Small island states warn ecosystems already threatened by climate change effects, urge drastic reduction in greenhouse gases, as Assembly continues debate
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)
Say Impact - Sea Level Rise, Dying Marine Life - Shock Wave to Fragile Economies; Major Emitters Must Ensure Resources in Place to Meet Adaptation, Mitigation Goals
Still reeling in the aftermath of a global economic crisis begun far beyond their shores, leaders of small island nations, among others addressing the General Assembly today, exhorted large economies to drastically reduce greenhouse gases that were threatening their ecosystems and sending shock waves through the very markets and industries on which their fragile economies depended.
"Global warming and climate change -- and their effects -- do not discriminate", declared Denzil L. Douglas, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, as he described the massive blow that climate change had dealt to his country. Marine life on which his people depended was fast disappearing, creating long-term and "dire" implications for food production. Sea levels were rising, coastlines were being eroded and coral reefs were suffering.
In the interest of advancing global stability, he urged major greenhouse gas emitters to take the lead in ensuring that resources were in place for small island developing States to meet adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity-building goals, and to compensate those countries for losses stemming from climate change. Noting that some industrialized nations had recently committed to do more to address their emissions, he expressed hope that such efforts would translate into concrete results at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Indeed, a new climate deal was a must, said the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuila'epa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, and seeing it through would require a new brand of cooperation and a broad outlook. Fighting climate change was everyone's job --- it posed a test for multilateral solidarity and, with its effects worsening daily, the "blame game" was no longer an option. States' interests, no matter how divergent, were inextricably linked, a fact laid bare by the global economic crisis.
Undeterred by that prospect, his Government, along with its international partners, was bolstering its resilience by addressing plantation access roads, he said. But, the overall costs of adapting to climate change and mitigating its effects were prohibitive, especially with a narrowed revenue base following the financial crisis and the high cost of relocating those who lived near vulnerable coastlines.
The same was true for Bangladesh, said the country's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, who explained that myriad natural disasters had interrupted agriculture and challenged water resources, health, energy and urban planning. Countless lives had been lost and families uprooted by the thousands year round, creating millions of climate refugees. An estimated 1 in 7 Bangladeshis would fall victim to climate change by 2050. While some 14,000 cyclone shelters had been built and a climate change trust fund established, international resources were needed.
On a global level, she said, affected communities not only might lose their homes, they stood to lose their identity, nationality and very existence. It was critical that the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference ensure adequate and easily accessible funding for adaptation and eco-friendly technology transfer.
India's Minister of External Affairs, S.M. Krishna, agreed on the need for a focus on adaptation, which was crucial for developing countries. India was engaged in ongoing climate negotiations, including the upcoming Copenhagen conference, and would work for an outcome that recognized the development imperatives of developing nations, and was rooted in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Offering a way forward, Jan Peter Balkennende, Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs of the Netherlands, said his country had set aside half a billion euros to promote renewable energy use in developing countries. During the Copenhagen Conference, the Netherlands would call for halving worldwide carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels. Indeed, the world was smaller and more complex than ever before, and solutions to such issues started with recognizing mutual dependence and responsibility. "Don't fear difficult moments", he urged delegates. "The best comes from them".
Taking that spirit to heart on a different issue, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Prime Minister of Nepal, said landlocked countries were among the most vulnerable to the multiple crises facing an increasingly interconnected world. As one of several leaders from those nations to address the Assembly, he said Nepal's situation was made even more unique by its ongoing political transition after years of civil unrest. Its Constituent Assembly of 601 members, elected through a mixed-proportional system, was writing a new, democratic republican Constitution.
While determined to reach the goal of a peaceful, prosperous and stable Nepal, he also cautioned that, just as freedom rang hollow where there was no development, development lost its soul if unaccompanied by freedom. Aware that failure to provide peace held unintended consequences, he requested special support from Nepal's development partners in addressing its post-conflict challenges.
On that point, Burundi's Second Vice-President, Gabriel Ntisezerana, said that the last rebel movement in his country had laid down their arms and were being integrated into the social and Governmental structures. With the return of peace and democratically elected institutions, a sense of trust was being regained. He thanked the United Nations for helping to create that environment.
Also speaking today were the Prime Ministers of Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Tuvalu, Trinidad and Tobago, Lesotho, Tonga, Albania, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau and Sri Lanka.
The Deputy Prime Ministers of Lao People's Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Jamaica also spoke.
Also addressing the Assembly were the foreign affairs ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Slovakia, Morocco, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Bulgaria, Iceland, Belarus, Ethiopia, Romania, Brunei Darussalam, Liechtenstein, Canada and Andorra.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Iran, Serbia, United Arab Emirates and Albania.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. Monday, 28 September, to resume its general debate.
The General Assembly reconvened today to continue its general debate.
GABRIEL NTISEZERANA, Second Vice-President of Burundi, thanked the international community and the United Nations for supporting and restoring peace, which had returned to his country. He requested that consultative status be granted by the United Nations to the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, which was working to maintain dialogue and cooperation and to ensure political stability and development in the region.
Noting that Burundi's last rebel movement had laid down their arms and were being integrated into the social and governmental structure, he said that, with the return of peace and democratically elected institutions, a sense of trust was being regained among the country's citizens. Internally displaced persons were returning. Former combatants were being reintegrated. However, that process was not without constraints, particularly given limited resources and land. Support from the international community was still needed to ensure reintegration efforts.
He said that the Government had also set up a commission aimed at encouraging Burundians to hand in their weapons. It was further clamping down on crimes linked to the use of firearms. A decree to these ends had just been made. The Government also welcomed support for its national reconciliation efforts. It was essential that Burundi find success in this transitional justice step.
Farther afield, Burundi was working to ensure peace throughout Africa by participating in peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic, Darfur and Somalia. Tragically, 25 Burundians had been killed and more than 30 had been wounded in suicide attacks against African Union troops in Somalia. Public outcry in Burundi calling for the return of troops had followed that carnage, and the Government believed that the United Nations Mission's mandate must be modified to allow contingents to take the offensive, pursuing aggressors where necessary and in accordance with Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Among other things, air-strike capacity should be granted, additional troops deployed without delay and the sanctions that had been long promised against Governments and groups supporting Islamist extremist groups should be enacted.
He said that, in the run-up to local and national elections, Burundi's Government was resolved that an environment of calm should prevail. Towards that goal, electoral structures were being strengthened. The Government planned to grant $7 million to the Independent Electoral Commission, but would need further support from the international community. It saluted the changed already made to the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) in the electoral context. A positive outcome in the elections would allow Burundi to further redefine, in cooperation with the Secretary-General, the United Nations Mission there. His Government also hoped that electoral success would shore up prospects for economic development.
To improve aid effectiveness, Burundi had set up a partnership framework to foster consultation and dialogue among the Government and donors, and a truly active dialogue was now visible from planning to delivery stages, he said. The Government understood an environment of good governance was required, and had enacted a new Investment Code, as well as a series of reforms in its public finance sector. Burundi also intended to meet the planetary challenge of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Towards that goal, the number of women giving birth in hospitals had risen substantially. Malaria was being treated gratis and bednets had been supplied to the entire population. In pursuit of education for all, 700 schools and health centres had been built in 2008. Unfortunately, financial means were limiting the ability to supply safe drinking water and pay the staff, and Burundi appealed to its aid partners for more support.
Turning to the financial crisis, he said Burundi had not escaped. Despite enacting economic policy measures to counteract the crisis, developing countries required additional assistance. He invited the developed countries, particularly the Group of Eight (G-8), to honour the promises made at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005. On climate change, courageous measures were also needed to limit carbon emissions and protect the environment. Burundi endorsed the common African Union position in that regard.
ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA, Prime Minister of Thailand, enumerated the many challenges facing the international community and noted that they could only be resolved through international cooperation. Thailand was prepared to share the lessons it had learned from its own financial crisis in 1997. Peace and security, development, and human rights were intertwined and must reinforce each other so that all three pillars would be sustainable. Moderation was the key to sustainability. Excessive greed had caused the economic crisis. Economic development and modernization must be better balanced and should take into account the economic, social, political and environmental needs of the people for the country to be resilient and protected from both external and internal shocks.
He said that the philosophy of a "sufficiency economy", initiated and pursued by the King of Thailand, was being emulated in many parts of the world. A more prudent investment approach, entailing rational decision-making and careful risk management, had allowed most of Thailand's financial institutions to escape the direct impact of the current crisis. As development was about the quality of growth, and not just the quantity, Thailand had boosted Government spending and investments to jumpstart the economy and had also cast social safety nets, making education reform a priority and upgrading health and welfare services. Investments were directed at providing greater economic opportunities for people at the grass-roots level. Thailand's growth was people-centred.
As Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand had led regional efforts to address the financial crisis and was expediting the Chang Mai Initiative under the framework of ASEAN + 3, with the aim of building regional financial stability through a regional self-help substantive reserve pooling arrangement, which would soon come into effect, he said. The region was also liberalizing trade and rejected all forms of protectionism.
Today's financial woes also exacerbated poverty, hunger and energy shortages, felt most strongly in the developing world, he continued. Although Thailand had already attained its Millennium Development Goals in hunger and poverty elimination, more remained to be done. Thailand was ready to share its experiences in managing and overcoming the challenges facing developing countries. As a major agricultural economy, with strong experience and capability in developing alternative energy, it was ready to contribute to the solution of the world food and energy crises.
On climate change, he said that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provided the core for international negotiations and cooperation, guided by the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities. Thailand would spare no efforts to ensure that the upcoming climate change talks in Bangkok next week would make tangible progress towards a successful Copenhagen Conference in December. He further welcomed the commitments expressed by the major economies during the Secretary-General's Summit on Climate Change, particularly with regard to setting clear goals and targets for their actions. Thailand vigorously pursued environmentally friendly growth and had made significant investments in producing energy crops.
It was equally important to see that the people's political needs were met through sowing the seeds of democracy and supporting human rights and freedoms. Democracy entailed ensuring the rights of minorities in addition to majority rule. At the regional level, human rights were at the forefront of ASEAN's agenda. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights would begin its activity in October. Promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment were important to Thailand. ASEAN was also in the process of establishing a commission on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children which would strengthen the ASEAN human rights framework overall.
Internationally, Thailand was committed to rendering humanitarian assistance to those in need, he said. He noted that Thailand had become the hub for the massive international relief effort for Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis. Sustainable economic, political and social developments would ultimately ensure long-lasting peace and security. For that reason, ASEAN was moving towards becoming both a political-security community and an economic and sociocultural one by 2015. Its regional efforts would contribute to peace and security regionally and internationally.
Thailand itself played a significant role in peacekeeping operations worldwide, having provided 20,000 military troops, police officers and civilian staff to peacekeeping missions around the world. It was also a member of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and, as such, believed in building the right socio-economic and political conditions for sustainable peace in countries emerging from conflict and internal strife. For that reason, Thailand had put itself forward as a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council from 2017-2018. As a medium-sized developing country, it could represent the interests and concerns of developing countries worldwide.
JAN PETER BALKENENDE, Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs of the Netherlands, opened by focusing on the "harsh reality of a financial and economic system on the brink", saying that courage and resolve were needed more than ever, especially because the crisis had been so severe and so rapid.
He stressed that it was necessary to place shared interests above narrow self-interest, to adapt existing global governance structures to the new reality, and to make decisive choices that considered all interests, especially the world's weakest and poorest people. Vital to that process was a strong, decisive and efficient United Nations, one that would deliver stability, solidarity and sustainability. The last few days at the General Assembly and the Group of 20 (G‑20) meeting in Pittsburgh had shown that there was a clear realization that the world had changed. "Our interdependency gives us a shared responsibility. We can now see that the problems we face are too big for any single nation," he added.
He continued by addressing a few underlying themes: stability; solidarity; and sustainability. With regard to stability, he said that the current crisis was "clear proof that in a globalized world, instability anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere". The international policy response had shown that that was widely understood in the financial and economic context. "We cannot allow the greed of a few to endanger the jobs of many," he noted, pointing to the Pittsburgh agreement on compensation, which should end "a bonus culture that has grown out of control".
The real danger, he said, was that those who had no part in causing the crisis would suffer most deeply. In rich countries, that meant a loss of jobs and assets; in developing countries, it meant rising child mortality and rising hunger. "In poor countries it is a matter of life and death," he said, urging countries to renew their old promise to set aside 0.7 per cent of national income every year for development aid. However, development budgets were not enough; the private sector should reform, and there was a greater need for corporate social responsibility. Reform also needed to expand to global governance issues that could effectively address climate change, the food and energy crisis, and the pressing issues of peace, security, poverty and human rights.
On the issue of human rights, specifically, he mentioned a concern for the worsening human rights situation and the violent crackdown on popular protests in Iran. He was concerned about the Iranian nuclear issue, which represented a major challenge to international security, regional stability and non-proliferation. He called for a strong reaction by the international community and for total transparency by Iran, stressing that it was imperative for Iran to regain the international community's trust.
Concerning climate change, he declared the importance of reaching an ambitious, fair, concrete and comprehensive agreement, one that ensured every country contributed according to its means. Those countries that needed help in designing and implementing sound adaptation policies must receive it, which is why the Netherlands had set aside half a billion euros to promote the use of renewable energy in developing countries. In Copenhagen, the Netherlands would call for worldwide CO2 emissions to be half what they were in 1990, by 2050.
He concluded by saying the world was smaller and more complex than ever, and that solutions to the issues he had outlined began with "recognizing our mutual dependence and responsibility". That would require courage. Echoing the words of Nobel Laureate and Senator for Life Rita Levi-Montalcini, he said: "Don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them."
