Remarks by Senator Jesse Helms to the United Nations Security Council.
Full text public document to Federal News Service
AMB. RICHARD HOLBROOKE (U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations): Welcome to the Security Council. This is undoubtedly the first and last time in my life that in the presence of Senator Helms I will hold the gavel, so I want to enjoy it for a moment!
SEN. HELMS: (Chuckles.)
AMB. HOLBROOKE: I am deeply grateful to all of our colleagues on the Security Council for their support of today's unprecedented meeting, under arrangements we discussed at length. I'm grateful to all of you in the audience.
Senator, the people here represent many other member states of the U.N. who are not Security Council members but have come. I see many of the most important ambassadors to the U.N. seated there, and I hope we'll be able to give you a chance to greet them all, and you will have a chance to have lunch with them tomorrow. But this is more than the Security Council that's here today, and I see many friends up there.
And I want to welcome you to this historic room, where wars have been avoided at times, at other times the Security Council has failed to prevent wars. But this is the room in which the founding fathers of the United Nations -- President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and their colleagues -- wanted the most important problems of the world to be addressed. And over the last two weeks, we have been trying to do just that, and you could not have picked a more opportune time to join us.
Yesterday, President Mandela sat with us and offered his efforts to prevent a bloodbath in Burundi. Last week, Vice President Gore sat here, on behalf of all Americans, and offered a plan to increase American support, with the Congress's approval, for combating AIDS in Africa. Next week, eight leaders of Africa will come here to this room to discuss stopping the violence in Congo. And in the middle of this busy month, nothing could be more appropriate than to bring to the Security Council, for the first time in our history, a member of the United States Senate to speak to us about the view from the Hill of the United Nations.
Now, in our system of government, as you all know but sometimes scratch your heads about, we have two separate but equal branches, and I represent one branch today and Senator Helms speaks from the other branch. In addition, as some of you may have heard, we represent two different political parties in this country. But we come here together because the United States stands -- all of us, both branches, both parties -- for a strong and assertive role in the world.
I would not be here today if Senator Helms had not led the confirmation effort unanimously in his committee, I'm proud to say. And I thank you for my confirmation.
I know that Senator Helms is going to give an important address in which he will outline his own views.
And then, time permitting, we will hope that you will respond as you wish.
Tomorrow Senator Helms brings to New York his committee, and he will discuss that as well. We have invited all the permanent representatives to lunch, here in this building tomorrow, with Senator Helms and members of the committee and staff, some of whom are seated with us today, and we hope you will join us.
This is truly an historic moment for all of us, and I believe that we will be listening to your remarks with great attention. So now, it is my great honor to reciprocate the generosity you showed me in Washington last year, and introduce you to the Security Council, to the United Nations. And we look forward to your remarks, Mr. Chairman
SEN. HELMS: This may be the first chance I have to call him Mr. President.
Mr. President, distinguished ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen; I genuinely appreciate your welcoming me here today. You are distinguished world leaders, or you wouldn't be here. It's my hope that there can begin today a pattern of understanding and friendship between you who serve your respective countries in the United Nations, and those of us who serve not only in the United States government, but also the millions of Americans whom we represent.
Now Mr. President, Mr. Ambassador Holbrooke, is an earnest gentleman whom I respect, and I hope you enjoy his friendship as much as I do. (Laughter.) He has the enormous of Foreign Service in his background; he is an able diplomat and a genuine friend to whom I am most grateful for his role and that of the Honorable Irwin Bell (sp), my longtime friend, in arranging my visit with you today.
Now then, all that said, it may very well be that some of the things that I feel obliged to say will not meet with your immediate approval, if ever. It's not my intent to offend you in any way, and I hope I will not. It is my intent to extend to you my hand of friendship and convey the hope that, in the days to come and in retrospect, we can join in a mutual respect that will enable all of us to work together in an atmosphere of friendship and hope, the hope to do everything we can to achieve world peace around the globe.
Having said all of that, I'm aware that you have interpreters who translate the proceedings of this body into a half-dozen different languages. And they have a challenge today, a very interesting challenge. As some of you may have detected already, I do not have a Yankee accent. (Laughter.) I hope you have a translator here who can speak "Southern," someone who can translate words like "y'all," and "I do declare." (Laughter.) In any event, it may be that one language -- another language barrier will need to be overcome this morning.
And I'm not a diplomat, and as such, I'm not fully conversant with the elegant and rarefied language of the diplomatic trade. I'm an elected official with something of a reputation for saying what I mean and meaning what I say. So I trust you will forgive me if I come across a little bit more blunt than you are accustomed to hearing in this chamber.
Now, I've been told many times that this is the first time that a United States senator has addressed the United Nations Security Council, and I sincerely hope that it will not be the last. It's important that this distinguished body have a greater contact with the elected representatives of the American people, and that we have a greater contact with you. And in this spirit, tomorrow I will be joined here at the U.N. by several other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plus the distinguished senator from Virginia, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate, John Warner. Together we will meet with U.N. officials and with representatives of some of your governments, and we will hold a sort of committee field hearing to discuss U.N. reform and the prospects for improved U.S.-U.N. relations.
And this will mark another first. Never before has the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ventured as a group from Washington to visit an international institution.
I hope it'll be enlightening for all of us and that you will accept this as a sign of our desire for a new beginning in U.S.-U.N. relations.
I hope, I intend that my presence here today will presage future annual visits by the Security Council, who will come to Washington as official guests of the United States Senate and the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, which I chair. And I trust that your representatives will feel free to be as candid in Washington, when you come, as I will try to be today, so that there will be hands of friendship extended in an atmosphere of understanding.
If we're to have such a new beginning, we must endeavor to understand each other better, and that is why I will share with you some of what I am hearing from the American people about the United Nations.
Now I'm confident that you have seen the public opinion polls commissioned by U.N. supporters, suggesting that the U.N. enjoys the support of the American public. That's all well and good, but I caution that you not put too much confidence in those polls, because since I was first elected to the United States Senate in 1972, I have run for reelection four times. Each time the pollsters have confidently predicted my defeat -- each time, I'm happy to confide, that they have been wrong. I am pleased that thus far I have never won a poll, but I've never lost an election.
So, as those of you who represent democratic nations well know, public opinion polls can be constructed to tell you anything the poll takers want you to hear.
Let me share with you what the American people tell me. Since I became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have received literally thousands of communications from Americans all across the country expressing their deep frustration with this institution.
They know instinctively that the U.N. lives and breathes on the hard- earned money of the American taxpayers, among others, yet they have heard comments here in New York constantly calling the United States a "deadbeat nation." I dissent from that, and so do the American people.
They have heard U.N. officials declaring, absurdly, that countries like Fiji and Bangladesh are carrying America's burden in peacekeeping. They see the majority of the U.N. members routinely voting against America in the General Assembly. They have read the reports of the raucous cheering of the U.N. delegates in Rome when U.S. efforts to amend the International Criminal Court Treaty to protect American soldiers were defeated.
(Coughs.) Please forgive me, I'm bordering on a cold.
They read in the newspapers that despite all the human rights abuses taking place in dictatorships around the globe, a U.N. special rapporteur deciding that his most pressing task was to investigate human rights violations in the United States of America, and he found our human rights record wanting, of course.
The American people hear all of this and they resent it. And I think they have grown increasingly frustrated with what they feel is a lack of gratitude. And I won't delve into every port of frustration, but let's touch for just a moment on one -- the deadbeat charge.
Before coming here, I asked the United States General Accounting Office to assess just how much the American taxpayers contributed to the United Nations in the last year -- 1999. And here is what the GAO reported to me. Last year, the American people contributed a total of more than $ 1.4 billion to the United Nations system in assessments and voluntary contributions. That's pretty generous, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.
The American taxpayers also spent an additional $ 8,779,000,000 from the United States military budget to support various U.N resolutions and peacekeeping operations around the world.
Now, let me repeat that figure just for the purpose of emphasis: $ 8,779,000,000. Now, this means that last year, 1999 alone, that 12- month period, the American people have furnished precisely $ 10,179,000,000 to support the work of the United Nations and no other nation on Earth comes even close to matching that investment. So you can see, perhaps, why many Americans reject the suggestion that their country is a deadbeat nation. And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I resent it, too.
Now, I grant you, the money we spend on the United Nations is not charity. I don't view it as such, and most Americans don't. To the contrary, it is an investment; an investment from which the American people rightly expect a return. They expect a reformed United Nations that works more efficiently and which respects the sovereignty of the United States of America. And that is why, in the 1980s, Congress began withholding a fraction of our arrears as pressure for reform. I remember the delightful senator from Kansas, Nancy Kassebaum, was a participant in that and a leader in it.
Congressional pressure resulted in some worthwhile reforms, such as the creation of an independent U.N. inspector general and the adoption of consensus budgeting practices. But still, the arrearages accumulated as the U.N. resisted more comprehensive reforms.
When the distinguished secretary-general, Kofi Annan, was elected, some of us in the Senate in Washington decided to try to establish a working relationship with him. The result is the Helms- Biden Law, which President Clinton finally signed into law this past November. It was the product of three years of arduous negotiations and hard-fought compromises and it was approved by the United States Senate by an overwhelming 98-to-one vote.
Now, I'm aware that this law does not sit well with some here at the U.N.
Some do not like to have reforms dictated by the United States Congress, and some have even suggested that the United Nations should reject these reforms. But let me suggest a few things to consider:
First, as the figure I have cited clearly demonstrates, the United States is the single largest investor in the United Nations. Under the U.S. Constitution, we in Congress are the full guardian of the American taxpayers' money. It is our solemn duty -- we stood in the well of the Senate and took an oath -- it's our solemn duty to see that it is wisely invested. So as the representatives of the U.N.'s largest investors, the American people, we have not only a right but a responsibility to insist on specific reforms in exchange for their investment.
