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H.E. His Highness Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister for Foreign Affairs

27 September 2008

Statement Summary

SHAIKH KHALID BIN AHMED AL-KHALIFA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, called for an urgent and effective response to global challenges, including natural disasters, which made achieving the Millennium Development Goals very difficult. Progress to date had been uneven, and the world was on the verge of a “development emergency”.  Welcoming the high-level events on achieving the Millennium Development Goals and meeting Africa’s development needs, he cautioned against losing sight of the potential for natural disasters to reverse progress.  States could not afford to delay attention to such critical development issues.

Continuing, he said climate change was of “utmost importance” and that global energy demand was rising fast.  As populations were increasing amid economic growth, IAEA had predicted energy needs could increase by 50 per cent by 2030.  Given that, he looked forward to the climate change meetings, in Poland this year, and in Copenhagen next year.  He hoped all nations would commit to addressing the overriding interests of the future.

The peaceful use of nuclear energy was a preferred option for Bahrain, he said, adding that agreements on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should be made within a strengthened non-proliferation regime, with improved safeguards and expanded verification systems.  The Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting last year in Doha had acknowledged States rights to possess nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in close cooperation with IAEA.  He suggested the creation of a global energy organization, which would help determine the role of nuclear energy and consolidate energy data, among other things.

On the food security crisis, he said high food prices had increased the number of hungry people by about 50 million people in 2007.  In that context, he called for reducing biofuel production and investing in sustainable agriculture methods.  The fact was that multilateral cooperation was fundamental to solving such challenges, and no country could solve them independently.

Turning to reform issues, he said Bahrain supported the reinvigoration of the United Nations and looked forward to reforming the world body so that it would be responsive to all challenges.  States should do their utmost to address shortcomings, including threats to the global security system from terrorism, money-laundering, drug traffickers and intellectual property pirates.  Terrorism had many faces, including the recent “heinous” crimes in Islamabad.

On the Middle East, he said there were many issues, the most pressing of which was the need for a just and comprehensive peace settlement of the Palestinian question.  He cited the Arab Peace Initiative in that respect, and called for the withdrawal from occupied Arab Syrian Golan and remaining Lebanese territories.

Moreover, the Gulf region would not be able to bear a new war, and he reiterated his desire for a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear file to avoid “the scourge of war”.  The Middle East needed to be free from weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, while safeguarding States’ rights to peacefully use nuclear energy.  States had a duty to review the idea of developing new regional frameworks to overcome long-standing challenges, including an organization of Middle East countries to discuss issues openly.  He accepted peace as a strategic option for solving conflicts and opening a new chapter for historical rapprochement.

Reforms in Bahrain sought to strengthen democracy and protect human rights, he said.  The country’s election to the Human Rights Council was clear recognition of its efforts in that regard.   Bahrain would not hesitate to promote its success stories, and the King had sponsored an award with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), among other things.  A key pillar for Bahrain was its investment in modern education, which encouraged “acceptance of the other”.  His country had achieved the Millennium Goal on education well before the 2015 deadline.

[Source: GA/10757]


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