|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
24th & 25th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKERS SEE PROGRESS IN 2005 WORLD SUMMIT AGENDA,
BUT HIGHLIGHT SERIOUS SHORTCOMINGS, FURTHER EFFORTS NEEDED
Greater Cooperation Urged Between ‘Politically Powerful’ Nations,
Weaker Countries in South; Note is Taken of Secretary-General’s Annual Report
After day-long discussion, the General Assembly this afternoon took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization. It was the tenth and final annual report of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
During two meetings, speakers warned that ideological differences threatened to erode or stall meaningful reform of the United Nations, and they called for greater cooperation between politically powerful nations in the North and economically weaker countries in the South to build an Organization capable of effectively and equitably responding to the concerns of all its Member States.
During consideration of the report, delegations painted a mixed picture of worldwide progress to implement the reform agenda launched after the 2005 World Summit. While they praised the creation last year of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, many said the failure to reform and expand the Security Council had been a glaring shortcoming. Others also feared that the efforts to reinvigorate the stagnating global disarmament regime and to define an equitable international trade architecture had both fallen victim to political rhetoric.
Viktar Gaisenak, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that, after studying the Secretary-General’s report and listening to the speeches during last week’s general debate, he felt it was clear that the United Nations could not reach its full potential of preventing military conflicts and fighting terrorism and poverty, while a “unipolar world order” persisted. New approaches should be based on multipolarity, acknowledging the diversity of countries and peoples. Global challenges and threats would be overcome only if the United Nations would promote the creation of regional centres for development.
“Reform of the United Nations should require it to begin to serve the interests of all nations equally, and not just those of a few rich and powerful countries,” said the representative of Cuba, stressing that the Security Council needed to be rescued from “discredit and mistrust”, and to be transformed into a truly representative body. That meant eliminating vetoes, secret meetings and decisions made behind the scenes by a few Member States.
Pakistan’s representative asserted that the reform exercise had been plagued not only by the pursuit and promotion of simultaneous agendas, but also by the absence of agreement on the strategic objectives of the reforms themselves. One clear example of the tension between “equity and the status quo” had been the breakdown of the consensus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The World Summit had been unable to agree on any disarmament provisions, and the major Powers had ignored their disarmament commitments. Pakistan believed it was time to rebuild international consensus on both disarmament and non-proliferation, and agree on effective and non-discriminatory processes to promote both, he said.
Stressing that a true global partnership for development had yet to be achieved, Viet Nam’s representative called on the Assembly to ensure that the current session focused on mobilizing further political will to take concrete actions towards the implementation of past commitments. He said that, while studies revealed a welcome drop in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, the reduction of child mortality and the increase in the number of children enrolled in primary education in a few developing countries, the overall picture remained mixed; in many regions; the numbers of people living in extreme poverty were staggering.
The representative of Switzerland noted the report’s characterization of the changing role of the State, and concurred with the report that a State had now to be a duty-bearer and guarantor of rights, at the service of individuals and communities, and had to act as a forum, regulator, arbitrator or mediator. Those changes went beyond internal policy to impact on international relations under the notion of “responsibility to protect”. Another consequence of the changing role of the State was the nature of the United Nations collaboration with civil society and the business world.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Finland (on behalf of the European Union), India, Liechtenstein, Colombia, Mongolia, Japan, China, Australia, Venezuela, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Also, speaking this afternoon were representatives of the Russian Federation, Canada, Zambia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Benin, San Marino, the Sudan and Ethiopia.
Observers of the Holy See and of the World Conservation Union also spoke.
The delegates of United States and Netherlands spoke after action on the draft decision taking note of the Secretary-General’s report.
The Assembly will meet again at a time to be announced.
The General Assembly convened today to continue its general debate by taking up the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization (document A/61/1).
In the report, the Secretary-General notes that this is his tenth and final such annual report, and it incorporates a previously separate report on progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration.
Four main sections cover development, peace and security, human rights, the rule of law and humanitarian affairs, and strengthening of the Organization. This year, the Secretary-General says, a section is added on global constituencies to reflect the reality that globalization has ushered in an era in which international relations are no longer almost exclusively about relations between nation-States. It is also about so-called non-State actors who now form new global constituencies and who call on the United Nations, which has to learn to work with business and civil society, to encourage partnerships to promote desirable changes and deliver growth, security and services in the field. And while nation-States are no longer the sole players in international relations, they are still the most important and they face collective challenges which no single State can address alone.
He says the role of the State as regulator of economic activity and mediator between interest groups becomes more important as society becomes complex. The United Nations was conceived as an Organization to preserve the peace between States, but most conflicts in recent years begin within States and quickly spread to threaten the peace in whole regions, if not the world. The security of Member States is now inseparable from that of their populations, which is why Heads of State at last year’s Summit affirmed the responsibility of States to protect their populations from actions such as genocide and the responsibility of the international community to take action through the Security Council when peaceful means are inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to act.
States are now servants of human beings and not the other way around, the Secretary-General says, which is why the Organization’s three cardinal purposes of development, security and human rights are so indissolubly interconnected. To develop and prosper, human beings must be able to look to the State for security, protection and the exercise of individual rights in all areas under the rule of law, including the rights to freedom from fear and hunger.
