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Year 2001 No. 166, October 3, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech:

Justifications for "War against Terrorism" Do Not Add Up and Betray Blind Chauvinism

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech:
Justifications for "War against Terrorism" Do Not Add Up and Betray Blind Chauvinism

People in East London Meet to Oppose "War Against Terrorism"

Statement of Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

Anti-War Demonstration in Athens

UN General Assembly Opens Plenary Debate on Terrorism

Presidential Address by Gerry Adams to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis

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Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech:

Justifications for "War against Terrorism" Do Not Add Up and Betray Blind Chauvinism

Whereas some of the contributions at the Labour Party conference indicated an appreciation of the concerns of the people about the danger of war and state terrorism, Tony Blair’s keynote speech on October 2, in which he sought to answer the people’s concerns and give justification after justification for the "war against terrorism", reflected nothing so much as a blind chauvinism.

Tony Blair may be a religious person, but he has no right to wage a military and vindictive campaign against the "forces of evil", especially when he is telling the nation that the quarrel is not with Islam but with a regime who govern a sovereign country. And if then Tony Blair says that this regime has no concern for the "sanctity of human life", if he were to make that the principle then he would not engage in military intervention either. As a Prime Minister, Tony Blair should be duty bound to act in a statesmanlike manner and, while condemning terrorism in any shape or form, seek to punish the guilty and investigate and eradicate its causes. It is important to understand that Tony Blair is intent in imposing a belief system on the whole cause of combating the "violence and savagery of the fanatic", and not dealing with the materiality of the existing world situation. That he does so with an aim, the forcing on the whole world the Anglo-American system of neo-liberal globalisation, is another matter.

Many people have pointed out the hypocrisy in Tony Blair’s position. That uncountable numbers of innocent people have lost their lives through both British and US military and other intervention and subversion against states which threatened, not the peoples, but the powerful economic interests of their ruling oligarchies, is very well documented. US imperialism brazenly used to promote the domino theory that if one country fell to "communism", then the next would follow, and therefore US imperialism had to intervene to protect the "free world". Britain’s record is equally dishonourable in this respect. What Tony Blair is now allying himself to is the comparable doctrine to say that no country which does not agree to submit to the global campaign of the US will emerge unscathed – "you are either with us, or with the terrorists". And he is doing so in declaring: "This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory not theirs."

Tony Blair does not like the Taleban regime. He considers it "goes without saying" that the regime is "undemocratic". One could allow Tony Blair his hatred of the regime, despite the prejudices, lies and half-truths that his rant could be said to contain. But this hatred cannot be used as justification for wiping out a regime, with no concern for international norms and the due course of law. For example, Tony Blair seeks to incite passions by linking the buying of arms by the Taleban with the purchase of heroin by British youth, despite the fact that the Taleban have carried out one of the largest drug eradication schemes ever seen. The US imperialist method of organising the drug trade as a pretext for intervention in other parts of the globe is well-known – for example, Colombia – but Tony Blair shows no awareness of it. Instead he says: "That is another part of their regime that we should seek to destroy."

Tony Blair should take note that it is not acceptable in the modern world to make such declarations. The enlightened view is that international issues need to be discussed and sorted out with the participation of all states on an equal basis, in the appropriate international forums. It is characteristic both of Britain and the US that the UN has been effectively by-passed as such a body. It makes a mockery of Tony Blair’s declaration: "We haven’t lashed out. No missiles on the first night just for effect." He also betrays this British and US gangsterism when he seeks to deflect criticism. He distortedly presents one of these criticisms as: "State an ultimatum and get their response," and then saying, "We stated the ultimatum; they haven’t responded." What place have ultimatums? Nevertheless, the Taleban regime did respond in a very civilised manner by warning US and Britain of the consequences of such ultimatums.

Again Tony Blair distorts the people’s concerns: "Understand the causes of terror." The issue is not "understanding" in the sense of conciliating with terrorism. Tony Blair implies that to "understand" is to "justify the events of September 11". The point of course is that without understanding the cause of a phenomenon, it is not possible to control its outcome or harness it or eradicate it. This is scientific logic. Once more Tony Blair obscures the issue when he talks about there being no "moral ambiguity".