Second, I ask you to consider the alternative. The alternative would have been to continue to let the U.S.-U.N. relationship spiral out of control. You would have taken retaliatory measures, such as revoking America's vote in the General Assembly, and Congress would likely have responded with retaliatory measures against the United Nations. And the end result, I believe, would have been a breach in U.S.-U.N. relations that would have served the interest of no one.
Now, some may contend that the Clinton administration should have fought to pay the arrears without conditions. And I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that had they done so, they would have lost and lost badly. Let me go back into history a little bit to explain where I am coming from.
Eighty years ago Woodrow Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson, failed to secure congressional support for U.S. entry into the League of Nations. Now, this administration obviously learned from President Wilson's mistakes 80 years ago. President Wilson probably could have achieved a ratification of the League of Nations if he had worked with the Congress of the United States. And one of my predecessors, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Henry Cabot Lodge, asked for 14 conditions to the treaty establishing the League of Nations, few of which would have raised even an eyebrow.
These included language to ensure that the United States remained the sole judge of its own internal affairs, that the League not restrict any individual right of U.S. citizens, that the Congress retain sole authority for deployment of U.S. forces through the League, and so on and on and on. It would not have raised an eyebrow anywhere in the world -- except at home.
But President Wilson, history shows, indignantly refused to compromise with Senator Lodge, and he shouted at one point, "Never, never, never." And then the president said, "I'll never consent to adopting any policy with which that impossible man is so prominently identified." Well, what happened? President Wilson lost, and the final vote in the senate was 38 to 53. And a two-thirds vote was required, as you know, and the League of Nations withered on the vine.
Now let's fast-forward 80 years. Ambassador Holbrooke and Secretary of State Albright understood from the beginning that the United Nations could not long survive without the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress. Now, thanks to the efforts of leaders like Ambassador Holbrooke and Senator -- Secretary Albright, the present administration in Washington did not -- did not -- repeat President Woodrow Wilson's fatal mistake. In any event, Congress has written a check to the United Nations for $ 926 million payable upon the implementation of previously agreed-upon common-sense reforms. Now the choice is up to you here at the United Nations.
And I suggest if the United Nations were to reject this compromise, it would mark the beginning of the end for U.S. support for the United Nations. And I don't want that to happen. I want the American people to value, to value a United Nations that recognizes and respects their interests, and for the United Nations to value the significant contributions by and of the American people.
Now I want to be crystal-clear and totally honest with you. All of us want a more effective United Nations, but if the United Nations is to be effective, it must be an institution that is needed by the great democratic powers of this earth, the world, and most Americans -- I must be candid -- do not regard the United Nations as an end in and of itself. They see it as just one aspect of America's diplomatic arsenal, and to the extent that the United Nations is effective, the American people will support it. To the extent that it becomes ineffective or, worse, a burden, the American people, through its elected representatives, will cast it aside.
The American people want the United Nations to serve the purpose for which it was designed. They want it to help sovereign nations coordinate collective action by coalitions of the willing, where the political for such action exists, and they want it to provide a forum where diplomats can meet and keep open channels of communications in times of crisis, and they want it to provide to the peoples of the world important services, such as peacekeeping, weapons inspections, and humanitarian relief.
But let me tell you something. This is important work and work that must be done. It is the core of what the United Nations can offer to the United States and to the rest of the world, and if, in the coming century, the U.N. focuses on doing these core tasks well, it can thrive and will earn and deserve the support and respect of the American people, along with peoples of other countries of the world.
But -- and candor compels me to say this -- if the United Nations seeks to move beyond these core tasks, if it seeks to impose the United Nations' power and authority over nation states, I guarantee that the United Nations will meet stiff resistance from the American people.
As matters now stand, many Americans sense that the United Nations has greater ambitions than simply being an efficient deliverer of humanitarian aid, a more effective peacekeeper, a better weapons inspector, and a more effective tool of great power diplomacy. The American people see the United Nations aspiring to establish itself the central authority of a new international order of global laws and global governance. This is an international order the American people, I guarantee you, do not and will not countenance.
The United Nations must respect national sovereignty in the United States and everywhere else. The United Nations serves nation states, not the other way around. This principle is central to the legitimacy and the ultimate survival of the United Nations, and it is a principle that must be protected.
The secretary-general recently delivered an address on sovereignty to the General Assembly in which he declared that, and I quote him, "The last right of states cannot and must not be the right to enslave, persecute or torture their own citizens. The people of the world," he said, "have rights beyond borders." And I wholeheartedly agree with that. What the secretary-general calls "rights beyond borders" we in America call "inalienable rights." We are endowed with those inalienable rights, as Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, and Mr. Jefferson emphasized that these rights cannot be cancelled by kings or despots, but only by our Creator.
The sovereignty of nations must be respected, but nations derive their sovereignty, their legitimacy, from the consent of the governed. Thus it follows that nations lose their legitimacy when they rule without the consent of the governed. They deservedly discard their sovereignty by brutally oppressing their people. Mr. Milosevic cannot claim sovereignty over Kosovo when he murdered Kosovar people and piled their bodies into mass graves.
And neither can Fidel Castro claim that it is his sovereign right to oppress his people. Nor can Saddam Hussein defend his oppression of the Iraqi people by hiding behind phony claims of sovereignty. And when the oppressed peoples of the world cry out for help, the free peoples of the world have a fundamental right to respond.
As we watch the United Nations struggle with this question at the turn of the millennium, many Americans are left exceedingly puzzled. Intervening in cases of widespread oppression and massive human rights abuses is not a new concept for the United States. The American people have a long history of coming to the aid of those struggling for freedom. In the United States during the 1980s, we called this the Reagan Doctrine.
In some cases, America has assisted freedom-fighters around the world who are seeking to overthrow corrupt regimes. We have provided weaponry, training and intelligence. And in other cases, the United States has intervened directly. And in other cases, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, we supported peaceful opposition movements with moral, financial and covert forms of support.
But in each case, it was America's clear intention to help bring down communist regimes that were oppressing their peoples, and thereby, replace the dictators with democratic governments. The democratic expansion of freedom in the last decade of the 20th century is a direct result of those policies.
In none of those cases, however, did the United States ask for or receive, the approval of the United Nations to legitimize its actions. And it's a fanciful notion that free peoples need to seek approval of an international body, some of whose members are totalitarian dictatorships, to lend support to nations struggling to break the chains of tyranny and claim their inalienable God-given rights. The United Nations, my friends, has no power to grant or decline legitimacy to such actions. They are inherently legitimate.
Now, what the United Nations can do is help, the Security Council can, where appropriate, be an instrument to facilitate actions by coalitions of the willing, implement sanctions regimes and logistical support to states undertaking collective action. But complete candor, my friends, is imperative. The Security Council has an exceedingly mixed record in being such a facilitator.
In the case of Iraq's aggression against Kuwait in the early 1990s, the United Nations performed admirably. In the more recent case of Kosovo, it was paralyzed. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia was a disaster, and its failure to protect the Bosnian people from Serb genocide is well documented in a recent United Nations report. And despite its initial success in repelling Iraqi aggression in the years since the Gulf War, the Security Council has utterly failed to stop Saddam Hussein's drive to build instruments of mass murder. It has allowed Castro (sic/means "Saddam") to play a repeated game of expelling UNSCOM inspection teams, which included Americans, and has left Saddam Hussein completely free for the past year to fashion his nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Now, I'm being candid, of course. But I am here to plead, plead with you that from now on, we all must work together to learn from past mistakes and to make the Security Council a more efficient and effective tool for international peace and security.
But candor compels that I reiterate this warning: The American people will never accept the claims of the United Nations to be the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force in this world. But, some may respond, the United States Senate ratified the United Nations Charter 50 years ago. Yeah, that's right. But in doing so, we did not cede one syllable of American sovereignty; not one syllable. We didn't cede it to the United Nations or anybody else.
Under our system, when international treaties are ratified, they simply become domestic United States law. As such, they carry no greater, no lesser, weight than any other domestic U.S. law. Treaty obligations can be superseded by a simple act of Congress. This was the intention, the intentional design of our Founding Fathers, if you look back, one of whom, our first president, cautioned against entering into entangling alliances.
Now then, when the United States joins a treaty organization, the organization holds no legal authority over us. We abide by our treaty obligations because they are the domestic law of our land and because our elected leaders have judged that the agreement serves our national interest. But no treaty, no law can ever supersede the one document that all Americans hold sacred, and that is the Constitution of the United States of America. The American people do not want the United States -- the United Nations to become an entangling alliance, and that is why Americans look with alarm at U.N. claims to a monopoly on international moral legitimacy. Americans see this as a threat to the God-given freedoms of the American people, a claim of political authority over America and its elected leaders without -- without -- their consent.
Now, the effort to establish a United Nations International Criminal Court is a case in point, which I am obliged to mention. Consider the Rome Treaty purports to hold American citizens under its jurisdiction even when the United States has neither signed nor ratified that treaty. Nonsense. In other words, Rome claims sovereign authority over American citizens without their consent. How can the nations of the world imagine for one instant that America's going to stand by and allow such a power grab to take place? I can guarantee you it's not going to happen.
Now the court's supporters argue that Americans should be willing to sacrifice some of their sovereignty for the noble cause of international justice. Well, then, international law did not defeat Hitler, nor did it win the Cold War. What stopped the Nazi march across Europe and the communist march across the world was the principled projection of power by the world's greatest democracies. And that principled projection of force is the only thing that will ensure the peace and the security of the world in the future.
