Address by Mr. Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentine Republic.
61th session General Assembly – 13th plenary meeting – 3 p.m. New York
I would like to congratulate you, Ms. Al-Khalifa, on your election as President of the General Assembly at this session, since I believe it is very significant that a woman has assumed that role, to promote gender equality, which is a goal both of my Government and of the United Nations.
On behalf of the Argentine Republic, we would also like to congratulate the President of the General Assembly at its sixtieth session, Mr. Jan Eliasson, for the work he carried out, and to renew our recognition of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his role in action promoting peace, multilateralism and the fight against poverty.
We have come to the General Assembly in the firm belief that the revitalization of this forum of global representation is fundamental so that international law can be the instrument of rationality that will enable us to settle conflicts and combat the threats to peace.
The international conduct of the Argentine Republic is inspired by the values of representative democracy, respect for fundamental human rights and active defence of international peace and security. Those principles, shared by the vast majority of the Argentine people, guide our administration and are the basis of our foreign policy decisions.
In the field of human rights, in 2003, after more than two decades of sustained democratic rule in Argentina, we experienced a true paradigm shift. In response to the mandates of the whole of society, the three powers of the State adopted, within their respective purviews, concurrent decisions against impunity, preserving memory, truth and justice and securing reparations.
The annulment by Congress of the laws that accorded impunity for State-sponsored crimes of terrorism, the ruling that those laws and pardons granted by the courts in our country were unconstitutional, and the reopening of over a thousand court proceedings for crimes against humanity — some of which have resulted in the conviction of those responsible — constitute landmarks of that shift. It is our conviction that democracy is strengthened with the simultaneous fight against impunity and promotion of full respect for the rule of law, without calling for revenge.
With that experience, we have, since the beginning of the reform of the United Nations system, strongly supported incorporating human rights into the hierarchy so as to raise the institutional level of their treatment to that already given to development and to the maintenance of international peace and security.
That determination led us to establish the Human Rights Council, in whose creation Argentina participated actively. The first steps of that body have been positive, having approved the text of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. That is an instrument of great significance for our country, as it defines a crime against humanity from which Argentina suffered massively in the past, at a high cost to our society. We have among us here today a representative of an organization that was extremely involved with that issue — one of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Mrs. Marta Vázquez, who is accompanying our delegation.
We hope the General Assembly will adopt that very important instrument quickly, during this session. Five years after the attacks that shocked this city and the world, we would like to firmly condemn the serious threat of global terrorism. Argentina considers all acts of terrorism against innocent civilians to be criminal and unjustifiable, and accepts no argument to justify such methods.
The Argentine people suffered two atrocious attacks in the 1990s against the Embassy of Israel and the headquarters of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina. We are still struggling, in spite of the time that has elapsed, to fully clarify the facts and punish the culprits. We believe that, in order to face this criminal threat successfully, we must carry out a sustained multilateral and legitimate response.
Respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and refugee law is essential, as are international cooperation and legal assistance to effectively enforce the norms against terrorism. If, in facing down global terrorism, we resort to a global violation of human rights, the only winner in this fight shall be terrorism. We will advance firmly in the fight against terrorism only if we frame it within respect for local laws and international norms and conventions. No complication can be an excuse for not combating terrorism within the law.
Peace is built and maintained by understanding the true concept of solidarity among nations from a wider perspective than the purely military or the predominantly unilateral. Nations big and small, rich and poor, will be markedly vulnerable if we fail to grasp that the fight against terrorism demands sustained multilateral, intelligent action firmly based in legitimacy, respect for fundamental rights, proportionality of response and the support of international public opinion.
We would like to express our concern regarding the hostilities on the border between Israel and Lebanon, resulting in hundreds of casualties, severe damage to the civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons.
The violence must stop. We need to address the causes at the heart of the crisis, avoid the disproportionate use of force, and understand that only negotiated political solutions can
hold in the long term. Argentina will continue to support a fair solution to the Middle East problems within the framework of resolution 1701 (2006).
We must understand that the world will move closer to peace only insofar as it promotes equality and struggles to eradicate poverty and exclusion. That is true both for the global system and for each country nationally.
Argentina supports the building of societies that are fairer, more equitable and with a better distribution of the benefits of economic growth. We also believe that each country has the right to search for its own development model with no external conditionalities.
We not only aspire to generate sustainable growth; we also want it to reach everyone. There must be harmonized growth that translates into a balanced income distribution, because we know that what is needed is not development for a mere few, but the development of the whole country.
In the region and in the Common Market of the South, we want an efficient instrument to address poverty and exclusion; we want the common good to prevail over sectarian interests and to overcome stagnation and the technology gap; and we want to define a sustainable and productive development model that valorizes our competitive advantages and fosters our vast wealth in human and material resources.
The economic situation of the Republic is very different from what it was when our Administration began. We are achieving true structural change. That includes uninterrupted growth at rates of between 8 and 9 per cent; the growing participation of investment in the gross domestic product; record local savings rates; the resurrection of local industry; a fiscal surplus at historic levels; a clear expansion of our industrial sales to the world; the systematic decrease of local and external public debt; the preventive accumulation of reserves; lesser external exposure; a marked drop in unemployment; a strengthening of the income of wage earners and retirees; and a significant fall of poverty and destitution levels.