Tony Blair imputes to some force a "rejoicing" in the killing, which he calls murder, of 7,000. Who has "rejoiced"? And if the issue is "slaughter of the innocent", Tony Blair should be careful. The ongoing sanctions against and bombing of Iraq which has resulted in well over the 70,000 deaths the Prime Minister also conjures up are one recent testament to innocent people being slaughtered.

But then comes the "choice" when confronted with "terror": "defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must." Create this chimera out of the ashes of the World Trade Centre and then present people with a choice that is no choice. This is Tony Blair’s method. The danger to civilisation is supposed to come from "fanatics" who must be defeated. But now Tony Blair shifts his argument. Having vented his spleen against the Taleban for their social system which is supposedly so uncivilised and the embodiment of terror that it must be got rid of, the issue now becomes the "terrorist network of Bin Laden" whom the Taleban are sheltering. "We will put a trap around the regime," says Blair. He now gives the Taleban a choice: "surrender the terrorists; or surrender power. It’s your choice." Meanwhile the world waits for evidence.

At home, since "terror" is being made the main enemy, people’s rights have to be curtailed, and asylum seekers and immigrants all regarded as potential terrorists. Now, according to Tony Blair, the most basic liberty of all is declared to be: "freedom from terror". So new extradition laws are being introduced, new rules to "ensure asylum is not a front for terrorist entry".

Since day one, Tony Blair has declared that "terrorism" is to be made the main enemy in the changed world. His arguments in his Brighton speech are all designed to provide justifications for this unjustifiable position. These justifications are designed to win people over to the preparations for war and the international state terrorism of the "coalition against terrorism", as well as to initiate a period of intensified reaction and attack on rights domestically.

Tony Blair tries again to deflect the criticism that Britain is acting in its own, which is the ruling class’s, interests in these courses of action by asserting that, "of course", "nations act in their own-self interest", but that "self-interest" and the world community’s "mutual interests" are inextricably woven together. "This is the politics of globalisation." Apparently he realises "why people protest against globalisation". It is that we "feel powerless, as if we were now pushed to and fro by forces far beyond our control". The issue, he says, is "not how to stop globalisation" because "the alternative to globalisation is isolation". For the people, the issue is not opposition to "globalisation" but neo-liberal or imperialist globalisation, the imposition of the interests of the powerful states on the poor and economically weaker states. The opposition to such globalisation is an exercise with the aim of the people ending their powerlessness and becoming the controllers of the forces Tony Blair is seeking to obscure and completely mystify in his crusade against "evil" and "terror".

Tony Blair goes on to praise "governing ideas in politics, based on values". While ideology is dead, these values are not. Having these values are not enough. In effect they are to be imposed, made universal. This is the meaning of his statement: "The mantle of leadership comes at a price: the courage to learn and change; to show how values that stand for all ages can be applied in a way relevant to each age." This is another method of ideologically disarming the working class and people. The people are to be kept in a state of powerlessness, of being spectators of events out of their control. They have to accept these values which "stand for all ages" rather than examining the political, economic and social forces shaping our world, and setting the course for the future based on this examination.

The conclusion for Tony Blair, though he politically correctly distances himself from the word "crusade", is nevertheless a fight for "justice", which is to say, "justice to bring those same values of democracy and freedom to people round the world". "Let us re-order this world around us," he says. "Science" cannot make the "choice for us" for humankind "to destroy itself or to provide prosperity to all". He goes on, "Only the moral power of a world acting as a community can." A community of shared values in the image of US imperialism and its "democracy and freedom" – that is Tony Blair’s crusade. His belief system is to be spread globally.

Possibly the working class and people should take Tony Blair at his word and "re-order this world around us," but in a manner that actually favours the interests of the working class, of peoples and nations to determine their own future, to put themselves in control of their own destinies. If the working class and people acted in this way, they would indeed put an end to the causes of terror and terrorism in the world, but not by taking up the choices Tony Blair is offering. It would be a world not to Tony Blair’s liking.

Article Index

People in East London Meet to Oppose "War Against Terrorism"

Over 100 people from many different organisations and walks of life packed into the meeting room at Leytonstone Library in East London on Tuesday evening to affirm their opposition to the war preparations of Anglo-American imperialism. They resolved to step up their activity to prevent further loss of life which a "war against terrorism" would entail.

