Statement Delivered by H.E. Mr. Felipe Perez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the General Debate of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 14 September 2002
A year ago, the holding of this General Assembly had to be postponed on account of the ruthless crime committed on September 11. There was then a worldwide wave of solidarity towards the American people and, particularly, towards the families of the almost 3,000 innocent victims of that unjustifiable terrorist attack.
The stage was thus set for the creation of a genuine international alliance under the auspices and leadership of the United Nations Organization, with absolute respect for the purposes and principles enshrined in its Charter. Nearly all countries, beyond ideological, political, cultural and religious differences, expressed their willingness to cooperate actively with this endeavor of unmistakable common interest.
However, another vision prevailed. In an unprecedented fashion, it was stated that whoever did not support the war decided upon by a single country would then be on the side of terrorism. It was even announced to the Security Council that such country reserved the right to launch future attacks on its own against other nations.
A unilateral war was then unleashed, whose death toll is still unbeknownst to us and whose most tangible consequence is probably the striking blow rendered to the credibility of the United Nations Organization and to multilateralism as a means to cope with the complex challenges currently ahead of us.
What is the outcome today? There are greater feelings of hatred, vengeance and insecurity, not helpful in the fight against terrorism. Dangerous xenophobic and discriminatory tendencies threaten the existence of a plural and democratic world. There has been a step backward in the field of public freedoms and civil rights.
In the meantime, there is a lack of political will by certain powers to rigorously apply, without selectivity and without double standards, the twelve existing international legal instruments on terrorism. In addition, no advances have been made in the definition, so indispensable today, of State terrorism.
Cuba, on its part, a victim of terrorist acts for over four decades -- that stated its opinions in this Assembly with poise and firmness and that unwaveringly condemned the crime of September 11 and terrorism as such, but that also opposed the war out of ethical considerations and the respect for International Law -- signed and ratified the twelve international conventions to combat terrorism, adopted a national law to fight this scourge, has cooperated fully with the work of the committee set up for such purposes by the Security Council and, at the bilateral level, proposed to the US Administration the implementation of a program to combat terrorism, which was inconceivably rejected by such government.
Until today, and despite the fact that it has not developed and has no intention to develop nuclear weapons ever, Cuba has not been a State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, for it is an insufficient and discriminatory instrument allowing the establishment of a club of nuclear powers without any concrete disarmament-oriented commitments. However, as a signal of the clear political will of the Cuban Government and its commitment to an effective disarmament process that ensures world peace, our country has decided to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In doing so, we reaffirm our hope that all nuclear weapons will be totally eliminated under strict international verification.
In addition, and despite the fact that the only nuclear power in the Americas pursues a policy of hostility towards Cuba that does not rule out the use of force, Cuba will also ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as Treaty of Tlatelolco, that had been signed by our country in 1995.
On a day like today, I would like to repeat the remarks stated by Cuba at the last General Assembly: 'Only under the leadership of the United Nations will we be able to defeat terrorism. Cooperation and not war is the way. The coordination of actions and not imposition is the method.... Cuba reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations. Cuba reiterates that it will never allow its territory to be used for terrorist actions against the people of the United States or any other country.'
Why have we not seen the same zeal with which the war in Afghanistan was unleashed to seek a just and lasting solution to peace in the Middle East? Why have some even refrained from uttering a single word to condemn the aggressions against the territory of Palestine and the crimes against its people? Why has there not been any condemnation of the selective assassinations and the use of the armed forces against the civilian population? Why are there assurances of impunity for the actions of the Israeli army, thus restraining the Security Council? Why have there not been any firm actions to implement the Security Council resolutions ensuring the proclamation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital? Why is the only superpower on the planet acting differently from one case to the other? Why is there no end to the plight of the Palestinian mothers whose children are also murdered as the innocent people on September 11?
These questions should be answered by those who in this hall carry upon their shoulders the responsibility to what is currently happening in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.
A new war against Iraq seems already inevitable; an aggravation of the situation of constant aggression that such people has lived over the last ten years. The buzzword now is 'pre-emptive war' -- in open violation of the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Charter.
