|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
20th & 21st Meetings (AM & PM)
UNITED NATIONS MUST TAKE LEAD IN FINDING CONCRETE SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL CRISES,
SAY SPEAKERS AS ASSEMBLY TAKES UP SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REPORT
Delegates Call Report on Work of Organization ‘Inadequate’,
Cite Failure to Address Current Challenges, Point Way Forward
In the General Assembly today, the representative of India criticized the Secretary-General’s yearly report on the work of the United Nations for ignoring the economic crisis that was now crushing poor people around the globe, and for lacking any vision for the future or how the Organization could help developing countries deal with serious looming challenges.
Even as many Member States supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations and his second annual snapshot of the Organization’s work in development, peacekeeping, human rights and other areas, India’s delegate branded the document “inadequate if not irrelevant”, as it disregarded the gravity of what he termed the “the most profound [liquidity] crisis since the Great Depression”.
He told delegations gathered for the Assembly’s annual review that the document should have spelled out how the United Nations could rebuild the global political and economic institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, had remained helpless during this latest financial crisis. Indeed, the major investment banks had achieved the destruction of world liquidity and had increased financial risks and bankruptcies. The impact on the developing world would be profound.
Continuing, he said the report also remained silent on intellectual property rights and how the Organization could stimulate the stalled Doha Round of talks being held under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, another institution approaching irrelevance. He called on the United Nations to use its universality to coordinate an international response, which was crucial to overcoming the crisis.
While less pointed in his remarks, the representative of Belarus noted that the report overlooked another pressing concern –- energy. He urged the creation of a multi-dimensional energy agenda that could encourage global cooperation on the widespread use of energy-saving technologies, as well as alternative and renewable energy sources.
Many delegates were distressed by the uneven progress, within and across countries and sectors, towards the Millennium Development Goals. The representative of Viet Nam said he shared the Secretary-General’s concern that many countries would not be able to achieve the Goals, even as significant gains had been made towards halving extreme poverty by the target date of 2015.
With half of the world’s adult population owning only 1 per cent of the global wealth, he stressed that the developing world’s ills could be cured only with the genuine and active cooperation of developed countries. He joined the Secretary-General’s call for the effective and timely delivery of their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, and hoped that his goal of $50 billion per year by 2010 would be achieved.
Yet the United States remained uneasy with continued revisions to the Secretariat’s framework of goals and indicators, which it presented as time-bound goals. He wondered why the Secretariat had selectively incorporated as Millennium Development Goals new targets drawn from the 2005 World Summit outcome document, when that same document defined the Goals as those laid out in the Millennium Declaration.
The United States did not accept the Secretariat’s decision to elevate some commitments from the World Summit, and was troubled by clear changes in wording between intergovernmentally agreed documents and several of the new Millennium Declaration targets. Those attempted to redefine the Goals without consulting States, he said.
The representative of Guatemala said the report carried a “business as usual” tone, even in the midst of today’s severe economic, financial and social tremors. He wanted to see the United Nations act before crucial changes took place, rather than be “pulled in their wake”. He called for greater emphasis on the Organization’s performance and the need to make it more relevant. With the expansion of its agenda, the world body was in danger of losing focus of its vital issues.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, the representative of France said Organizational reform needed to be acted on quickly, keeping aware of transparency and effectiveness. The European Union considered management reform and reform of operational activities to be priorities, as was the meshing of gender issues into all aspects of the Organization’s activities.
On the issue of reform, Japan’s representative urged a more coherent and efficient approach to the Organization’s work on the ground. Gender equality and the empowerment of women were also critical, as was the sound and prudent financial management of the Organization. Security Council reform, especially expanding the permanent and non-permanent membership, was also vital.
In other business, the Assembly agreed to include on its agenda an item on “Judges of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) since 1991”. The Assembly took that action following the Secretary-General’s request for Member States to consider extending the terms of office of the Tribunal’s permanent judges beyond their current expiry date of 16 November 2009 (document A/63/232).
Also speaking today were representatives of Colombia, Cuba, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, China, Peru, Egypt, Iceland, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 8 October, to consider an item on “the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law”.
The General Assembly met today to take up the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization.
In his second annual report on the work of the Organization (document A/63/1), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledges that during the last year, the world experienced “a huge increase in the intensity of engagement across the entire spectrum of development, security, humanitarian affairs, and human rights issues”. Indeed, the rising demand for the United Nations services was daunting, and to fully respond, he calls for focus in three key areas: delivering results for people most in need, securing global goods, and creating a stronger United Nations through full accountability.
Putting forth his plan of action, the Secretary-General stresses that although strategies to address the world’s many challenges would be developed on a global level, the most powerful action will need to come from national levels. “We will rise or fall together depending on the effectiveness of our common response. I appeal to Governments to take action as the consequences of inaction will spare none,” he says.