Continuing, he says the United Nations has “suffered a loss of innocence” in recent years with regard to carrying out its mandate. But the commitment to advancing development, security and human rights must not change, which is why the strengthening of the United Nations is no mere book-keeping exercise. It is an imperative that directly concerns the interests of Member States and should engage their urgent interest.
He concludes by noting that the themes of good governance and accountability run through the report “like golden threads”. Member States need to be well governed and accountable to their citizens if they are to nourish economic and social development, achieve lasting security and uphold human rights under the rule of law. The Organization will become stronger and more effective only if it is better managed and more clearly accountable to States. In the same way, ensuring good governance and accountability at the global level is not simply a matter of improving the efficiency of the United Nations, but goes beyond that to ensure that governors are responsible to the governed and that world Powers remember their responsibilities. This implies that all global institutions must be transformed into an effective expression of an emerging global community underpinned by shared values, held together by solidarity and inspired by mutual respect and understanding among all cultures and traditions.
Statements on Secretary-General’s Report
KIRSTI LINTONEN ( Finland), speaking for the European Union, and its acceding and candidate countries, recalled that the 2005 Summit had emphasized development based on global partnership. She said the European Union had set a timetable to reach new levels of official development assistance (ODA), which would reach 0.56 per cent of the Union’s gross national income by 2010 -- meaning an additional 20 billion euros annually. By 2015, ODA would reach 0.7 per cent. Various initiatives for developing innovative resources of financial were being implemented, with the European Union playing leading roles.
Continuing, she said the response to HIV/AIDS must be substantially scaled up in the areas of preventive action and achieving social change. Inclusive country-led strategies were a key element. In response to the urgent needs of Africa, the Union’s 2005 comprehensive Strategy on Africa would be transformed over the next year into a joint African strategy, in close cooperation with African partners, with the primary aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals with a key focus on sustainable development, security and good governance.
On the environment, she agreed with the Secretary-General that human security was threatened by environmental degradation, adding that “inaction is the most expensive way to react to the challenges”. An important dialogue had been initiated with the Montreal Climate Change Conference of Parties and the European Union was committed to actively participating in developing coherent international climate change policies.
Expressing agreement with the report on peace and security, she noted that the Peacebuilding Commission, along with the Support Office and Fund, was a key achievement of the reform process launched by the Summit. She called on States to implement the strategy against terrorism, adopted by the United Nations, and to tackle the deadlock in multilateral negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation. She said she welcomed the inclusion of the subject of “rule of law” at the national and international levels in the Assembly’s agenda and noted the importance of the International Criminal Court. She expressed strong commitment to the new Human Rights Council. She said she supported the Plan of Action for 2008-2009 that had been submitted by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, based on the doubling of the resources of the office in line with the Summit’s decision. Among the welcome improvements in the area of humanitarian action was the establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund.
She said she welcomed the creation of the High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence at the United Nations, and the progress in management reform, including the establishment of an ethics office and implementation of “whistleblower protection”. She called for agreement on funding for the Capital Master Plan during the current Assembly session, in view of the urgent need for renovation at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and she emphasized the need for global constituencies with regard to security and development.
VIKTAR GAISENAK, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that after studying the report of the Secretary-General and hearing the general debate in the current Assembly session, he had concluded that the United Nations could not reach its full potential of preventing military conflicts and fighting terrorism and poverty while a “unipolar world order” persisted. New approaches should be based on multipolarity, acknowledging the diversity of countries and peoples. Global challenges and threats would be overcome only if the United Nations would promote the creation of regional centres of development.
Deploring statements made before the Assembly that the global partnership for development remained only on paper, he said Belarus was determined to become a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and was determined to promote the efforts of the most disadvantaged countries, to help them implement their national development strategies. That Council needed to become the international forum where development assistance decisions were taken.
He said that to fight the problem of human trafficking, which affected his region, Belarus would be presenting to the Assembly a draft resolution on the subject, which would include not only protection for victims, but prosecution of consumers of such trade. Despite recent economic growth, he said, Eastern Europe had 125 million people living below the poverty line, and many of its smaller States had fallen behind Latin America and Asia, in terms of achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals. Belarus would be presenting a draft resolution to ensure targeted international financial and technical assistance to countries in the region.
Progress in the field of disarmament was necessary, and Belarus was happy to announce a new nuclear-weapon free zone in Central Asia, signed with four Central Asian partner States. He urged Member States who had failed to support the Belarus-sponsored resolution on preventing the development of new weapons of mass destruction to sign it in the current session. Similarly, he urged that United Nations reforms be carried out smoothly, taking into account the interests of all Member States and not only a narrow circle of influential States.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said the United Nations was an indispensable instrument for the promotion of humanity’s shared goals; if it did not exist, “we would need to create it”. Current and emerging challenges in the twenty-first century could be overcome only through multilateral cooperation. The Organizational reforms under way were crucial to shaping a United Nations that could address those challenges. But while some implemented reforms were cause for “modest satisfaction”, there were several areas where concrete action was still needed, including revitalization of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
He asserted that the reform exercise had been plagued not only by the pursuit and promotion of simultaneous agendas, but also by the absence of agreement on the strategic objectives of the reforms themselves. Some wished the Organization would mirror the unequal symmetries of the “real” world, while others, particularly developing countries, wished to use the United Nations as an instrument to change and democratize those unequal realities of a globalized yet divided world. Some wished to use the United Nations as an instrument of collective enforcement of “good behaviour”, while others wished to use it to promote collective and cooperative solutions to political, social, economic and environmental problems.
