Foreign Relations | Speeches

International Terrorism and Security

12th Non-Aligned Movement Summit

Durban, South Africa

September 2, 1998

Mr. Chairman,

I wish to convey to Your Excellency President Mandela, the Government and people of South Africa, my sincere appreciation of the warm hospitality extended to us, and the excellent arrangements which have been made to ensure the success of this conference. You, Mr. Chairman, are a tower of strength to your country. You are universally acknowledged to be one of the heroic figures of this century. You truly belong to the famous company of the spectacular Third World political leaders, who founded and fashioned our Movement, articulated its philosophy and spoke with authority, for hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

I also wish to take this opportunity to express the gratitude of my Government to the President and the Government of Columbia for the positive contributions they have made to the progress of our Movement, since the XI Summit in Cartagena in 1995.

Mr. Chairman,

The XIIth NAM Summit is a historic one. It is being held in a country which was once the bastion of apartheid. While you, Mr. Chairman, provided, within South Africa, the inspired, disciplined and principled leadership which brought down the ugly edifice of apartheid, the members of the Non-Aligned Movement played a role that was not insignificant in accelerating the collapse of that odious regime. During those dark years, the Non-Aligned Movement provided to you and the African National Congress constant encouragement, and reassurance that you were not alone in your struggle, because your struggle was our struggle, as well. I can vouch for the fact that to the Chairperson of our Movement in 1976, Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the success of the campaign against apartheid was a challenge she undertook with resolute determination. The safety and well being of Nelson Mandela was to her, a matter of paramount anxiety. It is truly fitting that the last NAM Summit of this century should take place in South Africa, where we can celebrate with the President Mandela and his peoples, their victory over apartheid, and plan under his leadership to fashion our Movement into a more cohesive and dynamic force to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

With the end of the cold war, critics of the Non Aligned Movement declared our Movement dead or predicted its imminent demise. Today our Movement is not only alive, but has attracted new members, thus negating the gloomy prophecy of our critics. Our Movement is alive, because the common problems that face the developing countries remain, to a large extent, what they were when our Movement was first founded. The problems of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, exploding birth rates and food scarcities have not been resolved. On the economic side the problems of debt, the denial of adequate access to the markets of the industrialized world, the uneven impact of globalisation on the developing countries, not only remain, but have been exacerbated by the harsh new realities of the intensely competitive world in which the developing countries have to struggle to survive. New issues are being added to our agenda of concerns for examples, issues of international security, terrorism, interference in the internal affairs of States, reform of the United Nations.

Thus, the Non-Aligned Movement, as a forum for discussing our common problems and searching for solutions to them, remains not only relevant in the contemporary world but indispensable. The voice of 113 member States of the United Nations simply cannot be ignored. Indeed, experience shows that the voice of the developing world as expressed through the Non-Aligned Movement is heard across the world. If we speak with one voice we will not only be heard, but heeded in the capitals of the developed world.

In the continuing evolution of international affairs what we must aim to achieve is the substitution of reasoned arguments, for rhetorical flourishes in our statements and declarations ; the substitution of dialogue with the developed world, in place of the strident confrontation of a previous era. A new world order sought to be imposed by the rich on the poor is doomed to failure. A new world order, which is sought to be based entirely on the demands of the poor, will never come into being. A regime that does not recognise and seek to redress the climate of tension that is engendered by the inequality, injustice, prejudice and insensitivity that characterise the present world order has no moral foundation and cannot, therefore, survive. We must strive to achieve a stable pattern of inter-State relationships through co-operation and understanding among all members of the international community.

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I wish to raise for your consideration two political issues on which we can, and should, speak clearly with a single voice. One is the issue of international terrorism, the other is the issue of international security.

(a) The scourge of terrorism continues unabated, across the world, causing sudden and devastating loss of human life, the lives of innocent people and colossal damage to property. No part of the world is safe from terrorist attacks, as recent events on this very continent have shown. When terror is used as a political weapon, it provokes the use of terror as a counter measure. The unilateral resort to retaliation as a deterrent can severely damage good relations between States.

After years of tardy progress, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings early this year, thus providing a comprehensive framework for international co-operation, aimed at the elimination of such activities. My Government strongly urges all member States of the Non Aligned Movement, to become parties to this Convention, so that it could come into force with the least delay. This would be a clear signal that no State is prepared to condone terrorism, nor provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist groups anywhere in the world, nor permit fund raising within its borders to sustain terrorist activities in another State; that all States will join in a concerted endeavour, to eliminate the use of terror, for the achievement of political ends across the face of the globe.

