23 September 2008
General Assembly
GA/10749

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Plenary

5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)


SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ‘GLOBAL LEADERSHIP’ TO TACKLE WORLD ECONOMIC WOES,


FOOD, ENERGY CRISES, AS SIXTY-THIRD GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE


Assembly President Decries Undemocratic Institutions;

26 Heads of State, Government Address Session’s First Day


With the world reeling from recent tectonic shifts in the global financial architecture and beset by interrelated food and energy crises, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged world leaders attending the General Assembly’s annual debate to rise to the “challenge of global leadership” and work together to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.


“We are on the eve of a great transition,” Mr. Ban declared as he opened the general debate of the Assembly’s sixty-third session.  “In this new world, our challenges are increasingly those of collaboration rather than confrontation”, and there was a danger of losing sight of that new reality; of looking inward, rather than towards a shared future.  “At this time, one thing is clear: we must do more, not less,” he said.


While global growth had raised billions of people out of poverty, today’s poor had never felt poverty so sharply, he said.  With the wide embrace of international law and justice, some still lived in nations where human rights were abused.  While most lived in peace and security, there was still deepening violence in nations that could least afford it: Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq, among them.


“We can do something about it.  And with strong global leadership, we will,” he asserted, adding: “It takes leadership to honour our pledges and our promises in the face of fiscal constraints and political opposition.  It takes leadership to speak out for justice; to act on climate change despite powerful voices against you; to stand against protectionism and make trade concessions, even in our enlightened self-interest.  Yet… that is why we are here.”


Turning to the three pillars of the United Nations work -- human rights, peace and security, and development -– he said the situation was serious.  Not all promises had been met, but enough progress had been made to know that the Millennium Development Goals could be reached.  Last year, he had set up a new type of public-private partnership, which managed centrally at the global level.  He would apply that new type of partnership to the Goals, and urged States to be both ambitious and specific in how they intended to help the United Nations attain them by 2015.


He reminded leaders that the foundation of the United Nations work was in its accountability, which was why he had pushed so strongly for reform.  In the coming weeks, he would ask for support for his proposed new human resources framework.  It was time to replace the “dysfunctional” system of contracts.


“The challenges before us are our creation,” Mr. Ban said, and States could solve them together.  “By acting wisely and responsibly, we will set the stage for a new era of global prosperity,” he said, declaring: “If ever there were a call to collective action -- a call for global leadership -- it is now.”


Picking up that thread, General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua said the United Nations history clearly reflected its laudable actions.  However, the man-made problems of climate change, arms build-up and human trafficking, among others, could be linked to the lack of democracy in the Organization.  Indeed, decisions with the most serious consequences did not go through the General Assembly, its most universal body.  Unless that changed, significant progress towards the targets established in the Millennium Declaration would be impeded.


He reminded delegations that the world’s peoples turned to the Member States to be assured of a universal commitment to defend the United Nations and uphold the principle of the sovereign equality.  Recalling that 2009 was the International Year of Reconciliation, he emphasized that achieving broader levels of solidarity would guarantee the possibility of a more prosperous world.


While, indeed, there had been success and setbacks, United States President George W. Bush also pointed out that a clear lesson had emerged: the United Nations and other multilateral organizations were needed more urgently than ever.  To be successful, it must be resolute.  States must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening, and “actively challenge the actions of tyranny and despair”.


Like slavery, terrorism had no place in the modern world, and the United Nations must continually confront it -- a mission that required clarity of vision, he said.  Terrorists sought to impose their will on as many as possible, and envisioned a world in which dissent was crushed.  He called on the Assembly to present an alternative that advanced the vision of freedom and the highest ideals.  Among other things, he called for corruption to be corrected, the Human Rights Council to be immediately reviewed and the Security Council to ensure that the Sudan addressed violence in Darfur.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking also on behalf of the European Union, underscored that the twenty-first century could not be governed with twentieth century institutions.  Enlarging the Security Council and the Group of Eight (G-8) were not just matters of fairness, but also the “necessary condition” for acting responsibly.  He specifically called for an enlarged G-8 that might include China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil.  “We must not endure this world, we must build it,” he asserted.  “Let us learn to manage the most acute crises together that no one can resolve alone.”


Turning to the world financial situation, he called for the leaders of countries directly concerned to meet before year’s end to examine the lessons of the most serious global financial crisis since the 1930s.  It was necessary to rebuild together a “regulated capitalism”, in which whole sections of financial activity were not left to the judgement of market operators, and in which banks did their jobs: to finance economic development rather than engage in speculation.  “In our globalized world, the fate of each is linked to that of all,” he said.


In his speech on the state of the world, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a similar chord, saying that the root of global problems lay in the way one viewed the world.  “Justice is the main pillar of social life and, without it, social life cannot continue or grow,” he stressed.  As long as the world was construed as closed and aimless, morals -- and commitment to them -– were called “backwardness”, wars were started and nations were enslaved to win votes in elections, global problems would remain unsolved.


The never-ending arms race and stockpiling of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction had made the situation unstable, he said.  Despite Iran’s transparency, and full cooperation with inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “bullying Powers” sought to erect hurdles to the country’s peaceful nuclear activities.


“The Iranian nation is for dialogue,” he said.  “But it has not accepted -– nor will it accept illegal demands.”  The time had come for IAEA to deliver a clear report on the monitoring of nuclear Powers’ disarmament activities, and for a disarmament committee to be established by independent States.  Theories of development that were in line with the hegemonic system had turned into “bland” tools for the assimilation of economies and destruction of solidarity.


On that point, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of four female Heads of State to take the floor during the day, appealed for building bridges among allies, to bring rice to where it was needed, and investments to create jobs.  The Secretary-General’s Comprehensive Framework for Action had sought to achieve food security through the right combination of policies, technologies and investments.  Economic uncertainty had moved like a terrible tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains.  It would take time and perseverance to put the pieces back together.


Turning to her country, she said the Philippines had had its share of religious strife and ethnic tension, notably on the island of Mindanao, which boasted both the highest-yielding fields and the greatest incidence of hunger -- a sad irony.  The prime reason was endless conflict.  “There is no alternative to peace,” she said.  There were hundreds of millions of good people across the globe struggling as never before.  “We must hear their cry for help”.


Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili agreed, saying that sometimes the most extreme tests of the United Nations lofty ideals arose in small, even obscure places, including his own country, which last month had been “invaded” by its neighbour.  The legal, moral, political and security implications that had arisen could not be larger, as those issues lay at the very heart of the Organization’s founding Charter.  He urged the Assembly to refuse to stand silent in the face of armed aggression, and instead live out its obligation to protect international law and world order.  He thanked States for their response to Georgia’s reconstruction needs, pledging that “everything we do will be done peacefully”.


Also speaking today were the Presidents of Brazil, Liberia, Turkey, Argentina, Madagascar, Serbia, United Republic of Tanzania, Finland, Rwanda, Lithuania, Lebanon, Kenya, Panama, Uganda, Guyana, Bolivia, Namibia and Benin.


The Amir of Qatar also addressed the Assembly, as did the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Vice-President of Gabon.


The General Assembly will reconvene Wednesday, 24 September, at 9 a.m. to continue its general debate.


Statement by Secretary-General


Opening the sixty-third session’s general debate, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON assessed the state of the world and presented his vision for the coming year, recognizing perils and challenges in the context of today’s realities:  global financial, energy and food crises; the collapse of trade talks; new outbreaks of war; and the clear threat from climate change.


The world also faced a different crisis:  the challenge of global leadership.  “We are on the eve of a great transition.  Our world has changed more than we may realize,” he declared, citing new centres of leadership in Asia, Latin America and across the newly developed world.


“In this new world, our challenges are increasingly those of collaboration rather than confrontation,” he said, and there was a danger of losing sight of that new reality; of looking inward, rather than toward a shared future.  “At this time, one thing is clear:  we must do more, not less,” he said.  “We must do more to help our fellow human beings weather the gathering storm.”


While global growth had raised billions of people out of poverty, today’s poor had never felt poverty so sharply, he said.  With the wide embrace of international law and justice, some still lived in nations where human rights were abused.  While most lived in peace and security, there was still deepening violence in nations that could least afford it:   Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq, among them.


“We can do something about it.  And with strong global leadership, we will,” he asserted.


Turning to the three pillars of the United Nations work -- human rights, peace and security, and development –- he said the situation was serious.  In the last year, the world had seen the rise of food and fuel prices.  Rich countries were afraid of a recession, while the poorest had nothing to eat.


Not all promises had been kept, but enough progress had been made to know that the Millennium Development Goals could be reached, he said, and he would bring together a new coalition of Governments, the private sector, and religious and philanthropic groups.  Last year, he had set up a new type of public-private partnership, which had marshalled funds and managed centrally at the global level.


On Thursday, at his high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals, he said he planned to announce the results of new research that showed such a partnership was a “resounding success”.  He would apply this new type of partnership to the Goals, and ask that States be both ambitious and specific in how they intended to help the United Nations achieve the Goals by 2015.  He proposed holding a summit meeting on the Goals in 2010 to take stock of follow-up.