With a prudent monetary policy, an orderly fiscal policy, a fiscal and commercial surplus, and a responsible management of indebtedness, we are increasingly reducing the vulnerability and uncertainty that characterized the Argentine economy in the past.
Decent work, social inclusion, national production, internal consumption and sustained growth have allowed us to fulfil the goals of the Millennium Declaration, although there is still a long way to go to recover from the hell into which we had fallen.
We seek the integral sustainability of that process, not only in its macroeconomic aspects, but also guaranteeing social equity and a fairer distribution of income through the reduction of poverty and unemployment. In implementing a national education plan with a strong federal emphasis that highlights the challenge of improving the quality of education, ensures the growing funding of the public sector, and interacts with the private sector, we seek also to achieve its strategic sustainability.
We cannot but point out that these achievements have not been supported by the International Monetary Fund, which has denied us any kind of aid, and, it must be said, that they are in many cases the result of ignoring or even contradicting its recommendations and conditionalities. We have sufficient empirical proof of the failure of international financial organizations in the promotion of development in less developed countries.
In many cases, their conditionalities have actually had the opposite effect, hindering development. The world has changed and those organizations have not. They still insist on jeopardizing advancement with their misguided interference. That is why we support, together with most countries, the reform of the international financial architecture to make it more effectual in assisting the progress of nations with fewer resources. In noting the reluctance of international financial organizations to effect any real change in their policies, we feel it necessary to endorse such change and to consider the creation of new international financial instruments that would allow us to fund development projects to fight poverty and hunger in the world and generate true options for progress.
Argentina is distressed to note the stagnation in the negotiations of the Doha Round for the
development of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is imperative, within the current globalization process — from which developing countries must profit — to reach a successful and balanced result fully consistent with the mandate of the Doha Declaration.
Thus, we reaffirm the need to reach a satisfactory result in agriculture in this WTO round, including a substantial reduction in domestic subsidies, the elimination of export subsidies and ample access to the markets of developed countries.
We are increasingly concerned to see the deterioration of the global environment. We affirm that there can be no double standards. The environment must be protected in developed and in developing countries, in rich countries and in poor, in the countries of the North and of the South, in the central and in the peripheral countries.
In developing their industries, the more industrialized countries have profited from a true
environmental subsidy from the rest of the countries which today compromise, in their relative backwardness, a true world environmental reserve.
That is why we cannot accept that those countries that have achieved greater development — often at the expense of the degradation of the environment and by producing a severe global effect evident in climate change — should seek to transfer to us the more contaminating part of their industrial processes.
There can be no reliable solutions without the concerted action of all countries of the world, insofar as the nature of the problem is of a global scale. It is unacceptable for the claims of the developing States to go unnoticed. It is imperative to take the path of solutions.
Our countries wish to receive investments and present profitable opportunities in the energy, transportation and infrastructure fields, and even in sensitive sectors. Therein lies a strong foundation for international collaboration, but we do not want investors to undertake activities in our countries that are prohibited in the industrialized countries just so that they can improve the profits of shareholders by creating the illusion of an allegedly less expensive product by raising the costs of environmental pollution, deteriorating health conditions and lowered life expectancy.
On a different subject, we attach high importance to our participation, together with other countries of the region, in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. In our view, beyond the progress achieved in the transition, the steady support and economic assistance of the international community will continue to be critical in the areas of security, the strengthening of institutions, the fostering of political dialogue, the protection of human rights, social inclusion, the promotion of the rule of law, the creation of administrative capacity and, above all, the promotion of economic and social development through concrete contributions.
We reiterate here our will to achieve peaceful nuclear development under the verification of international organizations. Argentina’s commitment to disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, our adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and our longstanding practice in the field are known to all.
In conclusion, I wish to recall that the question of the Malvinas Islands — which includes the Malvinas, the South Georgias, the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime area — has been under consideration by the United Nations since 1965. The General Assembly and its Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization have defined this as a special case that differs from traditional colonial situations in that it involves a sovereignty dispute that must be resolved through bilateral negotiations between my country and the United Kingdom, in accordance with the provisions of resolution 2065 (XX) and other relevant resolutions.
We must stress that the Government of the United Kingdom persists in ignoring those General Assembly resolutions. Nonetheless, I would like to reaffirm once again my country’s readiness to engage in constructive dialogue with the United Kingdom. We call upon the United Kingdom to promptly heed the request of the international community to resume negotiations.
In conclusion, we are firmly convinced that the basis exists for international cooperation that can help the world move towards peace. The tensions and difficulties besetting humanity must not prevent us from understanding the extent to which the authoritarian notion that military might can provide unilateral solutions to conflicts and threats is starting to recede.
That mistaken belief has led only to failure and great suffering.
Only multilateral solutions, reached through the arduous process of negotiation, despite their limitations, can move us forward. In this context, the United Nations has a fundamental role to play in ensuring greater understanding among nations with a view to creating a safe, peaceful and fairer world in the years to come.