"Recent alarming developments in the world, especially the massacre in Beslan, have yet again highlighted the urgent need to reform the United Nations. We cannot meet new challenges and address acute problems of today, continuing to rely on old approaches."

Speech by H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart K. Tokaev,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
at the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York, 24 September 2004

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me add my voice to congratulations on your election to the high office of President of the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly and express confidence that under your distinguished leadership it will be successful and fruitful.  

Mr. President,

I would like to begin by supporting the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan concerning the crucial importance of fostering the rule of law both at home and in the framework of international relations for the solution of topical issues of the modern world.

Today, the whole system of international relations is under vicious attack. We are witnessing the growing reach and brutality of international terrorism and organized crime, the alarming degradation of our environment and the spread of poverty, misery and diseases.

Every year we keep repeating that the challenges and threats to humanity have become global and that the international community should join its efforts in order to address them effectively and with determination. But with our words still resonating in the air, these problems continue to place a heavy burden on human beings.

For years, the international community has been ignoring the most burning problems of social and economic development and failed to address poverty, misery, illiteracy and various forms of discrimination. As a result, we are faced with an unprecedented threat of international terrorism, which undermines the pillars of the world economy and security. Nevertheless, we have not done yet anything meaningful in order to get a detailed analysis of the ideology behind international terrorism and its institutional base and sources of finances. In other words, the central nature of international terrorism remains a terra incognita for all of us; we are familiar only with its ugly manifestations.

Recent alarming developments in the world, especially the massacre in Beslan, have yet again highlighted the urgent need to reform the United Nations. We cannot meet new challenges and address acute problems of today, continuing to rely on old approaches. The central issue of international security is turning the United Nations into an effective tool designed to strengthen regional and global security systems and the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to manage globalization processes.

As a matter of principle, we consider it important to ensure a balance in the functioning of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, as envisioned in the Charter of this Organization. We insist on the need to strengthen the role of the General Assembly in the settlement of the most important issues facing humanity today. In our view, the efforts of the international community to combat terrorism and settle armed conflicts can be more effective only on the basis of such an approach.

Kazakhstan has supported the Secretary-General’s decision to establish a High-Level Panel on the United Nations reform. We believe that this Panel, with its broad mandate and large powers, should arrive at an acceptable solution to that crucial issue of today. Kazakhstan holds the view that, in its current form, the Security Council no longer reflects the realities of our world. I share the opinion of Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Junichiro Koizumi that the “enemy state” clauses in the United Nations Charter are obsolete. The Security Council should be revitalized by the addition of new permanent and nonpermanent members. Asia, Africa and Latin America should have a wider representation in the Security Council and should be directly involved in the search for solutions to the important problems facing the international community.

Kazakhstan calls for the establishment of a Council of Regional Organizations, under the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Close attention should be paid to the proposal to establish an Economic and Social Security Council. We believe that these proposals reflect the need to strengthen global multilateral cooperation.

Our country continues to believe that only the United Nations is a genuine universal international organization responsible for the issues of war and peace and acting as a guarantor of international law.

It is encouraging that the reform of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council is gaining momentum. With the current escalation of international terrorism, the role of that Committee should become more important, otherwise global counter-terrorism efforts to address new challenges and threats would not be as effective, against the wishes of the peoples of the world.

Our country supports the United Nations peacekeeping effort and continued strengthening of its capacity in this area. In a situation of escalating humanitarian crises and armed conflicts, as effectively demonstrated by the developments in Darfur,  the United Nations should pay special attention to the possibility of a broader participation of authoritative regional and subregional organizations in peacekeeping operations, which would allow to respond to emerging threats in a more effective and timely manner.

Yet a key issue is the prevention of conflicts and crises. For this reason, Kazakhstan is a firm supporter of preventive diplomacy and continues to believe that the establishment of a Central Asian Preventive Diplomacy Center is a timely initiative.