More often than not, "international law," quote, unquote, has been used as a make-believe justification for hindering the march of freedom. When Ronald Reagan sent American servicemen into harm's way to liberate Grenada from the hands of a communist dictatorship, the U.N. General Assembly responded by voting to condemn the action of the elected president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, as a, quote, "violation of international law," end of quote, and, I am obliged to add, they did so by a larger majority than when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was condemned by the same General Assembly.
Similarly, the U.S. effort to overthrow Nicaragua's communist dictatorship by supporting Nicaragua's freedom fighters and mining Nicaragua's harbors was declared by the World Court as a violation of international law.
And most recently, we learned that the chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has compiled a report on possible NATO war crimes during the Kosovo campaign. At first the prosecutor declared that it is fully within the scope of her authority to indict NATO pilots and commanders, and when news of her report leaked, she looked at herself and her decision a little bit, and then she started backpedaling. She realized, I'm confident, that any attempt to indict NATO commanders would be the death knell of the International Criminal Court, but the very fact that she explored this possibility at all brings to light that it is wrong.
With this brave new world of global justice which proposes a system in which independent prosecutors and judges, answerable to no state or institution, have somehow unfettered power to sit in judgment of the foreign policy decisions of Western democracies, no U.N. institution -- not the Security Council, not the Yugoslav tribunal, not the future ICC -- is competent to judge the foreign policy and national security decisions of the United States of America.
American courts routinely refuse cases where they are asked to sit in judgment of our government's national security decisions, stating that they are not competent to judge such decisions. Well, if we do not submit our national security decisions to the judgment of a court of the United States, why would Americans submit them to the judgment of an International Criminal Court a continent away comprised of mostly foreign judges elected by an international body made up of the membership of the United Nations General Assembly? It's not going to happen, my friends. It's not going to happen.
Americans distrust concepts like the International Criminal Court and claims by the United Nations to be the sole source of legitimacy for the use of force because Americans have a profound distrust of accumulated power. Our Founding Fathers, to whom I often refer, created a government founded on a system of checks and balances and a dispersal of power.
In his 1962 classic, "Capitalism and Freedom," the Nobel Prize- winning economist Milton Friedman rightly declared, and I quote, "Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the country (sic) than in the state, better in the state than in Washington, D.C., because," he says, "if I do not like what my local community does, I can move to another local community. And if I do not like what my state does, I can move to another one. But if I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations." Forty years later, the U.N. seeks to impose its Utopian vision of an international law on Americans. We can add this question: Where do we go when we don't like the laws of the world?
Today, while our friends in Europe could cede more and more power upwards to supernational institutions like the European Union, the Americans are heading in precisely the opposite direction; America is in the process of reducing centralized power by taking more and more authority that had been amassed by the federal government in Washington, D.C., and referring it to the individual states, where it rightly belongs.
And that is why Americans reject the idea of a sovereign United Nations that presumes to be the source of legitimacy for the United States government's policies, foreign or domestic. There is only one source of legitimacy of the American government's policies, and that is the consent of the American people.
And if the United Nations, my friends, is to survive into the 21st century, it must recognize its limitations. The demand of the United States have not changed very much since Henry Cabot Lodge laid out his conditions for joining the League of Nations 80 years ago. And Americans want to ensure that the United States of America remains the sole judge of its own internal affairs, that the United Nations is not allowed to restrict the individual rights of U.S. citizens, and that the United States retains sole authority over the deployment of United States forces around the world.
And that is what Americans ask of the United Nations. It is what Americans expect of the United Nations. A United Nations that focuses on helping sovereign states work together is worth keeping. A United Nations that insists on trying to impose a utopian vision on America, and the world, will collapse under its own weight.
If the United Nations respects the sovereign rights of the American people and serves them as an effective instrument, it will earn and deserve their respect and support. But a United Nations that seeks to impose its presumed authority on the American people, without their consent, begs for confrontation and -- I want to be candid with you -- eventual U.S. withdrawal.
Thank you for putting up with a fellow who came here to speak candidly and honestly with you. Now, you come to Washington, and let's talk further about it.
Thank you very much.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your important remarks, which I know we and the world will have listened to with great interest. In a moment I'm going to ask for reactions and comments, and then we will close down. But I first want to introduce the very distinguished president of the United Nations General Assembly, who I did not spot at the beginning, the foreign minister of Namibia. Could you stand, sir?
You said "Mr. President." This is our real president, Mr. Chairman, the foreign minister. Thank you for being here, sir.
I can't resist making one historical comment because I agree completely with you about President Wilson and Henry Cabot Lodge and the tragedy of the failure of the Senate to act. I worked for Senator Lodge's grandson when he sat in this very chair -- after he sat in this very chair and when
He was ambassador to Saigon. And as all of you know, Henry Cabot Lodge, the grandson, was President Eisenhower's ambassador to the U.N. And I talked to him many times about this. And Ambassador Lodge -- I was his staff aide when he was ambassador to Saigon. Ambassador Lodge felt very strongly that his grandfather had been misunderstood and portrayed as an isolationist, when in fact, he was laying down conditions, which as you correctly said, would in the current context have been unacceptable.
The tragic part of the story is that President Wilson was incapacitated at the time, and his wife sent a handwritten note to the Democrats in the Senate asking them not to vote for the reservation. Seven of them followed her suggestion. And that is the real reason we didn't join the League. And we were taught in high school a very different version where Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. was put into this isolationist camp. And I say that because I think Lodge has been misunderstood, and I share your view on that point.
Now, several of you have asked to make some comments. We welcome comments.
I am profoundly moved by your invitation to this body. Each country here will have to decide for itself, because as you said, they're all sovereign states. But on behalf of the United States, I accept your invitation. (Laughter.)
I will come to Washington once a year, and maybe even more, if you wish.
SEN. HELMS: And bring your wife.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: And bring my wife; yes, sir. (Laughter.) So you have one of the 15 concurring.
The first person who has asked for the floor is Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the United Kingdom. Ambassador of France, Ambassador of Canada and the ambassador of the Netherlands have also asked to speak, the ambassador of Malaysia. We look forward to a few comments.
SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom's ambassador to the United Nations):
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your remarks. I will be the second to accept your offer to come down to Washington because I'm delighted at this unprecedented and important meeting, and I think we should continue the series. And I think it is significant that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its chairman should choose the United Nations to pay its first field visit away from Washington.
Let me say, Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, that there is nothing more important for the United Nations than its relationship with the United States. Now, that is not soft soap; that is naked self- interest for all of us here. The U.N., in the view of the United Kingdom, has played an indispensable role in international peace and security since the Second World War. Witness the drastic reduction towards the end of the last century in interstate conflict. We've got a problem with intrastate conflict and bad governance, but we have drastically reduced the opportunities and the fact of interstate conflict. And the U.N. has played a role in that. And frankly, the United States, which has the most comprehensive international involvement in international affairs, has benefited from that.
But to be focused and effective, the United Nations needs committed leadership. And the more substantial the involvement of the United States, the better the United Nations will serve the interests of responsible nation states, which include the great democracies.
Witness what we're trying to do in this month of Africa. Yes, there is a certain deliberate and focused concentration during the U.S. presidency month, but what a difference it makes to our deliberations that the U.S. is perceived to be engaged and energetic on these matters. And I believe that that has raised the morale of the United Nations in dealing with the problems of Africa, and that is very important to us.
Now reform and modernization, Mr. Chairman -- it isn't just a Western agenda. The whole membership wants a reformed and efficient United Nations. And I think we've achieved quite a lot. The secretary-general certainly has achieved quite a lot.
We have to keep going. The budget's being kept down. We have more efficient procedures in our various organs. But there is still room for more.
And I have to say that the U.S. arrears problem has probably hindered and not helped this move towards reform, and that is why the United Kingdom very warmly appreciates your role and that of Senator Biden in allowing us to move forward on this problem. There is some negotiation to come. There is some negotiation to come, but we are now moving forward, and I thank you for that.
Now a word about the Security Council, and then I'll finish.
In the United Kingdom view, the Security Council has to play the central role in international peace and security. We've agreed to that by treaty, and there isn't a substitute. The interests of all responsible nations are served by an international rules-based system, which they themselves have designed.
Now the United Nations is not a separate organ to which we turn, like a fire service; it is the member states. And the United States, as the single superpower, owns 25 percent of the power and the resources of the United Nations. What it does well, the U.S. gets credit for. What it does badly, the U.S. must bear some responsibility for.
The U.N. is, in itself, if you like, Mr. Chairman, a great democracy. We have to do things here democratically, because we all have national sovereignties. We all have national sovereignties. And in a globalizing world, there is such a thing as the international collective interest.
And compromises do not have to be a zero-sum game. And I think that they can benefit us all.
So I sincerely hope that we can begin to discuss these things in greater depth, that we will continue these conversations. And I warmly appreciate your initiative in getting the series going.
SEN. HELMS: Thank you.
AMB. GREENSTOCK: Thank you, Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Greenstock.
We have several speakers. And I know one or two of you are on tight time deadlines. So with your permission, I would like to call on Ambassador Van Walsum and then perhaps, if you would agree, Ambassador Dejammet, that the ambassador from China would like to speak before he has to leave. So if you agree, I would like to invite the ambassador from China to speak a little ahead because I think he has an obligation elsewhere. So the ambassador of the Netherlands and then the ambassador from China, and then Ambassador Dejammet.
AMB. PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands' ambassador to the United Nations): Mr. President, if I may address Chairman Helms directly?
