Statement by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja at the UN General Assembly

56th Session New York 11 November, 2001

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The terrorist attacks of 11 September are about to thoroughly change the world but we do not yet know how. The aftermath of these events has shown that there are more issues that unite us than issues that separate us. We also know that preventing terrorism and other global threats requires the broadest possible cooperation. The United Nations is the main forum for such cooperation. This was demonstrated immediately after the attacks when both the General Assembly and the Security Council in a prompt manner condemned the terrorist attacks as threats to international peace and security and expressed their readiness to combat all forms of terrorism. Now it is extremely urgent to finalise the negotiations on a comprehensive convention on suppression of international terrorism. I appeal to everyone to quickly agree on the outstanding question of the draft.

These attacks have also profoundly affected our sense of security both as Member States and as individuals. Fear and insecurity were globalised over night. But democratic societies cannot be destroyed by such acts. When faced with threats our common values and democracy will only get stronger. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and whoever its victims may be. There is no justification for it.

I extend on behalf of the Government of Finland our condolences to the families of the victims, to the citizens of New York, to all Americans as well as President Bush. We have expressed our solidarity with the United Sates, as we would have done with any other country affected by such attacks.

The rapidly changing world and the new threats require a changed thinking in the international organisations. We must respond quickly and efficiently to the challenges of the real world. We cannot be buried in old rhetoric and positions when people outside require concrete action and help. International cooperation after all benefits all states - big and small. I hope that the unique coalition and cooperation against terrorism will be reflected on other issues that are our common concerns.

The statement in the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations being "an indispensable common house of the entire human family, through which we will seek to realise our universal aspirations for peace, cooperation and development ", is now truer than ever. Fight against terrorism and the Afghan situation are on the top of the UN agenda but there are other issues and processes that require true cooperation in order to be successful. In this context I would like underline the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the conferences on sustainable development, financing for development and children.

Mr. President,

One of our common responsibilities is the maintenance of international peace and security. This is one of the issues that unites us and is in everybody’s interest. The United Nations is the only international organisation with global competences in the area of security policies. Ongoing crises are, however, so complex that they require united efforts and combined resources. This is particularly true of the Middle East where a return to the peace process is an urgent necessity. To this end we all have to pressure both parties as well as those who can influence them.

The complexity of international crises has required a close and comprehensive look by the UN on how to improve its performance in peace operations. The whole continuum that reaches from conflict prevention through crisis management to post conflict peace building with a strong emphasis on preventive action in every phase requires a fresh approach as proposed in the report of the Brahimi panel and in the comprehensive review of the DPKO. Finland supports their full implementation.

The report of the Secretary-General on prevention of armed conflicts and its recommendations are an important contribution to the core activities of the United Nations. The Secretary-General’s call reiterated by the Security Council on the development of a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy is timely and warranted. By the adoption of the Programme for Prevention of Violent Conflicts the European Union underlines its political commitment to pursue conflict prevention as one of the main objectives in its external relations. This is also a good example of mutually supportive actions by the UN and the EU. This is again an issue that requires a holistic view and a system-wide approach.

Finland supports an increased focus by the United Nations on crises prevention and on root causes of conflicts. Promotion of democracy, human rights, rule of law, eradication of poverty, discrimination, racism and impunity, increased equality and social development as well as prevention of environmental threats all point to the same direction.

The complexity of present crises - be it in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in the Balkans or in Africa - and limited resources available have made different organisations seek cooperation and complementarity in their actions. Chapter VIII of the UN Charter puts strong emphasis on regional arrangements dealing with issues relating to international peace and security. The Security Council shall utilise such regional arrangements for enforcement action.

The European Union is in the process of developing its own crisis management capacity, both civilian and military capacities. In this work Finland just like the whole EU is committed to contributing to international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The European Union has adopted conclusions on its cooperation in conflict prevention and crisis management with the United Nations. Areas and modalities for such cooperation have been identified in close cooperation with the UN. It will progress as the European Security and Defence Policy develops focusing on substantive issues and concrete needs in a pragmatic manner. This cooperation focuses on conflict prevention, civilian and military aspects of crisis management and on regional crises like the Western Balkans, Middle East and Africa.