One clear example of the tension between “equity and the status quo”, he said, had been the breakdown of the consensus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The World Summit had been unable to agree on any disarmament provisions; the Conference on disarmament remained paralysed; major powers had ignored their disarmament commitments; an arms race may soon begin in outer space; the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons regime was driven by doubt and double standards; and the three nuclear-weapon States not signatory to the treaty remained outside the relevant international agreements. He said Pakistan believed it was time to rebuild international consensus on both disarmament and non-proliferation, and agree on effective and non-discriminatory processes to promote both. A special conference should be convened to promote that new consensus.
Noting that, a few weeks ago, the Assembly had agreed on a global counter-terrorism strategy, he said that measure would remain incomplete if it did not address the root causes of terrorism, State terrorism and the use of terrorism to justify the occupation and suppression of the right of peoples to self-determination. Those issues should be addressed, and the Assembly should create an intergovernmental mechanism to assume principle responsibility for overseeing United Nations counter-terrorism activities. On international peace and security, he said that while the United Nations had had successes in peacekeeping, the world community’s combined forces were now perhaps reaching the limits of their capacity for collective intervention. The most recent United Nations Mission -- for Lebanon -- was proving difficult to organize. Another in prospect -- for Darfur -– raised questions about the advisability of a United Nations-backed intervention against the wishes of the Sudanese Government. A closer look would reveal that such situations were rooted in what he called “the politics of scarcity”. The secret to their prevention was rapid economic and social development and, in Africa’s case at least, an end to the illegal exploitation of vast natural resources.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said poverty and conflicts in developing countries were not only the legacy of the colonial past, but also a consequence of the policies of international financial institutions, which took from the poor. For the twelfth consecutive year, net transfers from developing countries had risen and reached over $450 billion. Security could not be achieved without addressing the development problems faced by the vast majority of United Nations members. He said that, as reaffirmed by the 2005 Summit and as subsequently agreed in context of the “development follow-up” in July, there was an overwhelming logic to the United Nations leading a comprehensive reform of the international financial, monetary and trading systems. The Organization should encourage time bound steps for the second stage of the International Monetary Fund quota reform, give clear political direction to the World Trade Organization and take the lead in setting the international economic agenda through a reform of the United Nations system that reinstated the development approach.
He called for a strengthened role for the Economic and Social Council, and said the July plenary debate on Security Council reform had shown the continuing need for reform, and that maintaining the status quo was unacceptable. Developing countries were grossly underrepresented even though most Council decisions affected them directly.
He noted that India had pledged $2 million to the new Peacebuilding Commission and that it was one of the most consistent troop contributors to the United Nations. He said efforts to “mainstream” all human rights, including the right to development should be strengthened. The effectiveness of the United Nations system in response to humanitarian emergencies should also be enhanced, and India’s $2 million contribution to the Central Emergency Response Fund in March had been a reflection of its solidarity with other developing countries in the aftermath of disasters.
He called for maintaining the existing administrative and budgetary structure in United Nations decision-making, based on the Assembly’s primacy and that of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). He also called for strengthening oversight by making the oversight bodies independent.
He told the Assembly that India would be presenting a working paper during the current session on the issue of nuclear disarmament.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said that rather than adding more words to the already impressive existing repertoire of development-related commitments and declarations, the sixty-first General Assembly should set the stage for implementation and evaluation of those decisions. Such a move would be difficult, he said, since many of the important decisions affecting the development agenda were taking place outside the Assembly’s purview. He expressed particular concern at the recent suspension of the World Trade Organization Doha Development Round.
He said conflict prevention also fell into the category of areas where “we have seen many words, but are still awaiting real action”. He called on delegations to use the current session to strengthen the tools available to the United Nations.
He went on to praise the recent adoption of a global counter-terrorism strategy as an example of real cooperation and General Assembly revitalization. He hoped it would give impetus to overcoming the remaining disagreement on a draft comprehensive convention against terrorism. On disarmament and non-proliferation, including the issue of the illegal spread of small arms, he said it was “time to pick up the pieces and start anew”. The spirit of cooperation that had imbued negotiations on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction should inspire multilateral talks on disarmament.
He called on the Assembly to strengthen United Nations activities and tools in promoting the rule of law and human rights, particularly by boosting the Organization’s relationship with the International Criminal Court and with the new Human Rights Council. Noting that challenges still faced the world humanitarian response agenda, he called on delegations to use the current session to press for a more even-handed delivery of humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians. There should also be action on Security Council reform, particularly since there was at least a “minimal consensus” among Member States.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia), said that despite the worldwide gains on the Millennium Development Goals, noted in the Report of the Secretary-General, much more needed to be done. This would require a mobilization of official development assistance resources, and access to international markets for poor Member States. Overcoming poverty and building social equity were essential goals of Colombia’s democracy. Her country would do everything possible to reduce current poverty indicators of 49 per cent to 35 per cent by the year 2010, and 15 per cent by the year 2019. This included reaching full coverage in basic education, health care and basic sanitation. Reaching these goals would require the assistance of the international community in technical and financial areas. The Doha Trade Round of negotiations must be renewed.
