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In UN Assembly address, Bahrain focuses on regional crises, sustainable development

Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa of Bahrain addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa of Bahrain addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
2 October 2015 – Adressing the United Nations General Assembly today, Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, stressed the role of environment in sustainable development and the importance of joint action to address climate change in the hope that the climate conference in Paris would reach a binding and ambitious agreement, particularly on repercussions to small island developing States.

Turning to Iran, he advised the country not to squander its people's resources to promote vested interests, but rather to use them to achieve development and progress and to build bridges with its neighbours. However, Iran, he said, had responded in an “evil manner” and so Bahrain was left with no option but to recall its Ambassador to Iran, in an effort to protect its own people and interests.

Concerning Yemen, he urged those who had taken up arms there to lay them down, and called on all factions to enter into national dialogue on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and implementation mechanism. As Syria went down a “treacherous and slippery slope”, Bahrain called for an end to the situation and a return of that country to its previous condition of unity, harmony, security and stability. Foreign military intervention must cease and an agreed political settlement, consistent with the Geneva communique, must be reached.

On the humanitarian front, he noted that Gulf Cooperation States were hosting 3 million Syrian “brothers and sisters” granting them all rights, from free education and health care to the right to work and a decent life.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms, he said it could only be stopped through collective efforts at all levels, including its sources of financing. The illegal and inhumane acts by Israeli authorities and extremist groups against the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound could destroy any chance of peace. While affirming the importance of the agreement on Iran, he said it did not eliminate all sources of tension resulting from that country's attitude towards others in the region.

In that context, he affirmed the importance of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, including the Arabian Gulf region, stressing the need for Israel to adhere to the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place its facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Confronted by daunting challenges, he said Middle East States needed to reflect deeply on how to create a mechanism for collective action, with a view to consolidating security and stability.

At UN, Japan announces major boost in assistance for Syrian and Iraqi refugees

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Kim Haughton
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Kim Haughton
29 September 2015 – In his address to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, vowed to enhance his country's assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq.

Underscoring its history of nation-building and fostering human resources, Mr. Abe offered Japan’s support to those who have fled their homes amid conflicts in Syria and Iraq by pledging to triple the amount of last year’s assistance, to approximately $810 million.

“In Lebanon, we will implement $2 million in new assistance measures… to impart momentum for the collaboration between humanitarian actors and development actors,” he said. “We will newly implement approximately $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance for countries neighbouring the European Union that are grappling with the acceptance of refugees and migrants.”

Mr. Abe made clear that each of these were emergency countermeasures, as Japan’s unchanging principle “is at all times to endeavour to return to the root of the problem and improve the situation.”

Recalling Japan’s 70 year history as a peace-loving nation, the Prime Minister highlighted the preparation of Japan’s legal domestic framework to contribute to peacekeeping operations moving forward.

“It is all people acquiring the ownership by which they themselves determine the path of their own lives that is our ultimate objective,” he said.

He also pointed to the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lamenting that this year’s review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty failed to indicate guidelines for future nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Determined to bring about the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Mr. Abe said “Japan is preparing a new draft resolution to promote united action by the international community.”

On related issues, he said, just as the UN does not “avert its eyes” from major concerns, Japan would work with relevant countries towards the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including abduction, nuclear and missile matters.

As for UN reform, he said Japan would pursue Security Council reform through cooperation with the Assembly President, and his country would seek a permanent seat. Citing peacekeeping work in South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere, he said Japan also had laid the legal domestic framework to contribute to such efforts.

Divided peninsula ‘last remaining vestige of Cold War,’ Republic of Korea President tells UN

President Park of the Republic of Korea addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia PakGeun-Hye
President Park of the Republic of Korea addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia PakGeun-Hye
28 September 2015 – In her address to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (ROK) cited the Iranian nuclear deal as she urged the international community to focus on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

President Park called for the resolution to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear issue to be accorded “the highest priority” towards creating a world without nuclear weapons. She emphasized that provocation would not only “harm the hard-won mood for inter-Korean dialogue,” but also “undermine the efforts of the members of the six-party talks to reopen denuclearization talks.”

“Pushing ahead with provocations, including its nuclear development programme, will undermine the values of humanity’s peace espoused by the international community and the UN,” she said.

Dubbing it “the last remaining non-proliferation challenge,” Ms. Park said “The DPRK would do well to choose reform and opening rather than additional provocations and to endeavour to free its people from hardship.”

Ms. Park recalled that Republic of Korea “is a country that experienced a devastating war and remains scarred to this day by partition,” while underscoring her country’s acute aware of the importance of peace and its strong support of UN efforts to protect it.

She called attention to Germany’s 25th anniversary of reunification, asserting that “ending the seven-decade-on history of a divided Korean Peninsula – the last remaining vestige of the Cold War – will mark nothing less than a contribution to world peace.”

Referring to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s claim that Northeast Asia lacked a regional cooperation mechanism, Ms. Park spoke of “the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative to create a virtuous cycle of trust-building and increased cooperation.” She elaborated that consultations among regional countries were already underway on a range of collaborative areas, including nuclear security, disaster management and health.”

