I wish to begin by congratulating you on your election to the high office of the President of the General Assembly. You can rest assured that the Delegation of Finland will render you its full support in your challenging task.
On behalf of my Government I also wish to extend a warm welcome and congratulate the new members amongst us. Their participation in the
work of the United Nations will further strengthen the Organization.
Just a few years ago amidst of a promisingly changing political environment high hopes were attached to the United Nations. Some of these hopes were fulfilled, others not. The independence process of Namibia is a fine example of nation building where the United Nations played a crucial role. Eritrea is another. Let these be examples of wise and patient conciliation and conflict management. Yet another example is South Africa, where we today see irrevocable changes taking place towards a non-racial and democratic Society. I wish to express my Government's admiration for the achievements of the parties in South Africa in their work for peace, cooperation and mutual respect. Finland has actively supported the shaping of a new South Africa and will continue to do so.
We have in recent days witnessed yet one more example of brave and visionary leadership which can overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles and lead peoples from a state of war and hatred towards reconciliation. I am referring to the Peace Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In this context I wish to pay tribute to the Government of Norway for their role in bringing the two parties together. The United Nations must now stand ready to play its part in this important endeavour for peace. Finland together with the other Nordic Countries was among the first to initiate an international support programme for this historic process.
The .United Nations can also count other achievements in recent years. Among the most important ones were the rebuttal of the aggression against Kuwait and the restoration of democracy in Cambodia. However, numerous other conflicts have proved very difficult to solve. War is raging in former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Angola, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabah. Conflicts persist in Western Sahara and Cyprus. All these conflicts constitute formidable challenges to the international community and to the United Nations.
Against this balance sheet of success and failure an important question emerges. How can our Organization best be adapted, reformed and revitalized to face effectively not only the challenges of today but also those of tomorrow? Undoubtedly the United Nations is today a more viable institution than ever before. Nevertheless the many unsolved conflicts illustrate that the United Nations still has serious shortcomings. They stem primarily from the nature of the problems and challenges of the increasingly interdependent global society in which we live.
It is now our responsibility to launch a process of reform of the United Nations. It must cover all agencies, programmes and funds of the Organization both in the political and development field. It must be undertaken in an integrated manner with a view to better adapting our instruments of cooperation to the needs of a profoundly changing world. While recognizing that diversity is a valuable source of creativity it is important that the UN system has a unity of purpose.
Many crises seem political in nature but have their roots in social injustices and deprived economic opportunities. Meeting social needs and providing economic development are necessary elements of sustained political stability. Also in this field some significant improvements have occured but their scope and importance are clearly dwarfed in the face of the immencity of the challenges. Human development, human rights and the environment are cases in point.
Thanks to the dynamic initiatives of our Secretary-General a process of reform of the United Nations is under way. In addition, several Member States have introduced important proposals for reform and restructuring of our Organization. My own country together with the other Nordic countries has actively participated in this process, particularly as regards peace-keeping and reform of the United Nations work in the economic and social sector as well as humanitarian assistance.
World events have forced the United Nations and the Member States to re-examine closely the capacity of the Organization to maintain international peace and security. The Charter provisions as well as the structures and machinery created for this purpose reflect a world that was very different from the one we live in today. That is, of course, the reason for the great attention, which over the past year or two has been accorded to what traditionally has been called peace-keeping. The concept of peace-keeping is, as a result of increasingly complex operations,
going through a period of evolution. Related activites such as preventive diplomacy, peace-making and peace-building are the new tools for maintaining international peace and security.
The United Nations and its Member States must adjust to the rapid growth in and new approaches to peace-keeping operations. The President of the Security Council in his statement of May this year outlined the operational principles in accordance with which such operations should be conducted. My Government fully subscribes to these principles.
The great increase in requests for peacekeeping troops, military observers and monitors makes it in the view of my Government necessary for the United Nations to adopt more strict and clear criteria and procedures before launching such operations. The United Nations must not overextend itself - it cannot be present everywhere. Mandates for peace-keeping operations must be precise and clear. The necessary funding must be secured and before launching any operations the Security Council must see to it that the required contingents are available. Recent experiences also prove that command structures must be clearly spelled out and subsequently fully adhered too. It is not sufficient that the Security Council agrees on resolutions setting up new operations. All the conditions for their implementation must also be at hand.
We also face new challenges in disarmament and arms control. The nuclear arms race has stopped but nuclear proliferation still constitutes a serious potential threat to international security and stability. It is vital to secure that the NPT regime works efficiently. In general, disarmament and arms regulation should be integrated into the broader agenda of international peace and security. This should be reflected both in the United Nations disarmament machinery and in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. The review of the composition of the Conference on Disarmament would enhance this objective. We regret that no agreement on this issue has been reached so far.