To deliver results to those most in need, he notes first that achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015 is not enough, and the international community needs to tackle the food crisis, climate change, natural disasters and violent conflicts -– all of which threaten to “turn back the clock” on development advances. Even as the halfway point for reaching the Goals passed last year, about 1.2 billion people remain in extreme poverty, and most are living in least developed countries, especially Africa.
He states that progress towards the Millennium commitments appears to be slowest in maternal health, while gains in education are “most encouraging”. The Secretary-General noted that good health built a foundation for prosperity, stability and poverty reduction, and women, as integral members of society, are significant drivers of development.
Turning to the AIDS pandemic, he says prevention is a crucial component of the international community’s response, as nearly 2.5 million people were newly infected 2007. Combating the stigma around the disease is also important, with some 33.2 million people now living with HIV. Stressing his commitment to combating infectious diseases, he notes that about 1.2 billion of the poorest populations suffer the crippling effects of neglected tropical illnesses. Malaria, for example, kills more than 1 million people each year.
Meeting water and sanitation targets are also crucial to development, as 1 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion do not have access to sanitation. He urged the global community to double its current annual investment to $30 billion.
Turning to Africa, the Secretary-General stresses his continued commitment to addressing peace, security and development needs on the continent, saying that the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) has played an important role in forwarding this agenda. While encouraged by Africa’s overall gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.7 per cent, and a 3.7 per cent jump in per capita income, he notes that growth rates were unequal in the continent, with the poorest people and communities seeing little improvement in their circumstances.
Developing regional resources and ramping up public and private investments is vital, and he encouraged the Assembly, Security Council and Peacebuilding Commission to keep placing the special needs of Africa at the top of their respective agendas.
In the area of peace and security, the Secretary-General notes the sustained demands placed on the Organization to provide peace, or promote dialogue and reconciliation, as it celebrated 60years of peacekeeping. These new demands include work in the Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, northern Uganda, the Central African Republic, Western Sahara and elsewhere.
In the past year, the United Nations deployed two of its most complex peacekeeping operations: in Darfur, and to Chad and the Central African Republic. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations now leads 19 missions with more than 130,000 women and men, including troop and police contributions from 117 Member States and a budget of about $7 billion. This expanded range and complexity of peacekeeping operations requires States to maintain a common purpose behind peacekeeping, and strengthen their commitment to peacekeeping operations.
The Secretary-General’s restructuring of the Peacekeeping Department included the creation of a new Department of Field Support and Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the operations division, Integrated Operations Teams and various new shared mechanisms. But two key issues -- unacceptable sexual misconduct cases by some peacekeepers, and a mismatch between mandates and resources -- continue to challenge the Organization’s successes.
On peacebuilding, he says the 3-year-old Peacebuilding Commission -- supported by the Peacebuilding Support Office -- has demonstrated its value by giving sustained attention to countries under its consideration. The first two cases were Burundi and Sierra Leone, followed by Guinea–Bissau and the Central African Republic, referred to the Commission in December 2007 and June 2008 respectively. The Peacebuilding Fund continues to provide a crucial funding mechanism, recording pledges of $267 million from 44 donor countries.
In the area of humanitarian assistance, the Secretary-General acknowledged significant strides, specifically in the assistance given to communities impacted by food price rise, extreme weather events and armed conflict. A High-level Task Force was created in direct response to the current global food crisis and major natural disasters, such as the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, in May 2008.
Both disasters led to an unprecedented number of flash appeals, highlighting the need to strengthen partnerships with regional organizations and Governments. Despite the security challenges to assist refugees and displaced persons in such areas as Côte d’Ivoire, Nepal, Afghanistan and Iraq, efforts were increased to reach those in need. Darfur remains the largest humanitarian operation, with 14,700 aid workers serving 4.27 million people, he adds.
He goes on to say that, during the past year, greater worldwide acceptance of human rights standards and stronger monitoring and compliance measures heralded “a new era in human rights”. The Universal Periodic Review was by the Human Rights Council to gauge the effectiveness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a milestone move, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008), which provide a full range of reporting, complaint and inquiry mechanisms.
Turning to climate change, the Secretary-General cites considerable progress. Throughout the year, Member States convened at United Nations-sponsored meetings that generated important outcomes, including the adoption of the Bali road map this past December. Subsequent talks helped develop a shared vision for reducing global emissions; promote action on mitigation and adaptation; encourage technology development transfer; and provide developing countries with investment for addressing environmental challenges.
Regarding terrorism, he says the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force provides implementation support to States to address topic areas, such as: conflict prevention/resolution, radicalization and extremism, financing of terrorism and use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. Recognizing that “the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of United Nations staff and premises rests with the host country”, he appointed an Independent Panel on Safety and Security of United Nations Personnel and Premises Worldwide.
He goes on to say that establishing the Office for Disarmament Affairs in 2007 has strengthened the United Nations ability to expand awareness and enhance responses of Member States in addressing disarmament and non-proliferation issues. Encouraged by the determination of States to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force as soon as possible, progress was made in the implementation of the Convention on Certain (Biological/Toxin) Conventional Weapons. However, efforts must continue to break the extended deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.