With regard to climate change, Ms. Park noted that as Republic of Korea has achieved rapid industrialization, it also supports the co-existence of man and nature, saying “Korea… is actively seeking to transition towards a low-carbon economy, while actively participating in climate negotiations.”

Nuclear deal could be blueprint for global relations based on mutual respect, Iranian President tells UN

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Loey Felipe
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Loey Felipe
28 September 2015 – While safeguarding its historic and cultural heritage, Iran is looking to the future – not only the distant future but also the near future with a bright outlook for cooperation, President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly today, stressing that his country’s recent nuclear deal could suggest a way forward for broader international relations among all nations based on mutual respect and non-intervention.

“Today, a new chapter has started in Iran's relations with the world,” President Rouhani said, explaining that two years ago, the people of Iran in a competitive election, had given him a mandate for consolidating peace and constructive engagement with the world, whilst pursuing national rights, interests and security.

This national will, he continued, had manifested through a careful and clear diplomatic effort which resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the six world powers that was immediately turned into an international instrument with the ratification of the UN Security Council.

“From the standpoint of international law, this instrument sets a strong precedent where, for the first time, two sides, rather than negotiating peace after war, engaged in dialogue and understanding before the eruption of conflict,” Mr. Rouhani said, recognizing the role of all the negotiators, the leaders and the Heads of state and Government of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany, and China, as well as Iran, in achieving this agreement.

“We had decided to bring about a new environment while maintaining our principles and we succeeded in doing so. Where necessary we moved forward and where necessary we showed the courage for flexibility; and, at each point, we made use of the full capacity of international law and showcased the potentials of constructive dialogue,” he said.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rouhani continued, it must be said that in most cases this important international institution has not been successful or effective. “This time, however, the United Nations made the right decision.” Nevertheless, he protested the adoption of unfair resolutions against Iran and the imposition of sanctions against the Iranian nation and Government as a result of misunderstandings and sometimes overt hostilities of some countries.

“We consider as unfair the conduct of the Security Council in the past, and insist that Iran, due to the important fatwa of its leader and its defence doctrine, has never had the intention of producing a nuclear weapon […] we proved in these negotiations that there is nothing on Iran's table other than logic, reason and ethics, and where necessary, legitimate and decisive self-defence against any kind of aggression,” he declared, and noted that Parallel to the implementation of the JCPOA, Iran expects the nuclear-weapon States to take necessary steps to fulfil their commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“The nuclear deal […] has managed to disburse the clouds of hostility and perhaps even the spectre of another war and extensive tensions from the Middle East,” President Rouhani said stressing that the deal “can and should” herald a new era and lead to positive outcomes regarding the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in the region.

“From our point of view, the agreed-upon deal is not the final objective but a development which can and should be the basis of further achievements to come. Considering the fact that this deal has created an objective basis and set an appropriate model, it can serve as a basis for foundational change in the region,” he observed, underscoring that this opportunity can be seized in order to look to the future and avoid focusing on the past and rebuild Iran’s relationships with the countries in the region, particularly with its neighbours, based on mutual respect and our common and collective interests.

Unfortunately, the Middle East and North Africa has turned into one of the world's most turbulent regions, he said, explaining that with the continuation and intensification of the current condition, the turmoil can spread to other parts of the world.

“The gravest and most important threat to the world today is for terrorist organizations to become terrorist states. We consider it unfortunate for national uprisings in our region to be deviated by terrorists and for the destiny of nations to be determined by arms and terror rather than ballot boxes,” he said, proposing that the fight against terrorism be incorporated into a binding international document and no country be allowed to use terrorism for the purpose of intervention in the affairs of other countries.

“We are prepared to assist in the eradication of terrorism and in paving the way for democracy, and ensuring that arms do not dictate the course of event in the region. As we aided the establishment of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and also Yemen,” said President Rouhani.

While urging a comprehensive action to tackle the root causes of terrorism, and recalling that at the heart of much of today’s war, destruction and terror, “can be found in the occupation, invasion and military intervention of yesterday,” he called for the countries of his region to launch an action plan that would see a united front against terrorism towards the overall creation of a collective and global movement to tackle regional problems in a serious manner through dialogue.

Further use of nuclear weapons would be ‘horrific,’ Ban says on International Day

Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and
United States Pershing nuclear missiles. UN Photo/Milton Grant
Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and United States Pershing nuclear missiles. UN Photo/Milton Grant
26 September 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted that 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the first and last use of a nuclear weapon in war, as he renewed his call for complete global nuclear disarmament.

“The norm against the use of nuclear weapons – the most destructive weapons ever created, with potentially unparalleled human costs – has stood strong for seven decades,” Mr. Ban said in a message for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, observed annually on 26 September.

“But the only absolute guarantee that they are never used again is through their total elimination,” he added.

The UN chief recalled that the international community has proclaimed the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, but that unfortunately there are growing rifts between Member States about how and when to achieve it.

“This was on stark display during the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in May of this year,” Mr. Ban noted. “I call on all States to engage constructively to find a way forward.”

He further underlined that the elimination of nuclear weapons would also free up vast amounts of resources that could be used to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted yesterday by world leaders at the General Assembly.

The new framework includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

“The consequences of any further use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by mistake, would be horrific,” Mr. Ban warned, adding that when it comes to the common objective of nuclear disarmament, the global community must act now.