The Security Council is vested with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In carrying out its duties the Council acts on behalf of the entire membership of the United Nations. The trust and confidence in the Council of all Member States is therefore a crucial factor affecting its ability in conflict resolution. It is only natural that a review be undertaken of the composition of the Security Council in order to make the Council better reflect today's Membership as well as the prevailing political realities.
My Government has an open mind on this question. We are ready to accept a limited increase in the membership of the Council, provided that such a change will not affect negatively the capacity of the Council to perform its tasks. Moreover, there would seem to be a need to review the organization and methods of work of the Council. The aim should be to increase transparency and to provide non-members better opportunities to be heard when matters of immediate concern to them are considered by the Council.
It would seem desirable - especially as regards negotiating the mandates as well as financing of peace-keeping operations -
to involve to a greater extent also non-members of the Council as provided for by the Charter. Such involvement would be particularly called for in the case of those States who are potential contributors of troops and logistical support.
Work on revitalizing the General Assembly and rationalizing its work is also under way. Certain improvements have already been introduced. However, further efforts have to be made to ensure a more meaningful and responsible role for the Assembly. To enhance its standing and to add weight to its resolutions it is in our view necessary to establish clear priorities. It is important to focus the work in the Assembly on these priorities and to reduce the number of the items on its agenda.
Indeed, time has come to consider even some radical methods to enhance the effectiveness of the Assembly. One might ask whether a fullfledged General Assembly every year is really necessary and productive. Alternatively, a high-level political debate and the meetings of the Main Committees might be organized every other year. Moreover, the President and the Bureau of the General Assembly could perhaps be designated at a time well before the end of the preceding session. This would permit the officers of the General Assembly and the Secretariat to better prepare the work of the General Assembly. These and other ideas merit further consideration.
The economic and social sectors of the United Nations and ECOSOC itself are other areas where reforms are also being actively discussed. The Nordic Countries initiated a reform of the operational activities for development. Although there is virtual agreement on a number of reform issues there are still details to be settled concerning the governance and financing of the development agencies of the United Nations. I hope that the much needed reforms can be agreed upon by the end of November so that the new structures can be put in place already in 1994.
During the discussions on the ongoing reforms it has become evident that the extraordinary extent and rapidity of economic and social change, as well as the challenges of the global environment make even much more profound reforms necessary. We must now devote our efforts to a re-orientation of the United Nations System in this new and daunting environment. We should, in particular, clarify our thinking about the institutional and structural linkages between work on peace and security and work on sustainable development. Likewise, we should establish the true priorities in the economic and social sectors as well as in the United Nations System's relations with other international
Such rethinking and reform cannot be carried out during one single General Assembly session. It takes a sustained effort over several years which in turn presupposes a consensus on the basic outlines of a reform programme. The shaping of a consensus is our primary task. The Agenda for Development which the Secretary-General will present will no doubt have a catalytic effect in this respect. So could the up-coming important conferences on Population, Social Development and Gender issues. The 50th anniversary of the United Nations will, in my view, provide a suitable occasion for launching such an ambitious, fundamental and visionary reform programme.
In order for the United Nations to function effectively it must have a solid executive branch, a Secretariat that has at its disposal sufficient human and financial resources. The Secretary-General has taken several steps to streamline the Secretariat and make it a more efficient tool for implementing the decisions of the Member States. But more needs to be done in order to permit the Secretariat to take initiatives and pursue its intellectual leadership role.
At a time when resources are scarce and so many new tasks have been entrusted to the United Nations, it is clear that a pruning of activities and rationalization of working methods must be done. Cutting unnecessary and obsolete programmes must continue. It is the task of the Member States to give guidance to the Secretary General, but also to draw conclusions and take the necessary decisions. The United Nations should apply the same policy of austerity as national governments in the prevailing economic circumstances.
Perhaps the greatest concern in the United Nations today is the unwillingness of the great majority of Member States to pay their assessed contributions. My delegation has said time and again, and I will repeat it now: payment of one's dues is not an option. It is an obligation befalling on every Member big or small. Let it be our collective birthday present to the United Nations at the 50th Anniversary to see to it that by then there is full compliance with the obligation concerning payment of contributions.
Member States in fulfilling their financial obligations towards the United Nations have the right to expect full accountability for the resources placed at the disposal of the Organization. It is essential that the Organization exercises prudent economic management and constantly improves the internal control system. We therefore believe that ideas such as the creation of an independent Inspector General are well worth
considering. The main objective must now be to restore confidence of the Member States and the general public in our Organization. The United Nations cannot afford to have its public image and integrity tarnished by allegations of mismanagement.
As the United Nations approaches its 50th Anniversary, humanity is faced with formidable challenges. Meeting them will not be easy. And yet, now the United Nations has a better chance than ever to use its full potential and show leadership for the sake of a better future.
"We the peoples of the United Nations united for a better world" has been chosen as the theme for the celebration of our 50th Anniversary. Let us all together join in making this a reality.
Thank you, Mr. President.