Indeed, the United Nations was a champion of the most vulnerable, and had been involved in nations including Haiti and Myanmar.  However, he also had called for more strenuous action in Somalia.  “We at the United Nations are duty-bound to do what compassion and human decency demand of us,” he said.


With that, he said that even though it had faded from the headlines, the global food crisis had not gone away.  Rice, the food staple that fed half the world, had more than doubled in price in a single year, from $330 a ton to $730.  The Task Force on the Global Food Crisis had set forth solutions, one of which aimed to create a “green revolution” in Africa.  But there was a lack of new resources, and the global community had not matched words with deeds.


Peace and security were under threat in all quarters, he said, noting that in Sierra Leone and Timor Leste, United Nations peacekeeping missions were working to help the people maintain their peace and rebuild their countries.  On preventive diplomacy, the results were clear.  In Georgia, the United Nations could help to diffuse tension related to the recent conflict, and in Côte d’Ivoire, it would help organize elections.  At the same time, in Darfur, deployment timelines were difficult to meet, and crucial personnel was not in place.  He stressed the danger of acting as if the United Nations could settle all problems of our time without the full support of States.  Without resources, mandates were meaningless.


The global financial crisis endangered all United Nations work -- particularly in the areas of financing for development and the Millennium Development Goals.  “If there is a call for leadership, it is now”.  With the Doha Review Conference later this year, States had the chance to address critical issues of international economic cooperation and development, and he urged all Members to “engage at the highest levels” and restore order to global financial markets.


Other problems called for a “firm hand” on a global scale, including the fight against malaria and AIDS, terrorism and non-proliferation.  On the Six-Party talks on the Korean peninsula, he urged that agreements be implemented.  He also urged Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


On climate change, he noted that last year in Bali, Indonesia, world leaders had agreed on a road map that would follow the Kyoto Protocol.  States now needed a common idea of a new global climate change accord, he said, urging all nations to deploy their “persuasive powers” to make progress on that existential question.


In closing, he returned to the theme of his address last year -– a stronger United Nations for a better world, reminding delegates that “the foundation of all our work is accountability”.  The United Nations was accountable to its Members, which was why he had pushed so strongly for reform.  In the coming weeks, he would ask for support for his proposed new human resources framework.  States could not continue to pass resolutions mandating ambitious peace operations without the necessary troops, money and material.


“It takes leadership to speak out for justice,” he declared.  “That is why we are here.  We have ample reason to be optimistic.  Today’s uncertainties will pass.  By acting wisely and responsibly, we will set the stage for a new era of global prosperity.”


Statement by General Assembly President


MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN (Nicaragua), acknowledging the large scale and interrelated crises facing the world today, called for Member States to seize the opportunity to work together collectively and cooperatively -- not by making speeches and statements of good intentions, but through concrete action based on the “golden rule” that guided humankind’s behaviour.


The United Nations illustrious history clearly reflected its many laudable actions.  However, the fulfillment of its primary purpose -- eliminating war, achieving disarmament and ensuring international security –- had clearly failed.  The pressing and man-made problems of climate change, efforts to privatize water, the build-up of arms, terrorism, human trafficking, the situation of Palestine, humanitarian aid, gender inequality, children in especially difficult circumstances such as armed conflict, as well as the fact that half the world are living in hunger and poverty, could be directly linked to the lack of democracy in the United Nations.


Noting that decisions with the most serious consequences did not go through the General Assembly, and that the wishes and resolutions of 95 per cent of the Organization's Members were viewed as “recommendations”, he expressed his belief that unless this changed, significant progress towards the targets established in the Millennium Declaration would be impeded.  Indeed, if Member States did not choose a path of solidarity with one another, the very existence of the human race would continue to be jeopardized.  “Either we love one another or we all perish; either we treat each other as brothers and sisters or we witness the beginning of the end of our human species.”


He reminded the Assembly delegations that the peoples of the entire world turned to the Member States and the gathering of Heads of State and Government to be assured of a universal commitment to defend the United Nations, to uphold the principle of the sovereign equality of all Member States, and for all Members to meet their Charter obligations so that the continued and successful efforts towards a world-wide peace be ensured and protected.


Recalling that 2009 was the International Year of Reconciliation, he urged Member States to determine to stop the arrogant attacks on one another and to adopt a mindset of reconciliation, collaboration and courageous forgiveness to those who had caused pain and suffering.  “Forgiveness is never a sign of weakness,” he said, emphasizing that achieving broader levels of unity and solidarity would guarantee the possibility of a different and more prosperous world.


Statements


LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, President of Brazil, said the general debate was being held at a particularly serious moment, as the world faced an economic and financial crisis that required decisive action by Governments, especially in countries at the heart of the crisis.  The economy was too serious an undertaking to be left in the hands of speculators.  Mechanisms for prevention and control were needed to provide total transparency to international finance.  The financial crisis’ global nature meant solutions must be global, and the United Nations, as the world’s largest multilateral arena, needed to issue a call for vigorous response to that and other weighty threats.


Turning to other serious matters facing the world, President Lula noted the food crisis, the energy crisis, and the risks to world trade if an agreement of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round was not achieved, as well as the unrestrained degradation of the environment.  He said the financial, food, energy, environmental and migration crises, as well as the threats to peace in several regions of the world, revealed that the multilateral system must be overhauled to meet the challenges of the twentieth century.


Developing countries had stepped into new roles in designing a multi-polar world, such as the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Initiatives, the G-20 at the World Trade Organization, the summits between South America and Africa, and between South America, Arab countries and the “BRIC” countries ( Brazil, Russia, India and China).  He pointed to the Union of South America Nations (UNASUR) creation last May, the first treaty after 200 years of independence that brought together all South American countries.  This new political union would coordinate the region’s countries in terms of infrastructure, energy, social policies, finance and defence.  Gathered in Santiago, Chile, just more than a week ago, the Presidents of South America had demonstrated UNASUR’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to complex situations, such as the one in Bolivia.


Turning to the reform of the Security Council, he said the United Nations had spent 15 years discussing the reform of the Council, but that body’s present structure had been frozen for six decades and did not relate to the challenges of today’s world.  He was encouraged by the Assembly’s decision to launch negotiations in the near future on the matter.


Turning to the food and energy crises, he said the inflation of food prices was driven by climatic factors and speculation in agricultural commodities, as well as increasing food prices.  He said attempts to link high food prices to the dissemination of biofuels did not stand up to an objective analysis, and Brazil’s experience showed that sugar cane ethanol and biodiesel production reduced its dependency on fossil fuels, as it created jobs and regenerated degraded land and was fully compatible with expanding food production.


He went on to say the international community had a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.   Brazil had taken decisive steps to transform the lives of Brazilians, and had created nearly 10 million formal jobs, improved public services, lifted 9 million people out of extreme poverty and brought 20 million more people more into the middle class.  In a year marking the 100th birthday of the great Brazilian Josue de Castro, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) first Director General and a pioneer in the studies focused on world hunger, it was worthwhile to re-read his warning:  “It is no longer possible to sit back and let a region go hungry, without the entire world suffering the consequences.”  He was proud to say that Brazil was overcoming hunger and poverty.


GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States, recalled that 63 years ago, world leaders had gathered in San Francisco to complete the United Nations Charter, and agree on a historic pledge to restore the faith and fundamental human rights of the world’s peoples.  That noble pledge had endured trying hours, and still guided work today.


At the same time, such ideals were being challenged by the global movement of terrorism, by those who showed contempt for all who respect life, he said.  Terrorists rejected the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and any standard of any conscience of morality.  They impaired the justice and human rights that had given birth to the United Nations.  Sovereign States had a responsibility to solve problems before they crossed borders; an obligation to respect rights and respond to their people’s needs.


Multilateral organizations also had responsibilities, he continued.  While there had been successes and setbacks, a clear lesson had emerged:  the United Nations and other multilateral organizations were needed more urgently than ever.  To be successful, the United Nations must be resolute.  States must cooperate more closely to keep terrorist attacks from happening, and “actively challenge the actions of tyranny and despair”.


The United Nations must continually confront terrorism, a mission that required clarity of vision, he said.  Terrorists sought to impose their will on as many as possible, and bringing them to justice was the best way to protect people.  No cause could justify the deliberate taking of life.  Security Council resolutions said that terrorism was unlawful, and the Secretary-General earlier this month had stated that terror could never be justified.  The Group of Eight (G-8) had declared that all terrorist acts were criminal, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) recently spoke out against terrorist bombings.


Like slavery, terrorism had no place in the modern world, he said, and nations were turning that idea into action, conducting joint operations and freezing finances.  Such efforts had spared citizens from devastating blows.  For seven years, Afghanistan and Iraq had transformed from regimes that sponsored terror into those that combated it.  Some nations, including Syria and Iran, continued to sponsor terror.  To think that the threat had receded would be wrong.  The United Nations must be resolute in the fight against terror, and remain vigilant against its proliferation.  In that context, he cited Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).


