U.N. Leader Praises ‘Major Strides,’ Sees Better Prospects for World Peace
After years of gloomy assessments in the annual outlook for the United Nations, Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar declared Monday that possibilities for worldwide peace “have plainly come into view.”
In his yearly report, issued on the eve of today’s opening of the 43rd session of the General Assembly, Perez de Cuellar hailed the “major strides” toward a pullout of all Soviet troops from Afghanistan as well as the cease-fire in the Persian Gulf War that he personally helped hammer out.
However, he warned that Iran and Iraq must intensify negotiations in the gulf conflict because they have made little headway.
Other favorable developments cited by Perez de Cuellar included prospects for independence in Namibia, the southwest African territory administered by South Africa; efforts to settle the longstanding Cyprus dispute; the start of Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia, and moves toward a peaceful settlement in Western Sahara, where nationalist guerrillas have been fighting Moroccan rule.
Besides claiming credit for the United Nations in the brightening global scene, Perez de Cuellar paid indirect tribute to warming superpower relations as a hopeful factor in ending “wars by proxy,” in which small nations act as surrogates for major powers.
Both in his report and in a speech at a luncheon Monday, the secretary general chastised his critics.
“We have kept our eyes on the goal, which is peace,” he told the luncheon audience. “We have endured criticism and sometimes disdain, and we have survived to see what may well be the beginning of a more constructive phase of international relations.”
Perez de Cuellar conceded in his report that the Arab-Israeli conflict remains as intractable as ever and that in Central America “the momentum for peace appears to be faltering.”
He pleaded for long-range solutions to the causes of war. He called for broadening the Security Council’s powers, wider observance of international law and economic aid to the developing world to eliminate poverty as one of the roots of regional strife.