News

Freedom from fear

21.4.2005

The Permanent Mission of Iceland

to the United Nations

 

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson

Permanent Representative of Iceland

to the United Nations

 

at the informal thematic consultations of the General Assembly

on Cluster II (Freedom from fear)

contained in the report of the Secretary General

(In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all)

 

 New York, 21 April, 2005

 

 

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY




The Secretary-General builds his Cluster II “Freedom from fear” around two ideas: firstly, that no one state can fully protect itself on its own; the range and scope of the threats we face are too wide.  Secondly, in order to address threats effectively we must have a shared assessment of what these threats are.  

Life and limb is threatened by terrorist acts, weapons of mass destruction, disease, hunger, organised crime and environmental degradation. We need to arrive at a comprehensive concept of collective security which recognises this.  Iceland applauds the conceptual work achieved in this regard by the High Level Panel and the Secretary-General.

Prevention

Reducing the prevalence of war is clearly a major contribution to freeing millions from fear – and it is a prerequisite for alleviating other fears; for example, disease, poverty and hunger are all very difficult problems to address in war zones.  We therefore welcome the overall emphasis in this chapter on investing in prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

Practical steps to equip the UN better to build peace and prevent conflict are urgently needed and we welcome the proposals to increase resources to the Secretary-General for his good offices function.  We also welcome the proposal to create a Peacebuilding Commission and a Peacebuilding Support Office within the UN Secretariat. Iceland believes that this could bridge the gap between peace making and development.   It is, however, important that the Peacebuilding Commission has sufficient access to key bodies, in particular the Security Council and ECOSOC, and that it has a membership with sufficient commitment to carry out its mandate.

We welcome the explanatory note of the Secretary General on the Peacebuilding Commission and we will comment in more detail on the proposal during the cluster debate next week on institutional reform.

We agree that greater involvement and mandating of regional organisations is a very useful way forward to bolstering international peace-keeping capacity.

Terrorism

Iceland supports the thrust of the five-point strategy outlined by the Secretary-General on terrorism. We also believe that to make such a strategy work, we must have a common understanding of what we are dealing with.  Iceland therefore strongly supports the proposal for a definition of terrorism.  Iceland will be ready to endorse a definition in line with the Secretary-General’s proposal at the summit in September.

Iceland welcomes the adoption of the Convention for the Suppression of acts of Nuclear Terrorism and supports the call to all member states to sign it at the 2005 Treaty Event in September

As to the threat posed by biological weapons and disease in the hands of terrorists, Iceland supports the proposal to increase support to the World Health Organization Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network for its role in monitoring and responding to outbreaks of deadly infectious disease.

Finally, on terrorism, we strongly support the basic principle that human rights must be safeguarded in the fight against terrorism – not to do so could mean that we substitute one kind of fear for another.

Organised crime

Organised crime is inimical to global security.  It is often a facilitator of terrorism. Criminals and terrorists are major human rights offenders.  Organised crime has to be faced head-on. Iceland supports the call to all member states to ratify and implement conventions on crime and corruption. We also are ready to support moves to increase resources for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for its role in overseeing implementation of the Conventions.

Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons

Iceland strongly supports the calls of the Secretary-General to reinvigorate and strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation structures with the aim of controlling weapons of mass destruction. A positive signal would be to maintain the moratorium on nuclear test explosions and bring about the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Iceland supports the call to States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to endorse these measures at the 2005 Review Conference.

At the same time it is vital that all states planning to use nuclear energy for peaceful means open themselves to effective monitoring by the IAEA.  We support calls for a strengthening of this agency.

As to chemical and biological weapons, countries possessing these should lead the way in expressing commitment to weapons control, while the UN and the international community must provide strengthened multilateral structures to ensure that all states follow their lead.

The proposals to increase consultation between the Security Council and the IAEA, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the WHO are also timely.

Small arms are rightly identified by the Secretary-General as a major exacerbator of conflict. This is an area in which concerted and determined action is needed and we welcome the proposals from the Secretary-General in this regard.

Use of force

We have already expressed support for the emphasis on prevention in addressing threats to our security. Where pressure needs to be brought to bear, sanctions adopted by the Security Council must be carefully targeted to minimise the effect on innocent civilians.  At the same time they must be implemented with absolute commitment by member states.

In addition to sanctions, the use of internationally mandated courts can be an effective implement in preventing conflict by providing a disincentive to perpetrators.

However, there are occasions when a state becomes a threat to its neighbours or to the world community or when it patently fails in its duty to protect its own citizens.  There are occasions when these governments refuse to take heed of Security Council resolutions. On such occasions it is incumbent upon the Security Council to act with determination in the interests of the international community at large.

The five guidelines proposed by the Secretary-General by which the Security Council could weigh threats to international peace could be a useful reference point in decision making – however, it is important that such guidelines facilitate decision making and do not distract from taking action.

In line with your instructions I have limited myself to comments on Cluster II of the Secretary-General’s report and we are looking forward to addressing issues of the remaining two Clusters next week.



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