainable development has largely been inspired by environmental concerns but we believe that putting the equal sign between "environment" and "sustainable development" has already been overcome. We would hope that future reports treat such important areas of UN activities as environment and sustainable development in a more balanced way.

To conclude, let me strike a more optimistic note. If there is an area where the UN fulfills our expectations, it is the communication. Tremendous progress has been achieved here. Adding a new dimension to our daily interaction with the UN, as well as enhancing the links between the Organization, the media and the public, the UN web site has become an indispensable tool, which will also be instrumental in paving the way for the reform process.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at the 53rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President,

May I first congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly, and wish you every success in this important position. I would also like to thank your predecessor, Mr Hennadi Udovenko, and praise him for the tireless energy he devoted to pushing through reform steps in the Organization.

This Assembly meets at a time when the world is troubled by many major problems. Let me mention seven, which I regard as crucial:

* The collapse of stock markets around the world, triggered by the Asian and Russian crises, shows how vulnerable national economies are in our increasingly globalized economy.

* Recent nuclear tests conducted by non-NPT states have jeopardized progress made in arms control and non-proliferation since the end of the Cold War, progress which is vital if global peace is to be achieved.

* We have not yet been able to end wars in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, including Europe, most notably former Yugoslavia, where the conflict in Kosovo remains unresolved.

* Terrorism continues to threaten individuals and governments; the attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are recent examples of the death and destruction terrorists continue to inflict on innocent people.

* Fundamental human rights and freedoms are still being violated and human dignity of individuals humiliated in many countries on all continents.

* The environment continues to be devastated by many aspects of activity of humankind, the global warming being one of the particularly ominous effects.

* The gap between the rich and the poor is still widening despite many efforts to challenge hunger and poverty in the developing world.

To address and solve these and other problems, international co-operation is essential. The traditional platform - the United Nations - remains the most suitable for organizing global efforts and resources needed for this task. These issues are a tremendous challenge to the UN and so it is essential that the UN's capabilities be fully exploited. The organization must respond to them with flexibility. It must provide realistic plans and procedures for dealing with problems as they arise. And it must exploit the political will necessary to implement programs once they are put in place.

Mr. President,

A country's international reputation is largely dependent on its domestic health. In my country, this year's parliamentary elections resulted in the change of government. I wish to stress that the top foreign policy priorities of the Czech Republic - joining NATO and the European Union - stem from our desire to actively contribute to the implementation of the vision. Vision of the united, democratic, peaceful, socially just and prospering Europe. Europe without tensions or conflicts, Europe of free citizens and cooperating regions based on mutual solidarity, human rights and cooperative security.

The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are expected to join the Alliance in 1999. The integration of these countries, we believe, will justify the enlargement of NATO and its contribution to European security. We are keenly aware of our shared responsibility in this matter. We expect NATO's door to remain open for other countries to join when they are ready. The Alliance's present role is not limited to safeguarding the vital interests of its members by means of collective defence; over time, it has made a contribution to global and pan-European security.We are sure that in close collaboration with other European security institutions, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), West European Union and the Council of Europe, NATO will be able to lay foundations for a future all-European security.

Preparing for the next round of enlargement of the European Union - an integration unique in the world - is a task for all Europeans. By opening up membership to Central and East European countries last year in Luxembourg, the Union has finally overcome the heritage of a divided continent. We hope the enlargement process will maintain the present momentum and that it will not be hampered by other criteria than the readiness of each candidate country.

Europe has been a contributor to the global security, however it still has to put her own house in order. One of the most complicated European security problems is managing the consequences of the division of the former Yugoslavia, and in particular the restoration of a self-sustained peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a settlement of the situation in Kosovo in Former Republic of Yugoslavia. We fully endorse the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement and believe no better solution is available. The military objectives of the Peace Agreement have been practically met - that is undeniably one of the successes of implementation of Dayton. Further progress on the civilian side, however, continues to depend on substantial international presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina which has to be maintained until the desirable end-state is achieved. That is why the Czech Republic continues to participate in the International Stabilization Force spending national resources both on its military contingents in SFOR and on the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The aggravating humanitarian catastrophy in Kosovo due to the ongoing conflict has to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Belgrade must be strongly reminded that it crossed the limits of what is tolerable and legitimate. We welcome the adoption of the UNSC resolution No. 1199 adopted under chapter VII of the U.N. Charter just few hours ago. In our view this resolution usefully foreshadows the necessary steps of the international community.

The Czech Republic has traditionally paid great attention to the Middle East peace process, and we are concerned to see that little progress has been made. In our view, a positive future for this region can only be secured by successfully completing the peace process, and we do believe the process can soon be revitalized. The Czech Republic also supports the endeavour of international community to solve the problem of Cyprus. The current status quo is unacceptable. We hope that Cyprus will be united as a federation in accordance with the appropriate UN resolutions.

We are deeply concerned to see the deterioration of security and the humanitarian situation in a number of African countries, including the region of Great Lakes, in Sudan and elsewhere. We fully support the efforts of the UN and its work with the Organization of African Unity to settle conflicts and stop the human suffering in Africa. Positive developments we can now observe include an improving situation in Sierra Leone, which is a source of our optimism on the issue of Africa. We are ready to assist the various processes at work in Africa, including the dispatching of observers to respective UN Peacekeeping Operations, and in the development of co-operation.

Recent problems in Asia have already been mentioned. Here we are concerned not only with the continuing regional economic and financial crisis and the nuclear tests, but also with enormous natural disasters taking thousands of lives and causing enormous material and environmental damage.

