|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)
WORLD LEADERS REAFFIRM CENTRAL ROLE OF UNITED NATIONS IN CRAFTING
GLOBAL RESPONSE TO CURRENT FOOD, FUEL, FINANCIAL CRISES
Uncertain Times Call for Revitalized General Assembly,
Security Council, Ministers Say, as 36 Speakers Address Debate
The world had reached a unique point in time, with challenges, opportunities and risks converging at the “global crossroads” of the United Nations, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom told the General Assembly today, as leaders of large and small nations alike wrestled with how to consolidate democracy at home, and within the Organization.
“We are in a global age […] a world not simply in transition, but transformation, with change more far-reaching than anything we have seen in our lifetimes,” he said, signalling that a major shift in international relations that was due in the wake of massive food shortages, spiralling fuel prices and the recent financial meltdown on Wall Street. Mr. Brown’s concerns –- and his calls for change -- were echoed by most of the 36 speakers who addressed the Assembly’s annual general debate today.
With the shocks of the current crises “leading straight to the front door of every family in every country”, he said, the problems would not be resolved by nations working in isolation, but rather, only by acting together. Further, international institutions created in the aftermath of the Second World War had not kept pace with the changing global economy. Only by making tough decisions on energy security and climate change, and bringing together a new global partnership of oil producers and consumers, could stability be brought to energy markets.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India agreed that there was an urgent need for coordinated action by the global community to address the parallel food and energy crises, as well as unprecedented financial upheavals. The United Nations could become an effective focal point for cooperation towards inclusive cooperation and inclusive growth, but only if it was effectively revitalized.
Indeed, he reminded delegates of their 2005 pledge to adopt an agenda for “early and meaningful” United Nations reform, stressing that States had to “acknowledge frankly” that there had been little progress on the core elements of that agenda. They had to be more determined in their efforts to revitalize the General Assembly, enabling it to fulfill its rightful role as the Organization’s principle deliberative organ. Further, the composition of the Security Council needed to reflect the contemporary realities of the twenty-first century. “We need to expeditiously hold negotiations towards that end,” he declared.
Agreeing, Filip Vujanović, President of Montenegro, said the United Nations, with its core values of multilateralism, provided a reliable framework for strengthening democracy, protecting human rights, respecting international law and fostering economic and social development. To enhance those capabilities, he urged pragmatically oriented reform, especially by strengthening the authority of the Assembly and other principal bodies.
However, most important to the reform process was the transformation of the Security Council to provide equitable regional representation, greater transparency and improved working methods. His country, whose statehood had been democratically restored in 2006, was the most recent Member of the United Nations, he said, adding that statehood represented both political freedom and political responsibility.
Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, stressed that the United Nations, as the “supreme multilateral institution”, must do more. He wholeheartedly endorsed calls for frankness and democratization, saying that work entrusted to the Organization had been compromised by apathy, inaction and the crippling pursuit of narrow self-interest by a handful of powerful countries. “We have, in this session, an historic opportunity to reassert the relevance and credibility of this body be keeping the promises that we have made to ourselves and the world.”
The credibility of United Nations decisions made in the name of peace and security hinged on a Security Council that was democratic, he said, and a General Assembly that was diverse. At the same time, he expressed the hope that the General Assembly would hew closely to the principles of multilateralism. While that body had, over time, gradually strayed from the noblest of its goals, he hoped all Member States would work harder to keep its promises “for the good of the global family”.
Meanwhile, other nations focused inward, discussing the importance of their democratic gains and pressing for international support. Gabriel Ntisezerana, Second Vice-President of Burundi, said that, in 2005, democratically elected institutions had been established in his country, and this year marked the first time that election results had held longer than three years.
So, the Assembly’s current session was taking place at a time when the people of Burundi were at last enjoying the end of war, he said. Delegates of both political parties wished to establish ways to implement the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and his Government would spare no efforts to ensure progress in the peace process. Thanks to the Peacebuilding Commission, a new intergovernmental body that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict, Burundi had launched dialogue frameworks that included its social and political partners, Parliament and the media, among others.
Burundi was determined to respect human rights in all their forms, which was not an easy task for a nation emerging from war, he explained. A national human rights commission and a national children’s forum would be launched, while a new Criminal Code, which covered gender-based violence, among others, was now before Parliament. Human rights focal points had also been established and were being trained in peace education.
Similarly, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister of Nepal, said he was addressing the Assembly as the Prime Minister of “world’s newest republic”. The 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which had followed a decade-long armed struggle, had led Nepal to hold elections for the Constituent Assembly in April this year. At its first meeting, that Assembly had declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, formally ending the 240-year-old monarchy and creating an opportunity to transform the feudalistic State into “new Nepal”, in keeping with the peoples’ aspirations.
Nepal’s peace process was based on multi-party democracy, dialogue and recognition of the people as the ultimate arbiter, he explained. However, new problems had emerged in the form of the global food crisis, rising oil prices and the dangers of climate change, which undermined efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. While the United Nations indeed needed to reform, he reiterated his solemn faith in the principles of its Charter.
Also speaking today were the Presidents of Haiti and Vanuatu.
The Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Samoa, Bahamas, Malta, Solomon Islands, Croatia, Tuvalu, Morocco, Barbados, Iceland, Fiji, Dominica, Tonga, Saint Lucia, Guinea and Grenada also addressed the Assembly, as did the Chief Adviser of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.
The Second Vice-President of Burundi and the Federal Minister of Austria also spoke, as did the Foreign Ministers of Nicaragua, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Somalia and Angola.
Also addressing the Assembly was the President of the Palestinian Authority.
The General Assembly will reconvene Saturday, 27 September, at 9 a.m. to continue its general debate.
The General Assembly met today to continue its annual general debate.
FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, noted that his country, whose statehood had been democratically restored in 2006, was the most recent Member of the United Nations. Statehood represented both political freedom and political responsibility. The United Nations, with its core values of multilateralism, provided a reliable framework for maintaining international peace and security, strengthening democracy, protecting human rights, respecting international law, and fostering economic and social development.
To enhance those capabilities, he supported pragmatically oriented reform, especially strengthening the authority of the Assembly and other principal bodies. Most important to the reform process was the transformation of the Security Council, to provide equitable regional representation, greater transparency and improved working methods.
He said the foundation of national and regional stability was respect for human rights, improved minority and faith-based rights and strengthening relations with neighbouring countries. Therefore, his country focused on the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organized crime.
Representing a country in transition, he supported implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. The economic challenges of such countries impacted how they tackled other issues, making implementation of the Millennium Declaration imperative, especially for those in Africa. It was also vital to resolve the energy crisis and its concomitant impact on rising food prices and food security, in addition to the issues of climate change and the Millennium Development Goals. Montenegro was working towards an interactive relationship between environmental protection and the production and distribution of organic food.
He called for international trade conditions that gave preference to small-scale producers and developing countries, and favoured public-private partnerships between Governments and United Nations agencies on projects for energy efficiency. Finally, he expressed satisfaction with his country’s reform processes, based on democracy, a market economy, efficient institutions and the rule of law, noting that it was a basis for Montenegro’s integration into the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Montenegro was creating a legislative framework for deployment of its citizens in United Nations peacekeeping missions in the spirit of multilateral cooperation.
RENÉ GARCIA PRÉVAL, President of Haiti, reminded delegations that only last year, he had recounted the 200 years of suffering experienced by the Haitian people, due to material shortages and natural disasters. He had not considered that, a year later, he would, again be speaking of the damage left by the recent successive hurricanes -- the hundreds of women, children and elderly who had literally been swept away by flood waters, the thousands left homeless, and the severe damage to Haiti’s communication, irrigation, water and sanitation infrastructure.
Profusely thanking the United Nations for mobilizing its agencies to help the most vulnerable, and offering gratitude to all the aid and assistance provided by Member States, the private sector and civil society, he also noted the broad solidarity within Haiti itself, as well as from Haitians living abroad. Despite Haiti’s extensive suffering, his Government was concerned for its neighbours both near and far, including Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, fellow members of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and parts of the southern coastline of the United States, who also suffered significant damage from the back-to-back storms.
He stressed, however, that these were the first hurricanes of the season, and that a better-defined approached was needed to break the cycle of deficient crisis response and aid dependency, so that Haiti’s deep-rooted problems were effectively addressed. In the long run, charity never helped, but after initial outpouring, Haiti had been repeatedly left alone without long-term assistance. Systematically rebuilding the social infrastructure would require genuine solidarity and a consolidation of resources.
He reminded the Assembly that Haiti’s people were of indigenous and African descent, and were hard workers eager to develop commerce and engage in trade. Rather than aid, he called for support to help Haiti maximize its potential. The liberalization of trade would only be beneficial if clear, transparent rules applied to everyone, not just certain powers. Trade under fair conditions, aligned with appropriate aid, would then help the poor people escape the chains of poverty.
He observed that the United Nations still remained the privileged place for debating the world’s problems, and ensuring the voice of the poor be heard. However, in order to protect the mandate of the Organization, democratic reform was needed. Otherwise, the United Nations would be “resented by the small, and derided by the big”. With too many multi-dimensional crises that did not recognize country borders -- such as climate change and disease -- solutions depended on Member States working together in a new way.
