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Speech by Rafael Bielsa, Foreign Minister of Argentina, in his capacity as pro tempore Secretary of the Rio Group

Date of Speech : 27-05-2005

Place : Luxembourg

Speaker : Rafael Bielsa

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : XIIth Ministerial Meeting EU-Rio Group

As the representative of the pro tempore Secretariat of the Rio Group, I am especially pleased to express my satisfaction with this new opportunity to meet the representatives of the European Union within the framework of the 12th bi-regional Ministerial Meeting, kindly hosted by the Luxembourg Presidency.

This meeting enables us to renew our commitment to deepening and strengthening our historic ties of friendship and to continue working together within the framework of political dialogue between partners with a set of shared values. In this regard, we can say with confidence that the countries of both regions speak the same language when they support the values of political dialogue, human rights, peace and democracy.

These values are the pillars on which the Rio Group is built, and it can take pride in the progress it has made in building and strengthening Latin American democracy.

Some of our countries have scarcely 20 years of experience with democracy, after almost 200 years of Latin American independence.

No one has experienced totalitarianism, war and inhumanity the way that Europe has, but unfortunately our countries have also suffered from these problems, and are still paying the price: the majority of our fellow citizens are still unable to enjoy the fruits of democracy and human rights, which to them are mere constitutional formalities.

We are passing through a new phase in the history of humankind, a new path with forks that lead either to isolation and poverty or to integration and growth. Europe understands this development. It is a fixed point of reference of the way our countries should converge on common objectives that promote equality, freedom and social justice for their people.

This is why we are celebrating the convergence of points of view between both parties with respect to a significant number of issues of mutual interest, several of which are on our agenda today.

We believe that the United Nations Summit in September 2005 will be a new opportunity to give expression to the firm common commitment of the Rio Group and the European Union to strengthen multilateralism as the only way to fight together to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, and to promote economic development and social progress, effective collective security, and unrestricted respect for human rights and fundamental liberties.

From this perspective, the 2005 Millennium Summit will provide a special occasion for conducting an objective analysis of the organisation on its 60th anniversary and to reach agreement on innovative initiatives, both in the area of strengthening it and of institutional overhaul, which are necessary to adapt the United Nations, the only global forum, to the challenges of this millennium.

In this respect, we are committed to the reform and revitalisation of the United Nations, including the General Assembly and the Security Council. We believe that ensuring democratic reform arrived at by consensus is essential to guaranteeing the credibility and effectiveness of the system.

As pro tempore Secretary of the Rio Group, I wish to affirm the will and readiness of the Member States to collaborate closely with the European Union to reach this objective, working constructively in the various consultative and negotiating bodies of the intergovernmental process initiated within the General Assembly itself.

We recognise how important it is that the United Nations is the instrument through which the response agreed by the international community is carried out with regard to the various challenges faced internationally, especially the fight against terrorism. We consider it essential that in this fight the coordination and cooperation between the bodies of the United Nations is intensified, which is why we welcome the dialogue begun between the Security Council and your Counter-Terrorism Committee and the bodies responsible for promoting and protecting human rights.

This institutional coordination responds to an essential requirement. It is imperative to combat terrorism within the framework of respect for human rights, international law and the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations.

As for the Rio Group, and emphasising the principles on which it is based, we hope to continue developing a constructive dialogue with respect to the reforms that are being carried out at the United Nations in order to elevate the level of efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and thus to ensure that it acts in accordance with the purposes for which it was created, avoiding its politicisation.

On behalf of the Rio Group, I should like to emphasise the importance of fulfilling the resolutions adopted within this Commission. This will help ensure that systematic violations of human rights and fundamental liberties, wherever in the world they may occur, will not remain unpunished, that those responsible are punished, reparations are paid to the victims and the families of the victims are guaranteed the right to know the truth about what happened.

It is our hope that as a result of the 2005 Summit, by 2015 the countries of the Rio Group and the European Union will have made progress in their efforts to provide their citizens with better living conditions by achieving the Goals and Targets of the Millennium Objective.

The Countries of the Rio Group understand that the fight against hunger and poverty must be waged in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation. In this sense, they recognise with satisfaction the merits of the Summit of Heads of State and Government held last year.

It is important to underline the fundamental function of the United Nations, of its agencies, funds and programmes on the subject, to help eradicate the principal causes of poverty and hunger through the creation of jobs, and the generation and fair distribution of wealth.

Hunger and poverty are scourges that neither recognise nor respect borders, religions and ethnicity. We know that hunger and poverty cannot be fought with mitigation measures alone, nor with measures of just national reach. We consider this fight to be part of a systematic, multilateral effort oriented towards making sustainable development a central focus of the global agenda.

There are shared responsibilities. It has become necessary to find a new complementary focus for the mechanisms already in place that overcomes their deficiencies, ensures an increase in the amount of resources available and guarantees improved foreseeability of aid flows so that they can be effectively translated into concrete benefits for developing countries.

In this new millennium, we should rid ourselves of models of adjustment that base the prosperity of some on the poverty of others. The beginning of the 21st century should signify the end of an age and the beginning of a new collaboration between creditors and debtors and a redesign of multilateral credit institutions, ensuring that the developing world has improved participation in their decisions.

Within a framework of shared responsibility, while each country is the principal actor for its own economic and social development, the developed countries have undertaken in various forums to support these efforts and increase the flows of financial aid, direct foreign investment, debt relief and opening of their markets to products from less developed countries - including the elimination of subsidies that distort free trade.

It is imperative that these commitments be met. The more developed countries have a special responsibility to favour and finance international cooperation for the elimination of these problems throughout the world.

An effective fight against hunger, extreme poverty, inequality and social exclusion requires commitment and ongoing actions to promote development and education, which must be complemented with coordination, cooperation and solidarity among the states, specialised agencies and institutions, and international financial organisations.

As well, equitable multilateral trade can play an essential role in the eradication of the root causes of poverty and hunger by creating conditions for the creation of jobs, distribution of wealth, social justice and equal opportunity.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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This page was last modified on : 27-05-2005

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