I would like to begin by thanking Ambassador Marjatta Rasi, the President of the Economic and Social Council, for introducing the 2004 Report of the ECOSOC which provides a good overview of the work of the Council. As Iceland is hoping to be elected to the Council this week, my delegation would like to address a few issues of particular interest.
The international community has committed itself to addressing the problems and challenges facing the poorest countries in the world. As we all know, the progress has been mixed, and while a number of countries have progressed at an unparalleled rate, others have lost headway and need urgent attention. This is particularly true for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Accelerated progress towards meeting internationally agreed goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals, requires concerted efforts of developing and developed countries alike. Iceland intends to contribute its share in achieving the MDGs, as it is foreseen that by 2009 Iceland’s Official Development Aid will have more than doubled from its current level.
Next year will be particularly important in our global fight against poverty. The major event that will take place here in New York will be a vital opportunity for assessing where we stand in relation to the Millenium Development Goals.
In light of this, the theme of the 2005 ECOSOC high level and coordination segments is particularly relevant, and we appreciate that these will constitute a major input into the 2005 high-level review of the General Assembly.
Next year we will also have a very important event in the field of women’s issues and promotion of gender equality as the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will be dedicated to the review of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. We have done an excellent job at the UN in reaching agreements on women’s rights but we urgently need to live up to those agreements.
Gender mainstreaming is one way of improving gender equality and Security Council resolution 1325 was a step forward. However, it is also important that we strengthen our efforts to secure its full implementation, especially regarding women’s participation in decision making. It is also vital that the policy of gender mainstreaming be implemented, monitored and evaluated on all levels in other areas, such as development.
Finally, I would like to mention Human Rights. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights declare all human rights to be universal and inalienable. Protection and promotion of human rights is a primary responsibility of Governments.
In relation to human rights, Iceland would like to express deep concern that ECOSOC failed to approve a resolution last summer to reverse the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) decision no. 2004/117 on "Human Rights and Human Responsibilities". That CHR decision together with the pre-Draft Declaration on Human Rights and Human Responsibilities constitute a direct assault on the foundations of human rights and international human rights law by claiming that such rights are conditional. It is our duty to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of our varying political, economic and cultural systems.
Thank you, Mr. President.