IGOR CHUDINOV, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, said his country supported broader representation in the Security Council and had nominated itself as a candidate for a non-permanent seat for 2012-2013. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan was actively maintaining peace, security and environmental stability in the region and had been elected to the Human Rights Council in 2009.
He said that the outlook for the complicated situation in Central Asia hinged on developments in Afghanistan, which required new approaches to the humanitarian, political and socio-economic sectors. In March, Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiev had unveiled the "Bishkek initiative", which would create a centre for hosting international conferences on security and stability in Afghanistan and Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital. The initiative could become a forum of practical cooperation in the area of security, as the region fought terrorism, extremism, illegal drug trafficking and transboundary organized crime.
As a landlocked, mountainous developing nation, Kyrgyzstan believed that the world community, under United Nations leadership, should use the foreign debt swap for sustainable development, he continued. For example, it could swap its debt in turn for aid for Afghanistan's socio-economic development, a swap of debt for sustainable development of poor mountainous countries and rehabilitation of uranium tailing ponds. He urged Afghanistan's neighbours with specific scientific, industrial and agricultural expertise to help in Afghanistan's recovery.
He noted that the Assembly had adopted several resolutions concerning mountainous countries, which contained an analysis of their socio-economic situation, as well as recommendations for assistance to help those nations develop in a sustainable manner. As an initiator of the resolution "Sustainable mountain development", Kyrgyzstan would appreciate support for it at the current session.
Regarding the environment, he said the numerous uranium tailing dumps, loaded with large volumes of toxic waste from uranium production and processes, were of great concern in the region. Those dumps were dangerous to health and the cleanliness of transboundary river basins and land. Kyrgyzstan constantly worked with other countries in the region to process international legal documents, which could curtail radiation pollution in the region. The Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, for example, entered into force on 21 March. He asked the nuclear Powers to support that initiative of the Central Asian countries and sign the protocol on negative security assurances. He noted that the high-level International Forum "Uranium Tailings in Central Asia: Local Problems, Regional Consequences, Global Solution", held in Geneva in June, had been an example of regional cooperation. He praised the wide range of assistance provided by different United Nations entities and noted the success of the United Nations Regional Centre on Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat, created in December 2007.
APISAI IELEMIA, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Labour of Tuvalu, said the global financial and economic crisis loomed over the opening of the Assembly's sixty-fourth session. Small island economies like his country's relied on imports from overseas and had been severely impacted by the crisis. Indeed, the price of basic food items had risen dramatically. The people of Tuvalu were suffering from actions not of their making. This global crisis required the cooperation of all countries.
He said that globalization had left other marks on Tuvalu, particularly in the context of swine flue. His Government was thankful for the World Health Organization's "Call to Action", established to help poorer countries respond to the pandemic. Such outbreaks highlighted the need for trade reforms in access to medicine. Indeed, access to affordable medicine was not a right for rich nations only.
Noting that 12 Tuvaluan seafarers had been held captive aboard a German-registered ship off Somalia's coast for four months, he stressed that the piracy scourge must end. Tuvalu strongly condemned that inhumane organized crime and urged the United Nations and the international community to bring those pirates to justice through the application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction. He further called on the United Nations to establish a special task force to address piracy.
As the leader of one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change, he had great faith in the upcoming conference in Copenhagen. There, several milestones must be achieved. First, the international community must commit to a rapid course of action to reduce greenhouse gases to levels that would ensure that global temperatures did not rise above 1.5° Celsius. Second, the Kyoto Protocol must not be abandoned as the world worked towards a new agreement. Rather, it should remain a cornerstone of all action. Third, serious commitments were needed from key greenhouse-gas-emitting countries. The United States must take a leadership role and drastically reduce its emissions. Developing countries with rising economies must also reduce their emissions. Fourth, strong commitments for financial and other resources to support vulnerable countries were needed. Finally, it was necessary to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) in a coherent way. Carbon markets would not deliver sufficient climate change outcomes, and new funds should be developed.
He went on to say that the various bodies and special events and summits of the United Nations did not sufficiently address the particular vulnerability of certain countries when considering the question of graduation from least developed country status. Like other least developed countries and small island developing States, Tuvalu's economic and environmental vulnerability could not be totally ignored, particularly in light of the current economic crisis. Towards that end, Tuvalu welcomed the decision not to graduate it from the list for the next three years. But it continued to appeal to the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and its development partners to reconsider and review the criteria for graduation. No least developed country that was recognized as highly vulnerable should be forced to lose its status.
He welcomed the progress made on the intergovernmental negotiations towards reforming the Security Council. Small island developing States should be allocated a seat. While Tuvalu welcomed the establishment of a long-overdue United Nations joint presence office in Tuvalu in May, it hoped that office would not create another layer of bureaucracy among the Organization's implementing agencies, but would be more responsive to Tuvaluan needs. In that context, it was crucial that more concrete development projects be established. While the long-overdue courtesy of Assembly participation had been granted to Taiwan this year, that country also deserved to participate more fully as a member of the World Health Organization and other specialized United Nations agencies, he added.
PATRICK MANNING, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said that, while the world was beginning to emerge from the global recession, unemployment continued to grow, credit remained contracted and consumer confidence remained very low. Further recessionary trends were also possible. Every country must be wary of the adventurous attitude of leading financial institutions, which had led all to the edge of the economic precipice. "In the globalized economy, we are all affected by policies or actions that direct the international financial system." That was particularly true of the smaller countries and the developing world, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where the prospects had grown for increased poverty, unemployment and backsliding in the development process.
He said that the world's trust in totally unregulated markets had been misplaced. It was time to reform the international economic system to take in new realities, including new and emerging centres of economic power and the now indispensable need to deliberately generate growth in the developing world. He was heartened by new developments and decisions among the G-20 countries. There must be no reversal of that approach, which recognized that development everywhere translated into prosperity for all. Reform of international financial institutions must ensure greater sensitivity to the needs of countries at differing levels of development, as new voices representing more of humanity were made part of the decision-making process and resource flows for trade and investment were realized.
Turning to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he said that most of its States were experiencing economic contraction and rising unemployment levels. It was regrettable that some CARICOM middle-income countries might not be eligible for funding under some World Bank facilities for international development assistance. As highlighted at the 2008 Conference in Namibia, enhanced levels of international development assistance was necessary for those countries, but the current categorization did not accurately reflect their needs. He asked the General Assembly to take steps to advance the cause of middle-income countries in the matter.
He also spoke of the need for greater attention to promote peace and security in Haiti, and the need for all Western Hemisphere nations to contribute to the proposed Hemispheric Fund for Haiti, proposed by Trinidad and Tobago. He would be bringing the matter before the General Assembly for its support.
On security, he emphasized the problem of organized transnational crime, including terrorism, and illegal trafficking in drugs, arms and persons. Drug trafficking particularly afflicted the Caribbean as a transhipment route to North America and Europe. That had a corrosive effect on the region's small societies. CARICOM was pooling resources to combat the problem, but it needed greater resources. He encouraged Member States to negotiate a legally binding arms trade treaty. The security situation in the region had been aggravated by the deteriorating economic situation, weakened by the loss of preferential markets for bananas and sugar and the failure of expected returns from both the tourism industry and the financial services sector, he added.
Concerning climate change, he rejected the per capita basis for determining levels of carbon emission, as unfair to small, energy-producing, developing countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago. Absolute emissions provided a more just method. Trinidad and Tobago had already embarked on emission reductions by pursuing renewable sources. Trinidad and Tobago would be hosting the last major summit before the Copenhagen summit in December, where it would attempt to forge a consensus between both high greenhouse gas emitters and some of the countries most threatened by climate change.
At the same time, greater attention must be paid to non-communicable diseases, as forecasts indicated that they would account for about 73 per cent of global deaths and 60 per cent of the global burden of disease. He called for indicators on those diseases to be integrated into the core monitoring of Millennium Development Goals progress and evaluation, and proposed a special session of the General Assembly on the issue. He regretted the lack of progress towards implementing the food security Goal by 2015, adding that a greater sense of urgency was needed. All countries must honour the commitments made at the 2008 World Summit on Food Security. Hopefully, the next such summit would bolster achievement of the revised target of 2025, set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
On United Nations reform, he said that democracy and representation were key to achieving meaningful and effective multilateralism and, towards that goal, he expressed support for Security Council reform. The composition of that body must better reflect the global geopolitical realities in play since the end of the Second World War.
TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said recent crises highlighted the world's interconnectedness and interdependency. Their effect, although caused by a few, had not differentiated between the rich and the poor, the developed and developing world. Yet the crises seemed imminently solvable and short-term in the shadow of the climate change challenge. The core message of the past week's climate change summit was clear: it was a real phenomenon that was already occurring, and its stark reality could no longer be ignored.
He stressed that climate change was not a concern for small island developing States alone. Indeed, the countries most responsible ‑‑ the main carbon emitters ‑‑ could not be absolved of the burden of leadership. In that light, a Copenhagen climate pact was a must. It required a new brand of cooperation and a broad outlook. Indeed, climate change was everyone's job. It posed a test for multilateral solidarity. With the effects worsening daily, the blame game was no longer an option. The divergent, yet inextricably linked interests of Member States demanded that they "seal the deal" in Copenhagen.
Samoa had found the cost of adaptation and mitigation at the national level to be prohibitive, specifically, the cost of relocating people living along the coastline, he said. But that had not deterred his Government. By partnering with the international community, it was bolstering its resilience to the impacts of climate change. He highlighted Samoa's plantation access roads programme.
Turning to the financial crisis, he said the economies of small and vulnerable island economies had not been spared. Samoa's small economy had contracted, narrowing the Government's revenue base and making impossible the kind of stimulus package that would meaningfully mitigate the recession's impacts. Thus, effective, short-term assistance in the form of direct budgetary support was needed now. The decision to graduate Samoa from the least developing countries list in December 2010 had not taken into account the ravages of the financial crisis. But given its impact, an extension of the transitional period was both necessary and justified.
He said that with the Millennium Development Goals set to be reviewed next year, Samoa regarded its scorecard with "guarded optimism". Yet, its needs were not matched by its resources, and the lack of aid response from donor partners was justifiably alarming. If support for the relatively modest needs to achieve the Goals was not granted, the prospects for an effective global response to climate change all but vanished. Further, while the Pacific region remained relatively calm and stable, that tranquillity masked the acute economic vulnerability of small island developing States there. Given the nexus between economic stability and peace, it was expected that the world would be eager to assist development efforts in the region. But, that belief had not been borne out.
Concluding, he expressed hope that the United States' effort to relaunch the stalled Middle East peace talks would forge a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The global menace of international terrorism should also be addressed through concerted multilateral action. Samoa hoped the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would be ratified by the United States and would soon enter into force. The Security Council, as part of its reform, should be expanded, and countries like Japan should assume permanent member status.
SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, recounted the country's history of assassination and dictatorship and hailed the internationally recognized elections that brought her home from exile and brought democracy back to Bangladesh. The resounding victory of her party, the Awami League, reflected the people's preference for democratic ideals and secularism and a denial of all forms of extremism, she said, noting that the elections had witnessed record participation of young voters and women.
She said her country, despite all odds, was making strides in socio-economic development. As a Government priority, education, particularly for girls, was receiving the single largest share of the annual budget. The Government had pledged to ensure 100 per cent student enrolment at the primary level by 2010. Bangladesh had successfully removed gender disparity in net enrolment of boys and girls in primary education, in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals, and was now planning to provide free tuition for girls up to degree level. The Government was also providing food rations to poor primary school children in rural areas and aimed to achieve full literacy by 2014.
The Government also strove to make progress in the health sector, she said. During the party's last tenure (1996-2001), a national health policy that would ensure basic health care without discrimination, had been formulated. A national strategy for maternal health had also been adopted, and there were also plans to reduce the infant mortality rate, to extend child immunizations and to reinstate an earlier programme to establish one community health-care centre for every 6,000 people. She enumerated the many social safety nets already in place in Bangladesh, added to which was a current initiative to provide employment to at least one member of every family. Over half of the budgetary resources were being allocated to reduce the poverty level from 45 per cent to 15 per cent by 2021.
Food security was of prime concern, she said. During her Government's earlier tenure, agricultural programmes had made Bangladesh self-sufficient in food, although that achievement had subsequently been lost. Current Government food policy aimed to ensure sustained food security for all. Bangladesh would also be seeking a global agreement for agricultural development and the attainment of food self-sufficiency in developing countries at the upcoming World Summit on Food Security in Rome. Substantial contributions from developed countries, agreement on sustainable agricultural policies, technology transfer, equitable and fair trade rules for food and agricultural products with preferential treatment for least developed countries, and the removal of agricultural subsidies in the developed world would also be sought.
Bangladesh was one of the worst victims of climate change, although its contribution to the problem was negligible, she said. Myriad natural disasters were interrupting agriculture and challenging water resources, health, energy, and urban planning, among other areas. Countless lives had been lost and families uprooted by the thousands year-round, creating millions of climate change refugees. According to scientific estimates, one in every seven people in Bangladesh would be a victim of climate change by 2050. The dredging of all major rivers had been placed at the top of the adaptation agenda. Some 14,000 cyclone shelters had already been built and more were on the way. Although a Climate Change Trust Fund had been established domestically, international resources were needed to implement those projects.