Regarding the need to create a stronger United Nations, the Secretary-General announces that he will begin steps to reform the Secretariat, and reaffirms the need to reform the Security Council. With the implementation of a results-based and enterprise risk management over the next few years, both the Secretariat and Member States will work to increase their accountability to the global public.
A stronger Office of the Ombudsman will form a crucial “informal” pillar of the new system of the administration of justice, due in place by January 2009. In 2007, the Chief Information Technology Office spearheaded a drive for a strong and unified information and communication technology (ICT) strategy, with a goal to have an integrated global information system supporting human, financial, and physical resources. The report also highlights the importance of a more versatile, mobile workforce, as the Secretariat has become less Headquarters-based and more operational.
The Secretary-General observes that from the highest political level on down to the field, the United Nations and regional organizations were strengthening their partnerships and working more closely to respond to the challenges of peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict peacebuilding. Recognizing that regionalism is a necessary component of multilateralism, he is optimistic that an effective sharing of responsibilities towards peace and security between international and regional organizations is now within reach, particularly in Africa.
On creating global constituencies and strengthening the United Nations partnerships with civil society, the Secretary-General notes an outreach programme on “Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade” was established to collaborate with academic institutions. In addition, more than 43 million people participated in the “Stand Up and Speak Out against Poverty” initiative.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require more extensive collaboration with the private sector, he adds, calling for further exploration to increase engagement with the private sector at the broad organizational level and within individual organizations, funds and programmes.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France), speaking of behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said his delegation was fully committed to effective multilateralism, with a central role for the United Nations. The European Union remained convinced that Organizational reform needed to be advanced quickly, with a view to enhancing its transparency and effectiveness, including its international environmental governance. Management reform, as well as the process of reforming the United Nations operational activities, were European Union priorities, as was mainstreaming gender issues into all aspects of the Organizations activities through appropriate financing and benchmarks.
Turning to the Organization’s three main pillars, the European Union strongly supported development, security and human rights, as they were interconnected and mutually reinforcing. The European Union remained strongly committed to the implementation of the internationally agreed development Goals, and was deeply concerned about the sharp surge in food prices. Along with the energy crisis and instability of world finance markets, those trends could plunge millions of the world’s poor into deeper poverty.
Climate change was another area of mutual concern, and the European Union strongly supported the central role of the United Nations in the creation of a post-2012 global climate agreement. He stressed the importance of making progress at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 14 in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008.
On the issue of peace and security, the European Union believed the United Nations needed to strengthen its operational capacity in the field of peace and security, and encouraged the implementation of the Organization’s peacekeeping doctrine as essential for its efficiency and effectiveness. He also emphasized post-conflict activities, including the environmental dimensions of conflicts and disasters. The European Union remained committed to international disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, and would contribute to a successful outcome of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It also supported the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.
The European Union was committed to cooperating with the International Criminal Court, and supported the universality and integrity of the Rome Statute. Promoting and strengthening the rule of law at the national and international levels remained a European Union priority, and it stressed the need to provide all necessary assistance and support to the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, supported by the Rule of Law Unit in the Secretary-General’s office, under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General. The European Union would work actively to further enhance the role of the Human Rights Council within the United Nations system, he said.
CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia) stated though the “challenges facing the Organization are enormous” regarding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and strengthening actions to eradicate poverty, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, there were three key areas of focus for United Nations action: delivery of results for people most in need; the securing of global goods; and greater accountability for the creation of a stronger United Nations.
Middle-income countries faced special challenges, as despite progress in terms of gross domestic product, the implementation of long-term growth programmes were limited, and therefore, those countries deserve attention from the United Nations and the international community, she said.
She said the global food crisis must remain a priority for the United Nations, and noted the establishment of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, as well as the urgency to break the impasse on agricultural trade liberalization, with imbalances in international markets.
Colombia found itself in a “privileged position”, as it was able to contribute to the protection of the environment and the promotion of alternative energy through greater use of its savannah areas, where agricultural production and development of the biofuel industry might grow. Also, domestically, its democratic security policy and comprehensive approach had achieved great progress in the “containment and elimination” of the threat of terrorism, as well as reducing crime rates. She stated that Colombia would fulfil commitments within the framework of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Regarding the United Nations, greater accountability within the Secretariat was a “joint task”, she stated, and urged that Member States fulfil their obligations in allowing the implementation of established mandates. In order to face challenges and overcome new obstacles, she urged more active involvement of wide segments of society, in the strengthening of partnerships between the United Nations and civil society, as well as the business community.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba) welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to giving development a special priority on the United Nations’ agenda, and considered the proposal to strengthen the Secretariat’s development pillar to be important. In general, Cuba agreed that the situation surrounding the Millennium Development Goals was complex. The Goals would not be met, not because they were too ambitious; indeed, they were “very timid and insufficient”. They would not be met because the current global order was totally unjust. The Goals would continue to be a dream for most because more than 100 countries in the South did not have $150 billion needed to achieve them.
