Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba, Ambassador Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at the General Assembly, under Agenda items: "Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (55)"; "United Nations Reform: measures and proposals (57)"; "Restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields (58)"; and "Strengthening of the United Nations System (59)". New York, 28 october 2003.
The strengthening and reform of the United Nations aims at reestablishing the Organization's centrality within the international relations system, ensuring the rule of International Law and that of the Charter, reconstructing the collective security system and guaranteeing the development of multilateralism and cooperation among States.
If we look forward to restoring credibility within the world public opinion and international community's confidence in the United Nations, we have to make sure the Organization responds to the collective interests of its Member States.
The UN reform compulsorily requires the reaffirmation of the Charter's full validity, as ratified in the Millennium Declaration 3 years ago. The Charter's Purposes and Principles, including the sovereign equality of States, respect for nation's political independence and the non-interference in States' domestic affairs, have to be implemented without restrictions.
A profound and consistent UN reform is not possible under the non-prevention of the use and threat to use force, which openly violates the spirit and the letter of the Charter that only recognizes the exercise of the inherent right of self defense in response to a perpetrated act of aggression.
Multilateralism shall be defended for it alleges full observance of International Law and the practice of democracy in international relations.
It is urgent to reestablish the Security Council's primary responsibility as regards international peace-keeping and security with full and strict respect for the Charter. Its procedures shall undergo profound review, including the exercise of the veto. Its Permanent and Non-Permanent membership shall be broadened in order to rectify the insufficient representation of developing countries. It is indispensable to put an end to double standards and that the Security Council stops serving hegemonic interests. Excesses shall conclude, and paradoxically, also the omissions in the implementation of Chapter VII of the Charter and Chapter VI shall be widely and profoundly used. The Council, in its proceedings, shall honor the principle of States sovereign equality and cease Non-Permanent Member discrimination, whose legitimacy lies in their election by this Assembly.
Correlations of the international order unavoidably are reproduced at the General Assembly. Likewise, they determine the Security Council's proceedings.
We are considering a complex issue: How to strengthen the United Nations in an age when unilateralism is on the upsurge? How to democratize the United Nations amid a totalitarian unipolar order?
We have respectfully listened to a Permanent Member's proposal of substituting, essentially, the postulates of the UN Charter by what he called "Seven Principles", which I would like to comment on:
1. Responsibility: States shall strictly apply the Charter, the norms of International Law and International Humanitarian Law and, in good faith, comply with their legal obligations. UN Membership's collective interest shall prevail.
2. Accountability: The concept of international responsibility of States is not new. States infringing on violations of the Charter, International Law, and International Humanitarian Law, undermining peace or undertaking acts of aggression or human right violations, or applying unilateral coercive measures under any pretext, shall assume the legal and political consequences of their acts. Those jeopardizing the collective security system to meet hegemonic interests incur in serious political and legal responsibility. Strata of power should not be created at the United Nations to substitute the principle of sovereign equality. We do not like the idea of "he, who pays the piper, calls the tune" for the United Nations.
3. Effectiveness: No structure or function rationalization may compensate neither the absence of political will of powerful States nor unilateral tendencies. Double standards and the hindrance of legitimate mandates which are not at the service of the powers, cause the greatest damage.
4. Stewardship of financial resources: The United Nations should retake its function to ensure the exercise of the right to development, implement Millennium Declaration goals and stop being a micro-administration agency for the policies outlined by Breton Woods Institutions. A new financial infrastructure is required, or at least, a more profound reform. Assessment to the United Nations should be fully paid on time without any political conditions. Modifications introduced in Scale of Assessments are to be reviewed, pursuant to Resolution 55/5C, in accordance with the main debtors' state of the payments.
5. Modernization: The veto should disappear. Secret vote election of all bodies' membership should be maintained as a foundational principle of any democratic system. It would be useful to investigate on how to confirm the legitimacy of current and eventual Permanent Members or irrevocability when their proceeding results incompatible with the Charter and with International Law. Political and financial pressure to obtain votes should cease. Political manipulation of the Commission on Human Rights should end. We are willing to discuss about its membership quality which comprises colonial powers and ex-powers; the current debt usurers; the most serious cases of racism and xenophobia; those responsible for flagrant, massive and systematic violations of economic and social rights including the right to development; the cases of corporative fraud and corruption of the political system and even serious situations of absence of citizen involvement and electoral fraud.
6. Credibility: Credibility is proved at the ballots, in UN democracy exercise. Imposing positions on Third Stated by means of threat or bribery is a very serious act. Double standards should disappear, especially regarding the use of the veto. There is a gap between power balances at the United Nations and the interest of peoples and that of the majority of States.
