11 September Thrust a Dangerous Future Upon the World
Address by Foreign Minister Fischer
November 12, 2001
Mr President, Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr President,
I would like to begin by congratulating you warmly on your election
to President of the 56th General Assembly and wishing you every
success with your work. I also thank your predecessor, Mr Holkeri,
for his great dedication in chairing the 55th General Assembly.
But first and foremost I would like to sincerely congratulate
you, Secretary-General, and the United Nations as a whole, on
being awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. With courage and
persistence you have called into question old modes of thought
and have prepared the United Nations for the challenges of the
new century. Germany will continue to lend you and the United
Nations its full support as you go down this path.
It is now two months since thousands of innocent persons lost
their lives in the World Trade Center here in New York. Across
the world people mourned in an unprecedented swell of solidarity
and commiseration for the victims and their families. These horrific
terrorist attacks did not just strike Americans, but also innocent
people from over 80 countries, members of all the major world
religions and cultures. They targeted us all. It must therefore
be a common concern of humanity to prevent a repetition of this
tragedy or indeed something even worse.
11 September thrust a dangerous future upon the world. We now
live in the terrible knowledge that no country in the globalized
world is invulnerable, and that enemies within, who are determined
to kill and to die, can perpetrate mass murder at any time. This
eerie, awful danger has at a stroke dramatically altered the foundations
of security policy as we know it. The fight against internationally
operative terrorist networks will require new responses from the
community of states. International terrorism is a challenge first
of all for politics, the military, the police and the judiciary,
but also for the economy and - very importantly - for culture.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century the issue of peace and
security has thus taken on an entirely new perspective.
Humanity has rarely been as united as it was on that terrible
day two months ago. This unity was born of horror and compassion,
but also of the realization that we can only successfully counter
this new deadly threat if we combine our full force and energy.
11 September was a defining moment, a day which altered the direction
of world politics. A new alliance was created. It must now be
strengthened and developed into a genuine partnership. If this
is achieved, 11 September could in retrospect go down in history
not only as a horrific day for humanity, but also as the beginning
of a new era of cooperation and multilateralism.
What drives people to commit these inconceivable crimes, to blow
up themselves and thousands of innocents? From where does such
uncontrollable hatred come? How can it be curbed, how can it be
conquered? It is certain that any attempt to develop an effective
counter-strategy must, while waging the war on terrorism, analyze
the full range of causes and circumstances that permit such hatred
and violence to grow.
The United Nations is uniquely suited to the task ahead. It provides
the forum required for the creation of a universal coalition.
Only it can give international legitimacy to the response to terrorism.
It has at its disposal the instruments to manage political conflicts
and the underlying development problems which nurture hatred and
despair. A comprehensive strategy against terrorism must concentrate
primarily on prevention. Developing such a strategy means no less
than drafting a policy for a cooperative world order for the twenty-first
century, a policy which no longer tolerates areas characterized
by a breakdown of order, which has as its goal a world order under
which all peoples can claim their full and equitable share. This
includes making economic globalization more socially just for
more people and supplementing it with the political globalization
so urgently needed.
The Security Council responded to 11 September with rare solidarity
and, with Resolutions 1368 and 1373, took decisions on concrete,
internationally binding anti-terrorism measures that point the
way ahead. The General Assembly too severely condemned the terrorist
attacks and called for joint action against international terrorism.
This path must now be rigorously pursued with the rapid and universal
ratification and implementation of the twelve UN anti-terrorism
conventions and the adoption of a comprehensive convention on
international terrorism. We must endeavour anew to bring this
project, on which we all place so much hope, to a successful conclusion.
I call upon all states which have not yet approved the present
compromise to reconsider their position.
The International Criminal Court can also become a valuable instrument
in the fight against terrorism. Under its Statute, it will have
jurisdiction to try cases of murder "when committed as part
of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian
population". There can be no doubt that the attacks on New
York, Washington and Pennsylvania fulfil this requirement. For
this reason, I would like to ask you all once again to ratify
the Rome Statute as quickly as possible.
The attack on the World Trade Center was a wake up call to the
profound threat to world peace that can be posed by failing states.
