The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
60th GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Item 110: Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
We congratulate you on your election and wish you well in the important work ahead. Your speech on September 23rd at the end of the General Debate bears witness to your dedication to this organization and what it stands for.
We thank the Secretary General for the comprehensive report on the work of the Organization. It is now up to us, the Member States, to make concrete implementation efforts to follow-up the decisions made at the Major Summit and ensure that it will become a real success.
Peacekeeping and peace building:
Looking back at the past year when the scale of United Nations peacekeeping operations reached a historic high, we welcome the emphasis our leaders placed on investing in prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We welcome in particular the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission and a Support Office within the Secretariat. We must ensure that both are up and running by the end of the year.
We fully concur with the Secretary General in his report on the extent to which terrorism is a threat to everything the UN stands for. We support the thrust of the five-point strategy previously outlined by the Secretary-General. If the struggle against terrorism is to be successful, it is essential for us to agree on definitions and means for prevention and to conclude a comprehensive convention against terrorism before the end of this session of the General Assembly.
Disarmament and Non-Proliferation:
Unfortunatly no progress on Non-Proliferation was made in May this year at the NPT Review Conference and we failed at the Major Summit to address this issue.
Proliferation is a profound danger which the United Nations must confront in a decisive manner. If we continue on the present path of stalemate, the threat of terrorism, combined with weapons of mass destruction will only grow.
We thank the Secretary General for his valuable contribution to development by placing it at the centre of the ongoing reform. The two major reports on development, i.e. by Professor Sachs and the Secretary’s General report, “In larger freedom”, illustrated the clear link between development and security, which underlines further the need to address these two issues in tandem.
The Government of Iceland has acknowledged the great challenge posed by the Millennium Development Goals and will increase efforts in assisting the developing countries in reaching these Goals. Each country must, however, take primary responsibility for its own economic and social development and a key element for successful long term development is good governance and the rule of law. A developing country that creates a transparent and accountable environment that respects good governance and the rule of law, will attract domestic and foreign investment, which will foster the growth of a vibrant private sector. International trade liberalization is a key pillar for the private sector and a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda is important for the achievement of the MDG’s. A fair, open and equitable multilateral trade system would allow developing countries to take full part in the globalised economy and thus contribute significantly to increasing the resources available in the developing countries to combat poverty.
We welcome that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has placed greater emphasis on strengthening national systems for human rights protection. We also welcome other new developments in the same direction. There is, however, an urgent need to reform the human rights machinery of the UN.
Please allow me Mr. President to quote the then Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs at the General Debate of this assembly, when he said:
“The Commission on Human Rights is dysfunctional and devoid of credibility. Deliberations on human rights have suffered accordingly. Moreover, the credibility of the entire United Nations organization is threatened. For Iceland the ideal Human Rights Council will be smaller than the Commission and will be in session all year, so that it can respond to emergencies. The composition of the new Council is fundamental to its effectiveness. It must not include major human rights abusers.”
We have a mandate from the Major Summit to establish a Human Rights Council and it is up to us to get it up and running as soon as possible and not later than before this session of the General Assembly ends.
Management and strengthening the Organization:
It is essential that the UN Secretariat be equipped to deal with the challenges we, the Member States, thrust upon it. I would like at this point to praise the Secretariat under the inspirational leadership of the Secretary-General and a number of other top officials for its committed and professional work in many areas. But as in any large organisation adjustments are needed, new skills need to be brought in and a more rapid renewal of staff may be required than can be achieved by natural turnover. This may entail some expense in the short term – but with dividends in the long run.
It is for the member states to ensure that we are not imposing too many tasks on the Secretariat and spreading resources too thinly. Iceland, therefore, stands fully behind the Secretary-General in his efforts to modernize the management and to strengthen the Organisation. We must live up to the promises we made at the Major Summit by providing the United Nations with adequate resources to enable the Organization to implement its mandates and achieve its objectives.
Let me conclude by congratulating the Secretary-General and his staff for the work they have undertaken in this historic and hectic year of action, often under difficult circumstances.