(b) The question of international security is very much in the minds of the international community at this time. Much has been said about nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Both aspects are equally important, not only for preserving international security, but also for the very survival of mankind. Sri Lanka does not believe that the question of nuclear non-proliferation should be pursued, without attention being paid simultaneously, to the question of promoting rapid and orderly progress towards total nuclear disarmament. Let us not go down in history as the one human generation that bequeathed the most potent weapons of destruction to generation yet unborn. There is no rationale whatsoever for the prohibition of other types of weapons of mass destruction, while a few countries seek to monopolise the retention of nuclear weapons. The Non-Aligned Movement should send a clear message to the nuclear weapon States that they should, together with the rest of the international community, support a credible plan of action for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Sri Lanka is unswerving in its commitment to the resolution of contentious problems through peaceful negotiations. My Govt. has offered a comprehensive package of political solution including wide decentralization of powers to empower the ethnic minorities of our nation.

But, small groups of terrorists who do not even have the support of the people, who use little children as suicide bombers to kill hundreds of innocent civilians, refuse all our efforts for negotiations and adamantly insist on using force to dismember our country. But we have the support of the majority of all our people to forge ahead with our efforts to end the military conflict and bring peace to the country.

Now I would like to express some thoughts on the possibilities that our Movement present in the fields of economic, scientific, technical co-operation and trade relations. The spread of global capitalism through free trade and information technology is carrying the so called global economy to ever increasing parts of the world. Globalisation opens up vast new vistas of human action for the betterment of humanity whilst posing many dangers and challenges for the developing world.

The recent economic crises in some parts of Asia and previously in South America have brought to the forefront some fundamental weaknesses in;

1. the system that dominates the world economy,

2. the concepts its enunciates for the consumption of the developing nations.

We have seen the ravages caused by unplanned liberalisations, resulting in:

* large exposure to international markets, including short-term debt in foreign currency.

*open capital accounts.

*a poorly managed financial sector with massive volumes of non-performing loans,

* asset price bubbles, and so on

All this has caused havoc in several national economies, in the past two decades, resulting in widespread impoverishment of the peoples of the respective countries. Yet we must remember that these were countries that succeeded in lifting their populations from levels of poverty and deprivation, which continues to plague much of the developing world. This was achieved through high rates of investment and savings resulting in high rates of economic growth.

The International Monetary Mechanism has proved desperately inadequate in handling the recent crises. In today's globalised world, one country's problem can rapidly become a problem to all of us. Today, we need international regional cooperation more than ever. We must work towards establishing a new financial architecture through fundamental reforms of the International Monetary System. These reforms should aim at achieving an appropriate balance between adjustment and financing. They must also ensure that impending crises are dealt with early before they culminate in the collapse of whole economies.

* We need to formulate a "Lender of Last Resort" facility to meet the problems of globalisation and volatile capital movements. Detailing the specific of such a system must rank high in the research agenda.

* We must enhance our research and analytical capacities. We must evolve a fresh, new body of thought and systems designed to draw from the process of globalisation, maximum advantage for the developing nations, and not designed to serve exclusively, the needs of the developed world. Then we could join our efforts with those of the G-24 and the G-15, in order that we participate effectively, in the on-going dialogue on systematic reforms with the G-7 countries of the international monitory system.

* We must institute a comprehensive and international surveillance system of large scale capital investments, so that problems can be anticipated and measures taken, before speculators move in. The accountability and accuracy of privately owned international credit rating agencies are in question. They may be brought under the IMF umbrella in some form, while international rating by an international public institution may constitute the solution.

* The Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of the IMF were originally conceived to meet the liquidity needs of the nations at times of crises. In fact, this was intended to be the raison d'etre of the IMF. The IMF may be requested to consider an early resumption of SDR allocations. The major voting powers of the IMF must be requested to increase allocations for this purpose. The developing nations may have to consider a larger quota increase than what is now contemplated. The IMF and World Bank should not be compelled to go with the begging bowl to the rich countries, thus becoming subject to their political and economic compulsions.

We should also beware of attempts to liberalise capital accounts early in the light of the emerging crises. This should await the modernisation of the national financial systems and the reforms of the International Monetary System.

I now come to the question of what role the Non Aligned Movement can play in the future.

We the member States can freely and frankly share views reflecting wide differences of perception, but endeavour to synthesize and consensualise them to the great extent possible. We can strive to strengthen regional and intra regional economic co-operation and exchange of technology. Co-operation in the fields of education and skills development and health care are areas rich in possibility.

To this end I propose that we formulate work plans and networks within our Movement.

Let us assist each other to stand up with dignity and in strength so that we may obtain what is our due.

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

I thank you.