Mr. Chairman, since you referred to the relationship between President Wilson and Senator Cabot Lodge and Ambassador Holbrooke apparently remembered what he learned about this in high school, I would like to say a few things about that, about how we were taught this episode in a Dutch high school.
We were told -- that is to say I don't whether this is still being taught that way -- but people of my generation in the Netherlands have learned in school that the Second World War would not have occurred if, on the 19th of March, 1920, the United States Senate had not failed to ratify the covenant of the League of Nations; although initially, if I am not mistaken, only 16 senators had been opposed to American membership of the League. Now, this matter of apportioning the blame, between President Wilson and Senator Cabot Lodge, I would prefer to leave to Americans. This concerns your history and not mine.
But I am mentioning this because you will realize that for not just Dutchmen of my generation, but for almost all of us, it is a nightmare to envisage a United Nations without the United States. And against this background, we are always prepared to make a supreme effort to accommodate the United States in its relationship with the United Nations. But this will not prevent us from stating that in our view, under the United Nations Charter, which was ratified by the United States, a member state cannot attach conditions to its willingness to pay its assessed contributions to the organization. We would also like to observe that in our view, the most effective way of improving U.S.-U.N. relations is the payment in full of United States arrears.
But in conclusion, because I want to be brief, Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, let me say one thing about our ambition to move, as you framed it, as you called it, the -- to move beyond the United Nations core tasks. We continue to hope that one day the majority of the American people, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will appreciate everything this organization has done for the spread of democratic ideas all over the world. In many more countries, democratic government is the norm, and human rights are respected than was the case, say, 25 years ago. And to a very large extent, we owe this positive development to this "ineffective and talkative deadbeat" organization.
Of course, the reforms of the United Nations, the reforms that you want and that we want and that, I believe, all of us here want, must be pursued vigorously. But in the meantime, all the American and Dutch taxpayers' money spent on this organization has been a wise investment.
Thank you, Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Ambassador Qin from China.
AMB. QIN HUASUN (Permanent representative to the U.N. from China): (Through translator) Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to thank my colleague allowing me to speak a little earlier.
I am very pleased to be able to directly have a dialogue with Mr. Senator to discuss questions relating to the role of the U.N. and other questions. Our views may not be completely identical, but as long as we follow mutual respect and mutual equality to carry out a frank dialogue, we will be able to enhance mutual communication and mutual understanding.
No, the United Nations is not perfect. However, the role it has played in safeguarding international peace and security, in promoting development and cooperation, is something irreplaceable, and it's there for everyone to see. In the past 50 years, facts have shown that it is only if the U.N. acts according to the spirit of the Charter and respects some basic principles therein, that is respect for sovereignty, complete equality among big and small countries, and non-interference in internal affairs, and a peaceful resolution of disputes, it is only then that the U.N. can play a positive role in international relations. Otherwise, it would meet setbacks or even fail. That was the case in the past, it is true now, and it will be true in the future also.
Mankind has entered the new millennium, but this world of ours will not automatically or naturally become a better world just because of that. In our present world, the old conflicts, like territorial disputes and ethnic strife, have not subsided, but new problems have come up; for instance, weapons proliferation, narcotics smuggling, and also environmental deterioration. In this situation, the role of the United Nations will be even more indispensable.
It is only if all the member states, politically and financially, give it due support, can the role of the U.N. be effectively safeguarded and strengthened. We are in favor of carrying out necessary reforms in the United Nations so that it can better meet the new challenges.
Like many member states, we are deeply concerned and worried about the U.N. financial crisis that has plagued it for so long. We feel that all member states have the obligation to carry out in earnest the financial obligations provided for in the U.N. Charter. It is only then that the U.N. can carry out its functions. The U.N. then will have a sound financial foundation to carry out its functions.
I thank you, Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for your remarks. And we note that you will be returning to China soon.
And, Mr. Chairman, Ambassador Qin is going to be returning to China soon, and it is -- we've been working closely together, and I just wanted to bring that to your attention.
Ambassador Dejammet of France.
AMB. ALAIN DEJAMMET (Permanent representative to the U.N. from France):
(Through translator) Mr. President, I represent a country -- France -- that feels honored to be the oldest ally of the United States, which, of course, explains that many French think like many Americans do. This can be explained by a not-so-distant past. Then, even in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the French Parliament, some parliamentarians, senators or deputies, considered that the United Nations was sterile, complicated, impractical.
It was kind of a -- something that had some machinery to work, but that was in the past. It was in the past because, similar to you, many French are good Christians -- (Audio break.) I was saying that many French are good Christians, like you, and they can acknowledge that actions can be corrected and they, I think, like many Americans, are good calculators. I think they can see where their interests reside and perhaps those of their neighbors and, more broadly, those of the international community. So the French have realized that they might have been mistaken about the United Nations; that the United Nations wasn't sterile, it wasn't a kind of big beast like Robes (sp) had described it a long time ago. It was us. It is us.
So when you say "the impotence of the United Nations," "a mistake on the part of the United Nations," then it's the impotence or the errors of the members of the United Nations. Yes, there's a secretariat, and we are very pleased and fortunate to benefit from the wisdom of he who is at the head of the organization at this time, and I think that we can learn and take advantage of the wisdom and the views of the man at the head of our organization. But the secretariat does do good or does commit errors, at times, so let's not say that this organization is external to member states. It is the member states that compose the United Nations.
The United Nations is useful, yes. There are indispensable nations there and you know what I'm thinking about when I say indispensable nations. But the entire United Nations organization is indispensable in order to create what you yourself want. Universal norms, sanctions, are not very useful, have little weight or honesty for nation states, unless they are universal; unless they are accepted by -- they are not useful if they are imposed unilaterally. The norms of international law that we have devised, I think, are excellent.
And I, Mr. President, am convinced that you are interested in the work that has been accomplished recently in the fight against terrorism, with the recent conclusion of an International Convention on Financing Terrorism. These are specific yet recent -- indeed, immediate -- examples that demonstrate the extent to which United Nations action is indispensable.
However -- and this is not solely in humanitarian areas, but also a tremendous effort has been made in constructing international law, in the law of the sea area, and also in economic law. We all can think about the maintenance of peace and security.
Here let me say that the United Nations have done considerable work in maintaining international peace, and not in a costly way. They're not expensive. They work more cheaply. What is the cost of an operation that has returned peace to Mozambique? Some $ 500 million for a peacekeeping operation to return peace to that region. And the same for Cambodia -- maybe a billion dollars at cost. That was $ 100 million for Salvador, a country that must be dear to you, since near to the United States -- $ 100 million.
Now 10 peacekeeping operations currently are under way, and it's $ 1.6 billion as a cost. That means that when you look at the American contribution, $ 1 costs five -- $ 1.5 per head in the United States. And that is used to finance 17 inexpensive peacekeeping operations. I think you mentioned the figure of $ 8,700,079,000 as American support for peacekeeping operations and support for other organizations, other than the United Nations, that are all engaged in maintaining peace throughout the world. The figure for PKOs in the United Nations is 1.6. I entirely agree with your figure of $ 8 billion, but that encompasses all of the United States' activities as regards peacekeeping activities. I think that every country can come with their own contributions in that ODA is also an important element in returning stability to the world.
The French figure itself is $ 6.3 billion. So you can see that this American effort -- it's an example followed by many states. Now, if I might revert to some of your comments.
I do think, Mr. President, that we must be very aware of the fact that arrears cost the United Nations a lot. Because we can't reimburse the countries that are contributing, this causes problems.
You have to realize that the United Nations, because of arrears, in general terms -- I am not mentioning just one country -- it's $ 300 billion owed to member states. These are countries that have done a tremendous amount to help.
Sometimes when they do not receive reimbursements from the United Nations because of an arrears problem, those states have real difficulties: The armies aren't happy; the governments are happy. And you can come up against problems, such as the one that recently occurred in an African country that led to discontent. The government wasn't reimbursed by the United Nations. It was a year behind. And that happened because of arrears.
Now, I can entirely understand that the United States wishes their arguments to prevail. But I think that, Mr. President, we are all inspired by the principles that underlie the American democracy; that is the principle of the ability to pay, the capacity to pay. This is why people pay according to their means.
And the European Union pays 36 percent, the 15 members of the EU pay 36 percent of the regular budget of the United Nations, whereas their share in the world budget, their capacity to pay, is 31 percent. As far as France is concerned, we are paying 6.5 percent of the regular U.N. budget, whereas our share in the world economy is 5.5 percent. We pay more than our capacity to pay would lead one to believe.
But let me just recall that we are working on the basis of a principle, a principle that is one of the founding principles of United States democracy.
That's what I wanted to say there.
I do want to thank you about that wide-ranging, very stimulating debate on values. I do think that we must, very frankly, with great clearness say what we think about this debate on sovereignty, human rights, values, in short. And you have raised a case -- you've put forward your case with great candidness, and we've listened to you attentively. We were very pleased to see that your warm accent from the South was entirely understood by our interpreters.
I would like to say that we did hear you, but the idea in this house is that others must be heard as well. We must respect the other person, respect what he says. There are values of understanding. There's a country that is sitting here today, Namibia, whose presence around the table is due to the United Nations' effort, because all states didn't agree with what was occurring in the southwest African region all the time. And it's because of the United Nations -- they didn't agree individually, but it's because of the United Nations, because it was able to create a consensus that superseded some of the views of some countries in the North, it's because of that that Namibia is sitting here and now is honored by the office of the presidency of the General Assembly.
We have to think of the views of others with an open mind. And sometimes we can approach a common ground on what should be done. This is the juridical effort, the legal effort that you're talking about. About 100 years ago, there was a great country on the other side of the channel whose values we respected, but on the other side of the Atlantic, there were other friends who were putting forth other ideas, other ideas, other values. And finally, we -- well, more than two centuries ago we heeded our American friends who were having their country's -- their views supersede those of the others, the views of those who were just across the channel. We listened to the views of others, and in the final analysis I don't think we were wrong.
