World Leaders Highlight Link between Peace, Development as General Assembly’s Sixty-eighth Session Holds Second Day of Annual Debate
Speakers Deplore Syria Crisis, Warn against Neglecting Climate Impacts
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
8th, 9th & 10th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
Deploring conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, world leaders highlighted the complementary relationship between peace and development today as the General Assembly entered the second day of its annual general debate.
President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said security remained the most important prerequisite for development, which would be “a hypothetical” without it. The Congolese Government was committed to managing natural resources, and had a project under way to produce 40,000 megawatts of electricity — enough to provide energy for half the people on the African continent.
On the other hand, peace in Africa required development programmes that provided real responses to the uncertainty stemming from the poor global economic situation, said President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, emphasizing that his landlocked country sought to boost growth and ensure a better quality of life for its people. The theme of the current Assembly session — “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage” — raised the issue of the relationship between development, peace and security, offering the opportunity to reflect on a new vision of global progress founded on strong international solidarity behind sustainable development.
President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal of Panama noted that the Millennium Development Goals had been instrumental in improving his people’s living conditions, and emphasized the critical and unique role played by the United Nations in coordinating the global conversation on development. The post-2015 development agenda must maintain a central focus on eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the Earth, he said, adding that “development that is not sustainable is simply not development”.
Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves declared that “the most unsustainable situation” in the world today was the conflict in Syria. The use of chemical weapons was unacceptable under any circumstances and required complete and unreserved condemnation, he stressed. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Security Council must agree on legally binding terms to resolve the issue, preferably under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Even without the use of chemical weapons, military action and brutality in Syria had created a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the Council of the European Union, recalled the 2012 general debate, which had seen unity among States as they deplored the civil war in Syria, where 25,000 had died and 250,000 had been made refugees. A year later, 100,000 people were dead and there were 2 million refugees, he noted. “What will the situation be when we meet next year?” Prolonging the “paralysis of the international community” was untenable, particularly in light of the chemical weapons attack in Damascus. Despite the financial crisis, the European Union had launched five new missions — in Mali, South Sudan, the Sahel, on Libya’s borders and off the coast of Somalia, he said, adding that the bloc had also renewed the operational mandates for missions in Afghanistan, Georgia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Several of the more than 30 speakers taking the floor today spotlighted robust economic growth in Africa.
President Macky Sall of Senegal said that declining official development assistance (ODA) was not meeting the needs of African countries, and the dynamics of progress were leading them to explore innovative financing mechanisms and social development projects. The continent was no longer “a zone of turmoil and humanitarian emergencies”, but “an emerging pole of opportunities and investments”, he said. “The world has changed; Africa too has changed,” he stressed, adding that a paradigm shift was required in terms of interactions with the region.
In Côte d’Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara noted, the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals had been deadlocked, but thanks to its favourable economic performance, the country had started moving forward. The Government had adopted an ambitious national reconstruction plan for 2012-2015, with a view to creating 200,000 jobs a year, a considerable number given the country’s size. He stressed the need for international solidarity because many African nations were lagging behind in efforts to meet the Goals. Yet, they could now count on the high rate of economic growth in Africa, he added.
Also featuring prominently in today’s debate was the detrimental impact of climate change on development, particularly for small island d eveloping States, and the need to better integrate that issue into the sustainable development goals.
President Tommy Remengesau of Palau said the vision established at the 1992 Earth Summit had been sidetracked. Many countries were frustrated by the failure to move it forward, by slow progress, and by the fear that the Millennium Goals were being diluted. Today, it appeared that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had stalled, the Kyoto Protocol was on life support, and the Rio+20 Conference had not done enough to strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development. The international community’s “global warming doomsday” was already set in stone if it failed to act.
“The scientists tell us that calamity awaits, and not just for those of us on low-lying islands,” President Anote Tong of Kiribati told the Assembly. “What we are experiencing now on these low-lying atolls is an early warning of what will happen further down the line,” he warned. “No one will be spared.” He welcomed the announcement of a high-level summit on climate change, to be held in 2014, stressing that support from all nations was critical for positive change.
President Emanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia recalled that, since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, production and consumption patterns had become increasingly unsustainable, driven primarily by a desire to “develop economies at any cost”. Development and the natural environment were inseparable, and the latter had come under attack as societies strove for economic progress, he said, calling for the setting of sustainable development goals on healthy, productive oceans, and sustainable energy.
Other speakers today included the Heads of State of Peru, Timor-Leste, Madagascar, Serbia, Chad, Rwanda, Poland, Swaziland, Georgia, El Salvador, Comoros and Bolivia.
The Assembly also heard from the Prime Ministers of Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Union), Antigua and Barbuda, Fiji, Kuwait, Italy, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Spain and Tajikistan.
Also delivering statements were the Foreign Ministers of Cameroon and Norway.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 26 September, to continue its general debate.