Informal consultations on the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and on the United Nations Millennium Project 2005 report

Address by Ambassador Daniel Carmon
Deputy Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations

New York, 24 February 2005

Mr. President,

Israel congratulates the Secretary General on his initiative to appoint the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, and takes note of it with appreciation.  In our view, the Report is undoubtedly the first of its kind and magnitude in the history of the organization. We also welcome the Millennium Project Report, and the effort it reflects in confronting the development challenge.

When the Secretary General appointed the High Level Panel in September 2003, he gave it the crucial mandate of formulating a proposal on how nations can cooperate in order to deal with particular threats as well as understanding the connections between them. The Panel’s vision, combined with the plan laid out by the Millennium Project Report, supports the case for a revitalized organization able to make difficult decisions for the global good. The Millennium Project Report provides a concrete course of action, and Israel joins other States in looking forward to next month when we will receive the Secretary-General’s framework for action at the High Level Summit this September.

Mr. President,
Israel deems it important to adopt extensive reforms in the work of the General Assembly, the commissions, committees, subsidiary bodies, and the UN Secretariat.  We agree with the authors of the Report in saying that these reforms are necessary in order to allow the organization to adapt to the twenty-first century and enable it to confront the new challenges that the international community is facing.  The major actors in the international system have indeed changed since the UN was established and it is logical, for example, for states who are major contributors to the UN to expect to have greater influence and responsibility in the areas of international peace and security.

Israel agrees with the assertion of the Report of the High Level Panel that the General Assembly has become inefficient and less relevant, and that the Security Council should be able to more effectively meet the needs of the most urgent of situations after being unable to do so in many crisis-effected regions, including Rwanda and Sudan. 

Mr. President,

Israel is concerned about the scope of poverty and hunger in the world, particularly in Africa, and about the continuing devastation being wrought by epidemics such as malaria and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  We agree that there is an interrelatedness between poverty, hunger, infectious disease, environmental degradation and conflict.  However, we believe that development should be looked at from a broader perspective, and not limited to that nexus.

In this context, the Millennium Project Report is an important contribution to moving forward to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  The fact that the report indicates that the MDGs can still be achieved, especially if action is taken immediately, should encourage member states to increase their ODA and improve the effectiveness of its delivery.

We think that further cooperation between Developed and Developing States is necessary in order to formulate development strategies that are consistent with the efforts of achieving MDGs at the country level. Furthermore, taking into account that the achievement of MDGs is strongly linked to technology transfer and technical cooperation, Israel will continue, as it has done over the last four decades, to do its utmost to contribute to the development efforts in these fields. 

Mr. President,

The world today faces risks and challenges of new dimensions. Non-state actors that use terrorism, as well as those states that aid or tolerate them, are the main threats that the international community must confront. 

Israel appreciates the sincere attempt by the Panel to recommend an approach to the definition of terrorism, together with the vast majority of States. We particularly support the point made in the Report that there is no justification for the targeting and killing of innocent civilians. Israel has long argued that the deliberate targeting of civilians can never be justified, regardless of cause or grievance.  We attach importance to the efforts underway to conclude relevant treaties and conventions in this field, so that the tools available to deal with this grave threat include the full range of appropriate, effective, and timely legal instruments. In this regard, we see great importance in Security Council resolution 1566, despite the fact that there is much that the UN still needs to do in its efforts to fight terrorism.

We generally welcome the detailed references and recommendations on nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons in the Report, references that reflect genuine efforts to confront the real problems and challenges to international security. Like in other regions, the Middle East experience shows that any progress in the field of arms control should be preceded by, and is dependent on, a substantial change in political and security conditions. Part of the report’s recommendations reflect a willingness to take into account such a reality. We regret, however, that the report does not elaborate enough on the issues of the threats of the spread of small arms, missiles, and missile technology.

Israel also agrees that there is no necessity for a new formulation of Article 51 of the UN Charter.  At the same time, we accept the position expressed by other Member States that the inherent right of self defense must be understood in the context of the new threats the international community faces from global terrorism and the uncontrolled distribution of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President,        

When discussing institutional reforms, it is important to remember that, although it is enshrined in Article 2 of the Charter, certain states do not fully benefit from the application of the principle of sovereign equality. As a member state who continues to be affected by inequality in its ability to participate in and contribute to the work of the Organization, Israel emphasizes that due consideration needs to be given to rectifying this discriminatory anomaly in the existing institutional structure, as well as in any new structure that may arise from our deliberations.

If we are seeking institutional reforms towards better representation and legitimacy, and through them more efficiency, we cannot help but ask that these same principles be applied to those who, even in the existing structure, do not enjoy equitable representation.

Israel shares the Panel’s position that the General Assembly is in need of revitalization in order to effectively address the issues before it. Its deliberations are repetitive and its resolutions are often vague and anachronistic. The General Assembly must change to reflect the priorities of a changing world, and allocate its time and resources accordingly. It must cease to be a forum for political point scoring that encourages divisiveness instead of constructive dialogue. And issues of universal concern cannot be allowed to be hijacked in the pursuit of a narrow partisan agenda. This situation diminishes the relevance of the General Assembly as a forum for raising issues on the international agenda, damages the UN’s image, and limits its ability to contribute effectively to the issues of our age.

Israel supports the Report’s recommendations to redefine the work of the General Assembly and its committees, to shorten its agenda, and to reduce the number of its resolutions, including its outdated and counterproductive treatment of Middle East issues. In addition, Israel supports the recommendation to establish smaller, specialized committees, which are able to formulate clearer and more relevant resolutions.

While we take note of the proposal to establish a Peace Building Commission, we believe that our efforts should be aimed first and foremost at strengthening of ECOSOC, so that it can fully carry out its mandated roles of coordination and implementation in the social and economic fields. This could be achieved, inter alia, by improving Secretariat guidance and with the assistance of donor countries.

Let me also add here, Mr. President, that we strongly believe that steps should be taken to improve the effectiveness of the Commission on Human Rights, a body whose credibility has been fundamentally undermined through the selective and politicized harnessing of the human rights agenda by states with notoriously poor human rights records.
Mr. President,

Israel welcomes this informal exchange of views, as well as the opportunity it had to share its priorities and concerns with the rest of the membership. We look forward to the Secretary General’s report and to the opportunity to continue to take part in the efforts to reach a new consensus on the path to a revitalized United Nations.