Worldwide, the communities affected by climate change "would not only lose their homes, they would also stand to lose their identity, nationality, and their very existence and, in some cases, their countries", she said. For that reason it was critical that the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference in December provide assured, adequate and easily accessible funding for adaptation, as well as affordable, eco-friendly technology transfer to developing countries and commitments to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. She welcomed Gordon Brown's proposed fund to support adaptation and mitigation programmes in affected countries, as a potential start to the systematic flow of funds towards ameliorating adversely changing conditions around the globe.
She said that the economic recession came from years of negligence to economic equity and justice, including an unfair international financial structure that had not kept up with changing needs. It was imperative to immediately restructure the global financial system. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must accommodate a stronger presence of developing countries, especially least developed countries. Liberal trade concessions by developed countries could rescue those countries. Early conclusion of the Doha Development Round also would be an important collective stimulus package for developing economies. She called on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to fulfil their official development assistance (ODA) commitment to developing countries. Recovery measures should not adversely affect employment opportunities of immigrant workers from developing countries.
Noting that Bangladesh ranked second in providing personnel to peacekeeping operations and that the country had lost 84 peacekeepers, she said that it was not proportionately represented in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and did not have a say in planning and strategies for peacekeeping missions. That situation could be rectified by proportional representation. She further noted that Bangladesh had been a founding member of the Peacebuilding Commission and had been contributing to peacebuilding activities ever since. She declared her opposition to terrorism, and "categorically rejected claims to those who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of Islam, or any faith to justify violence".
DENZIL L. DOUGLAS, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, urged the Assembly to view the world from the perspective of a small middle-income heavily-indebted country. The very real vulnerabilities of small States with a high per capita gross domestic product (GDP) should be more clearly reflected in multilateral policies, as the global economic system was restructured. He sought support for new debt forgiveness, as the international financial institutions were reformed. Small vulnerable economies usually paid a disproportionately high price when global crises occurred, and the voices of those countries should play a part in the creation of a new financial architecture.
He said that the Caribbean countries had repeatedly called on the international community to recognize the special circumstance of the small island developing States, as a practical way to address their complex issues. The interconnectedness of the planet was most obvious in the issue of climate change. While Saint Kitts and Nevis had tiny carbon footprints, the negative impact of climate change and global warming did not discriminate. The geography of the small islands was changing as sea levels rose and marine life diminished. Coastlines and reefs were adversely impacted and the long-term implications for food production were dire. He urged the major global emitters to lead in ensuring that the small island countries had the resources to meet their adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity-building goals. He urged the emitters to compensatethose countries for the risk and losses stemming from climate change. He also urged the United Nations to strengthen and finance the "SIDS Unit". He welcomed the session's work towards the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
Concerning the emerging trend of crime and violence among youth, he said studies showed that victims and perpetrators of crime were increasingly young men. Youth alienation, rage and brutality were troubling global phenomena that demanded global analysis and action. With its unique capabilities, the United Nations should marshal all available resources to identify the factors behind that destabilizing trend and decide how to reverse it. The human, social and financial costs of violence were unacceptably high, and he called upon Member States to join Saint Kitts and Nevis in tabling a resolution to support a multisectoral response to violence and place the issue on the agenda of the Assembly's sixty-fifth session. While commending the Organization's assistance to Member States in crime-fighting efforts, he urged it to reopen the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the Caribbean.
PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, opened by saying that the United Nations was meeting at a time of serious challenges that included the financial crisis, climate change, and threats to international security and peace. A multilateral and effective response was needed to deal with those issues.
Turning to the economic crisis, he said that the least developed and developing countries were hardest-hit and that it seemed "obvious that Governments can no longer abdicate to the financial institutions their responsibility of oversight and regulation of the global financial systems". He pointed to the impact of the crisis on his country, as well as on all poorer countries, which faced a serious reduction in exports and a choking of capital flows. Lesotho's textile exports had dropped dramatically, resulting in unprecedented loss of livelihoods and an erosion of the gains made towards poverty eradication. The impact was "felt in all aspects of life; be it the increase of unemployment, illiteracy or in the incidence of HIV and AIDS-related deaths due to the unavailability of drugs".
He said he was heartened, however, by the efforts of the G-20, which had pledged a stimulus package of $1.1 trillion, much of which was slated to go to developing countries. But he was concerned that the initiative seemed to have stalled, and it was unclear how the funds would be distributed. He urged that the disbursement be free of quotas and conditionalities, and that it would be mindful of the needs of individual countries.
Regarding climate change, he said that was something "we are beyond the capacity of any individual country to deal with alone". The response to its impacts must be a top priority for all, and it must never be forgotten that, at the forefront of those most affected, were the poor and innocent.
Turning to security issues, particularly the situation in Rwanda, he said that, while there had been healing, the " Rwanda genocide is still fresh in our minds". He reminded Governments of their obligation to protect their people from mass atrocities, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes, reaffirming support of the principle of the responsibility to protect. The resolve must be to never fail any population again. The responsibility to protect notion was closely linked to reform of the United Nations, and especially to that of the Security Council, which lacked legitimacy and did not truly reflect the current United Nations Membership. Therefore, its composition was "irrelevant and undemocratic".
He meanwhile urged the international community to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons, expressing disappointment that some countries were still testing nuclear weapons. Their "continuing possession and development of nuclear weapons cast doubts on whether this objective can indeed be realized". At the same time, however, he reiterated the right of every country to develop and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, which could benefit all humanity.
He touched on other several issues, and called for universal support of the International Criminal Court. There was also a need to tackle the problem of piracy off the Somali coast, which negatively affected maritime security overall.
He next turned to the plight of the peoples of Palestine, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and Cuba. He called on Israel to cease settlement activities and for both sides in that conflict to halt the use of force; for the decolonization and right of self-determination of the Saharawi people; and an end to the United States embargo on Cuba.
MADHAV KUMAR NEPAL, Prime Minister of Nepal, said that, as recognized in the Millennium Declaration, the United Nations was "the indispensable common house of the entire human family". As such, a more efficient and stronger Organization was obviously of common interest. Sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference and peaceful settlement of international disputes were the bedrock of inter-State relations. As globalization increased the world's interconnectedness, multilateralism offered the best means and opportunity to address the global problems of current times.
Emphasizing that Nepal was in the midst of a political transition, he said its Constituent Assembly of 601 members, who were elected through a mixed-proportional system, had been writing a new, democratic, republican constitution. One of the most inclusive and representative bodies in Nepal's history, it was determined to build consensus among political parties and take the process to the positive conclusion envisaged in the Comprehensive Peace Accord. It was hoped that reconfiguring the State into federal units would be a significant step towards deepening the roots of democracy.
He said his Government had four major tasks: concluding the peace process; writing a new constitution through the Constituent Assembly; gearing up economic development; and managing the people's rising expectations. It was determined to reach the destination of a peaceful, prosperous and stable Nepal, keeping in mind that freedom rang hollow where there was no development, and development lost its soul if it was not accompanied by freedom. Mindful that failure to provide peace dividends could cause unintended consequences, he requested special support from Nepal's development partners in addressing its post-conflict development challenges.
Since the beginning of its peace process in 2006, Nepal's human rights situation had improved significantly, he said, adding that the Government was determined to establish a truth and reconciliation commission, as well as a disappearance commission, as part of ensuring transitional justice. It also continued to support the United Nations through its Mission in Nepal. Convinced of the importance of peacebuilding in post-conflict countries, Nepal would contribute to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission as a new member of its Organizational Committee.
He stressed that the least developed and landlocked countries were the most vulnerable to the multiple crises facing an increasingly interconnected world. Their special needs called for more specific and enhanced levels of international support. Towards that goal, the outcome of the United Nations conference on the financial and economic crisis should be implemented along with the outcome of the financing for development conference, held last year in Doha. As recognized at the G-20 summit held in London earlier this year, the least developed countries needed their own international financial rescue, especially to ensure that they did not backtrack on prior progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In preparation for the fourth conference of least developed countries, serious consideration should be given to the implementation status of the Brussels Programme of Action, with a view to tackling all existing obstacles. Full implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing countries was also needed.
He called the continued lack of progress in the global disarmament agenda "worrying" and hoped that next year's review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons would foster the necessary momentum towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Nepal regarded the growing menace of small arms proliferation with equal seriousness. Regional disarmament discourse could help to lay the groundwork for general and complete disarmament. In that context, he urged financial support for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament, established in Kathmandu last year.
FELETI VAKA'UTA SEVELE, Prime Minister of Tonga, thanked United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his convening the Climate Change Summit, and noted the impact it had had on Tonga and other vulnerable small island developing States. Indeed, those countries needed to "reach beyond our narrow national interests and embrace our collective responsibility to each other as nation States and to those States most vulnerable and least able to address the vagaries of climate change". That issue had taken its rightful place at the forefront of the debate this week, but those words must be matched by action. "Our understanding of the truth of climate change must be moved by the honest action to mitigate and change the wasteful energy habits of a lifetime into the productive energy habits of the future."
Turning to other issues, he said he remained committed to making progress on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which remained a core component of Tonga's national development planning. "Much of that progress has been reliant on our own domestic efforts, but has been complemented by our own development partners," he said, also expressing support for the Secretary-General's convening of a special summit on the Goals in 2010.
He touched on some of Tonga's other concerns, including preservation of the sea, saying that, as an island nation, the living and the potential of non-living marine resources of the country's maritime zones remained critical to its future. Thus, the country remained in compliance with its obligations under the Law of the Sea, and had lodged a partial submission for consideration by the Commission on the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf. Energy was another important issue to Tonga, especially since 100 per cent of its power generation was fuelled by imported fossil fuels. Thus, the country has been forced to investigate feasible renewable energy sources. "We have set a target to achieve 50 per cent of our electricity generation utilizing renewable energy sources by 2012," he said.
Continuing, he said his country had reviewed donor funding to see how to achieve this goal; Tonga's development partners had agreed to collaborate to assess the current infrastructure. At the conclusion of the regional Pacific Energy Ministers Meeting, the Tonga Renewable Energy Road Map had been borne. The blueprint would assess the most suitable renewable energy source utilizing the rapid advances in technology, assess the infrastructure in which the electricity could be generated and distributed, and provide models of systems that could be implemented throughout remote islands.
He noted that Tonga's parliament had recently considered ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, but had voted against ratification because "to do so would cut across our cultural and social heritage that made up our unique Tongan way of life". He added that "we did not want to ratify CEDAW [women's Convention] as a matter of international convenience. We would rather be judged on our actions of empowerment of women".
THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, said United Nations reform was crucial to ensure the Organization's effective implementation of its mandate. Reform should be comprehensive, transparent and balanced, and consistent with the United Nations Charter. The revitalization of the Assembly, reform of the Council and strengthening of the Economic and Social Council and specialized agencies should help make the Organization truly representative of all Member States. His country welcomed the launch of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.
Turning to disarmament, he said the impasse in the multilateral disarmament machinery undermined global peace and security. States should adhere to their nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation obligations. The upcoming 2010 Review Conference would be an opportunity for the States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to show strong political commitments to resolve the current stalemate in the non-proliferation disarmament agenda.
In particular, the issue of explosive remnants of war, known as cluster munitions or unexploded ordnance, created serious obstacles to development and poverty eradication efforts in more than 80 countries, he said. Cluster munitions victims in the Lao People's Democratic Republic accounted for more than 50 per cent of the cluster munitions victims worldwide, which had represented about 300 victims annually over the past 30 years since the war ended. About 37 per cent of the country's territory was contaminated with unexploded ordnance and enormous financial resources and time were needed to remove them from the area most needed for development and daily life. Thus, his country attached great importance to the Oslo Convention on Banning and Eradicating Cluster Munitions and hoped others that had not yet signed the Convention would do so. In order to prepare for the Convention's future implementation, his country had offered to host the first conference of State parties after it entered into force.
He said his country was greatly dismayed by the prolonged conflict in the Middle East, which had inflicted immense suffering on millions of people, particularly the Palestinians. He also was concerned about the decade-long economic, trade and financial embargo imposed on Cuba. It was time to end the sanction. On the issue of climate change, the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development ‑‑ economic development, social development and environment protection ‑‑ should be enhanced, with a view to effective implementation of the Bali action plan. His Government supported the recommendation to launch a new global compact entailing a "Green New Deal", which would spur investment in the green economy and lay the foundation to a shift to a low-carbon economy with greater use of renewable energy.
From the perspective of one of the world's most vulnerable countries, he said it was important to address the unpredictability of the commodity market, to provide preferential treatment to the goods of developing countries and ensure a smooth solution to the debt issue. The fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, scheduled for early 2011, was an opportunity for the international community to review its commitments to the least developed countries and identify solutions, particularly needed since the global economic crisis.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that given a backdrop of international crises unprecedented in nature and scope, a high degree of "conscious, collective work" was required. A common awareness of the effect of those crises on economic, social and political stability was also needed. Current international financial structures should be subjected to change to make them more compatible with the current reality. That change should be both gradual and strategic. It should seek to make the membership of those structures accessible to a larger number of developing countries by granting them a stronger voice.
He said that while Egypt was aware of the grave challenges posed by climate change, it believed that addressing the situation afforded new opportunities for advancing sustainable development in developing societies. As President Hosni Mubarak had said during July's G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, Egypt looked forward to arriving at a fair and balanced deal in Copenhagen. Such a deal should incorporate the aspirations and rights of developing countries, while also addressing the crucial issues of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer. It should also ensure the fulfilment of commitments made by the developed world.