In our view, there is an urgent need to coordinate the efforts of the entire international community in the area of disarmament and arms control.

We call for an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty and urge the governments of those states that have not yet ratified that instrument to display political will and genuine commitment to nuclear disarmament.

As one of the few states that have voluntarily gave up their nuclear weapons, Kazakhstan is concerned by the current status of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That important treaty has been seriously eroded because of destructive actions on the part of a number of known states. We should recognize that the non-proliferation regime faces a formidable threat and that there is a real possibility of an uncontrolled spread of weapons of mass destruction and, most importantly, of terrorists getting hold of them. In view of that, we consider that the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in Central Asia is a very important and timely proposal.

We believe that the negotiation process within the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva should be reactivated. In our view, the potential of that important forum is far from being tapped to the full extent.

The Government of Kazakhstan attaches great importance to the consistent implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, as discussed at a regional conference in Almaty in March of 2004.

Mr. President,

For us it is very important that the Iraqi issue is again in the political realm of the United Nations. Emphasizing the need to ensure independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, Kazakhstan welcomes the transfer of authority and responsibility for the administration of the country to the Interim Government of Iraq and calls on the people of Iraq to come together in the name of national unity and conciliation.

The participation of a unit of the armed forces of Kazakhstan in the multinational force in Iraq is a demonstration of our country’s commitment to the implementation of its obligations in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Continued instability in the Middle East is a matter of great concern to Kazakhstan. From our point of view, the resumption and advancement of the peace process, on all tracks, and the implementation by all parties to the conflict in the Middle East of their commitments, as reflected in the Road Map and relevant Security Council resolutions, should remain the main goal of all those concerned.

Kazakhstan supports the efforts of the current government in Afghanistan to consolidate peace and security in the country and address social, economic and humanitarian issues. We expect that the international community, first of all the developed countries, will live up to their commitments with regard to the rehabilitation of Afghanistan. As for our country, we are ready to contribute to the process, within our means.

We believe that the well-being of the Central Asian region is largely dependent on the normalization of the situation in Afghanistan. We have every reason to be concerned by such problems as an increasing spread of drugs, illegal migration and surging religious extremism. Together with poverty, ecological degradation and the lack of water resources, these phenomena provide a breeding ground for international terrorism, which is gaining force in our region.

In view of that, Kazakhstan supports the activities of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime in Central Asia, particularly the adoption of a regional plan of action to control the illicit spread of drugs in the states neighboring Afghanistan and the establishment of a so-called “security belt” around that country. We believe that the deployment in Afghanistan, under the auspices of NATO, of the International Security Assistance Force is an important factor in the restoration of peace and security in the country.

Mr. President,

Kazakhstan’s initiative regarding the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building in Asia (CICA), already a fact of international life, is an effective tool designed to strengthen confidence and security in Asia. The first CICA summit, held in June of 2002, became a milestone in that process and paved the way for practical efforts to institutionalize the Conference. The draft catalogue of confidence-building measures and the draft rules of procedure have already been agreed and are expected to be adopted at a Ministerial Meeting of the CICA countries, scheduled to be held on October the 22nd in Almaty. The adoption of the catalogue will create a unique document encompassing a range of measures in the military, political, economic, cultural and environmental areas designed to strengthen security and confidence in Asia.

As a newly-independent state, Kazakhstan wants to contribute to global harmony and stability. The fact that our multi-ethnic state enjoys a large degree of inter-confessional and inter-ethnic accord says a lot; first of all, it is a confirmation that Kazakhstan has become an integral part of the civilized community. We categorically reject the concept of the “clash of civilizations,” considering it to be counterproductive and harmful, because it serves as an ideological justification of international conflicts and barbaric actions of international terrorists. Kazakhstan firmly believes that a dialogue and harmony among civilizations are not only possible but also necessary. For that reason, the head of our state has initiated a congress of world religions, held in Astana in September of 2003.  The success of that forum has strengthened our conviction that it is absolutely essential to establish a dialogue and ensure peaceful coexistence between religions and civilizations, in the interests of peace and global security.