He noted that only four months prior to the hurricanes massive demonstrations over food shortages took place, not just in Haiti, but around the world. It was as if “a collective cry of the poor” had been raised; poor people were refusing to pay the cost of certain decisions, which affected them but which they had played no part in reaching. He challenged Member States to choose between perishing together because no one would cooperate with each other, or mobilizing a new solidarity to save the planet and give the children in every country a chance to build a better world.
Recalling his country’s “difficult progress towards independence”, KALKOT MATAS KELEKELE, President of Vanuatu, expressed gratitude to the United Nations for its “active concern and assistance” through the “Committee of 24” on Decolonization, to make Vanuatu a Member State 27 years ago.
Speaking on behalf of other Pacific countries as well, he said more concerted action by the international community was needed to address climate change as a security issue, and “the increasing vulnerability of today’s global environment where nature respects no boundaries”. Without this, some Pacific nations “will be submerged”, and the United Nations and its Members would have failed in their first and most basic duty: to uphold the principles of the Charter.
On the subject of the graduation from the list of least developed countries, he urged reform of existing criteria, to prevent those countries from being “forcibly reclassified” and losing much-needed concessionary support. A country should be graduated from the list through first-hand assessments, by way of in-country visits, not on the basis of statistical indicators showing achievement of two of the three criteria, in this case: higher national income; significant progress in human assets or human capital; and economically less vulnerable conditions.
He went on to draw attention to the “island paradox” -- when relative prosperity of a country overshadows high vulnerability -- explaining that the sustainability of higher income was “constantly challenged” by the high vulnerability of island economies to the destructive impact of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, cyclones, volcanic eruption and sea level rise.
The achievement outlook for Millennium Development Goals was found to be “poor to fair” in Vanuatu’s first report of its Millennium Development Goal National Committee. That was due to poor linkages in Government priorities and inadequate allocation of resources. But, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Vanuatu was trying to accelerate progress in the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals by better identifying key challenges and improved ways to address them, he said.
Among other issues, he requested extending submissions on the Extension of Continental Shelf beyond May 2009, and noted Vanuatu’s dispute with France over the matter. On the subject of United Nations reform, he called for the Security Council to become more representative of its membership by granting permanent seats to Japan and India.
GABRIEL NTISEZERANA, Second Vice-President of Burundi, speaking on behalf of the President Pierre Nkurunziza, said the Assembly’s current session took place at a time when his people were at last enjoying the end of war. Delegates of both political parties wished to establish ways to implement the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and he thanked the United Nations, the African Union and the Regional Initiative for Peace, for their participation in the return of the Palipehutu movement to the process.
Reasserting that the Government would spare no efforts to ensure progress in the peace process, he said it had been three years since the establishment of democratically elected institutions -- the first time that the election results had held longer than three years. The Government and people of Burundi welcomed that development. Thanks to the Peacebuilding Commission, the Government had launched dialogue frameworks among social and political partners, Parliament and the media, among others.
Burundi was determined to respect human rights in all their forms, he said, but explained that that was not an easy task for a nation emerging from war. A national human rights commission and a national children’s forum would be launched, while a new Criminal Code, which covered gender-based violence, among others, was now before the Parliament. Human rights focal points had also been established, and were being trained in peace education.
He said security in his country was generally good, but there had been killings due to armed robberies and land disputes. The Government had begun disarming the civilian population, and unless those weapons were taken out of circulation and destroyed, peace would be threatened.
On the economic front, Burundi’s gross domestic product (GDP) was among the world’s lowest, and inflation had grown considerably, particularly with increased food and commodity. A national census had been organized, and the results would allow for improving school and health policies. Macroeconomic and structural reforms had been created to privatize State enterprises, and manage both banks and the military. A law on counteracting corruption had been issued, and public oversight bodies were playing their role.
Peacekeeping and security was a multidimensional task, he said, noting the combat of terrorism, hunger, disease and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United Nations was mobilizing resources, but the way forward remained long, and “bloody conflict” remained in Somalia, Iraq and the wider Middle East, among other areas. The United Nations must demonstrate the means to combat such conflict, and Burundi would provide military observers in Darfur and Côte d’Ivoire, and military contingents for peacekeeping in Somalia.
FAKHRUDDIN AHMED, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, said food security, democracy and development were three interrelated issues of fundamental importance to the welfare of the citizens of Bangladesh and other least developed countries. Food insecurity could disrupt the core of a democratic policy and derail development priorities.
The recent rise in global food prices had severely impacted Bangladesh, as domestic rice prices had spiked by nearly 60 per cent during the year through February 2007. This had occurred against the backdrop of two devastating floods and a tropical cyclone that had devastated one of the country’s key harvests. Food insecurity was measured by increased instability, as well as deprivation, and making food available for all at affordable prices was a cardinal responsibility for all Governments.
On democracy and corruption, he said the Bangladeshi Government announced a road map for staging a truly democratic election, soon after assuming office in January 2007. This was not an easy task, as decades of corruption had seriously undermined the country’s democracy and economy. The fight against corruption was the first step in a long and difficult process, and the Government would continue to work under the auspices of the independent Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Government electronically registered more than 80 million voters with photographs and fingerprints in 11 months, and the Election Commission trained more than 500,000 election workers. However, an election was only one pillar of democratic governance, and the Government had also made the judiciary fully independent, created the National Human Rights Commission, and enacted a Right to Information law that provided transparency. The Bangladesh Election Commission had successfully held local mayoral elections last month, and was fully committed to free and fair parliamentary elections on 18 December of this year.
On the food crisis, he said that situation would return, perhaps with greater intensity and frequency, unless the international community put short- and long-term measures in place to prevent the recurrence. As a recognized least developed country, Bangladesh urged the Secretary-General to consider the possibility of creating a “Global Food Bank”. Such a mechanism would allow countries facing a short-term production deficit to borrow food grains on preferential terms. After overcoming the shortfall, those countries could return the quantum to the bank.
Though economic progress had been made since the adoption of the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action, least developed countries still faced serious structural hurdles in their development efforts, and were acutely susceptible to external economic shocks, natural and man-made disasters. It was unlikely that least developed countries would achieve the overarching goals of the Brussels Programme and the Millennium Development Goals unless the international commitments for the countries, in the areas of aid and trade, were fully delivered. He urged Member States to fully support the holding of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, planned to be held before the end of the decade.
PUSHPA KAMAL DAHAL, Prime Minister of Nepal, recalled the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and said Nepal had held elections to the Constituent Assembly in April this year. At its first meeting, that Assembly had declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, formally ending the 240-year-old monarchy, and creating an opportunity to transform the feudalistic State into a “new Nepal”, in keeping with peoples’ aspirations. His Government was committed to restoring law and order, providing immediate relief to conflict-affected people, fighting the “cancerous” growth of corruption, and starting a pro-poor economic recovery package.
Nepal’s peace process was based on multi-party democracy, dialogue and recognition of the people as the ultimate arbiter, he explained, noting his appreciation for the United Nations’ continued support. However, as Nepal continued its process, new problems had emerged in the form of the global food crisis, rising oil prices and the dangers of climate change, which undermined its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He called for fulfilling the “solemn” pledges made in 2000, and at the 2002 World Conference on Financing for Development.
He said the United Nations must tackle such development challenges, among other issues, as religious extremism, nuclear weapons proliferation, transnational crimes and gross human rights violations. Multilateralism was the solution. Further, least developed countries like Nepal faced a special predicament in that they were trapped in a vicious circle of poverty. Their low social indicators, and the growing income gap within and among nations was a “sure sign of looming disaster”. Due to least developed countries’ high level of vulnerability, he strongly urged that their issues be examined separately by the United Nations and with focused programmes.
Nepal was also landlocked, a “double disadvantage”, and had to deal with a high cost of doing trade, he explained, urging full implementation of global compacts and the Brussels Programme of Action for least developed countries. He also highlighted the need for developed country partners to fulfil their pledges to allocate a certain percentage of their gross national product to least developed countries. On climate change, he said Nepal faced the melting of glaciers and shifting weather patterns, and strongly appealed for extending support to help protect its environment. A regime of common but differentiated responsibilities also must be created.
Continuing, he was pleased the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific had been operating in Kathmandu for 20 years. Peacekeeping had evolved as the “soul” of the United Nations, and Nepal had regularly sent peacekeepers since 1958. On human rights, he said the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be a necessary balance between peace and justice, and that Nepal would enhance the work of its National Human Rights Commission.
GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said recent events proved that the world was in the new global age –- a world “not simply in transition, but transformation, with change more far-reaching than anything we have seen in our lifetimes”. A unique point in time had been reached, and the challenges, opportunities and risks now met at the “global crossroads” of the United Nations.
In next two decades, the world economy would double in size, which, in turn, would double the potential for jobs and prosperity, he said. While extraordinary promise awaited, there were also new insecurities and pressures, as seen in the first real financial crisis and first real resource crisis of this new age. The twin shocks of a global credit crunch and soaring commodity prices “led straight to the front door of every family in every country”. The global nature of the crises meant that they would not be resolved by nations working in isolation, rather, only by acting together.
The immediate priority was to fairly help people cope with difficult times, he said, adding that in the United Kingdom, the Government was supporting people with the costs of gas and electricity, supporting homeowners, and helping people acquire the skills for jobs.
