Year 2000 No. 146, September 7, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Scandalous Conduct by Tony Blair at Millennium Summit
Insulting and Hooligan Behaviour by US towards North Korean Delegation
Spokesman for President of DPRK Supreme Peoples Assembly Interviewed in Frankfurt
UN Secretary-General Regrets Decision by Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Not To Attend Millennium Summit Following Airport Incident
Address By Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba - Millennium Summit
Speech By The Prime Minister The Rt Hon Tony Blair MP At The Millennium Summit Of The United Nations
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The speech given by Tony Blair on the first day of the UN Millennium Summit was scandalous in the extreme.
This was so not least because he used the occasion to single out one member state for criticism. This was done on the basis of that states treatment of one individual. And that state was not the superpower of the United States or even Britain itself, both of which have been continually raining down bombs on the sovereign state of Iraq, for example, without even the authority of the United Nations. To use the occasion of such a historic summit whose aim is to address the major global issues of the 3rd millennium is, in our view, outrageous and disgraceful. This is especially so coming from the prime minister of a country which openly espouses "enlightened self-interest" as the basis of its foreign policy, and which is weighed down with the shame of its imperialist and colonialist past. It is especially so coming from the prime minister of a country in which, for example, it is illegal for workers to take action in support of their fellow workers, as instanced very recently in the case of the Scottish local authority workers actions.
In fact, what was scandalous about the whole tenor of Tony Blairs intervention at the Millennium Summit was his blindness on the question of putting Britains own house in order, while putting forward big power intervention as the solution for the worlds problems. Does he not realise that it is present and past intervention, colonial and imperialist, whether or not it has been carried out for "humanitarian" or "civilising" purposes, that is and has been the cause of the global inhumanity that characterises the world situation? Does he not have an inkling that the unfettered development of world capitalism in its final stage has led to the immerisation of the majority of the worlds population, to the so-called "digital and educational divide"?
What is equally scandalous about Tony Blairs intervention is its warmongering tone and proposals, demanding more "robust peacekeeping", commitment of member states to UN military operations. And at the same time calling for a "new partnership" with Africa, which is already bent double with the load of the old "partnership" between itself and the big powers.
There was another voice at the Millennium Summit which pointed out that there is nothing in the existing economic and political order that can serve the interests of humankind. That voice was the voice of the Cuban people putting into words the sentiments of the broad masses of the worlds people. At the same time, another voice, that of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, was enforcedly absent because of the arrogance and chauvinism of those that claim that to pursue a sovereign path is to be a "rogue". It could be said to be an honour to be designated a "rogue" by such forces.
The conduct by Tony Blair in this context cannot be accepted by any civilised standards of behaviour.
Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the DPRK and his party, which had left Pyongyang to attend the UN Millennium Summit in New York, had no alternative but to return home after cancelling their plan to participate in it due to the unreasonable obstructions on the part of the United States.
When the delegation was transferring to an American Airlines flight at Frankfurt Airport, US air security officials insisted on opening suitcases and handbags of each member of the presidential entourage, demanded that they take off clothes and shoes and thoroughly searched even sensitive parts of the body.
The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Li Hyong Choi, said: "This incident cannot be construed otherwise than an intentional and premeditated plot made in advance according to the manuscript of the US administration."
WDIE condemns this insulting and hooligan behaviour by the US administration. If it were not clear enough from this behaviour that the security staff were carrying out orders on how to deal with nationals of so-called "rogue states", that the officials are reported to have said precisely that, underlines the arrogance of US imperialism towards the citizens of countries who do not do its bidding. It is only just that the US administration must immediately apologise officially for this insult towards the international delegation intending to attend the historic world summit.
Li Hyong Choi told a new conference at the UN that the "incident intensified our vigilance and hatred towards the United States". He said that such acts "are only possible by hooligans who have no regard at all to international law and practices".
In connection with the rude and provocative treatment by US security staff at Frankfurt Airport, a spokesman for Kim Yong Nam, President of the Supreme Peoples Assembly presidium of the DPRK made public a statement as follows:
The President of the SPA presidium of the DPRK and his party which had been on transit in Frankfurt airport to attend the UN Millennium Summit were compelled to return home after cancelling their plan to participate in it due to the unreasonable obstructions on the part of the US side.
