Speakers Praise Diplomatic Successes over Iran, Cuba-US, Address Long-Standing Africa Conflicts, as General Assembly Continues Annual Debate
Continuing to address the broad range of challenges facing the global community, Heads of State and Government along with other high-level representatives hailed recent diplomatic successes, while decrying the plight of refugees and the crises leading to their flight, during day four of the General Assembly’s annual debate.
Among hopeful signs in the peaceful resolution of disputes, speakers cited the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States and the recent conclusion of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. They also turned to a number of ongoing conflicts, in particular across the African continent, stressing the need for diplomacy and humanitarianism to prevail in all regions of the world.
Welcoming the agreement reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — President Filip Vujanović of Montenegro said that current challenges to global peace and security required such a preventive approach.
Noting that active political responsibility was also part of good neighbourliness, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said it had brought many actors, including the Russian Federation and the United States, to “sit at the same table”, to ensure Iran would never have an atomic bomb. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key calling the deal a "bright spot" of the year.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck another note, cautioning against the Iran deal. He said Iran was rapidly expanding its global terrorist network and that “giving the mullahs more money” by ending sanctions would fuel more repression inside and outside the country. He urged those responsible to “make sure that the inspectors actually inspect […] and that Iran’s violations are not swept under the Persian rug.”
Haiti’s President, Michel Joseph Martelly, who concurred with the importance of the Iran accord, also pointed out that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would secure greater peace in the Western Hemisphere.
Dragan Čović, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that terrorism and violent extremism were the most serious challenges facing the world. The ideology characterized by absolute disregard for life was seriously undermining the fundamental values and achievements of civilization.
Furthermore, he said, that until recently, the crisis in Syria had largely belonged to the Middle East. However, days ago, Syrian refugees had arrived at the borders of his own country, a reminder that in the modern global environment, the events of one region were closely intertwined and inseparable from the events at his country’s borders. The waves of refugees presented a large burden for the majority of countries to which they were arriving.
Speakers from African nations described existing conflicts across the continent — many of which were long-standing and seemingly intractable — and stressed the need for diplomacy and humanitarian support to uphold a tenuous peace.
Characterizing the recent ceasefire in South Sudan, Vice President James Wani Igga said it was holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which he attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict-ridden history, disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Omar Sharmarke, said 25 years ago the country had experienced its own “Arab Spring” and in the ensuing decades the repercussions when a country did not meet the political demands of a society. Aligned with the new Sustainable Development Goals, a “Grand Development Plan” for Somalia would focus on creating an essential social and physical infrastructure, jobs and opportunity for young people — providing choices to keep them from extremism — and the elimination of the “local business” of non-governmental organizations, giving each Member State the opportunity to invest in his country’s economic rejuvenation.
Raymond Tshibanda N’tungamulongo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the United Nations remained increasingly relevant in its timely objectives and principles. Without peace, development was just a hypothesis. Where underdevelopment and poverty reined, social demands frequently led to violence. Recalling his country’s history of conflict, he said it might have disappeared had it not been for the United Nations support, which had restored peace, security and State authority. “There are no borders anymore,” he said, stressing that the “synergy of efforts” was not an option but a requirement.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-ranking Government officials, from Madagascar, Federated States of Micronesia, Angola, Cabo Verde, Lesotho, Georgia, Greece, Malaysia, Slovakia, Luxembourg, India, Algeria, Austria, Ireland, Chad, Botswana, South Sudan, Burundi, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Nepal, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Bahamas, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Pakistan and Iran.
DRAGAN ČOVIĆ, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, until recently, the crisis in Syria was largely a Middle East crisis. However, several days ago, Syrian refugees had arrived at the borders of his own country, reminding its people that, in the modern global environment, the events of another place and another region were closely intertwined and inseparable from the events at his country’s borders. The waves of refugees presented a large burden for the majority of countries to which they were arriving. The tragedy of innocent victims, especially and unforgivably of children, was a test to the international community to take action. He expressed concern at the deterioration of the Syrian conflict, which presented the most serious threat to international peace and security. It was essential that the political transition in Syria was conducted in accordance with the Geneva communiqué. Regarding the situation in Ukraine, he also voiced hope that the conflicted parties would adhere to the peace agreement.
Terrorism and violent extremism were by far the most serious challenges the world faced today, he said. The ideology characterized by absolute disregard for life was seriously undermining the fundamental values and achievements of civilization. His country, a member of the global coalition to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), led by the United States, supported the work of the counter-terrorism community in its work to empower individual Member States. There needed to be a comprehensive strategy and holistic approach in order to address the root causes of terrorism, including addressing poverty and providing education to younger generations. He welcomed the extremely important agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, noting that the historic agreement was evidence of the true superiority of diplomatic efforts, and could be a guideline for solving other crisis situations.
The United Nations was a guarantee of collective security, and his country endeavoured to pass on its best experience in peacebuilding and democratic transition, particularly through membership in the Peacebuilding Commission, he said. Bosnia-Herzegovina contributed in the most direct way to maintaining and building world peace by participating in peacekeeping missions around the world and providing a significant number of female peacekeepers. Women were the pillar of the family, as well as the carriers of the development of a society, and a major factor in reconciliation. In light of what his country had been through, his Government would therefore invest even further efforts in women’s interests to mend what was broken, strengthen the pillar of the family, and provide for women’s equality.
Exactly 20 years ago his country had achieved its long desired peace, he said. Now they were working to improve social conditions and rule of law. The next step was to submit its membership application to the European Union, and continue to build a society of equality and parity. Experiences and lessons learned in the past must be offered as an increased contribution. His country would spare no effort in combatting all forms of discrimination and intolerance, as was written in its constitution. It was a small and complex multi-ethnic State, he said, stressing that his Government knew exactly how important it was to protect all individual and collective rights. He also underscored the importance of reaching a legally binding agreement at the upcoming twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
MICHEL JOSEPH MARTELLY, President of Haiti commended several recent events that highlighted progress in international relations, notably the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, which would further secure peace in the hemisphere. He also hailed the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Germany), and voiced support for the prevailing dialogue among nations towards peace.
However, he stated, the Syrian conflict was an affront to the international conscience. Non-State actors were expanding their reach, committing unbearable atrocities and destroying world heritage sites, particularly in Iraq and Syria. All measures must be taken to oppose the barbarism of terrorist entities and the criminal behaviour, which threatened common values. There would be no peace or security if there were no response to such actions. Furthermore, there was no hope of meeting global challenges if the gap between North and South, and poverty were not addressed. The United Nations could not maintain its credibility if its capacity to act rapidly in maintaining international peace and security, especially in crisis situations, to calm hotbeds of recurring tensions and to resolve conflicts of long duration was not strengthened.
On the domestic front, he noted that a process had been launched in August that would lead to elections at all levels. Those elections would be an indicator of the success of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) over the last eleven years. Institutions serving the rule of law and democracy had strengthened and security had been improved. Detailing progress in reduction of extreme poverty, child health and foreign direct aid, among other areas, he pointed out that after decades of stagnation, the economy was growing, 1 million children were enrolled in school and there was greater access to clean water. There had also been progress in the fight against AIDS/HIV and malaria. Those successes could not have been achieved without MINUSTAH. As the country entered a new phase, he said, the transfer of military and police matters should take place under clear guidelines. A new defence force, created under a policy formulated with the Inter-American Defense Board, would participate in development, environmental protection, border security and protecting investments. He expressed thanks to those United Nations entities that had been constantly by Haiti’s side.
HERY RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA, President of Madagascar, said the world was now experiencing a “rendezvous with history” with the start of the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations had gone through highs and lows and had its strengths and weaknesses, but was still there to serve humanity. The world did not have the right to disappoint the expectations of its peoples, but must ensure the well-being of populations as inscribed in the United Nations Charter. The threats against global security deserved urgent attention: terrorism, climate change and the recurrent problems associated with poverty were also factors affecting populations. By adopting the new 2030 Agenda, the world offered Governments a solution to act effectively.
In Madagascar, it was important to take the same path as the United Nations, he said. The world had just set the foundations for a new framework for development, and had made a commitment that would lead the way for future generations. The new agenda, which was a benchmark, would support the achievement of the national development plan of Madagascar. Climate change was constantly deserving of the world’s attention. The United Nations Climate Conference in Paris would be the ideal framework to show solidarity in that fight. It was important to recognize that developing countries were not the main parties responsible for climate change, although they paid a heavy price. Madagascar was systematically suffering from the consequences of climate change, resulting in losses and often destroyed efforts to make progress, socially and economically.
