The following are excerpts from the statement delivered by Felipe Perez Roque, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 14.
A year ago, the holding of this General Assembly had to be postponed on account of the ruthless crime committed on Sept. 11. There was then a worldwide wave of solidarity towards the American people and, particularly, towards the families of the almost 3,000 innocent victims of that unjustifiable terrorist attack.
The stage was thus set for the creation of a genuine international alliance under the auspices and leadership of the United Nations Organization, with absolute respect for the purposes and principles enshrined in its Charter. Nearly all countries, beyond ideological, political, cultural and religious differences, expressed their willingness to cooperate actively with this endeavor of unmistakable common interest.
However, another vision prevailed. In an unprecedented fashion, it was stated that whoever did not support the war decided upon by a single country would then be on the side of terrorism. It was even announced to the Security Council that such country reserved the right to launch future attacks on its own against other nations.
A unilateral war was then unleashed, whose death toll is still unbeknownst to us and whose most tangible consequence is probably the striking blow rendered to the credibility of the United Nations Organization and to multilateralism as a means to cope with the complex challenges currently ahead of us.
What is the outcome today? There are greater feelings of hatred, vengeance and insecurity, not helpful in the fight against terrorism. Dangerous xenophobic and discriminatory tendencies threaten the existence of a plural and democratic world. There has been a step backward in the field of public freedoms and civil rights.
In the meantime, there is a lack of political will by certain powers to rigorously apply, without selectivity and without double standards, the 12 existing international legal instruments on terrorism. In addition, no advances have been made in the definition, so indispensable today, of State terrorism.
Cuba, on its part, a victim of terrorist acts for over four decades – that stated its opinions in this Assembly with poise and firmness and that unwaveringly condemned the crime of Sept. 11 and terrorism as such, but that also opposed the war out of ethical considerations and the respect for International Law – signed and ratified the twelve international conventions to combat terrorism, adopted a national law to fight this scourge, has cooperated fully with the work of the committee set up for such purposes by the Security Council and, at the bilateral level, proposed to the U.S. administration the implementation of a program to combat terrorism, which was inconceivably rejected by such government.
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A new war against Iraq seems already inevitable; an aggravation of the situation of constant aggression that such people has lived over the last 10 years. The buzzword now is ‘pre-emptive war’ – in open violation of the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Charter.
Cuba defends principles and not vested interests; therefore, although its supporters may feel upset, it emphatically opposes this war. Cuba is not driven by an anti-American spirit, even when its government maintains and strengthens a 40-year-old blockade against our people.
But refraining from telling the truth out of cowardice or political calculation is not characteristic of Cuban revolutionaries. Therefore, Cuba hereby states that it opposes a new military action against Iraq. It does so while recalling that at one point in time it supported the Security Council resolution asking the Iraqi Government to end the occupation of Kuwait.
We believe that the development of weapons of mass destruction today would be insane, because the only possible way that we envision for world peace is through general and complete disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and the rechanneling of the money currently spent on weapons to address the dire socio-economic problems of humankind.
The Arab countries have been emphatic in their rejection of this war; most European countries do not approve of it; the international community is increasingly concerned about the announcement of a new war on the basis of unconfirmed allegations – and even disregarding the obvious reality that Iraq cannot pose a danger to the United States.
If the U.S. government unleashes a new war against Iraq, either by imposing it on the Security Council or deciding upon it unilaterally in opposition to the international public opinion, we will bear witness to the emergence of the century of unilateralism and the forced retirement of the United Nations Organization.
It will then seem that the Cold War years – with the remote memory of bipolarism, mistakes and contradictions – were not as futile and perilous as the stage that is now relentlessly looming over the world.
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