These areas where political and social order has collapsed offer
terrorists a safe haven from which they can organize their murderous
networks worldwide. The community of states urgently needs to
take a closer and preventive look at the problem of failing states
- but not just in Afghanistan, and not only after a catastrophe
No conflict prevention measures have ever been undertaken in
Afghanistan. Far from it. This has proven to be a fatal error.
For more than 20 years, a humanitarian catastrophe has been playing
itself out before the eyes of the world, in which women and children
in particular have suffered. Civil war, human rights violations
and abject misery have also been the nourishing ground for the
unprecedented symbiosis between the terrorists of the Al Qaida
group and the Taliban regime. From there the trail leads directly
to the horrific attacks in the US. As hard as this decision may
be: without the use of military means this threat cannot be averted.
We must not forget that the suffering of the people in Afghanistan
is above all the work of the Taliban: it was the Taliban that
long before 11 September increasingly impeded effective humanitarian
relief, robbed women and girls of all their rights and actively
supported terrorism, also with the goal of destabilizing Arab
and Muslim states.
Not to react would indeed be to invite further terror and oppression
and would be extremely dangerous for world peace. The dramatic
nature of this threat is illustrated by Osama bin Laden's statement
that he will not shrink from using even nuclear weapons. Civilian
means alone are unfortunately not always enough to put an end
to violence and terror.
In Afghanistan, too, the root of the tragic conflict is profoundly
political, and so the solution too can ultimately only be a political
one. It must come from within, must reflect the diversity of peoples
in Afghan society and must be accepted by the Afghan people. But
a peaceful solution also requires assistance from the international
community. Afghanistan must not be left alone with its problems
A clear political and humanitarian perspective for Afghanistan
is now crucial. The United Nations should be the coordinating
agency for all peace efforts. It is indispensable as the framework
for the political process and as the guarantor of internal agreements
within Afghanistan. Only a peace process under the auspices of
the United Nations will succeed in excluding external involvement
in the future and ensuring a peaceful future for the country in
harmony with its neighbours. Germany and the European Union are
willing to play their part towards a political solution for Afghanistan
and to participate long term in the economic and social reconstruction
More than anything, the refugees and the civilian population
must be helped. We cannot tolerate the fact that the Taliban is
hindering humanitarian access and is using the civilian population
as a shield. In particular with a view to the approaching winter,
we must do everything in our power to provide the people with
at least the most basic necessities and to alleviate their despair
and hardship. Is it possible to establish humanitarian protected
areas? To use the expulsion of the Taliban from Mazar-e-Sharif
and other towns to improve the humanitarian situation? To make
a town like Kabul an open city? Of course this will be very difficult,
but nevertheless led us think without taboos about absolutely
all ways in which we could help the people. As chair of the Afghanistan
Support Group, Germany has issued an invitation to a meeting in
Berlin at the beginning of December. I appeal to all states to
make a great humanitarian effort now and to come to the aid of
the down-trodden Afghan people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Solving regional conflicts will be of critical importance in
the fight against terrorism. The Middle East conflict is a top
priority. Our hearts go out to the many innocent victims on all
sides. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have a right to
live free of fear, in dignity and in peace. This is indivisible
not only from Israel's right of statehood as recognized in Madrid,
which is in our view inviolable, but also from its security. Germany
bears Israel a special responsibility stemming from its past.
Any policy which aims at destroying Israel by means of terrorism
or otherwise will face determined opposition from Germany. However,
we equally advocate the Palestinians' right of self-determination
and their right to their own state, Palestine. In the EU Berlin
Declaration of March 1999 we stated: "the creation of a democratic,
viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian State on the basis of
existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best
guarantee of Israel's security". Today this is truer than
Never before has there been broader international backing for
a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Mitchell recommendations
still form the basis for the timetable accepted by all sides,
and in their spirit we call on Israelis and Palestinians alike
to put an immediate and lasting end to violence and confrontation,
to resume the agreed direct talks without delay and to seriously
implement the negotiated ceasefires. These talks must lead to
genuine negotiations on a viable political solution.
