- First Committee of the General Assembly: Disarmament and International Security
- Fourth Committee of the General Assembly: Special Political and Decolonization
- Fifth Committee of the General Assembly: Administrative and Budget
- Sixth Committee of the General Assembly: Legal
- Economic and Social Council
- Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
I. Relationship between Disarmament and Development
Since World War II, the escalation of violence between and within countries has increased greatly, lending some people to believe that more people have been killed by small arms in small conflicts than by major weapons in major wars. As a main organizer of the World Disarmament Campaign, we have been a leader in nuclear disarmament and want to maintain that position in small arms disarmament.
Armament is particularly draining on a country because it monopolizes a huge portion of a country’s budget, making less money available for programs for the social welfare of a country’s citizens. The UN has seen a correlation between disarmament and development, even though the decrease in spending on military does not directly translate into more funds available for development programs.
The pilot “Weapons for Development” project in Albania shows progress of developing a program to collect weapons, while assisting in the building of infrastructure in a developing country. Though this program does not fit all situations in all circumstances, it can be considered as a base model for further developments. We would like to see more pilot programs like this one started in countries with similar problems. Disarmament, unfortunately, has the short-term consequence of high unemployment as the in-country military-dependant businesses close. To combat this problem, we would support the UN in the formulation of programs to encourage the creation of non-military dependent industries. Included in these programs should be funds for loans to people so they can start their own businesses and entrepreneurship classes so people can learn about what it takes to manage a business. In some countries, the level of fighting is or was very high, and the combatants have or will have a difficult time readapting to society. We would the support the UN in the creation of programs to help incorporate military personnel into mainstream society.
II. Assistance to States in Small Arms Transfers
We strongly agree with the Secretary General in that there is no higher goal than preventing armed conflict. We regret the “violent acts that have submerged peoples in fratricidal conflicts for years,” as our esteemed President Hugo Chavez Frias has declared in a speech to the General Assembly. Unfortunately, the number of suppliers of small arms and the number of conflicts around the world are growing as ethnic tensions rise, leading to a deadly combination. Easy access to weapons leads to violence undermining state authority as the opposition arms itself. We recognize the urgency of slowing the transfers of small arms. However, reductions in small arms transfers is an issue that affects states’ national security, which has continued to slow discussions at the UN Conference on Disarmament.
The members of the United Nations have tried to steer countries away from costly security policies towards disarmament. UN resolutions have created the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which asks for notification when weapons are destroyed or transferred in large numbers. Unfortunately, not all countries have notified the register, and it is losing clout in the international arena. We would like to see more funds earmarked for decreasing the arms trade by putting resources towards incentives for developing nations that have found it so hard to find security.
Because we do not have much of an internal problem with arms transfers, illicit or otherwise, we would prefer to ask states affected what they think would be the best way to improve the situation, since they are the most involved and have the most at stake. We are waiting to see the recommendations offered by the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, but in the mean time, the UN should assist states that ask for help in curbing illicit arms transfers. Maintaining security while stopping illegal arms is a problem the UN needs to confront. One solution is to foster collective security programs between states with similar strategic interests.
One of the root causes of internal conflict in states that leads to proliferation of small arms is the lack of economic opportunities within a country. We would support the UN in the creation of programs to foster economic growth, and the cancellation of debt for heavily indebted countries when they register arms transfers, for example, so they can focus their available resources to their people and not their interest payments.
I. Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories
The Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Palestinians and other Arabs in the occupied territories of Israeli have often been questioned in the past. The Palestinians often live in conditions in which they have little or no access to basic utilities such as water, electricity and sanitation services. They also have little or no access to any viable form of economic activity. These factors lead to very poor living conditions with little or no chance for personal or economic development. These are clearly violations of human rights as outlined in the Declaration of Human rights, Articles 15, 17 and 25.