Welcoming the creation of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, she said her Government would be in support of establishing a civil society campaign to counter terrorism. Going after transnational organized crimes that helped finance terrorism, was an effective policy, and Colombia had been happy to learn that the new strategy would endorse cooperation in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and illicit small arms trade. She said her country would continue to stress action against the proliferation of small arms, and would be proposing actions against such activity during work sessions of the First Committee.
On the role played by the United Nations on humanitarian assistance, she said she particularly welcomed the creation of the Central Emergency Response Fund. Work by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs would need to be conducted with the cooperation and consent of the affected State. Timely consultations between United Nations humanitarian agencies and the Governments of countries with humanitarian and conflict prevention programmes, would also be necessary to ensure that they would be in accordance with national plans and policies.
BAATAR CHOISUREN ( Mongolia) said the role of the United Nations in maintaining world peace and security had increased dramatically in the past few years. Whether it was the crisis in Lebanon, or the missile testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or the issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme, the international community continued to rely on the Organization to resolve global challenges. United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations had also grown and it had been heartening that “Blue Helmets” from developing countries were shouldering most of the service in such missions.
He stressed the important work of the Organization in the area of promoting democracy and welcomed the start-up of the United Nations Democracy Fund, which had recently approved the financing of a project for his country. That project would help Mongolia reach its Millennium Development Goal targets in areas such as the promotion and protection of human rights, promoting democratic governance and also zero tolerance towards corruption. Mongolia would continue to promote democratic values at the international level this year in its capacity as chair of the fifth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies.
He said the outcome of the 2005 World Summit had outlined the need for more effective, efficient and coordinated United Nations presence at the country level. In that regard, Mongolia was interested in innovative ideas such as the proposed “one United Nations, one programme, one team”, and looked forward to more concrete recommendations in the Secretary-General’s upcoming report on system-wide coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. He went on to say that Mongolia supported United Nations reform that promoted the increased participation of civil society and the private sector.
TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) recalled progress that had been made in implementing the outcome document of the Summit, and said reform of the Security Council stood out as the one item on the unfinished agenda. Japan would continue to take the lead on the matter, so as to reach an early decision during the current session. His country had maintained an exemplary record with regard to fulfilling its duties over its fifty-year membership in the United Nations, including with payment of assessed contributions. Even so, the scale of assessments structure needed to be reformed to duly take into account the status and responsibilities of each Member State, and bring financial stability to the Organization.
He said Japan would continue to promote the concept of “human security”, which stressed protection of individuals from threats to life and dignity, while also emphasizing the value of individual empowerment. Also, the High-Level Panel on system-wide coherence should provide guidance on the important matter of reforming the United Nations development system, in order to provide more effective service to beneficiaries.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DÍAZ ( Cuba) said his Government had become convinced that upholding the United Nations and respecting its Charter were more critical than ever. Reform of the Organization should require it to begin to serve the interests of all nations equally, and not just those of a few rich and powerful countries. The Security Council needed to be rescued from discredit and mistrust, and to be transformed into a truly representative body. This would include the need to eliminate vetoes, secret meetings and decisions made behind the scenes by a few Member States. Functions and prerogatives of the Charter should remain under General Assembly control. The growing meddling of the Security Council in other competences should be brought to a halt. The United Nations could be instrumental in strengthening and consolidating democracy. The political manipulation of human rights must stop.
He said strengthening the work of the United Nations on conflict prevention would fall short unless steps were taken to fight poverty, underdevelopment, and economic and social inequalities. The Millennium Development Goals were far from achievement because serious economic and social problems continued, particularly in the developing countries. The promise of the 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of ODA should be kept. The industrialized world had continued to refuse to see this reality.
He said the failure of the Doha trade talks was a telling point. The proclaimed end of the Cold War had not had an impact on weapons expenditures. With 10 per cent of the millions of dollars used for military expenditures, the development goals could be reached. The establishment of peacekeeping operations should not ignore the root causes of conflict.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said it was clear that efforts were under way at national levels to implement the decisions taken at the 2000 World Summit, and he cited the “broad consensus and unity” that had led to the establishment of the new Human Rights Council and Peacebuilding Commission and the elaboration of a global counter-terrorism strategy, among other developments. He said the next phase of reform should focus squarely on development in order to fully address the concerns of developing countries and promote achievement of the Millennium Goals.
On peace and security, he said that while there had been solid results in places like Burundi and in the Balkans region, China believed it was necessary to resolve outstanding conflicts and ease simmering tensions through peaceful means. The Middle East situation was at an impasse and was a source of major concern, with the Palestinian question at the core of the issue. Overcoming that particular impasse would go a long way towards ensuring some progress on other concerns in the region, including the Israeli-Lebanon issue. Every effort must be extended to ensure that the parties coexisted in peace.