Although all States were suffering from the financial and economic crisis, due to depressed volumes of international trade, tightened international credit and reduced inflows of tourists and remittances, the countries of the South remained the most affected, he said. In parallel with the food crisis, that crisis seriously challenged the preservation of economic and social security. To confront that, there was an urgent need to launch an international dialogue between the exporting and importing countries in the developing and developed worlds, with the aim of fashioning an international response. Among other things, an international code of conduct to review policies governing bio-fuel use should be formulated in tandem with a World Trade Organization-brokered agreement on eliminating the use of agricultural subsidies by developed countries.
He said a real and broad dialogue was needed between the relevant parities to confront the energy crisis. Additionally, developmental assistance and investments in the markets of energy-producing developing countries were required. Irresponsible speculation in global markets should also be curbed. A comprehensive assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals was also needed, along with a mechanism to follow up on implementation. Undoubtedly, the countries of the South should intensify cooperation among themselves, and the Non-Aligned Movement would work to enhance that cooperation in coordination with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China.
Egypt remained dissatisfied with the human rights architecture in the United Nations system, owing to its politicization, he said. Despite the fundamental reform ushered in by the creation of the Human Rights Council, that politicization hindered the potential to reach consensus on several issues. Thus, Egypt would work to meld divergent views and restore the international consensus that underpinned action in that Council as well as in the Assembly. Towards that goal, it had already begun seeking consensus language for a draft resolution on freedom of expression. That text would strive to establish freedom of expression as a cornerstone of democratic society, while avoiding any depiction of acts of incitement to religious, racial and other forms of hatred as legitimate.
He underscored Egypt's satisfaction with the adoption of a draft resolution to establish an intergovernmental working group on human trafficking by the parties to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. His country was also pleased with the Assembly's work on a global action plan to curtail human trafficking. It looked forward to a successful conclusion of the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. It was crucial that the international community support the current active dynamism on disarmament issues, particularly recent positions taken by the United States. Egypt believed issues of regional stability had to be addressed, mainly by eliminating the unjustified latitude concerning Israeli nuclear capabilities. That was particularly true as endeavours were under way to expand the commitments of non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Tensions still ran high in the Middle East, with the question of Palestine still far from resolution, he said. Over the past year, Israel had shown a lack of necessary political will to engage in serious and credible negotiations. Intensive work to resume negotiations was needed, and the international community should put forward a formula for the conflict's final settlement. Israel's commitment to a complete freeze in settlement activity -- in parallel with the negotiating track -- should be ensured to bolster Palestinian confidence. Should a solution on final borders be reached, on the basis of 2008 negotiations, that agreement should be implemented gradually under a time-bound framework, and East Jerusalem should be part of those final talks. Engagement by Israel in such a serious, credible time-bound negotiating process would restore the situation, with respect to other Arab interactions, to the way they had been in the 1990s.
Egypt was also closely following the situation in the Sudan, he said, stressing that it was working earnestly with all Sudanese parties. It hoped that unity would be the first and most attractive option for all. Egypt would also continue its tireless efforts to support the Lebanese State. It was watching the deteriorating situation in Iraq and would continue to aid its brothers and sisters there in achieving security, stability and development. Egypt would also continue to work with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ensure Arab regional security. Concluding, he underlined the decisions of the XV Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that, as its President for the next three years, Egypt would work towards implementing those decisions.
NASSER JUDEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said today's global challenges were too complex to be tackled by one country alone. The United Nations was the best venue to address the complicated issues of the twenty-first century. However, it, along with its subsidiary bodies, should be reformed to effectively resolve the international challenges. The information revolution and technological advancements meant that the impact of problems, including climate change, terrorism, poverty and pandemics, were felt by all.
He noted that one of the Organization's major achievements had been its pioneering role in eliminating colonization. However, Israel, since 1967, had occupied territories, which prevented the Palestinian people from self-determination and the creation of their own independent State. At their 2002 summit, the Arab world had adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, whose principles it had repeatedly reaffirmed. The two-State solution would provide a just conclusion to the conflict. However, Israel did not accept the Arab choice and global choice of a just and comprehensive solution. A good-faith response by Israel was necessary. Now, with the Administration of United States President Barack Obama, there had been unprecedented support for talks that would benefit the Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis. Jordan was trying to advance that goal.
Jordan supported the statement made by President Obama to the General Assembly on 23 September, in which he had expressed a firm commitment to the two-State solution and a comprehensive peace. He had also spoken of the need for a resolution of the refugee question and the illegality of Israeli settlements. Additionally, he had had set the atmosphere for talks. The international community should shoulder its responsibility and move to resume negotiations right away. That constructive climate was disrupted, however, by the Israeli refusal to stop settlement activity in East Jerusalem. The Israelis were destroying the home of the Arabs and continued to change the demographics of East Jerusalem, the heart of the occupied territories. It was necessary to stop illegal measures and stop the settlements. The United Nations had a direct responsibility in that process and could play a larger role in the Quartet. The Gaza siege should be lifted -- as it was unacceptable and inhumane -- and the area should be rehabilitated.
On the issue of Iraq, Jordan supported efforts to bring peace and security throughout the country and stop all external interference in its internal affairs, so that it could recover its place in the international community and the Arab world. He pointed out Jordan's expanding participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, which was indicative of the role the country was playing in the Organization.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, associating himself with the statement of the European Union, called for an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in December and strengthened global strategies on food security. It was also important not to lose sight of the Millennium Development Goals. He appreciated the Eastern European Group of States' endorsement of Slovakia's candidature in the Economic and Social Council, as his country was committed to being an active member of that body.
Regarding peace and security, he said more emphasis should be placed on ensuring that United Nations peacekeepers and other United Nations actors were properly equipped and trained, including in the area of so-called critical capabilities. For its part, Slovakia had participated in international crisis management operations under United Nations command in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Middle East. It also had engaged in security-sector reform and, as Chair of the United Nations Group of Friends on that issue, would work to ensure that the Organization could react to the needs of Member States in an adequate and timely manner.
The United Nations had made progress in the areas of preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and mediation, he said, citing its mediation of the crisis in Kenya, and Slovakia would further that work. Such issues were broadly connected to human rights and civilian protection and, as a member of the Human Rights Council, Slovakia promoted respect for those issues, at the national and international levels. The responsibility to protect concept had been an important achievement of the 2005 World Summit and deserved more attention, in order for people to be protected from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. States also had a duty to prevent incitement of those most serious crimes.
Turning to Security Council reform, Slovakia supported enlarging the Council in both categories of membership to better reflect global realities, he said. Attention should also be given to the Council's working methods. Particularly concerned at the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors, like terrorists, Slovakia would work with all partners towards a successful outcome of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and called for the early start to negotiations on the arms trade treaty.
He said Slovakia was gravely concerned at Iran's continued defiance of international obligations, and called on that country to commit to diplomatic negotiations to restore trust. His Government also strongly condemned the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and called on it to revoke its position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
As for regional issues, he said Slovakia followed events in the Western Balkans and continued to promote full respect of international law, including the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States in their internationally recognized borders. That principle guided Slovakia's position on Georgia, and he was disappointed that the Security Council had not extended the mandate of the Observer Mission there. In Cyprus, Slovakia would continue its engagement in the rapprochement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, while in Afghanistan, it was helping to establish a secure, stable environment. In closing, he called on States to work together to overcome the negative impacts of the financial and economic crisis and to intensify efforts to adopt measures at local, regional and global levels, in the spirit of solidarity.
TAÏB FASSI FIHRI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, began by acknowledging that the current world crisis was an additional impetus to buttress collective action and strengthen coordination among constituents of the United Nations.
He declared that, "Today, the world is witnessing recurrent and unprecedented crises in the economic, food and energy field that have shaken the premises of universal governance." Because the United Nations embodied the collective conscience of the international community, it was the most appropriate forum for coordinated joint action and an appropriate forum to analyse the root causes of these crises and mitigate their effects.
Recalling that the Millennium Development Goals had been adopted as a common platform of action for human development, he said that the remaining years between now and 2015 required that "we adopt a global and coordinated approach" to build a partnership to mobilize additional financial resources. He hoped that the fourth high-level meeting on financing for development in November would yield results commensurate with the expectations of developing countries. He urged United Nations development agencies to mainstream the Goals in their policies and programmes.
In keeping with a vision of greater development, His Majesty Mohammed VI had launched the National Initiative for Human Development in May 2005. The initiative was based on an integrated approach to development in terms of political, economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions. It also included continuous evaluation, resource mobilization, strenuous follow up and engagement of citizens. However, "collective efforts in the field of development would remain inefficient unless they are accompanied by daring and active policies for the protection of the environment". He was convinced that the Copenhagen conference would be an important step towards an international agreement.
Thus, he reiterated a proposal made in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008, which called for the creation of a multilateral fund for the transfer of technology to the developing countries, which would enable them to deal with the grave implications of climate change.
Moving on to issues regarding Arab-Israeli peace, he declared that "the peace process is the only viable option", and urged that it should be "in conformity with international legality". The previous agreements and commitments, such as the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative were realistic options that reflected a joint Arab will to arrive at a fair and comprehensive solution that ensured Palestinians the right to create their own independent State. "These efforts will be productive only if the illegal practices of Israel are halted."
In terms of Iraq, he said that Morocco resolutely "supports the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of this brotherly country". That sensitive region was in dire need of a "positive and targeted action independent of foreign interference". He reaffirmed Morocco's desire to consolidate good relations with its neighbours within the African, Maghreb and Mediterranean regions. Morocco supported the Mediterranean Union as a promising framework to enhance dialogue and cooperation between the two sides of the Mediterranean Sea. King Mohammad VI expressed Morocco's strong and standing resolve to contribute in good faith to the consolidation of the Maghreb Arab Union and to reactivate its structures and strengthen relations among its five members. He added that the regional body could play a role in building partnerships and ensure security and stability.
SALI BERISHA, Prime Minister of Albania, said his country and its people continued to engage international cooperation and were determined to offer their modest contribution in advancing peace and security and respect for human rights, fighting poverty, promoting sustainable development and prosperity, as well as protecting the environment.
As a European country, Albania remained fully committed and determined to carry out every reform and to take every decision and every other measure required for its membership into the European Union, he said. The more than 94 per cent of Albanians supporting the country's Union membership process was not only a strong encouragement, but also a major obligation on the Government to proceed quickly in that direction. On the Millennium Development Goals, he observed that his country had put a lot of effort into achieving those Goals, to the extent that in the last three years, around 400,000 Albanians had come out of the poverty line, and extreme poverty had been reduced by 17 per cent; tens of thousands of new jobs had been created; the number of university students had doubled; and infant mortality had been reduced drastically.
Albania had maintained excellent cooperation with the United Nations and its agencies, having been one of the pilot countries for the "Delivering as One" initiative, he said. Through its experience, it was making an important contribution to United Nations reform. That project had an excellent track record in Albania, due to the coherence and better coordination for all United Nations activities. He was pleased to report that the country's reform priorities and national strategy on European integration was fully harmonized with the Millennium Development Goals and those of the "Delivering as One" effort.
On peace in the Balkans, he noted that the countries of the region were engaged in a process of cooperation in all fields and European and Euro-Atlantic integration. He noted that last year, Albania and Croatia became full members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and pointed out that other countries in the region had made significant progress towards European Union and NATO membership. He stressed that the establishment of the independent state of Kosova, although only a small period of time had passed since its declaration of independence, had turned into an important factor of peace and stability in the Balkan peninsula. The European Union's sending of its Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) was providing precious help in consolidating the rule of law and functional democracy in Kosova, as well as in developing the best European standards of cooperation and coexistence of various ethnic communities.
Meanwhile, he continued, 62 countries of the United Nations had recognized the independence of Kosova, and the Republic of Kosova had become a member of the Bretton Wood institutions -- IMF and the World Bank. To that end, he pointed out that all those countries that had recognized Kosova and the international institutions that had accepted it in their forums as a member state had done so because they were convinced that the independence of Kosova and its international recognition brought a major contribution to peace and stability in the Balkan region. To that end, he called on those countries that had not done so yet to recognize the country's independence, saying that doing so would be a clear signal of those countries' will to contribute to the consolidation of peace, stability and security in the region.
On the reform of the United Nations, he asserted that all Members of the Organization shared the responsibility for its efficient functioning, and no one could ignore the Organization's track record in many fields. However, for a long time now, it had been evident that the world, countries and the complexity of their relations developed much faster than the United Nations was able to adjust to new realities. That was why Albania was strongly supportive of the continuation of the reform process of the United Nations and the further improvement of the system of the United Nations, he explained.
A more efficient decision-making mechanism was pivotal in that respect, he added, noting that Albania supported efforts to reform the Security Council and believed that in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, there was need for a Security Council that was efficient, transparent and legitimate in its decision-making process and where regions and individual Member States were adequately represented.
JOSAIA V. BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, said his country and its people, like all small developing island States, were among the first victims of contemporary global crises such as the financial and economic crisis, the swine flu pandemic and, most dramatic of all, the phenomenon of climate change. In small economies such as Fiji's, those global events had very real effect on the daily livelihoods of the people. His country had attempted to respond to them by making policy changes and adjustments, encouraging the people to grow their own food and discouraging food imports wherever possible. Over the last two years, the size of the public service had been rationalized. The country had maintained a very streamlined cabinet structure and significantly controlled Government operational costs.
There had been many critics of the events in Fiji since December 2006, when the military, with great reluctance, had been forced to remove the Government of Fiji, he went on. Those critics, he said, were largely unaware of the extent to which politicians, in league with those who employed terror as a tactic to push a racial supremacy and corrupt agenda, had become a threat to the safety and security of the people. The President of Fiji had abrogated the Constitution on 10 April, taking that step when a Court of Appeal ruling created a legal vacuum, a constitutional anomaly which would have also prevented the implementation of the reforms which were mandated by the President to achieve a truly democratic State.