If anything was to be learned, it was that the world was more interconnected than ever, and as such, solutions must be coordinated, he said. All must be done to stabilize turbulence and rebuild the financial system around clear principles. In the short term, each country was taking action, and the United States deserved support as it sought to agree “in detail” what all parties agreed “in principle”. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom had taken action to protect investors and had introduced a temporary ban on short-selling; injected “billions” into the market, and extended its special liquidity scheme.
Confidence in the future was needed, and there were five principles around which to unite, he stressed, highlighting first the need for transparency and the rapid introduction of improved international accounting standards and disclosure. Second, he called for sound banking practice, and more effective regulation that examined both solvency and liquidity.
There must also be responsibility, he said, so that no member of senior management could say they did not understand the risks, and integrity, so that companies could align rewards with stability and long-term gain. Advice between credit rating agencies and the interests of investors should also be aligned. Finally, oversight must be global, which was why he supported the creation of international colleges for each of the largest global financial institutions, with 30 due by year-end.
International institutions created in the aftermath of the Second World War had not kept pace with the changing global economy, he continued, underscoring the need for international capital movements to be transparent. “The age of irresponsibility must be ended,” he added. However, global action must also address the scramble for resources, and only by making tough decisions on energy security and climate change, and bringing together a new global partnership of oil producers and consumers, could stability be brought to energy markets.
While the United Kingdom was committed to tackling climate change, oil would meet a “large part” of global energy needs for decades to come. States must consider whether the institutional architecture could bring about more transparent energy markets. He planned to host a global energy summit in London to agree on areas for further action.
Continuing, he said only by helping Africa become a net exporter rather than importer of food, could the world see an end to high food prices. On trade, he called for restarting negotiations, removing trade barriers and trade-distorting subsidies, which cost developing countries $15 billion a year. “Now is not the time to pull up the drawbridge,” he declared.
On other international issues, he said the United Nations must help the next Government of Israel build on the foundations of current talks to agree on a two-State solution, which guaranteed Israel’s security and gave Palestinians a viable State. In Cyprus, there was a real chance of settlement. On Afghanistan, he said that only when the Government could deny land to Al-Qaida, and its associates, would the international community have done its job.
On the Sudan, he said that, while United Nations peacekeepers helped keep the fragile North-South peace agreement in place, Darfur remained “a disaster”, and it was up to the Government to create conditions for the conflict to end. Finally, he called for supporting democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, saying also, that now would be the worst time to “turn our back on the Millennium Development Goals”.
BRUCE GOLDING, Prime Minister of Jamaica, who noted the increase of global production and expanded trade, stressed that the widening gap between rich and poor was likewise expanding, and hopes for the broad achievements of the Millennium Development Goals were fading. With the global economy headed into a severe downturn, and myriad interrelated crises, among them food and fuel shortages, there was an urgent need for developed countries to assist developing countries in improving their economies by expanding productivity, gaining better access to global markets and boosting human capacity-building.
He stated his strong belief that this was not altruism, but rather an essential investment in developing countries that would, among other things, expand markets and increase purchasing power. Because of the interdependent nature of the world’s nations, that would also help address the shared global issues of climate change, global epidemics, organized crime and human trafficking. Global development, not just global markets, needed to be the centre of Member State’s priorities. “We must commit ourselves to creating a world in which not everyone may be rich, but no one has to be poor.”
Concerned that halfway to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the global community was falling more and more behind schedule, he said that the partnership between developed and developing countries, as defined in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development, was a critical component to the success of the Goals. Developing countries needed to ensure their priorities in development, and developed countries needed to keep their commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product to official development assistance (ODA). He noted that only five developed countries had kept this commitment.
Diverse economic and social profiles of developing countries also needed to include middle-income countries with deep pockets of poverty. In that regard, he called for the international recognition of CARICOM States as a special category of “small vulnerable and highly indebted middle-income countries”. The redesign of a global financial system to reflect new global realities that was development-driven would support forward progress and impact poverty throughout the world, he added.
Developing countries were more vulnerable and more impacted by climate change and natural disasters, he said, calling for more long-term social, economic and development strategies, as well as sustainable solutions to fragile humanitarian situations. He expressed Jamaica’s concern regarding the many serious crises throughout the world, and called for strong actions to address and resolve the Middle East conflict, and the persistent humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Greater efforts were also needed towards eliminating nuclear arms, curbing illicit trade of small arms, and identifying comprehensive international support for its neighbour, Haiti, among others.
Concluding, he challenged Member States to ignore the cynicism that existed about the United Nations, and called for the end to the “squabbling and procrastination” among Members over much-needed reforms within the Organization, specifically the Security Council. Fulfilling the mandate of the Charter was still unfinished business. He asked that the leadership of Member States must not fail “the hopes of people everywhere” to create a peaceful and secure world.
JIGMI Y. THINLEY, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said the international community was facing a host of serious challenges -- from natural disasters to food and financing crises, to dwindling water resources -- that were testing the relevance of the United Nations and the resolve of its Member States to work together. Those crises, as well as the threats of terrorism and extremism, threatened to undermine what the international community had achieved collectively and as individual States. Bhutan viewed those developments as interconnected symptoms of a “larger and deeper malaise” that threatened everyone’s collective well-being and survival.
The oil crisis, soaring prices of metals and diminishing water reserves were linked to the exploitation and waste of scarce natural resources. The primary factor behind the financial crisis was a culture of “living beyond our means”, of private profiteering and socializing risks. Those troubles were the outcomes of a way of life that was dictated by the powerful ethics of consumerism in a world of finite resources.
He pointed to increasingly unpredictable natural disasters, such as drought, cyclones, hurricanes and floods, as indications of climate change. There was the danger of increasing hunger in a world where too many people already were starving, where diseases abounded, and where new epidemics threatened man, other life forms and even food crops. Deepening poverty, not unlike the food crisis, was also a sign of the disintegration of communities. Those multiple challenges brought out in sharp focus the “shameful inequities” of a society that failed to share and distribute the enormous wealth it had created to satisfy man’s insatiable greed.
He said Bhutan was involved in global efforts to develop new indicators to measure real human progress. Bhutan had pursued a unique development path guided by the former King’s philosophy of gross national happiness (GNH as opposed to GDP) since the early 1970s. Gross national happiness was based on the belief that happiness was the single most important goal. Indeed, the goal of development was the promotion and enhancement of happiness. That concept emphasized a balanced life that matched the material needs of the body, with the spiritual, psychological and emotional needs of the mind. The Royal Government structured its development programme on four broad themes: sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, not growth; environmental conservation; promotion of culture; and good governance.
SERGEI STANISHEV, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, affirmed his country’s commitment to the United Nations mandate, and its realignment to the European Union. Bulgaria was preparing to host a summit, “Gas for Europe: A New Transregional Partnership and Project”, which would bring together Heads of State and Government from South East Europe, the Black Sea and Caspian Region, Central Asia, the European Union and the United States, to encourage dialogue on energy and other strategic interests.
He observed that peace and stability began at local levels, and translated into regional, subregional and transborder cooperation, which then built towards comprehensive collective security systems. To that end, Bulgaria had taken leadership in the South East European Cooperation Process, which aimed for continued recovery from a war-torn region into a thriving and dynamic one. That regional cooperation would need the involvement of the European Union and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) regarding the issue of Kosovo.
He also said that Bulgaria supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and rendered its full support to the peacemaking process of the European Union in the Black Sea region. Stating that conflict prevention and development were inextricably linked, he committed Bulgaria’s resources and efforts to any regional centre for United Nations mediation and a Bulgaria/UNDP regional hub in the Western Balkan and Black Sea region.
He concluded that stable peace and security would only be achieved through the reform of the United Nations, and through assistance for Member States’ development. Solidarity with those in need, especially developing countries, was an important principle of Bulgaria’s foreign policy, and part of its development as a donor State in the European Union. He, therefore, urged the Member States to accelerate the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and to strengthen solidarity with developing countries.
TUILAEPA LUPESOLIAI SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, recalled his messages to the Assembly last year, that the United Nations had not lived up to its Charter, and that Member States had no one but themselves to blame. No country was too powerful or too small to participate in the solution to make the Organization an agent of change. Samoa supported the Secretary-General’s vision to create an Organization that delivered as one entity.
He called for the revitalizing of the General Assembly, and for the reform of the Security Council, especially to expand its permanent and non-permanent membership. He had observed indifference, intentional or not, from some national leaders towards the small and weaker countries, unless they “teeter[ed] on the brink of becoming failed States”, he added.
He went on to say that Samoa’s strategic plan from 2008 to 2012 would be a comprehensive development framework, and with targeted resource allocation. In 2007, Samoa had also worked with the Organization to promote the Millennium Development Goals during the South Pacific Games held in Samoa. The innovative effort of utilizing sports to effect changes in behaviour resulted in a solar-powered Millennium Development Goal scoreboard in front of the main Government building to monitor national progress.
Although not a contributor to the global crises, Samoa’s small size and isolated location did not shield it from experiencing the consequences, of, among others, climate change, energy and food shortages and the current financial turmoil. He noted that the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in August had adopted the Niue Declaration on Climate Change, which highlighted Pacific small island developing states’ vulnerability to global warming. Last week, the European Union and the Pacific Island Forum Troika joined together to highlight the ongoing vulnerability, and the impact of rising sea levels in that region. Samoa would also work within the United Nations to spotlight the security implications of climate change, and he called for the broad support of the Bali road map so that a post-Kyoto climate change deal could be realized. In this regard, Australia’s participation as a State party to the Kyoto Protocol at the Bali meeting had been encouraging.