So I think that we have to heed the people from the South, from the East, from the West, and know that we don't always have the same norms, but if there's someplace where we can try to build an international order that imparts legitimacy to our action, it is here, it is within this building, the Headquarters of the United Nations, to whom you have given honor today with your presence, and we wish to thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Dejammet.
Mr. Chairman, I think you've seen why we all so value Ambassador Dejammet's participation here. He also is coming near the end of his tour. I would like to just tell you also that he was my counterpart during the Bosnian negotiations, and I congratulate him on a remarkable exegesis.
It's my honor now to call on our friend from our neighbor to the north, Ambassador Fowler from Canada.
You may or you may not need earphones for this one. (Laughter.) He sometimes speaks in English, sometimes in French -- you never know! (Laughter.)
AMB. ROBERT FOWLER (Permanent representative to the U.N. from Canada): Mr. President, thank you. And it's a pleasure to join others in welcoming Senator Helms to this Council. And it's another noteworthy American initiative in a month that has been known for dramatic initiatives, all of them positive, all of them stimulating, all of them interesting.
And I agree with Jeremy Greenstock that already in this -- during this American presidency we have seen significant evidence of an engaged United States prepared to think imaginatively, creatively to address some of the world's problems, particularly in Africa, that have eluded us for too long. And I can't help but agree with Sir Jeremy and others that this is a very happy development, just like the appearance of Senator Helms before the Council today.
The issues that we're talking about this morning, issues of Security Council reform, issues of adequate financing for the organization at large, and for the Council's purposes in particular, are vitally important.
We have made, I think, significant progress, and much of the credit, of course, I believe goes to our secretary-general, who has made good in his commitment to a pervasive and comprehensive approach to reform and, above all, to ensure that this organization lives within its means. The U.N. is now, as we all know, in its sixth year of zero nominal growth budgeting and I can't help but ask how many national governments could make such a claim.
Reform, of course, depends not only on the secretary-general, but very much engages the constructive and specific engagement of each member state. Every member state has assumed, in joining this organization, important financial, legally binding commitments to pay its dues in full and on time and without conditions, and these are vital principles to the continuing survival and effectiveness of this organization.
The Helms-Biden bill is a step in recognizing the United States legal and financial obligations to the U.N. and to other member states and the unilateral approach to crucial U.N. funding and reform is, however, we Canadians believe, unlikely to lead to useful results. My minister, Lloyd Axworthy, indicated to Secretary Albright last week that Canada is prepared to work constructively with all members to find a resolution to these funding issues.
But the funding issues are significant. Senator, I don't know if I am a U.N. official; I don't think I am. But I am somebody who has spoken recently about Fiji and Bangladesh, and in a recent speech I made in Canada I noted that in 1999 Bangladesh was owed approximately $ 18 million, or just under 175 times its regular budget contributions to this organization, and that Fiji was owed $ 4 million, or just under 100 times its regular budget assessment. In that 60 percent of all monies owed to the United Nations are owed by the United States, 60 percent of those numbers are owed by Americans to Bangladeshis and to Fijians, and I think it's fair to make that point.
The financial issue is of particular and immediate concern to this Council, given its immediate impact on peacekeeping operations.
Financial constraints, significantly due to U.S. arrears, have seriously impaired our cooperative efforts to protect and promote international peace and security. We need a United Nations for 2000, and not for 1945.
Canada sought and won a Security Council mandate based on a reform agenda aimed at broadening the council's mandate to include human security issues, along with the traditional security matters relating to relations between states. We sought to promote the council's effectiveness in peace and security issues and to increase the transparency of its work.
Secretary General Annan focused attention on this issues with his hard-hitting speech at the opening of this year's GA, in which he challenged all of us to grapple with issues on humanitarian intervention or risk rendering this organization irrelevant. And he launched a much-needed debate on our fundamental peace and security mandate, which I hope we will all join vigorously in the months to come. It is an area where sustained concrete action can be taken by the council to enhance protection for the most vulnerable of our world, who are increasingly targeted and victimized by modern conflicts. So in essence, the message is clear; no more Rwandas and no more Srebrenicas.
For the council to discharge its responsibilities, there must be sufficient political will among its members to give peacekeeping missions the appropriate mandates and the resources they require to do the job. And indeed, this is the area I referred to at the outset, Mr. President, where I personally perceive very happy changes to be occurring. And I thank you, Mr. President, personally for making those changes possible.
We believe that the council has been guilty more often of delivering too little and too late. Peacekeeping mandates must not be shaped. as far too often they have been, by an aversion to risk and avoidance of necessary costs. They should reflect the requirements on the ground. And of course that brings us very quickly back to money and political will.
In the past four months, we have heard how the Security Council failed the people of Rwanda and Srebrenica. In the case of Rwanda, we promised little and delivered less, and genocide was the result. The words "never again" will be a bitter betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of innocents who were massacred, if they are not reinforced by the political will and by adequate resources to see that it does not occur again.
Financial considerations have too long overshadowed the important work that the world expects this organization and this council to carry out. And the amounts are relatively insignificant given the magnitude of the tasks at hand and the potential benefits accruing to humankind.
Senator, I had intended to stop there. But I do want to address some of the implications you left in your remarks relating to the International Criminal Court, and to suggesting that the court could somehow lead to some sort of prosecutorial free-for-all, when indeed I believe quite the opposite is true.
The international community, in taking steps to bring perpetrators of international crimes to justice, was following in the footsteps, principally the footsteps of the United States, at the Nuremburg Tribunal. Democratic states, with effective judicial systems, have nothing to fear, as the ICC statute clearly blocks the discretion of prosecutors, where such judicial systems already exist and function effectively.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you.
Ambassador Hasmy of Malaysia, who will speak, I guarantee you, in the most perfect English we will hear today. (Scattered laughter.)
AMB. DATUK HASMY AGAM (Permanent representative to the U.N. from Malaysia):
Thank you, Mr. President --
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Who, I should also add, was also a member of the historic Namibia Task Force.
AMB. HASMY: Thank you, Mr. President. I had wanted to just make extemporaneous remarks on the basis of Senator Helms' presentation in case he has something new, a lot of new things to say to us. But having listened to him, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the views of Chairman Helms are something that at least my delegation is familiar with. And I had early on drafted my speaking notes, and for the sake of not wanting to meander around, I will use my notes. And also, my English is not that perfect!
I would also like to, like others, welcome Senator Helms and this opportunity for a dialogue between you and us, members of the Council and your colleagues, members of the legislative branch of the United States Congress, led by you, the official chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I think all of us have looked forward to this meeting for quite some time, and we certainly, I think, consider your invitation for further dialogue an interesting one.
To have already opted to go up to Washington, I will have to consider and seek the approval of my government if that is appropriate for us to do so. Personally, I would have no problem.
Mr. President, I -- on a matter of procedure, I would like to suggest to you, since this is an unusual meeting of the council -- well, not a meeting of the council as such, but an unusual gathering between members of the council and Senator Helms and his colleagues, attended by members of the organization and perhaps observers up there -- it is a unique opportunity, which I thought should not be missed. I was wondering, Mr. President, whether you would consider allowing, after we have spoken, the other members of the organization who assemble here, or at the very least their spokesmen, such as, for instance, the chair of the G-77, the chair of the nonaligned movement, the presidency of the EU, to sort of supplement what we have said here, perhaps in a better, in a more effective way, so that Senator Helms and his colleagues will come away with -- will go away from this meeting, this gathering, with a wider spectrum of views of the larger membership. This is -- I put this to you for your consideration, if there is time and should they wish to exercise the privilege that we may be extending to them.
So, Mr. President, my delegation, as I said, welcome this opportunity. And we look forward to a continuing dialogue with Senator Helms.
I have listened very carefully to the views of the chairman. I would only confine myself to one or two points, as others have already been touched upon by other members before me, and perhaps by other members afterwards.
I would just like to touch on the issue of the reform and restructuring of the U.N. Security Council.
We are now, Mr. Chairman, entering the seventh year of deliberations on this highly contentious issue, with no clear outcome in sight. If you are serious about reforming this important organ of the United Nations, we will have to move forward from where we stand now.
In this exercise, we expect the United States, the most influential member of this organization, to take the lead in moving the process forward. Clearly what is needed is manifestation of greater flexibility on the various aspects of the reform which are holding up the process, such as the issue of the composition, the size, and the working methods of the council, and also the highly contentious issue, which I must say it here, of the veto. I will expand on it a bit later.
These changes are necessary, in our view, in the context of the dramatic changes and transformations that have taken place in the world.
With the increase of the membership of the U.N., which now stands at 188 and growing, there is a need for greater representivity of member states in the Security Council, which deals with weighty issues of international peace and security. The U.N. is a living organism, or should be, in my view, and if it is to grow strong and healthy, it must change and adapt to the current environment, which is far removed from that found in the middle of the last century. This is the essence of the clamor for reform of the Security Council by member states.
We look forward to the United States taking a lead on this reform process because the U.S. plays a crucial and pivotal role in the organization. And here I entirely agree with what the Ambassador of the U.K. has just mentioned during his intervention about the role of the United States. Such a role entails working and cooperating closely with the U.N., including paying its dues, as do the other members, many of whom are much poorer than the United States. The U.S. enjoys currently unprecedented wealth and economic growth, and we fail to see why, from the perspective of the developing world, the United States will not be able to do what we all do -- or most of us do -- to pay our dues in full, on time, and without conditions. That is all we ask, not more than that. And Ambassador Dejammet has mentioned about the principle of the capacity to pay. We are not asking for any new principle.