Mr. Bainimarama said that on 1 July, he had announced a road map intended to lead Fiji to a new Constitution and elections based on equality, equal suffrage, human rights, justice, transparency, modernity and true democratic ideals. The Government had been mandated to carry out and continue reforms which would ensure that true democratic, non-communal and equal-suffrage-based elections for parliamentary representation be held by September 2014. Together with stringent steps to protect the economy from the effects of the world economic crisis, work would commence on a new Constitutions by September 2012. The basis for a new Constitution would be the ideals and principles formulated by the Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, a document prepared following widespread consultation with and input from the people. That Charter had been adopted by the President after its endorsement by the majority of the people of Fiji.
Asking for patience and understanding, particularly from Fiji's neighbours, he invited "the international community to engage with us, visit our country to see the situation for themselves and to provide practical support and assistance to enable us to implement the reforms". Fiji's dream was for equality, justice and true democracy. He thanked friends who had continued to carry on a dialogue and who had helped the country achieve what they themselves now took for granted. He thanked those friends for their respect and understanding, even when there was disagreement on some issues. To those nations that had refused to engage with Fiji, he could only plead with them to change their stance. Fiji was a small nation, whose people posed a threat to no one, least of all to the big Powers of the South Pacific "who have arrogated to themselves the right to dictate to us our future and the way we govern ourselves".
Some countries had used their extensive diplomatic and financial resources to deny Fiji participation in new peacekeeping missions, he said. Fiji had participated in peacekeeping operations since 1978 and was proud of its association with the United Nations, in particular the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The country had been disappointed by what appeared to be a unilateral decision on the part of the United Nations to debar it from any new peacekeeping operations. To this day, it had not been able to receive a clear and satisfactory reply on that matter from the United Nations. Fiji hoped that the United Nations would deal equitable and fairly with troop-contributing countries.
Like most small island nations, Fiji regarded the threat posed by climate change as one that would undermine international peace and security, he went on. The lives of real people from real places were at stake. The future survival of real generations, the continuation of real countries and the security of belonging to real homelands were being threatened. The impacts of climate change could only be halted and the survival of every small island State ensured by significantly reducing carbon emissions. Fiji, as one of the more vulnerable States to the impacts of climate change, called on all States, in particular the major emitters, to be responsible and committed to carbon emission reduction targets of around 45 per cent from 1990 level by 2020 and 85 per cent reduction by 2050, with below 350 parts per million global atmospheric concentration and, further, to limit temperature increase to below 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level by 2020.
CARLOS GOMES, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, opened by noting that six months after the crisis provoked by the assassination of his President, the country had restored "constitutional normality", and the organs of State power were in a position to fulfil the role given to them by the country's Constitution. A new President, democratically elected in elections deemed to have been free, fair and transparent by all political parties and candidates, as well as by international observers, had been inaugurated.
The assassination of the Head of State and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces had shocked Guinean society and the international community, he said. The Government had immediately ordered the creation of a committee to find out the truth and hold the perpetrators accountable. Later the Government had requested the United Nations Secretary-General to carry out an international survey. The Secretary-General had urged the Government to continue its investigation, offering to intervene with the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) for technical and financial support. The Government had requested such support but had not yet received a response. He said the Government was unequivocally against impunity and would do everything in its power to create the conditions for the committee to carry out its work in a peaceful, transparent and credible manner.
He said those events had caused a serious crisis in the country that had lead to a radical change in priorities of the Government's policy -- namely, the necessity of holding presidential elections. However, despite the gravity of that situation, the response of the country's institutions was swift and positive. In Guinea-Bissau the creation of the Armed Forces had preceded the creation of the State itself and the latter ended up inheriting the burden of complex problems arising from the existence of an armed struggled for national liberation. Like other countries that had a similar past, he pointed out, problems associated with that condition were not easy to overcome, especially when facing survival issues that plagued all society. It was with that awareness that the Government had held last May, with the assistance of development partners, the United Nations, ECOWAS and others, a round table in Praia, Cape Verde, to jointly evaluate the proposed reform programme for the defence and security sectors.
Continuation of the reform programme in the military and security forces, within which the establishment of a special pensions fund was planned, especially designed to deal with those issues, could contribute to solving those problems once and for all. Additionally, the Government had just concluded a thorough assessment of its national strategy for poverty reduction. The results of that evaluation allowed the Government to conclude that it needed to strengthen its action on all the areas that defined the strategy. It also enabled the country to determine that the biggest impediment to development lay in the energy sector. In that regard, he asked Guinea-Bissau's development partners that the interim review of the country's strategy to reduce poverty and its respective programme was carried out as soon as possible, so that the country could organize, together with its partners, a round table to address the need to strengthen the technical, economic and financial cooperation programmes with his country.
Mr. Gomes also stated that the concern with the stability in the subregion and the world at large, and with devoting more attention to the promotion of development, led Guinea-Bissau to welcome with satisfaction, and encourage the policy of United States President Obama towards Africa, recently clarified during his visits to a number of African countries, as well as the peace initiatives that were under way in the Middle East under United States patronage. "We also welcome with satisfaction the United States Administration's policy towards Cuba, hoping that the lifting of the embargo may occur in the short term," he added.
Continuing, he said that for many years his country had been asking its development partners for a post-conflict programme for Guinea-Bissau. A country with such severe shortages as his should not be abandoned to its fate, knowing the profound consequences that the political-military conflict of 1998-1999 had left all sectors of the socio-economic life of Guinea-Bissau. He was therefore particularly pleased with the attitude of the African Development Bank, which had turned an important part of the financial resources available to Guinea-Bissau into donations. Similarly, Mr. Gomes welcomed the recent decision by IMF and the World Bank to negotiate and conclude a post-conflict programme with the country's Government. He was hopeful that new and dynamic level of cooperation would enable Guinea-Bissau to benefit from the initiative for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
He said that, as Prime Minister, he would strive to put his country on "the path of peace, national reconciliation and development". All the commitments made by his Government would be respected in peacebuilding dialogue, poverty reduction and creation of conditions conducive to economic growth. He asked the international community to help provide a new opportunity for a "true partnership towards sustainable development".
RATNASIRI WICKRAMANAYAKA, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, said significant development had taken place in Sri Lanka this past year, and he took the floor "with renewed hope and optimism for my country". After three decades of combating terrorism, the Government had successfully defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), liberated the Vanni region that had been under LTTE's control and returned over 290,000 civilians to their homes. As terrorism was a transnational criminal network and a shared global challenge, this accomplishment not only meant peace and security for Sri Lanka but to all nations throughout the world. One of the highest priorities after the defeat of LTTE was to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced civilians. He went on to say that the task had been facilitated by the assistance of United Nations agencies, international and local civil society partners and donors. In the process of restoring the region to its people, over 54 agencies were engaged in humanitarian efforts, and for the first time since LTTE control children were being educated.
From past mistakes and experiences, in order to ensure a safe and sustainable resettlement, Sri Lanka had learned such restoration programmes could not be rushed. Because of LTTE landmines and other explosives placed in civilian areas, the time-consuming and meticulous process of demining was under way. Continuing, he stated that long term peace and security would only be successful if reconciliation took place. Sri Lanka was committed to taking all measures, according to international human rights standards, to ensure such actions were taken, and he was pleased to note that, in three months, significant progress had been made. Another initiative was the national campaign "Bring Back the Child", an extensive rehabilitation programme for former child combatants. Farmland and fisheries were also being re-established and restored. With formerly inaccessible roads now reopened, the economy of the north was being integrated with the rest of the country, and the eastern province after many years had begun to contribute to the national economy.
Sri Lanka's experience with terrorism lent it great insight into the threat facing the international community, he said. Much of the funding LTTE had received came from overseas through a complex range of criminal activities, amongst them, drug and human trafficking, arms procurement and illicit trade. The Sri Lankan navy was responsible for confronting and interdicted virtual floating warehouse of arms and ammunition. This phenomenon called for a revision of existing international laws pertaining to the boarding and searching of vessels in the high sea. It was clear that, in order to meet such threats to peace and security effectively, concerted and well-coordinated efforts by the international community was essential to stop multifaceted criminal networks of terrorist organizations. To that end, he called for the finalization of ongoing negotiations of the draft comprehensive convention on terrorism.
He then addressed the recent global financial and economic crisis that was rooted in the developed countries, but had significant impact on developing countries. Although Sri Lanka was able to minimize the impact on its own economy, the crisis highlighted the need for transparent multilateral regulatory structures in the world economy. Furthermore, long before global adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, Sri Lanka had been well on track to reaching its targets in several areas. The investment into human resources, gender equality and social development continued to be of utmost importance in its national agenda and the Government was determined to continue its progress. Turning to climate change, he stated that the "carbon debt" owed to them by the developed countries could be used to finance the financial and technological assistance to adapt their own industries to a sustainable path.
He concluded by saying that the United Nations and, in particular the General Assembly, had been entrusted from the Charter with the responsibility to maintain international peace and security. He expressed disappointment at the little progress made with the implementation of resolutions regarding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to statehood, but felt encouraged by President Obama's remarks on the issue. In such a critical time, he urged Member States to "mobilize the political will to shed our differences and work in a spirit of cooperation to respond effectively and swiftly to the challenges that confront us".
HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, noted everyone's concern with the considerable challenges that the world faced today, such as the current global economic and financial crisis, climate change, food and energy insecurity and the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction proliferation. He hoped that the General Assembly's deliberations would come up with new ideas to cope with all those global challenges.
There was no doubt that the present global economic and financial crisis would go down in history as a landmark case in the world's economic meltdown, he said. That global crisis had clearly undermined the Millennium Development Goals. While the developed countries had more possibilities and resources to cope with the slowdown, the developing countries had suffered the most with a huge loss of national income as their economic growth was expected to fall sharply due to a drastic reduction in exports, which they had largely been dependent on, the falling of investment, the rising of unemployment, and so forth. In order to help mitigate the impact of that economic and financial disaster on developing countries, he was of the view that everything possible should be done to get the Doha Round of negotiations back on track for a successful conclusion, in order to break down barriers to trade and better market access, particularly in agricultural goods, and to reduce agricultural subsidies.
In that regard, Cambodia appreciated the commitment of the G-20 made in Pittsburgh to "bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion in 2010". At the same time, the Monterrey Consensus should be invigorated in order to help developing countries alleviate poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals, he stressed.
Turning to climate change, which he described as another "serious threat to humanity", the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister noted that global warming had triggered more and more frequent cyclones, typhoons, extreme floods and droughts. The worsening impact of climate change had now reached an alarming level everywhere around the planet. According to the Asian Development Bank, South-East Asia would be the most affected region because of its geography of low-lying nations and long coastlines.
He said that, as far as Cambodia was concerned, being an essentially agrarian country with more than 80 per cent of its population whose livelihood depended on farming, the country was extremely vulnerable to weather-related calamities. Fully aware of vulnerability in that regard, the country had been assuming its share of responsibility towards global warming since 2003, and had made its utmost efforts to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol by promoting Clean Development Mechanism projects, as well as implementing the national adaptation programme of action on climate change. It had also launched a reforestation campaign. At the same time, while he commended recent promises by the G-8, he questioned whether such pledges could match the speed of global warming.
Parallel to all those serious global challenges facing the world today, there were still political and security problems of great concern, he pointed out. Terrorism had been threatening everywhere, causing deaths among the innocent. To fight terrorism more effectively, greater and closer cooperation was needed among the many authorities concerned in order to face up to those criminal activities against humanity. At the same time, he noted that there were countries that had the capacity to produce nuclear weapons that had not yet signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The dissemination of weapons of mass destruction constituted another massive deadly menace to humanity.
He also supported United Nations reform, which he said needed to go beyond just the restructuring of the Organization's organs, in order to enable the world body to engage itself more actively to revitalizing its primary role in world affairs.
KENNETH BAUGH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said that, although both developed and developing countries were impacted by the multitude of crises this past year, it was the poorest and most vulnerable Member States who were least capable of responding and who were not showing signs of the recovery recently appearing in major economies. ODA to these vulnerable economies diminished, with daunting consequences in Jamaica and CARICOM region, such as the sharp decline of investments, tourism and export demand, to name a few. However, he pointed out that the heavily indebted lower middle-income countries were also being overlooked by virtue of their GDP per capita levels, making them ineligible for international assistance. Jamaica was particularly concerned, as it carried a debt to GDP ratio of 125 per cent.
Turning to the G-20, he said that although the participation of developing countries was critical, accommodation of a wider cross-section of developing countries, including those small, vulnerable economies and highly indebted middle-income of the CARICOM subregion was essential to creating an integrated approach and strategy on a global platform. He also called for the United Nations to ensure dialogue and coordinate responses, and he commended the recent United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, which had allowed developing countries not part of the G-20 to voice their concerns to the international community and contribute to solutions. "The reform of the international financial architecture is long overdue," he said, and urged review of the policy conditions regarding lending by IMF.
A small island developing State vulnerable to climate change threats, Jamaica was heartened by the recent Summit on Climate Change. He favoured the conclusion of a post-Kyoto framework that would hold parties to common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, amongst them, concrete commitments on adaptation, capacity-building, technology transfers and financial assistance to developing countries. He then discussed the crucial role of the Peacebuilding Commission and lauded the new, flexible arrangements for the Peacebuilding Fund, as a support to countries emerging from conflict. Recognizing the role the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had in fostering a more stable and sustainable environment for the Haitian people, he reiterated his country's commitment to support their long-term goals and to continue to challenge the elements and security threats that threatened the rule of law and democratic governance.