Turning to the situation in the Sudan’s western Darfur region, he called on the international community to take advantage of the opportunities that had arisen in the wake of the signing last May of the Darfur Peace Agreement. He said China supported the handover to the United Nations of the current African Union Mission in Sudan, but for such handover to take place, the consent of the Sudanese Government must be obtained.
He said China recognized that the regime of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was facing difficulties. China supported disarmament under global agreements, but stressed that the pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes must be supported. On terrorism, he said that the recently approved global counter-terrorism strategy should be a “living” regime that could be moulded and shaped to address new and emerging challenges.
Returning to the issue of development, he called on the United Nations system to ensure that developing countries exercised more ownership and participation in the development-related decisions that affected them. He also called for reinvigoration of the Doha Development Trade Round. He touched on a number of other issues, and noted that China supported the principle that the next Secretary-General of the United Nations be chosen from the Asian region.
ROBERT HILL ( Australia) noted that partnerships between international bodies, States, businesses and communities were directed towards a renewed determination to improve the lot of the poor. He said the Peacebuilding Commission would contribute to that effort, since the rapidly expanding peacemaking and peacekeeping operations had shown that the benefits were soon lost if they were not entrenched through nation-building, economic growth, an improved living standard and respect for human rights.
He said that in the complex international environment, with all the players and all the threats and opportunities, the role of the United Nations had become more, rather than less, important. The Organization could help States meet their responsibilities to their peoples by setting standards, demanding adherence and providing practical support, but it would fall short of what was achievable if it were not efficient and effective.
He said every effort should be made to ensure that terrorists were unable to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he called for a greater effort to be made on non-proliferation. He said many recent opportunities for making the world safer through multilateral action on non-proliferation and disarmament had been “all but squandered”. The Security Council should play a firmer and more active role on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, based on existing agreements such as the non-proliferation treaty.
FRANCISCO ARIAS CÁRDENAS ( Venezuela) said his country was committed to the impending reforms to the United Nations, and urged immediate action on the Security Council as a priority. As the Secretary-General had noted in the case of the Lebanon crisis, it was in the Security Council that a “powerful unilateralism” had ruled and delayed important actions. This unilateralism in the decision-making process of the Council had threatened to make the United Nations a “mere spectator on the face of death and despair”, and had turned all Member States, small and large, into accomplices to terror, because of the decision of one Member State.
Expressing his Government’s support for peaceful solutions to international conflicts, he said any such action needed to be framed within the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, which were based on respect and non-intervention into the affairs of other countries. There was a need to strengthen the power of the General Assembly, since it was the main body for deliberation in the United Nations.
He said the new century would require a major compromise to help the countries of the South, with special attention given to those most in need. The adoption of a global strategy against terrorism was a major first step that would bring more robust and coordinated action in the future; it should be the start of a much broader negotiation, with definitions that would be acceptable to all Member States. It would also have to recognize the social, economic and political root causes of terrorism.
Reforms to the Economic and Social Council, he said, would have to be based on the right to development, establishing policies that would guarantee concrete actions to overcome marginalization, hunger and poverty for millions of people. He encouraged the Assembly to design and execute actions that would force international lending institutions to develop more inclusive policies that would stop the growing gap between rich and poor countries.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said that under the Charter, the main purpose of the Organization was the maintenance of international peace and security. While, by and large, that goal had been achieved, problems in the Middle East remained, particularly regarding the Palestinian question. The devastation wrought on Gaza, Baghdad and Lebanon had left an indelible impression on Muslims worldwide of the complicity of the West to humiliate them, fanning the feelings of outrage and anger, which often erupted in violence.
“It is imperative to find a comprehensive solution to the Middle East crisis”, he said, stressing that no one party or country could determine how that troubled region was to be reshaped. The views of all concerned must be addressed, and in that regard, Malaysia believed that the United Nations could play a more pronounced and decisive role by bringing all the concerned parties to the negotiating table.
He said that as a bastion of multilateralism, the United Nations also had to rise to the challenge of safeguarding the interests of developing countries; millions of poor and destitute people in the South expected the Organization to play its role in galvanizing support and political will that would bring the benefits of sustained development and globalization. He praised the President of the Assembly for deciding that the annual general debate should focus on “implementing global partnerships for development”, and stressed that while the Assembly had been unable last year to conclude work on strengthening the Economic and Social Council, that effort should now be its priority. World leaders had reaffirmed the Council’s importance as a principle body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic and social development.
He said the composition of the 15-nation Security Council should be made more representative to better reflect current world realities. He noted that the United Nations had been deliberating General Assembly reform for more than a decade, and it was high time to take concrete action, namely in the area of enhancing its position as the Organization’s chief deliberative and policy-making body.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE ( Indonesia) said the work of the past 10 years under the current Secretary-General had been the most fundamental and far-reaching since the adoption of the Charter. It included the start of a comprehensive reform process designed to ensure that the United Nations could better respond to its challenges and to meet the expectations of all members.