Madagascar held a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity, and had supported the recent United Nations resolution on trafficking wild flora and fauna, he said. His country had been fully involved in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. There was currently a protective social policy aimed to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2030, in line with the new Sustainable Development Goals. It had also launched a campaign for the acceleration for the reduction of maternal mortality, and was also combatting early marriage. On food security, he said there were promising reginal prospects to make Madagascar the bread basket of the Indian Ocean.
Madagascar’s population was young, which meant they needed education and job training, he said. A new era was opening before the world; a new hope was being built with the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals. By coming together today, each nation was showing its commitment to move forward. The goals should not just be a reference point to fight against poverty, but for sustainable human development on the larger scale. Human capital, both the actor and the beneficiary of the Sustainable Development Goals, must be at the heart of all the world’s actions. The security of peoples in all its forms — from wars, crises and insecurity — was the root cause of the systematic violations of human rights, and peace and security remained the Achilles heel of all development strategies. Because of that, his country was perusing its own path towards democracy and sustainability.
PETER CHRISTIAN, President of Federated States of Micronesia, said islanders wondered why climate change was happening. Today, parents showed their children how much further out onto the reef their island use to be. While they waited in fear for the predicted and inevitable sea level rise, other effects of global warming, such as stronger ocean currents and more frequent typhoons, continued to wash away shorelines and topple trees, not waiting around for the sea to rise above the land.
Encouraged that discussions on climate change would take on a more serious tone and speed and that the matter had captured Member States’ interest, he urged cohesion in actions to bring a conclusion that would help mitigate the threat of sinking islands and prevent the “potential genocide of oceanic peoples and cultures”.
In 1995, his country’s Congress had passed a bill approving accession to the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, he said. In 2009, it had proposed the first amendment to the Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, which were powerful greenhouse gases. His country had taken the lead among developing countries to promote the phase down as a complementary climate change action. Owing to island countries and the solidarity of African nations, along with the European Union’s endorsement, over 100 countries had called for phasing down the hydrofluorocarbon production. His country would continue to work with all parties for the adoption of an amendment in that regard and would be present at the Climate Change Conference in Paris to support the cause of saving islands and lives.
FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, said that as a member of the Human Rights Council his country was contributing to an effective Council and Universal Periodic review. At the national and international levels, his State paid particular attention to the rights of vulnerable groups, the empowerment of women and girls and the protection of freedom of expression. Comprehensive implementation of the new Development Agenda required adequate financing. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda should be the main guideline in that regard.
National sustainable development strategies should be supported by national financial frameworks, reinforced by an appropriate international economic environment and the participation of all stakeholders, he stated.
Montenegro was drafting a new national post-2015 sustainable development strategy, he said. Noting that tackling climate change was inseparable from sustainable development, he said that the high-level gatherings in Addis Ababa and New York should encourage countries’ efforts to achieve a universal and legally binding agreement on climate change in Paris. Peacebuilding activities and putting an end to conflicts required a joint effort. International action, in accordance with international law, was essential to end violence in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya and other crisis areas. Only global engagement could address the threat of terrorism.
He supported global disarmament and non-proliferation and welcomed the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, calling for its effective implementation. Welcoming the outcome of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said that current challenges to global peace and security required a preventive approach and noted that Montenegro would organize a meeting in 2016 on Mediation in the Mediterranean. The current migrant crisis implied the need to eliminate the causes of migration, as well as the need for assistance to both the migrants and the States receiving them. In the recent past, migrants comprised one fifth of Montenegro’s population. The world’s interrelated global challenges required reform of the “global Organization”. Thus, he supported strengthening and improving the efficiency, transparency, accountability and representativeness of the United Nations system towards an effective multilateral system.
MANUEL DOMINGOS VICENTE, Vice-President of Angola, underscored the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reiterated his country’s commitment to strengthening the United Nations’ development agenda. He added that the Organization’s seventieth anniversary should provide an incentive to accelerate reforms aimed at revitalising the United Nations system, and called for greater representation of the African continent among the Permanent Members of the Security Council.
He called for a global coalition to combat the scourge of international terrorism. The creation of the task force of the Lake Chad Basin countries and Benin could serve as an example of the sort of collective response deserving the support of the international community in order to purge the African continent of terrorism. He also said that Angola supported the efforts of the Central African Republic’s transitional Government to restore public order and State institutions. However, of concern was the “business as usual” mind-set prevailing in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he called for the resumption of negotiations leading to a two-State solution.
He welcomed the recently concluded agreement between the P5+1, and the European Union regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. Citing his country’s responsibilities in an increasingly fluid and complex international context, he said that his Government would host, in conjunction with the United States and Italy, an International Conference on Maritime and Energy Security in October of this year.
JOSE MARIA PEREIRA NEVES, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, appealed for constructive negotiations among the various Member States towards the revitalization of the powers of the General Assembly, adding that an enlargement of the United Nations Security Council membership needed a more equitable and appropriate representation that reflected the changes in the world. With small island developing States, like Cabo Verde, the threat to their survival as a result of climate change, included, among others, vulnerability to natural disasters, risk of losing biodiversity, and difficulties in accessing financing needed. Such States deserved special attention in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He went on to say that the 2030 Agenda was a source of hope for billions of human beings who aspired to a more just, equitable and inclusive world. He also voiced hope that supportive declarations would translate into tangible commitments resulting in the reduction of greenhouse-effect gas emissions. Meanwhile, the new agreement that was to be signed in in the Climate Conference in Paris must properly frame the inevitable issues of “losses and damages.” His country was firmly committed to accepting responsibilities and making contributions in that domain.
Noting that Capo Verde was proud to be a benchmark for democracy, rule of law, and the promotion and protection of human rights, he voiced concern about the proliferation of existing conflicts and tensions in Africa and the Middle East, resulting in thousands of refugees driven by total desperation in search of better economic, social, political and environmental circumstances. War not only affected the well-being of the populations in their territories, but also created instability, disrupting the development of entire regions equally.
The sea played a crucial role in the history, identity, and subsistence of the Cape-Verdean people, providing vital natural resources and serving as a connection among the ten islands that form the archipelago of Cabo Verde, he stated. His country relied on the international community to face maritime security challenges, mainly those posed by trafficking. The world had great renewed expectations for the role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security but also in promoting a more prosperous and solid international society.
PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said his new coalition Government had committed to ensuring that his country emerged from the group of least developed States by 2025. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, it would intensify efforts already underway in the area of nutrition and had recently launched an innovative energy policy to ensure a substantial increase of renewable energy production. More importantly, as a first step towards political stability, it had recognized and agreed to constitutional reform.
Despite the United Nations’ achievements, the world remained beset by challenges such as poverty and hunger and the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons, he said. It faced ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and some parts of Africa, while it dealt with a staggering refugee crisis. Terrorism had increased world-wide and had become more brazen and lethal than ever before. Climate change, if not addressed effectively, would continue to “rewrite the global equation” for development, peace and prosperity. He called for a quick conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda according to its mandate, so that it could fully deliver its development objectives.
On the functioning of the United Nations, he said the Council must be made more transparent, inclusive and democratic, adding that a Council that represented Africa and other marginalized regions in the permanent category would acquire legitimacy. The revitalization of the Assembly — the United Nations’ principal policy-making, deliberative and most representative organ — must be hastened. Its resolutions should no longer be regarded as mere recommendations that could be casually ignored. Finding practical and lasting solutions to issues such as climate change, food shortages and HIV/AIDS was the Organization’s most complex task. In that regard, his country aimed to intensify the fight against HIV/AIDS and aimed to achieve its health-related goal by the year 2030.
IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, said that his country was a modern dynamic State today, in contrast to two decades ago when it was an isolated country torn by civil war. European integration had proved to be a powerful incentive and Georgia had reached a milestone in June 2014 by signing an Association Agreement with the European Union. The Government had made progress in every policy area with a national healthcare program and a system of governance that was more transparent than ever before. Last year, Georgia had adopted its first comprehensive long-term human rights strategy. Economic freedom remained the central pillar of the country’s development plan.