The meeting, "For Peace and Justice – Stop The War", was addressed by a panel of speakers including Bruce Kent of CND, Graham Bush, a local representative of the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, Charlotte Monro, a local health worker and political activist, and Andrew McConnel, who had served, in a medical capacity, during the Gulf War. The speakers expressed their condemnation of the attacks that occurred on September 11 in the US. But attention was drawn to the fact that it has been the policies of the governments of the big powers, the state terrorism of the likes of the US and Britain, which must be condemned because these had created all the conditions for such attacks to take place, and Anglo-American imperialism is culpable for them.

Bruce Kent drew attention to the role the media has played in whipping up war hysteria, and demanded that the voice of the millions of people in Britain who are opposed to the so-called "war against terrorism" be heard. He pointed out that he had been invited to take part in a television debate following the thousands of emails which had been sent to the broadcasters complaining of media bias. He also stressed that government assertions that the Anglo-American coalition had UN support were bare-faced lies. Neither the General Assembly nor the Security Council had passed such resolutions and not only had the US and Britain bypassed the UN, but the US had for years consistently failed to support UN protocols against terrorism.

Andy McConnel, amongst other things, made mention of the strategic interests which the US has in central Asia. He pointed out the vast deposits of natural gas and oil that are to be found in the region, some of the largest in the world. A war against Afghanistan, he suggested, could be seen as a pretext for US expansion in that region.

Charlotte Monro pointed out that the British government, headed by Tony Blair, was using the pretext of the "war against terrorism" to undermine the initiative of the powerful movement against globalisation and against the privatisation of public services that had been gathering momentum before September 11. What is more, the state is openly promoting racism in a further attempt to divert the people, she said. She explained that it is evident that the working people do not have the same interests as Blair where education and the health service are concerned nor in the pursuit of a reactionary "war against terrorism". What is vital she stressed is for the working people to continue to fight for their own agenda, to defend the rights of all and to empower themselves so that they can decide the future of the services they need and the kind of world in which we live.

Many other people from the audience expressed a wish to speak and such was the concern of the packed meeting that there was not sufficient time for all to speak. Many expressed their anger and disgust at the warmongering speeches delivered at the Labour Party conference and their determination to build a movement that could prevent war. Many pointed out the need to discuss widely the many important issues which the current international situation presented, and to find ways to empower the masses of the people so that war could be prevented. A representative from the local Green Party stressed the need for all those opposed to the war to put political affiliation and ideology aside so that this vital movement can be built.

The meeting concluded in a militant and determined atmosphere with passionate discussion taking place throughout the hall. As the meeting concluded it was announced that it would reconvene next week so that a broad anti-war campaign can be organised.

Article Index

Statement of Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia approved a statement on September 22 calling on the Czech Republic’s Social Democratic government "not to submit to big power pressure and expose our citizens to the dangers of a nonsensical war which could claim tens of thousands of innocent people as its victims".

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia has already called on the government to cancel the NATO/Partnership for Peace summit due to be held in Prague in November of next year. Forty-four heads of state are expected to attend, and the interior ministry has already announced that it is preparing to deal with anti-NATO protests. Its preparations have included consultations with the Genoa police. The Czech Communist Union of Youth has won the support of the Budapest-based World Federation of Democratic Youth for such a protest, and a meeting of the WFDY executive is expected to be held in Prague before the end of this year.

The full text of the statement runs as follows:

"We condemn all acts of individual, collective and state terrorism and stress that our party rejects both the practices and ideology of terrorism. We warn against any irresponsible reaction by the USA which would lead to the deaths of innocent people.

"The struggle against terrorism is a matter for all of humanity’s democratic and progressive forces and not only one country or group of countries. An effective struggle against terrorism requires respect for international law and the mechanisms of international legitimacy and security.

"We are alarmed by the irresponsible speeches of certain politicians and the campaign by some of the media in the Czech Republic and other countries which only evoke war psychosis, insult entire nations and make accusations based on so-called differences between civilisations. Such an irresponsible approach is contrary to the objective reality and a danger to world peace. The causes of terrorism are economic, social and political as well as psychological, etc. And their recognition requires the renunciation of any notions of a monopoly on truth, superiority and arrogance. The 21st century demands that there be a world-wide coexistence which safeguards real world peace and goes beyond the methods of the cold war.