Last year’s World Summit had examined progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration Goals, as reiterated by recent conferences. The question of United Nations effectiveness loomed large in view of geopolitical upheavals and uneven progress in the international economic and social fields. He said the resolution on follow-up to development outcomes should be acted on without delay. The resolution on reform of the Economic and Social Council should be action-oriented, putting a robust Council into its central position in policy coordination and dialogue with all relevant actors, including the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization.
Ultimately, he said, development could translate into action only if developing countries had the requisite funds and possessed sufficient capacities. In addition to other measures toward that end, there should be higher investment flows to those countries. He said that as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, his country worked with others to fill the lacuna in the peacebuilding system; cohesive and integrated strategies were needed, leading to the resolution of conflicts in their entirety.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation), said the United Nations had risen to the global challenges it had faced. Its work in the area of peacebuilding was a case in point, which could be measured by the number of conflicts around the world where it had sent peacebuilding missions. Current demands in peacekeeping were also a sign that the United Nations would need to improve its multilateral diplomatic role and would have to guarantee a well-structured multi-nation response. On the issue of non-proliferation, a standstill in the process had delayed decisions that could have contributed to collective security. There was a need to improve multilateral efforts on weapons control and give priority to the law.
He said his Government was concerned about the operations of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which had made some decisions based on political bias and had had some delays in procedures. In addition, he said there had been great hope for the International Criminal Court and how that body could have contributed towards fighting impunity worldwide. He said the Russian Federation would want to give a central role to the United Nations in fighting terrorism, and was satisfied with the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which would give the United Nations a central coordinating role in the fight. Training assistance for nations to face that challenge would be needed; similarly, further assistance would be needed in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime.
He said the establishment of the Human Rights Council had been positive, as well as the streamlining of the system of procedures. He agreed that assistance to countries to complete Millennium Development Goals should be more effective, and not be politicized. The United Nations should also strengthen its potential to respond to natural disaster crises, eradication of disease, energy problems and global health problems.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said reform was an ongoing process requiring sustained commitment. Establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, and adoption of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, were accomplishments, but there was more to do to give effect to them in a meaningful way. The Millennium Development Goals, for example, had brought the world’s attention to a concrete set of objectives for improving the lives of the world’s poorest in a way that had never been done before; yet, improvements in nutrition, sanitation and medical care remained elusive for one fifth of the world’s population.
He welcomed the emphasis in the Secretary-General’s report on the interconnectedness of issues that were central to long-term global stability, and also the new focus this year on non-State actors whose partnership was essential to the success of the United Nations. He said the Human Rights Council should move beyond politicized squabbles. The periodic review mechanism should be implemented effectively, and stronger links should be built between the normative and operational human rights work. Finally, a most important reform measure was the results-based budgeting that had been adopted. The system needed to be deepened. Stronger oversight and more robust accountability were also key priorities for the current session.
TENS C. KAPOMA ( Zambia) called for greater international support towards the creation of an international investment and trade environment which would enable developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals. He commended the Secretary-General’s launching of the Global Compact in 2000, which he believed would boost Zambia’s development efforts.
Speaking of reforms that world leaders deemed crucial when they signed off on the outcome of the 2005 World Summit, he highlighted revitalization of the Security Council and the Assembly itself, as matters that must be urgently considered. He said Zambia supported the African position on Council reform, and would pursue renewal of the General Assembly to ensure its primacy as the Organization’s chief deliberative and policy-making body.
Along with finding ways to address abject poverty, he said dealing with the spread of HIV/AIDS was a major concern for Zambia. Indeed, in common with other developing countries, Zambia was reeling from the effects of the AIDS virus, as well as of other infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis. He appealed to the international community to honour commitments made at relevant international meetings and conferences aimed at deepening cooperation and increasing aid to enable developing countries to better combat these problems.
HJALMAR HANNESSON ( Iceland) said the United Nations was “not a talking shop”. As the debate was going on, there were 30,000 civilian staff serving in the field, plus 65,000 troops and military observers, 7,500 police officers and more than 15,000 personnel serving in 18 peace-related operations. The Secretary-General’s report helped keep the focus on the main issues -- the need for good governance and accountability -- both within the Organization and in Member States.
He said strengthening of the United Nations would be a principle task during the current Assembly session. The emphasis on development, and on sustainable development in particular, called for renewal of the Doha Rounds, debt relief to the poorest countries and increases in ODA. Over the next three years, Iceland’s ODA would triple, with the goal of reaching the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent and, beyond 2009, going even higher.
He said gender equality should also be pursued with more determined efforts, with greater weight given to the work of United Nations Development Fund for Women. Responsibilities in the area of the human rights must be fulfilled, and more emphasis must be placed on conflict prevention, including by reining in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reinvigorating initiatives towards disarmament. More concerted action was also needed on the small arms that visited mass destruction on large sections of the world population.
YERZHAN KAZYKHANOV ( Kazakhstan), said his Government supported a strategy to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and endorsed the establishment of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones such as the recently inaugurated Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, which had been signed in Semipalatinsk in September. He commended the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the establishment of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The fight against illicit drug trafficking could be effective, he said, only if Member States would join efforts and mobilize resources. He noted that Kazakhstan had just inaugurated a regional United Nations-sponsored anti-drug trafficking office.