HUBERT ALEXANDER INGRAHAM, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Bahamas, said efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals must be carried out in tandem with steps to achieve full employment and decent work for all. The Bahamas had achieved many of the targets and indicators of the Goals, and over a two-year period, assistance to the poor and low-income families in the country was being increased by 45 per cent. At the same time, new and emerging problems, such as the current food, energy and financial crises, continued to slow global development, and threatened to erode gains made over the past 10 years towards ending poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
The increasing cost of energy was impacting people’s travel plans, and had a direct negative impact on the tourism industry, the country’s primary industry. In addition, climate change was another challenge for the Bahamas as a small island developing State with about 80 per cent of its landmass within 1.5 meters of sea level. He called for urgent action on climate change, which was also contributing to the increasing number and fury of hurricanes passing through the Caribbean. Those tropical storms had a devastating impact on many countries in their subregion, including Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands and the most southerly island in the Bahamas, Inagua. He said the Bahamas stood by its commitment to preserve its marine and terrestrial environments, and to meet the targets created by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity for 2010 and 2012. The country expected to exceed its commitment to conserve at least 20 per cent of the near-shore marine resources across the Bahamas by 2020.
Turning to economic issues, he said there was a need for permanent representation of developing countries, particularly small developing countries, in international economic, trade and financial institutions, including the Breton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization, as well as bodies like the Financial Stability Forum and the Basle Committee. Believing that international tax matters should be discussed in an open, transparent and inclusive form, the Bahamas called for the convening of a major international conference to review the international financial and monetary architecture and global economic governance structures.
The Bahamas reaffirmed its support for the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, with a view to expanding its membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, as well as improving its working methods. On the issue of drugs, he said the 2008 World Drug Report indicated that the supply of illicit drugs was increasing, a fact with serious consequences for the subregion.
The Bahamas and other members of CARICOM were neither significant producers nor supplies of narcotics, or significant manufacturers or suppliers of small arms and light weapons. He reiterated the call made last July by the CARICOM States for the illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons to be addressed in a holistic, transparent and legally binding manner, with renewed commitments for effective and enhanced safeguards.
RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, expressing solidarity with the nations battered by hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike, said his country stood with them in their rebuilding efforts. He went on to wholeheartedly endorse the calls for frankness and democratization, reaffirming also that the United Nations, as the “supreme multilateral institution”, must do more. There was no doubt that the world’s peoples were aware of the challenges, but work entrusted to the Organization had been compromised by apathy, inaction and the crippling pursuit of narrow self-interest by a handful of powerful countries.
Recalling that a year ago, he had denounced the failure to end the “genocide” in Darfur, he said that one year later, he was shocked by the global community’s subsequent collective stumbles, last month. For instance, Force Commander Martin Luther Agwai’s promised peacekeeping force of 26,000 was still less than 10,000 strong. That, among other worrying events, had caused Mr. Gonsalves to wonder about the promises of “never again”. His people, whose past and future were interwoven with the continent, asked: “how can I face such slaughter and be cool?” The credibility of United Nations decisions made in the name of peace and security hinged on a Security Council that was democratic, and diversity in the General Assembly, he declared.
On the food crisis, his Government was implementing a creative national food production plan that mixed agricultural incentives with education and assistance measures. However, farmers, tradesmen and private sector actors were still waiting for the oft-promised opportunities that supposedly accompanied globalization. On the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization Talks, he said solutions to economic crises hinged on genuine negotiation and compromise in the interest of the world’s least privileged. After promises of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to official development assistance, his country had been forced to “scour the globe” for development partners.
Taking up other matters, he called climate change, an issue of “life and death” to Caribbean peoples. On the “creeping return of cold war rhetoric” to the international discourse, he urged guarding against the return of discarded philosophies. He hoped the Assembly would hew closely to the principles of multilateralism. While the Assembly had gradually strayed from the noblest of its goals, he urged keeping promises for the good of the global family.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the Palestinian Authority, said he would have liked to have announced a comprehensive agreement had been achieved between the Palestinians and Israel that ended Israeli occupation of its land since 1967. He believed the entire world shared his desire to set the necessary guidelines and principles for the advancement of negotiating towards the conclusion of a comprehensive and complete agreement on all final status issues. The Annapolis Conference, held last year, had emphasized the need for the removal of all obstacles that had impeded the negotiating process.
The main obstacle was the Israeli settlement campaign and its continuation throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem. All participants in Annapolis had taken a united, firm and unprecedented stand calling for the immediate cessation of illegal settlement activities. The participation of most Arab countries had shown the desire to support the political process, based on the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut more than six years ago.
He renewed his call to all parties, including Israel, regional and international Powers, to seize the opportunity provided by the Arab Peace Initiative. In this context, he fully supported the indirect negotiations taking place between Syria and Israel with the help of Turkey. The Authority would continue to negotiate towards a comprehensive peace that would end decades of occupation and hostilities, and attain the two-State solution –- the State of Palestine living alongside the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. That would include the achievement of a just and agreed solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees.
Partial or interim solutions, or the dropping or deferral of certain core issues would be unacceptable and unviable, and would maintain the roots of the conflict, he continued. The solution must also include a mechanism to ensure its full and honest implementation according to an agreed-upon timetable. That required supervision of the solution’s implementation, and a more effective role of the diplomatic Quartet to safeguard the solution, as well as an effective guarantor role of the Security Council and various United Nations bodies.
As he noted the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said the conditions endured by the Palestinians were increasingly severe and complex. The territory suffered from fragmentation and contiguity between its cities and villages was being undermined, as a result of more than 609 checkpoints and roadblocks on all main and secondary roads. The continuing siege and isolation of the Gaza Strip was deepening the tragic humanitarian crisis, where unemployment was endemic and the opportunities of education and medical care were few. Gaza had become a virtual prison for 1.5 million Palestinians, he said.
He reaffirmed that his Government would spare no effort to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation and unity, and to that end, had announced a preliminary plan that opened the door for reconciliation and the formation of an independent, impartial Government that was acceptable to all. Further, the Government would prepare for legislative and presidential elections, and continue rebuilding the security apparatus based on professional tenets, with the support of Arab security. After completing that step, it would be possible to proceed with strengthening reconciliation and deepening the participation of all.
URSULA PLASSNIK, Federal Minister of Austria, told the Assembly that at the heart of the United Nations work and the work of all Member States here and at home, was the commitment to build a better future for the coming generation. She spoke of the bleak challenges facing the global community, among them, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change and poverty. Shared responsibility and partnership based on equality were essential components to actualizing the rights of the global community. That would be accomplished through the equitable application of the rule of law within an intergovermental world body. She, therefore, affirmed Austria’s commitment to the United Nations and the international legal system.
As women were “politically and socially the most relevant emerging power of the twenty-first century”, their contributions must be valued, and participation in leadership encouraged. However, discrimination and violence still challenged the ideals of human rights for women, especially when, throughout the world, one out of every three women was a victim of assault. She was pleased that the Women Leaders Network’s call to the Secretary-General for women to assume leadership positions in the United Nations had been answered, particularly in mediation and peacebuilding. She proposed a thorough review of the results of the Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security on its tenth anniversary.
She also noted Austria’s involvement in establishing an international legally binding ban on cluster bombs, adopted in Dublin as the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and called for Member States to join Austria in its commitment to sign the Convention in Oslo in December 2008. Austria had also participated in the Joint Africa-European Union Strategy, a new partnership developed and adopted at the Lisbon summit in December 2007, focusing on peace, security and development. Along with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC), Austria organized a Conference on Peace and Security in West Africa in Ouagadougou and a Seminar on Peace and Development in Southern Africa in Johannesburg.
Citing the need for urgent action towards a global climate agreement by the end of 2009, she proposed to develop the United Nations Environment Programme into a fully fledged world environment organization. Further, she supported the creation of a new international renewable energy agency, and believed Vienna was a suitable location to host such an agency, as many of its United Nations offices already dealt with energy questions. Observing the uneven progress among Member States toward the Millennium Development Goals, she called for an increased effort by the international community in achieving this global accomplishment, stating that “the active contribution towards this global effort is a priority for the Austrian Government”.
SAMUEL LÓPEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, noted a common vision among Member States: agreement on the urgent need to act as one to successfully solve the world’s problems, including hunger, poverty, high oil prices, climate change, terrorism and recognition of human rights among them.
At the same time, he called for making the United Nations more democratic, with sufficient guarantees that countries’ interests be taken into account. It was unthinkable to consider a system that gave priority to the hegemony of the few, over the interests of the majority. Such injustice had been the cause of deep social and economic imbalance, an accelerated arms race, and wars of aggression, which, under the subterfuge of some gained freedoms, had hidden an illegal appropriation of energy and natural resources. The global security situation had grown more volatile, he said, urging “intelligent” action to avoid new civil wars and, among other things, lead to complete disarmament.
Nicaragua, a victim of foreign intervention, had understood early on there was no greater value than freedom, he continued. Hunger and poverty were sapping economic and social progress for future generations, and today, millions lived in extreme poverty. The Millennium Development Goals needed greater impetus from nations with greater financial resources, as well as from international financial institutions. Recalling the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on development financing, he said developing country needs must be at the heart of the development programme.
