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United Nations Millennium Summit Address by the President of Sri Lanka,
September 8, 2000

The following is the text of the Address by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the UN Millennium Summit. The Address was delivered in absentia by the Foreign Minister, Lakshman Khadirgamar.

Mr. President

Ladies and Gentlemen

I have the honour to deliver, on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the following message to the Millennium Summit.

Forty four years ago, when the United Nations was still young and full of hope, a former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, my later father, S W R D Bandaranaike, addressing the General Assembly from this very podium said (quote) "the of war is a necessary factor for peace, but peace is something much more positive than that. In its true sense it means human understanding, human friendship and co-operation out of which, indeed, peace in its true form alone can rise. The United Nations is the one machine available to mankind today through which it can express this unconquerable spirit of man in his efforts to achieve that peace, friendship and collaboration" (unquote).

As the new millennium opens I ask myself - is the world a better place to live in today than it was 40 years ago? In some ways yes, in other ways no. Stark contrasts still abound. The unconquerable spirit of man remains undimmed. He has dived to the bottom of the oceans, he and his machines have soared to the highest heavens. Medical and surgical miracles have prolonged his life. Technological marvels in the fields of information and communication continue to dazzle us. But while undreamt of wealth and affluence have been generated in some quarters of the globe, in others mankind has plunged deeper into the abyss of poverty, hunger, disease and squalor. These problems remain to be addressed - and addressed urgently. We have been spared the horrors of another global war - an achievement for which the United Nations deserves great credit but there is turmoil all around us. New threats have arisen to the stability and security of States. That is the problem I wish to address today.

"Peace amongst 'All States'" and "peace amongst 'All Peoples within States'" so that All, and not only some, may in safety, without fear; in dignity, without humiliation; in good health; and, in material and spiritual well-being enjoy the wonders of Life on this miracle we call the Planet Earth". Such is my dream, such my hope, for the future at this Millennium Summit.

However, "how do we all (All States and All Peoples within States) go from dream to reality?"

Of the problems that could then arise - the problems of limited resources, competing priorities, cost-effective procedures, catastrophic disruptions, I shall not speak today.

But, I would like to speak today on the fundamentals of the United Nations structure - the fundamentals that we must protect and preserve for the future.

It is here in the General Assembly of the United Nations, that "Representatives" of Governments of "Peoples" of "States" gather in solemn assembly, governed by a Charter that assures States of their "sovereign equality" their "political independence", their "territorial integrity".

"States", "Peoples", "Governments", "Representatives", "The Charter of the United Nations" - these are the fundamentals of the United Nations.

This Organisation, essential and pragmatic but still very fragile, reflects those fundamentals in its origins and composition, in its structure and capacities, and in its limitations.

And always at the core, we find the entity we know as "the State". That is as it should be. "States" are the principal organizational entities into which the peoples of this planet have gathered, and the "inter-states system" is the principal orgnizational edifice of the international community. If "States" weaken, so will this Organisation. If "States" are diminished, so will this Organisation be diminished; for the entity we know as the "States" there is no substitute.

Let us remember that "States" are corporate entities of enormous complexity differing entirely from the corporate entirely of the private sector that are usually of single or limited purpose, and often authoritarian in management styles.

If the management of a developed State" with more than adequate resources be a complex undertaking, how much more complex would be the management of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, post-colonial, developing "State" where the legacies of centuries of a colonial past take more than one generation to erase?

Where there is the use of armed force against a "State", as in my country, the complexities within a "State" compound themselves many times over.

My country, Sri Lanka, has had for many years an armed conflict within its territory that has complicated the lives of the entire population of the country. It is a conflict of an extraordinary nature. A very small group, schooled in and totally devoted to violence; standing outside the processes of peaceful society and participatory governance; achieving, through the practice of systematic terror, a national and international notoriety; rejecting all overtures for settlement of differences through; sustained by massive funding and other support from expatriates settled in countries of goodwill and open heart, continues to "battle" the "State".

Such is not a phenomenon indigenous to Sri Lanka alone. The Secretary-General in his Report to the General Assembly in 1997 on his "Proposals for United Nations Reform", referred to the powerful threats to government authority and civil society from networks of crime, narcotics, money laundering and terrorism.

When the security and integrity of one State is threatened by an armed group within it, it surely behaves all other States to deny that armed group any encouragement, succour or safe haven. That is my plea today on behalf of Sri Lanka.

A democratic State, because of its openness, its laws, traditions and practices, its commitment to tolerance and dissent, is especially vulnerable to the deployment of force against it by any group within its boundaries. An internal armed challenge to any State anywhere is a challenge to any State anywhere is a challenge to all States everywhere. Unless all States, democratic States in particular, agree to come to the aid of a State thus in peril, democracy itself will be imperiled everywhere. Democracy will not survive.





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