Now, on the contentious issue of the veto, which I just mentioned, it is contentious because while the possessors of this privilege does not want any change, the larger membership of the U.N. feels this issue needs to be looked at in the context of our time. We are fully conscious of the role played by history and other factors that led to the establishment of the veto, but times have changed, bringing about new geopolitical realities which out to be factored-in in any meaningful reform of the Council, in tune with the democratizing process that is rapidly changing the global political landscape. The permanent members, including the United States, must evince a willingness to look at the issue of the veto through the prism of the realities of the 21st, not the mid-20th, century.
We are not talking about the immediate abolishing of the veto, which -- (may ?) -- it happen with evolution of time, but of its possible modification and curtailment. Several ideas have been proposed by member states, including that of restricting its applicability to actions relating to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could be looked at in a more constructive spirit by the permanent members. Here again, Mr. Chairman, we look forward to the United States taking the lead.
On the issue of the improvement of the working method and transparency of the council, I would like to take this opportunity here to say that much have taken place. Changes have taken place for the better thanks to the positive and constructive attitude of the permanent members, including the United States.
In this connection, let me take this opportunity here to pay my tribute to Ambassador Holbrooke himself. As president of the council for this month, he has demonstrated that preparedness, a willingness to move forward, to innovate. Malaysia welcomes these changes that he has brought about because they are presently creating -- because they create a move towards more transparency, more openness. I salute him for what he has done because those are the very things that Malaysia and other of the nonpermanent members of the council, not only during this term but previously, in the previous years, have tried to bring the process forward. We do hope that what has been started by Ambassador Holbrooke could be maintained and emulated by other presidents in the coming months.
We salute Ambassador Holbrooke for opening up the council. We believe that opening up would not necessarily lead to creating ineffectiveness or inefficiency in the working of the council. There are ways of ensuring that the private consultations will continue to provide the meaningful way in which the council will discuss on highly contentious issues and yet at the same time, allowing open meetings like this, to provide inputs from important people like yourself, Mr. Chairman, and from important members of the larger organization.
I thank you very much.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Hasmy, for your kind words.
And Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you that Ambassador Hasmy was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of this idea that you address us and indeed said he would like to reserve the right to do the same thing on behalf of legislators from Malaysia.
Our next speaker is our friend from Bangladesh, Ambassador Chowdhury, a new member of the Security Council already making his mark very much felt.
AMB. ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh): Thank you, Mr. President.
Like others, Senator Helms, welcome to the Security Council. Welcome to the United Nations. You and your colleagues have honored us by your presence, and we believe that this opens up a new chapter in the U.S.-U.N. relations. And we welcome this process.
Thank you also for your invitation to come to Washington for a discussion with the Foreign Relations Committee. And I believe that this is a positive proposal. My delegation reacts very positively. Bangladesh is in favor of dialogue, in favor of openness, and I believe that is what we will gain through this process.
I will focus on one aspect and also another one, which is reform, which everybody has touched upon.
One aspect, I believe, Senator, you should know, at least particularly from a country who has experienced this very strongly, and that is, like scores of other developing countries, Bangladesh, in nearly 30 years of its existence as an independent nation, has benefitted tremendously from the work of the United Nations in the economic and social fields. The U.N. in its work in Bangladesh and also in many other developing countries have made a real difference in the lives of millions of people. And we believe that that is a very important aspect of the work of the United Nations, and this, in turn, has a positive impact on the global peace and stability situation.
So we believe that this by itself justifies strong commitment and investment of not only the U.S. but all of us in the United Nations. And I would like to underscore that point, as one of the countries which has benefitted really from the United Nations.
It is in this context that Bangladesh believes that the United Nations needs to be effective. We are all for effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations. We believe that over the past few years the U.N. has made serious efforts -- not only the secretariat, not only Secretary-General Kofi Annan, but member states as well -- together to work to move the process of reforms ahead.
Of course, reform, as Kofi Annan says, is not a one-time event; it is a process. And we continue to do that.
And I want you, Chairman Helms, to go back to Washington with this understanding: that reform is a priority in the minds of the members of the United Nations, all of us, and we will work together. And you have -- towards the end of your speech says a United Nations that focuses on helping sovereign states work together is worth keeping. And we fully subscribe to that, and we believe the U.N. is doing that. And we all work here to preserve this great democratic organization, in full collaboration and on the basis of sovereign equality.
Thank you. But let me conclude by again joining others in paying tribute, special tribute, to Ambassador Holbrooke for making this first ever dialogue happen. Thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Chowdhury, for your kind words.
Our next speaker is another new member of the Security Council, a country whose independence we all know you strongly supported, earlier than almost anyone else in the United States -- I'm proud to say I was on that same train with you, although I got on a few stations later -- our friend from Ukraine, Ambassador Yel'chenko.
AMB. VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine): Thank you very much, Mr. President.
And may I say that I am very pleased with this opportunity to meet in the Security Council chamber with a very well-known politician and, as you rightly said, a very good friend of my country, Senator Helms. And we welcome you here.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your extremely comprehensive and very informative statement on the role of the United Nations. In fact, your vision of the U.N. -- and, may I say, sometimes very harsh words about this organization -- has, in my opinion, already contributed to the ongoing process of United Nations reform.
As we all know, today's world continues to undergo very serious transformations in all spheres. Therefore, it is not sufficient only to talk about how we can improve the United Nations, but rather of ensuring the relevance of this unique and indispensable instrument of international cooperation to the requirements of the changing world.
We share your view, Mr. Chairman, that our universal organization, the United Nations, should be more responsive to the needs and demands of each and every of its 188 member states or, as you rightly said, to serve them and not the other way around.
Ukraine has continuously paid special attention to the strengthening of this organization. The crucial element of this ongoing process, as you well know, is the institutional reform of the whole U.N. system launched by the secretary-general, Kofi Annan. And I feel very proud that the former foreign minister of Ukraine was honored to be the president of the 52nd session of the General Assembly, the Session of Reform, as we used to call it.
I'm happy to acknowledge that the fruitful winds of change have touched upon the most vital body of the United Nations, the Security Council. It is symbolic indeed that the new millennium started with the presidency in the Security Council by the United States, a country whose role for the U.N. is widely recognized and appreciated. Under the leadership of Ambassador Holbrooke, the Security Council is becoming more open and transparent. We highly appreciate his Month of Africa initiative, the important session on AIDS in Africa, open discussions on Angola, on Burundi, and the forthcoming crucially important meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ambassador Holbrooke is doing a great job.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to wish you good health and all successes in all your endeavors. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador, for your very kind words about both the chairman and myself and our country.
Our next speaker is another new member of the Security Council, Mr. Chairman, from the part of the world I know well -- I lived there for two years, in North Africa -- the ambassador from -- although I did not live in Tunisia; I must be honest, because I see in the audience the ambassador from Morocco, and I spent two years in Morocco -- but from the great nation of Tunisia.
AMB. ALI HACHANI (Permanent representative to the U.N. from Tunisia):
(Through translator) Thank you, Mr. President. I should like to thank you, Ambassador Holbrooke, for having organized this unprecedented meeting with Chairman Helms, whom I welcome. This will certainly help us to improve relations between the United Nations and the United States.
As Mr. Holbrooke said, the question of arrears set aside, the United States is in fact the largest contributor to this organization. I should like to emphasize in this connection the importance of the role of your country not just as the major contributor to the organization, but also, historically, the role of the United States was enormous in establishing this organization and, indeed, this is just as relevant today as 50 years ago in San Francisco when the Charter was adopted.
I shall confine myself to just a few comments.
First of all, on reform of the United Nations, we must all recognize, as the secretary general did, that this is a process, it is not a one-time event. And so we have to continue the work of reform, modernize the organization, refine its structures and its working methods so that it can effectively discharge its responsibilities.
Mr. President, Tunisia has supported the reforms proposed by the secretary general to revitalize the United Nations, its leadership, its structure and its performance. For the most part, proposals have been implemented for the last two years, and this has enabled the organization to be more effective and to discharge its responsibilities better. The steps taken have shown that the United Nations can adapt to the new needs and the new challenges of our age.
The program budget adopted for 2000-2001 is indeed very highly disciplined in its budgetary approach, and this reflects the wish of all members to rationalize the expenditures of the United Nations.
But we must also recognize that the United Nations does not have a solid financial foundation to implement all of the programs and activities that have been mandated. There is still a problem with financing and implementing activities, and these problems have been eloquently described by Mr. Joseph Connor, the undersecretary general for management and administration.
The second comment I would make is on the scale of assessment. As Mr. Holbrooke said, this is one of the most controversial matters. My country is still open to further discussion of this matter, which must be discussed. One has to take into account the impact on other countries, including developing countries, which have real difficulties in paying their contributions to the United Nations pursuant to the Charter. It also affects major contributors. But we cannot depart principle of capacity to pay.
Mr. President, Chairman Helms spoke about sovereignty, and I too should like to say a few years on this. In the United Nations we are all agreed that this organization is based on democratic principles. The Charter talks about cooperation, dialogue among all countries, all nations of the world, to assure peace and security for all peoples. And so the United Nations never planned to impose itself as a supernational authority. Its calling is a universal forum for dialogue eventually, and for coming to agreements.
And this is the basis for cooperation among members to work towards the objectives which we are all agreed on. International law is based on consent.
It is not against the sacred principle of consent of state, even more sacred than sovereignty of state. These very principles are the foundation, the basis of the United Nations and of international relations.