“Even with all these achievements, we still face challenges to our security at home,” he stated. The Russian Federation had signed the “so-called integration treaties” with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, continuing to illegally extend its control over Georgian territory. Condemning the “creeping annexation,” he added that it had crushed not only basic rights but also the hopes of hundreds of thousands of victims of ethnic cleansing who only wished to return to their places of origin. Recalling the annual general Assembly resolution on the status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia, he added that though his country had taken a number of concrete steps to advance trade and humanitarian contacts with the Russian Federation, relations could not be settled at the expense of Georgia’s sovereignty.
Last year, he continued, Georgia had announced its intention to establish a Silk Road Forum. In a few weeks, the country would host that high-level forum in Tbilisi. Georgia was located at a key crossroad, linking East and West, and reopening the Silk Road was an opportunity to ensure deeper economic and cultural ties between Asia and Europe. Welcoming the nuclear agreement with Iran, he added that it would contribute greater security and economic development in the region. Concluding, he set out his vision for a prosperous Georgia that leveraged its geographic location and was dedicated to facilitating peace among neighbors and commerce between continents.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, said that his country had been hard hit by the 2008 economic crisis due to the structural weaknesses of its economy and its high debt and budgetary deficits. Yet the neoliberal recipes that Greece and other European countries were called to implement came at a devastating social cost, and continued to deepen the economic and fiscal crisis instead of curing it. Greece lost 25 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), its debt to GDP ratio grew to 180 per cent, unemployment reached 27 percent, and the migration of graduates to European countries accelerated.
After many months of negotiation, he continued, Greece had agreed to a new stabilization program that included reforms to its public administration, pension and tax system, which gave it the opportunity to stabilize the economy by setting the foundation for a re-profiling of its debt. Unfortunately, such actions imposed measures that further burdened both society and the economy. His country needed to struggle step by step to claim a growth agenda, rather than one of austerity. The development of the economy and the restoration of confidence must be linked to the need for restructuring Greece’s debt.
Greece was also at the forefront of another regional, European crisis, namely the recent unprecedented migration flows, he pointed out. Since the beginning of the year, over 300,000 people, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan had entered the country with the aim of transiting to Western European countries. Greece, like all other European countries, was taken aback by that development. Nevertheless, the people of Greece had shown their solidarity by providing food and shelter to the refugees. The future of Europe or the world could not be built on ever-higher walls, or children dying on the doorstep. The international community could not allow racism and xenophobia to destroy its common principles.
In addition, he said, Greece was at the heart of a security crisis due to refugees coming from Ukraine to the north, and the conflicts in Libya and the Middle East to the south-west and south-east. He called for the international community to act decisively in favour of reconciliation and a political solution for Syria and voiced support for United Nations efforts and welcomed the successful completion of negotiations and political dialogue last week in Libya. He also stressed the importance of territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders. More so, for its own part, as a regional player keen on promoting security in the area, through a range of initiatives Greece had been making steady efforts to improve cooperation with Turkey.
Around the globe, people were striving for a better future for them and their children, he said. People in his own country struggled every day, with pride and dignity, to overcome crises and regain hope. Even in their most difficult moments they were assisting those more in need; those fleeing conflict zones. That was a daily example of people insisting, even under the most difficult conditions, on their basic humanity and democratic rights. That example should guide the world in taking the necessary steps towards a safer, just and more prosperous world, currently and for future generations.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister of Israel, said that 31 years ago, as Israel’s ambassador, he had spoken at the United Nations against a resolution sponsored by Iran to expel his country from the Organization. Then as now, the Organization was obsessively hostile to Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. In that first speech, he had said: “check your fanaticism at the door” and now, more than three decades later as the Prime Minister of Israel, he was saying, in response to the international community’s praise for the nuclear deal with Iran: “check your enthusiasm at the door”. That deal made war, not peace, more likely.
In the last six months, he continued, since the framework agreement had been announced, Iran had boosted its supply of weapons to Syria and sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shiite fighters there to prop up President Assad’s regime. Iran had shipped weapons to rebels in Yemen, and every week Iran and Hezbollah set up new terrorist cells in various countries, including in the northern hemisphere. “Unleashed and unmuzzled, Iran would go on the prowl devouring more and more prey”, he said, adding that sanctions relief would not “turn this rapacious tiger into a kitten”. President Rouhani had begun a “so-called charm offensive” at the United Nations two years ago and now Iran was rapidly expanding its global terrorist network. But “giving the mullahs more money” would fuel more repression inside and outside Iran.
“Some well-intentioned people,” he added, believed that the deal would block Iran from getting weapons, but the best intentions would not block terrible outcomes. “Make sure that the inspectors actually inspect”, and “make sure that Iran’s violations are not swept under the Persian rug”, he said. Israel would never forget that the most important partner it had always had and would always have was the United States. “President Obama and I agree on the need to keep arms out of the hands of terror proxies,” he said, expressing appreciation for President Obama’s willingness to help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge. “Israel is the innovation nation,” he stressed, noting the country’s contributions to medicine, agriculture, biotechnology and other fields.
Israel was also committed to achieving peace with the Palestinians, he said, stressing that his country knew the price of war and could appreciate the blessings of peace. “I am prepared to immediately resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian authority without any preconditions ever,” he said. Unfortunately President Abbas had said yesterday that he was not prepared to do that. Israel, however, remained committed to a vision of two States for two people in which a demilitarized Palestinian State recognized a Jewish State. Despite the best efforts of six Israeli Prime Ministers, the Palestinians had refused to end the conflict and make a final peace.
“How can Israel make peace with a Palestinian party who refused to sit at the negotiating table?” he asked, calling on the Palestinians to not walk away from peace. The leaders of the two countries owed it to their people to try for peace and the United Nations should support direct unconditional negotiations instead of imposing solutions or “encouraging Palestinian rejectionism”. The Organization should also “check its anti-Israel fanaticism at the door”, and President Abbas should stop “spreading lies” about Israel’s intentions with the Temple Mount. A thousand years before the birth of Christianity, and fifteen hundred years before that of Islam, King David had made Jerusalem “our capital” but Israel would respect the rights of all religions to sacred sites.
DATO’ SRI MOHD NAJIB BIN TUN HAJI ABDUL RAZAK, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that five years ago he had called for a global movement of moderates of all religions and of all countries to marginalize extremists and shape an agenda towards peace and pragmatism. Central to that effort was reaffirming Islam’s true nature; it must be acknowledged that “we are not winning” the propaganda war against ISIL. That group’s twisted narrative was not being adequately countered to prevent many misguided people from joining it or supporting from afar.
Islam unequivocally prohibited killing civilians during war, he said. It explicitly protected minorities and respected those of other faiths. It urged the pursuit of knowledge and stressed both justice and compassion. That meant that there should be no strife among Muslims, including between Sunni and Shia who may take different paths but nevertheless sought the same destination. Islam also condemned the destruction of historic sites that were a part of the world’s cultural heritage, and it was a lie told by ISIL that it was their duty to destroy them.
The Malaysian Government had helped develop an important body of scholarship that combatted ISIL’s warped ideology. An international group of Sunni and Shia scholars representing a cross-section of the global Muslim community had convened in Kuala Lumpur with a mission to define an Islam State that was based on the continuity of Islamic religious thought over the past fourteen centuries. It was nothing like the entity in Syria and Iraq that usurped that name.
As the world cooperated to solve the scourges of poverty, hatred, war and man-made and natural disasters that had given the world the refugee crises seen today, it was important to draw from spiritual traditions and the generosity of spirit that went beyond legal requirements, he stressed. The desperate migrants, the victims of extremists and those whose lives had been degraded by poverty and hunger should not seen as strangers but rather as brothers and sisters.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, said global security had never been as dynamic and uncertain as it was today. The number of major civil wars had almost tripled, increasing the number of civilian casualties. The current pattern of violence had serious implications for the maintenance of peace and security, as well as for the protection of civilian mandates in the field. Areas where the United Nations had had a presence had increasingly come under attack. As a result of the increase in refugee populations, forced displacement had become not only a short-term humanitarian problem, but a long-term development and State-building issue.
