(Statement by Secretary of Foreign Affairs BLAS F. OPLE, during the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 17, 2002, New York.)
As we welcome our newest members, East Timor and Switzerland, we reaffirm our faith in the United Nations and the principles of the Charter.
Today, the United Nations faces more challenges and must respond to far more demands than was ever contemplated by our founders. Yet our organization remains the single most important universal and viable forum for states to interact, for nations to work together and for countries to cooperate, in preserving peace, avoiding conflict and promoting stability.
The Immediate Challenge
We believe that Iraq took a step in the right direction when it agreed yesterday to the unconditional return of United Nations weapons inspectors. But the immediate challenge facing our organization and our world is the looming confrontation that could be brought about by the need for Iraq to comply, totally and unconditionally, with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
We credit the diplomatic skills and sheer determination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the members of the Arab League with this welcome development. We will, therefore, await clear proof of sincerity in action.
But this is just a beginning. We believe that we are far from a true resolution of this issue. We must remain vigilant and continue to have faith in the Security Council. The Philippines has full confidence in the UN Security Council process. We believe that the Council will act in accord with the imperatives of world peace and security and will find the most expeditious and effective way to serve these imperatives.
Consistent with our national interest and in accordance with our Constitution, the Philippines is prepared to extend political, security and humanitarian assistance to the United States and the international community in the pursuit of its most vital interests, which coincide with our own vital interests, to defeat terrorism.
The case for compliance is compelling. The charges are highly credible and have serious implications on global security. The UN Security Council should give these charges most urgent and deep consideration. The international community has put the onus on Iraq to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Yet we certainly live in a world of consequences that can be avoided. Poverty, intolerance and inequality provide the breeding ground for terrorism. But we need not make terrorism an unavoidable consequence of these factors.
We have learned this in the one year since the shocking and tragic events of September 11. In that short span of time, we learned that terrorism cannot defeat us, we learned that terrorism cannot overcome our resolve to fight it, and we learned to the full measure of courage and bravery of the men and women who stand on the frontlines in the war against terror.
In that short span of time, we established new strategic partnerships and retooled and reaffirmed existing strategic partnerships. These are partnerships that are based on the belief that the world will never be secure unless terrorist lairs are exposed and destroyed, and terrorist supporters are brought to justice.
The Nexus of Poverty and Instability
And in the realm of what is just and what is fair, we know that globalization can contribute to the comprehensive and sustainable development of the developing world. In some cases it has. But the gap between the rich and poor countries continues to widen.
Let us again be reminded of the stark reality: 1.2 billion people live on less than a dollar a day; 1.1 billion people lack access to safe and affordable drinking water; 130 million school-age children, the majority of whom are girls, lack the means to stay in school. …