At the time the President and his entourage were about to board the already booked American Airliner "AA 176" after going through all transit formalities as per the publicly recognised regulation in Frankfurt airport on September 4, those who style themselves US Air Security Agents showed up there and treated them like criminals. They opened the luggage and hand luggage of all the suite members and pressurised them to undress and take off their shoes. They went to the lengths of searching even such sensitive parts of their bodies that one refrains from describing.
They rudely attempted to do such a thing against the President also.
We lodged a strong protest with them against this after flatly rejecting such inspection on the spot and demanded they immediately report this to Washington.
The American Air Security Agents reappeared after their brief disappearance and said what they did was instructed by their superior. And they provocatively charged that anyone from North Korea and seven other countries labelled "rogue states" are unconditionally subject to the above said strict inspection, otherwise no one is allowed to board the plane.
They cancelled our seats in the plane without any prior agreement with us.
This rude provocation of the United States to the President of the SPA presidium who represents the DPRK, a dignified UN member, is a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of an independent state, an intolerable abuse and insult to human rights and a blatant challenge to the exercise of rights by the member countries according to the UN Charter and the United Nations and the summit organised by it.
This is, at the same time, a high-handed act of ignoring international law and international custom.
The incident cannot be construed otherwise than a deliberate and premeditated act conducted under a pre-arranged script of the US administration.
The blocking by the US of the entry of the President and his entourage into the US even after issuing entry visas to them and inviting them even to a banquet to be hosted by President Clinton glaringly shows the sinister and cunning double-dealing trick of the United States.
All this goes to prove that it is the US which is a typical state of rogues.
We bitterly condemn this unreasonable act on the part of the US as a flagrant violation and challenge to the UN Millennium Summit, the first of its kind in the history of the United Nations, and the UN Charter.
The US side should formally apologise for the serious act committed against the President of the SPA presidium and will have to own full responsibility for all the ensuing consequences.
The following statement was issued on September 5 by the Office of the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
The Secretary-General is disappointed that Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, cancelled his planned visit to New York to attend the Millennium Summit following an incident at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.
Although the planned meeting at the United Nations between leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will not now take place, the Secretary-General hopes that the two countries will nonetheless continue to build on the progress achieved thus far towards normalising relations between them.
New York, September 6, 2000
There is chaos in our world, both within the countries' borders and beyond. Blind laws are offered like divine norms that would bring peace, order, well being and the security our planet so badly needs. That is what they would have us believe.
Three dozen developed and wealthy nations that monopolise the economic, political and technological power have joined us in this gathering to offer more of the same recipes that have only served to make us poorer, more exploited and more dependent.
There is not even discussion about a radical reform of this old institution over a half century ago when there were few independent nations-- to turn it into a true representative body of the interests of all the peoples on Earth-, an institution where no one would have the irritating and anti-democratic right of veto and where a transparent process could be undertaken to expand membership and representation in the Security Council, an executive body subordinated to the General Assembly, which should be the one making the decisions on such crucial issues as intervention and the use of force.
It should be clearly stated that the principle of sovereignty cannot be sacrificed to an abusive and unfair order that a hegemonic superpower uses, together with its own might and strength, to try to decide everything by itself. That, Cuba will never accept.
The poverty and underdevelopment prevailing in most nations as well as the inequality in the distribution of wealth and knowledge in the world are basically at the source of the present conflicts. It cannot be overlooked that current underdevelopment and poverty have resulted from conquest, colonisation, slavery and plundering in most countries of the planet by the colonial powers and from the emergence of imperialism and the bloody wars motivated by new distributions of the world. Today, it is their moral obligation to compensate our nations for the damages caused throughout centuries.
Humanity should be aware of what we have been so far and what we cannot continue to be. Presently, our species has enough accumulated knowledge, ethical values and scientific resources to move towards a new historical era of true justice and humanism.
There is nothing in the existing economic and political order that can serve the interests of Humankind. Thus, it is unsustainable and it must be changed. Suffice it to say that the world population is already 6 billion, 80% of which live in poverty. Ages-old diseases from Third World nations such as malaria, tuberculosis and others equally lethal have not been eradicated while new epidemics like AIDS threaten to exterminate the population of entire nations. On the other hand, wealthy countries keep investing enormous amounts of money in the military and in luxurious items and a voracious plague of speculators exchange currencies, stocks and other real or fictitious values for trillions of dollars every day.
Nature is being devastated. The climate is changing under our own eyes and drinking water is increasingly contaminated or scarce. The sources of man's seafood are being depleted and crucial non-renewable resources are wasted in luxury and triviality.