The challenges posed by the current migration crisis and gross human rights violations required joint responses that provided immediate and long-term measures, he said. Comprehensive action and close cooperation among States was essential to bring a sustainable solution to the root causes of migration. On the importance of preventive diplomacy, he said the culture of conflict prevention and resolution that were now taking root in the United Nations’ system must be further developed. Despite 15 years having passed since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, the impact of conflicts on women and children were still inordinate and their engagement in peace processes still insufficient. In that regard, the presence of women negotiators in high-profile United Nations peace and mediation processes, as well as the role of women deployed to conflict zones, must grow.
FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that if the world had indeed become a village in the age of globalization, then “we are all neighbours”. Nobody was investing so much hope in that spirit today as the millions of women, men and children who had fled their homes. His country had, since the start of the year, taken in 600,000 refugees and continued to do so daily. Yet, his country could not shoulder the issue alone in the long-term. “We need a European solution”, he urged, one built on close cooperation with neighbours around the Mediterranean, especially Turkey. It was “scandalous” that United Nations relief agencies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP), were so underfunded and had to cut food rations and medical aid. He had met with the Group of Seven and other partners, and together they had raised an additional $1.8 billion — of which over $100 million came from Germany — for the Organization’s relief agencies.
Noting that good neighbourliness presupposed respect for each other’s borders and sovereignty, he said that a fundamental norm was being violated by the Russian Federation’s annexation of the Crimea and its actions in eastern Ukraine. The European Union had launched a political process to defuse the conflict. In the interest of common security, his country wished to further strengthen the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) when it assumed its chairmanship in 2016. Noting that active political responsibility was also part of good neighbourliness, he recalled that this summer the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany had concluded an agreement with Iran to ensure that it would never have an atomic bomb. They had also brought many actors, including the Russian Federation and the United States, to “sit at the same table”, proving that while neighbours may not like each other, they could still solve problems together.
Turning to Syria, he called for joint action to end “the brutality of Assad’s dictatorship” and to break the control of ISIL. Calling for a legitimate and responsive United Nations, he said his country would continue to support reform of the Organization and the Council, the 2030 Agenda, and climate change objectives. Humbled that the Charter was partly a response of humankind to the war and inhumanity that had originated in his country, he expressed gratitude for Germany’s gradual inclusion in the international community, pledging his countrymen’s commitment to be good neighbours.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, of Luxembourg, said that human rights and the state of law could not exist without one another. The international community must also mobilize against climate change and Luxembourg, as President of the Council of Europe, would spare no effort to reach an ambitious agreement to contain global warming. Migration was another priority for the Council of Europe and the continuing migrant flow and waves of human misery had challenged delegates as political leaders and human beings. Nationalistic reflexes tended to reappear in times of crisis, but no country alone could deal with the unprecedented crisis. Instead of resorting to isolationism, countries of origin and transit and host countries had to work together. Underscoring the links between security and development, he called for a global integrated approach.
For more than four years now, he continued, Syria had become synonymous with war and exodus with one out of six Syrians leaving his or her country. Every day 9500 persons were added to the list of displaced individuals. A whole generation of children had been deprived of the fundamental freedoms of childhood. The Security Council must tackle that crisis, but the solution was not just humanitarian or military. Bombing at random, without any coordination, was aggravating the problem. Only a political solution could meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Turning to the Middle East, he stressed that Israel had the right to live in peace, but it was clear that the security of Israel would depend on the creation of a Palestinian State by its side. The Palestinian flag that was flying alongside those of other members should not be a mere symbol. Luxembourg also supported the initiative by France to encourage permanent members to refrain from using the veto in case of mass atrocities.
Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, noting the Organization’s numerous successes such as assisting in the decolonization and dismantling of apartheid, combatting global epidemics and reducing global hunger, stressed that that the United Nations had been ineffective in the area of peace and security. She called for the urgent reform of the Security Council as a prerequisite for preserving the “centrality and legitimacy of the [United Nations] as the custodian of global peace, security”. The African and Latin American continents should be amongst the Council’s permanent members and more developing nations should be included in its decision-making structures.
Turning to peacekeeping, she underscored India’s role as a troop-contributing country, noting that it had some 8,000 military and police personnel participating in 10 United Nations missions. Therefore, it was a matter of concern that there was no role for troop contributing countries in the formulation of mandates, which were often amended without consultation — a clear violation of Article 44 of the Charter. Peacekeepers faced great risks, including terrorism. That threat could only be defeated by organized international action. Countries that provided financing to terrorists or safe havens for their training, arming and operations must pay a heavy price at the hands of the international community.
Calling for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which had long been entangled in disputes over the definition of “terrorism”, she said there could be no distinction between a “good” or “bad” terrorist. In that vein, she turned to her country’s relationship with Pakistan, stressing that no one should accept terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. Past assurances between the countries had not been honoured and new cross-border terrorist attacks had recently taken place. “We all know that these attacks are meant to destabilize India and legitimize Pakistan’s illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
Even as the world countered the menace of terrorism, she continued, it must acknowledge that real social and economic progress remained a critical goal. The elimination of basic human want would lead invariably to more peaceful societies. In regards to climate change, the world had a duty for common action but that it must keep in mind the larger historical contribution of some and the differentiated responsibility of others. In addition, adapting lifestyle choices and reducing extravagant consumption would help the world correct its course. Turning finally to the current refugee crisis, she said that a swift response backed by political will was the “need of the hour”. India’s own response to humanitarian crises in its neighbourhood had been quick and holistic. Whether the refugees came from Nepal or Yemen, India had emerged as a net security provider.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Algeria, said that the current session coincided with the seventieth anniversary of the Organization and took place at a time when the international community was facing many challenges. While many peoples had broken free from colonialism and the world had seen a qualitative improvement in development, huge challenges remained, with ongoing foreign occupation in some regions, worsening hunger and poverty, terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. The massive flow of refugees due to war represented a collective failure to deal with the conflict in the Middle East. Algeria underscored the need to continue reforming the Organization, adapting its mechanism to the current moment. It was necessary to reaffirm the role of the General Assembly as a mouthpiece for international cooperation, while also reforming the Security Council which no longer reflected the composition of the international community, particularly the African continent.
Algeria had achieved the majority of the Millennium Development Goals, he added, through far-reaching policies that established the rule of law and provided equal opportunity for men and women. With its central location in the Maghreb and Sahel, Algeria continued to provide political and economic support to its neighbours to promote integration in the Maghreb because that was an investment in peace. Reiterating support for an inclusive and cooperative solution in Libya, he stressed the role of the African Union in maintaining peace in the continent. The Saharan people continued to be subjected to occupation and hardships, in a conflict that had undermined the credibility of the United Nations. His country supported the right of the Saharan people to define their own future and called on the Organization to set a final date for the holding of a referendum. Further, Algeria had paid a high price to regain its sovereignty and therefore supported the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people.
SEBASTIAN KURZ, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said that the world was facing a record high of violent conflicts as well as the highest number of refugees since the Second World War, with four million Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country. Those global refugee flows posed serious problems for all countries involved and just as no one country could solve the crisis, no one measure could be the solution. Calling for a comprehensive approach, he said that efforts should focus on confronting the root causes, namely terrorism and civil war, in the countries of origin. While the current political leadership of Syria could not be part of a long-term solution, to make peace, “we don’t talk only to friends”, he said.
At the global level, he went on, more unity was required and the international community could make a difference only if the United States and the Russian Federation “pull in one direction”. Establishment of buffer zones would increase security and humanitarian access and Austria stood ready to contribute to any peace operation. Calling for a change of system in which only the fittest and richest could reach Europe, he said that refugees should be able to apply for asylum in their countries of origin or neighbouring countries. The United Nations could help establish that process. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict also remained a challenge to the peace of Europe and his country supported a peaceful settlement based on dialogue, which provided for a free and stable Ukraine that enjoyed strong ties with Europe and the Russian Federation. In addition, he voiced his support for restraint on use of the Security Council veto in cases of mass atrocities.
CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said that to confront the “savage violence” of well-resourced non-State actors and some States and the humanitarian catastrophe that had ensued in many parts of the world, strong, assertive United Nations leadership was more critical than ever. As a long-time troop contributor, Ireland was shocked and outraged at the reports of sexual abuse involving some United Nations peacekeepers. He demanded decisive action to confront criminal behaviour by United Nations troops and welcomed the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations’ analysis of the current and emerging challenges faced by peacekeepers as well as the changes required to adapt to evolving peacekeeping needs.