States must also confront the ideology of terrorists, who envisioned a world in which women were oppressed and dissent was crushed, he said.  The Assembly must present an alternative that advanced the vision of freedom and the highest ideals.  Doing so would serve security interests.  When citizens chose their leaders, they were less likely to look to radical ideologies.


Further, the United Nations must challenge tyranny as vigorously as it challenged terror, he said.  From the voting booths of Afghanistan and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, people had chosen to demand their liberty.  The truth was that when given a choice, people choose freedom.  States had supported newly free societies through the United Nations Democracy Fund, and he urged the Assembly delegations to stand with them.


The United Nations was an active civilian presence in Afghanistan, with experts facilitating humanitarian aid and protecting human rights, he said.  In Iraq, the fight had been difficult, but life had improved dramatically thanks to the determination of Iraqis.  He called on States to “stand united” for people in such areas as Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Georgia, where the Russian invasion was a violation of the United Nations Charter.


The United States had worked with the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to provide humanitarian relief in Georgia.  He thanked Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq and other “brave young democracies” for their inspiring example.  Freedom was a noble goal worthy of the United Nations and it should enjoy the support of all Members.  Many had answered the call to help those in need, working to alleviate homelessness.  Such goals advanced security interests, as terrorists found fertile ground in nations that were trapped in despair.  “In the shadow of hopelessness, radicalism thrived”, he said, and overcoming that hopelessness required addressing poverty, disease and ignorance.


Describing his country’s launch of the Millennium Challenge Account, he urged adopting a model of partnership, not paternalism, and highlighted work to combat HIV/AIDS, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.  Among the most powerful “engines of prosperity” were trade and investment, and many countries had conducted Free Trade Agreements.  It would be most effective to tear down barriers at the global level, and reach a successful Doha agreement as soon as possible.


“We must open our economies, and stand firm against isolation”, he said, ideas that were being tested today by turbulence in the United States financial sector.  In recent weeks, the United States had taken “bold steps” to prevent economic disruption, and had promoted stability by preventing the disorderly failure of companies.  Last week it announced actions to address the root causes of financial instability, including by purchasing assets.  Congress was working to pass legislation to approve that strategy, and he was confident it would act in the urgent time frame.


To have maximum impact, he called on multilateral institutions to work towards measurable goals, and be accountable for their actions.  The world needed a confident United Nations.  Among other things, he called for corruption to be corrected, the Human Rights Council to be immediately reviewed, stronger efforts to help the people of “ Burma”, who lived under repression, and the Security Council to ensure that the Sudan addressed violence in Darfur.


“The United Nations is an organization of extraordinary potential and could affirm the promise of its founding,” he said.  Recalling the words of former United States President Harry S. Truman, he said success would be possible through an “unshakable unity of determination”.  Together, States could defeat terrorism, and “build a world that is freer, safer and better for generations that follow”.


NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that in the midst of so many difficulties, the global community had a political and moral responsibility.  States must remember that they were gathered here today because, following one of the most terrible tragedies humankind had endured, men of goodwill had been determined to ensure that no one could say that when faced with misfortune, “there is nothing we can do”.


“We have a duty to act, not to endure”, he said, adding that the world was beginning to gauge the tragic consequences of having waited too long.  The international community could wait no longer to achieve peace, end tragedy in Darfur, and fight terrorism.  To avert the food crisis and prepare for the post-oil world, fight global warming and allow everyone access to water and energy, he said:  “We can wait no longer.”


The twenty-first century could not be governed with twentieth century institutions, he said, stressing that enlarging the Security Council and the Group of Eight were not just matters of fairness, but also the “necessary condition” for acting responsibly.  He specifically called for an enlarged G-8 that might include China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil.  “We must not endure this world, we must build it.  Let us learn to manage the most acute crises together that no one can resolve alone.”


Turning to the world financial situation, he called for the leaders of countries directly concerned to meet before year’s end to examine the lessons of the most serious global financial crisis since the 1930s.  It was necessary to rebuild together a “regulated capitalism” in which whole sections of financial activity were not left to the judgement of market operators, and in which banks did their jobs, which was to finance economic development rather than engage in speculation.  “In our globalized world, the fate of each is linked to that of all,” he said.


He went on to say that Europe wanted to set an example by acting to bring about peace, as it did so for Georgia.   Europe did not want a war of civilizations, a war of religion or a cold war.  “ Europe wants peace and peace is always possible when one truly wants it,” he said.  Europe wanted links with Russia and to be Russia’s partner and he proposed building a continent-wide common economic space that would unite Russia and Europe.  But Europe was also telling Russia with the same sincerity that it could not compromise on the principle of State sovereignty and independence, their territorial integrity, or respect for international law.


Turning to Iran, he said Europe respected that country’s right to nuclear energy, but it would not accept a nuclear-armed Iran that would endanger the peace and stability of an entire region.  It would not tolerate Iran calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.


He said Europe would continue to stand by Afghanistan’s side, but would not permit a Taliban allied with Al-Qaida to again take a people hostage and turn an entire country into a terrorist base.  Europe was committed to the co-development of Africa, and believed Africa had a place among the permanent members of the Security Council, he added.


He said it was more than democracy that brought delegations to the Assembly; it was a respect for the dignity of one and all as we are, with the diversity of opinions, sensitivities, cultures and beliefs.  “This is what Europe wants:  peoples united in respect, understanding and solidarity, working together for the great common cause of safeguarding the future of humanity.”


GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Philippines, said the developing world was at a “tipping point” and her country had felt the pain of high food, fuel and rice prices.  Her people had pursued the universal dream of a better life, for themselves and their children.  Indeed, the Philippines was proving the value of a new paradigm for self-reliance through the use of a targeted strategy with precise prescriptions for easing price challenges, focusing on food self-sufficiency and energy independence, and long-term reforms.


Such gains had been hard-earned, made sometimes with painful reforms to reset the economy, she said.  It had not been easy, but Filipinos were realistic, and understood that “we cannot do it alone”.  The world needed a strong United Nations as never before.  Economic uncertainty had moved like a terrible tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains.  The light at the end of the tunnel had become an oncoming train, with new shocks to the global financial system.  It would take time and perseverance to put the pieces back together.


To address such global challenges, she urged building bridges among allies, to bring rice to where it was needed, and investments to create jobs.  It was, therefore, timely that the Secretary-General had organized this year’s agenda around the global economy’s impact on the poor.  His Comprehensive Framework for Action sought to achieve food security through the right combination of policies, technologies and investments.


Turning to her country, she said the Philippines had increased and stabilized rice supply, clamped down on price gouging, and invested billions into planting and agricultural modernization.  It had increased its energy independence by 17 per cent, and was pursuing a policy of using non-food biofuel sources planted on land unusable for food production.


At the same time, her country had had its share of religious strife and ethnic tension, notably on the island of Mindanao, which had the highest-yielding fields, and the highest incidence of hunger, a sad irony.  The prime reason was endless conflict.  Progress had been made, until violent elements within the Moro Islamic Liberation Front took the law into their own hands.  The country would restart dialogue when the area was secure.


“There is no alternative to peace,” she continued, acknowledging the central role of allies, such as the United Nations, Brunei and Saudi Arabia, among others.  Her Government would refocus peace talks from one centred on dialogues with rebels to one with communities.  The context of its engagement with all armed groups would subscribe to the United Nations-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.


In closing, she said the Secretary-General’s leadership was more vital than ever.  There were hundreds of millions of good people across the globe struggling as never before.  “We must hear their cry for help,” she said.


HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, called for “positive peace” and encouraged Member States to achieve world peace through conscious, positive acts and not just “wishful thinking”.  Remarking that the past 60 years of wars and conflicts took place “on all continents and territories”; he noted how peace had remained elusive with the past practice of “positive neutrality”.  Since political rights of nations were established on the basis of international law and by United Nations Charter principles, the achievement of peace in today’s world called for establishing and promoting economic and social justice among all.  “This is what constitutes positive peace,” he said.


“Our new choice, positive peace […] ensured political rights and development,” he continued, stressing that the world could not move forward if its peoples were hindered by political injustice and underdevelopment.  In closing, he mentioned the Follow-up International Conference on Financing Development, which Qatar was set to host, and requested high-level participation in hopes that international cooperation there would offer “the broadest base possible for political as well as social peace”.


ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, President of Liberia, offered the deep appreciation of the Liberian people to the United Nations for the support it had given towards the establishment of peace after 14 years of war.  She also reaffirmed Liberia’s commitment to contributing to the re-definition of international peace and security.


Liberia, in its 161 years as the first independent republic in Africa, survived racism, colonialism, underdevelopment, and a war that killed nearly 8 per cent of its people, displaced another 40 per cent, and destroyed a fragile economy and infrastructure.  The United Nations and its ground forces of 11,000 men and women and the Security Council’s renewal of the mandate of United Nations Mission ensured Liberia’s continued recovery.  Still, the need for the promotion of economic growth and sustainable development was essential to continue progress in Liberia as in all of Africa, she said.