The real aim of the terrorists is to trigger a clash of civilizations
and to inflame the situation in the Near and Middle East. Under
no circumstances can we allow ourselves to be drawn into such
a conflict. We are fighting international terrorism, not Islam.
We must counter the terrorist strategy designed to bring about
the clash of civilizations with a "dialogue of the cultures
and religions".We need a spiritual debate based on mutual
understanding that attempts to reach genuine agreement on the
fundamental values that unite us. Such a dialogue presupposes
the existence of shared values, but also respect for other traditions
and differences between peoples. However one thing must be clear:
human rights are universal, not Western values. Consensus was
reached on them by the international community of states in the
UN Charter and the human rights covenants.
Any dialogue must build on the universality of human rights.
It must be conducted with respect for the dignity of all involved,
in tolerance and openness. It must start "at home",
within the cultures themselves. It can only bear fruit if it is
pursued free of all constraint. And it only has a purpose if all
participants are also ready to offer self-criticism.
The insidious anthrax attacks since 11 September show that the
threat from weapons of mass destruction in terrorist hands, which
yesterday seemed abstract, is today a real and deadly danger.
The community of states must do everything in its power to counter
it with a new push for non-proliferation and global disarmament.
The dangers of dissemination to non-state groups and of regional
arms races require new answers and effective, internationally
enforceable criminal sanctions. In the nuclear field, the commitment
contained in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to complete nuclear
disarmament remains crucial. As regards biological weapons, in
view of the acute threat, effective global control mechanisms
must finally be created. The Chemical Weapons Convention must
be more rigorously implemented. All states are called upon to
participate in the negotiation of an international code of conduct
on ballistic missile proliferation.
The fight now beginning against terrorism must build on the awareness
that the First World cannot in the long term live secure and safe
from the tensions and conflicts of the Third World.Almost one
quarter of the world population is starving. 95% of those infected
with AIDS live in developing countries. Africa is particularly
hard hit. To the present day only a minority of the world's citizens
profit from the opportunities for growth offered by globalization,
from the use of the new information technologies. This state of
affairs cannot be accepted, even by the rich countries - for moral
reasons, but also because tensions and conflicts today spread
much more quickly and widely than ever before.
It is true that the industrialized nations have not been able
to keep all their promises to the poor and poorest states. They
will have to invest far more effort here. The prime objective
must be to help the developing countries eradicate poverty and
to enhance their capacity for good governance and thus to take
responsibility for their own actions. A further debt remission
for the poorest countries, a genuine opening of their markets,
support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the
UN AIDS Fund and the goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015 are
initiatives that the developing countries urgently need.
The battle against poverty cannot be won unless we take equally
determined steps to preserve the natural resources on which life
depends. We must take a quantum leap forward at the coming World
Summit in Johannesburg towards sustainable development, improved
poverty eradication and better management of our natural resources.
The Kyoto Protocol must enter into force next year. And we must
strengthen the sole advocate of the global environment, the United
Nations Environment Programme, institutionally, operationally
Please permit me to mention a development which has the potential
to change our lives like no other: genetic engineering. If we
do not act timely and agree clear and binding rules based on an
ethical consensus for dealing with this new technology, things
will soon happen that we cannot undo. Germany and France have
sponsored a resolution in this session of the General Assembly
which aims at establishing a convention on the worldwide prohibition
of the reproductive cloning of human beings. I ask you all to
support us in this endeavour.
11 September made it horrifyingly clear that the human race will
not be able to live in peace and security in the absence of political
order at global and regional level. This realization will now
really put the reform debate on the United Nations' agenda. Increasing
the UN's capacity to act by means of reform and a clear setting
of priorities, a more representative and efficient Security Council
and a consolidated General Assembly - this must be one of the
consequences drawn from the horrendous terrorist attacks.
Germany will continue to do its utmost to bring about the strengthening
the United Nations and its capacity to act, so that the world
will be a more peaceful, just and humane place in the twenty-first
century than in the twentieth. The future belongs to responsible
governance for one world, governance not based on hegemonial claims,
but on cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism. If together
we succeed in implementing such a policy, we will not just ultimately
win the war against terrorism, but will also be able to eradicate
its roots forever.