Kazakhstan reaffirms its strong commitment to integration and multilateral cooperation at the regional level. This approach, which promotes sustainable social and economic development of Kazakhstan, is fully in our long-term interests. Such institutions as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organization of Central Asian Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization play an ever increasing role in the efforts to strengthen security, develop economic cooperation and create conditions for the prosperity of our large region. We have great expectations regarding integration within the framework of the single economic space made up of the territories of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. Our country also supports the strengthening of the capacity of the Commonwealth of Independent States as a major and influential international organization. Recently, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has made concrete proposals concerning the reform of the Commonwealth.

Kazakhstan reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of its obligations towards the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe and hopes that the upcoming Ministerial Meeting in Sofia will develop new approaches to the reform of that organization in order to adapt it to new challenges emerging from our region. We also commend the results of the cooperation with NATO within the framework of its Partnership for Peace Programme and consider the possibility of increasing the level of our cooperation with the Alliance.

Kazakhstan continues to pay priority attention to the development of its cooperation with Russia, the United States, China, the countries of Central Asia, the European Union and the Asian and Islamic countries. We are now in a position to claim considerable progress in that area, which has allowed us to create favorable external conditions for liberal reforms in the country. Having been given the status of a market economy and enjoying a high rating in the financial community, Kazakhstan has been recognized by the international community as a leader among the post-Soviet states in practically all economic indicators, including direct foreign investments.

We welcome the start of a direct dialogue between the Central Asian states and Japan and consider that form of cooperation to be very meaningful and promising. We also attach great importance to the partnership between our region and the United States in order to create a zone of free trade and entrepreneurship.

The Almaty Programme of Action, adopted by the International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation, held in August of 2003 in our country, has provided to the landlocked Central Asian states an important tool for the solution of their trade and transit problems. We hope that the needs of inland states will be duly taken into account in trade negotiations in order to provide appropriate privileges and preferences to that group of countries.

It is a well-established fact that the transportation policy of many countries, including Kazakhstan, is closely linked to the delivery of hydrocarbons to world markets. As a country with a potential to become a major world exporter of oil and gas, Kazakhstan attaches great importance to the determination of the legal status of the Caspian Sea and to the signing of a Convention on that issue. An agreement by the littoral states on the use of the Caspian Sea exclusively for peaceful purposes has become an important accomplishment in the negotiation process. Kazakhstan holds the view that it is necessary to continue intensive efforts, in a five-party format, gradually overcoming existing differences in the search for solutions that would agree with the fundamental principles of international law and promote the final determination of the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhstan is gravely concerned by the fate of another sea – the Aral Sea. The continued degradation of the environment of the region seriously affects the health and livelihood of the population. The situation in the Aral Sea region has acquired global dimensions: the salt from its seabed has long been present in the air in Europe and Asia and even over the North Pole. Yet the international community, unfortunately, is not fully aware of the grave ramifications of this environmental disaster: technical assistance and financial aid to the population of that long-suffering region has been sporadic. We believe that a special General Assembly resolution on the Aral Sea has long been overdue.

We also urge the international community to reactivate fruitful cooperation in the solution of social and economic problems facing the population around the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground. The people of the region, unwittingly, have been victimized by some five hundred nuclear-weapon tests conducted in the heat of the global arms race. We are grateful to the governments of Japan, the United States and other donor states for due attention being paid by them to this screaming problem: yet we believe that in this particular case multilateral cooperation would have been more effective. The framework for such cooperation is already in place in the form of a relevant General Assembly resolution, whose potential has not been used to the full extent.

In conclusion, dear colleagues, I would like to emphasize that Kazakhstan will continue to exert every effort to strengthen global and regional stability, fight terrorism and meet other challenges that we face today.

Thank you for your attention.