Turning to disarmament and non-proliferation, the Minister welcomed the Iran nuclear deal and looked forward to its full implementation. He described the outcome of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May as “deeply disappointing”, and said Ireland would continue to press States with nuclear arsenals to fulfil their commitments under the NPT. “Today there are at least 17,000 nuclear weapons posing a threat to our very survival. We cannot accept this status quo,” he said, and called for “real momentum” to achieve nuclear disarmament. He urged all States to work with the Secretary-General's Special Representative on Migration, Irishman Peter Sutherland, to tackle the unprecedented scale of humanitarian crisis sweeping the globe. Ireland had deployed search and rescue ships to the Mediterranean and was providing for the resettlement of over 4,000 refugees. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s establishment of a high-level panel to address the growing gap between humanitarian needs and resources.
Assessing various conflicts around the world, the Minister called on all sides in the conflict in eastern Ukraine to fully implement the Minsk Agreements and cooperate with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s peacebuilding efforts. Ireland remained committed to a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. This year Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize marriage equality by a popular vote. He urged other States to follow suit and to promote rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizens. He stressed Ireland’s grave concern for vulnerable women and girls in many parts of the world, underscoring his country’s commitment to gender equality. The Minister advocated for a more accountable, coherent and transparent Security Council with wider geographical representation, including Africa. Ireland endorsed the code of conduct on Council action and mass atrocity crimes developed by Liechtenstein and the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, and supported the proposal by France and Mexico regulating the use of the veto.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Economic Integration of Chad, said 15 years ago the Millennium Declaration was adopted unanimously as the most appropriate response to poverty. The seventieth session of the General Assembly had to keep working to push back against poverty and to look for new ways and means to promote development. The challenges required fitting responses. For many countries in Africa, their success depended on the new development programme and would depend on the solidarity of all countries. The African countries’ expectations on development remained strong.
Peace and security also should be at the centre of this seventieth General Debate, he said. Africa was at the centre of the world’s many conflicts. There were very bloody clashes in the Central Africa Republic. The international community must not throw in the towel. African nations needed budgetary support to hold elections. He was confident the Lake Chad Basin countries and international community would be able to eradicate the terrorist sect of Boko Haram and their terrible attacks throughout the region. In addition to fighting on a military level, it was necessary to fight the deep-seated causes of poverty. There were conflicts in Mali, Chad and South Sudan. In Libya, there were a number of elements linked to ISIL. He called for an end to the violence.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was still unresolved and had caused suffering for the Palestinian people. He called for the creation of a viable Palestinian State co-existing peacefully with Israel. Chad hoped the hoisting of the Palestinian at United Nations Headquarters this week was an important step in moving toward a solution of this conflict. International peace and security was being seriously threatened by the crises in Iraq and Syria. The explosion of terrorism spared no continent or community.
As a result of those conflicts, many countries in Africa had to devote more money to security than to development, he said. The global community had to pool its resources and declare 2016 to be the year to fight terrorism. It needed to think about the deep-seated roots of terrorism and how to fight these causes. Migration had ballooned because of those conflicts and the consequences were very serious. It was necessary to eradicate poverty in those countries of conflict. Solutions had to be found for the migrants. Chad thanked the international community for its help. Climate change was another challenge facing many countries in the Sahel, including Chad. In addition, Chad welcomed the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.
MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President and Member of Parliament of Botswana, recalled that the Millennium Development Goals had clearly codified the global agenda, focusing on priority areas for meeting the needs of the world’s poorest. While significant progress had been made in recognizing those Goals, the sombre truth was that progress had been largely uneven across and within countries and regions. His country was proud of the tremendous strides it had made in the implementation of those Goals. However, poverty eradication, gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, job creation, and equal access to health and other services remained high on the country’s national agenda. Botswana also welcomed the new development agenda, which represented a global vision for the sustained prosperity of humankind and the living planet, wherein universal peace and security would form the foundation for sustainable development across all nations.
Stressing that the need to adopt a universal, legally binding agreement on climate change at the Paris conference “could not be overemphasized”, he said climate change could lead to potentially catastrophic consequences if left unchecked. The world continued to witness a dangerous rise in sea levels, melting glaciers, severe decline in agricultural output, changing weather patterns and health challenges caused by changes in climatic conditions. Climate change also posed a serious security threat, displacing millions and condemning even greater numbers to subpar living conditions. Developing countries were hardest hit, with limited capacities to respond to those challenges. Particular focus on the new agenda should be given to countries in special situations, and very specific support provided as they built up their economies.
In particular, he said, landlocked developing countries would require substantial augmentation of their capacity to implement the new agenda. The same held true for middle-income countries like Botswana. Turning to the present refugee crisis, he said that conflict, political instability and poverty were the main push factors for migration from developing to developed countries, as evidenced by the thousands that continued to cross the Mediterranean into Europe in search of economic opportunities. It was wrong to blame any single country in Europe on its policy towards immigration, as every State had to assess its own ability to accommodate such an influx. It was not Europe’s fault that people were tragically drowning in the sea but that of the countries where the migrants originated.
He expressed concern about the serious threats to international peace and security in many parts of the world. “We are witnessing an alarming rise in instability, insecurity and violent conflict, causing untold devastation and human suffering,” he said, urging the international community to take “urgent and decisive action”. Some conflicts were introduced or exacerbated by the involvement of non-State actors and the emergence of terrorism. “In a world where borders are porous and nations evermore interdependent, threats to security in any region have consequences for us all,” he stressed in that regard. In Africa, the situations in Somalia, Libya and South Sudan, to name a few, remained of great concern. The African Union was actively engaged in efforts to resolve the conflicts, and Botswana hoped that lasting solutions could be found before there was any further loss of innocent life.
JAMES WANI IGGA, Vice-President of South Sudan, said that after attaining freedom in 2011, progress had been thwarted by unjustified internal power feuds that resulted in a conflict the engulfed 3 out of 10 provinces in the country. The bloodshed, however, ended on 26 August with a peace agreement between the rebel leadership and the Government, followed by the President’s declaration of a permanent ceasefire the following day. The next step consisted of rebuilding the country with the help of humanitarian assistance from the international community and the United Nations.
Although South Sudan had been tied down by its own difficulties, it participated in global and regional strategies aimed at tackling threats of terrorism, he said. He commended the role of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the lead-up to independence and after fighting resumed. Yet, any renewal of the UNMISS mandate without either consultations or consent by the Government was unacceptable. The peace and security of the South Sudanese had been the paramount responsibility of the Government; it would never condone the crimes against its citizens or the violation of their human rights.
The ceasefire declared in August was surely holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which the Vice-President attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. He urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to speed up the creation of “this vital instrument” for enforcing a meaningful ceasefire. As proof of the Government’s commitment, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had left the capital, Juba, and redeployed 25 kilometres away. It was therefore incumbent upon the international community to rush humanitarian, resettlement and development projects to the area in order to cement peace and stability. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict-riddled history, this disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.
JOSEPH BUTORE, Vice-President of Burundi, expressed his commitment to the United Nations work in strengthening international peace and security. Despite the recent upheaval over planned elections in June, Burundi had restored order and set the stage for upcoming reforms in the country. The failed coup had sent thousands of people fleeing the country after its leaders had committed crimes against humanity, including the recruitment of child soldiers, but the United Nations, as well as the East African Community, had confirmed the legitimacy of the President and discounted the coup’s “hidden agenda to destabilize the country”. In the sovereignty of any independent State, he said, “people of the world must have their choices respected” and Burundi was no different.
After the new Government was named in August 2015, in all respect of the Arusha Accords, Burundi commenced an intergovernmental dialogue — open to all opinions — on social issues, peacebuilding, the Constitution and the ceasefire. The Government also put in place a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to account for conflicts since the country’s founding. It also adopted an African Union decree towards disarmament, and pledged to turn over weapons used by rebel groups. Moreover, those arrested during the coup would benefit from a fair defence, and child soldiers have received clemency for their roles. Regarding the refugees, he said the country could benefit from the international community to ensure their return and resettlement.
