Caracas, Venezuela, September 15, 2005—Venezuela’s President Chavez, in a fiery 22 minute speech at the opening of the 60th UN General Assembly, called for a revolution in the UN, proposing four immediate changes for the transformation of the UN. “The 21st century demands changes that are only possible with a refounding of this organization,” said Chavez. “Mere reforms are not enough…”
Chavez explained that Venezuela envisions two types of transformations – those for the immediate short-term and those for the long-term. The short-term changes include, first, the expansion of the Security Council, both of its permanent members and its non-permanent members, so that Third World countries have a stronger presence. Second, Chavez said the UN’s functioning has to be improved, by increasing transparency. Third, the veto power of the five permanent members must be abolished. Fourth, the role of the Secretary General must be strengthened and consolidated.
Chavez went on to say that the headquarters of the UN should be moved, mainly because of the illegal action the U.S. government has engaged in, particularly with its war against Iraq. He pointed out that the U.S. invaded Iraq on the pretense of the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, but that these were not found there. Chavez proposed that an international city ought to be created that is outside of the sovereignty of any single state and it should be in the South.
Next, Chavez raised both the problem of the high oil price and environmental concerns, pointing out that these problems cannot be solved by the free market. Rather, said Chavez, “Now, more than ever, we need a new international order.” He reminded the audience that 31 years ago, in 1974, the UN approved an action program for a New International Economic Order, which guaranteed states the right to nationalize properties and natural resources that were in the hands of foreigners and that proposed the creation of cartels of primary material producers.
This new international economic order was supposed to replace the Bretton Woods agreement, which included fixed exchange rates and that had fallen apart a year earlier. According to Chavez, Venezuela proposes that this old idea be picked up again and that a new international political order be created as well, in light of the violation of international law, as the doctrine of “preventive war” represents.
Chavez also brought up the issue of terrorism, which many other leaders raised, saying, “I urge the efficient confrontation with terrorism, but not its use as a pretext for unleashing unjustifiable military aggression and violations of international law, as has been raised to doctrine after the 11th of September .”
Chavez concluded by mentioning the achievements of his government in nearly seven years. According to Chavez, 1.4 million Venezuelans learned to read and write within a year and a half. Also, three million Venezuelans who were previously excluded from education due to poverty have been included in the education system. 70% of Venezuela’s population now enjoy access to free health care and over 1.7 million tons of food are being provided to 12 million Venezuelans at reduced prices.
During his speech, Chavez angrily raised the General Assembly declaration, saying that the document was “illegal, an irritant, nul, and illegitimate.” The Venezuelan delegation received a copy of the document only five minutes before it was voted on and only in English. The UN might as well close “if we accept this type of thing,” said Chavez.
For the full speech, see: President Chavez's Speech to the United Nations