Most donors were not respecting their pledge to increase their aid, he said, also citing data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute showing weapons spending in 2007 alone at $1.399 billion. He called for setting aside 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product without conditions, and reiterated that eradicating poverty required addressing injustices, including unbalanced trade relations. “Unbridled capitalism” had led the world into a serious situation, he continued, noting that a few hours ago, the World Bank President had said the United States financial crisis would severely affect development assistance, notably for the poorest countries.
For its part, Nicaragua aimed to overcome poverty, and its citizens would help redefine the country’s path to doing so. The Government had proposed including in policies measures to preserve the environment and patrimony, he said, calling for a new environmental world order which ended the utilitarian use of resources. Nicaragua was also working on food sovereignty, developing “zero hunger” programmes and providing gasoline tanks to families at low cost.
Achieving the United Nations’ ideals required “reviewing our own house”, he asserted, calling for working together to democratize the Organization and welcomed the high-level debate on the issue. Nicaragua was prepared to play a constructive role in that dialogue. Calling the Charter a “fundamental reference point” for action, he said its principles must prevail above egotistical interests.
LAWRENCE GONZI, Prime Minister of Malta, agreed with the Secretary-General that the international community needed to implement the outcomes of the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit to protect humanity from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. The fight against terrorism must remain high on the agenda. He commended the work of the International Criminal Court, and welcomed the work of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
He also praised the Assembly’s work on climate change, and reiterated Malta’s conviction that the world had a common obligation to stop and reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gases, which were causing detrimental global warming. Small island States were especially vulnerable to the negative effects of the phenomenon. He acknowledged the peace efforts in Cyprus, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria with Turkish mediation, the formation of a national unity Government in Lebanon and improved relations between Lebanon and Syria. He urged all Member States to support the efforts of the Secretary-General and the diplomatic Quartet in resolving the issue of Palestine refugees and the permanent status of Jerusalem, as well as issues of settlements, borders and water and security in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He highlighted all initiatives aimed at creating a bond between Europe and Mediterranean countries. An important development in the “Euro-Med” partnership had been the launch, last July, of the Union for the Mediterranean. Malta was looking forward to working constructively with the other members of the Union to deal with development issues on water, food security and energy. He also said Malta had been among the countries faced with an unprecedented influx of African immigrants. It had been difficult to deal with the increasing population, especially because of Malta’s small size. Malta had consistently called for help in tackling that problem through the principles of solidarity and sharing of responsibilities.
Africa, he said, presented a challenge for the international community. Progress in Africa was lagging and it needed the world’s help in achieving sustainable development. Rising food and energy prices, along with the unstable world financial markets and climate change, presented huge obstacles to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Meeting the Goals remained a priority on the global agenda, and he encouraged the Assembly to work towards positive reform of the United Nations and its organs.
DERRICK SIKUA, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, said that his delegation deeply regretted that the recently discussed programme of action on the food crisis had not been matched with required resources. Countries would, therefore, have to look at their own resources for solutions. To that end, his Government was encouraging consumption of locally produced food and community-based rice programmes. It also hoped to further strengthen its relations with rice-growing countries, and was looking to both the North and South for energy solutions.
In that connection, he thanked China, Turkey, Italy and Austria, among others, for coming forward with community-based renewable energy programmes. Such cooperation translated into action the Solomon Islands’ policy of bringing affordable electricity to 80 per cent of its rural population. The country was exploring bulk purchasing arrangements with Venezuela, which, he hoped, would provide Solomon Islands -- which spent a third of its national budget on fuel -- with some breathing room.
The magnitude of the problem of climate change had outgrown the existing capacity of the United Nations, which was “heavy on providing technical support and analytical data [but] less so on the ground activities”, he said. Regional and subregional organizations were going in the same direction, leaving countries to fend for themselves. He hoped the small island developing States unit within the United Nations would be strengthened to effectively coordinate the needs of those countries.
As sea levels rose, his country had already begun to experience migration of indigenous populations from low-lying islands. That placed much stress on the land tenure systems, causing frictions between ethnic groups. The issue of climate change for his country was about preserving its forests, reforestation and providing people with environmentally friendly opportunities. Among other things, Solomon Islands was embarking on a programme of scaling down logging, its major export income earner. He hoped that, over time, agriculture, tourism and fisheries would fill in the forestry vacuum within the country’s economy.
Regarding vulnerability to natural disasters, he expressed hope that a more committed outcome would emerge from the Bali Action Plan. He also noted with concern, the proliferation of climate change financial mechanisms outside the multilateral process. That would once again disadvantage the most vulnerable countries, including small island developing States and least developed countries. Dealing with climate change, for those countries, required new and additional resources. Accessibility to the Adaptation Fund, mitigation and technology transfer were all at the heart of the solutions to climate change challenges.
On the Millennium Development Goals, he said that, as a small island with least developed country status, much of his country’s achievements rested on partnership with all stakeholders at all levels. That, unfortunately, had overstretched and crowded the national policy space in strengthening and maintaining good relations with all donors. Meanwhile, the Government welcomed new approaches by non-traditional donors, or providing direct assistance through existing national institutional frameworks. That strengthened governance and democracy, as provided for under the Paris declaration, allowing the State to increase its legitimacy to reach out to its population more meaningfully.
With only eight months left to register the country’s continental shelf, as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said Solomon Islands was working diligently on the matter and welcomed a recent decision by the Conference of State Parties in recognizing the constraints faced by many developing countries in meeting the time frame of May 2009. On sustainable development issues, he added that certain countries of the Pacific, including his own, had initiated sustainable management arrangements to protect their juvenile tuna stocks by closing pockets of high seas adjacent to their respective exclusive economic zones.
MANMOHAN SINGH, Prime Minister of India, said that, even though the Member States had called for early and meaningful reform of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit, little progress had been made on the core elements of the reform agenda. There was need for the composition of the Security Council to reflect the realities of the twenty-first century, and Member States needed to hold negotiations towards that end.
While globalization had contributed to the prosperity of an increased number of countries like India, ensuring inclusive growth within nations and inclusive growth across nations remained a challenge. He said the development gains made by many countries were being threatened by the global food, energy and financial crises. There was a need for a global response to those challenges. He called for a new international initiative to bring structural reform to the world’s financial systems.
Continuing, he said the food crisis was caused by neglect of agriculture in the developing world and was exacerbated by distorted agricultural subsidies in the North, and the use of arable land for producing bio-fuels. Trade liberalization could help, provided it included the concerns of farmers in the least developed countries.
He said poverty, ignorance and disease still afflicted millions of people, and commitments by the developed world to transfer O.7 per cent of gross national income as ODA remained largely unfulfilled. Special efforts had to be made to help Africa. The international community needed a greater measure of predictability and stability in the oil and gas markets. He said the world needed a network of developed and developing countries engaged in research and development, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and renewable sources of energy. The opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India would have a positive impact on global energy security and on efforts to combat climate change. He reiterated India’s proposal for a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons, and providing for their complete elimination within a specified time.
He noted that he supported the multilateral negotiations taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and added that India had unveiled an ambitious national action plan on climate change. He went on to say that there was a need to strengthen international cooperation in combating terrorism and to bring its perpetrators to justice. Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts, he explained, needed support from the international community to ensure its success. He applauded the return of democracy to Pakistan, and said he was committed to resolving outstanding issues with that country. He saluted the new leaders of Bhutan and Nepal.
IVO SANADER, Prime Minister of Croatia, said that, over the past decade, his country had emerged as an anchor of stability, security and cooperation in South-Eastern Europe, and was now addressing the world’s most pressing and relevant issues as an elected, first-time member of the Security Council. Croatia’s membership on the Security Council was an opportunity to work as a dedicated partner in advancing effective multilateralism. He was confident that the negotiations for Croatia’s accession to the European Union would be concluded in 2009.
Turning to recent events in Georgia, he welcomed the six-point accord brokered by the European Union presidency in August, and said that a failure to address outstanding issues effectively could lead to old paradigms of confrontation and endanger the democratic gains since the end of the cold war. Flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights should be addressed through established mechanisms like the International Criminal Court, which would provide a vital recourse to justice in situations where national Governments could not, or would not, address such issues themselves.
Additionally, he expressed support for the Security Council’s adoption of a strong and action-oriented resolution that addressed the disturbing practices of sexual violence as a method of warfare, and would continue to work on preventing the use of children in armed conflict. On-the-ground realities required stronger Security Council involvement and, for that reason, Croatia would present its candidature for membership in the Human Rights Council for the period of 2010-2013.
He went on to say that Governments needed to support the delivery of commitments made, and mobilize the financial resources needed, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly targets for health and education, environment and the eradication of poverty in developing countries to help the world’s bottom billion. The 2002 Monterrey Consensus on development financing remained the foundation of the global partnership for development, and he hoped for a positive outcome of the Review Conference set to take place in Doha, Qatar, later this year.
Croatia had redoubled its efforts to preserve regional stability with initiatives such as the Regional Cooperation Council, headquartered in Sarajevo. The foundations of stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina rested on respect for the human rights for Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs, and Croatia stood ready, with the international community, to support and assist through an active policy of cooperation.
APISAI IELEMIA, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Labour of Tuvalu, described climate change as the most serious threat to global security and the survival of mankind. It was also an issue of enormous concern to highly vulnerable small island States, such as his country. Since both the science and the economics of climate change, as well as the causes of it, were well known, human activity by all countries was urgently needed to address it.
