‘Revive the spirit of San Francisco,’ Belarus Foreign Minister tells UN General Assembly debate

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei of Belarus addresses General Assembly. UN Photo/J Carrier

1 October 2012 – Highlighting the universal legitimacy of the United Nations in his address to the world body’s General Assembly, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, today called for the international community to “revive the spirit of San Francisco” – where the Organization was founded – in order to deal with challenges the world currently faces.

“The current challenges have not become irreversible yet. We will be able to overcome them. This, however, requires us to revive the spirit of Fan Francisco,” the Foreign Minister told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, taking place at UN Headquarters in New York.

“We should return to the principles and foundations, which could serve as the building blocks for a better world. Multilateralism, justice, and co-operation are as true today, as they were back in 1945,” he added.

In 1945, in the end-stage of World War II, representatives of 50 countries met in the US city of San Francisco, at the so-called UN Conference on International Organization, to draw up the United Nations Charter, which was then signed in late June, paving the way for the United Nations to officially come into existence on 24 October 1945.

In his statement, Mr. Makei said some of the hopes expressed at the San Francisco meeting – such as “the hope of building a principally new world” – have come true, noting the end of ideological confrontations that affected the world body in the 29th century, and the “scourges” of colonialism, slavery and apartheid.

“The spirit of San Francisco, however, was about something more than just preventing the recurring mistakes of the past,” he noted. “First and foremost, it was a message about a promising future. Unfortunately, it is precisely this part that failed to become a reality. Why?”

The Belarusian Foreign Minister said some countries do not acknowledge “the limits to their foreign policy ambitions nor the forms of statehood other than their own.”

“This is exactly what gives rise to many of today’s geopolitical problems. The states, that refuse to follow pattern imposed from the outside and choose to defend their real sovereignty, have to pay a dear price for this right,” he said, citing the economic sanctions placed against Cuba as an example of a country which had suffered for choosing to follows its “independent path of development.”

Mr. Makei said there were four areas which his country considered crucial for the international community’s engagement: the rule of law, politics, economics, and environment.

On the rule of law, he said no “trendy concepts,” such as humanitarian intervention or the responsibility to protect, can justify interference in internal affairs of sovereign states. Sometimes known as ‘R2P,’ the principle of the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met.

In relation to politics, the Foreign Minister noted that the current international system could be viewed as a “dysfunctional multi-polarity” and that global partnerships could be instrumental in helping devise a global system that tackles specific functional problems. “After all, is it not the case that all positive minded global stakeholders have an interest in seeing these problems either diminished or eliminated altogether?” he asked the gathered delegates.

In the area of economy, Mr. Makei said his country is convinced that a “stated-based paradigm,” in which the state is involved in helping achieve economic balance, can help with the world’s current economic crises.

“As far as the balance per se is concerned, it cannot be established by default, someone must do that. It is a state that can accomplish this task, and most crucially, it is a ‘strong’ socially-oriented state that does not live by borrowing from future generations, as currently some advanced countries do,” the Belarusian official said.

In the context of global environmental concerns, the Foreign Minister said that climate change is the “central and defining challenge of contemporary times” which “separates the current and future generations from a prosperous future.” He called for greater international cooperation on the issue.

As well, he suggested that the international community should consider formulating a “comprehensive UN energy agenda” as a follow-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June, in order to help address the interrelated issues of climate change along with energy and food security.

“The United Nations is a natural place for the implementation of all the ideas articulated by our delegation. No other international body wields such universal legitimacy,” he added. “So, let us, at last, empower the United Nations. We are certain that the UN will then be able to realise with dignity the vision set forth in San Francisco many years ago.”

Foreign Minister Makei is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual, national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends later on Monday.


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