Castillo tells U.N. Assembly that organization is vital

The crisis in Syria, terrorism and environmental degradation underscore the vital need for the United Nations, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo Barrantes told the General Assembly Monday. This is the time of year when representatives from every nation make speeches there.

“One year ago, we came to this assembly encouraged by an echo of hope from North Africa and the Middle East,” the foreign minister said, referring to the Arab Spring that saw entrenched regimes ousted in popular uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and noting that the hopeful clamour still persists in the complex transition to democracy.

“Today, however, the sound most strongly resonating in this hall is the desperate scream of women and children in Syria,” he added, citing the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, in which more than 18,000 people have been killed over the past 19 months, among a range of global issues of concern which included the resurgence of territorial conflicts, the rhetoric of war among some states, terrorism, drug, trafficking, organized crime and environmental deterioration.

He also was critical of Nicaragua and its invasion into Costa Rican territory.

“These challenges alert us to many dangers. However, they also reiterate the seminal importance of this organization and of the multilateral system,” he stated, noting that the Central American region was particularly impacted by the onslaught of drug trafficking and international organized crime.

“Costa Rica considers it necessary to develop a more active link between the United Nations and the design and implementation of well-balanced strategies towards the drug trade,” Castillo said, calling for U.N. reform, including expanding the 15-member Security Council and improving its working methods.

“It is necessary, moreover, that drug traffickers be viewed as a real threat to peace and international security.”

He noted that environmental, social and economic vulnerabilities are among the reasons why middle income countries, like Costa Rica, still need the support of the international community to consolidate improvements in economic conditions and human development.

“Let’s not forget that our achievements are due, in part, to the proper use of cooperation,” he said. “To eliminate it because it has been well used would be a fatal contradiction.”

Castillo said that international law was Costa Rica’s only instrument of defense. He recounted the situation with Nicaragua and said that Nicaragua has tricked the World Court and has continued to send persons into the disputed territory.

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