Its history of being guided by principles and the best interest of its citizens often led Liberia to not follow the “party line” of close allies.  Recalling the situation in Zimbabwe and the process to fair elections and just political participation, she commemorated the Zimbabwe leaders for participating in the Global Agreement, and South African President Thabo Mbeki for facilitating the peace deal.


However, even with Africa’s unprecedented economic growth and relative peace in formerly turbulent regions, she noted the continued struggle in Somalia, the Sudan and the Darfur Region.  Access to small arms and light weapons exacerbated conflicts, and illuminated the need for stronger controls for a durable peace in conflict zones.  She reminded the Assembly that the concerted efforts of the United Nations and the strong support of the African Union and subregional bodies were necessary to expand peace initiatives, as well as other advancements in Africa.


For Africa to accomplish sustained development, the focus on the promotion of trade rather than aid was essential.  New avenues of development received support from the United States’ Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, the Forum for China Africa Cooperation, the European Union, and the Tokyo International Conference for African Development, among others.  However, participation in world affairs beyond Africa’s borders was also an essential element to growth and recovery, and she noted her talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.


In 2006, as the first woman president of her country, she had pledged to the Assembly to transform Liberia from a State of total devastation into a country on an irreversible path to peace and development.  Two years later, she announced with pride the great progress that had ensued in the interim time.  Civil society, the national Government and international partners had created a framework anchored on four pillars –- consolidating peace and security, revitalizing the economy, strengthening governance and the rule of law, and building/rebuilding infrastructure and basic services.


Although the full fruition of this framework had not yet been actualized, she noted the great strides already made, including the new presence of health clinics and schools, roads and buildings, the increase of agricultural production, and a greatly diminished external debt, among others.  To challenge the barriers to women leadership, special programmes for girls had been established, supporting the belief that “when you educate the girl child you educate the whole nation”.  Further, the transformation of the feared armed forces of Liberia into a security service there to protect the people had been a major component in re-establishing the Liberian citizens’ confidence in the national Government.


Those major successes could not have been possible without the efforts of the Liberian people and the international community led by the United Nations.  She requested that the United Nations Mission continue to receive support to continue the great progress already accomplished.


With a call for increased action to combat HIV/AIDS, and reiterating the need for short-term international assistance to support long-term trade and development, President Johnson-Sirleaf acknowledged the rarity of global women leadership.  She announced that with her colleague, Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security would convene in March 2009 in Monrovia.


ABDULLAH GÜL, President of Turkey, said the United Nations provided a political and moral compass for joint efforts towards a just international order.  The most pressing need before the international community was to bridge the enormous gap between the wealthiest and least fortunate.  While considerable progress had been made towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the fight against poverty, illiteracy, epidemic diseases, child mortality and climate change was far from over.


Volatile fuel prices, the food crisis and the global economic slowdown had intensified the need to combat terrorism, racism, xenophobia and all forms of religious discrimination and extremism.  He said the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative Turkey co-sponsored with Spain under the auspices of the Secretary-General, was an important instrument to help avoid the risk of further alienation between different cultures and regions.


A priority for Turkey was addressing the problems of the developing world and Turkey had provided greater development assistance and was now recognized as an “emerging donor country”.  Turkey was also committed to combating global warming and paid special attention to the water crisis.  He hoped the fifth World Water Forum, being hosted in Istanbul next March, would inspire new thinking and concrete action on that issue.


Turning to the region’s political issues, Turkey had launched an initiative to prevent additional conflicts in the recently traumatized South Caucasus by proposing the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, which could provide a framework for building a climate of confidence in the region.  On the Middle East, Turkey supported all efforts to bring a lasting solution to the problem and alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people.


He went on to say that Turkey stood firmly with the Iraqi people and their Government and the Iraqi people needed to settle their differences through dialogue and compromise on controversial issues, among them the final status of Kirkuk.  The nation also advocated an urgent and peaceful settlement of the question of Iran’s nuclear programme, in conformity with IAEA and Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) obligations, and respected Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.


He also backed diplomatic efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus and firmly supported the comprehensive settlement negotiations recently started between the two leaders under the auspices of the Secretary-General.  It was long past time to end the unfair isolation of the Turkish Cypriots who had voted in favour of the United Nations Comprehensive Settlement Plan in 2004.


CHRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ DE KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, as the first woman elected President to her country, spoke first on Argentina’s policy of unrestricted respect for human rights.  She urged that the Treaty on the Forced Disappearance of Persons be ratified by all nations that had signed it.  Only three nations had joined Argentina thus far -- Albania, Mexico and Honduras -– and it was indispensable that all firmly committed to ensuring the inviolability of persons.


She described Argentina’s work in the identification of disappeared persons, which promoted the establishment of “gene banks”, an idea first put forward by the Grandmothers of Placa de Mayo, who were in the Hall here today.  They were witness to how, in the midst of adversity, including terrorism, it was possible to overcome death, and to fight for life.  The task of identifying victims of Balkan wars and the 11 September 2001 attacks was also important, she added.


On fighting impunity, she described two bombings in her country between 1992 and 1994:  one at the Israeli embassy and the other at the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Centre, saying that last year, Argentina had asked INTERPOL for the ratification of the arrest warrants of the Iranian citizens accused of the Centre bombing.  Those warrants had been issued.  Today, she asked Iran, in compliance with international law, to accept Argentinian justice, which could bring forth transparent trials.


Continuing, she called for reform of multilateral organizations, including for the United Nations and international financial organizations.  It was necessary to recreate the “lost multilateralism” that had given way to a far more insecure world.  The United Nations must be “reformulated”, and bring results to its activities.   Argentina had shown that it was possible to create multilateralism above regional differences, she said, explaining that it had participated in a multilateral exercise in which Heads of State were able to develop a resolution to help Bolivia.  Indeed, the exercise of multilateralism was not just a speech for today; it was a concrete policy that was showing results in “emerging regions”.


On the global financial situation, she said the world today could no longer speak of the “rice effect”, which showed that the crisis came from emerging countries and continued to the centre.  If a name was to be given, States could call it the “jazz effect”, meaning that it emanated from the first economy of the world to the rest.  It was a historic opportunity to review behaviour and policies.   South America had heard, during the era of the Washington Consensus, that the market would solve everything.  However, the present intervention was the largest in memory, made by a State with an incredible trade and fiscal deficit.


Since 2003, Argentina had reduced its debt from 160 per cent to 50 per cent of GDP, having also repaid debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Further, it had received a proposal from three banks representing bondholders that had not joined its 2005 bond exchange.  She believed Argentina’s strategy had been correct, and it was important to review what was happening today.  Emerging countries did not have the possibility of bringing in credit agencies to tell them what to do.


She called for a twenty-first century without colonial enclaves, noting the Malvinas Islands, where, despite General Assembly resolutions, one party had refused to undertake discussion with Argentina on the matter.  In the Security Council, one nation, in defending freedom and democracy, should prove that such ideas were not just part of a speech, and help end the shame around that colonial enclave.   Argentina requested cooperation to urge the United Kingdom to comply with international law.


On United Nations reform, Argentina was not requesting a mere change in formula.  The complexity of the future world vis-à-vis food and energy required States to re-evaluate their behaviour, and realize it was necessary to build a different world.  In closing, she stressed that the Charter was not a “catalogue of good intentions”, but the framework for creating a better world.


MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that, despite efforts to reduce divisions between the rich and the poor, progress made thus far on the Millennium Development Goals had fallen short of the targets established.  The global food, economic and security crises were threatening to push the Goals into the margins of Member States’ agendas, which would be a major mistake.  States had to remain focused on achieving the Goals in order to contribute to solving some of the global issues.


The global food crisis, he continued, was partly the result of domestic agricultural subsidies and tariff protection practices by developed countries, which, for many years, had discouraged agricultural production in developing countries.  The international community needed to take urgent and coordinated action to combat the negative impacts of increasing food prices on poor and vulnerable countries, and overall trade policies must foster food security for all.  The international community must also help African countries to expand agriculture and food production, and to increase investment in agriculture and the infrastructure needed for rural development.


In addition to the critical food crisis, States were confronted with several other challenges:  climate change, increasing energy prices and fuel shortages, unpredictable financial markets, and other threats to peace and security, he said.  Such threats had a severe impact on the education, health and well-being of populations, and had a very negative impact on development as a whole.  Moreover, the challenges were competing, in a sense, with the Millennium Development Goals, because many of the resources that had been dedicated to achieving the Goals were now being directed elsewhere.  Such resources could be used to reconstruct countries destroyed by wars, for instance, but he did not understand how such challenges sometimes offered reasons for countries to abdicate on their promises of doubled aid for education, health and infrastructure in order to achieve the Goals in developing countries, especially in Africa.


There were many links between the Millennium Development Goals and political, economic, environmental and other challenges.  Therefore, more investment towards the achievement of the Goals would contribute to addressing those other crises.  In fact, improving the situation of the poorest of the poor was one of the best means to deal with them, he said.  One had to realize, however, that the challenges would not be solved by simply shifting means from one problem to another.