"If the USA, for example, spent the resources it is devoting to military retaliation on aid for third world countries, it would strike a more effective blow against the hotbeds of terrorism than a purely military solution. We reject the short-sighted and arrogant argument that he who is not with the USA is with the terrorists. We call on the Social Democratic government not to submit to big power pressure and not to expose our citizens to the danger of a nonsensical war whose victims could only be tens of thousands of innocent people."

Article Index

Anti-War Demonstration in Athens

A large anti-war demonstration took place on September 26 in Athens. The main slogans were: No to the War of the USA, NATO and the EU! No to Greek Involvement! Defend Democratic Rights and Liberties!

The action was backed by a large number of workers’ and people’s organisations.

Similar demonstrations took place and will take place in other big cities of Greece.

Article Index

UN General Assembly Opens Plenary Debate on Terrorism

On October 1, the 56th UN General Assembly opened a plenary session debate on the topic "Measures to eliminate terrorism". The session was announced on September 20 and was expected to run two or three days. Since that time, some 150 representatives of member states and international organisations have signed the register to speak and the debate is expected to run at least a week, the UN news agency reports.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of UN host city New York was invited to open the session. The New York mayor’s brief address was followed by an opening address by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Kofi Annan began by reporting on the resolution passed by the Security Council on September 28. The resolution requires, as the Secretary-General put it, "member states to co-operate in a wide range of areas – from suppressing the financing of terrorism to providing early warning, co-operating in criminal investigations, and exchanging information on possible terrorist acts". "I applaud the Council for acting so swiftly to enshrine in law the first steps needed to carry this fight forward with new vigour and determination," Kofi Annan said.

The Secretary-General told the assembled delegates that the task now is to "build on the wave of human solidarity" seen since the September 11 terrorist attacks, "to develop a broad, comprehensive and above all sustained strategy to combat terrorism and eradicate it from our world". The plenary debate, Kofi Annan said, has a critical role to play. "It must signal the beginning of immediate, practical and far-reaching changes in the way this organisation and its member states act against terrorism," the Secretary-General said.

The terrorist attacks on September 11, Kofi Annan said, "was an attack on humanity, and humanity must respond to it as one". Kofi Annan emphasised that in the struggle to eliminate terrorism, "there is simply no alternative to international co-operation". The international community must unite in a broad coalition, he said, adding that "the United Nations is uniquely positioned to serve as the forum for this coalition".

The Secretary-General called on member states to ratify and implement the 12 conventions and protocols on international terrorism already drafted and adopted under United Nations auspices. In particular, Kofi Annan spoke of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, which entered into force on May 23 this year, and the 1999 Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The latter convention, he said, has 44 signatories and four ratifications and requires 18 additional ratifications to enter into force.

The Secretary-General also called for agreement on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. In 1996, the General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee on terrorism working under the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the General Assembly. With Resolution 55/158 adopted on December 12, 2000, the General Assembly gave the Ad Hoc Committee a mandate to work on, among other things, a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

Kofi Annan pointed out that there are outstanding issues, specifically relating to the definition of terrorism, preventing agreement on the convention. "I understand and accept the need for legal precision," Kofi Annan said, adding, "But let me say frankly that there is also a need for moral clarity." The Secretary-General then emphasised, in his view, "There can be no acceptance of those who would seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life, regardless of cause or grievance." Pointing out that civilians now account for an estimated 75 per cent of all casualties in armed conflicts, Kofi Annan called on member states "to live up to their responsibilities under international law". He added that member states must also "deal firmly with the reality of armed groups and other non-state actors who refuse to respect common principles of human dignity".

The Secretary-General then spoke of the threat of future terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Kofi Annan emphasised, in his view, "The greatest danger arises from a non-State group – or even an individual – acquiring and using a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon." At the same time, among the actions he called on member states to take, Kofi Annan called for "full implementation of key treaties relating to weapons of mass destruction, including those outlawing chemical and biological weapons and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty". The Secretary-General also called for strengthening controls over small arms to non-state groups, eliminating landmines, improving protection of sensitive industrial facilities and vigilance against "cyberterrorist threats".