The Secretary-General’s annual “Memory” did not mention concrete proposals on how the United Nations should face key problems, he said, such as the lasting solution to the external debt crisis and reform of the international financial architecture. It was important to know if the ones accountable for the “chaotic” world today were willing to relinquish their privileges. He welcomed that climate change was acknowledged as a main issue for the Organization, as States had identified the “dangerous carbon habit” in the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Phenomena such as global warming posed dire threats, and developed countries had a moral obligation to address such issues.
He urged that reform and democratization of the United Nations respect the Charter, as the main challenge was to ensure that the world body served the interests of all. On the responsibility to protect, it was the Assembly’s duty to take relevant decisions on that matter. Cuba opposed intentions to implement that concept before it was clearly defined, as that would open the possibility of turning the concept against the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Cuba welcomed the decision to start an intergovernmental negotiation on Security Council reform, as a truly equitable body was urgent. It should not encroach on the functions of other United Nations bodies. In addition, he urged continuing work to ensure that genuine cooperation was the cornerstone of the Human Rights Council.
Bearing in mind the universality of human rights, he said there was much work to do in industrialized countries. Regarding United Nations system-wide coherence, he said United Nations development bodies in the field could not engage in activities that were not directly linked to economic and social development. Developing country priorities were crucial.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said he shared the Secretary-General’s concern that many countries would not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, even as significant gains had been made towards halving extreme poverty by 2015. With half of the world’s adult population owning only 1 per cent of the global wealth, the ills of the developing world could not be cured without genuine and active cooperation and assistance from developed countries. He joined the Secretary-General’s call for the effective and timely delivery of the official development assistance (ODA) commitments, and hoped that his goal of $50 billion per year by 2010 would be achieved.
Turning to peace and security, he acknowledged that preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and United Nations-led mediation efforts had helped reinforce political dialogue and national reconciliation in many countries in Africa and Asia. But the escalation of protracted armed conflicts and tensions in the Middle East, some parts of Africa, South Asia, and the outbreak of new conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus had added to his concerns.
He noted the growing complexity of those protracted conflicts, and added that terrorism continued to be a serious threat to international peace and security. He supported the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the crucial role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security must be reaffirmed and strengthened.
Noting the increase in the number and intensity of extreme weather events, he said climate change and armed conflicts were making natural and man-made disasters more dangerous than ever before, and demanded greater international cooperation. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment that the United Nations would enhance its partnership with regional organizations and Governments to prepare for and respond to these challenges.
On the issue of reform, he said the United Nations and its principal organs -- including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and specialized agencies -- needed to be strengthened in a more comprehensive and democratic manner. In addition, partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations should be mutually strengthened, to help resolve conflicts and mitigate the consequences of natural disasters.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE (Philippines), calling the Secretary-General’s report “comprehensive and balanced”, said a new generation of global challenges -– such as climate change, terrorism and the current financial crisis --- weighed heavily on the United Nations. In light of the growing threat from traditional and new challenges to peace and stability, among other things, States needed to act on the recommendations in the report before those problems reached catastrophic levels.
To deliver results for people most in need, States needed to awaken to the grim realities among the world’s poor. Meeting the Millennium Development Goals was urgent, and achievement lay not only in a statistical process of halving poverty, but “synergistically” involved other development processes, including the Doha Round of trade talks. His country echoed the call to achieve $50 billion annually by 2010 from official development assistance (ODA), he said.
For its part, the Philippines had assisted Nepal in its transition to a new democratic future, and was involved with the post-electoral mediation process in Kenya, among other initiatives, he said, noting that the good offices of the Secretary-General deserved to be strengthened to help ease tensions in several regions, including the Middle East. The Philippines would continue to remain actively engaged in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Continuing, he cited four areas of concern: climate change, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, terrorism and global health. He called for mainstreaming climate change into development plans, and partnering with the private sector to integrate climate change into corporate operations. Justice demanded that developed countries do more to repair the damage. The Non-Proliferation Treaty was the centrepiece of nuclear disarmament measures, and the Philippines intended to field a candidate to preside over the 2010 Review Conference.
Implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy required innovative initiatives, and his country would intensify advocacy of interfaith dialogue to promote tolerance. On health matters, he agreed that the United Nations take the lead in shaping the future of global health on critical priorities leading to affordable health systems.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said the Secretary-General’s report revealed the scope of tasks undertaken by the Organization in recent times, which were marked by “some light and many shadows”. In that regard, when it came to meeting the Millennium Developing Goals, the world was faced with the “proverbial half-full glass”, aggravated by a decidedly mixed picture. There had not been progress in resolving the world’s intractable conflicts that were on the Security Council’s agenda, and the same could be said for environmental matters.
