Address by the Dr. Odeen Ishmael, Ambassador of Guyana to the United States,
Head of the Delegation of Guyana, to the 28th Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers Bamako, Mali -- 25-29 June 2001

Posted July 5th. 2001

Mr. Chairman, Honourable Foreign Ministers, Distinguished Secretary-General of the OIC, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen . . . .


Allow me to preface my remarks by extending my deepest gratitude to the Government and people of Mali for their warm hospitality and welcome which continue to make our stay in this beautiful country, most pleasant and comfortable. I wish you, the Foreign Minister of Mali, a successful tenure as Chair of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers and have every confidence that under your leadership, the Organisation of Islamic Conference will continue to be a strong advocate for peace, equality and justice worldwide. To the outgoing Chair, the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, I offer my congratulations for a job well done.

Mr. Chairman,

We are meeting at a time when significant developments are taking place in the Middle East which have great implications for the stability and security of the region and even further afield. After a spate of violence and increased hostility over the past few months between Palestine and Israel which have resulted in significant injuries, loss of lives and property, particularly for the people of Palestine, a security agreement has since been brokered with the assistance of the United States Government. This agreement is an important confidence building measure which can certainly contribute to greater stability and political dialogue between the two sides. Similarly, the Mitchell Report, the personal interventions of the United Nations Secretary General, and the efforts of Egypt and Jordan continue to be important reference points. In this regard, effective mechanisms must be identified to implement the relevant proposals aimed at achieving a lasting settlement to the situation. Guyana supports the call for international observers to be positioned in Palestinian territory to monitor the situation.

As a member of the OIC as well as the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Guyana will continue to stand ready to promote and protect the legitimate rights of the people of Palestine including their right to self determination, a homeland of their own and freedom from the threat of violence. To this end, we strongly believe that dialogue and a search for a lasting solution must be in accordance with the UN Charter and resolutions particularly Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425. For indeed, lasting peace cannot be achieved by confrontation and reprisals, but by a commitment to diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and respect for international law.

The importance of an enabling environment for further dialogue aimed at finding permanent solutions to conflicts is equally relevant in regions and countries such as Cyprus, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Kosovo, which face threats to their domestic unity and territorial integrity. We support efforts by the United Nations Secretary-General and the Good Offices Mission to seek a political settlement to most of these disputes. Once again, we have seen the failure of the threat of or use of force to resolve disputes. We hope that all parties involved will continue to dialogue and that the differences will be resolved in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. In this regard, Guyana particularly welcomes the upcoming India-Pakistan summit in July, given the resumption of hostilities in the Kashmir dispute after a six-month cease-fire. It is our hope that this meeting will allow the parties involved to try to find solutions that would allow peace to prevail in Kashmir.

With regard to the situation in Kosovo, we hope that the recent visit by members of the UN Security Council will contribute in some small measure, to an atmosphere of tolerance, as is necessary in a multi-ethnic society. Nevertheless, we recognise that, ultimately, only political will and mutual respect by the parties themselves, can contribute to sustained peace.

Mr. Chairman,

It should not escape our attention that as developing countries increasingly devote considerable time, resources, and attention to conflicts at the expense of human development, the developed countries, now free of the military threats posed by the Cold War era, are making rapid advancements. A solution must be found that would enable people everywhere to enjoy greater well-being, progress and freedom. Concurrent with our meeting, a number of UN processes are taking place which will have a significant impact on the development agenda of our countries. This week, the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS considers the dramatic impact of this epidemic on the human, economic and social resources at our disposal. In July, the illicit trade in small arms will engage the attention of the international community. In September, the promotion and protection of the rights of the world's children will be on the international agenda. In October, we will address racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. Next year, we are expected to examine in a concrete manner financing for development. OIC member States have consulted extensively on many of the issues emerging from these processes. These consultations have always been in accordance with the objectives and principles of the Islamic Conference. This type of cooperation and consultation in a meaningful manner must be promoted.

Mr. Chairman,

While we address these important issues, we must always be reminded about the pressures on development faced by many of our nations as a result of the debt burden they are forced to carry. Many countries in this continent, in particular, pay more to finance their debt annually than they require to spend on social and economic development. The lifeblood of these countries is being drained by the creditors who do not seem to care that these poor countries need resources to combat disease and hunger, and to deliver education and other social services for their people. Currently, the debt-burdened countries are paying their "pound of flesh" by servicing debts incurred by regimes over a generation ago. In so doing, their blood seeps out in the form of the hundreds of thousands of children who die every year because there is insufficient budgetary allocation to provide food, medicine, clothing and shelter for them. We issue a call to the international financial institutions to re-examine their policies regarding debt as a matter of urgency and institute policies to drastically reduce the debt burden of the world's poorest countries.

With these factors in mind, and in the context of solidarity within our membership, the Government of Guyana would like to introduce for the first time before the Islamic Conference, a draft resolution on a New Global Human Order, for your consideration. We believe that such an Order aimed at reversing the growing disparities between rich and poor, both among and within countries offers a viable solution to many of the global social and economic ills.

The proposal for the establishment of a New Global Human Order was first made at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 by the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, President of Guyana. It has since then been endorsed in a number of international fora, including the Caribbean Community, the Movement of Non--Aligned countries, and by the Group of 77 in its South Summit Declaration. Most recently, in the wings of the Millennium Summit, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 55/48 on the role of the United Nations in promoting a New Global Human Order.

Guyana's proposal for a New Global Human Order is in keeping with the broad aims of the Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, inter alia, "to increase human well-being, progress and freedom everywhere." The proposal seeks to promote a strong political consensus and a broad-based global partnership to combat poverty and promote human development throughout the world through a long-term and integrated approach to development. To do this, the involvement of all actors, including Governments, the United Nations system, other international organizations and relevant actors of civil society, is crucial.

The Government of Guyana invites the OIC, as well as its members, to lend their valuable support to the proposal of a New Global Human Order and to its further promotion. The attention of OIC members is also drawn to the call in the UN General Assembly resolution for views of UN Member States on the promotion of a new global human order. We do hope that all OIC members will respond to this call as early as possible.

The Government of Guyana takes this opportunity to once again express gratitude to the member States of the OIC for their valuable support to the proposal for a New Global Human Order and for its further promotion within the UN context.

Mr. Chairman,

The extensive agenda of the present Ministerial meeting highlights the varied and multifaceted concerns of member States in a globalising world and the significant role the Organisation of Islamic Conference plays in promoting international peace and security. I am confident that our frank and serious debate will continue to augur well for the spirit of cooperation and solidarity which permeates our common struggles.

I thank you.

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