Continuing to Burundi’s development, he said women had been included in the political realm more than ever before, participating in not only parliamentary bodies, but also as the heads of several agencies. Primary schooling was currently free for all and encompassed the equal enrolment of both girls and boys. Additionally, free health care for children under the age of five had significantly reduced child mortality. But as Burundi entered the era of the Sustainable Development Goals with confidence, the country also looked to work towards the security goals of the Great Lakes countries, and would deploy its troops “at any cost” to reaffirm its solidarity with their aspirations for a peaceful region.
MOISES OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said the increasing greed of global capitalism, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, had caused wars; created, fostered and cultivated fanaticism and terrorism; and spread insecurity, destruction and all forms of crises. Forced and brutal displacement of thousands of people from previously developed countries laid bare the true nature of those conflicts, and the situation would only worsen unless the international community worked together to resolve the causes of so much distress. From a commitment to peace and fair development — and to help achieve it through dialogue, firm and enduring peace — Nicaragua proposed that the United Nations uphold the responsibility of resolving those hostilities.
The United Nations must work for justice, peace, respect and sovereign security in the world, he said. To accomplish that, countries needed to foster the transformation of the Organization to serve all its Member States. During his presidency of the Assembly in 2008, Miguel d’Escoto developed Nicaragua’s mandate to lay the groundwork for those necessary changes. Nicaragua advocated for a “re‑establishment” of the United Nations to prevail in the interest of all, with the ability of all Member States to talk and listen to each other on equal terms. He also encouraged a “respectful, responsible and ethical role” of United Nations agencies “alien to any form of intervention or interference” in the internal affairs of sovereign States.
GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his country was beset with all the problems and challenges that confronted all small States, including high transactional costs, threats to survival from climate change, a limited economic base and a small resource pool to fund and manage its development. Those realities made it difficult, if not impossible, for his small country to finance its development without external assistance and access to foreign capital. “But the people of my country do not wish to be beggars to the world community,” he said. “We are resolved, not to beg for it, but to work for it.” Yet after a long-standing international trade dispute, he concluded that the “powerful continued to ignore and trample the rights of the weak and might was right”.
On tax issues, he said his small country was treated the same as the United States, Canada or Japan. Even worse were the arbitrary and unjust rules imposed on small countries that choked their efforts to diversify and develop economically. He condemned the recent “wrongful list” of the European Commission that falsely named several countries in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including his, as “tax havens” and deplored the “tax haven” list, produced by individual States and a district in the United States, which had wrongfully labelled many Caribbean and Pacific countries. His country and other Caribbean nations had tax information exchange agreements with the United States Government and had been fully cooperative with requests for all tax information. Regarding the European Union’s “tax haven” list, Antigua and Barbuda had tax agreements with 18 of the Union’s 28 nations. Yet because 10 of them, with which it did little or no business, had arbitrarily and, with no consultation, said it was a “tax haven”, it had been placed on a European Union rogue list that was published globally. Yet his country had been found compliant by the Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) global tax forum.
That wrongful tarnishing meant financial institutions in Europe and the United States might discontinue correspondent banking relations with the country’s banks, he said. That would prevent payments for goods or services purchased from the United States and Europe, including food, tuition payments, medication and medical bills. “The consequences would be disastrous, since we would be excluded from the international payment system and would be unable to settle our trade and investment transactions,” he said. “Our banking system would collapse, our economy would be irreparably damaged and our people would be plunged into abject poverty,” said the Prime Minister, adding this would run contrary to the post‑2015 development aims.
In other matters, he saluted China for its efforts to establish a fund for South-South cooperation and its initial pledge of $2 billion to help developing countries carry out the post-2015 development programme. He called upon the United States Congress to lift the embargo against Cuba and return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba. He discussed the vulnerabilities of the island States in the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the threats of the changing climate.
JOHN KEY, Prime Minister of New Zealand, said that a lot could be said about the shortcomings of the United Nations. There were many and some were serious, but there were things the Organization could do that no other international body could. As a small country at the bottom of the world, his nation had sought election to the Security Council. The Council’s agenda was lengthy and contentious, and the dynamics within it were difficult. The Iran nuclear deal was a notable bright spot this year, and his country was proud that that happened during its presidency in July of the Council. As Syria descended into lawlessness, the evil nightmare of ISIL that had first taken hold in that country spread death and terror into the region and beyond. His country joined the international coalition against ISIL, with its armed forces helping the Iraqi Government to train its soldiers to defend its people.
More than 160 leaders had shown up in New York this week to mark the enduring importance of the Organization over the past 70 years, against the back‑drop of the worst refugee crisis since World War II, he said. It was time for Council members to set aside their vested interests and historical alliances to stop the violence, and end the suffering in Syria. The 15-nation body must also engage in advancing the Middle East peace process towards a two-State solution for Israel and Palestine. New Zealand had stood for the Council because small States had a positive contribution to make and provide a voice for those who went unheard too often. That was why his country convened the first open debate on the peace and security challenges of small island developing States during its presidency.
Part of the Council’s problem was structural, he said. That the five permanent members had the veto created an extraordinary power imbalance, which was exacerbated by their practices of pre-negotiating outcomes before engaging with the 10 elected non-permanent members, and of taking no action when one of the five did not agree. His country supported the two proposals — being put forward by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group of countries and by France and Mexico — to limit the use of the veto in mass atrocity situations. But part of the problem was also behavioural. The permanent members had become used to exercising power and were protective of their privileged position. They presumed to control the body’s agenda and determine its processes.
Despite its shortcomings, only the United Nations had the capacity to focus world attention across a range of issues, as demonstrated last week with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, expressing his hope that it would be repeated in Paris in December with the adoption of a meaningful agreement on climate change. New Zealand announced earlier this week the creation of a marine sanctuary around its Kermadec Islands, and had committed $1 billion in development assistance to the Pacific, focused on supporting sustainable fisheries management. That aid was dedicated to the areas where it could generate real results for real people.
RUI MARIA DE ARAÚJO, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, said the world had changed dramatically since the Charter was signed seven decades ago. The world must reaffirm its commitment to the pillars of the Organization, while recognizing that they had yet to respond to the aspirations of all peoples in all nations of the world. To that end, the United Nations needed a reform that would allow it to respond to the challenges emerging today. Reforming the Security Council had been pointed out as one of the requirements to make the body more representative and balanced. “Improving the system is the only way for us to be prepared for the long journey ahead towards fulfilling and honouring the promise of peace, security and human rights for all,” he said.
Having launched the new 2030 development agenda, the dynamic of change must now focus on the other pillars of the Organization, which are peace and security and human rights. Conflicts and violence continued to ravage the world, with millions forced to abandon their homes. Thousands of people were arriving in Europe every day, seeking to escape conflict zones in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. Those refugees must be provided with the protection they were entitled to under international law. It must also not be forgotten that crises, wherever they cropped up, could drag on and spread indiscriminately, affecting the economy, social life, peace and stability of other regions of the world.
Indeed, conflicts and crises still persisted in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas, he said. The Sahrawi, Palestinian and many other peoples continued to be denied their fundamental human rights. New and different threats to peace, security and human rights now existed in the forms of terrorism, organized crime and extreme violence. In addition, climate change threatened the international community, which was approaching a moment of decision on that issue in Paris later this year. The discussions that took place there must produce universal, ambitious and legally binding results.
Officially announcing his country’s desire to join the Association of South‑East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to boost progress in fragile States through the G7+ Group, and to adopt the international mechanisms for the promotion of peace, democracy, justice and human rights, he went on to say that Timor-Leste had achieved democratic inclusion in a peaceful and dignified manner. However, the road ahead for the country was long and arduous; in addition to further building its institutions and promoting sustainable development, it would work towards the full assertion of its national sovereignty, including the demarcation of its maritime borders with its two neighbouring nations, Indonesia and Australia. That would be accomplished through dialogue or international conflict resolution mechanisms.
MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, said that when his country had joined the United Nations in 1978, there were only 145 members. Today, it had increased to 193, and two thirds of them were from the developing world — all seeking a far, equitable and rules-based multilateral system. That was a sentiment echoed in the General Assembly Hall every year. As long as wealth continued to reside within 20 per cent of the world’s population, a global system manifesting such a divide would always face challenges in attempting to meaningfully respond to a collective agenda.