The Secretary-General then renewed his appeal to "care for all the victims of terrorism, whether they are the direct targets or other populations who will be affected by our common effort". Kofi Annan has said that UN agencies will need US$584 million for the immediate needs of Afghan refugees. "This appeal," Kofi Annan added, "is only the most urgent part of our determination to continue for those suffering from poverty, disease and conflict around the world." The work of the UN in "promoting development, resolving long-standing disputes, and fighting ignorance and prejudice are even more important today than they were before September 11".

Kofi Annan concluded his address saying, "Just as a concerted international response can make the work of terrorists much harder to accomplish, so should the unity born out of this tragedy bring all nations together in defence of the most basic right – the right of all peoples to live in peace and security. This is the challenge before us as we seek to eliminate the evil of terrorism."

Article Index

Presidential Address by Gerry Adams to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis

Sinn Féin held the party's 95th Ard Fheis on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30, 2001, in Dublin.

In his presidential address, Gerry Adams extended solidarity and condolences to the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. This Ard Fheis, the first of the 21st century, he said, takes place in the shadow of these outrages.

Gerry Adams referred to the grief and hurt of loss during the years of conflict that many in the north of Ireland and Dublin had experienced. We understand the personal trauma that is now touching thousands of American homes, and homes in Ireland, in Britain and elsewhere in the world, he said.

The Sinn Féin president acknowledged that the peace process in Ireland is in a mess and that it must now be obvious to everyone that the political institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement are going to collapse unless the unionists lift their threats and work with Sinn Féin and the other parties, as they committed themselves to do under the Agreement.

He said that the issue of IRA weapons has been made a precondition for progress on all other issues. "This is in direct breach of the Good Friday Agreement. The British government may protest that this is not the case, or insofar as it is the case, that it arises from David Trimble's resignation and from the price which Mr. Trimble has put on the future stability of the political institutions. But this is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that resistance to change in the north of Ireland comes not only from those within unionism, but from within the British system also," he emphasised. Continuing, he said that he does not believe that the issue of arms, all arms held by all armed groups, including those held by the British state forces, will be resolved on British government or unionist terms, or on the basis of threat, veto or ultimatum.

Gerry Adams said that some accuse Sinn Féin of being opposed to the decommissioning of arms and of not doing enough to achieve this. This is untrue, he declared.

He continued: "In stark contrast to the continued use of loyalist and British weapons IRA guns are silent and the IRA cessations are now into their eighth year. The IRA has acknowledged that the issue of arms has to be dealt with as part of a conflict resolution process, and last year the IRA leadership set out a context in which it would put it's weapons verifiably beyond use.

"In addition, as a confidence building measure it took the unprecedented initiative of agreeing with the two governments the appointment of two International Inspectors and allowing them to examine it's arms dumps to verify that their weapons have not been used.

"Last month in a historic breakthrough the IICD announced that it had agreed a scheme with the IRA to put arms completely and verifiably beyond use. And the IRA is presently engaged in ongoing discussions with the IICD.

"These are not small, unimportant events. No one who lived through the 70s, or 80s, or most of the 90s, or who has even as a cursory understanding of republican history and theology would ever have considered any of these things possible. These are huge developments, which, in the proper context, point the way to a future free of IRA weapons."

Referring once more to the events of September 11, the Sinn Féin president said that the Ard Fheis was meeting at a time that is deeply sombre, from any point of view. "Whether you stand in Ardoyne, or America or Afghanistan reflecting on the peace process here or the massacre in Manhattan it is hard to avoid a foreboding about what lies ahead. Hope seems to sink and apprehension seems to grow, but we cannot afford to succumb to despair. For the true political activist the only choice is struggle not acquiescence. The only direction is forward," he added.

Continuing, he said: "But there is no easy way to sort out these issues and for my part I want to reiterate my total commitment to playing a leadership role in bringing a permanent end to political conflict on our island, including the end of physical force republicanism. I say this conscious of the dangers, risks, and history of such departures.