Focusing on the Organization’s performance, he called for greater efforts to make the United Nations more relevant. The world body’s expanding agenda had the downside of losing focus on the vital issues, and he called for reinterpreting the Charter’s vision, adapted to twenty-first century challenges. While steps in that direction had been taken in the 2005 World Summit, there was a need for an overarching framework reflecting that vision. Further, though the report reflected changes in the global environment, its tone was that of “business as usual” in the face of economic, financial and social tremors. He wished to see the United Nations ahead of such changes, rather than be “pulled in their wake”. That underlined the urgency of adapting to present demands.
Continuing, while agreeing that reform of the Secretariat and intergovernmental machinery was needed, he said it would be useful to have a “road map” on the Secretariat reform, rather than taking on the work in a piecemeal fashion. The United Nations only functioned when all its parts worked well together. States could not demand compliance with a broad range of mandates, if resources were not provided. The Secretariat had been charged with many tasks, many of which lacked budgetary viability, including the counterterrorism strategy, he said. Also, the Secretariat could not contribute much regarding reform of intergovernmental organs, including the Security Council, since that body fell within States’ exclusive purview.
PARK IN-KOOK (The Republic of Korea) said the United Nations should play a central role in raising public awareness and designing strategies and actions to target the recent crises, from high food and fuel prices to climate change and the economic slowdown. The current global food crisis required the joint efforts of the international community, closely coordinated by the United Nations.
His delegation was gravely concerned about the slow and uneven progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, within and across countries and sectors. Noting the need to take a more active role in the global partnership for development, the Republic of Korea had increased its aid volume at a rapid pace, and introduced a road map for ramping up its official development assistance. With the new road map, the country’s aid was expected to triple to about $3.3 billion in 2015.
In the area of climate change, his country had supported the global vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2050, and next year planned to announce its voluntary midterm mitigation goal, set for 2020. The Government was ready to contribute to the international community’s response to climate change by hosting the “Rio+20” Summit on sustainable development in 2012, which would contribute to a strong take-off for the post 2012 climate regime.
Turning to human rights, he said the Republic of Korea shared the Secretary-General’s view that the Human Rights Council must ensure that nations were held accountable for the implementation of human rights standards. Failure to do so would undermine the Council’s own credibility. His delegation stressed the importance of the concept of the responsibility to protect, as embraced in the 2005 World Summit. He looked forward to constructive discussions in the Assembly and other forums, as part of concerted efforts for progress on that issue.
Turning to Security Council reform, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s observation that more Member States recognized that the “intermediate or interim” solution provided a valuable basis to make progress on the basis of general agreement. The Republic of Korea believed creating a stronger United Nations through full accountability was very important, and wanted to reach an agreement on the human resources framework and the new system of the Administration of Justice. He hoped the Secretary-General’s compact with senior managers would bring real change and foster a new working culture in the Secretariat.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) stated that the United Nations must use “all means available” to meet its most pressing challenge, to save the bottom billion people from their poverty, and mobilize efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
A challenge to the achievement of the Goals had been the steep rise in food and commodities prices worldwide. However, the Secretary-General had personally initiated the mobilization of the entire United Nations system to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for short- and medium-long term food security. Poverty reduction alone would not result in the achievement of the Goals, since many of the world’s poorest people were trapped in conflict or in fragile post-conflict situations. To end the vicious cycle of poverty and conflict, an integrated strategy to tackle both was essential, he said, emphasizing that the Peacebuilding Commission was a key organ in that endeavour, and deserving full support of Member States.
On other issues, he stressed: the need for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; an effective global framework to deal with climate change; and the vigorous pursuit of the protection and promotion of human rights, with the nexus of peace, human rights and development in mind.
Regarding United Nations reform, he called for a more coherent and efficient approach for the Organization to work on the ground with individuals in need, including through a “bottom-up” perspective. The achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women was also critical. More transparent and effective management of the United Nations, in terms of sound and prudent financial management, was also crucial, in addition to Security Council reform, especially in its expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership.
LIU ZHENMIN (CHINA) said that halfway through the timeline for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, African countries continued to face particularly daunting challenges that threatened their ability to reach the Goals. He called on the developed countries to honour their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product as official development assistance, in order to help African countries in particular, to respond to the development challenges they faced.
Observing that the Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group made its proposals in June this year for the realization of the Goals in Africa, he expressed the hope that countries would strengthen cooperation with the United Nations, and work jointly to put those proposals into practice. Continuing, he said the humanitarian issues regarding the survival of “the bottom billion” were closely linked to the peace, stability and development of the world. He supported the United Nations central coordinating role in international humanitarian cooperation, based on respect for the wishes of the recipient countries, as well as their autonomy and right of participation. In that regard, China welcomed the Secretary-General’s establishment of the High-level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis.
On conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding, he welcomed the progress of the Peacebuilding Commission in the past year, and hoped that, in the next stage, it would bring tangible changes to the development of the countries concerned, on the basis of respect for their independence and practical needs. The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted in 2006 was an instrument of “milestone significance” in international cooperation on counter-terrorism. It was necessary now to build on the achievements of the past two years, and continue to push for the comprehensive and balanced implementation by the United Nations system of the Strategy.
