Minister Describes Use of Force to Address Problems as ‘Ineffective, Meaningless and Destructive’, on Fourth Day of General Assembly’s Annual Debate
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
15th, 16th & 17th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
Speakers Hail Accord on Chemical Weapons, Resumed Israeli-Palestinian Talks
Strategies used in the global fight against terrorism came under scrutiny today as the General Assembly entered the fourth day of its general debate.
The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation said that a common argument had been deployed recently to prove that the use of force was the most effective method to address problems, although all experience of such interventions had demonstrated that it was ineffective, meaningless and destructive. Threats of military force to ensure one’s own interests in the Middle East under the pretext of the “remaining demand for leadership” were unacceptable.
He went on to emphasize that the desire to portray developments in the Arab world as a struggle for democracy against tyranny, or of good against evil, had long obscured the problems associated with the rising wave of extremism now spilling over to other regions. The recent terrorist attack in Kenya was a clear example of the gravity of that threat, he said, pointing out that groups comprising radicals from all over the world were the most combat-capable units in various opposition movements. “The goals they pursue have nothing to do with democracy,” he stressed. Based on intolerance, they were aimed at destroying secular States and establishing caliphates.
From the very beginning of the turmoil, he continued, the Russian Federation had called for a common international approach. It would combine support for the Arab people in their transformation, and the understanding that objectively those processes would be lengthy and sometimes painful, and that it would be quite important not to harm them through “rude outside interference”. It was important to take into account the complex developments associated with a strenuous search for compromises among various ethnic and religious groups making up the mosaic of Arab societies, he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said it was not surprising to hear some argue that liberal democracy had had its day. “We must be honest,” he added. “The forces of insularity and isolationism have gained momentum in recent years.” Making a clear distinction between open and closed societies, he pointed out that liberal democracies in Europe and across the Atlantic had weathered profound economic difficulties and yet stood strong. Whereas open societies chose democracy and freedom at home, engagement and responsibility abroad, closed societies, by contrast, suppressed the liberty of their citizens, drew a veil across their actions and withdrew from shared international life.
Democracy had not fallen in Egypt, he said, pointing out that a single set of elections had failed, and that the country must now return to the path of inclusive democracy. In Libya, the General National Congress was working towards elections in early 2014. Morocco had a new constitution and, for the first time, a Prime Minister elected by Parliament. In Syria, the international community would act in unison, he said. “Well-functioning democracy cannot emerge overnight, be exported by the West, or dropped on a country from 8,000 feet — that much we have learned from the failures of the past,” he stressed.
However, poverty was as great a threat to stability and freedom as conflict and oppression, he said, pledging that, despite financial strain, the United Kingdom would not balance its books on the backs of the world’s poorest people. It was the only country in the Group of 20 to have met its target of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross national income to development aid. “We have held true to our word,” he declared.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister said his country did not seek more international aid, instead preferring better trade, market access, investment and partnerships. Referring to the 40,000 Pakistanis killed by terrorists, he said that combating terrorism required adherence to international law, emphasizing that armed drone strikes violated his country’s territorial integrity. Terrorism had no religion, so profiling Muslims as terrorists was the “most insidious form of contemporary racism”, he stressed, adding that stereotyping must stop.
Iraq’s Vice-President stressed that there could be no development agenda — whether pre- or post-2015 — while terrorism continued to claim lives. Nor could there be sustainable development while wars continued and peaceful coexistence and security remained out of reach.
The President of Mali said his country’s situation was symptomatic of the wider situation across the Sahel, where trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings was rife. Advanced weaponry was passing through Mali, and small terrorist groups were marauding in the country. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) had countered the threat of “jihadist aggression”, and now international support was needed to continue national reconciliation efforts, particularly reform in the security and justice sectors.
Other speakers today included the Presidents of Gambia, Tonga and the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the Vice Presidents of Angola, Honduras and the Seychelles.
The Assembly also heard from the Prime Ministers of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Bangladesh, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, San Marino, Montenegro, Viet Nam, and the Czech Republic.
Also delivering statements were the Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Korea, China, Uzbekistan, Australia, Netherlands, Congo, Luxembourg, Greece, Niger, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Finland and Venezuela.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on 28 September to continue its general debate.