Addressing the issue of reform in the United Nations, he reminded the General Assembly that the challenges facing the global community were not constrained by borders and could not be address by Member States on their own. The need for multilateral and international collaboration was essential and he stated his firm belief that the United Nations was the only organization equipped for the complexity of the task. However, reform was necessary to ensure the success of such work. "Multilateralism cannot work effectively if the General Assembly, the most representative global body, is unable to assert itself as the central decision-making body of the Organization." He also called for the Security Council to expand its membership to reflect the wider community of the United Nations.
He concluded by stating how much he was looking forward to the erection of the permanent memorial to honour the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, an enduring symbol of the global community's resolve to eliminate discrimination, social inequity and prejudice. In that light, he urged the United Nations to assert itself in its unique capacity and address the challenges facing the most poor and vulnerable. Inaction on the development agenda must be reversed and that would be in keeping with the ideals of the Charter and the shared vision of Member States for the fulfilment of the hopes, aspirations and expectations of all citizens across the globe.
MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER, Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, said an important focus of his country's work as a member of the Security Council for the years 2009–2010 was to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Despite significant progress, armed conflicts continued to darken the lives of men, women and children in many parts of the world. Austria had been working actively with others on the expansion of the monitoring and reporting of child rights violations. It fully supported Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) and the follow-up resolution to be adopted next week as a decisive response of the international community to sexual violence in conflict situations. At the same time, the country attached great importance to the participation of women in the promotion of peace and security. Austria would use its Security Council presidency in November to identify concrete measures to improve the protection of civilians, he said, and invited all partners to join an open debate of the Council on that subject on 13 November.
To achieve sustainable peace, security and development, peacekeeping needed to be complemented by rebuilding functioning institutions, particularly in the judiciary and security sector, continued Mr. Spindelegger. In that context, the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in combating corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking were to be commended. Austria was also committed to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and had recently joined the country-specific configuration for Sierra Leone -- a model case for successful peacebuilding.
Peace, security and stability were preconditions for sustainable development, he went on. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger still continued to be one of the main challenges of the international community. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 was far from assured. In view of the global financial crisis, increased efforts by the international community were urgently needed. Austria would contribute to that global endeavour.
"All those efforts will be in vain if we are unable to protect our planet," he said. Climate change was a fundamental threat to humankind -- aggravating poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and insecurity, and thus seriously threatening the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December must decide on concrete actions to curb climate change based on mutual trust and strong international cooperation. Climate and energy could also be an important part of the international community's response to the current economic crisis. Investments in green technologies and sustainable, affordable and stable energy supplies would benefit both the economy and the climate.
The Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament earlier in the week issued a strong call for a world free of nuclear weapons, he went on. For that vision to become reality, progress was needed on several fronts, including the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, progress on a fissile material cut-off treaty and reinforcement of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It was also indispensable that Iran fully comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions with regard to its nuclear programme and to closely cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "The time has now come for Iran to finally enter into a constructive dialogue with the international community," he said. The debate during the week had clearly shown that the world would not accept an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.
ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, expressed pride that Masdar City in Abu Dhabi had been selected as a seat for the International Renewable Energy Agency and announced his country's renewed commitment and readiness to cooperate fully in providing facilities and technical resources required for the success of that agency.
He stated that his country's interest in developing a programme for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy stemmed from its desire to meet its growing of energy demand in the future. By developing a peaceful nuclear energy model which complied with the highest standards of transparency in operating nuclear facilities and fulfilled the highest requirements of nuclear safety and non-proliferation in cooperation with IAEA and other responsible and experienced states, his country hoped that a new course would be charted for the safe use of nuclear energy. The country's commitment not to enrich uranium and reprocess fuels locally was among the most salient features of that model. That model was supported by enhanced international transparency and cooperation mechanisms.
He renewed his country's disappointment at the continued occupation by Iran of three islands -- Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa -- since 1971. It demanded the return of those islands and said that all military and administrative actions taken by Iran on those islands were null and void and did not have any legal effect, regardless of how long the occupation might have lasted. The international community should urge Iran to respond to the peaceful and sincere initiatives of his country, which had been supported and adopted by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States. Those initiatives called for a just settlement, either through direct and serious negotiations between the two countries or by referring the matter to the International Court of Justice.
He noted with satisfaction the gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and the expansion of the authority of its Government over all its territory. His country reaffirmed its long-standing support to the people and Government of Iraq, in particular their efforts to expedite the rebuilding of their security, legislative and economic institutions and achieving national reconciliation. His country was also deeply concerned at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Iraq and condemned the recent bombings there as acts of terror. He called for the safeguarding of the Arab and Islamic identity of Iraq and said that he stood against all attempts aimed at dismembering the Iraqi State.
On the peace process in the Middle East, he expressed disappointment that it had deteriorated, due to continued Israeli aggressions against the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories. Those aggressions included the blockade imposed on the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, the continued confiscation of lands, properties and homes of the Palestinian people and the building of further settlements and separation wall in the occupied territories. He noted with satisfaction the positive positions expressed by United States President Barack Obama at the General Assembly a few days ago. He believed that that address contained solid foundation for negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israeli Government. His country expressed the hope that President Obama would continue following up on that important matter.
He emphasized that the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East required the ending of Israeli occupation of all occupied Arab and Palestinian territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, with Al Quds as its capital, based on the principle of land for peace and in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and resolutions of international legitimacy.
YVES LETERME, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said that the impact of shared global challenges required a global response. The United Nations, as the central figure in international affairs, however, needed to "earn its role". To this end, he called for a new multilateral commitment and restructuring of international institutions, so that rapid reform could be initiated in both the Security Council and the General Assembly. Limited resources needed to be used more efficiently and a stricter management system needed to be implemented. He also called for more budgetary accountability.
Elaborating on multilateral relations, he observed that although the multitude of regional and subregional organizations enhanced multilateral cooperation, it, at times, led to a lack of collaboration between the regional and the global institutions. He also commented on "incomplete multilateralism" where Member States gathered on an informal basis to discuss international issues, and observed that these informal meetings had the potential to speed up decision-making within the formal settings. However, he warned, they could not replace the international multilateral organizations. "Rather than being exclusive, multilateralism should be inclusive and transparent," he said.
He then spoke on the fact that millions of people were still being killed, maimed, and raped in violence in conflicts between and within Member States. Stating that this was the first and foremost challenge to the international community, he reminded the General Assembly that without peace or security, there could be no sustainable development or fair distribution of resources around the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Constitution states "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences for peace must be constructed." To make this happen, he urged for the abolishment of all hate speeches that attacked the dignity of people, nations, communities or the rights of States to exist.
Turning to the issue of proliferation, he stressed that the arms control issue must be high on the international agenda and applauded the resolution adopted by the Security Council yesterday. But, the recent news regarding Iran's nuclear development activities illuminated that this goal was not shared by all. Rather than risk being recipients of an international ban, he called upon both the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran to cooperate with the international community and to implement the Security Council's resolutions. Another pressing issue was anti-personnel mines, and he expressed hope that the 1999 Convention on the prohibition of these weapons would be strengthened in the upcoming review conference in Cartagena, Colombia.
An international legal order would only be effective if Member States governed by the rule of law. In order to achieve just and fair globalization, the rule of law on both national and international levels needed to be strengthened. "In the words of the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan: There is no development without security, no security without development and both depend on the respect for human rights and the rule of law." And in order to meet the many global challenges of the vision of a just world, solid international institutions were needed. Also needed were minds that were multilateral in their scope, and men with conviction were needed to lead these institutions. That belief prompted him to announce his fellow countryman, Louis Michel, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, as a candidate to chair the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
S.M. KRISHNA, Minister for External Affairs of India, said international response to the global economic and financial turmoil had to include measures to not only stimulate economies, but, more importantly, find ways to restructure the current international governance system. To gloss over the structural deficit would imperil the future of a vast majority of the people of the world. In the face of the crisis, hard-won gains in alleviating poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease were being reversed, and the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals were seriously threatened. Policies of protectionism under those already adverse circumstances would exacerbate the situation. It was imperative that the United Nations act in concert to coherently overcome those challenges. India, which was actively engaged in the G-20 and other processes, had always stressed that developing countries must receive priority in any global response to the crisis. He looked forward to an early implementation of the follow-up measures agreed to at the United Nations Conference on the Financial and Economic Crisis, during the course of this General Assembly.
He added that international trade and commerce had a central role to play in revitalizing global economic growth. Committed to negotiations in the Doha Round, India strongly favoured fair and equitable rule-based multilateral trade negotiations, which recognized and addressed legitimate demands of developing countries. He supported resumption of the negotiations at an early date and stood ready to engage with all World Trade Organization members to complete the modalities and address any outstanding problems. To support that process, India had organized an international ministerial-level conference in New Delhi on 3‑4 September.
Stressing the priority importance of the reform of the United Nations, he said the collective attention of Member States should be given to the reform in the three essentials of the Charter, i.e. peace and security, development and human rights. The General Assembly must be revitalized, and its role as the anvil of global deliberation must be strengthened. The Economic and Social Council must become the fulcrum of development. It must be accepted that the Security Council must be strengthened and made more representative by expanding its permanent and non-permanent membership. Intergovernmental negotiations over the past six months had unambiguously established that an overwhelming majority of Member States shared the perspective that expansion in both categories of membership of the Council was needed.
India was engaged in the ongoing negotiations under the Climate Change Convention, including in the upcoming Copenhagen Conference, he continued. It would work for an outcome that recognized the development imperatives of developing countries and was rooted in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. It was also necessary to move away from concentrating on mitigation only and ensure that there was focus on adaptation, which was crucial for developing countries. India was hosting a high-level global conference on climate change, technology development and transfer in October, in cooperation with the United Nations, to help formulate a road map for technology in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation to support the Convention process.
Accelerated economic growth and energy security were critical drivers for the achievement of poverty alleviation and livelihood security, he continued. In pursuing its development goals, his country had been successful in significantly reducing its energy intensity. It would continue to pursue that path. Among India's initiatives to address climate change, he mentioned its comprehensive policy and legislative framework, and a national action plan on climate change, as well as an unprecedented afforestation campaign with the doubling of the budget for forestry to $1.3 billion this year. Measures had been approved to enhance energy efficiency and promote solar energy.
India had an impeccable non-proliferation record and welcomed the renewed global debate on achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, he said. It had put forward a number of proposals on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations, including a working paper in 2006, proposing elements to fashion a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation. Last year, his country had reiterated its proposal for a nuclear weapons convention, which would ban the production, development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and provide for their total elimination within a specified time frame. India would continue to engage with key countries to intensify that debate, with the hope that greater international understanding could lend itself to a firm commitment for action on nuclear disarmament.
It was in that spirit that he supported the adoption of the programme of work in the Conference on Disarmament this May, he said. It was consistent with India's position, to work with others there towards conclusion of a non-discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated and internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty, provided it met India's security needs. India remained committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.
The barbaric terrorism attack in Mumbai last November had reminded the world of the daily menace of terrorism, he said. It was the international community's collective responsibility to work together to ensure that terrorists, organizers, perpetrators and supporters of such crimes were brought to justice. To strengthen the international legal framework in that regard, India had proposed a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The discussions on the draft had gone on far too long, and it was time for the convention to finally be adopted.
Turning to the situation in his region, he said there was a new beginning in Sri Lanka; in Nepal, strengthening of the peace process was in the international community's collective interests; and in Afghanistan, the international community must remain intensively engaged and support its development efforts and the maintenance of peace and stability. India was committed to establishing good neighbourly relations and resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through peaceful dialogue.
RUMIANA JELEVA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, began by asserting her country's dedication to multilateralism, and thus its full support for bolstering the United Nations capacity to provide effective responses to global challenges. She said the economic crisis and climate change were the most pressing issues. Turning to other urgent matters, she added that ensuring energy and food security, tackling migration, pandemics and numerous conflicts was also crucial.
Global security required a bottom-up approach, with different sorts of regional, subregional and cross-border cooperation serving as building blocks for comprehensive security, she continued. While she welcomed better relations between the European Union and the United Nations on conflict matters, she said this could be deepened further to address prevention and reconstruction. On foreign policy, she said cooperation in South-East Europe and the Black Sea region was a priority, particularly in the transport and energy sectors and in environmental protection. Regional cooperation was integral to the integration of the Western Balkans into Europe, as it contributed to bolstering stability and security and affirmed European values.
She then called for full compliance in the Western Balkans with human rights and fundamental freedoms and noted that the building of a stable, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo was of primary importance for the security architecture of the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole. She expressed concern over the South Caucasus, urging various factions to work towards ensuring the region's peaceful and prosperous growth. It was also crucial to embrace the Black Sea region's opportunities, namely in the transportation, energy and environment sectors. In that regard, Bulgaria was one of the key supporters of a cooperation platform between the European Union and the Black Sea region, she said.
She urged stepping up efforts to improve international disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, underscoring her country's support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and for implementing the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. She expressed concern on Iran's nuclear activities and its deteriorating human rights record, urging it to abide by Security Council resolutions on nuclear matters. Since terrorism was one of the most serious global threats to peace and security, it had to remain high on the international community's agenda, she cautioned.
