The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Sixty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization 
New York, 2 October 2006
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The annual report of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, on the work of the Organization is an excellent overview of the achievements during the past year, and indeed, before, as well as of the complex challenges facing us.
It serves as a clear reminder, and for some it might be a revelation that the United Nations is not a talking shop. At the same time as we debate this report, there are 30.000 civilian staff serving in the field, 65.000 troops and military observers, 7500 police officers and more than 15.000 international and local civilian personnel serving in 15 peacebuilding operations and 3 special political or peacebuilding missions, to mention only one important aspect of UN operations, peace and security.
The report also helps us keep a focus on the main issues – on the need for good governance and accountabaility, both within the Organisation, but also in Member States.
Strengthening of the United Nations will continue to be one of the principal tasks at the 61st session of the General Assembly. Certainly, real progress was made during the last session of the General Assembly with the establishment of a new Human Rights Council, a Peacebuilding Commission and a Central Emergency Response Fund. We have, however, only established the framework. The real work is ahead of us. Iceland trusts that the new mechanisms, along with the determination of Member States, will contribute to the strengthening of the UN.
Iceland concurs with the Secretary-General that a reform of the UN should include reform of the Security Council. As stated on many occasions, Iceland wants a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, both in expansion and working methods. Both the permanent and non-permanent members of the Council should increase in numbers, in order to better reflect the world today.
In her statement in the general debate last week, the Foreign Minister of Iceland emphasized development issues and in particular, sustainable development. The Foreign Minister reiterated Iceland’s strong commitment to the Doha Development Agenda. Iceland sees the suspension of the global trade talks as a major setback. We welcome and support international efforts for debt relief to the poorest countries. We also applaud those countries that have committed to increasing official development assistance (ODA). Over the next three years Iceland’s development assistance will almost triple in size and we are determined to do even more.
Iceland supports what Ambassador Kirsti Lintonen of Finland said earlier today on the global response to HIV/AIDS and the urgent need for concerted action in all areas of the development of the African Contintent; indeed the bulk of Iceland’s development cooperation is with African countries.
Iceland wants to see more determined efforts by development partners and UN agencies to pursue gender equality. In that connection we suggest that the work of UNIFEM must be given more weight within the UN.
Iceland agrees with the Secretary-General that “a major challenge for all countries in the years ahead is the development of new and sustainable energy sources”. Iceland will continue to contribute to work in this field.
The protection and promotion of fundamental human rights is one of the primary aims of the United Nations. The Secretary-General notes in his report the significant increased importance of human rights in the work of the Organization. Iceland welcomes this development. The establishment of the Human Rights Council is an example of this progress. In this connection, it is important that the Universal Peer Review system in the new Human Rights Council is up and running soon. Member States have also accepted that we have the responsibility to protect all people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Now we have to make sure that we fulfill this responsibility.
The United Nations is the premier international organization responsible for maintaining peace and security. This is a complex, multidimensional task. The UN has begun to put more emphasis on preventing conflict before it develops. This is indeed in line with the holistic approach we have increasingly applied to our work. “No security without development and no development without security” as has so often been said in this hall.
For the past decade and especially after September 11 2001, we have been confronted with terrorism, which now constitutes one of the major threats to international peace and security. While welcoming the new UN Terrorism Strategy, adopted by concensus in this Assembly, Iceland emphasizes the importance that Member States agree on the next step, the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We need a concerted effort, including at the highest political levels in capitals, in order to reach agreement on the outstanding issues in the draft comprehensive convention.
Also essential to longterm peace and security is to rein in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reinvigorate initiatives towards disarmament. The Summit, the NPT review conference as well as the Rewiew Conference on the implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and light Weapons sadly yielded no results. The Secretary-General is right to point out the danger of terrorism linked to weapons of mass destruction. Iceland supports his call for more concerted action on small arms, which create intolerable destruction on large sections of the world’s population.
Finally, Madam President,
Your predecessor, Mr. Jan Eliasson, repeatedly reminded us that the United Nations and multilateralism are indispensable in our world today, where threats are often global in scale. All of us need to be reminded of this and indeed we agree with what Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said on the subject earlier in this debate. The United Nations will continue to need a visionary, courageous and skilful leadership. The Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, has during his 10 years at the helm of the UN Secretariat played a leading role in “bringing new life to the United Nations” to quote the Norwegian Nobel Committee. As this is the last report of Mr. Annan on the work of the UN, I take this opportunity in thanking the Secretary-General for his leadership and for working tirelessly “for a better organized and more peaceful world”.