Cuba defends principles and not vested interests; therefore, although its supporters may feel upset, it emphatically opposes this war. Cuba is not driven by an anti-American spirit, even when its government maintains and strengthens a 40-year-old blockade against our people.
But refraining from telling the truth out of cowardice or political calculation is not characteristic of Cuban revolutionaries. Therefore, Cuba hereby states that it opposes a new military action against Iraq. It does so while recalling that at one point in time it supported the Security Council resolution asking the Iraqi Government to end the occupation of Kuwait.
We believe that the development of weapons of mass destruction today would be insane, because the only possible way that we envision for world peace is through general and complete disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and the rechanneling of the money currently spent on weapons to address the dire socio-economic problems of humankind.
The Arab countries have been emphatic in their rejection of this war; most European countries do not approve of it; the international community is increasingly concerned about the announcement of a new war on the basis of unconfirmed allegations -- and even disregarding the obvious reality that Iraq cannot pose a danger to the United States.
If the US Government unleashes a new war against Iraq, either by imposing it on the Security Council or deciding upon it unilaterally in opposition to the international public opinion, we will bear witness to the emergence of the century of unilateralism and the forced retirement of the United Nations Organization.
It will then seem that the Cold War years -- with the remote memory of bipolarism, mistakes and contradictions -- were not as futile and perilous as the stage that is now relentlessly looming over the world.
The United Nations Organization has to be saved. Cuba defends both the need for its preservation as well as for its most profound reform and democratization. But it all has to be done by respecting its Charter, and not by rewriting it or distorting its Purposes and Principles. The General Assembly must finally be provided with the role contained in the Charter. The Security Council has to be recovered from the disrepute and the doubts that are so reasonably weighing it down so that it will become a truly representative body -- and I am talking about the presence of the Third World and not about military power as a justification for the membership -- a democratic body -- and I am talking about eliminating the veto and other antidemocratic practices -- a transparent body -- and I am talking about putting an end to the secret conspiracies and to the substantive decisions made in private by just a few and then imposed on the rest.
Today, when it is more threatened than ever, Cuba strongly defends the need to preserve multilateralism in international relations. That is why we have witnessed in frustration the disappointing completion of the negotiations for the establishment of an International Criminal Court, which received Cuba's support as it understood that it would be a really impartial, non-selective, efficient and truly independent body to complement the national justice systems. To de facto amend the international treaty that gave birth to the Court by using the Security Council as a means or to impose upon others humiliating bilateral agreements compelling them to violate their international obligations deriving from that instrument is not only arrogant but also irresponsible.
The International Criminal Court now flaunted is not the body that we need and have fought for, subjected to hegemonic political interests and already a potential victim of manipulation, tied from its inception to the decisions of a permanent member of the Security Council. What real international justice can be expected of a body that lacks a definition of the crime of aggression or that will receive instructions from the Security Council to either call off or postpone a trial indefinitely at the request of one of its permanent members? Who guarantees that the Court will not end up becoming an instrument at the service of interventionism and domination by the most powerful countries?
Cuba reiterates here today what it already expressed at the recent Johannesburg Summit: a reworking of international financial institutions is called for. A legitimate replacement for the International Monetary Fund is called for. It is essential that the work of the World Bank be aimed at supporting the real exercise by over 130 Third World countries of their right to development. It is essential that the United Nations system be provided with new financial resources to fight poverty, underdevelopment, diseases and famine. It is essential that the World Trade Organization be rescued from the interests of a handful of rich and powerful countries in order to transform it into an instrument at the service of a fair and equitable international trading system.
The meager results derived from the Monterrey and Johannesburg Summits, Mr. President, and the reasonable wave of annoyance and uncertainty in their wake, once again bring to the table the issue of the lack of political will by the major industrialized powers to relinquish a portion of their privileges in order to produce a real change in the unfair and unsustainable world order that is currently visiting impoverishment and hopelessness upon two thirds of the planet's population.
I recognize, Mr. President, that Cuba's remarks may not be shared by some in this hall. I even understand that they could be interpreted as a tirade against a country in particular. However, that is not the reason. Words must be used to uphold the truth, and that is what Cuba has done and will always do. We are a small, noble people that long ago proclaimed that for all Cubans 'Motherland is Humankind.'
Thank you very much.