"I have no illusions about any of this and I know my commitment is shared by the Sinn Féin leadership. From within the broad republican constituency we are working for the day when all the armed groups, including the IRA, cease to be. But we will not be part of any effort to criminalise or to deem as terrorists those men and women who fought when they considered they had no other choice and who had the integrity, courage and wisdom to support a peace process when they had that choice."

Gerry Adams emphasised that there is a difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. The second can be an agent of a government and a foreign one at that, he said. He referred to elements in Ireland who say there should be a repudiation of those who used force to win freedom and that Ireland should apologise for its patriots.

Gerry Adams declared: "I am sure that even at this serious juncture America is not going to apologise for George Washington – who would expect them to – neither should the Irish nation apologise for Wolfe Tone, or Padraig Pearse or James Connolly, or Maire Drumm, or Mairead Farrell or Bobby Sands or Kevin Barry."

International Situation

"Before I deal with the international situation," Gerry Adams said, "I want to call on all political parties in Ireland to sign an anti-racist pledge and make a commitment that they will not play party politics with the race issue and that they will not tolerate racism in any form in their party."

He continued: "Furthermore we are calling for all of those asylum seekers who arrived in Ireland before January 1st 2001 to be granted an amnesty and for the government to take a more humane attitude to the issue of asylum seekers and refugees in general."

Gerry Adams explained that Sinn Féin has consistently argued that the United Nations is the international institution with the responsibility to prevent armed conflict and to protect civilians. While nations have an individual right to defend themselves and their citizens, he said, we agree with Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, that only the United Nations can give global legitimacy to the struggle to eliminate terrorism.

"Terrorism is ethically indefensible," he emphasised. "Those responsible for the atrocities in the United States must be brought to justice."

He continued: "What happened in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania was, as the UN Human Rights Commissioner and former Irish President Mary Robinson said: `A crime against humanity.'

"Progressive struggles throughout the world have been set back by the attacks in the USA. There is no excuse, no justification for those types of actions. But neither should anyone who is truly concerned with world peace be deflected from that task or be carried away by the notion of a clash between civilisations. The real challenge is for dialogue, not retribution. That is the lesson of the peace process on this island. That is what Sinn Féin is about. It is about standing up for your rights while recognising the rights of others. It is about dialogue. It is about being inclusive. It is about equality. It is about justice. It is about righting wrongs." With this, the President of Sinn Féin said:

• It is wrong that anyone should have to suffer because of their nationality, their colour, or their creed.

• It is wrong that the third world should be crippled with debt while the first world is affluent.

• It is wrong that an elite group of less than a billion people control more than 80% of the world's wealth.

• It is wrong that 1.2 billion of the world's people live on less than one dollar a day.

• It is wrong that armaments production and sales exceed by over 60 times the World Health Organisation's annual expenditure on the world's four main preventable diseases.

• It is wrong that 11 million children under 5 die each year from preventable causes. This is equivalent to 30,000 children a day

• It is wrong that at least one million civilians, half of them children have died in Iraq as a result of the embargo imposed by the US and Britain.

• It is wrong that the British government sells weapons to Israel.

• It is wrong that the Middle East conflict has been allowed to endure for so long and that the people of Palestine have to endure illegal occupation by Israel.

• It is wrong that our environment and the protection of this planet, the protection of nature, has been destroyed at the whim of big business

• It is wrong that 5.3 million people in Afghanistan - that's the population of our island - are on the brink of starvation as the result of a three year drought, in what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

• It is wrong that justice has not been brought to the various long-standing conflicts that have troubled this planet for a very long time.

Gerry Adams recalled that the Irish government takes responsibility for the Chair of the UN Security Council for a month. "None of these great wrongs can be righted in that time," he said, "but we look to the Foreign Minister Brian Cowan to send a very clear message to the world, on behalf of the people of this island, that now is the time to strengthen bonds between people."

Gerry Adams underlined that it is time to strengthen and extend democratic international institutions.

"This year has been proclaimed by the General Assembly of the UN as the Year of Dialogue among Civilisations," he said. "It is of the utmost importance that this dialogue takes place and that those of us who live in the west come to learn that we are not the world - we are only a part of it.

"We need to build peace, freedom, human rights, tolerance and promote the idea of an international society based upon the rule of law, on justice and equality - a truly united human family."

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