Our next catastrophe would be that the ‘Third World War’ (which Tom Friedman of The New York Times claims is already here) would be seen as a war against the Third World. Such a nightmare would certainly lead to a spiral of endless Vendettas, and a widening gap between the haves and have-nots.
Nobody in the outside world is indifferent to the tragedy that befell the American people on Sept. 11. From my office, I, together with my colleagues, saw the two towers collapse. Our room filled with tears, curses and compassion.
That same week, a day of mourning was proclaimed in all the 15 member states of the European Union (EU), observed also by all the EU diplomatic missions in New York. And the week after, the heads of state and governments of the EU met in an extraordinary summit in a concrete and forceful sign of solidarity with the United States.
But clearly the world community has to be credible in its recent proclaimed resolve to combat international terrorism. No efforts must be spared to help identify, bring to justice, and punish those responsible, and there can be no safe haven for terrorists and their sponsors.
The atrocities committed against the American people are, in the view of my government, crimes against humanity. They are not only an American affair; they concern and affect us all.
As we have learned, victims from over 80 nations were in the World Trade Center. In this regard, Sweden wants to stress the importance of the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
The Court opens a new chapter in international law that will certainly affect the conduct of States but, more importantly, will guide and shape the behavior of individuals. It is not the United States against the Third World. The worldwide solidarity with the U.S., and our common resolve to start a serious and sustainable assault on the forces of evil, must therefore not be squandered.
The need for collective action is greater than ever. And the opportunity for creating a truly global coalition against international terrorism has never been greater. The day after the attacks, defying a bomb threat, first the U.N. Security Council, then its 189-nation General Assembly, unanimously passed the strongest-ever resolutions against terrorism, in solidarity with the United States.
The tragedy of Sept. 11 has highlighted the need for intensified efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles. Biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons must not fall into the hands of terrorists. All states must shoulder their responsibility and find ways to strengthen compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Conventions, ensure the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and reinforce the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The people behind one of the worst crimes in modern history are neither poor nor oppressed, but fanatical and embittered. There can be no excuses for their unspeakable evil. Terrorists are defined by their acts.
They must be hunted down and brought to justice. But there is also a need to better understand the underlying social, economic and political problems that create the human misery in which fanaticism and terrorism can grow and find support.
If present trends continue, the more than a billion people living in extreme poverty will be doubled within a couple decades. The Pope was right: if you want peace, work for justice. This will require another global coalition, fighting humiliating and destabilizing world poverty. In this coalition also, the United Nations will have a central role to play.
Pierre Schori is Sweden’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York.