The plight of the Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories has become even more of a focus of international concern in the recent weeks as the situation in Israel has markedly worsened. In the time since the provocative actions of Israel regarding the Al-Haram Al-Sharif, tensions have risen and the overall situation is escalating into the exchange of gunfire between Palestinian civilians and Israeli police and troops. The Security Council has addressed the situation by passing resolution 1322 (2000) which deplores the actions of Israel at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and condemns the violence and excessive use of force against the Palestinians. Also, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution on October 20, 2000 which will send human rights experts to the occupied Palestinian territories as part of a “human rights inquiry commission.” We voted in favor of this resolution which cited Israel’s “disproportionate and indiscriminate us of force.” These two resolutions are the appropriate action for the United Nations to take in this situation.
We support any future action which will make Israel accountable for its actions against the Palestinian people and other Arabs in the occupied territories. The abuses of the human rights of this minority group in Israel must not go unnoticed. In the future it is important to consider what can be done to resolve this situation on a more permanent basis. The option of creating a permanent and sovereign territory for the Palestinian people is one that must be considered with great attention in order to prevent any future human rights abuses at the hands of the Israeli government.
II. Participation of Volunteers, “White Helmets,” in Activities of the UN in the Field of Humanitarian Relief, Rehabilitation and Technical Cooperation for Development
The creation of the White Helmet Commission or UN Volunteers (UNV) was an initiative established by the delegation of Argentina. Its purpose is to provide a ready team of trained, professional volunteers to aid in any area in which their assistance is requested. This initiative has been very successful in the past in such cases as the introduction of low-cost housing in Rwanda and the Balkans and the promotion of sports as a tool for social development in the occupied Palestinian territories.
There are some issues regarding the practical implementation of the projects undertaken by the WHC/UNV organizations. Often there are insufficient funds to support the missions assumed by the WHC/UNVs. Also, there is usually a time lapse between the request for assistance and the actual arrival of UN assistance with the agencies. Many times there are several organizations involved in trying to aid a country in need, including NGOs. The coordination of these efforts can be daunting and often there is a lack of communication between all parties involved. A final problem is that recently White Helmets and UN Volunteers have been the target of violence while performing their duties in the field. This is a grievous situation and one which steps must be taken to prevent.
We see some opportunities for the improvement of operations for the WHC/UNV programs. There must be an overall improvement in funding for the operation, perhaps in conjunction with NGOs and private donor organizations. Also, the committee should focus on past efforts of coordination between the WHC and UNV with other UN organizations such as UNESCO, the World Food Programme and the Organization of African Unity. Perhaps we can learn from the successes of these past cooperative efforts and apply them in the future use of the WHC and UNVs. We join with the international community as well in calling for greater measures to assure the security of volunteers working in the field against any possibility of attack. There is much to consider in drawing a course of future action in regard to the White Helmets and UN Volunteers.
I. Financing of United Nations Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo
The violent attacks from Serbian forces in 1999 left Kosovo in devastating condition. Almost half of the population had fled to neighboring countries during the crisis. When they were able to return after the withdrawal of Serbian forces, they found many of their homes destroyed, as were their schools and hospitals. Key resources such as clean water and electricity were unavailable in most parts.
We support the United Nations Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo, and the tasks that they have set upon themselves. The people of Kosovo need security, and assistance to rebuild their homes and infrastructures. UNMIK has also devoted itself to advancing the establishment of autonomy and self-government within Kosovo.
With so many tasks at hand, it is no surprise that the costs and expenditures for such a project would be very costly and complicated. We believe that in order for the mission to continue receiving funds, and if necessary, to request additional funds, they must continue to provide accurate and accountable financial reports of all activities. An independent audit should also be employed. Through this, the necessary funds can be effectively distributed.
II. Natural Disaster Mitigation
When our country experienced devastating floods in late 1999, we were very grateful for the aid and assistance provided to us by other nations and organizations. In particular, organizations, such as the Red Cross and the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, have been extremely willing to help our country recover from our losses.
We believe that the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs can benefit all nations. Natural disasters are difficult to predict. When the first warning signs are discovered though, there is very little time to prepare and protect the people, and minimize the damages. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ effectiveness would be in organizing relief efforts, and coordinating the various relief organizations that take part in the effort.
