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H. E. Carlos Roberto Flores
President of Honduras
delivering a speech before the United Nations' 53rd General Assembly.
Mister President
Mister Secretary General,
Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am happy and honored to bear a cordial and respectful greeting sent through me by the people and government of the Republic of Honduras and the countries which, together with it, form the Central American Integration System, of which I am the proud President Pro Tem.
Mr. President, Central America wishes to express its delight for your well deserved election to preside over the Fifty-Third Regular Period of Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.  Your brilliant professional and public career is a guarantee that we will achieve youthful and significant results in this Assembly.

Our delegation also wishes to express its gratitude to His Excellency the Representative of the Ukraine, Mr. Hennadiy Udovenko, for the good work done during the last General Assembly.  Furthermore, we express our most sincere gratitude to Mr. Kofi Annan who, in fulfilling his mission as Secretary General of our organization, showed a high spirit of work and dedication in a particularly difficult period for the United Nations.

Mr. President,
Messrs. the Delegates:

Throughout its history, Honduras has fought for the System of Democratic Government to take root on its soil, to take its place in the world community as a State with full rights, whose republican, independent life is pervaded by respect for basic human rights and which effectively guarantees public freedoms for all its inhabitants. However, many of these efforts were frustrated in certain regrettable stages of our past, a past that was closely shared with the other States of the Central American Region.  Fortunately, Mr. President, in recent decades, Honduras has maintained and reinforced its democracy and internal institutions, in spite of the deplorable, stormy circumstances experienced by the Central American Region as the involuntary theater of the cold war imposed, which was imposed on us from the outside, along with the consequences of undesirable armed conflicts.

Currently in the government of Central America, we are working hard to consolidate peace and the spirit of internal reconciliation of our societies.

Our will is firm in this process, and the progress achieved is very encouraging, as fair reward for these efforts. We are determined to turn our back forever to the fratricidal battles that have caused us so much suffering and have eroded our energy for the construction of a prosperous, democratic, free and happy region, as our nations wish and as their democratic governments strive to offer.

At this point I must say that, although Honduras was not the direct site of Central American armed conflicts, it did suffer the severe consequences of the instability, uncertainty and violence of the region, which made thousands of Hondurans emigrate to other countries, mainly to the United States.  Unfortunately, justice has not been attained for these compatriots of ours, giving them the same opportunities and immigration status enjoyed by other Central Americans. We trust that the sacrifice of Honduras in the Central American conflicts of the past will be fully understood, and our emigrants are given the consideration they justly deserve.

Progress in Regional Integration:

On the other hand, the Presidents of Central America, in permanent consultations and periodic sessions, are giving an extraordinary impulse to regional integration in all fields: economic, political, social and cultural. This integration dynamic includes the states of Belize, Panama and the Dominican Republic, through broad participation mechanisms and the signing of economic treaties and bilateral and multinational exchanges. We are also hoping for a joint venture with the Mexican Republic, and maintain that the entire region must enjoy the same benefits already agreed upon for themselves by the three main North American countries.

U.N. Reforms

Mr. President,

The Government of Honduras congratulates the Secretary General of the United Nations and fully supports his efforts towards a reform of the Organization.

There is consensus in Central America concerning the fact that the reforms of the United Nations are a necessity of the international system in implying a broader membership in the Security Council. But this expansion must be based upon equitable geographic representation and the consensus of the regional groups and the existing sub-regional mechanisms. This restructuring must contemplate the revision of its procedures to guarantee higher representation, transparency and efficiency.

Terrorism

The government of Honduras supports the initiative of the President of the United States to constitute a worldwide organization for the fight against terrorism.

We strongly condemn all types of terrorism, without exception, because we consider that it is a form of human cruelty that no political, ideological, religious or cultural cause may justify at this stage of our civilization. 
 

Drug Trafficking, War Crimes, Land Mine Removal and Nuclear Testing

On the topic of controlling illegal drug trafficking, our government reiterates its support for the Special Session of the General Assembly concerning this matter. By its strategic geographic position, Central America is in danger of becoming a production and commerce area for undesirable narcotics, so that it must receive the greatest international support to fight this threat.

Equally, we are pleased to see the advances achieved by the UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, in Rome, designed to create a legal forum with global jurisdiction in order to put on trial and condemn individuals for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Honduras has suffered, and has paid for the use of antipersonnel mines with numerous victims. Consequently, we are ready to support the agreement on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and sale of antipersonnel mines, as well as any measure taken to destroy existing ones.

It is appropriate to indicate, in addition, that the countries of the Central American Region view with concern and deplore the recent nuclear testing conducted in other geographical regions, and advocate the introduction and full implementation of the treaty for the complete prohibition of nuclear testing as an important step in the total elimination of these devastating weapons.

Incorporation of Other States

Honduras supports the efforts of the Republic of China in Taiwan for full membership in the United Nations, as well as in the international bodies of the system.I We are convinced that historic conditions have changed significantly, and there is no justification for the international isolation to which 21 million people are subjected.

Women, Adolescents and Children

Mr. President

Among other aspects we deem necessary to mention, we view with satisfaction the advancement of women in society, not only because they have a right to equality, but also because, with their help, we can envision a fairer, more humane worid.

