Timor-Leste leader calls for more active UN during General Assembly debate

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

25 September 2014 – Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste, a country which the United Nations shepherded to independence from Indonesia a dozen years ago, told the General Assembly today that while the world body still embodies hope for millions of people it needs to become more active in the face of a multitude of problems.

“The United Nations has been an unequivocal forum for approaching international issues and continues to be the hope of millions of people throughout the world,” he said on the second day of the Assembly’s 69th annual General Debate, referring to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted 14 years ago to slash a host of social ills, such as poverty, hunger and disease.

“In the year 2000, the challenges came from the condition of extreme poverty, educational needs, enormous scarcity in terms of doctors and medication and lack of food production that affected the populations of many underdeveloped countries.

“Fourteen years later, little has been achieved under this effort by the community of nations. The fragile or conflict-affected countries are the furthest away from achieving their MDGs. Worse still, the challenges of the year 2000 have taken on a new path, increasing the problems related with the rise of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the world.’

He stressed that an organization's true greatness and ability in terms of global leadership are measured in difficult times such as these.

“In order to respond to these challenges, we require an Organization that operates effectively,” Mr. Gusmão declared. “We require an Organization that is more active and less stereotyped - an Organization that strengthens cooperation with other organizations, particularly regional ones, and that acts with great respect for the sovereignty and the idiosyncrasies of each State.

“Every action carried out so far has just been a continuation of past measures that, in most cases, failed to achieve results that can be considered positive.”

With regard to terrorism and violence, he said world crises must not be exacerbated by the desire to end war by waging war. “Instead, they must be based on the desire to build a world of peace, supported by dialogue and by an effort – herculean, if need be - to respond to the root causes of problems that lead to terrorism, racism, extremism and intolerance,” he added.

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