The problem arises over how such a manifold program, which must be ready and available whenever a disaster can occur, is to be funded. We feel that it is important, and in the best interest of all nations, to support the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to work together to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the program, and to look for ways to practically fund the program.
I. Establishment Of An International Criminal Court
There is currently a statute for the establishment of an International Crime Court (ICC). This statute was created during the Rome Conference in July of 1998. Since then, 114 nations have signed the statute and 21 nations have ratified it. Sixty nations must ratify the statute in order to establish the ICC. The ICC would allow for the trying of those individuals accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Currently the International Court of Justice (ICJ) exists, but it deals only with international relations and disputes. It holds no power over trying a person accused of a crime. In the past, the UN has attempted at setting up tribunals in nations to try individuals accused of serious offenses, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The tribunals have been criticized as being inefficient, inconsistent, and more of a hassle than actually being useful. Another critique is that the lack of enforcement of the tribunal’s decisions does not provide nations with anything that would help the situation. This leads into the justification for a permanent International Criminal Court. With the implementation of the ICC, nations have a forum to discuss individual cases across borders and resolve issues in a more serious and unified manner. We signed the Rome statute on October 14, 1998 and went through the ratification process on June 7, 2000. We support the need for an International Forum to dry individuals accused of committing heinous acts against humanity. We agree that the ICC would be an appropriate structure to achieve that purpose. I support, in addition to the ICC, a proposal on a way to implement a means of enforcement of the agreements reached at the ICC.
II. Status Of The Protocols Additional To The Geneva Convention Relating To The Protection Of Victims Of Armed Conflict
Since the Geneva Convention in August of 1949, the world has been facing the increasing problem of the killing of individuals during armed conflict. Civilians are constantly immersed in armed conflict. They are innocent and should be protected. This is what was discussed during the Geneva Convention. After World War II, and because of the excessive bombing that killed a multitude of civilians, the UN proposed a protocol for the protection of victims of armed conflict. The UN approaches the situation in three ways: emphasizing the power of international law to govern these situations, extending the focus of humanitarian law, and lastly a means to enforce the decisions made in an international court. We are in support of the establishment of an International Criminal Court and to that effect are in agreement with the protocol devised by the UN to make sure that citizens are protected and remain safe during times of armed conflict. We have a growing amount of civilian deaths everyday because of the armed conflict going on between themselves and Colombia. We support any protocol that would result in the protection of those innocent and finding a means through which to protect those individuals.
I. The Death Penalty and Human Rights
The opponents of capital punishment have long argued that capital punishment is a cruel, inhuman act that violates the human rights of the accused. To this statement, we agree. We have been an active abolitionist and to this day have not used the death penalty to punish any convicted felons. We agree with the efforts of the United Nations and the Economic and Social Council in curbing, if not eliminating the use of the death penalty around the world. It has already been proven that the death penalty does not deter crimes from being committed, therefore it is completely plausible that all countries could stop enforcing the death penalty. ECOSOC should be in charge of creating legislation that will allow countries to have better alternatives to the death penalty, emphasizing that the death penalty is more costly than holding a prisoner and that human rights are being violated. We strongly believe that it is feasible that all nations will abolish the death penalty it will only be a matter of time.
II. Review of the Declaration and Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
The Programme of Action states that all nations should create “development strategies, planning, decision-making and resources allocation at all levels and in all regions, with the goal of meeting the needs, and improving the quality of life, of present and future generations.” We are in compliance with this statement and furthermore have enacted policies to help curb a population explosion. Part of the cause of increased populations is the lack of information on contraception and adequate health care. We have made efforts to promote the knowledge among its people of alternative options, such as contraception. Also, we have improved health education and health care. We do not believe in limiting the number of children allowed per family, knowing that it causes a disproportional amount of female babies to be discarded. However, we believe that educating our people on good health care and family planning will enable the population to not increase so rapidly. We also recognize that it is necessary to have special funding to help enable these programs to succeed, and feels that special funding would help the various nations to implement the Programme of Action.