He said development issues should be a priority in the United Nations agenda for the present session. His Government supported the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and encouraged that body to carry on with its mandate with unbiased and objective analysis of situations.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said his delegation welcomed the higher profile being given to development on the international agenda. However, while studies had revealed a welcome drop in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, the reduction of child mortality and the increase in the number of children enrolled in primary education in a few developing countries, the development picture remained mixed; in many regions, the numbers of people living in extreme poverty were staggering. It was now clear that it would take more than increased ODA to support the ground-level investment needed to ensure growth in the neediest countries. The recent suspension of the Doha Trade and Development Round was most troubling.
Stressing that a true global partnership for development had yet to be achieved, he called on the Assembly to ensure that the current session focus on mobilizing further political will to take concrete actions towards the implementation of past commitments.
He said Viet Nam believed that conflicts and tensions could be settled only through dialogue and negotiations on the basis of mutual trust and understanding, not unilateral action. He took note of the Assembly’s recent approval of a global counter-terrorism strategy and looked forward to working with delegations during this session to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive convention of the suppression of terrorism.
KAIRE MBUENDE ( Namibia) said he was pleased that the Millennium Declaration had been put at the centre of the United Nations agenda. It had set ambitious goals, which could certainly be attained given the natural, human and financial resources of the world. Recognition that worldwide development was a collective responsibility and that the United Nations would need to work with business and civil society had been an important addition in the Secretary-General’s report.
The ongoing conflicts in a number of African nations, where there were United Nations peacekeeping missions, had made achieving development in the region more difficult, he said. Namibia had decided to fight for peace, and with that challenge in mind, had contributed troops, Military Observers and police officers to various United Nations missions. Likewise, his Government was gravely concerned with the lack of progress in the area of disarmament, and had called for a transparent multilateral process leading to the total denuclearization of the world. There was a need, however, to assert the right of countries to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
He urged further progress on United Nations reforms, especially on the Security Council, which needed broadened participation, representation and transparency.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU (Benin) said the United Nations had significantly changed itself along with changing the face of the world, creating in recent years a number of bodies and organs, not only making it better able to deal with new and emerging challenges, but continuing to promote the aims of the Charter. He said the Organization should also be proud of the consensus that had given birth to the Millennium Development Goals and the Brussels Programme of Action on the Least Developed Countries.
At the same time, he continued, much remained to be done to ensure a global partnership for development, including the mobilization of resources and the promotion of environmental protection, and the resumption of multilateral trade negotiations, within the framework of the Doha Trade Round.
All of that put Africa at the centre of the United Nations agenda, he said, and Benin hoped the continent would remain a priority for years to come. The international community should extend every effort to help Africa overcome myriad development challenges, including alleviating extreme poverty, ending conflict and combating infectious diseases.
He stressed the need to press ahead with efforts to reinvigorate the global nuclear disarmament agenda, as well as the urgent creation of a mechanism to follow up on the June 2006 review of the United Nations Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said that during Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s tenure, the United Nations had had to respond to unpredictable worldwide changes and challenges including, among others, the explosion of pandemics, devastating natural disasters, outbursts of terrorist activity and deepening poverty – all in the unrelenting glare of the global media.
The United Nations, he said, should be commended for having accomplished so much with so little, but it was still clear that the Organization needed greater human and financial resources to effectively deal with emerging environmental crises, increased and expanded peacekeeping activities, protection and promotion of human rights, monitoring the peaceful uses of atomic energy and all other initiatives aimed at ensuring fair and balanced economic growth for the poor and underprivileged.
He called on all Member States to act on all resolutions and decisions approved by the Organization and to ensure their implementation. This year, delegations must strive to remake the Assembly by turning it into the centrepiece organ of the United Nations as the Charter had envisioned it. He said he believed that all Member States wished for the Security Council to be overhauled in the near future.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) said the explicit recognition of the interdependence of sustainable development, peace and security, human rights and democracy was a highly important conceptual development of the World Summit. A valuable characteristic of the United Nations was its ability to work in all three areas at both the political and operational levels.
He noted the Secretary-General’s characterization in his report of the changing role of the State, and he concurred that the State could no longer be a master but, rather, had to be a duty-bearer and guarantor of rights. It had to be at the service of individuals and communities and had to act as a forum, regulator, arbitrator or mediator. Those changes went beyond internal policy to impact on international relations under the notion of “responsibility to protect”. Another consequence of the changing role of the State was the nature of the United Nations collaboration with civil society and the business world.
He said United Nations reform efforts were being undertaken to enable the United Nations to face challenges of the twenty-first century. Security Council reform was among them, and “geopolitical realities” were no longer reflected in a formula involving a limited number of States. Enlargement of the Council should be accompanied by a reform of its working method to make it more representative and transparent as well as to strengthen the authority of its resolutions.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said one glaring disappointment in the area of United Nations reform had to be the fact that the Security Council maintained its “stagnant status quo”. The Council’s undemocratic constitution actually hampered international peace and security, rather than protected it as the Charter required. How could the United Nations call for democracy when it could not count on democratic decision-making from within? he asked. With the Council being held hostage to special agendas and political imperatives, it was actually becoming part of the problem.