With the regard to the situation in the Middle East, which he described as the “biggest test for the United Nations”, he said the only feasible way to achieve a comprehensive settlement of that crisis was to conduct political negotiations on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of “land for peace”, in order to settle disputes and realize the peaceful coexistence between Israel and all Arab States, including an independent Palestinian State. He hoped that the leaders of both Israel and Palestine would maintain the momentum dialogue, and also supported a bigger role of the United Nations on Middle East question.
Turning to the crisis in Darfur, he said the Sudan had tested the unity of the international community, asserting that the involvement of the International Criminal Court in that crisis had further complicated it. Both the League of Arab States and the African Union had expressed concern over the indictment of the Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir by the Court, he went on, adding that China believed that the parties concerned needed to respect and heed the views of the Arab and African countries.
The crisis in Darfur involved many aspects, including political process, peacekeeping deployment, humanitarian assistance, judicial justice and economic development. As such, a comprehensive approach was needed in dealing with that situation, and the top priority was to promote political process.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) said it made more sense than ever to ask about the effects of globalization on countries, since economic growth now involved interaction among countries through trade and communication technologies. There were worrying signs of fragmentation: cross-border conflicts had extended; more voices had been raised against global warming; and a swift deepening of food and fuel crises had been seen. Today’s task was to continue the reform process of the United Nations, and States must act with determination to produce results within a reasonable period. Reform required persistent negotiations, including for that of the Security Council.
Poverty and injustice were formidable challenges, he continued, and for its part, Peru had established social support programmes to improve its peoples’ integration, notably through extending access to health-care and education with encouraging results. The United Nations should complement national development efforts. In addition, he called for creating a financial and trade system that was more open, based on non-discriminatory rules.
On migration, he supported the principle of shared responsibility, while, on climate change, he urged a “clear and unwavering” vision for ecologically sustainable development, to be taken in line with the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities. He reiterated the need to consolidate a comprehensive agreement on reducing emissions. On peace and security, he said the United Nations must increase conflict prevention and resolution capacities, and that strategy must be deepened through regional bodies.
As there were more conflicts between civilian forces and armies, the United Nations must help sustain observance of international law, and be ready to act when a State was not in a position to protect its people. To combat terrorism, he called for concluding a comprehensive convention on terrorism as soon as possible, adding that challenges, such as drug trafficking, that were transnational in nature, required strategic alliances based on dialogue. In closing, he reiterated that the international system must transcend into State relations, and the United Nations should maintain an open policy to involve all in development, peace and security.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said successful strategies to address new challenges must be developed in a holistic and collective manner, and the United Nations should work harder to make practical advances in addressing the needs of Africa. The timely elaboration of a United Nations action plan on fighting human trafficking could be critical to preventing violence against women, and efforts should be stepped up to reach the Millennium Development Goals, especially in providing access to clean water. In that regard, the search for a way to desalinate sea water should be a priority for global scientific research.
Continuing, he said the report overlooked global energy concerns, and he urged that due attention be given to creating a multi-dimensional energy agenda, which would encourage cooperation on global proliferation of and fair access to energy saving technologies, and alternative and renewable energy sources.
To solve such challenges, there was a need for a more modern United Nations, and the democratization process should begin with the Secretariat. In that regard, the Secretariat should become more impartial. The Secretary-General’s reform proposals should enhance States confidence in the Secretariat, he said. The principal of equitable geographical representation should be fully observed in the appointment of senior managers in the departments, he explained, adding that the five highest posts in each department should be allocated equally among five regional groups.
Thematic debates and interactive discussions on key issues on the international agenda should be developed, and the Secretariat should take more timely note of States suggestions during those events. There was a need to carefully register States proposals, which should be taken up and put into effect. In closing, he said the negotiation process on General Assembly revitalization during the sixty-second session was promising, and States had undertaken an effective review of resolutions on that matter.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said the Secretary-General’s report was a summary of events that had taken place in the past and did not provide a vision for the future. The report did not have a sense of the gravity of the present economic crisis, which he called the most profound crisis since the Great Depression. The report was inadequate, if not irrelevant, as it did not discuss the pending financial crisis, even though the crisis had become apparent in August and even earlier. While the world had not ended, the world of Wall Street had certainly ended, and the “Masters of the Universe had bitten the dust, the same dust that is now in the mouths of the rest of us”. The free market, like free love, had come to an end, he said.
The investment banking world had achieved the destruction of world liquidity, and had increased financial risks and bankruptcies. The impact on the developing world would be profound. Projects were already stopping because of the lack of liquidity and financing. The debt crisis would become worse. The decline in commodity prices and exports would hurt the developing world. That was a problem that faced the poor in both the north and the south, and he called it “a solidarity of suffering”. Only an international response could overcome the crisis, which was impacting the real economy in widening circles.
The problem with the Secretary-General’s report was that it did not discuss those issues or how the United Nations could rebuild the global economic and political institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been helpless and practically irrelevant during the crisis, and that irrelevancy could not be addressed until the international community faced its fundamental reform issues, such as transparency and quota reform in the IMF. The report was silent on that issue and others, he said, also criticizing the absence of recent and relevant statistics in the document.
