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Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegation of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries at the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

(New York, November 14, 2001)

STATEMENT BY H.E. GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF COLOMBIA

 

Madam Chairman:

Permit me first of all to express to you, and through you to the Government of South Africa, our appreciation for the outstanding role, which your country has been playing as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Just a few weeks ago, our Movement marked the fortieth year of its existence. During this long period, it has maintained a visible presence as a relevant actor on the world stage. We have reached the twenty-first century united by the ideals and objectives that we share and inspired by a sense of collective solidarity in the face of the problems and challenges of the developing world.

Indeed, our Movement has managed to maintain its raison d'etre, thanks in large measure to the continued validity of the principles that have inspired it since its establishment. This has been evident, following the disappearance of the bipolar world, in the Summit Conferences held in Jakarta, Cartagena de Indias and Durban.

However, the speed and complexity of the developments that have occurred early in the new millennium have raised up hitherto unknown challenges and pointed to the need for a comprehensive and up-to-date response. It could in fact be said that reality has changed much faster than our grouping.

Against this background, the holding of the next Summit of the Movement takes on vital importance. The Summit is the principal forum not only to give political impetus to the Movement, at the highest level, but also to define a strategic course of action that is consistent with the demands of the international agenda.

The highest importance should therefore be attached to the consultations aimed at determining the venue of the next Summit and, if possible, at making available additional information on the Summit during the course of this Ministerial Meeting.

The Summit and its preparatory process offer a valuable opportunity to carry out an in-depth review of the Movement's priorities so as to ensure that they are appropriately attuned to the complex realities of today. If we fail to do so, we run the risk of being excluded from or left on the margins of the decisions that are being taken to shape the new global agenda.

In this connection, it would be timely to undertake as early as possible an exercise of reflection to identify ideas, recommendations and initiatives that would help to consolidate and strengthen the role of the Movement in the years to come. The results of this exercise could be submitted to the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau to be convened as the preparatory body for the Summit. In this way, we will be contributing to the strengthening and invigoration of our Movement in order to make it more relevant.

Madam Chairman:

Without doubt, one of the issues for reflection should be the new threats and challenges to international security. The terrorist attacks carried out two months ago showed the frightening scale of these threats transformed into painful reality. Thousands of innocent lives were lost and international peace and stability destroyed. In addition, these events have had far-reaching economic repercussions, most of the cost of which must be borne by the countries that are most vulnerable.

The comprehension of the terrorist threat should lead us to a number of reflections to avoid misleading messages vis a vis its challenges and obligations that it imposes to each society and to the international community.

We can not fall into the trap posed by those that present terrorism as "clash of civilization or of cultures". Cultures are confronted through the great mechanisms of interrogation, irony, doubt, subtlety, but before all, with the conviction that "culture is confluence", it is the coming together, it is convergence, and above all, it is the recognition of "being a little of the other" so that each one of us is a part of all. In this regard, we can assure that the non-existence of one civilization or of a pure civilization, is one of the real guarantees for peace.

We cannot fall into the more perverse trap of appreciating terrorism as a consequence of a "war of religions" or to accept that we are in a war of Muslims and Christians. Religions that have been attached importance to the process of making the world a better place dialogue and evolve proposing diverse values, as well as different attitudes that enrich the future of people and communities in their short and long lasting time in this world.

We are before a phenomena of criminals and fanatics that have attempted to assault the scenarios of culture, religion and politics to discharge a game of interests normally linked to the submission of many through the blind obedience to persistent injustices and social inequalities, and the lack of freedom and democracy.

Colombia associates itself with the Movement's position of rejection of international terrorism, whomsoever its authors and whatever its manifestations, practices, methods, motivations or place of perpetration. We also believe that the Movement should endorse the principle of shared responsibility, which the international community is called upon to adopt in the fight against this scourge. In this regard, special emphasis must be placed on measures to combat the global problems of illicit drugs, money laundering, and arms smuggling, all factors that contribute to acts of international terrorism.

The climate of tension created by the recent events makes it even more necessary than before to seek progress towards a solution to regional conflicts that pose threats to international peace and security. Colombia attaches great importance in this regard to the situation in the Middle East and shares the Movement's concern at the deteriorating situation in that region. We are confident that the efforts to revive the peace process in the region will bear fruit and agree that priority should be given to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Mitchell report.

During the current month of November, Colombia is serving for the second time this year as coordinator of the Non-Aligned Caucus in the United Nations Security Council. We shall continue to perform this task inspired by the principles defended by the Movement, including the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the norms of international law, in particular those enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

Last August, while serving as President of the Security Council, Colombia promoted the initiative that led to the adoption of a special declaration on the illicit trade in small arms. That initiative benefited from the impetus given by the Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons held in July in the United Nations. I wish to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Colombia for the unequivocal support given by the Movement from the time that Colombia indicated that it aspired to preside over that Conference, as well as for the support given during the Conference itself. We hope that our performance justified your support, which was as the same time a mandate from our grouping.

Madam Chairman:

The problem of development should also occupy a place of importance on the Movement's agenda. In 2002, two meetings of crucial importance will be held: the Monterey Conference on Financing for Development and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development.

Our countries' continuing and urgent need for financial resources to effectively meet the challenges of globalization and to overcome the prevailing levels of poverty, illiteracy and mortality, and the promotion of sustainable patterns of growth and development require proactive participation in the preparatory stages for both events. These must be viewed as an integral part of the process.

The Movement should offer its political support to the negotiations by the Group of 77 and promote adequate channels of coordination between the two groupings. In this way, we will help to maximize the results that the developing countries expect from these conferences.

Our presence in these negotiations is one of the most urgent challenges that we face in the current context of globalization. And an opportunity to reaffirm that development is the critical foundation for the promotion of peace, security, equity and justice.

Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.

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