BORIS TADIĆ, President of Serbia, stressed the need to reconfirm the conviction of United Nations founders that international law, based on the equality of States, must supplant the use of force to settle international differences.  He noted the importance of respecting the territorial integrity of sovereign States, linking it to the danger inherent in “the unilateral, illegal and illegitimate declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian authorities of our southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, […] after walking away from the negotiating table”.  Those authorities, he said, had believed that abandoning negotiations would lead to independence by the imposition of a deadline for negotiations from without, calling that deadline an impediment to serious talks as it removed any incentive to negotiate in good faith.


He said that action set a dangerous precedent, and called the very nature of the international system into question, noting that “there are dozens of Kosovos throughout the world, just waiting for secession to be legitimized”.  Further, he stated that:  “Many existing conflicts could escalate, frozen conflicts […] reignite, and new ones be instigated.”  He rejected the claim that Kosovo was a unique case, and said that no one had the right to declare exceptions to international law, especially in defiance of the Security Council’s position.  Despite political turmoil, he said, Serbia had opted for a peaceful and diplomatic approach to the issue, as a result of which, he noted, a vast majority of Member States had not recognized Kosovo.


Having chosen to use legal channels, he said, Serbia submitted a resolution for consideration by the Assembly’s current session, asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the question:  “Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?”  Sending the question to the Court would prevent the crisis from serving as a precedent anywhere in the world where secessionist ambitions were harboured.  The Court’s advisory opinion would also serve as a politically neutral, yet judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating on an approach to Kosovo’s declaration.


Support for the resolution would affirm the right of any Member State to bring a question it considered of vital importance before the Court, while a vote against it would deny the right of any country to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system, he said.  It would further allow secessionists anywhere in the world to claim their case as an exception to international law.  Serbia would remain a good-faith partner in the interim administration of Kosovo during the Court deliberations.  He also spoke of the need for a reconfigured, status-neutral international civilian presence in the province under United Nations authority, as defined by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).


He expressed support for the European Union’s commitment to institution-building in Kosovo, and welcomed Europe’s deepening engagement with Serbia.  It was vital, he said, that Europe’s mandate be approved by the Security Council.  He noted that Serbia’s central strategic priority was accession to the European Union, not only for reasons of geography, heritage and economic prosperity, but also because of commonly held values.  He also noted Serbia’s commitment to full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to restoring and deepening friendships that Yugoslavia had made across the globe during the post-World War II period, and to contributing to a more equitable global community and advancing the democratization of international relations, economic and social development and human rights.


JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union, highlighted Africa’s recent strides in political stability and peace, and the “blossoming” of economies in many nations on the continent.  He noted the continent’s “embrace” of democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, evidenced by democratic elections in “a good number” of African countries in the past two years.  Apart from the situations in Kenya and Zimbabwe, there are fewer conflicts on the continent today, Africans themselves, through the African Union and their regional economic organizations, had been proactive in monitoring elections and resolving conflicts.  “ Africa has become of age”, Mr. Kikwete said, with “the old principle of non-interference in internal affairs” being replaced by “non-indifference.”


However, weaknesses still remained in the African Union’s capacity for early warning, conflict prevention and resolution.  He called upon the United Nations, the European Union, and other nations and world institutions to continue their support of the African Union and regional mechanisms, as well as peacekeeping operations, and recognized their generous support thus far.


Though the humanitarian crisis in Darfur persisted, he noted that “there may be some encouraging signs of improvement”, and urged deployment of the entire contingent of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) forces, resumption and conclusion of peace talks between rebels and the Government of the Sudan, unencumbered humanitarian operations and dispensation of justice.  In recent discussions with Sudanese Government officials as well as UNAMID officials, he had come to an understanding on the way forward, and hoped that progress could be made.  He reiterated the African Union’s belief that the indictment of Sudanese President Al-Bashir would complicate UNAMID’s deployment and the management of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.  Deferring the indictment should not be seen as condoning impunity, but as “the most expedient thing to do now” in order to first focus on the immediate matters of saving lives and easing the suffering of the people in Darfur.


Regarding Somalia, the United Nations had been increasingly called on to take over peacekeeping responsibilities from the African Union at the earliest possible time, before the African Union mission was overwhelmed.  He pledged more proactive commitment to work with the United Nations and regional leaders in seeking lasting peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the eastern region, where fighting continues between Government and rebel forces.


Zimbabwe had just last week achieved a “landmark breakthrough” with the signing of an agreement which ended the standoff between political factions, and formulated plans to establish an inclusive Government.  He congratulated President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Minister Arthur Mutambara, as well as Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, for their statesmanship.


On the current food and oil situation reaching “crisis proportions”, sub-Saharan Africa had been cited as the region affected most, being home to the majority of least developed countries where, in the past year, food import bills had increased by over 40 per cent and oil prices increased over 100 per cent since 2005.  The United Nations and the international financial institutions should act urgently to reverse the deepening crisis of global financial markets, which, along with the food and oil crises, threatened to erode “the humble gains” made in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and sustaining macroeconomic stability in Africa.  Here, he appealed to Member States to stand by their commitments to assist the development needs of Africa.


On the issue of United Nations reform, he noted that Africa was the only continent without a permanent seat on the Security Council, and demanded African Union members received two permanent seats on the Council with veto power, as well as an additional two non-permanent seats.  The United Republic of Tanzania, as one of eight pilot countries in the United Nations “delivering as one”, had shown the possibility of fulfilling this reform initiative, and encouraged advancement of the United Nations system-wide coherence.


HADJ OMAR BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said the high cost of basic foods, and the riots that emerged earlier this year following the dramatic price spikes and subsequent shortages, indicated the severity of the crisis, which has had a major impact on Africa.  This situation was intolerable, and he noted that the application of preferential trade policies and export restrictions had helped contribute to the problem.


The international community needed to take collective action to ensure food security for the most vulnerable people.  Welcoming the declaration adopted at the high-level conference on global food security on 5 June in Rome, he drew attention to the Maputo Declaration of July 2003, which laid out a framework for food security and development, as an example of Africa’s cooperation on food security.


To meet the challenges of soaring food prices, Gabon and other countries had taken urgent tax and budget measures, such as suspending import duties and other tariffs, which had, however, led to revenue losses.  He stressed the need to work with international partners on the development of a food security strategy, which would include aspects such as water management, vegetable production, and ways to alleviate malnutrition and hunger.  Those steps were necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he added.


The challenge of feeding a growing population was intimately linked to climate change, as well as the deterioration of the environment, declining water resources and deforestation.  All of this prevented necessary increases in agricultural production.  The international community needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, in that regard, he welcomed the road map adopted in Bali at the thirteenth United Nations Conference on Climate Change.  He also applauded the recent G-8 Summit in Japan, where Heads of State had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2050.


Developing countries needed the broad support of the international community to meet new challenges, he continued.  All development partners needed to honour their existing promises to double ODA and cancel debt that undermined sustainable development efforts.  He also noted the negative impact that AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases had on the African economies.  The interdependence of threats facing the international community spotlighted the need for new impetus to promoting international solidarity, peace and international security.


Turning to Africa, he pointed to conflict situations, such as the ongoing conflict in Somalia, and the general security situation in Darfur.  The Dakar Accord of 13 March, signed between Chad and the Sudan, had sparked genuine hope for stability in that region, he added, also welcoming the progress made in Côte d’Ivoire.


The world’s many challenges could not be resolved without collective action at the global level, he said, urging the strengthening of the United Nations system so it could better meet its own objectives.  He pointed to the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, both results of the recommendations of the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit, as examples of positive efforts to strengthen the world body.  He also welcomed efforts to revitalize the General Assembly, and commended the work to reform the Security Council.  The building of a just and more secure world depended on these efforts, he added.


TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, aligning herself with the statement made by the European Union, said that our world was facing unforeseen challenges like climate change and the food crisis.  At the same time, armed conflicts were still a reality worldwide.  Too often, the international community was unable to agree on a common response to those problems.  Therefore, people affected by poverty and conflicts were “let down”.


Noting that an efficient United Nations was needed to find common solutions, she said Finland was committed to building a more secure, fair and just world through a reformed and credible United Nations.  Recalling that she had presented the Final Report of the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy to the Secretary-General earlier this week, she added that some of the challenges posed by globalization could only be solved through multi-stakeholder dialogue, facilitated by the United Nations.


Turning to climate change, she said that phenomenon had to be addressed with vigour, “otherwise, it could wipe out our achievements in the field of sustainable development and even bring into question the whole future of mankind”.  Multilateral engagement and shared responsibility were the only effective means of tackling this “global menace”.  She emphasized that there was no place for “petty politics and recrimination” in fighting climate change, and called for reaching a comprehensive global agreement on a new international climate regime.


It was evident that global commitments needed to be implemented and supplemented by national and regional action, with comprehensive stakeholder support.  “We need everybody,” she said, noting that women should also participate in this work.  Although industrialized countries had to bear their share on mitigating climate change, international negotiations could not succeed without extensive participation from developing countries.  Because the sustainable management of natural resources, especially of forests, could reduce poverty and greenhouse gases, she called for the United Nations to intensify efforts to assist Government and communities with rural development and sustainable forest management.