The report touched on public goods, climate change, public health and other pressing issues, yet it did not look at the problems in intellectual property rights laws. It was also silent on what the United Nations could do to stimulate the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks and the important issues of trade in cotton, sensitive products and safeguard mechanisms. The World Trade Organization was fast approaching irrelevance like the Bretton Woods institutions. He called on the United Nations to use its universality to address the present crises.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) fully agreed with the Secretary-General’s message that “either we rise or fall together”, highlighting the importance of trust among all States, which was fundamental for any collective action. That trust had been hampered by harmful practices, especially in the field of development, and, as such, he called for making collective action conducive to fulfilling the interests of all the world’s peoples.
It was worth noting that the two high-level meetings convened at the start of the Assembly’s session had led to new common understanding on development needs. Financing mechanisms within the United Nations programme budget were needed, particularly to turn the coming year into a “Year of Action” to secure food, housing, education and health for those most in need. In that regard, Egypt supported strengthening the role of the Economic and Social Council.
Continuing, he equally called for strengthening the United Nations dispute settlement capability, in preventive diplomacy and its peacekeeping missions, and enhancing the role of the Department of Political Affairs in those two fields. Urging an enhanced United Nations role in the diplomatic Quartet to achieve comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, he also said the roles of the Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding Support Office and Peacebuilding Fund should be enhanced in a more coordinated framework.
While Egypt supported the recent restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he was concerned at its continued budget increase, as compared with the total budget. Egypt would continue to support and participate in those operations, and he called for more coordination between troop contributing countries and the Security Council. On human rights, he emphasized respecting cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Regarding the responsibility to protect, Egypt was ready to discuss implementation of the relevant paragraphs (138 and 139) of the 2005 World Summit outcome document.
On disarmament, he called for implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty towards a review of that instrument in 2010, saying also that review of the International Counter-terrorism Strategy should be matched by “strenuous” efforts to boost States implementation. In closing, he commended the Secretary-General’s policy of openness towards States through periodic briefings.
HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) stated that poverty and underdevelopment were among the largest challenges facing the international community today, with the delivery of results to the people most in need and the protection and promotion of human rights being critical for the maintenance of peace and security. Women’s rights were fundamental human rights, and their promotion was “smart economics”, without which, there would be no poverty eradication and no achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
On the Goals, he said there had been some progress, but he expressed “grave concern” that many developing countries had little chance of achieving them by 2015. He also supported conflict prevention in line with a holistic approach, stressing: “No security without development and no development without security.” Another key element in the maintenance of peace and security was the securing of global goods. Climate change was a threat to human security, and the hardest hit had been the small island developing States and the least developed countries, though they had been least responsible. He urged that economic costs of effects be shared according to means.
Though there had been limited progress in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, Iceland supported the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as the curbing of illicit trade in small arms. He noted that a conclusion of an arms trade treaty would be “a significant achievement” to that end. He also supported the conclusion of an international counter-terrorism convention and a strengthened international legal framework to solidify counter-terrorism efforts, while ensuring that human rights and humanitarian laws were not sacrificed in that endeavour.
He recognized the central role of the United Nations in the preservation of peace, staving off hunger and famine, and the coordination of international responses to global crises, as well as its crucial role in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. At the same time, the fieldwork of the United Nations was being under-resourced, fragmented and lacked accountability. He called for the Organization to address those shortcomings in this year’s Assembly session, and for Member States to fully equip the United Nations financially and institutionally with the necessary means and mandates.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said that despite an increasing demand on resources, the United Nations continued to be recognized for its work, especially in the field of climate change, for which it had been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and for its delivery of humanitarian assistance to those most affected by calamities through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and various flash appeals.
In terms of United Nations reform, delivery was key, he said, in addition to the strengthening of its accountability framework –- both within the Organization and the Secretariat’s accountability to Member States. Though change did not come easily, he said that a “results-based management approach” must be tackled holistically, requiring managers to clearly state their intended targets so the Organization could strategize better, which would, in turn, lead Member States to make better informed decisions.
Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, new and additional pledges of $16 billion through the Assembly’s recent high-level meetings had been welcome, though he noted that the Goals represented “the barest minimum objective”. The United Nations should encourage Member States who are in better placed positions to further achieve the Millennium Development Goals Plus objectives. Malaysia, for its part, pledged a higher level of cooperation with the United Nations in its South-South Cooperation.
He went on to note, among other things, that some troop contributing countries were “left out of the loop” in terms of communication and information amid the restructuring in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to streamline activities for a more effective delivery; that the number of cases of malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases was still increasing; and that the human rights of the Palestinian people continued to be violated. The Organization needed to act quietly and effectively to find comprehensive solutions to those challenges.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the world was witnessing intractable conflicts in many regions. Whether under the guise of civil turmoil, terrorist activity or international conflicts, such crises perpetuated the flawed belief that violence and war could replace cooperation and dialogue for the common good. In that context, the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, along with the growing strain upon the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, were enduring obstacles and severely hindered the promotion of the common good and mutual cooperation.