He said the Sudan hoped the new Human Rights Council would not fall victim to the fate of the old Commission and that the newly established Peacebuilding Commission did not encroach on the responsibilities of other organs. Reforms should boost the profile of and strengthen United Nations cooperation with regional organizations. He expressed great support for the African Union Mission in Sudan and the work it was accomplishing in Darfur, and called on the international community to further enhance the Union’s work so that it could continue to ensure the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. However, he said, at the same time that it praised the African Union, the Sudan would warn against those who were undermining the Union by promoting special agendas, and trying to use the international agenda to promote their own interests.
He said his delegation welcomed the report’s focus on development in Africa and called for those efforts to be joined with the work of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) towards helping African countries reach agreed targets set out in the Millennium Declaration. He hoped next year’s report of the Secretary-General would highlight international cooperation in the field of science and technology as an important tool to promote economic and sustainable development for the peoples and countries of the South.
MULUGETA ZEWDIE ( Ethiopia), welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, said his Government had been encouraged by the progress that had been made on the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals. It had been a positive development to see ODA increased to $106 billion. However, a challenge remained and progress was uneven, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which had remained behind others in achieving progress towards those goals.
He said Ethiopia had been striving in that direction committing resources to the development of infrastructure, the improvement of the social sector and capacity building. Economic indicators had increased to 9.5 per cent in the last three years and alleviating poverty by meeting the Development Goals would remain the cornerstone of his country’s development programme. He said his Government endorsed the Secretary General’s recommendations to incorporate four new goals among them universal access to reproductive health, access to HIV/AIDS treatment, and a reduction in the rate of loss of biodiversity.
On the issue of peace and security, he said it had been encouraging to see that the United Nations paid due attention to solving African conflicts. However, it was disappointing that conflict resolution had absorbed the lion’s share of the resources going to the region.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, said he supported continued efforts in the United Nations reform process, particularly the creation of a mediation support capacity within the Department of Political Affairs. Conflict prevention and responsibility to protect were important mandates, but they needed to be more explicitly and effectively connected into areas of security and development. The present lack of progress in development aid and trade reform threatened everyone’s security and well-being. The whole United Nations system should acknowledge the linkage between disarmament, development and humanitarian concerns, and commit itself to strategies and programmes to reduce the demand for arms and armed violence.
In the area of humanitarian assistance, he said the Central Emergency Relief Fund and the “innovative cluster coordination system” were important developments. The United Nations should play the leading role in balancing the autonomy of civil society actors and needs of the most vulnerable. He said important steps had been taken with regard to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In implementing the important Summit Outcome document, it should be kept in mind that the reference to the reproductive health target for 2015 was related to maternal mortality rather than being a target in and of itself.
BHAGWAT-SINGH, Observer for the World Conservation Union, said the Union “implores” the United Nations to consider providing further mandates on broad questions of environmental issues. The United Nations could provide within its institutional framework enhanced coordination of activities, improved policy guidance, strengthened scientific knowledge, better treaty compliance and better integration of environmental activities in the economic development framework at an operational level. In addition, the World Conservation Union anticipated the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on System Wide Coherence relating to environmental matters such as water resources, desertification, biodiversity, natural resources, climate change and deforestation. Those suggestions should be taken up by States and organizations in developing their programmes of work.
Noting that poverty eradication could be attained only if the world’s ecosystems that sustain well-being were conserved and properly managed, he said experience in the field indicated a direct relationship between the health of ecosystems and opportunities for the impoverished to increase their food security, improve their heath, build assets, reduce risks and have more secure lives. Conversely, land degradation, desertification and pollution were associated with declining human well-being. Military activities also had detrimental impacts on environmental resources. Environmental interests much be fully implemented in development policies and processes to truly implement a global partnership for development.
The Assembly then formally took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization.
Following that action, the representative of the United States said that the Secretary-General’s report addressed the subject area as comprehensively as any report could. The United States had taken note of the report, but would stress that such action should not be construed as formal endorsement of the document or its proposals. The United States did not agree with the proposal in paragraph 24, in which the Secretary-General decided to add to or develop targets already outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. The outcome of the 2005 World Summit had identified the Goals as those that had been agreed at the Millennium Summit. Thus identified, they should not be changed or amended.
Also speaking after the Assembly took action on the report, the representative of the Netherlands, argued that four new targets for the Millennium Development Goals, which the Secretary-General had included in his report, had been agreed to in the 2005 World Summit. Because the Secretary-General had included them in his report and the Assembly had considered them, it had provided the Assembly with the framework to go ahead and study the possibility of adding these four new goals.
Stating that there was an international consensus that the Millennium Development Goals were the global compact for development and that they represented a partnership of countries that would want to contribute to the elimination of poverty, his Government had held the view that they could be improved further. The four new targets that would include universal access to reproductive health by 2015, universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, and a reduction in the rate of loss of biodiversity also by 2010, did just that. These four new goals were crucial. The Netherlands was in full support of their inclusion in the Secretary-General’s report. The Secretariat could now begin to formulate the indicators that would measure progress in these new goals and further develop the framework for their implementation.
* *** *For information media • not an official record