In times of enormous and unprecedented challenges, reforming the United Nations Security Council was central. That would happen by enhancing the Organization's ability to represent more States, to be transparent and effective. Also, Bulgaria firmly supported United Nations peacekeeping missions. It took great pride in participating in peacekeeping efforts in the Western Balkans and Afghanistan.
She said she was also aware that international diplomacy did help overcome conflicts and thus stood by the European Union's position on the Arab-Israeli conflict, by stressing that a durable peace would only transpire if both sides coexisted in their own sovereign States. Given that sustainable peace could not exist without effective justice, Bulgaria supported the International Criminal Court, the Rome Statute and the United Nations Alliance of Civilization's efforts towards peace and stability. It also expressed its commitment to human rights and gender equality.
Turning to ways to overcome the economic and financial crisis, she urged for developed and developing countries to intensify their cooperation. At the same time, she expressed concern that the United Nations regular budget for the period 2010-2011 had grown and called for cost-cutting measures.
ÖSSUR SKARPHÉÐINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said that one year ago, Iceland had found itself at the beginning of the global financial storm that saw almost the entire banking system destroyed and left the country facing its most severe economic set-back in living memory. The country had been the first to fall victim to the greed and excesses of Icelandic, as well as international, financiers who abused rules, followed dubious work ethics, hid money in tax havens and induced an irresponsible system of stellar bonuses that incited reckless behaviours far beyond anything the world had seen.
He said those responsible left in their wake a scorched earth and bewildered citizens full of sorrow and anger, who were scarred by the possibility of imminent bankruptcies and loss of their houses and jobs. Iceland was, however, pulling through, not least because it had support. The financial storm was beginning to break, both due to the resilience of the Icelandic people and because the international community had lent important support to the country. That was the "punctum saliens". In a globalized world, problems needed to be tackled together. The international community needed to fight the corruption that contributed to the international recession together, in order to ensure that the financial czars were not allowed to speculate again on peoples lives, to obliterate the tax havens they used and to create a sound global regulatory framework.
Turning to climate change, Mr. Skarphéðinsson said the best way to give the people of Kiribati and other nations that were threatened with obliteration from the face of the earth by drastic climatic changes was to put efforts into reaching a decision on a legally binding agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Conference that would strike at the core of the problem. The best way to convince sceptics to take that step was to highlight success stories. It was necessary to show that the goals were realistic and achievable. A generation ago, Iceland had been as dependent on imported fossil fuel as any other nation. A generation later, 80 per cent of its energy needs were met from renewable sources. All the heating and electricity was now 100 per cent renewable. What the country had done was to use the hydro and geothermal treasures that it had. What it had done, others could do. Its expertise was available and it had safeguarded the geothermal training programme of the United Nations University in Iceland.
He praised the work of the United Nations, saying that the Organization had done well in times when the odds had sometimes been heavily stacked against it. He referred in particular to the United Nations work in the area of the rights of women and to the Security Council's decision calling for global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear arms and boost disarmament.
Iceland was a small nation, but it had a lot to offer, he went on. That included its expertise in the geothermal field, which could be of vital importance against a climatic crisis; its experience in sustainable fishing, which could be instrumental in staving off depletion of stocks; and its geopolitical position and cohabitation with the Arctic for more than a millennium, which could be of great value in striking the right balance between fragile ecosystems and the use of resources.
SERGEI MARTYNOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, advocated partnerships in international relations, saying that the intention of the world's 20 largest economies to unite their resources to lead the world out of the global crisis was an important proof of their readiness to walk that path. The same applied to some regional and subregional summits in recent months. On a less optimistic note, however, the implementation of those agreements was still "in midair", for instance on the issue of renouncing the use and dismantling existing measures of protectionism in international trade. It should also be noted that the G-20 format, let alone G-8, was too narrow to be a representative partnership. The engagement of economic regional groupings of states with significant potential -- for example the Eurasian Economic Community -- would make that format more representative.
He also believed in the great potential for dialogue and partnership between the Non-Aligned Movement and other major centres of power, he said. The idea had been discussed at a recent Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt. After all, today's Non-Aligned Movement was a significant international factor, whose members made a tangible contribution to international security and were important actors in global performance. He called on his colleagues from the European Union, United States, the Russian Federation and other developed countries to display their leadership in dealing with global challenges on unprecedented scale -- and to do that in partnership, in close contact and coordination with all members of the international community, including Belarus.
As a founding member of the United Nations, Belarus was sure of the Organization's ability to play a leading role in generating partnerships in order to overcome most acute global problems, he continued. It had been under the aegis of the United Nations that, after the tragic events of 9/11, the basis had been laid for the establishment of an anti-terrorism coalition and elaboration of a counter-terrorism strategy, and he suggested that the United Nations should consider proclaiming 11 September a "day of the fight against terrorism". He also recalled the successes of the Assembly-backed New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals in the context of the global partnership for development. Building upon the experience of the United Nations, Belarus had put forward the initiative of establishing a partnership against human trafficking and slavery in the twenty-first century. For now it was an informal mechanism that had taken shape at the Vienna Forum against Human Trafficking in February 2008. To work effectively, it had to be institutionalized. That could be achieved through the adoption of a global plan of action against human trafficking by the Assembly.
Looking forward to the elaboration of new post-Kyoto arrangements this year, he advocated elaboration of a new global mechanism to improve access to new and renewable energy technologies for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The world needed a clear algorithm of coordinated action of key international stakeholders to ensure wider and universal use of advanced energy technologies and new and renewable sources of energy to ensure the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. Belarus was going to initiate a comprehensive study of that issue with the involvement of leading international experts, and include the results of that work in a future report of the Secretary-General.
He also emphasized the role of middle-income countries in economic and social progress, saying that last year, his country, together with its partners, had initiated the adoption of a resolution on development cooperation with those countries. For the first time, a substantive discussion was held in the Assembly on how to make the best use of the capacity of the United Nations system to assist such countries in dealing with their specific problems. He hoped the Assembly's work in that field would not be regarded through the prism of competition for scarce resources of the donor community and the United Nations. The real point was that the larger the number of economically prosperous States, the stronger and more predictable the world economy would be.
With the possible outcome of Copenhagen not clear, all countries, large and small, had to do their utmost to ensure its success. Belarus was the only State in the world which, for several years now, had been trying to assume significant commitments on reducing harmful emissions, which happened to be more significant than those of many of its neighbours, including some European Union countries. Speaking bluntly, he said he did not understand why many States and powerful groups of States that were leading in the post-Kyoto advocacy "did not allow us to assume legally binding and significant Kyoto commitments". He hoped that the call of Belarus for speedier ratification of her Kyoto amendment could be heeded.
In conclusion, he proposed to regard the 2010 United Nations summit -- the only forum uniting Heads of State and Government of G-8, G-20, European Union, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Independent States -- as a "summit of partnerships". At the summit, he proposed adopting -- at the level of Heads of State or Government -- a mechanism or plan of close cooperation of Member States for years to come on how to overcome global challenges. In the next few months, delegations could make their suggestions regarding the substance of such a document. Negotiations on the outcome could start in January 2010.
ATO SEYOUM MESFIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said that 18 years since a military dictatorship of unprecedented cruelty had been removed from power in his country, the consequences of a lack of democracy within the context of great diversity were all too apparent. The last 18 years had not been easy for Ethiopians, but Ethiopia had also made progress to democratize the country and lay the basis for rapid economic development. Ethiopia was slated to register double-digit economic growth this year -- its sixth consecutive achievement of that kind -- despite the pressures coming from the global economic crisis. The country had also irrevocably split from old times in terms of both individual and group rights.
As a neighbour sharing a long border with Somalia and a large population of Ethiopian-Somalis, it would be a miracle if Ethiopia had not been affected by what went on in that country, he continued. It was not just Ethiopia had lost a partner because of the absence of a functioning government in Mogadishu. It had also been directly affected by the crisis, which was being assisted and abetted, including by States whose authorities moved with ease and rubbed shoulders in civilized circles. It was not only the rogue ones but also States that were ostensibly decent that continued to fuel extremism in Somalia and fund their activities. Today in Somalia, there was greater coordination and cooperation among those who assisted the extremists than among those who professed support for the Transitional Federal Government. As the latest horrific suicide attack on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had shown, those destroying Somalia were being emboldened, and their supporters rewarded.
The international community was being stingy even with symbolic steps to show resolve against extremists and spoilers in Somalia, he said. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries had appealed to the Security Council; African Heads of State and Government had endorsed unanimously the IGAD call for the Security Council to stand up in support of the fight against extremism in Somalia. However, it appeared, the Council did not consider Somalia a priority. Meantime, those supporting extremism had made Somalia a priority. It was critical that the international community wake up before the hijacking of Somalia by extremism was fully consummated. What was missing was the political will.
Also critical for Ethiopia was the peace process in the Sudan, most particularly the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Horn of Africa could not afford the consequences of failure in the Sudan peace process. Ethiopia was very close to both parties in the Sudan -- an asset which it wanted to use wisely.
Among other challenges, he mentioned climate change, saying that he looked forward to Copenhagen for a resolute move on the basis of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Climate change had affected his country's agriculture and its plan for food security. It was no longer every decade that the country faced drought, but rather every three or four years. "If not drought, then it is a flood." In that connection, he thanked all those who had helped Ethiopia to mitigate and address the situation, particularly United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for organizing a meeting on Partnering for Food Security today. At Copenhagen, Africa had decided to be represented by one negotiating team on the basis of a common African position. It was an honour for Ethiopia to lead that team.
He also spoke about a "less than conducive international economic and […] political environment that we have to operate within". The country had faced a lack of tolerance to diversity, to policy-space experimentation and to independent thinking. Unjustified conditionalities abounded, both for economic and political reasons, either because of objectives growing out of market fundamentalism or because Ethiopia had dared defend itself against unjustified aggression. Ethiopia's first real attempt at economic development had coincided with the period when market orthodoxy made the role of State anathema. Perhaps that had changed.
The country could have achieved more over the last 18 years, but what it had achieved was not insignificant, he said in conclusion. The country had also continued to discharge its responsibility in the multilateral arenas -- in the subregion, in the continent within the African Union, and beyond in connection with its obligations to the United Nations. Within IGAD, it had done whatever was necessary, within the limit of its capacity, to help Somalia achieve peace and to shield it from the onslaught of extremist forces. Within the African Union, it continued to discharge its responsibilities to maintain the Pan-African tradition and contribute to the peace and security of the continent. The United Nations for Ethiopia was an organization it could not live without. The country benefited from the United Nations in more ways than one. Ethiopia also took its obligation to it very seriously. It was in that spirit that Ethiopia continued to strengthen its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts. In that, it would continue without fail.
CRISTIAN DIACONESCU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania said that in the 20 years since the "Autumn of Change" and the fall of the "Iron Curtain", his country had established a commitment to tolerance, rapprochement and confidence-building in international debates. Today, facing the most challenging and intertwined crises, he hoped that Member States would respond to those circumstances as an opportunity to create solutions and transform the world.
He pointed out that climate change knew no boundaries. All nations had common responsibilities towards one another and what was happening in the Pacific was also the business of someone living in a European city. In addressing the global financial crisis, he observed that the world's financial system no longer met the needs and realities of these times and the institutions monitoring it needed reform and an early prevention and warning mechanism be developed. The United Nations would be the appropriate organ to be entrusted with coordinating these necessary changes.
Continuing, he mentioned two projects that illustrated Romania's innovative and pragmatic approach to creating a twenty-first century multilateralism. One was, in cooperation with Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the first ever emergency transit centre for refugees in Timisoara. The second was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Romania and the United Nations for the training of United Nations close protection personnel at the Centre for Excellence of the Romanian Protection and Guard Service.
He also said that the solutions to these twenty-first challenges needed to utilize in a fuller capacity the regional mechanisms such as the African Union, ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council, to name a few. Such regional groups, with the appropriate support, could establish political will and, when necessary to maintaining peace and security, act swiftly and decisively. To that end, while on the Security Council in 2005, Romania had promoted resolution 1631. Although much had been done in that respect, it was of his opinion that Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter was still underutilized.
Noting that violence led to further violence, he stated that a stable world would be elusive unless certain shared values were in place and engaged by all. "Democracy and the rule of law is society's immune system", and he concluded that stepping forward to challenge the current crises was not just a question of funding, but also about engaging the principles of human rights. "There is no challenge is too great for our nations if we remain united. There is no danger so hard that can't be overcome if we mobilize our wisdom and our capabilities."
Prince MOHAMED BOLKIAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, stressed that, for the time being, it was "not up to us to decide whether our work is successful or not; that is up to the next generation". Future generations could decide whether our responses to problems had been effective. That was the way it had always been. With hindsight, the United Nations had reacted very effectively over the past 25 years, since Brunei Darussalam had first joined the Organization.
Although things were much better today than they had been 25 years ago, many of the world's old problems still persisted, namely terrorism, poverty, disease, war and the 60-year-long struggle of the Palestinian people. He recognized the United Nations proposals for reforms, change and development, and said embracing those would change the direction of world affairs. That, he said, was what people expected of Member States.
No one, he stressed, wanted to maintain the schisms between developed and developing countries. Instead, they preferred to exist in one world that sought solutions to challenges. The G-20 meeting in April had given States the choice either to stick to old habits dating back to 1946, or to work together towards change, regardless of their cultural and religious differences. He added that the state of the environment, the global economy, energy and food supplies had also sent a message for countries to bring about changes. The big decisions had already been made for us, he said, although that did not prevent States from taking them a step further. Otherwise, he warned, those changes would fall into the hands of forces outside the grasp of countries, rendering their delayed responses ineffective. Thus, he warned, the next generation might look back and judge, or worse, condemn, the international community.
AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justice and Cultural Affairs of Liechtenstein, said that, today, "genuine multilateralism" was needed to address the challenges before the international community. On disarmament and non-proliferation, the international community seemed about to enter -- finally -- a new era. And on climate change, the United Nations was working hard to "seal the deal". Liechtenstein had left the meeting on climate change last Tuesday with the belief that a breakthrough was possible, because everybody understood the gravity of the situation. Her country was approaching Copenhagen with a firm conviction that the world must listen to the voices of those who were most at risk -- to those whose survival was at stake. A leap of faith was needed now; no half-heartened compromises, no more postponing and no more talk about concessions. Copenhagen was not about "giving up" something -- other than self-destructive habits.
While much attention had been paid and much money had been mobilized to keep the world economy afloat, another crisis had emerged, a crisis of global governance. There were times when concerted action by groups such as G-8 and G-20 could bring solutions for everyone closer, but one could not ignore the gap between those who were taking decisions and the rest of the world. Effective solutions required the support of those who would implement them, and rules must apply to everyone equally. The notion of sovereign equality was one of the core principles of the Charter and was, indeed, the main pillar of genuine multilateralism. She was, therefore, pleased to accept an invitation from the Foreign Minister of Singapore to discuss, with other colleagues and friends, issues of global governance. The goal was positive engagement and productive cooperation, as well as the highest possible quality in decision-making.
Turning to the reform of the United Nations, she said that in order to be truly legitimate, the Security Council must genuinely reflect the collective political will of the membership as a whole. Liechtenstein would also specifically look for further improvements in the Council's sanctions procedures. As numerous judicial challenges had shown, those procedures must be brought closer to international standards of human rights and due process.
On the composition of the Council, she said that none of proposals submitted at the 2005 World Summit, let alone in a subsequent ratification process, would receive the necessary support of the Assembly. She saw only two avenues towards expansion: Member States could wait for a massive institutional crisis to hit the Organization and then expand the Council under enormous public pressure. Or they could work in a cooperative manner towards a solution that was a compromise and politically sustainable. She believed that only the latter approach was in the best interest of the Organization.
Regarding the International Criminal Court, she said that, during its first years in operation, the Court had been remarkably successful, but it had also been subject to controversial political discussions. That was not surprising, because justice could be difficult and could seem inconvenient. However, peace, development and justice went hand in hand. Those tasks must be fulfilled, first and foremost, by States themselves. Therefore, efforts must be galvanized to strengthen national judiciaries, in accordance with the principle of complementarity. The International Criminal Court would not be able to put to trial all perpetrators of the most serious crimes, but its work illustrated the world's consensus that there must be accountability for those crimes and that impunity was no longer an option. The 2010 review conference would give the international community an opportunity to add the crime of aggression to the list of crimes under the Court's active jurisdiction.
The Assembly remained "the heart of genuine multilateral work", she added. Looking at the work programme ahead, it did not seem that it needed much "revitalization". There were numerous concrete challenges in front of the Assembly, to which Member States must rise. They must look beyond their short-term domestic interests and work hard to make progress on their comprehensive agenda.
LAWRENCE CANON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada said that, as one of the United Nations founding members, his country reaffirmed its commitment to collective action to pursue shared objectives, as it faced up to shared challenges. The global economic and financial crisis, international security and environmental challenges had shown how far countries had become interdependent on one another. By prioritizing economic recovery and growth, his Government had taken action to mitigate its impact on Canadians. He stressed that recovery at home could not be isolated from global recovery. Protectionism posed a common threat to all of the world's economies, he warned, pressing for collective action to resist that urge by way of vigorous high-level talks.
Moving on to peace and security, he said thousands of Canadian aid workers, police and soldiers were working worldwide under United Nations-mandated missions. Canada and the United Nations shared the responsibility to eradicate terrorism in all its forms. He pinpointed that the Taliban were part of the threat to global peace and stability, and that Canada was committed to eradicating that threat. With nearly 3,000 military personnel and more than 100 civilians, Afghanistan was his country's largest and most significant mission, whose aim was to ensure a secure and stable country that was led by its people. It would be looking to Afghanistan's political leaders to improve priorities, such as good governance, the fight against corruption, reconstruction and economic growth. Leaders would have to do that by promoting human rights, especially that of women and girls. Between 2006 and 2011, Canada was also making a robust assistance commitment to war-torn Haiti -- $555 billion to promote democracy, security and economic growth. Many other challenges remained. He regretted the worsening security situation in Southern Sudan and asked for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to be implemented, calling on all parties to cease hostilities. To find a durable internationally led peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict, Canada had contributed more than $640 million since 2006.
News that Iran had been building a covert uranium enrichment facility had left his country feeling profoundly troubled, he said, condemning its refusal to abide by Security Council resolutions. He called on Iran to allow IAEA immediate and unfettered access to that facility to ensure a full investigation. Expressing hope that talks between the five permanent members of the Council plus Germany and Iran would address the continued dishonesty surrounding the country's nuclear programme, he reaffirmed Canada's support on action to deal with that threat to global peace and security. He praised President Obama's initiative to lead the United Nations Security Council summit on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, and said there must be political will to ensure that States complied with the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Canada remained committed to a post-2012 global climate change agreement that was in line with a United Nations framework on the issue. It also supported durable low-carbon global growth and was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. As a world leader in clean technologies to fight climate change, Canada sought new partnerships to develop and deploy them. "The global phenomena needs a global response," he said. Above all, all major economies had to meet that global challenge in the context of an effective and an equitable agreement in Copenhagen, he stressed.
Adaptation to the impacts of climate change was an important issue for all countries, he said. It must be a core element of the post-2012 regime, in order to build resilience to the impacts. He also expressed his country's responsibility to ensure the sustainable development and environmental protection of the sovereign Arctic region. Through bilateral and multilateral engagement, Canada would carry on showing leadership on Arctic matters related to shipping, oil and gas, as well as biodiversity.
He said that Canada, during its recently completed term on the Human Rights Council, had worked to make it a forum for constructive international dialogue. He affirmed that Canada would continue to promote human rights and freedom of expression, and to advocate for those detained by unjust regimes, while supporting those who had made genuine strides to advance human rights.
On international assistance, he said Canada was on its way to doubling international assistance to $5 billion by 2010, and that it had already met targets to double aid to Africa between 2003 and 2009. It would continue to support countries ravaged by conflict and natural disasters through humanitarian assistance.
Finally, on United Nations reform, he urged States not to let the dizzying succession of major events cause them to lose sight of the importance of reforming the Security Council, citing it as the "most powerful means of collective action". Real reform had to lead to more transparency and accountability, to adjust to the challenges of a wider global community, including a long underrepresented Africa. He concluded by reminding States that they must "never forget" that, in facing the world's challenges, they possessed the most powerful tools: freedom; democracy; human rights; and the rule of law.
XAVIER ESPOT MIRÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Relations of Andorra, said that his country, which shared domestic and international principles with Europe, wished to be recognized in the legal and economic fields, and not only for cultural and historical reasons. On 7 September, the Parliament had approved a law for the exchange of information on fiscal matters, which should dispel doubts about Andorra's loyalty. He was confident that a new era would unite his principality with Europe and the world by strengthening its international ties. Over the past four years, Andorra had been affected by the global economic crisis and a domestic structural crisis, which it had had to resolve single-handedly. Expressing his country's desire to stimulate international ties and instil confidence, he reassured States that Andorra was fulfilling its duties.
Since exchanging fiscal information would lead to double taxation agreements, Andorra would tighten pre-existing loose relations with certain countries. He said that tax havens and non-transparent fiscal systems were "two major financial evils of the twentieth century", something all Andorrans wished to overcome. Therefore, he proposed tax reforms and said Andorra would assure Europe and the world that it wanted to maintain transparent and responsible relations with them. Only then would international companies consider investing in the country, he added.
He hoped there would be no doubts on the desire of his Government to face the economic issues that had been at the centre of international debates these past months, he said. The international economic system must undergo "immediate, rigorous and credible" reforms, with a reformed United Nations alongside transparent international organization-led initiatives.
Turning to climate change, he described it as "one of the most serious challenges humanity faces". He was hopeful that talks in Copenhagen would make it possible to adopt a new "equitable, efficient and ambitious" climate agreement, one that involved young people for positive results. Speaking of new health care challenges, he said his country and the World Health Organization (WHO) had agreed to offer swine flu vaccinations, signalling fruitful cooperation with an international body. He pressed for responsible cooperation among all nations to protect people against genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing, among other threats.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Iran, speaking in a right of reply, said he sought to clarify and reject the allegations and misunderstandings on his country's peaceful nuclear activities and the legal treatment of civil protesters, as well as the unacceptable claims on three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. The allegations, fears and concern expressed on the country's peaceful nuclear activities and treatment of civilian protesters by a few delegations, in particular the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria and Canada, were totally untrue and without any foundation. Iran's nuclear activities were, and always had been, for peaceful purposes and, therefore, posed no threat whatsoever. IAEA reports bore witness to the peaceful nature of those activities.
Iran, as party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while observing its obligations under the Treaty Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, was determined to exercise its legitimate right to develop nuclear energy technology, he added. That policy was based on a long-term plan to meet growing needs. On that basis, the establishment of a new enrichment plant had been strictly carried out in accordance with Iran's safeguard agreement with IAEA. Contrary to the absurd allegations of concealment, the IAEA spokesperson had issued a statement yesterday confirming that Iran had already notified IAEA of that issue. Unwarranted focus on the peaceful safeguarded nuclear facilities, rather than addressing the existing proliferation threat posed by unsafeguarded and secretive nuclear weapons installations of the Zionist regime, was counterproductive and constituted a dangerous distraction. The European Union members should refrain from turning blind eyes to that real proliferation threat and should abandon their inconsistent approach to non-proliferation.
With regard to the allegations of mistreatment of protesters, he said his country's laws were based on prohibition of any form of ill-treatment of individuals. That overriding principle had been accorded special attention in the Constitution. In order to ensure effective respect for that principle, the Constitution not only provided for the punishment of those who ignored the prohibitions and committed acts of ill-treatment and torture, but provisions had been made for the legal protection of victims of mistreatment.
Iran categorically rejected as unacceptable claims by the United Arab Emirates against Iranian territorial integrity, he went on, emphasizing that the three islands located in the Persian Gulf were eternal parts of the Iranian territory and, consequently, were under its sovereignty. While stressing its determination to continue good neighbourly and brotherly relations with the United Arab Emirates, Iran reiterated that all actions and measures taken on the Iranian island of Bu Musa had been in exercise of its sovereign rights and in accordance with arrangements emanating from documents exchanged in 1971. Iran stood ready to continue its bilateral talks with relevant United Arab Emirates officials with a view to removing any misunderstanding that might exist on that matter. He said that the only correct historically and universally recognized name for the sea area between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula, which had also been emphasised by the United Nations, was the Persian Gulf. Any fabricated name for that body of water was totally groundless, unacceptable and of no legal, geographical or political consequence.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Serbia said it was regrettable that the Prime Minister of Albania had used the General Assembly rostrum to directly interfere in the internal affairs of a neighbouring State by supporting an attempt at secession by an ethnic minority in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The statement that the unilateral declaration of independence -- which was contrary to international law, the Charter and resolution 1244 (1999) -- had "created an important factor of peace and stability in the region" did not correspond to reality. To the contrary, that declaration had further aggravated the situation in the region. It was also deplorable that the Prime Minister of Albania had spoken about the unilateral declaration of independence, while the issue of attempted secession was being considered by International Court of Justice.
Continuing, he also objected to the assertion that inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo had not been significantly reduced. Today, Serbs in Kosovo represented one of the most threatened communities in Europe, and to claim that many Serb families were coming to Kosovo to build their future was ironic. The return of Serbs had not even begun. What Kosovo had become was fertile ground for all sorts of illegal activities, as was well known to two international missions in Kosovo. But, that was not a popular subject. Other European countries were beginning to talk about it, though in hushed voices still. But the claim that peace and stability was spreading in Kosovo was not true.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, also exercising the right of reply with regard to Iran's statement on the three islands in the Persian Gulf, expressed feelings of regret, saying that the claims by Iran ran against facts. Those islands had been occupied since 1971 and Iran should translate its good intentions towards the United Arab Emirates by unconditionally engaging in negotiations with it on the matter, or by taking it up at the International Court of Justice. He reiterated that the three islands were part and parcel of the continental shelf and economic zone of the United Arab Emirates. In that regard, any measures taken by Iran on the islands was null and void and did not give the occupying Power any rights over them.
Responding to the statement in the exercise of the right of reply by Serbia, Albania's representative said that the existence of the Republic of Kosova was an undeniable reality, and sooner or later everybody had to accept it, despite the harsh rhetoric that had fuelled wars in the region. It was time for a divorce, once and forever, from the nationalistic discourse that had triggered the disintegration of the region.
Some countries had accepted Kosova, while others had indicated that they needed more time, but the number that recognized it -- 63 as of today -- was increasing, he said. The Government of Kosova had taken courageous measures to create facilities for the return of Serbian families. Programmes had been designed and funds allocated towards that end, and the number of returnees had significantly increased. The Republic of Kosova took measures to preserve every citizen's cultural heritage. Albania advocated for the Republic of Kosova because it had recently felt the severe consequences of an atrocious war, during which many refugees had crossed Albanian borders. His country did not want a repeat of those events. It was looking towards a future of peace and stability, when all countries and nations would build for the common goal of European integration.
For information media • not an official record