Statement by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael at the General Assembly of the United Nations in Introducing the Resolution on the Role of the New Global Human Order 4 November 2002

Posted November 13th, 2002

Mr. President,

It is an honor on behalf of the co-sponsors to introduce draft resolution A/57/L.10 on the Role of the United Nations in promoting a New Global Human Order.

In doing so, I wish to avail of this opportunity to highlight some of the considerations that have led my Government to pursue this initiative in the General Assembly. First of all, we were inspired by a vision of the enormous potential for human development created by the end of the Cold War, the accelerated rate of technological development and the deepening inter-dependence of nations. This confluence of factors led us to believe that it was now opportune for the nations of the world to begin to build a new and enlightened partnership based on mutual respect, democratic governance and popular participation, and embodying the rights and obligations of the parties.

Secondly, we have been prompted by the realization that over the last two decades there has been a gradual but definite displacement of development from the international policy agenda. This displacement has occurred primarily in the context of two important and inter-related developments, namely, the ideological and political ascendancy of economic neoliberalism, with its emphasis on the role of the market, and the accelerated pace of globalization which has itself been increasingly under-pinned by a market liberalizing logic. This has engendered new imbalances in international economic relations, and reinforced the patterns of inequality that have prevailed over past decades. The time has now come for the international community to create an alternative vision of development based on a more balanced relationship between the market and the state.

A third factor needs to be taken into account. The indissoluble link between development and peace means that if the development agenda were to fail, peace is certain to be imperiled, and vice versa. With the proliferation of conflict in various parts of the world and the rise of terrorism in recent times, there is a growing preoccupation among developing countries that with the astronomical costs for implementing the Agenda for Peace and Security, the Agenda for Development will be further starved of resources. Development in turn will become a more distant dream for the billions of the world who need it most.

We can ill-afford to address any of these challenges at the expense of the other. New approaches are therefore needed to ensure that development, peace and security public goods essential to human survival are made mutually reinforcing through a greater investment in preventive rather than enforcement action. This will require that a sensible balance be struck between these basic purposes of the United Nations.

A fourth area of concern is the threat to democracy that is inherent in the inattention to development. In the socio economic sphere for example, the ascendancy of economic liberalism has accentuated inequality at all levels within countries, both developed and developing as well as among countries North and South, East and West. The absolute population living in poverty in both the South and North is increasing. Far from the redistribution of global wealth that animated much of the development discourse in times past, we appear to be faced instead with a redistribution of global poverty. Whereas the number of the world's people living on one dollar per day may be decreasing, we are being told that the ranks of those that subsist on two dollars per day or less are on the rise. Individualism and materialism continue to be extolled at the expense of social and human values. The march of globalization, while it has brought unparalleled benefits for some, has at the same time exacted a heavy human toll. Dramatic economic and financial crises punctuate a more mundane reality of creeping marginalization and powerlessness.

And in the political arena, Mr. President, we cannot help but note that the ascendancy of democracy often means, not greater people participation and consensus, but the rule of the powerful and its manipulation of the majority. Democracy is increasingly a cloak for government by oligarchy often going hand in hand. On the other hand, though often practiced at the national level, the virtues of democracy are still notably absent in the wider community of nations, creating isolationism among the rich, rather than solidarity among humankind. Moreover, the freedoms expected from healthy competition under private enterprise are being rapidly restrained by the controlling hand of powerful conglomerates. Naturally, the proponents of globalization and trade liberalization will argue differently. However, it is now increasingly acknowledged that globalization can no longer remain a rudderless force; it must be managed in the interest of all.

Mr. President, the question may still be asked: why such an initiative when there may already be others with a similar thrust? And indeed, there has been no dearth of plans to pursue development! Ever since its foundation in 1945, the United Nations has been laboring, decade after decade, to devise an international strategy for development and decade after decade, these painfully negotiated agreements have proved resistant to implementation. Meanwhile, the goal of development continues to elude our grasp.