The number of conflicts the United Nations dealt with had also multiplied, he noted. His country had a well-trained police force ready to serve in United Nations peacekeeping missions, and intended to see its first team out in the field during the current session. However, the 16 peacekeeping missions deployed worldwide now had meant that Member States multilaterally spent more on security than development issues. There was a need to reverse that trend. Where there were situations of potential conflicts, all Governments must work together through an inclusive mechanism to avoid unilateral decisions, which always resulted in protracted conflicts and strife, causing immense suffering to the people who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of peacebuilding efforts.
His country remained under-represented within the United Nations Secretariat staffing establishment, he said, welcoming the Organization’s recruitment examination to be held in that country in 2015. He also welcomed an Assembly resolution calling for enhanced United Nations presence in the Pacific especially at the country level, as well as new thinking of establishing subregional offices within the Pacific, noting the distance and the diverse and peculiar characteristics of the region. His country offered to host one of the subregional centres.
Turning to climate change, he expressed a concern about the slow progress in climate negotiations and the resultant possibilities of climate change situations inducing conflicts. That prompted his nation to seek a seat in the Security Council for the period 2031-2032, a period following the expiration of the 2030 agenda. Calling for a reform of that body, he advocated for a seat dedicated to small island developing States in an expanded Council.
OMAR A. A. SHARMARKE, Prime Minister of Somalia, said that his country 25 years ago had experienced its own “Arab Spring”, and had seen — through two challenging decades — the repercussions when a State did not meet the political demands of a society. However, with perseverance and togetherness, a new Somalia had taken shape, and the State intended to continue its “climb from the dark”.
Somalia was home to a proud and prosperous people. Even without a Government, businesses had functioned; banks had been built on social capital and trust; invaluable networks had attracted a range of investors; and the shore-line had remained full of potential, with untapped oil and gas reserves. The new Government was actively rebuilding the country to realise its potential: it had defeated piracy; embraced decentralisation; and mandated a free, democratic election and constitutionally decreed commissions to ensure accountability. But some issues persisted and required the help of the international community.
To begin with, there remained an active insurgency, and although the Government — together with African Union forces — had liberated all major regions from Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s soldiers were underpaid, underfed and underequipped. Somali refugees and migrants still lived in temporary camps, and required United Nations support in finding durable solutions. Finally, the rebuilding of State institutions and infrastructure needed enabling. Public services that many around the world took for granted, Somalia either lacked or held in short supply.
To the General Assembly, he proposed a “Grand Development Plan” for Somalia. Aligned with the new Sustainable Development Goals, the plan would focus on the establishment of an essential social and physical infrastructure in the country. It would help create jobs and opportunity for young Somalis, providing choices to keep them from extremism. Finally, it would eliminate the “local business” of non-governmental organizations and give each Member State the opportunity to invest in the economic rejuvenation of Somalia. Only four years ago, radical insurgents controlled the country. But today, children had returned to Mogadishu beaches; women sat on dunes selling baked goods; and the “sound of bullets had been replaced by the noise of construction.”
HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said his country welcomed the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, and its success relied on implementing the lessons learned while achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Poverty and food insecurity remained as stumbling blocks to development. More than 800 million people were under-nourished and living below the poverty line today as the world’s population would increase to 9 billion people by 2050. The answer to the challenge of greater food insecurity would be good governance, policy reform and more investments in food production.
Climate change was another serious global challenge, and many developing countries that were dependent on agriculture were suffering through storms, typhoons, frequent flooding and drought, he said. Those natural disasters in turn impacted the countries’ food security, poverty levels and social welfare systems. Cambodia strongly hoped the Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015 would produce a binding conclusion in accordance with the principle of “common differentiated responsibilities”. In November 2013, Cambodia had launched the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014-2023, the first comprehensive national strategic plan to respond to climate change through adaptation, mitigation and low-carbon development.
Cambodia welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States after 52 years of an unjust embargo against the Cuban people, he said. Cambodia demanded that all blockades be lifted unconditionally after the resumption of diplomatic relations. Cambodia also welcomed the joint action plan over the nuclear programme between Iran and the P5 plus Germany. It believed the accord was not only a turning point in Iran-United States relations, but would create an atmosphere conducive to regional peace, security and political stability. Turning to reform of the United Nations, Cambodia believed the General Assembly should be more empowered to enhance global governance in the United Nations system. The Economic and Social Council had to follow up to ensure the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Security Council should be more democratic and representative in its permanent and non-permanent membership.
PRAKASH MAN SINGH, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, said that after a rigorous eight-year process, his country had recently promulgated an inclusive, democratic Constitution. That document opened new avenues of empowerment, progress and well-being for all disadvantaged groups, including women, Tharus, Madhesis, indigenous peoples, Muslims and Dalits. It guaranteed a representation rate of 33 per cent for women in the Parliament. Nepal supported the United Nations and felt there was a need for a stronger Organization that was capable of delivering results based on a wider respect for and observance of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and non‑interference, among other principles. Noting that some 120,000 peacekeepers from his country had served the United Nations over the past six decades, he said that more leadership opportunities should be given to Member States commensurate with their contribution levels.
Terrorism was the biggest threat to peace, security and development today, he stressed, adding that the threat demanded greater unity, solidarity, and continued and consistent collaborations among nations in order to address its root causes. That was best done under the auspices of the United Nations; therefore, Nepal was in favour of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. Further, his country stood for the general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, as well as against the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons. Recognizing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for an independent State, he also called for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Since the categorization of the least developed countries in 1971, the number of those countries had grown from 25 to 48. Only four States had so far been able to graduate from that status. An enhanced level of partnership and collaboration, as was enshrined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, was key to addressing those challenges. Similarly, he looked forward to a meaningful review of the Istanbul Programme of Action and for the effective implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action to make a difference in the lives of the 450 million people living in landlocked developing countries. He discussed other challenges facing the global community, including climate change and the “mega-trend” of migration, and described the current state of Nepal’s reconstruction following earthquakes that had struck the country in April and May.
RI SU YONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the United Nations was at a crucial historic point as it drew upon the successes and learned from the failures of the past 70 years. It was fortunate that humankind had evaded a third world war over that period. “The peace demanded by humankind is not one that is fragile like a thin ice layer, but peace that is rock firm, durable and permanent,” he said. While the world had undergone tremendous changes, the United Nations mechanisms for peace and security were little different from the old stereotype formed at its founding. The arbitrariness and undemocratic practices of the Security Council had been redressed, and the Organization was continuously used as a confrontation arena by a few individual Powers. That was the biggest failure of the Organization’s 70‑year history and the greatest challenge in the road ahead.
In the twenty-first century, the Council continued to commit arbitrary acts against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and violated justice and international law, he said. International law defined the use of outer space as a sovereign right of every country and more than 10 countries had launched satellites. Yet the Council had passed a “resolution” prohibiting his country from launching satellites. Nine countries had already developed and conducted more than 2,000 nuclear tests. Yet again, the Council had adopted “resolutions” on prohibiting nuclear tests in his country, which had carried out such tests only three times. Last year, the United States launched yet another anti-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea campaign at the General Assembly and Council on the basis of the “Report of the Commission of Inquiry” on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was fabricated with groundless evidence, thereby exposing that the Organization was still no more than a tool which could be abused by the United States. His country’s development of outer space for peaceful purposes was a legitimate right of a sovereign state, and its nuclear test was a self-defensive measure to cope with the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the United States.
Last August, the situation on the Korean peninsula had once again headed to the brink of war, he said. Though triggered by a small incident whose cause remained unknown, it was clear that such incidents occurred every time when the large-scale joint military exercises carried out by the United States and the Republic of Korea reached their height. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea referred the exercises to the Council since they were threats to international peace and security. The Council remained silent on the referrals every time. It was crucial to replace the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty without further delay, and it was high time for the United States to sign it. His Government was willing to hold constructive dialogue to prevent war and conflict on the Korean peninsula once the United States agreed to the new treaty without making claims about “someone’s provocation” through mass media.
RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the United Nations remained increasingly relevant in its timely objectives and principles. However, without peace, development was just a hypothesis. Where underdevelopment and poverty reined, social demands frequently led to violence. “There are no borders anymore,” he said, stressing that the “synergy of efforts” was not an option but a sine qua non requirement. Similarly, reform of the Security Council to include his continent was urgently required. He reaffirmed his country’s unreserved support for the Ezulwini Consensus, which was the only way to ensure the appropriate representation of his continent on the Council.