Mr. President, in conclusion I should like to pay tribute to the most commendable efforts that you have made to strengthen cooperation between your country and the United Nations. And I should like to thank Senator Helms for being involved in this very useful discussion with member states to enhance mutual understanding between the United Nations and the United States, and to establish the basis for joint agreed action to ensure that this organization to which we are deeply committed has a sure future and the means to act effectively to respond to the aspirations of our people.
And I will indeed appreciate any opportunity to continue this debate through the Foreign Ministry. And we would like to thank you very much for your invitation.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you so much, Mr. Ambassador.
Our next speaker is another new member of the Security Council, and a country with which you have been deeply involved, Argentina.
AMB. ARNOLDO MANUEL LISTRE (through interpreter): Thank you, Mr. President.
First and foremost, I should very much like to thank you for having convened this meeting, and to thank Senator Helms, who has been very much involved in matters relating to my country, and is very much aware of the situation in my country.
This debate demonstrates the desire for transparency in the Security Council, and this will be -- (inaudible) -- it will be published, and made public, and there is -- it is the fault of ours when this is not made public.
Senator Helms has (tried ?) some erroneous views in the American public as far as what the U.N. does. It is our mistake that we don't convey to the American public opinion how effective the United Nations actually is in various areas. It all countries there has been a tendency to think that the United Nations is something alien to us. Ambassador Dejammet was talking about something that was external to us. That's a danger. We have to clarify the fact that that is not the truth. The U.N. is an institution that is composed of all of us, and it will be whatever we wish it to be.
Let me repeat, Mr. President, let me repeat some arguments that might be adduced. It's very late. Argentina does support the principle of capacity to pay as a guiding principle for payment to the organization. We pay 1.103 percent of the budget of the United Nations. If we look at the per capita GDP, GNP of our country, you can understand that our effort in our country may proportionally be greater than that in other countries which are in fact more wealthy and more -- enjoy greater standing in public opinion. We are the fifteenth contributor in the PKOs, and this also is a heavy burden on our budget. And we are doing this with a view to contributing to enhancing the founding principles, the underlying principles of the United Nations.
We agree with Senator Helms in that it is necessary for there to be a reform in the organization. I agree with my colleague, Ambassador Hasmy, that we may be a bit behind in carrying out that reform.
But there is one area frankly where we have found a deadlock in the reform, and that's the permanent membership and reform in the Council and the possible inclusion of additional permanent members. There is no agreement. There is no consensus, and unfortunately we are deadlocked there, and I really don't see how we will extricate ourselves from this situation if we continue to repeat our individual positions and interests to a greater or lesser extent. I think that this has been an excellent, very advisable and timely exercise in which we are engaged. I wish only to thank you for having initiated this debate, and thank Senator Helms particularly for his candidness and sincerity in voicing his views. Thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Mr. Ambassador. Mr. Chairman, I should also have mentioned earlier that, by rotation, if you want to come back next month you can call Ambassador Listre "Mr. President" -- (laughter) -- and we look forward to working closely under his presidency. Unfortunately you'll have to wait 15 months to see Sir Jeremy as President again. He was the last month's. But the order here, I should have explained, moves each month, so that you see here the order of the presidency. Bangladesh will be in March, Canada in April, China in May, and so on.
Our next speaker is our very distinguished colleague from Russia, Ambassador Lavrov, with whom I have worked very closely over the first five months I've been here, and I am delighted to give you the floor, Mr. Ambassador.
AMB. SERGEI LAVROV (through interpreter): Thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: I know he's going to speak in Russian, but don't be fooled -- his English is as good as anyone else's in this room.
AMB. LAVROV: My Russian also has a southern accent, chairman -- I want to point that out. (Laughter.)
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I address you as "ambassador," because I don't see any note, any sign saying that it's the president. And I believe today we are meeting in our capacity as ambassadors who are members of the Security Council.
It has been very pleasant for me to meet personally with Senator Helms and to exchange a few words with him before this meeting. And it turns out that I was in fact earlier in North Carolina, and I saw the land which is there which is very different territory from New York, and it's very different from other big cities in the U.S. And when I was in North Carolina, I saw the people there, and perhaps I came to some understanding as to where this great tranquility and where this great certainty comes from, a spirit that seems to come from the people from that land.
So thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for this initiative. And I believe that the relations between the U.N. and the parliaments of member states is an important matter. I believe that this event will not be a one-time event, and I trust that we will continue our meetings with representatives from the Senate and from the United States and also representatives from parliaments from other countries also.
Certainly the United States is a very special member of the United Nations. Many have spoken of this already; I won't repeat it -- I agree with virtually all of what my colleagues have said before me.
I just want to say two things, but I think do reflect largely the general perception of most countries -- at least these two things are equally important for the Americans and for the Russians.
The first one is sovereignty, and you have spoken a great deal about this, Mr. Chairman. I am convinced that nobody could even imagine any desire to infringe on the sovereignty of the United States. At the same time, I am quite convinced that all the other members of the United Nations expect from the United States a similar respect for their sovereignty, whether it be military, political, humanitarian or commercial or economic.
In general terms, sovereignty in the context of United Nations activities is a concept of which sometimes assumes rather interesting dimensions. The clearest example I think is the crisis in Haiti. That crisis was regarded by the United States as involving their national interests. And accordingly the United States, following the logic which you so convincingly presented to us this morning, Mr. Chairman, considered that it has the right to act on the basis of its sovereign rights. And, nevertheless, at a certain point in the crisis the United States turned to the United Nations with a request for help; thereby, albeit it indirectly, the United States in fact asked the United Nations to share the burden of solving the problems involving the national interests of the United States which from the standpoint of the United States could have been resolved unilaterally on the basis of implementing the sovereign rights of the United States. But, nevertheless, the United States came to the U.N. asking the burden to be shared.
And when it's a question of peacekeeping operations overall, not just in Haiti but in any other part of the world, the countries that are directly affected by the crisis underway, when they come to the United Nations with a proposal that a peacekeeping operation be set up, virtually they are asking that other countries share the burden with them for protecting their national interests and share the burden of implementing the sovereign rights of individual countries.
The second point I want to make, and I believe it unites the Russians and the Americans, and no doubt many other countries as well -- the members of the United Nations expect from one another, and particularly from the United States, and that is a certain restraint. And what we expect is an ability that the other side will keep their word.
Now, what specifically am I thinking of? This is directly related to what we call leadership, and what we expect of the leading members of the United Nations, and primarily the United States. The budget crisis, which everybody has been talking about today, began after -- well, to a large extent began after the United States decided that they didn't want to pay 31 percent of the peacekeeping operating budget -- they wanted to pay 25 percent of that budget.
But the budget which the United States was refusing to implement was adopted, was approved by consensus, and the United States voted for the budget. And so all the other members of the United Nations expected the United States to keep its word. Of course every state has a sovereign right to make proposals to change the scale of assessments or to change any international treaty at all. But until such changes are adopted, we expect one another to implement -- to keep the promises which we have given one another through a vote in support of any particular decision in the United Nations. And I repeat: for Russia it's extremely important that on this basis this organization functions. And incidentally, five years ago Russia owed the United Nations about $ 600 million. And today this has been reduced several times, and it's about $ 80 million now. We paid about half a billion dollars over that period. Although, as you are aware, that was no easy thing for us to do given our financial situation.
I won't deal specifically with questions relating to international relations that you, sir, draw attention to. Certainly the views of all certainly do not coincide. And what my colleagues have said before me have borne witness to that. But it was a great pleasure for me. And, incidentally, we knew that the views which you set forth -- well, we have read about them -- when we knew that those views would not be identical with many of our own particular views about problems in the world today, but it was a great pleasure for me that we had an opportunity not just to judge one another from articles in the newspaper but that we have had an opportunity to speak to one another, to look one another in the eye. And I think that we have all valued this opportunity, and we support the continuation of this tradition.
I don't know whether the Security Council will travel to Washington, whether members of the Council will go to Washington. We have heard your invitation, and of course we will all decide on it, but I would support another visit from you here. And perhaps you and members of you committee might travel to one of the countries where the United Nations is carrying on some peacekeeping work. Perhaps this might also be interesting to you to see with your own eyes how this organization works in the field, what the conditions there are, and what kind of people work there. I myself have been in the field -- so has Mr.
Holbrooke been, many other colleagues have been. We have seen with our own eyes what's happening, and I am convinced that if you yourself take a note, then that will affect -- will have an impact on you even more than today's meeting. Thank you very much.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Lavrov for your very important comments to which we listened so carefully. I would just make one brief note. Many members of the Congress, including Senator Helms's committee, have in fact been visiting peacekeeping operations throughout the world. I myself traveled with one of his colleagues, Senator Feingold, to 10 nations in Africa last month. There's several people who will not even be with us tomorrow are not with us because they are now in the field, as well as the senators and members of Congress on the appropriations side. But of course we all subscribe to your view that travel to the field is absolutely essential.
Mr. Chairman, our next speaker has been an ambassador here for at least five years, but another new member of the Security Council, and a very, very effective one whom we all respect greatly, Ambassador Durrant of Jamaica.
AMB. PATRICIA DURRANT: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm sorry I had so much trouble in catching your eye. (Laughter.)
Mr. President, I wish to join our colleagues in the Security Council in thanking you for arranging today's historic meeting. The presence of so many representatives in the Council chamber today attests to the interests of all the members of the United Nations in ensuring that the elected members of the United States have a better understanding of how the United Nations works.
I therefore wish to extend a very warm Jamaican welcome to Senator Helms on this very cold day, and to the other members of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We agree with Senator Helms that our relationship must be built on understanding of each other's point of view. We also agree that it is necessary if we are to continue to work together in an atmosphere of friendship and to contribute together to world peace.