We are inviting the States to support a platform for action in the effective implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

Equally, considering that children and adolescents are the most vulnerable sectors of society, we are willing to support with enthusiasm the calling of a World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, for the implementation of national programs and development of a World Program of Action for Youth in the Year 2000 and Beyond, and to support the institutions and programs designed to protect our children and young people as the generational and spiritual reserve of our Motherland.

The Topic of Globalization

Mr. President,

World globalization is a particularly worrisome topic that must be examined in this forum, which is both vital and unique in the world, because globalization challenges the inhabitants of the planet to reach achievements never before imagined by man throughout his history.

It is true that humankind has always faced singular challenges throughout this millennium which is now drawing to a close. There have been great worldwide events that drastically changed the way of life of millions of civilized beings: The Christian Revolution, in the spiritual realm.  The Liberal Revolutions of France and the United States in the political realm. The lndustrial Revolution in the economic realm, and the Russian Revolution in the social realm. Each of these historic journeys affected in a different way man's self image and the role of the States they produced in governing their social forms of existence.

Thus, between great achievements and errors, among titanic efforts, enormous upheavals and profuse bloodshed, we reached this 20th century which is drawing to a close, and are about to open a new chapter for humankind, full of uncertainty, expectations, fears and hopes, represented by the first century of the approaching Third Millennium.

This 20th century, Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates, will leave to future generations a reference and imprint without parallel or comparison in the history of human development. This is the century that took us to the very depth of the micro-cosmos, such as the splitting of the atom and the deciphering of the genetic code, allowing us to unchain, know and use an impressive amount of new elements of matter and its substitutes, with novel formulas for the integration and disintegration of nuclear energy, light, heat and sound. A century of great discoveries in all sciences, beginning with mathematics, physics, medicine, chemistry, optics, genetics, psychology and electronics.

This is the century of the space-age era and the great daring, probes and adventures of man outside his planet. This is the century of vertiginous speeds, breaking the sound barrier and of communications and transport which have transformed the earth into a global village. The century of universal cybernetic information, which has connected man with his neighbor in the other hemisphere, just like two friends used to talk in the backyards of their houses, separated by a garden fence. Today, the computer performs tasks that would have taken the most cultivated and talented man centuries of work, or that he would have never been able to perform. Places and cultures have been mixed, influencing each other in an unceasing exchange of creations. And a massive spreading of ideas, news, fashions and novelties, never before dreamt by man in his random course throughout his long existence on earth. The century of geopolitical changes, as sudden as they are unimaginable, so huge that their force left its own protagonists behind.

Unfortunately, Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates, it is also a century that will be remembered with sadness, as the century of the two big bloody world wars, and many frightening, apparently local and centralized wars. The century of thermonuclear, toxic and chemical weapons and other means of mass destruction. The century of merciless, senseless terrorism, and also the century of the terrible AIDS epidemic. The century, finally, of man's greatest destruction of the ecology and the purity of his environment, which is seriously threatening the very existence of his planet. We are concerned, Mr. President, and we are surely ashamed that this century will also be remembered as the century of the direst poverty in an alarming majority of countries. We are grieved that, in times of prosperity, it is concentrated among the richest, but in times of crisis, it brings its devastation among the poorest.

The Century of Freedom

But if something characterizes this century and forever marks it in the annals of the human race, it is the issue, the desire, the necessity and the value given to freedom. We have never fought and paid such a high price for freedom, or for the lack thereof, as we have done in this century. Never have there been so many attempts to destroy freedom through systems, ideologies, regimes and wars, and never has man made such monumental achievements, such beautiful and heroic deeds, in the defense of liberty, or trying to obtain it, as in the last ten decades of this millennium. The great figures that left their mark on contemporary history are those who denied freedom to their nations, or achieved it gloriously, sometimes at the cost of their own life.

Thank God that we can say, Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates, at this time and before this World Forum, that freedom has triumphed and will continue imposing itself in each corner of the world where it is still denied and crushed, whenever conditions are right to show our nations that freedom is worth the trouble, as an essential value of man, who must fight for it, and that maintaining it is important for man's physical and spiritual well being.

Along with freedom, democracy is triumphing in the entire world, but to make this progress effective and durable, it is also necessary to meet certain conditions so that we do not lose what we gained, and do not return to the tyrannies we defeated with such work and suffering.

This is the huge challenge of the next millennium: How to keep this freedom; how to make it expand to the last corner of the planet; and, the final test, how to manage it for the benefit of all of humankind?

Universal Changes

It is true that, just as there are hopeful and encouraging expectations on which we must capitalize, there is also a lot of worry and even fear in our nations, concerning these quick universal changes.

The world economy has progressed significantly in the last 25 years. Economic globalization has opened up opportunities and risks for all the countries of the world.

However, at this time, it is rather clear that the benefits of globalization are not shared by all countries, and that, in many cases, we see an increase in the disparity between developed and developing countries, inequality that produces social and political tensions in our countries and severely threaten the democratic advances for which we have paid so dearly.