However, rather than addressing the symptoms of humanity’s failings, the world would do well to focus on the underlying causes. With failed trade talks in the Doha Round, the increasing international economic slowdown and the missed development assistance targets, the international community had seen the need for effective consensus and delivery, and was at a point in time where it could not but admit a number of setbacks in its work to globalize solidarity for the poor, he noted. The upcoming conference on Financing for Development in Doha, therefore, presented an opportunity for the international community to consolidate promises and renew cooperation between developed and developing countries.
Continuing, he said the Assembly’s sixty-third session stood at a poignant moment in the Organization’s history, in that 60 years ago this December, the United Nations had produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With that Declaration, the leaders had agreed that human rights were not bestowed by Governments at their whim, but rather, were inherent in all individuals, regardless of race, nationality or religious belief.
It was humbling to recall the war that had preceded the adoption of the Declaration, but also empowering to know that if the world could come together to ensure the rights of all after such a devastating conflict, then surely today “we can find the political will to guarantee the full enjoyment of all human rights”. In that regard, the rights to life and freedom of thought, conscience and religion remained the core of the human rights system.
Concluding, he hoped that the current session could serve to promote renewed cooperation and harmony among all peoples, pointing out that time and again, there had been an increase in the use of rhetoric, which, instead of bringing nations together, chastised and divided them. “In all corners of the globe, this rhetoric has been used to foment mistrust between States,” he said, adding, “It is my delegation’s wish that this session will reverse this crescendo of suspect and mistrust and will give way to confidence in our common leadership and shared values”. To that end, he believed the fully operational Mediation Support Unit served as a valuable tool for restoring lost trust, and looked forward to following its further developments.
WILLIAM A. HEIDT (United States), noting his country’s commitment to achieving and sustaining the development targets set by the Millennium Declaration, said the Secretary-General’s report rightly noted significant progress -– and challenges -- towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As in previous years, the United States was concerned at continued revisions to the Secretariat’s framework of goals, targets and indicators, which it presented as the time-bound Millennium Goals. He wondered why the Secretariat had selectively incorporated as Millennium Goals new targets drawn from the 2005 World Summit outcome document, when that same document defined the Goals as those laid out in the Millennium Declaration.
The United States did not accept the Secretariat’s decision to selectively elevate commitments from the World Summit, including one related to universal access to reproductive health, into a special category of commitments worthy to be regarded as Millennium Development Goals, or targets or indicators. He was further troubled by clear changes in wording between intergovernmentally agreed documents and several of the new Millennium targets, which attempted to redefine the Goals without consulting States.
Such redefinition threatened to dilute the carefully considered political commitments made at the Millennium Summit, and he called for focusing on, rather than expanding, those targets, and engaging sources of financing, including development aid and trade, to achieve them. Goals that dictated how a country should develop were destined to be ineffective. There was no doubt that global development aspirations had yet to be met, and expanding the scope of previously agreed Millennium Development Goals would not help maintain consensus. He called for taking note of successes and lessons learned, and rededicating efforts to the ambitious goals set in 2000.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said the world was at a crucial juncture, and faced a series of parallel crises –- financial, food, energy and environment –- that required the international community to come together, in order to tackle them effectively. The unfolding financial crisis and global economic slowdown showed that the United Nations system, with Economic and Social Council at its helm, needed to actively engage with the Bretton Woods institutions and other relevant financial institutions. That Council needed to intensify its central role for coordinating international economic relations.
There should be greater efforts to secure “global goods”, especially for those who were marginalized. The international community needed to vigorously conserve its natural resources, especially its carbon sinks, forests and coral reefs. The Bali Road Map, adopted this past December, had been critical in galvanizing the international community on the issue of climate change, he said, reiterating his Government’s wish that “by 2009, we should all produce an ambitious post-2012 global climate regime that will contain global warming to within two degrees Celsius in the next 20 years.”
Regarding counter-terrorism, Indonesia looked forward to a consistent, transparent, comprehensive and balanced implementation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It also looked forward to negotiating a comprehensive and balanced anti-terrorism convention that respected the principles of international law, humanitarian law and sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.
On the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation, Indonesia was convinced that nuclear disarmament was imperative for international peace. While vital, non-proliferation was not sufficient. Nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament were mutually reinforcing, and both needed to be pursued actively in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner. If not, the international community would soon enter a new nuclear arms race with new types, uses and rationales for such weapons, she said.
Turning to reform, she said it was imperative that the Security Council reflect the views of people everywhere. Indonesia was pleased that the democratization of the United Nations was part of the Assembly’s theme this session. Reform of the Security Council was a must, as was the strengthening of the role of the Assembly. She also emphasized the valuable role of regional organizations in matters of peace and security, development and humanitarian help.
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