Ellen Margrethe Lÿj: The world has become smaller since the attacks

From an address given by Denmark's Permanent Representative to the United Nations General Assembly
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The Independent Online

The Danish Government and the Danish people stand by the United States both now and in the months to come. Terrorism is today the single most serious international threat to democracy and the rule of law and thus the functioning of our societies. It is essential that all countries redouble and unite their efforts in the fight against terrorism.

Firm and resolute action has already been demonstrated by the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly the day after the attacks. It is our hope that this General Assembly takes concrete steps that could lead to a strengthening of international co-operation in combating international terrorism.

But we must go beyond that – we must ensure a strengthened international co-operation in a wide range of areas. Only by reiterating our joint efforts will we prevail. We must show the world that we have the political will to act. Otherwise we reduce ourselves to a redundant talking club that cannot be taken seriously.

The United Nations can be instrumental in international co-operation in order to meet these challenges. Denmark is fully committed to meeting the challenges. We devote more than 1 per cent of our GDP to official development assistance and we actively participate in UN deliberations and actions. But member states need not only to strengthen their effort. Also an enhancement of the effectiveness and efficiency of the UN as an organisation is a prerequisite for success.

Denmark has from the very outset been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping both in terms of funds and soldiers. Unfortunately, the basis for success for UN peacekeeping missions has not always been in place. This has caused UN failures in the field and severe suffering for many people. We must enhance the UN's peacekeeping capabilities, including the UN's capacity to deploy peacekeeping operations rapidly. Also, the ability to provide humanitarian assistance to the millions that suffer as a consequence of conflicts all over the world is an integral part of establishing and maintaining peace and security. The Secretary-General states the critical link between peace, security, conflict prevention, development and the respect for all human rights. This point cannot be stressed enough. The linkage is unquestionable. Both sides of the problem need to be addressed.

With a focus on the eradication of poverty, domestic and international commitments must go hand in hand in order to obtain the proper balance for development in all countries.

Another cornerstone in the mandate of the UN is the universal recognition of and respect for human rights. It is stated in the report that some progress was made during the 57th session of the Commission on Human Rights, but that the task of achieving universal respect for human rights remains daunting. The Danish government welcomes the increasing international acceptance of human rights mechanisms and adherence to crucial human rights conventions and protocols. But too many examples of individuals suffering from human rights violations remind us that a better implementation of universal rights is urgently called for.

The environment in which the UN is to function has changed with the recent tragic terrorist attacks here in New York and in Washington. The world has become smaller. All over the world people have followed the events and have expressed their grief, despair and disbelief.

Let us together use this General Assembly to define the role of the UN in this new environment. The Secretary-General stresses that the strength of the UN is its capacity to adapt to changing international conditions. Let us prove that. We must make sure that the UN, with its broad-based and universally accepted mandate, keeps its central position in international co-operation. We can make it.

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