In the beginning of the process of global liberalization, it was maintained that the reduction in the flows of assistance to development would be outweighed by the commercial benefits and private capital flows towards our regions. The truth is that, although we support commercial liberalization with concrete measures, our products were often faced with various barriers, which are hard to overcome.

The combination of factors, such as the reduction in development assistance, barriers to the export of our products, the scarce movement of private capital, or its excessive concentration in certain areas and the burden of the foreign debt, become strong obstacles to the economic growth and social development of our peoples.

I believe the time is ripe, Mr. President, to evaluate what is happening at a global level, in order to take measures that prevent further deterioration of the living conditions of our population and promote a more just economic and social order.

In addition, this concern is legitimate, especially in light of what has happened in recent days with the finances of certain countries of Southeast Asia and Japan. These are economies and systems that were held up to us as an example to follow, and as a standard for what can be achieved with full economic liberalization. Russia has attempted to follow this path, which has resulted in the crisis that we all hope is temporary, since we are all affected by it today. All of this means, Mr. President, that the economy is not everything, and that a reversal in maintaining the welfare level of a people through economic and financial mechanisms can rapidly deteriorate its political and social conditions, with the imminent danger of going back on democratic process and exposing once again the precious gift of freedom for which millions of men and women gave their lives in this century.

Creating great expectations and exaggerated hopes of well being and development is as dangerous as the disappointments that can be felt by our peoples when the democratic system and the new economic order are incapable of giving concrete answers to the basic needs of our nations. This is the risk of backlash, the reversal of conquests, and a return to a lack of stability, rivalry, a lack of trust and the loss of internal and even international peace.

Under the pressure of globalization, modernization and economic adjustments, we have surely put at stake the right to a better life for millions of inhabitants of the planet, and especially of Latin America. At stake is the national identity of the countries and regions, faced with an increasingly rapid process of universalization and assimilation, which is not always logical. At stake is the vulnerability or resistance of our societies faced with the avalanche of influences, requirements and bosses, imposed from the outside, behind the mask of structural adjustments and modernization.

At stake is stability; we are faced with the massive development of violent, or simply rebellious, acts of the poor, the marginal and the excluded, because they feel powerless before the walls that prevent their access to survival, work, education, health and safety, which are essential, basic rights, amply consecrated by the Universal Declaration of the United Nations, whose 50th anniversary, we the Hondurans have celebrated with the greatest pleasure and renewed hope that such principles can actually lead us to fairer, happier societies.

We cannot hide, Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates, that we harbor the fear, shared by many of the governments represented here, that a new economic order that is unfair, oversized and globally varied, without taking into consideration the political and social realities of each country, and the processes that led us to these vertiginous changes, would destroy any possibility for equitable development of each man and each people, to the extent that globalization generates excessive concentration of power in large and monstrous consortiums, instead of solidarity in the enjoyment of the goods and opportunities afforded by a new universal society.

Globalization of Ethics or the Ethics of Globalization

Whether we are moving towards an ideal, global, fraternal, jointly shared and pacific world, or towards other forms of tyranny, submission and cruelty is the question we must ask, all of us who have public responsibilities in Honduras and in every corner of the planet. In a world where the borders are no longer the lines that divide the countries, but rather the extension projected to the geographic contours of the planet, in which the scope of international relations is limited only by man's ambition and imagination, the question leads us to define whether we see the GLOBALIZATION OF ETHICS, or whether we foster the ETHICS OF GLOBALIZATION, so as to avoid the death of man's ethical and moral values in the vortex of capital and market growth, since they have been the pillars that kept up the building of what we call CIVILIZATION.

In fact, this is the ability to govern societies, but without losing the freedoms that led to the birth of the States, and the ethical values that have sustained our life, while being protected by eternal concepts such as national sovereignty, basic human rights, the survival of the plant and the seIf-determination of the peoples.

After all, in the scale of the values that define our topmost aspirations, the supreme goal of society and State continues to be the human person, and the superior good we are trying to achieve is not growth, not development, not globalization, but happiness and well being.

The New Role of the United Nations

This is the right time, then, to seek alternatives, such as the need to reinforce  multilateral  institutions with  preferred funds to  support development; increase cooperation in order to foster better opportunities for those most in need; and to reduce the gaps between places, closing the distance between the richest and the poorest; to govern globalization, preventing it from demanding sacrifices from most nations, while concentrating its benefits in a few; and seeking additional, quick mechanisms to reduce the foreign debt which is choking most of the humankind. The United Nations must become the appropriate forum to foster these and other initiatives required to guarantee better conditions for developing countries, as well as intelligent measures to ensure universal peace and harmony.

Mr. President
Messrs. Delegates,

Honduras, its people and its government declare their faith in the superior qualities of man, and his capacity for hope and trust in a better fate for all mankind. We are sure that the unity of all the peoples of the earth around the essential topics of peace, survival of the planet, a worldwide economic system that is more balanced and actually open to all, and the construction of societies that are fairer, free, and safe, will remain the raison d'etre of the United Nations and their most important task. In this effort, Mr. President and Messrs. Delegates, you can count on the support and solidarity of Honduras and other Central American States.

Thank you very much.

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