The historic adoption of the Millennium Declaration two years ago signaled new hope for progress in the development agenda, and created a framework for renewed efforts towards the achievement of clearly defined goals. Since then, important international conferences have been held on Financing for Development and Sustainable Development, among others. It is, of course, too soon to judge what the impact of these conferences on development will be. However, we must grapple with the reality two years after the Millennium Summit that the international community as a whole is yet to find a solid footing towards achieving the Millennium development goals.

Mr. President, as we ponder the reasons for our shortcomings, we invariably lament the chronic lack of the two elements that are required for progress namely, political will and financial resources. The crucial questions therefore continue to beset us: How do we develop the necessary political will? And how can we mobilize the needed resources? Unless these core questions are resolved we can never hope to have a breakthrough in development.

The current divide between member states in both the philosophy and practice of development can hardly be expected to encourage a common approach to the very difficult challenge of development. Not only is there a wide disparity in the economic and social conditions of the developed and developing countries, but also an equally serious difference in their perspectives on development policy. While we may use the same words to refer to these challenges, we may not often mean the same things. Globalization, to many, is the prescribed panacea for all economic ills, while others see it as a threat of further marginalization from the global economy. An urgent reconciliation of the widely divergent views of the partners on world economic and social issues is a prerequisite for progress in the future. A mere papering over of those differences will ultimately fail the test of implementation.

Mr. President, another question may be asked: What is the New Global Human Order and what is it all about? This is a fair question which deserves an answer. It is, first, an honest and serious attempt to find common ground on which future international cooperation can be solidly founded and to provide a comprehensive and holistic framework for development. Furthermore, it is not intended to conflict with other initiatives and proposals already in existence and currently being pursued. Rather, it should be considered as a complementary device for facilitating consensus on what actions we must take. Conceivably, it can also serve as a safety valve, if or when, for whatever reason, the established negotiating processes flounder or fail.

The New Global Human Order is not merely a philosophical concept but a practical agenda for development. Among its concrete proposals are the following: A comprehensive and definitive solution to the debt problem; the fashioning of a new ODA policy; the mobilization of new and additional resources; the strengthening and if necessary the reshaping of global institutions; the development of a more central role for the United Nations in global economic policy making; and a review of the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO to focus more on human development. Indeed, one of the its more interesting proposals is the creation of a modern and enhanced version of the Marshall Plan to assist developing countries to reach the threshold of self-reliant economic development and to be able to enter the global economy.

Mr. President, let me now come to a final question which may be asked: How do we do this and how do we find the political will to energize our efforts to create a new development paradigm for the twenty-first century? My delegation intends to work with others of like mind to explore with development partners the outer limits to which they would wish to go in development cooperation. Such a dialogue could establish the basic terms and conditions of a new partnership and, at the same time, provide a certain degree of predictability and reliability to our cooperation.

There can be no doubt that the best forum for undertaking such reconciliation and consensus building is the United Nations. As the most representative of international institutions, it is ideally suited for promoting agreement among Member States. Moreover, its Secretariat is well equipped to provide the necessary intellectual and technical support for catalyzing our efforts. Member States, however, cannot escape the responsibility for determining the uses to which the Organization must be put and for deciding how it should be geared to perform these functions. Too often, we make the mistake of trying to shape the institutions before agreeing upon what we wish them to do. The result, not surprisingly, is that we often put the cart before the horse.

In conclusion, let me say, Mr. President, that the lineaments of this New Human Order already exist in the United Nations Charter. We need only to build on this structure to ensure that the Organization works in the practical way that the founders intended.

The resolution before us, in underlining the commitment of the international community to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, stresses the need for a broad-based consensus for action to secure development and eradicate poverty. It also calls for the further elaboration of the proposal of a New Global Human Order, a call to which we, working with delegations and other partners of like mind are pledged to respond.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that since the publication of the draft resolution 28 countries so far have joined as co-sponsors. We wish to express our sincere appreciation to all co-sponsors for their valuable support as well as to all partners for the spirit of flexibility and cooperation shown in consultations on the draft resolution.

With these words, Mr. President, I am pleased to commend draft resolution A/57/L.10 on the role of the United Nations in promoting a New Global Human Order for adoption by this august Assembly.

I thank you.

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