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H.E. Ms. Tarja Halonen, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, aligning herself with the statement made by the European Union, said that our world was facing unforeseen challenges like climate change and the food crisis.  At the same time, armed conflicts were still a reality worldwide.  Too often, the international community was unable to agree on a common response to those problems.  Therefore, people affected by poverty and conflicts were “let down”.

Noting that an efficient United Nations was needed to find common solutions, she said Finland was committed to building a more secure, fair and just world through a reformed and credible United Nations.  Recalling that she had presented the Final Report of the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy to the Secretary-General earlier this week, she added that some of the challenges posed by globalization could only be solved through multi-stakeholder dialogue, facilitated by the United Nations.

Turning to climate change, she said that phenomenon had to be addressed with vigour, “otherwise, it could wipe out our achievements in the field of sustainable development and even bring into question the whole future of mankind”.  Multilateral engagement and shared responsibility were the only effective means of tackling this “global menace”.  She emphasized that there was no place for “petty politics and recrimination” in fighting climate change, and called for reaching a comprehensive global agreement on a new international climate regime.

It was evident that global commitments needed to be implemented and supplemented by national and regional action, with comprehensive stakeholder support.  “We need everybody,” she said, noting that women should also participate in this work.  Although industrialized countries had to bear their share on mitigating climate change, international negotiations could not succeed without extensive participation from developing countries.  Because the sustainable management of natural resources, especially of forests, could reduce poverty and greenhouse gases, she called for the United Nations to intensify efforts to assist Government and communities with rural development and sustainable forest management.

Addressing rising food prices, she pointed out that women and children suffered most.  Effective Government action and improved donor coordination were crucial in tackling the food crisis, and the United Nations Comprehensive Framework for Action was an excellent initiative to meet the challenge.  Attention should be paid to medium- and long-term policies to enhance food security.  Support to the rural sector was crucial for sustainable and equitable development, growth and well-being.  If both women and men in developing countries were supported in the spirit of the “aid for trade” agenda, they could better take advantage of their agricultural potential.

Referring to the numbers of people serving the United Nations peacekeeping operations as “remarkable”, she said the United Nations and regional organizations should work closer together to prevent and resolve conflicts.  Improving the efficiency and cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations was a top priority.  Although such cooperation was apparent in Kosovo and Georgia right now, more efforts, in that regard, should be extended to the African Union.  A continued United Nations peacekeeping presence in Chad and the Central African Republic would contribute to local and regional stability.  However, tackling those conflicts required a comprehensive approach to security -- trade, development policy and humanitarian aid needed to be utilized too.

[Source: GA/10749]