Anyone understands that the United Nations basic role in the pressing new century is to save the world not only from war but also from underdevelopment, hunger, diseases, poverty and the destruction of the natural resources indispensable to human life. And it should do so promptly before it is too late!
The dream of having truly fair and sensible rules to guide human destiny seems impossible to many. However, we are convinced that the struggle for the impossible should be the motto of this institution that brings us together today!
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WEDNESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2000
1215 LOCAL TIME (1715 BST)
The challenge for the UN is the same as for all of us: how to respond to change.
It must become better organised, better managed, with the direction and purpose fit for the awesome tasks it faces.
Fortunately, we have a Secretary-General who speaks to us with great wisdom and candour about what must be done, and is leading a UN ready to reform. We, the member states, must match his vigour.
I want to talk about one area for reform: peacekeeping operations.
Today, the United Nations struggles to cope with the new types of peacekeeping operation which current conditions demand. Whether in Africa, East Timor or the Balkans, it is no longer good enough to organise blue helmet operations as if they were still largely geared to marking an agreed cease-fire line between two states that have consented to a UN presence. The typical case now is fast-moving and volatile. The appalling attack on UN staff in West Timor is demonstrating this vividly. Locally brokered agreements can be discarded overnight, and militias may be more than ready to pick a fight.
I am proud of the role British forces play, not least in Sierra Leone where British soldiers are still held hostage today. As we work for their release, we should pay tribute to the courage and commitment of our forces on humanitarian missions around the world.
But UN soldiers need to work within a system, and a UN organisation, better geared to dealing with the heavy demands being placed on them.
We need; UN forces composed of units appropriate for more robust peacekeeping that can be inserted quickly, rather than whatever the Secretary-General's staff has been able to gather from reluctant member states.
This means a new contract between the UN and its members. We must be prepared to commit our forces to UN operations. The UN must alter radically its planning, intelligence and analysis, and develop a far more substantial professional military staff. When the moment comes, a field headquarters must be ready to move, with an operational communications system up and running immediately rather than weeks into the deployment.
The Brahimi report is right. We should implement it, and do so within a twelve-month time scale.
My second point concerns Africa. There is a dismal record of failure in Africa on the part of the developed world that shocks and shames our civilisation. Twenty-one of the 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by conflict which undermines efforts at development. Even worse, ten times as many people died of AIDS in Africa last year as were killed in all the continent's wars combined.
Nowhere are more people dying needlessly from starvation, from disease, from conflict. Deaths caused not by acts of fate, but by acts of man. By bad governance, factional rivalries, state-sponsored theft and corruption.
Nowhere are more people being left behind on the wrong side of a growing digital and educational divide, children being denied the opportunities that will transform the lives of their contemporaries elsewhere in the world.
Yet, 30 years ago, the same depressing analysis might have been made of parts of Asia or Latin America. There can be change. There can be hope for Africa. There is political leadership, business opportunity and above all the will on behalf of people for a better future in Africa. We must be partners in the search for change and hope.
By 2004, under the new British Government, we will have increased our aid budget by 70 per cent since 1997, much of it going to Africa. We have pushed forward on debt relief. Yet individually, none of us have a decisive impact. We need the economies of scale that closer co-ordination brings. We need the political will to broker change that only comes by combining our efforts.
We should use this unique summit for a concrete purpose: to start the process of agreeing a way forward for Africa.
For the first time, we have in one place the leaders who hold Africa's destiny in their hands. And so as we continue our discussions in the roundtables, at the Security Council, in our bilaterals, I urge you all to ask one thing:
What can we do for Africa?
We need a new partnership for Africa, in which Africans lead but the rest of the world is committed; where all the problems are dealt with not separately but together in a coherent and unified plan. Britain stands ready to play our part with the rest of the world and the leaders of Africa in formulating such a plan.
This is the time to renew the UN, and this is why. Our brief speeches might not change the world, but is it still not better that we are here, talking to each other, than fighting each other?
The sentiments we express may often be the same but at least they are the sentiments of unity, peace, hope and co-operation.
We may be frustrated sometimes by the way the UN works, but at least for all its imperfections, it is a force for good and our desire is that it does more not less.
If it did not exist, we would need to invent it.
Finally, I do not wish to leave the UN without saying this: the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese regime is a disgrace. I call upon the Burmese Government to let her go free, and I call on fellow world leaders to back that call.
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