The scourge of international terrorism must be countered vigorously and in cooperation among all of us, as president Clinton eloquently appealed for at this forum two days ago. This task is high on the agenda of many and we believe the U.N. as the global platform should assert its responsibilities. We endorse all initiatives aimed at cutting terrorists off from any support and resources, isolating them and strictly punishing them.

Mr. President,

Being a small country, the Czech Republic is naturally interested in all international efforts aimed at prevention and resolution of armed conflicts. We support UN Peacekeeping Operations and all efforts to make them more effective. I would like to reiterate that my country is committed to contributing further to U.N. Peacekeeping operations refining its own forces to meet the new requirements. Let me point out the increasing number of attacks against the personnel participating in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, and join the call for strict punishment of the offenders of these shameful acts.

We support nuclear disarmament and we look forward to the complete elimination of nuclear arsenals. This is why we regard the nuclear tests carried out in May 1998 by countries considered non-nuclear-weapon states, as clearly negative steps. The universal compliance to the NPT Treaty is a logical step on the way towards nuclear disarmament, as well as a speedy enactment of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). On the other hand, the progress made in the Geneva Disarmament Conference towards the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty is encouraging.

The Czech Republic appreciates the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the area of chemical disarmament. We are prepared to continue contributing to the work of this Organization and to strictly implement all its commitments arising out of the respective Convention. At the same time we support all efforts meant to speed up the negotiation of the Verification Protocol text, which is to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC); we regard the Protocol as an important mechanism controlling implementation of the Convention.

The signing of the so-called Ottawa Convention on the complete ban on anti-personnel land mines by about 100 member states, including the Czech Republic, has been a great success. Now the early entry into force has been ensured. The implementation, however, will be even bigger task for all. While preparing for the ratification of the Ottawa Convention, we have a clear view of its domestic implementation.

Mr. President,

It is the Security Council that continues to have the decisive word in questions of peace and security. The Czech Republic considers itself among the "reform-minded" countries, supporting the Council's enlargement, in both categories of membership which guarantee equitable geographic representation. To be more specific, we continue supporting the aspirations of the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan, in this respect.

It is rather disappointing that after five years of the Working Group dealing with this issue that concrete results have not been achieved. On the contrary, it seems that member states are even further apart on the issue. Unfortunately, the same applies to the question of improving and simplifying the methods of the Council's work, which seemed to be near a consensus a year ago.

It is our view that the Working Group should continue its work with the aim of achieving a general agreement, as much as this is possible, until the end of the millennium. We hope that talks will eventually produce concrete results that could be put on the agenda of the 55th UN General Assembly session within the "Millennium Assembly" concept.

Mr. President,

The new Government of the Czech Republic attaches great importance to the issue of human rights. This December, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a document substantially influencing international community and international relations. The record of these 50 years is no doubt impressive, but there is still a long way to go to achieve the desired universal acceptance and indivisibility of human rights. This sad situation can be illustrated by the fact that there are still countries, governed by totalitarian regimes, where people are punished for such absurd "crimes" as distributing Universal Declaration of Human Rights or for refusing to explain where they obtained such a subversive document. However, it has to be admitted that economic sanctions or embargoes do not seem to be effective means of persuading a country to promote human rights.

The successful conclusion of the Diplomatic Conference in Rome last July which resulted in the shaping of the International Criminal Court fills us with hope. The adoption of the Court's status is a clear breakthrough in the area of humanitarian law and human rights protection. We are aware that this is only an initial stage of the long process leading to a functioning Court, but the step taken in Rome was crucial. And I would like now to express our gratitude to the Government of Italy for its substantial contribution to the success of the conference.

Mr. President,

Co-operation in the social, economic and humanitarian areas should undoubtedly be, in addition to building peace and security, major pre-occupations of the United Nations. Over the last few years there were strong discussions on ECOSOC and its function. The Czech Republic was actively involved during its ECOSOC presidency in 1997. The challenge for ECOSOC, stemming from globalization of economic and other links, was enormous. On the other hand, the actual possibilities of this body to tackle substantial issues were rather limited. But now we are pleased to see ESOSOC undergoing some promising changes.

The Czech Republic appreciates the United Nations' attention paid to the critical issue of globalization and its impact on economic and social development in the different countries of the world. For many, like my country, whose economies are undergoing a fundamental transformation, the consequences of globalization are doubly difficult to handle. That is why we would like the U.N. to have a clear agenda on globalization and we are encouraged by the lead provided by the Secretary-General.

Mr. President,

The new Government of the Czech Republic has promised in its Programme Statement a wide support for the strengthening of the United Nations authority. We have welcomed the results so far achieved in implementing the Secretary-General's plan of UN reform. Much of the reform package, however, remains unresolved and a number of proposals have not left the negotiating table. The Czech Republic supports a speedy approval and implementation of the remaining reform proposals. However, even the best blueprints do not count much without money to implement them. Like others I want to stress that the financial situation of the Organization is alarming and I would like to underline that contributing discipline is a must for all.

We look with expectations to the proposed "Millennium Assembly" in 2000, inspired among others by Czech President Václav Havel. The "Millennium Summit," held within its framework, could then focus on the challenges the United Nations will be facing in the next millennium and identify major trends and objectives of future UN activities. In addition, an important role could be played by a related non-governmental "Millennium Forum". The Czech Republic's special contribution to such a debate can be FORUM 2000 - a conference organized in Prague next month aimed at highlighting global problems mankind faces at the threshold of the 21st century.

In conclusion, allow me, Mr. President, to express my sincere belief in the eventual success of the UN reform process. I think that we all can agree that from this process UN, a truly remarkable organization, will emerge consolidated, strengthened and more capable than ever of solving the problems of the contemporary world - an Organization open to all, who are willing to contribute to the fulfilment of this important task.

Thank you for your kind attention.