He said it was the political and moral responsibility of the world, particularly those who caused the problem, to save small islands and countries like Tuvalu from climate change, and ensure that the people on those islands continued to live in their homes with long-term security, cultural identity and fundamental human dignity. Forcing them to leave their islands due to the inaction of those responsible for global warming was immoral. In that context, Tuvalu strongly supported the resolution on security and climate change proposed by the Pacific small island developing States to be introduced at the current session of the Assembly, and urged others to co-sponsor and properly address the issues raised in that resolution.
Continuing, he commended the Secretary-General’s establishment of a high-level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis and the formulation of a Comprehensive Framework for Action. He expressed hope that the framework would produce concrete results in countries on food security. Also, one of the most sensitive issues for small island States like Tuvalu had been the lack of recognition of their unique vulnerability in considering their graduation from least developed country status. Indeed, that vulnerability had never been seriously given recognition in the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. To that end, he called on the United Nations to seriously work towards reform of the graduation rule, whereby no least developed country that was recognized as “highly vulnerable” would be forced to lose its status.
ABBAS EL FASSI, Prime Minister of Morocco, said that, in spite of the efforts deployed at United Nations international conferences, official development assistance had significantly decreased over the last few years. In fact, the assistance provided by donor countries did not meet the expectations of developing countries, despite their commitment to increase their global annual assistance to up to $50 billion by 2010. Therefore, notwithstanding the progress achieved, several African countries remained in the least developed country category. That called for more commitment from the United Nations.
Morocco was concerned by delays in the development of many African countries, which was partly due to the complexity of the current international situation marked by economic and financial crises, which had had an impact on food security and energy needs. To improve that situation, Morocco urged the United Nations to undertake all necessary measures to stabilize financial system markets, and open markets to agricultural products from the south, taking into consideration the situation of least developed countries.
Turning to the Middle East, he said that Morocco encouraged all initiatives aiming to bring peace to the region, with respect to international legality and the agreements previously reached, namely the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. The latter represented a realistic solution reflecting the commitment of Arab countries to reach a fair, global and lasting solution, which, once Israel retreated from the Arab territories, would allow the Palestinian population to establish an independent State.
Continuing, he said that Morocco had placed the project of an Arab Maghreb Union at the top of its priorities. It was deeply committed to overcoming all obstacles, and moving forward with the regional integration in the Union. For that reason, it had proposed an initiative for negotiating an autonomy statute for the Saharan region, in the aim to put an end to the artificial conflict, and overcome the stalemate of the issue at the United Nations level. The initiative, which had been described by the Security Council as “serious and credible”, was the result of wide international consultations and the outcome of extensive national negotiations with the population of the Sahara region.
As a result, the Security Council had successfully adopted three resolutions on the matter, which called upon the parties to enter into true negotiations, taking into consideration the latest developments, particularly the Moroccan initiative. Morocco remained committed to continuing those negotiations, in order to find a solution to that regional conflict that was respectful of its national sovereignty, territorial integrity and where the autonomy applied to the region benefited its population.
DAVID J.H. THOMPSON, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Development, Labour, Civil Service and Energy of Barbados, said his country was a stable, progressive, small State with a high human development rating. With its well-developed social democratic system, Barbados placed great priority on policies which nurtured individuals and continued to assure its people universal access to quality education, health care and housing in an environment respectful of human rights and the rule of law. He said, however, that while trying to keep his country competitive, his Government was faced with a high cost of living driven by increasing food and energy prices, along with domestic and international debt. He reiterated his country’s commitment to world peace and vestigial imperialism.
He noted the need for special attention to the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by small island developing States, such as climate change and natural disasters which constrained sustainable development. A one-size-fits-all attitude threatened to further marginalize Barbados in the new international trading arrangements, but the country would continue to show leadership within the small vulnerable economies group in advocating the creation of a regime of special, and differential, treatment to cater to the group’s unique circumstances.
He said that, because Barbados was a middle-income developing country, it were deemed too successful to qualify for concessionary financing, but too high risk for favourable terms on capital markets. He would, therefore, lobby for adequate support mechanisms to ensure that the development process was not derailed.
He said Barbados was working with other Caribbean States to protect the Caribbean Sea from overexploitation and degradation. It was also working to secure its borders from drugs and arms trafficking, money-laundering and terrorism. The current international economic crisis threatened to derail the progress of many States, and worsen the already desperate circumstances of the most vulnerable.
Investment in alternative forms of energy was imperative. The measures proposed by United Nations agencies, and those agreed at the Rome Conference, must find expression in specific programmes and projects in response to the issue of food security. The successful outcome of the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development must include a genuine global partnership to provide the required financial resources for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
He noted that the causes of the present global financial crisis were firmly rooted in the failure of the international community to reform an undemocratic and antiquated system of international economic governance that had not kept pace with the rapid growth of global interdependence. “Those responsible for the financial crisis cannot be trusted to heal it,” he said. The Economic and Social Council must be empowered to play a more meaningful role in global economic decision-making, consistent with the mandate entrusted to it by the Charter. Even with the recent strengthening of the Council, its current responsibilities fell short of the role envisaged for it by the founders of the United Nations.
GEIR H. HAARDE, Prime Minister of Iceland, said that, to eradicate the manifold causes of poverty, experience had shown that a combination of local, regional and international initiatives were required. The international community needed to fulfil promises made to the most vulnerable, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The forthcoming meeting in Doha on Financing for Development would test the world’s resolve to that end. Iceland hoped to be among the top ODA contributors, having already doubled its budget for development cooperation in the past four years, he added.
Apathy and despair were not an option when it came to the interconnected challenges of soaring food costs, underdevelopment and climate change. The cost of inaction would rise correspondingly, and urgent humanitarian and long-term structural issues needed to be addressed. 95 per cent of the people dependant on harvesting living marine resources lived in developing countries, and Iceland continued to impart its knowledge and experience to strengthen food security.
The urgency of addressing climate change had been emphasized by Iceland and other small island developing States on the frontlines of its impacts. He called for the combined efforts of the global community to tackle the threat. He welcomed the Pacific island initiative to propose a resolution in the Assembly on security and climate change, and stressed that the world’s dependence on fossil fuels could only be broken by offering efficient and economical alternatives. Iceland had offered its expertise on geothermal and hydroelectric power to developing States, and continued to host the Geothermal Training Programme of the United Nations University.
Noting the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said that, although the world no longer tolerated racial discrimination, the time had come to make sexual discrimination as universally unacceptable. Iceland continued to promote international gender equality through multilateral efforts with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the World Bank.
In order to bring the United Nations into the twenty-first century, it required better technology and communications, as well as more efficient management. However, despite its imperfections, the United Nations retained an indispensable role in the international system, and a high level of ambition and adaptability should be encouraged. He also rallied other Member States to follow Iceland’s example by making the purpose and work of the United Nations an integral part of national primary and secondary education programmes
JOSALA V. BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service of the interim Government of Fiji, said climate change was now “a present and very real danger”, though the rest of the world continued to endlessly debate its implications. Fiji appealed to the international community for investments in adaptation measures. He also highlighted “shocks” that spread to small nations like Fiji in the wake of escalations in food and energy prices, and the downturn of the global economy.
On United Nations peacekeeping, he noted that Fiji’s participation in peacekeeping operations had been suspended, despite a “proud record”. He attributed that to the “strained” relationship between Fiji and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) since Fiji’s military “intervention” in the creation of its current interim Government in December 2006, but he expressed hope in future participation.
“Very considerable progress” had been made in the creation of the People’s Charter Initiative to rebuild Fiji into a “non-partial, culturally vibrant, united, well-governed and truly democratic nation”. That was despite the fact that punitive measures continued to be taken against Fiji since 2006, including travel sanctions, which had “significant, adverse effects on our economy”, and prevented Fiji from participating in important meetings abroad, despite their interest in constructive engagements with the international community, he said.
In closing, he noted that Fiji was not able to schedule an election in early 2009, as earlier anticipated, due to work still under way to improve its electoral system. That system was “undemocratic” and “contravenes the principle of equal suffrage”. He also offered assurances to the international community in the form of his personal and deep commitment to “breaking the cycle of coups”, and obtaining a democratic and just governance.
ROOSEVELT SKERRIT, Prime Minister of Dominica, said that the Assembly was meeting during a time of great international uncertainty stemming from the food crisis, an increasingly unstable international financial system, and volatility in the supply and cost of energy. Globalization continued to change the dynamics of economic survival and sustainability for small and vulnerable States, such as Dominica. Those States felt they had “fallen off the radar screen” of developed countries, especially in the key areas of trade and financing for development.
He said the word “change” -- constantly being offered as the panacea for all challenges and problems facing humanity -- was beginning to ring hollow with young people around the world. What was really needed was “meaningful change”, and a greater global commitment to making that “change” happen. Calling attention to the fatalities and casualties during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, he said the people of hurricane-ravaged Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Turks and Caicos would gladly welcome “meaningful change” that made a real difference in the delivery of relief and eased their suffering.
While noting the turbulence in today’s international financial markets, Dominica suffered one of the worst economic crises of its history, from 2002 to 2003, as the banana industry deteriorated. This occurred after the United States supported challenges to the European Union Banana Import Regime of the World Trade Organization. He had recalled those dire circumstances to emphasize the resolve, resilience and determination of Dominica’s people, and the indifference of others to the plight of small developing nations.