Addressing rising food prices, she pointed out that women and children suffered most.  Effective Government action and improved donor coordination were crucial in tackling the food crisis, and the United Nations Comprehensive Framework for Action was an excellent initiative to meet the challenge.  Attention should be paid to medium- and long-term policies to enhance food security.  Support to the rural sector was crucial for sustainable and equitable development, growth and well-being.  If both women and men in developing countries were supported in the spirit of the “aid for trade” agenda, they could better take advantage of their agricultural potential.


Referring to the numbers of people serving the United Nations peacekeeping operations as “remarkable”, she said the United Nations and regional organizations should work closer together to prevent and resolve conflicts.  Improving the efficiency and cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations was a top priority.  Although such cooperation was apparent in Kosovo and Georgia right now, more efforts, in that regard, should be extended to the African Union.  A continued United Nations peacekeeping presence in Chad and the Central African Republic would contribute to local and regional stability.  However, tackling those conflicts required a comprehensive approach to security -- trade, development policy and humanitarian aid needed to be utilized too.


HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called on the United Nations to help right the error made by the international community in 1992 when it opposed a request from that country to defend itself against Bosnian Serbs.


The denial of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request, due to the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council in 1991, resulted in genocide that culminated in Srebrenica in July 1995.  Citing International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) data, he said some 200,000 people had been killed including 12,000 children.  Some 50,000 women had been raped and 2.2 million people were forced to flee their homes.


Through its acts and omissions, the United Nations, by its own admission, bore a part of the responsibility for the crimes committed at Srebrenica and that the International Law on State Responsibility mandated corrective action on crimes against humanity and genocide.  He said the international community owed it to victims of crimes against humanity and genocide to send a strong message to would-be perpetrators:  “do not even think about it, your terror will not pay off”.


Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, had an opportunity to send such a message through the consistent implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the aggression, stopped the genocide and brought peace.  The Agreement was also meant to reverse the effects of genocide and ethnic cleansing, however, it had been violated and “ethnic apartheid” had taken root.  It had not been the implementation of Dayton, but the violation of its core principles that had led to that result.  It would be a grave mistake if this result was recognized as lawful, he said.


“It is the responsibility of this Organization to make it right,” he continued, saying that, unless the United Nations helped address past wrongs, this year’s celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be hollow.


His country was set to start work on the new Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the outcome of the process would deal with many of the issues he raised in his presentation.  Rewarding genocide would send a dangerous message throughout the world and undermine the chances of peace and stability in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, he added.


PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the international community had gathered to reflect on major national, regional and global challenges and how all States could renew their commitment to finding solutions.  In the context of fighting poverty and achieving the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, there was greater stability and peace in Africa, particularly East Africa and Rwanda.  In Rwanda, a healthy economic growth rate was apparent, due, in part, to an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investors.  Deepening regional integration was essential for an even bigger and more dynamic market, he added.


With regard to empowering women and promoting their socio-economic and political participation, he pointed out that, during the most recent Rwandan parliamentary elections, women had increased their percentage in that body from 49 to 55.  He said that this was a sign of healthy progress made towards realizing a vision of a united, democratic and prosperous Rwanda.


Turning to the issue of universal jurisdiction, he said that it was important that this tool was not misused by powerful nations to extend their jurisdiction over weaker countries.  The United Nations had a duty to ensure that universal jurisdiction served its original goals of delivering justice and fairness.


He called climate change “one of the critical challenges of our time”, pointing out that Africa was being gravely affected, with deserts and dry zones continuing to expand.  An over-reliance on wood was leading to severe deforestation.  Unpredictable weather patterns combined with limited scientific and technological capacities were undermining Africa’s ability to effectively manage its water resources.  He noted that, in Kigali earlier this month, at the Africa Climate Change Forum, attendees reaffirmed that the world urgently needed to “think global, but also act locally”, to translate words to actions.  To this end, he said Rwanda was determined to intensify efforts in reforestation, terracing and irrigation, and called on the global community to act together to protect our planet in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.


Turning to the Rwandan genocide, he called on Member States not to forget the process of comprehensively resolving the issue of those who committed genocide, as it was a process that had not yet been accomplished.  He said Rwanda was ready to play a part in addressing this matter in the context of broader objectives for consolidating stability and peace on our continent.


VALDAS ADAMKUS, President of Lithuania, said the United Nations could not be a “passive observer” if and when universal values and international law were under threat.  The world needed United Nations leadership, but the Organization had not stepped up.  In some cases, it had even become paralyzed as some States hid behind technicalities or the shield of national sovereignty.  The Organization could not continue with business as usual but had to reform and take a bigger role in areas that determined the future.  Those included energy, information security and the fight against terrorism and fundamentalism.


He said that 17 years ago, when Lithuania gained its independence and joined the United Nations after 50 years of Soviet occupation, it was said that others would never again decide the future of other nations.  But Lithuania and other nations of the former Soviet Union were still fighting the “revisionism seeping down from the Kremlin towers” -- blatant claims that there was no occupation of the Baltic States and no Holodomor in Ukraine, where millions of people were starved to death by a ruthless dictator.


Today was the commemoration of the Day of Genocide of Lithuanian Jews, a powerful reminder of the vulnerability of freedom.  It also taught a lesson.  Sincere efforts to admit to past crimes helped nations reconcile and contributed to the building of a peaceful, secure and stable region.  If the United Nations were to be reformed in a meaningful way, the experiences of the European nations after the end of the Second World War and at the end of the Cold War should receive a closer look.


Continuing, he said that interaction and cooperation between regional organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union, NATO and the Council of Europe should be the foundation for security and stability in Europe.  New calls to revise the institutional structure of European security were troubling.  International commitments should be honoured instead.  Security based on cooperation should remain the basic principle of international relations as a whole.  The philosophy of the “balance of power” growing popular in some capitals had no place in contemporary Europe.


Because security was indivisible, he said, it was in the international community’s interest for the United Nations to play a greater role in strengthening preventive diplomacy and making work the principle of “responsibility to protect”.  The Organization must also be more responsive to emerging threats such as unreliable energy supplies, fundamentalism and cyber attacks.


Whether the world was unipolar, bipolar or multipolar, he said human life and human rights should be made a priority.  That way, a viable architecture could be created among states based on trust, openness and respect for human rights.  But had efforts to build such an architecture been evident in the Georgia-Russia conflict?  “No.  Instead, there were renewed attempts to divide the world into zones of influence or privileged interests, which should be unacceptable to the international community,” he declared.


“Division and exclusion are bad remedies for conflict resolution,” he said.  Conflict resolution in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and elsewhere should be the responsibility of the international community and international institutions.  Commitments to value-based policies must also be honoured, as Lithuania had done, to have become today a consolidated democracy with a strong reformed economy that was an active contributor to international peacekeeping missions from the Balkans to Afghanistan.  The universal principals behind the United Nations should be the guiding light to the world for the future.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran, noted that the root of the world’s problems with peace and morality lay in one’s particular worldview as well as issues of freedom, obeisance to God and justice.


He then noted that the world was being deceived by hegemonic world and bullying Powers that attacked Iraq under the false pretext of uncovering weapons of mass destruction and overthrowing a dictator.  These Powers had insisted on imposing colonial agreements on Iraq by keeping them under Chapter VII of the Charter.  While this was going on, he said that Palestine had suffered 60 years of carnage and invasion by Zionists, even as United Nations resolutions that have addressed the plight of the Palestinian people had been relegated to the archives, unnoticed.


He pointed out that, in Afghanistan, the production of narcotics had multiplied since the presence of NATO forces along with myriad problems including terrorism.  He said the people of Afghanistan were the victims of the willingness of NATO member States to dominate the regions surrounding India, China and South Asia, and the Security Council could not do anything about it because some NATO members were also a part of the Council.


Efforts were being made to re-establish colonial relationships in Africa by starting civil wars in large countries like the Sudan, he said.  If there was national resistance, the leaders were put under pressure by legal mechanisms created by the very same Powers.  He explained that, in Latin America, people found their security, national interests and cultures to be seriously endangered by the menacing shadow of alien, domineering Governments, and even by the embassies of some empires.


He said those bullying Powers had also sought to put hurdles before Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme despite being regulated by international standards.  Those same Powers were producing new generations of lethal nuclear arms and possessed stockpiles of nuclear weapons that no international organization was monitoring, and the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been perpetrated by one of them.


He said the time had come for IAEA to present a clear report to the international community on its monitoring of the disarmament of these nuclear Powers and their nuclear activities, and for a disarmament committee to be established by independent States to monitor the disarmament of these nuclear Powers.


He said a deceitful minority was dominating the financial and political decision-making centres of the United States and some countries of the European Union.  The Iranian people and the overwhelming majority of peoples and Governments were against the deeds and perspectives of the world-domineering Powers, he said.


MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, said that, through its follow-up on the situation in Lebanon, the United Nations had contributed to laying the foundations, guidelines and building principles for addressing the crises and challenges that had confronted his country’s stability and prosperity for decades.  Expressing his support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he pledged support for providing safety and security to those troops in the face of terrorist attacks.


Noting that Lebanon was a country that believed in the value of humanity and civilization, he said that, despite crises, aggression and wars that had affected it, the country had maintained a democratic system through periodic elections.  As a founding Member of the United Nations, Lebanon had participated in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Since 1948, however, Lebanon had received hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and had been subject to two Israeli invasions and a series of attacks that wreaked havoc in terms of lives lost, and property and infrastructure destroyed.  The scale of catastrophes endured by Lebanon had prompted the Assembly to request Israel to assume responsibility and to compensate Lebanon -- compensation that Lebanon would continue to seek.  He said Lebanon was committed to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 1701 (2006), which called for the unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.  He also noted that successful efforts had been made, with the help of the United Nations, to liberate Lebanese prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons and detention centres.


Despite the aforementioned progress with Israel, he said Lebanon still faced a host of urgent risks and challenges, including the incomplete implementation of resolution 1701 by Israel; recovery or liberation of occupied territory in Sheba’a Farms, the hills of Kfarshuba, and the northern part of the village of Al-Ghajar; an inability to obtain all the maps of landmines and cluster bomb sites planted by Israel; confronting terrorism; and developing a national strategy to protect and defend Lebanon, pursuant to the provisions of the Doha Agreement.


In that regard, Lebanon was committed to achieving peace in the Middle East and to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the 2002 Beirut Summit.  He emphasized the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State, with Jerusalem as their capital, and called on the international community to provide the necessary financial resources to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Lebanon, however, absolutely rejected any resettlement of Palestinian refugees on its territory.


On Africa, he expressed Lebanon’s affinity with French-speaking African countries, and pledged support for the document issued at the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs.  He noted that financing should grow for programmes that combat poverty, disease and illiteracy, as a means to preserve human dignity and prevent further armed conflicts.


MWAI KIBAKI, President of Kenya, stressed the challenges that had arisen after his country’s general elections this past December.  The hope for a peacefully negotiated outcome of the political crisis had been realized with the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement in February, which had paved the way to a grand coalition Government representing all major political parties and interests.  That historical event had led to great progress in legal, constitutional and policy reforms, and Kenya had once again moved towards being a peaceful nation that welcomed investment and tourism.  In that recovery and growth, Kenya had also laid the foundation to be a regional hub for peace and humanitarian efforts.


He went on to say that the issues facing all of Africa, among others, competitive elections in fragile democracies, religious and ethnic differences and food shortages, could successfully be addressed by the attainment of democratic and inclusive elected Governments.  He offered examples of the Sudan maintaining the Comprehensive Peace Agreement despite recent difficulties, as opposed to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, which was still in a fragile state due to a lack of full support from the international community.


He believed that widespread commercialization of agriculture would bring the African people out of poverty, and called for partnerships between developed nations, international institutions and developing nations to place food security, agricultural technology transfer, trade and agricultural credit at the centre of the development agenda.


He urged a consensus on the contentious issues regarding agriculture through the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization.  He also noted that the rapid increase in oil prices impacted developing countries the most, and that such inequity did not lend itself to world peace and stability.  He appealed to the oil-producing nations to consider the plight of non oil-importing countries, especially those in the developing world.


However, to successfully challenge the hardships of the poorest countries and the interrelated global issues that all Member States faced, he called for the democratization of the United Nations and reform of the Security Council, beginning with Africa having a permanent representative on that 15-nation body.  That would accurately reflect an equitable geographical representation of the United Nations membership and successfully impact the issues facing Africa and the world today.


MARTIN TORRIJOS ESPINO, President of Panama, said the Assembly should focus on the impact of the world food crisis and poverty and hunger in the world.  Although the United Nations had been founded to prevent armed conflict between groups and nations, and it had acted as a deterrent to wars that could have been more devastating, now, it was necessary for the Organization to act on a new conflict faced by all States, the linked issues of hunger and poverty.  Why did 854 million people still suffer from hunger, and 1.7 million suffer from iron deficiency?  Since deliberations had begun this morning, some 5,000 children had died because they were poor.  The situation was unconscionable.  As for the Millennium Development Goals, a pledge had been made to halve the number of people suffering from hunger and living on a dollar a day.  The price of rice in the meantime had gone up by 100 per cent and wheat by 130 per cent.


The reality of poverty and the food crisis had generated social disruption, with no solution in sight.  The rise in food prices had been aggravated by unjustified speculation, which had raised the price of fuel to unjustifiable levels.  Hundreds of millions of people had seen their efforts to sustain their livelihoods go up in smoke.  The Assembly’s role should be strengthened so that the membership could act with authority to situations like this, especially since social peace was threatened because of spiralling food prices.  The forces of Governments and of private entities should come together and join in with the international community to work together and rescue people, he said.


Turning to global warming, he said food insecurity could not be separated from a changing climate.  If the problem of the lack of food was something to be dealt with comprehensively, the production of carbon would have to be limited in an equally concerted effort.  Action should be taken without further delay to tackle both problems in a comprehensive manner.  Human interaction with ecosystems was becoming ever more important.  A future could be built on opportunities in the market and commerce, while a simultaneous effort was made to tackle environmental problems.  The opposite of conservation was not development, but waste.  The best way to promote economic capital was through environmental and social capital.  The only way to do that was through environmental management shared by the global community.


On international peace and security, he said the United Nations must be made more democratic.  The Organization needed to bring itself forward as a world body representative of all 192 Members.  Before the end of the decade, a fundamental, transitory reform should be undertaken to start turning the wheels of modernization.  Small reforms now would lead to more profound reforms later.


YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, suggesting that he, like some others in Uganda, believed the so-called “food crisis” was actually good for Equatorial Africa, emphasized that it was certainly good for Uganda’s farmers.  In the past, those farmers had not always had sufficient access to markets, primarily due to the protectionism of the United States, European Union, Japan and China, as well as a lack of factories to process and ship the food to distant markets.  But other obstacles -- such as poor transportation infrastructure, intermittent electricity and a lack of seeds -- faced by some African countries were not a problem in Uganda, and today’s high food and commodity prices, largely due to the growing ranks of middle class consumers in China and India, had created an opportunity for its farmers.  As a result, Uganda had enjoyed recent annual economic growth rates of 9 per cent.


While it was good that once protected markets had been opened to African products, he said, the issues of subsidies remained.  Those trade-distorting farming subsidies -- which did not exist in Uganda -- should be removed.


Recent innovations now allowed Uganda’s surplus milk to be processed and exported around the world, he continued.  Government-funded scientists were also converting the 40 per cent of the banana crop that had previously rotted in the market place into processed foods.  Even Uganda’s salaried urban classes had the capacity to own land or had access to land through their relatives.  They could subsidize their diets by growing their own food.  Given those benefits, Africa and other agriculture-based economies should rise up, utilize their full potential and take advantage of the high food prices.


Challenging the consensus view that “all African countries cannot meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015”, he went on to say it was incorrect to talk about sustainable development without discussing socio-economic transformation.  Just as Europe and some Asian societies had, Africa needed to transform itself socially, economically and technologically into a middle-class society of skilled workers.  That metamorphosis would allow it to meet all of the Goals.


To achieve such a change, Africa had to industrialize and modernize its services sectors and commercialize its agriculture, he stressed.  Emphasis should be put on market access with the aim not only of gaining entry into the world’s biggest markets, but of rationalizing those of the continent.  Doing so would require lowering the cost of doing business by developing energy, transportation and educational infrastructure.  In closing, he wondered why industrialization and value addition had not been part of those goals initially.  If African countries added value to the raw materials it currently exported, its share of world trade would inevitably rise.  Jobs would be created and poverty rates lowered.


BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, said the current global financial crisis, record high food and fuel prices, and the world’s belated attention to climate change’s devastating social and economic impact, made the theme for this year’s debate timely and necessary.  All delegations must make good on their previous pledges and be committed to truly changing the multilateral system on the basis of relevant mandates, accountable institutions, integration and interconnectedness.  The theme of the Assembly’s next session should emphasize accountability and coherence of action by the developed world on aid, trade and development.


The current financial crisis revealed failures by market mechanisms for governance and oversight, as well as fundamental weaknesses in the global financial governance system, he said.  Many of the standards and much of the scrutiny applied routinely to smaller countries were not applied to some larger countries that actually posed much greater systematic risk.  Small, vulnerable economies like Guyana would bear the full effect of those developments.  Economic growth and poverty reduction efforts would suffer a severe setback and the Millennium Development Goals would become even more elusive, he added.