He said that his State, which through its history had learned the inestimable value of peace, was working to preserve that principle within and outside of its borders. However, given its limited means, the country was conducting military operations to neutralize negative forces and armed groups which had for 15 years sewn destruction and death in its eastern provinces. Recalling that all countries had signed onto the Millennium Development Goals, he said that their full realization had been hindered by challenges that must be addressed. Among those was climate change, he said, emphasizing the need to conclude in Paris a legally binding agreement that would help contain the rise in global temperature. His country was committed towards that objective, and had made commitments in mitigation and adaptation measures, in particular, through the reduction by 17 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Recalling his country’s history of conflict, he said the Democratic Republic of Congo might have disappeared had it not been for the United Nations. He saluted the international solidarity that had supported it, especially the troop‑contributing countries of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Peace, security and the authority of the State had been restored in most of the country, which had fostered large-scale economic growth. In 2014, his State grew at a rate of 9.5 per cent, the third fastest growth rate in the world. Finally, in light of today’s situation in his country, it was time to rethink the United Nations presence there and to begin a decrease in MONUSCO troop levels.
ERLAN ABDYLDAYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said that after a quarter century after the end of the cold war, the international community was once again faced with the threat of a polarized world, gross violations of international law, and an increase of armed conflicts. Instead of the diminished Berlin Wall, new “invisible” walls of sanctions, bans and trade barriers had been erected. On the 2030 Agenda, he said the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals should seek to protect the equal right of States to development. Respect for the rights of each State to development should be the foundation of just international relations, along with principles such as territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-intervention and rejection of the use of force.
The Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia represented a significant contribution to the global process of nuclear disarmament, he said, expressing its appreciation to the Russian Federation, China, France and the United Kingdom for the ratification of the protocol on negative security assurances and urging the United States to ratify that instrument. On the issue of shared use of water resources in Central Asia, he said his country aimed to realize its right to development by focusing on hydropower as a basis of sustainable development. To resolve the outstanding boundary issues in the region, it was necessary to promote the increase of transit potential and development of border infrastructure. The time had come to create a broad dialogue platform among all five Central Asian countries, because the lack of direct multilateral political dialogue exacerbated regional problems and barred economic development of the respective nations.
FREDERICK A. MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Bahamas, said his country had strongly supported the Arms Trade Treaty because of the escalating crime and violence from drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling and juvenile gangs. The carnage of young people because of the easy availability of guns to young males was unacceptable. The Bahamas was pleased to have actively participated in the recent First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty held in Mexico. While disappointed that the Treaty’s Secretariat would not be located in Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas was committed to the Treaty’s full and effective implementation.
Regarding 2030 Agenda, he said the Bahamas was crafting a 25-year, citizen‑driven national development plan. It would provide an overview of the economy, set policy direction for economic growth and identify strategies, programmes and projects to improve the economy’s overall health and sustainability. His country was seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council, and was the first Member State of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the first English-speaking country in the Latin American and Caribbean region to do so. The Bahamas was pleased at the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. It was a courageous decision by United States President Barak Obama which would enhance regional peace. The Bahamas would support an end to the economic embargo when the vote came before the Organization.
He said the Bahamas welcomed the launch of the SIDS (small island developing States) DOCK initiative. That initiative was meant to help small island developing States in the Pacific and Caribbean regions address the impact of climate change. It would also give them a collective, institutional mechanism to help transform their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development and generate the financial resources needed to adapt to climate change. His country reaffirmed its commitment to a binding agreement at the Paris Climate Change Conference. Right now, the Bahamas was under the threat of flooding and hurricane. On migration, he said illegal movement through the Bahamas was an awful reality. His country was determined to ensure migration was lawful, safe and orderly. Increased dialogue and participation in the process by all countries of origin, transit and destination was needed, he added.
ADEL AHMED AL-JUBEIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that his country was among the founding members when the United Nations was created in 1945. Stressing the importance of promoting the Charter, international peace and security could be maintained only through justice, equality and respect for international law. The question of Palestine had long been on the agenda of the General Assembly. Noting that Palestinians had continued to suffer, he denounced Israel’s flagrant violations of international law. The Syrian crisis had entered its fifth year, and the world had witnessed the worst humanitarian disaster of the current era. His Government supported a political solution based on the Geneva communique and the formation of a transitional council in which Bashar al-Assad and other perpetrators of crimes had no place.
The use of military force was the last option in addressing the situation in Yemen, but his State conducted interventions at the request of the legitimate Yemeni Government, following the seizure of the presidential palace by the Houthis rebel group, he said. A political solution based on the initiative of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as GCC, was necessary. Calling for the destruction of all nuclear weapons in the region, he welcomed the Iran nuclear deal. However, that country should exercise good neighbourliness and stop making negative interventions in the affairs of Arab nations. Iran should also end its illegal occupation of three islands of the United Arab Emirates. On development, he stressed the importance of taking into account specific aims and level of development in each country. Finally, he underscored the need for the United Nations to reinvigorate itself to adapt to the changes facing the world.
RIMBINK PATO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, said it took enabling national policies to achieve both the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Those policies addressed such areas as population control, access to water and sanitation, free basic health services and tuition-free education. Thanks to the latter, an additional 2 million children had enrolled in school over the past two years. The challenge for his country was now to translate rising economic growth into improved human development outcomes. Around the world, threats to peace and security hindered the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Terrorism, if not adequately contained, could have further cross-border impacts, including in the Pacific island region.
Noting that the global refugee crisis had reached his country, he said Papua New Guinea was working closely with Australia by providing an asylum-seeker processing facility and working to finding lasting solutions to that global challenge. He went on to address such issues as the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, disaster risk reduction, and Security Council reform, which his country supported. Papua New Guinea had contributed $100 million for 2014 to 2018 to support Pacific small island developing States in critical areas of development, such as good governance, education, health, capacity-building, climate change relief assistance and natural disaster reconstruction efforts.
Climate change posed imminent dangers with wide-ranging implications, including threats not only to human security, survival and development, but also to the entire global ecosystem. His country’s Climate Change Management Act was possibly the first of its kind in the Pacific, providing for funding arrangements and actions by various sectors to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change. He looked forward to the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Paris, and hoped that a comprehensive and legally binding climate agreement would be adopted to succeed the Kyoto Protocol and set the schedules for the reduction of carbon emissions from both developed and developing countries. The most imminent threat due to climate change-induced sea level rise was the forced displacement of populations, and the complete inundation and loss of sovereign territories of small island developing States, particularly in the Pacific. Therefore, he called on the Council to deal decisively with the security implications of climate change.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Pakistan responded to India’s attempts to deny its “illegal occupation” of the Jammu and Kashmir region. India had deployed over 700,000 security forces there, he said, emphasizing that some 100,000 Kashmiris had been killed, many women raped and children orphaned as a result of the occupation. Independent human rights organizations had confirmed the existence of over 6,000 mass graves in the region. India should withdraw its troops and let the Kashmiris decide their own fate in line with relevant Security Council resolutions. The issue could not be cast aside by empty rhetoric; it would always be on top of the list of any discussions between India and Pakistan. It was therefore disingenuous for India to ignore the issue; while proclaiming its willingness to talk, it had imposed preconditions it knew would never be acceptable to Pakistan. Using the “terrorism bogey” it had prolonged the conflict. The entire world was united in univocally condemning terrorism except for India, which felt that acts of terrorism in Pakistan were acceptable. He cast serious doubts on India’s willingness to prosecute individuals accused of terrorism against Muslims, and said that there existed dossiers of evidence of Indian support for terrorism in his country. Pakistan remained willing to move forward in a peaceful and constructive manner; he hoped that India would respond positively in the interest of peace and prosperity.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said that once more today the representative of Israel had demonstrated how much he grieved the loss of the “smokescreen” that the country had used to hide its crimes in the Middle East. He had attacked all members of the international community for their support of a nuclear deal that would “remove a layer of tension” in that region. The support that Israel provided to ISIL in the Syrian Golan showed that it wished to keep tensions high, because peace and stability in the region was an “existential threat” to Israel. The spotlight would be back on them and their crimes. The Israeli regime and its cronies had done much to prevent the nuclear deal from succeeding, but they had failed. Iran was committed to faithfully fulfilling its obligations under that deal.