III. Strengthening Cooperation between the World Bank and the Economic and Social Council
We strongly agree that there should be a greater level of cooperation between the World Bank and the Economic and Social Council. There is widespread poverty in every nation and these two organizations together could drastically change the position of the poor. In order for these two organizations to work together certain changes need to be enacted. Since the World Bank has focused more on macro-economic development and ECOSOC on micro-economic development, the cooperation between the two would allow greater discourse; perhaps one method of aiding development could help the other.
IV. Conservation of Biological Diversity
Due to the high level of natural resources in our country, we believe that the conservation of biological diversity is an important issue. Over the past 40 years we have lost around 15% of its forest area. Although we recognize the need of the people to use the resources available to them, it also believes that natural resources should be used in moderation so that the future generations can benefit from their use as well. It is crucial that we retain a level of biological diversity. It is our belief that financing should be available to those countries not able to promote biological diversity. This funding should come from ECOSOC and also the other nations that are exploiting the richness of natural resources in the less developed nations.
I. The HIV/AIDS Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa
As one of its founding members, we is an active participant in the work of the United Nations, and as such, is deeply concerned over the HIV/AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, in which some 24 million people now live with the disease, due to several socio-economic and political factors. Out of a total population of about 23 million, approximately 82,000 individuals in our country are currently living with HIV/AIDS. While these numbers hardly compare in size with those of many African countries, we view HIV/AIDS as an epidemic that affects all of humankind, and thus should be treated as such, regardless of the level of infection in individual countries. We are therefore of the belief that any governments or organizations that have the means to help alleviate this situation, should step up their efforts in whatever way they can. In light of the struggle to repair situations in our own economy and health care system, and the fact that we, ourselves, accept aid from outside sources, we regret that we are not in the economically privileged position at this point in time, to directly give financial aid to African countries in the fight against HIV/AIDS. However, we will continue to voice our support and take action whenever possible to fight this disease and help Sub-Saharan African countries through our memberships with various organizations such as the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, etc. Also a member of the Pan American Health Organization, we are dedicated to helping the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Americas as well. In sum, we encourage swift and meaningful action to be taken by the United Nations and other politically able actors to the Sub-Saharan African HIV/AIDS crisis, and furthermore expresses its hope that it can soon play a more powerful role in this endeavor.
II. Education Issues and HIV/AIDS
Related to the world HIV/AIDS crisis, we recognize the issue of sex education in the prevention of the disease. As a Roman Catholic country, we find that some of our long-standing cultural traditions and religious beliefs are being called into question upon this issue. Our stance, therefore, is twofold. While we do not want to actively encourage our youth to engage in sexual and non-sexual drug activities through the early exposure to them, we feel that it would be wrong for us to passively stand by and watch individuals (who by far are women and innocent children), suffer and die from this horrendous disease. In a 1998 Geneva conference, we met with other countries on policies to prevent HIV transmission through breast-feeding, in which one of the final addendum’s key principles was to educate all young women about HIV, and to ensure their access to this necessary information. We would like to declare that although its social institution of education has suffered in the past, in large part due to extensive poverty, its female education has shown significant advances in recent decades. This can be attributed to the greater access to primary schooling, the extension of compulsory education to nine years, the expansion of secondary schooling, and diversification of higher education. Our literacy rate, defined as those age 15 and over who can read and write, is 91%. Within our Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Technical Directorate of Programs coordinates activities to prevent and control AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Aside from governmental efforts and bodies dedicated to this disease and its prevention, we have several non-governmental organizations within our borders, such as Prosalud and Profamilia, which contribute to the HIV/AIDS education of our youth. Prosalud, for example, links adolescents with counselors through a nationwide hotline on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and refers them to physicians who provide confidential, free first-time consultations. We are also a member of SIDALAC, or the Regional Initiative against AIDS in Latin America, as well as ILPES, or the Latin American Institute for Preventative Medicine and Health Education. In sum, we are currently stepping up its efforts, both at governmental and non-governmental levels, to educate its youth, and especially young women, on HIV/AIDS.