As published statistics showed that global food demand would double by 2030, the international community should urgently increase productivity and technology transfer to stave off widespread starvation, he said.  It must also acknowledge the inextricable link between agricultural development and food security, and give agriculture high priority in national budgets.  Despite agriculture’s comparative advantage in poverty reduction, ODA for the agriculture sector had fallen from 17 per cent in 1980 to 2.9 per cent in 2006.  The 2007 World Development Report showed that agriculture-generated growth could be up to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.  The global community must design and fund appropriate safety nets to ensure improved access to food and basic nutrition.


The world’s response to climate change must be expedited, he continued.  Despite some promising signs, including the emergence of a $60 billion carbon market, most of the money to fight climate change stayed in the developed world.  New high-growth, low-carbon economies and national development supporting progress towards global emissions targets were needed.  Leaders of rainforest countries were not merely poor, passive countries looking for aid.  They were critical to the climate change solution and should be leading the design of post-Kyoto climate mechanisms.  He pleaded with European Union leaders to review the economic partnership agreements it was negotiating with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries before they irretrievably harmed the good historic relations between those regions.


The reform agenda of international financial institutions should not be driven by fear that sovereign wealth funds, regional financial arrangements and new bilateral sources of development financing would make some organizations obsolete, he said.  Rather, it must be driven by what was necessary for good global governance and steady, demonstrable improvement in people’s daily lives.  Institutions must have new mandates that were relevant to current circumstances, reflective of equitable representation of their membership, flexible, responsive and with the highest standards of accountability and transparency.  The World Bank should have a revised mandate focusing on environmental protection, clean energy and certain aspects of poverty reduction, rather than attempting to address every development challenge, thus undermining its own effectiveness.


MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said that sometimes the most extreme tests of the United Nations’ lofty ideals arose in small, even obscure places, such as his own country, which, with fewer than 5 million people, had last month been “invaded” by its neighbour.  However, despite Georgia’s small size, the legal, moral, political and security implications raised by that invasion could not be larger in their consequence, as those issues lay at the very heart of the Organization’s founding Charter.


He said the invasion of his country not only violated its internationally recognized borders, but the subsequent recognition of the so-called “independence” of its two regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia challenged its territorial integrity, while the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of its people did violence to the very idea of human rights.  Asserting that developments in Georgia presented the General Assembly with a “general challenge”, the Georgian leader asked if, in the face of such a challenge, the Assembly would stand up for its founding principles, or allow those principles to be crushed under what he called the “treads of invading tanks”.


He urged the Assembly to refuse to stand silent in the face of armed aggression and assault on human rights, and instead stand united and immediately adopt a non-recognition policy towards Georgia’s two breakaway provinces.  The Assembly -- and Georgia -- had both a moral and legal obligation to protect international law and world order.  All parties had to comply with the full terms of the existing ceasefire agreement and resolve to create a meaningful United Nations conflict resolution process that would peacefully reunify his country.


He told the Assembly that, while the crisis posed grave challenges for the international community, it created specific obligations on his country, to its own people, as well as to the international community.  To that end, he reiterated his call for an exhaustive, independent investigation into the origins and causes of the war, urging investigators to have unimpeded access to all officials, documents and intelligence.  Georgia welcomed such an investigation and the Government stood ready to share all evidence in its possession and provide access to all witnesses sought by investigators.  He called on “the other party” to the conflict to similarly cooperate fully with such an investigation, and not obstruct it in any way.


Continuing, he said he believed Georgia had been attacked because it was a successful democracy in his part of the world, and as such, his Government’s second initiative of openness involved making its democracy even more robust.  To that end, he announced four categories of expanded democratic initiatives:  strengthening the checks and balances of Georgia’s democratic institutions; provision of additional resources and protections to foster greater political pluralism; strengthening of the rule of law by introducing enhanced due process trials by jury and lifetime judicial appointments; and expanding and deepening the protection of private property.


He thanked the international community’s response to his country’s reconstruction needs, adding that reconstruction would also ensure that Europe continued to benefit from true energy security that came from diversification, and pledged:  “And everything we do will be done peacefully.”


EVO MORALES, President of Bolivia, said the General Assembly was meeting at a time of rebellion -– against misery, poverty and against the effects of climate change and privatization policies -- throughout the world.  It was those privatization policies that had caused the current financial crisis.  In Bolivia, there had been uprisings of indigenous peoples and farmers questioning economic systems, such as those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had privatized basic resources.  Nationalizing oil and gas had profoundly changed Bolivia’s economy for the better and drastically increased profits from the industry.  Those profits had allowed the national economy to improve and natural resources to be recovered, which had also led to democratic changes.


Although the changes in Bolivia had made him popular, with 60 per cent of Bolivians pledging their support to his presidency in an August referendum, he said some conservative parties in favour of imperialism intended to weaken the country and bring down his presidency.  In fact, after 15 August, small conservative groups had begun to organize civil and municipal coups against the Government.  However, thanks to the Conference of the Bolivian People, that civil coup was being defeated.  Because the United States had not condemned those right wing groups, who were setting fire to oil and gas pipelines, he had expelled the United States Ambassador to his country, who he called “a lynchpin” in those activities, from Bolivia.


Noting that, in 2005, Bolivia had begun to dismantle its military forces, he said the United States still consistently tried to control certain members of the Bolivian military.  Although the United States had created, in some countries, a special force to fight terrorism, in many cases, those forces were created to put an end to leaders opposed to capitalism.  “When you work for equality and social justice, you are persecuted and conspired against by certain groups, not concerned about equality,” he said. That was nothing new for Bolivians.


That was the historical fight of Bolivians –- the fight between rich and poor, and socialism and capitalism.  There were uprisings against a capitalist economic model around the world and if no one understood that capitalism was destroying the planet, then major problems would go unresolved.  “So much is being said about climate change and if we continue the way we were, we will all be responsible for destroying the planet, and therefore, humanity,” he said, adding that it was not enough to raise problems with addressing solutions.


Although historic fights between people had been for territory, which was being repeated in Bolivia, he said indigenous peoples realized how they could live in harmony with Mother Earth.  He declared water and energy as human rights, which should be treated as public services.  Foreign investors should be business partners, not owners of local resources.  Social movements were mobilizing themselves to search for peace, and were asking for new standards to be adopted to bring about equality for all Bolivians.  Only the conscience of his peoples would defeat imperialism and create peace.


HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, emphasized the four interrelated crises in the global economy today:  finance, energy, climate change and food.  He also mentioned challenges such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the occurrence of underdevelopment and abject poverty, as well as the need to foster peace and security.


Citing first-hand experience, he said Namibia had been negatively impacted by climate change in recent years in the form of devastating floods and drought.  The country had also been hit hard by soaring food and fuel prices, and in response, the Government provided tax exemptions on basic foodstuffs to provide relief to poor households.


Unless rapid action and a “hand-in-hand” approach linking the food crisis, climate change and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals were taken, a reversal of gains in poverty reduction and attainment of other internationally agreed development goals was possible.  Paramount to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals was a global commitment to peace and security, as well as to social justice, he said, adding a strong call for “genuine political will”.


He went on to urge the lifting of all sanctions in the cases of South Africa, whose mediation efforts had led Zimbabwe to a milestone power-sharing agreement, and Cuba, which was experiencing an economic blockade that contravened international law and General Assembly resolutions.


He was also among the African leaders to call for permanent representation on the Security Council by an African nation in light of ongoing United Nations reform efforts.  He also called for implementation of the United Nations Settlement Plan for Western Sahara, and a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Darfur and Somalia.


BONI YAYI, President of Benin, said the United Nations was right to focus on energy, food and international cooperation.  The issue of climate change was a global problem and foreshadowed gloomy prospects for mankind.  The current energy and food crises were the worst the world had experienced in recent history, and the Secretary-General had shown great leadership in sounding the alarm.


He said that the Rome conference organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) this past June had established a global strategy to address the situation and help vulnerable developing States.  The responses to the emergency of the food crisis should not cause the international community to lose sight of the schedule in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  A sustained growth rate should be established for prosperity and human development.  He said the United Nations should use all its power to help the hungry of the world.  The time had come to give concrete meaning to the right to food.


Continuing, he said priority should be given to strengthening social services in the most vulnerable countries, and States should be encouraged to optimize agricultural yields in the short term.  For the medium and long term, the international community should rethink investment in agriculture to ensure food security.  His country was seriously affected by the food crisis, and a national programme had been launched in 2006 to modernize agriculture with the use of machines, but water issues were still a problem.


Suggesting various measures to respond to the food crisis, such as the promotion of irrigation agriculture, he said that in some cases the deterioration of the soil was a direct result of climate change and had caused a reduction of crops.  The resources of the World Bank and other such institutions should be used to help increase the framework of food production and diversify food production efforts in the most vulnerable countries.  The difficulties of food production had also been affected by oil prices.


All Member States should promote ownership and effective enjoyment of human rights in their States, he said.  The risk of not achieving the Millennium Development Goals was greatest in Africa.  All efforts by the United Nations system to improve the chances of vulnerable African States were welcome, as was the increased democratization and reform of the organs of the United Nations.  He looked forward to reform of the Security Council; when the representation of States would be more equitable and that body’s decisions would be more transparent.


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For information media • not an official record