7. Freedom: Respect for political independence of States, territorial integrity, the exercise of people's right to self-determination and the struggle against foreign occupation should be universal. Hegemony should cease and democracy in international relations reestablished.
UN strengthening and reform should enable it to comprehensibly implement the Millennium Declaration in reference to the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction -especially nuclear weapons- in order to reduce their role in security doctrines and policies, stop their qualitative development and accumulation, and also prevent the development of new highly lethal conventional weapons and the use of outer space for non-peaceful purposes.
The strengthening and reform of the United Nations also implies that the Organization fully uses its powers to act as keystone in the analysis of international economic issues and the coordination of international community efforts for development; in the creation of a more just, inclusive, democratic and sustainable international economic system ensuring access to the benefits of globalization for developing countries.
The capacity of the United Nations in terms of peace-building activities and armed conflict prevention shall be reinforced, as stated in General Assembly Resolution 57/337.
The strengthening and reform of the United Nations Organization shall be aimed at promoting cooperation and dialog among Member States to assure the promotion and protection of all interrelated and interdependent human rights for all human beings and peoples; and launch concrete actions to find peaceful settlements for humanitarian international problems, under strict respect for the principles and norms of International Law and Humanitarian International Law.
The functions and prerogatives respectively ascribed to the General Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC under the Charter, in order to achieve the purposes it enunciates, shall be respected. Likewise, the Security Council's interference in the ECOSOC and the General Assembly's competencies shall end, including the whimsical interpretation of Article 65 of the Charter attempting to subordinate it to the Security Council.
In this process, the General Assembly should reassume the broad responsibilities entrusted to it in the Charter, including those resulting from an eventual impasse of the Security Council to reject the use of force when attempting to reach hegemonic political goals, and insist on the fact that only peaceful settlements for controversies may lead to world security, stability, justice and democracy.
We shall achieve that the General Assembly performs its central functions, as a main deliberative, policy-making and representative UN organ, done in an effective and dynamic way, action-oriented, adjusted to current international priorities and contingencies and pursuant to the Charter.
General Assembly resolutions are not binding, nor does the General Assembly have the means to force their implementation. Notwithstanding, History has shown through many examples that their powerful political, ethic and legal message has had, at the end, after long years, considerable impact on the international reality, resulting from a long process of accumulation.
We consider the main problem nowadays is the lack of implementation of many Resolutions adopted by the Assembly, which constitutes an important governing body although it remains inert for its implementation depends on the political will of States having the political, military and economic power to do so.
Hence, it seems to be normal that this also happens to many resolutions on the UN reform, whose implementation level is limited. We curiously even lack a balance or detailed records of it, allowing full implementation previously to the beginning of other reform stages.
Nevertheless, the General Assembly, with absolute realism, may aim at debating crucial and urgent international reality issues to adopt concrete action-oriented resolutions.
An important contribution to its works could be the disagregation of its main Committees' now compact schedule -covering from October to December- whose intensity and simultaneity are an insurmountable burden for the reduced missions of developing countries.
The infertile reiteration of discourses agreed on once and again should be substituted by actions of practical and concrete impact, without detriment to Agenda items and interests of Member States whose political sensitivity and complexity demand longer cycles.
It is necessary to rationalize the General Assembly Agenda through a patient and democratic consensus-seeking process.
We believe, for example, the multilateral analysis of items "United Nations Reform: Measures and Proposals"; "Restructuring and Revitalization of the United Nations in the Economic, Social and Related Fields" and "Strengthening of the United Nations System" should be maintained. Should this approach be adopted, the Secretary General could submit a consolidated report on these issues to follow up on relevant General Assembly provisions.
Furthermore, we suggest considering the possibility of unifying such issues in a single one, which would contribute to rationalizing plenary works and would allow us, Member States, to have a more coherent, comprehensive and unified approach on proposals and measures aimed at strengthening the United Nations.
The efforts to revitalize the work of main committees should be in line with the general guidelines established at Plenary-level, after a comprehensive consultation process among Member States. Recommendations to improve Plenary and Committees' working methods, including the possibility of rationalizing their work programs, should result from consensus and comprehensive consultations.
Notwithstanding, we shall not be deceived: the effectiveness of the Plenary and Committees' work will depend much more on the political will of Member States than on changes of their working methods, which should not affect, in any case, the mandates and priorities stated by the Millennium Development Goals; General Assembly Special Sessions results, UN Conferences and Summits and priorities contained in the Medium-Term Plan, as clearly defined in Resolution 57/300.
My delegation hopes that as a result of this process, the interaction between the Secretariat and the General Assembly also comes out strengthened, so that the former can respond in a more effective way to the mandates of Member States.
In this process, Mr. President, you may rely on the full willingness and constructive participation of the Cuban delegation.
Thank you very much.