“Meaningful change” should quicken the pace of the climate change negotiations at Poznań, Poland, later this year, with the objective of providing a realistic and attainable framework for a 2009 agreement in Copenhagen. He pointed to the PetroCaribe initiative, set up by Venezuela in 2005 to address the energy crisis in the region, as an example of meaningful change. That initiative had supplied fuel through a flexible payment facility to 18 countries in the Caribbean and Central America, which were net oil importers. He also applauded the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for creating a Special Petroleum Fund for member States of the Caribbean Community in 2004, which provided timely grant funding to meet general development objectives.
The food crisis was another area where “meaningful change” would make a difference. The soaring price of rice, a staple for many people in the developing world, was of particular concern. He endorsed the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the crisis was a “moral outrage”, and that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals was threatened by the “double jeopardy of high food and fuel prices”. All of those events called for a change in attitude and change in practice, and the people we were elected to serve were committed to, and longed for, this “change”, he said.
FELETI VAKA’UTA SEVELE, Prime Minister of Tonga, said that, while some progress had been made globally in poverty reduction, its sustainability had been challenged by several factors, including the rising cost of energy and food, as well as the availability of financial resources.
He said hardship and poverty were now becoming issues of serious concern for his country, since external influences were changing people’s attitudes and aspirations, thereby straining the traditional Tongan social system in which everyone’s needs were met by the community as a whole. Population growth, changes in lifestyle and the gradual breakdown of the traditional social and family systems had contributed to those increased hardships.
Calling the theme of the sixty-third session, “the impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world”, most timely, he urged everyone to look upon those crises as a unique chance to redouble efforts and refocus on policy actions that would help boost agricultural production in order to build greater self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
On climate change, he said the leaders of the Pacific Island Forum countries had endorsed, for the first time, a regional declaration on that matter, duly recognizing the serious current impacts and growing threat posed by climate change to economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being, as well as the security of Pacific island countries. To that end, Tonga welcomed the resources and technical assistance that would become available from initiatives such as Japan’s “Cool Earth” Promotion Programme, the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance, Australia’s climate adaptation programme for the Pacific and the increase in New Zealand’s financial support for climate adaptation.
STEPHENSON KING, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Saint Lucia, recalled the Secretary-General’s beliefs that the international community was facing a “development emergency”, and it was imperative to move with utmost urgency to address the challenges that had emerged. “We must ensure that our annual reaffirmations on the right to development and the right to food, shelter, security and peace do not ring hollow,” he said.
In spite of numerous challenges, Saint Lucia maintained its commitment to the realization of Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and would do so within its means, even as new difficulties arose. The country’s social indicators were “fairly reasonable”, reflecting its investment in human development over the years. Saint Lucia had already achieved universal access to primary and secondary education, and was placing emphasis on improving quality, as well as expanding access at the tertiary level, and early childhood education.
Now, Saint Lucia was pursuing reform of its health sector and seeking to introduce free health care for all. It had also made important strides in addressing the AIDS pandemic. The country had already achieved some of the Millennium Goals and would remain focused on achieving all of them by 2015, he continued. However, such issues as violence, crime, insecurity and migration were not properly covered under the existing Millennium Development Goal framework. It was imperative to consider those issues as they impacted on the Goals and development of his country.
The effects of climate change continued to disproportionately affect his country and other members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), he said. Another serious problem for Saint Lucia was the astronomical rise in energy prices, which created a new challenge as the world sought to replace fossil fuels with cleaner and more cost-effective biofuels. The trouble with that approach was that the decreased availability of agricultural production for food had resulted in higher prices around the world. The “food for fuel” trade-off was not carefully balanced and could cause increased poverty, hunger and marginalization.
Notwithstanding those problems, he said, he was heartened by the efforts on the renewable energy agenda, but lamented the slow pace of progress in developing countries, as well as high cost of technologies for them. There must be greater availability of new technologies for developing countries.
Also of particular concern was the difficulty facing the lower middle-income groups of countries, to which Saint Lucia and many other small island developing States belonged, he continued. In spite of their limited resources, the members of the group had initiated prudent economic measures, making significant strides. However, ill-conceived and ill-advised policies could continue to negate their efforts and reverse some of the gains, forcing a reclassification of their status. He also emphasized the importance of youth development and South-South cooperation. Trade links needed to be open and fair, with greater consideration to the very small States, so that they too could meet the hopes and aspirations of their youth. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) should play a more meaningful role in that effort.
AHMED TIDIANE SOUARÉ, Prime Minister of Guinea, said that the United Nations was ever more in demand because of the many challenges faced by the world. In that regard, developed countries had undertaken to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product to ODA, but that promise had received only a symbolic effort. The current scenario of a world divided between rich and poor showed how that promise had not been fulfilled.
With regard to international peace, despite a significant reduction in the number of armed conflicts, many dangers remained. The legitimate war against blind and illegitimate terrorism did not present any reassuring outlooks, the anachronistic Israeli-Palestinian conflict persisted and tensions related to nuclear weapons control darkened the horizon, raising legitimate fear in vulnerable countries. Moreover, the current food crisis posed an urgent challenge, which required a rapid response on various levels. Those serious phenomena required global action, he said.
The international community as a whole must promote policies and strategies towards returning agriculture to the centre of national and international attention, he continued. With regard to poverty reduction, the results were even more mixed, with poor countries further hampered due to the growing size of their population and inconsistency of public aid, in light of “timid engagement” by development partners and global trade inequities.
That picture, indeed, represented a vicious circle, within which the leaders of the poor and rich countries were caught, he said, calling for increased support to poor countries. Human solidarity must show its effectiveness. Lasting peace could not be achieved with current asymmetrical divisions. Proper use should be made of the aid received by poor countries. Their young people wished to make their parents and Governments proud by finding decent work.
Noting encouraging results in conflict prevention, restoring and building peace, particularly in Africa -- despite the tragedy in Darfur -- he said that the United Nations should be congratulated and encouraged. Significant progress had been achieved by Côte d’Ivoire. Guinea called for support for the efforts of the members of the Mano River Union to prevent them from relapsing into insecurity and instability. He also welcomed the measures by the Peacebuilding Commission to consolidate stability in Africa.
Turning to the situation in his country, he said that Guinea had faced a serious economic and social crisis, but because of a national patriotic upsurge supported by the international community, in particular the Economic Community of West African States, the situation was improving. All vital components of the new Government had been installed, and State authorities were implementing a “minimum urgency programme”, which would pave the way for the relaunch of the economic and social development of the country.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Luxembourg, said there could be no development without security, and no security without development, especially this year, when the world was celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While there was concern that Africa’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals had been mixed, he highlighted some progress, among others, a 27 per cent drop in the infant mortality rate, the lifting of 400 million people out of extreme poverty and improvements in gender equality and education. At the same time, the international community needed to redouble its efforts to ensure that Africa achieved agreed development targets, especially in light of increasing food and oil prices.
He said Luxembourg was committed to eradicating poverty and donated 0.92 per cent of its gross national product to development and was working towards increasing that amount to 1 per cent. He noted that European Union member States accounted for 55 to 60 per cent of all international development assistance.
On the issue of climate change, he said it was essential to conclude in Copenhagen in 2009, a post-Kyoto regime which did not hamper sustainable economic development. Its mechanisms should ensure efficient transfer of technologies and appropriate financial resources, he said. He added that climate change was a complex issue that should be dealt with in a timely fashion and that the United Nations was the best place to lead the global response.
He noted that the many conflicts in Africa were working against its development. On the situation in Darfur, he said international efforts at mediation would be in vain if there was no commitment to a lasting solution. Effective measures were important in responding to humanitarian needs in that region of Sudan and in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the conflict. He said peace and justice went hand in hand, and the world could not close its eyes to the crimes in Darfur.
He also expressed concern about the conflict in Georgia and said the European Union was prepared to provide observers, and would hold talks on the situation in Geneva soon. He called for an independent investigation into the Georgian conflict.
TILLMAN THOMAS, Prime Minister of Grenada, said the world had entered an era where the basis of international engagement was driven more by trade in goods and services and the distribution of the ownership of technology than by notions of sovereignty. Small States like Grenada were being pressed to justify their economic viability and must undergo fundamental diplomatic change.
Grenada would strategize to eradicate extreme poverty and expand productive sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture, with an emphasis placed on mobilizing youth, stimulating rural economy and providing food security. Universal primary education had already been achieved, and the country now aimed for households to have at least one university graduate by the year 2025. Relatively good progress had also been made towards improving maternal health, decreasing child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, as well, he added.
Turning to the issue of climate change, he said that phenomena represented the most pressing challenge to the viability -- and “very existence” -- of small island developing States. Despite contributing very little to the release of greenhouse gases, those States had, nevertheless, been forced to contend with its devastating effects. Coral bleaching, rising sea levels, salt water intrusion, water scarcity and increasingly severe weather events were now having real financial and social costs on already vulnerable island State economies.
Having first-hand experience of the trauma, pain and economic loss associated with natural disasters, he expressed solidarity with Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and voiced strong support for AOSIS political declaration on the urgency of responding to climate change, to be adopted on Monday, 29 September. He also welcomed Japan’s grant-aid programme for environmental and climate change under its “Cool Earth Partnership Initiative”.
FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, saidthe end of the East-West confrontation in the early 1990s seemed to have marked the dawn of a new age of effective multilateralism and a new renaissance for the United Nations, but disillusionment had now set in, as time and again conflicts needed to be resolved that had roots in a past that only seemed to have been left behind. Indeed, the United Nations mandate had lost none of its urgency in 2008.
In Georgia, an entire region found itself “on the abyss of war and destruction” where common sense had not prevailed on all sides. Moreover, in Afghanistan, the situation was even more precarious. Without security, Afghanistan would not and could not develop, despite the millions of children, many of them girls, who were now going to school. When compared to the deteriorating security situation, the gains were not progressing fast enough. Afghanistan must not be left on its own, he said, and Germany intended to do even more in that regard.
Additionally, it was crucial to help Pakistan to master the economic and social challenges it now faced, as Pakistan’s internal stability was crucial to stability in the whole region. He went on to stress that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would pose a treat to security in the entire Middle East and trigger a nuclear arms race. The Iranian side needed to end its delaying tactics to avoid exhausting the international community’s patience. The Iranian President’s remarks on Israel were unacceptable, and the anti-Semitism expressed was outrageous and should be condemned by the international community.
He went on to say that more people were dying each day from hunger than from armed conflict, and Germany intended to step up its efforts to promote poverty reduction by increasing its development assistance by $1.2 billion. Turning to Africa, he said it had been perceived as a region of wars and conflicts for too long and deserved the global community’s partnership and support. Additionally, he stressed that it was no longer possible for any country to act as if it were immune to “undesirable developments”, as recklessness, greed and a lack of common sense among some players had set the global economy back years.
In closing, he said that a strong and effective United Nations which enjoyed the confidence of the international community and the requisite legitimacy to form an umbrella for a global responsibility partnership was urgently needed. Security Council reform was also overdue, as that 15-nation body should reflect the realities of current world politics.
FRANCO FRATTINI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that a dramatic new vision of global governance for the twenty-first century required rules that all nations could embrace. A new vision based on three principles -- inclusiveness, effectiveness and shared responsibility -- was needed. Effective global governance meant a central role for the United Nations, starting with the most representative democratic body, the General Assembly.
In addition, it meant a strong connection between the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, either universal or regional, such as the European Union and African Union. It also meant a comprehensive and consensual reform of the United Nations system, including the Security Council. To achieve a reform of such magnitude, based on the foundations of strong political support, there was no alternative to general consensus, he declared.
Continuing, he stressed the need to immediately learn the lessons of the turmoil in the world financial markets. Promoting transparent and reliable rules was the only way to protect societies from falling prey to such events. It was also important to avoid squandering wealth and to ensure instead that wealth was distributed equitably.
That was the vision that Italy would promote during its presidency of the Group of Eight (G-8). Through a broader dialogue with emerging economies and least developed countries, the G-8 would contribute to the shaping of a new system of global governance, in which initiatives would be tailored to specific issues leading to a gradual assumption of shared responsibility.
Turning to Millennium Development Goals, he said those targets demanded an urgent response, the provision of greater human and financial resources, new ideas and a true partnership between donor and receiving countries that was fully inclusive of Governments, local organizations, the private sector and civil society. He went on to stress Italy’s commitment to the implementation of those Goals, and said the issue would be on the agenda of the Italian G-8 presidency. Africa would also be considered a priority.
Noting that climate change and energy security were closely linked, he said that, during its G-8 presidency, Italy would promote the ongoing energy dialogue, as well as global negotiations on climate change. Effective multilateral cooperation on the basis of shared responsibility was also needed to tackle such threats as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. In the next few years, the international community should work together on a new global pact against terrorism to be enacted in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of tragic events of 11 September 2001.
JÁN KUBIŠ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, said the international community was increasingly confronted with old problems exacerbated by a new set of challenges that included a deficit of global leadership. The world should exercise leadership through the United Nations in the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies. Noting the theme of this year’s Assembly, “the impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world”, he pledged support for the work of the Task Force on Global Food Crisis.
Slovakia was helping developing countries increase food supply in a sustainable manner as a part of the broader European Union’s efforts. He said fairer international trade rules should be adopted to stimulate agricultural production in developing countries. The United Nations needed to expedite a compromise agreement at the World Trade Organization negotiations.
He said that overall progress on the Millennium Development Goals had been uneven at best, and the rising prices of food, energy along with climate change threatened to reverse the existing advances. The targets could still be reached if the world doubled its efforts and worked together. He noted that, as a former recipient country, Slovakia now provided ODA and expertise with other traditional and emerging donors to help others achieve the Goals. In a new midterm strategy, Slovakia would focus its aid on the least developed countries and strengthening partnerships with United Nations development agencies.
The Assembly President’s decision to focus on democratization of the United Nations this year was welcome. He noted the need to strengthen the United Nations capacity to deliver as one in the areas of peace, security and development, humanitarian assistance and environment, wile taking into account gender equality, sustainable development and human rights. He also noted the need for reform of the Security Council, and expressed support for the ambitions of Germany, Japan, Brazil and India to become permanent members.
He commended the African Union for its increasingly active role in putting an end to the most serious crises in Africa, particularly for UNAMID and for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He said the European Union and the United Nations were currently working together in about 20 operations. He noted that nationally owned security forces were important to preserving peace, particularly in post-conflict societies. Since its membership in the Security Council, Slovakia had done a lot of work with security sector-reform-related efforts in South Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Making reference to recent developments in Georgia and the Middle East, he noted his support for pursuing peace while observing international law, sovereignty, territorial integrity and without the use of force and unilateral action. He also affirmed his support for the emerging Afghan Government and enhanced United Nations cooperation in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. He also expressed concerns at the inability to close the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme.
ALI AHMED JAMA JENGELI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia, focused his statement on what he said were the three most important issues facing the development needs of Africa: aid; debt; and trade, and how they impacted the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as how they improved his country’s own development priorities.
On the issue of aid to Africa, he expressed concern with its quantity, relevance and quality, expressing support for any measures likely to increase the effectiveness, coordination and coherence of both bilateral and multilateral aid. Noting that most observers agreed that total ODA to the continent in the coming years was unlikely to increase and may even decrease, he said it would therefore be unrealistic to entertain exaggerated hopes for development through aid, especially given the fact that most donor countries had yet to reach the 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product target.
Regarding the debt burden of many African countries, especially the so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), he said the international community needed to be doing far more than had been attempted or achieved in recent years. For one thing, the process of debt reduction needed to be accelerated to give credence to the existence of an urgent crisis. In respect of least developed countries and low-income countries, he believed that outstanding debts must be cancelled altogether.
On the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he pointed out that the greatest potential was in the area of trade and not so much in the aid or debt relief. In that connection, he called for the removal of trade barriers against African agricultural produce from the European Union and North American markets.
On the situation in his country, he reaffirmed his Government’s total commitment to the implementation of the road map envisaged under the Somali Charter of 2004. Despite what he termed the “daunting” natural and man-made challenges, he explained that the peace and reconciliation agreement signed by the Government and the opposition alliance was now in the process of being implemented -- hopefully without further undue delays.
“We are determined to ensure that the works of saboteurs and spoilers will not keep the whole Somali nation, and peace in the region, hostage,” he said, calling for the unambiguous support of the United Nations, including the Security Council, on that matter. Indeed, the Security Council must not allow current opportunities and hopes for peace “be lost through a policy of wait and see”. He called urgently for the deployment of a full-fledged United Nations peacekeeping force to restore peace and stability, as well as to create a secure environment for institution-building and economic development.
JOÃO BERNARDO DE MIRANDA, Minister of External Relations of Angola, said his country, having just concluded successful democratic elections, would continue its engagement and commitment to the maintenance of peace, security and the consolidation of democracy. It would also continue its respect for human rights and sustainable economic development based on the social laws of a market economy that would safeguard the interests and satisfy the majority of its people.
He said that, by the legislative elections held in “an environment of transparency and total freedom” on 5 September this year, Angola had added one more pillar to its democratic structure, explaining that that had been achieved despite the criticism and pressure on the Government to hold elections earlier.
With gradual, yet significant improvements in the quality of life of the population, and an atmosphere of peace in the nation, a climate of tolerance and political coexistence had begun to take root, he said, adding: “The elections were indeed an expression of the reaffirmation of our dignity.” Further, all efforts put into the complex electoral process that led to the success of that historic event had been made with the country’s own human and material resources.
It was a source of pride to have once more given a good example of political maturity, civic discipline and inclusive popular participation, he said, declaring that the accomplishment showed the world that Africans had the capability and the ability to craft their own destiny and develop participatory democracy.
On the continent’s trouble spots, he said armed conflict continued to absorb resources from both the international community and the parties involved, especially disturbing since those resources could be better utilized for the well-being of the people in the affected territories. He was, however, pleased that, for the first time in many years, Africa was experiencing a significant reduction in conflict, thus allowing for an improvement of its economic indicators.
Progress in the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as the consolidation of peace under way in Sierra Leone and in Liberia, were examples that had brought about this new “aura of hope”. Furthermore, despite some tension in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, progress made there was manifestly encouraging. He hoped that the current efforts by the United Nations, the African Union, as well as by regional organizations, would help resolve the conflicts in Somalia and Darfur in a similar manner.
* *** *For information media • not an official record