Each of us here has a responsibility to protect and promote the interests of each of our countries. For Jamaica's part as a developing country, we believe that we need an international environment in which we can seek to improve the standards of living of all people. And as Ambassador Chowdhury said, we, like other developing countries, have benefited tremendously from the work of the United Nations and its agencies.
We also agree with you, Senator Helms, that the United Nations is not an end in itself. The organization can only reflect the will of its member states, as set out in the charter of our organization, to which we all adhered on joining the organization. And for Jamaica, this includes the payment of our assessed contributions, in full, on time, and without conditions.
We are committed to finding multilateral solutions to problems of peace, development and security. And we have seen, over the past 54 years of the existence of the United Nations, the coming into independence of the majority of the world states which have emerged from a colonial background, largely under the aegis of the United Nations.
We have seen the contribution which the United Nations has made in the promotion of human rights, in the dismantling of apartheid, and in improving living standards of many of the world's people, in setting standards and norms which allow us to function in an increasingly globalized world.
Senator Helms, the United States has played a very important role in this, our mutual endeavor. And we wish to salute your country and its people. For us, an effective, an efficient United Nations is vital to our national interests. And we have therefore joined in supporting the reform measures taken under the wise guidance of Secretary General Kofi Annan.
For us, the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, has a unique role to play in the promotion of international peace and security. Ambassador Hasmy of Malaysia has spoken about the reform of the Security Council. And for us, opening up the Security Council, even in an informal setting like today, points to the need and sends, as far as we are concerned, a signal to the rest of the world that the United Nations is willing to adapt to the changes in the world and also to reflect the changed membership of our organization.
I won't say anything more on the question of reform of the Security Council and of the activities of the Security Council, except to say that where there have been failures, these failures are failures not of the organization but of its member states. For the organization is only the reflection of its members.
Where, on the other hand, there have been successes, these are often overshadowed, because in the global media, news is rarely good. For many of our countries, only disasters, whether natural or man- made, make the news. We therefore welcome today's meeting in the hope that it will encourage the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to continue to exchange views with the representatives of all our member states, because we think we have a mutual endeavor to achieve a more efficient and effective world organization which can promote a better world for all our citizens.
This month, in which the Council, under the presidency of the United States, has focused on Africa, including the issues of refugees and AIDS, is a clear demonstration of the political and moral authority of the United States which can be brought to bear on the world's problems.
Senator Helms, again we thank you for coming to meet with us today, and I wish to assure you that we certainly wish to continue this dialogue. I thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Ambassador Durrant. You didn't have any trouble catching my eye, but the person behind me may not have been so attentive, I assure you.
Our next speaker is another new member of the Security Council, Mr. Chairman, from the great state of Mali, with such a distinguished heritage. And in welcoming Ambassador Quane to speak, I would also note that his foreign minister, Foreign Minister Sidibe, will be joining us next week for very important discussions on the Congo.
Mr. Ambassador, we look forward to your remarks.
AMB. MOCTAR QUANE: (Through interpreter.) Thank you, Mr. President. Since I'm speaking quite late in the discussion, it would be rather impolite for me to extend it, since it was supposed to be somewhat short. So I myself will be quite short. I should like to concur and associate myself with the words of welcome extended to Senator Helms and his colleagues. I should like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank him for his invitation that the members of the Council go to Washington.
I have little to add to what has been said by my colleagues as far as the role of the United Nations is concerned and the question of contributions of member states to its budget, or matters relating to reform. Let me simply say that we do agree with what has been said, both in the way they were put forward as well as in what they were seeking to achieve.
I should like to express the view that this meeting constitutes the beginning of an exercise that, over time, will demonstrate its legitimacy. I, by way of conclusion, would like to say that I should like to thank you very much for having convened this historic meeting. Thank you.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for your participation. Our next speaker is the ambassador from Namibia. Mr. Chairman, I would tell you again, as I told you last night, that it was Ambassador Andjaba who held the Security Council mission, the historic Security Council mission, accompanied by four of his colleagues who are in the room today, to East Timor that turned the corner on that horrible tragedy. And as we already noted, his foreign minister is sitting quietly in the back, but he is our president for the whole year, the president of the General Assembly. So my friend, Ambassador Andjaba, the floor is yours.
AMB. MARTIN ANDJABA: Thank you, Mr. President. Speaking last in the discussion, one always finds himself almost speechless, because all that needs to be said has already been said by the earlier speakers. But let me join my colleagues in welcoming Senator Helms to the Security Council and to thank him for the very important statement he has delivered this morning.
All this, Mr. President, is due to the hard work that you have personally put in. And we thank you very much for your initiative. The whole month of January is dedicated to Africa. We thank you very much for the efforts that you are making. It's a clear indication of your personal commitment and that of your government and your people to the cause of Africa. We have had successful meetings already on the issue of HIV-AIDS in Africa, the issue refugees, Angola and Burundi. And we look forward next week to a meeting on the (DRC?). We sincerely hope that the outcome of the meeting on the DRC will be beneficial to the people of Africa.
Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, my country, Namibia, is only 10 years independent. We became independent with the help of the United Nations. I want to make the point that the U.N. is so important that it is able to free people. The U.N. deployed a peacekeeping force in Namibia in 1989, and that peacekeeping operation was very successful. It was successful because the member states of the United Nations supported that peacekeeping operation. This was one of the very few success stories, and it is a living example of how the U.N. can be effective.
The U.N. can only be effective if the members provide it with the necessary resources. Some member states of the U.N. are small. Some are big. Some are rich, and some are poor. But each of these member states are assessed to make contributions according to their capacity to pay, a point that was made earlier by my colleagues.
The U.S. is one of the important member states of the United Nations. It is a permanent member of the Security Council. It is the only superpower now in the world. That gives responsibility to the U.S. And therefore, it is important that, in order for the U.N. to be effective in its operations, in its mandate, the historic mandate which our forefathers have assigned it, we, the member states, must (gather?) the necessary political will and give all that is required for the U.N. to carry out its mandate successfully. The member states must give resources to the U.N., in time, in full, and without conditions. It is only then that the U.N. can carry out its mandate.
Today the U.N. is facing huge responsibilities. I want to confine myself to the area of peacekeeping. There are operations that are ongoing already in Kosovo, in East Timor, in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, that mission has to be expanded in terms of numbers, in terms of mandate. All these require resources. There are upcoming missions; the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which we will discuss next week, and other situations. The U.N. cannot just fold its hands and watch the whole world get in chaos. So we should empower the U.N. by giving it resources, by giving it the mandate it requires for it to serve the people of he world.
So, Mr. Chairman, we look to the U.S. I mentioned earlier that the U.S. is an important member state of the United Nations. It is an important member of the Security Council. So we look to the U.S. for leadership. Those of us from small nations, small and poor nations, do not have the capacity to pay, and therefore the U.S. is (there?) to assist.
Our parliaments sit and discuss our international obligations. Our parliaments look at the coffers that we have in our countries, the very small coffers that we have, and they say, "Look, Namibians, tighten your belts. Let us meet our international obligations. Let us pay our dues to the U.N." We do not have all the money, but we make our sacrifice, because we know that if we give the U.N. the necessary resources, the necessary support, it will be able to carry out its mandate successfully.
I would like to also comment briefly on a point, Mr. Chairman, you made about the Reagan doctrine. And I request that I also be as candid as you, Mr. Chairman, have been when you addressed us. The Reagan doctrine, in our part of the world where we come from, is not one that we cherish very much.
I remember very well that it was during the Reagan administration that my own country, Namibia, did not get independence at a time that we needed it very much. It was during the Reagan administration that our independence was delayed.
We all know very well that that policy that you, Mr. Chairman, referred to worked hand in hand with the apartheid regime in South Africa. In Angola, we know very well -- and yesterday here we were, or day before yesterday, being briefed about the situation in Angola. And we have seen how UNITA, the rebel movement in Angola, has caused a lot of havoc to the people of Angola and to the country, and also this impacted on the region as a whole.
Some of us -- (inaudible) -- who were legitimate and genuine national liberation movements, were called other names -- terrorists. And those that caused death and destruction in Africa were called liberators, and therefore they were supported. So UNITA is one of the examples that we are facing today.
I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman. I said I wanted to be candid. I wanted to be very undiplomatic sometimes. But it is not a policy that we very much like. It delayed our independence. It contributed to a lot of suffering -- (inaudible) -- in Africa. I thought I should also -- (brief audio break) -- in response to what you, Mr. Chairman, have just said about the doctrine, the Reagan doctrine.
We are aware of the infamous policy of constructive engagement which has been applied in southern Africa. Of course, now it's history. That page has passed. But we have it fresh in our memories. So now let's look forward. Let's embrace each other and work together for the betterment of all of us.
Thank you, Mr. President.
AMB. HOLBROOKE: Mr. Ambassador, I thank you for your, as always, interesting and provocative remarks. You have talked about history, and we all need to learn from history. I would also point out that many ambassadors here today, including yourself, have referred to today's meeting as historic. I agree completely. We're learning a great deal, in the spirit of mutual exchange. I know that you will want to make additionalcomments at tomorrow's lunch, in the hearings and so on.
At this point, the hour is very late. You are overdue for your next appointment. I thank all of you very much. The meeting is adjourned.
Documental reference source: Languaje: English - Load-Date: January 21, 2000 - Federal News Service, Inc. - Federal News Service - View Related Topics: January 20, 2000, Thursday - U.N. Headquarters, New York City, New York - Time: 10:56 AM. Est Date: Thursday, January 20, 2000.
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