Mexico City, 26 October 1996/MS/15357/c-is

World Peace Assembly

At the World Peace Assembly which concluded its debates yesterday in Mexico City, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León called for directing the huge economic resources used to make and buy weaponry into development programs. President Zedillo further said that a culture of peace is a prerequisite to the democratization of international affairs, with a respect for sovereignty and self-determination of nations. The Mexican President identified illicit trafficking of weapons as a major threat to peace and stability in many countries. "Illicit trafficking of weapons," Zedillo said, "results in illegality and violence, nourishes organized crime, supplies drug trafficking cartels and feeds terrorism, all of which tend to impose intolerance and thwart the democratic development of nations."

In his address at the opening session of the World Peace Assembly, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, criticized the so-called "peace-making" within the framework of the United Nations and regional organizations such as NATO. Peace settlements may not last if they are not based on genuine dialogue among the parties to a conflict but imposed by outside powers. Dr. Koechler particularly referred to the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The President of the I.P.O. further warned of the negative impact of the monopolar power structure in the UN Security Council where the interests of one superpower determine the nature and scope of United Nations Peacekeeping and enforcement measures. The UN Security Council must not be an instrument of superpower politics if peace is to be preserved on a global scale. Dr. Koechler specifically criticized the "peace process" in Palestine where the overwhelming power of one party to the conflict has led to the imposition of a homeland-type settlement, much to the detriment of the Arab population of Palestine. He called for a stronger European role in the Middle East.

In his concluding remarks at the World Peace Assembly, Mexican Foreign Minister Angel Gurria strongly criticized the Helms-Burton Law imposing sanctions on non-American companies dealing with Cuba. The Foreign Minister said that this U.S. measure constitutes a serious violation of international law because it interferes with the sovereignty of other states. In the exercise of its sovereignty, Mexico last week enacted its own "antidote law" to counteract the Helms-Burton Law of the United States.