1. In an imperfect world, our citizens need the United Nations as they have
never needed it before. The United Nations has not resolved all conflicts by
peaceful means; nor could it. The UN's authority has to be underpinned by the
force of arms. But the remarkable achievement of the United Nations has been to
make the fine language of its Charter a force for good beyond the power of
words; by this the UN has raised the bar against the illegitimate use of
violence, by States and now by terrorists. In doing so, the United Nations has
saved lives by the million, and saved millions more from fear, poverty and
tyranny. We cannot let the United Nations' unique authority, leading the
international community, be undermined by those who have no respect for
2. Without the United Nations, there could have been no salvation for the
people of East Timor, no prospect of lasting peace in Sierra Leone, no one to
help rebuild Afghanistan.
3. Forty years ago, President John F Kennedy predicted a world with 25
nuclear weapon states. But the Non-Proliferation Treaty, supported by
international safeguards, has ensured that this nightmare scenario has failed to
4. All this serves to remind us of the critical role the United Nations has to play in world affairs, under its excellent Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It is the responsibility of all of us here in this assembly to ensure that the legitimacy,
the authority and the capacity of the UN to preserve peace and to build prosperity is strengthened, not undermined.
5. And today, alongside the traditional threats to global peace and security,
the UN and the world community face three rising challenges of failing states,
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
6. The world saw in Afghanistan the graphic dangers of state failure, where
order breaks down, law is undermined and anarchy takes over.
7. We in the international community must accept our share of the blame for
allowing that country to disintegrate. Al Qaida and their evil creed were only
too willing to take advantage.
8. But we are deluding ourselves if we believe the chaos in Afghanistan over
much of the last decade is unique. In too many areas of the world, our fellow
citizens are forced to live under the rule of gangs without the security and
freedoms which we should be able to take for granted.
9. And so, if we are serious about the concept of an international community
then, as members of the UN, we must accept our responsibility to help prevent
states failing, and to restore order where states have already
10. Our ISAF experience in Afghanistan, working with the UN, shows what can be done, but we know that much more needs to be done. We need a more structured and methodical approach to this growing problem of failing states.
11. The tools are there. At Monterrey in March and at Johannesburg earlier
this month, the world community has built on the Millennium Development Goals to
reduce poverty among the world's most disadvantaged people. And
between 1997 and 2006 the UK will have doubled its development assistance. We all have to work together to help countries build good government and to deliver basic public services to their citizens. We need better to draw on the expertise of the UN family and the international financial institutions. And we need better to release the skills, energy and resources of civil society, business and individuals.
12. Together with the WTO's Doha Round, we have within our grasp a new era of
sustainable economic growth and prosperity, of a stable political future for the
developing world and more secure global environment.
13. But people cannot be freed from poverty unless they are also free from
fear. Security is not an option, it is a necessity. Two years ago over half of
Sierra Leone was under the control of rebels; over half the population was
displaced; countless civilians had been murdered, abducted or horribly
mutilated; a spiral of sickness and hunger was taking over. Now thanks to UN and
British intervention to end that decade-long civil war, people are returning
home and rebuilding their shattered lives. But long-term commitment is
14. And, as we found in Afghanistan, when we deal with failing states we have
to tackle the second challenge to international law and justice: global
15. All the nations of the world, and all its people, black, white, Buddhist,
Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh have a common interest in defeating
terrorism. There must be no hiding places for terrorism or terrorists; no hiding
places for their money and no semantic hiding places either. The distinction
some claim between terrorists and freedom-fighters is false and dangerous. The
victims enjoy no such distinction. There must be no such distinctions either in
16. Security Council Resolution 1373 created new obligations on all of us.
The United Kingdom has been honored to chair the Counter Terrorism Committee.
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response. But, as we recall those who
lost their lives on September 11, we cannot relax our collective
Weapons of Mass Destruction
17. Alongside the threats from failing sates and from terrorism, the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction poses the greatest current threat
to global security. Nowhere is the case for universal support for enforcement of
UN's law stronger than in the field of weapons of mass destruction.
18. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention comprise one of the world's most
significant bodies of international law. For the past three decades, this corpus
law has ensured that - with one infamous exception - no states have resorted to
these, the world's worst weapons.
19. The exception is Iraq. For two decades, Saddam Hussein's regime has
defied and frustrated every attempt to enforce the international rule of law.
Iraq is the only country to be condemned by the United Nations for breaching the
Geneva Convention on chemical weapons. Iraq has fought wars of aggression
against two neighbors, and launched missile attacks against five countries in
the region. Iraq has used poison gas against its own people. Saddam Hussein has
persistently mocked the authority of this United Nations.
20. No country has deceived every other country in the world as
systematically and cynically as Iraq. And no country presents as fundamental a
challenge to the UN as Iraq.
21. Every society from the smallest village to the global community
represented here in the General Assembly must have rules, and every member of
that community must accept responsibility for respecting and maintaining those
rules. Without it the very concept of community breaks down.
22. So those of us who believe in an active international
community cannot stand by and do nothing while Iraq continues to defy the UN.
All of us who believe in the United Nations have to make our minds up now about
how to deal with Iraq. For the authority of the United Nations itself is at
23. We cannot let Iraq do grave damage to this organization and the
international order it represents. We cannot let Iraq go on defying a decade of
24. There are times when hard choices have to be made. On Iraq, we have
reached such a moment. If we fail to deal with this challenge, the UN will be
seriously weakened. And that would make the world a much more dangerous
25. We have to be resolute in the face Iraq's defiance and secure the will of
the United Nations. We must require Iraq to re-admit inspectors with unfettered
access. We have not just an interest but a responsibility to ensure that Iraq
complies fully with international law. We have to be clear to Iraq and to
ourselves about the consequences, which will flow from a failure by Iraq to meet
26. And yes, Mr. President, in dealing with the threat proposed by Iraq we
must tackle the other international challenges outlined by Kofi Annan yesterday,
particularly in the Middle East.
27. The past year has seen a further deterioration in security in Israel and
the Occupied Territories. There has never been a greater need for international
involvement in the Middle East Peace Process to secure the outcome we all want
to see: two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and
recognized borders, based on Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and
28. And in Kashmir, we should continue to urge both India and Pakistan to act
with restraint, and to seek to resolve this long-running conflict.
29. At the end of the Cold War we had hoped that future generations would
then be able to enjoy a world where co-operation rather than conflict was the
hallmark of international affairs. This goal is still within reach, if we are
tackling state failure, in the war against terrorism, and in confronting the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
30. The tasks facing the founders of this institution were no less
intimidating. Yet their combination of high values and hardheaded realism
created the greatest instrument in history for the avoidance of war.
31. Their achievement has been wonderful. But this organization faces new and emerging threats. We have to confront those threats and be ever alive to the challenges, which are out there to peace and justice across the world. All of us who believe in these principles of international law and justice have a duty to ensure that they are both upheld and enforced.