There will be a wider and more concrete scope for cooperation when the EU within two years achieves its military capability. At present it is difficult to say what kind of operations and when the EU could or would execute. In Finland’s case the law requires that the UN or the OSCE mandate such an operation.

In present complex crises civilian aspects of crisis management have and will become all the more relevant in all organisations. The European Union has developed its civilian capabilities in four priority areas that are civilian police, strengthening the rule of law, strengthening civilian administration and civil protection. In these areas the EU and the UN as well as other international organisations must also seek synergies and complementarity.

Mr. President,

The Millennium Summit and the Millennium Declaration are an outstanding achievement in the UN history. The Declaration manifests a unique commitment to multilateralism by all the Member States of the United Nations. It sets an ambitious agenda and goals to the UN for years to come. Without effective implementation it is only a piece of paper. Also its implementation requires common action and strengthened commitment to multilateralism. The Secretary-General’s road map gives us guidance on how to maintain the Millennium momentum and how to proceed although the onus is on the Member States.

This year alone the UN has organised five conferences and special sessions and hundreds of other meetings that are an integral part of the follow-up and implementation of the Millennium Declaration. These processes should show the same kind of commitment as was experienced in the Summit. Unfortunately I have to say that none of these conferences and special sessions has come close to reflecting the commitment that was so noticeable in the Millennium Summit. We need invigorated common efforts to genuinely implement the ambitious agenda adopted only a year ago and to uphold multilateralism. I hope we can see improvement in this respect in the next summits and conferences.

The moral and political commitment to the Declaration should lead to its effective implementation. The strong support for these common objectives and our determination to achieve them need much more action to become a reality. Such challenges as halving, by the year 2015, the proportion of people living in poverty should not be jeopardised by narrow national interests.

Mr. President,

Globalisation and harnessing it to benefit all remain one of the major challenges to the international community. Common approach is needed in this work too. We have to learn how to deal with the paradox of democracy spreading across the world and disillusions about its workings. The key to explaining this paradox is globalisation. It poses a demand to develop strong new democratic policies and institutions for international and global governance. They must be developed in the United Nations but also at regional level like in the European Union.

The Government of Finland recently prepared a study on Finnish policies on globalisation. One of its main conclusions was that in solving multinational crises created by globalisation the role of and cooperation between national governments will be growing - not diminishing. The United Nations is the most universal forum for inter-governmental cooperation. Finland supports the United Nations to be one of the central actors in harnessing globalisation at the universal level.

Mr. Secretary-General,

Last but definitely not least. I should like to congratulate the United Nations and you, Mr. Secretary–General, for the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a well-deserved recognition to the UN and the Secretary-General for their work to give us a better and more peaceful world. The Prize coming at the time of this crisis when multilateral cooperation is needed more than ever it is enhancing the authority and role of the United Nations as a unique organisation with worldwide responsibilities. At the same time it raises expectations for an even more effective United Nations. The efforts to renew and modernise the organisation to meet these expectations must be taken seriously by the Organisation and all its Member States.

I should also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you upon your re-appointment as the Secretary General. The unanimous support given to you by Member States is the best possible credential to continue your work to benefit the organisation as well as its Member States. I hope that Member States will continue to support you also by full financial contributions.

Your commitment to the culture of prevention has been manifested by your personal and dedicated commitment to preventive diplomatic efforts in different crisis situations. Your personal input and participation is highly appreciated by Finland. We hope that you can intensify your efforts in this respect for example in Afghanistan and the Middle East. In these efforts you have the support of the international community.

I would also commend you for some specific openings that have brought a whole new and necessary dimension to the work of the United Nations. I would like to commend you for your outreach towards the civil society and private sector. Excellent examples in this area are the Global Compact bringing human rights, environmental concerns and labour standards to the core of business and your ICT Task Force bringing business to the core of the United Nations. I agree with you that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organisations, business community and civil society. In today’s world, we depend on each other. Globalisation makes that dependence stronger and more challenging.

I would also thank you and through you the whole Secretariat for all the assistance you have given to Mr. Holkeri during his tenure as the President of the General Assembly for the previous session.

I wish you every success leading this organisation. You are not going to lack challenges.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.