Taking Up Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, Member States Back Call for Renewed Multilateralism, Say Tackling Crises Requires ‘Unity of Purpose’
Taking Up Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, Member States Back Call for Renewed Multilateralism, Say Tackling Crises Requires ‘Unity of Purpose’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)
Taking Up Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, Member States Back Call
for Renewed Multilateralism, Say Tackling Crises Requires ‘Unity of Purpose’
Assembly Also Decides High-Level United Nations Conference
On South-South Cooperation Will Be Held in Nairobi from 1 to 3 December 2009
In the General Assembly today, Member States threw their support behind the Secretary-General’s push to inject multilateralism with the renewed vigour it needs to combat today’s global crises.
With a planet suffering under the weight of financial, food, environmental and health crises, only more efficient and precise efforts by the international community could ease the suffering of millions of vulnerable people suffering from poverty and armed conflicts, Member States agreed.
The delegates had gathered to debate United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s third annual snapshot of the Organization’s work in development, peacekeeping, human rights, climate change and other areas. The 74-page report also looked at ways to create a stronger Organization through better accountability, transparency and efficiency. In it, Mr. Ban said: “We stand on a precipice. And yet we cannot lose our nerve […] this is the ultimate multilateral moment.”
Also today, delegations unanimously approved a new resolution that stressed that South-South cooperation, as an element of international cooperation for development, offered viable opportunities for developing countries in their individual and collective pursuit of sustained economic growth and development.
By that action, the Assembly decided that a High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation would be held in Nairobi from 1 December to 3 December 2009. The Conference, on the “Promotion of South-South cooperation for development”, would aim to strengthen the United Nations system’s role in boosting South-South and triangular cooperation. The resolution also asked the Secretary-General to turn out a comprehensive report that reviewed trends and the international community’s progress in the area.
Earlier in the meeting, the representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said there was an urgent need for unity of purpose, harmony of efforts and a spirit of cooperation from all parties in today’s world. He agreed with the Secretary-General that now was a critical “multilateral moment” and that the United Nations stood out as the best instrument to harmonize interests and bring the world community together. Like many other developing nations, ASEAN was troubled by how the global economic crisis was hurting the poorest countries and reversing any gains made towards the Millennium Development Goals.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reconfirmed his delegation’s commitment to face the many global challenges with effective multilateralism. “We need the United Nations’ broad-based legitimacy for international actions and norms and to coordinate our efforts. The United Nations will have to adapt to stay relevant and to be able to address the issues before us.” The United Nations had the structure in place to make a difference in climate change, achieve the Goals, peacekeeping efforts, and counterterrorism and disarmament.
Senegal’s representative said the Secretary-General’s report provided an opportunity to evaluate the Organization’s activities and reshape its orientation. While significant progress had been made in each area, so many people lived without prosperity and peace, that maintaining peace and fighting the effects of climate change should receive more attention. The Organization’s universal acceptance largely depended on accelerating and deepening its reform efforts.
Picking up that thread, Iceland’s representative called for effective solutions that would ensure cooperation on climate change. “We must join hands and seek to conclude a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen”, he said, referring to the upcoming conference where delegations would aim to agree on a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. As part of that overall effort, the state of the world’s oceans must also be taken into account, he said, warning that the planet’s waters were being threatened by climate change and a host of other man‑made hazards, including pollution, and overfishing.
India’s representative said multilateralism had little chance of succeeding without a comprehensive reform of global governance structures. The ongoing financial crisis showed the need to restructure the international governance architecture so it gave developing countries better representation. Expansion of the Security Council’s permanent and non-permanent members, along with an improvement of its working methods, was also critical.
On the Secretary-General’s call to shape a more efficient and accountable Organization, Japan’s representative said it was crucial to ensure transparent, accountable and efficient management of the United Nations. The Secretariat needed to set priorities around its expenditures and meet new requirements by redeploying available resources. Stronger financial discipline was needed to plan and implement the 2010-2011 programme budget and the peacekeeping mission budgets.
Also speaking today were representatives of Malaysia, Egypt, China, Brazil, Belarus, Guatemala, Cuba, Indonesia, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Columbia and South Africa.
The Observer for the Holy See also addressed the Assembly on the Secretary-General’s report.
Speaking after adoption of the resolution on the “High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation” (A/64/L.1) were Sudan, Qatar and Kenya.
Cuba, Nicaragua and Switzerland spoke in explanation of position after action.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 8 October, to consider matters related to the promotion of justice and international law.
The General Assembly met today to take up the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the United Nations system (document A/64/1).
In his third annual report, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights that, over the last year, shock waves from the economic crisis spread to all corners of the globe, with devastating effects on the world’s most vulnerable. Battling such challenges would require a multilateral effort of immense magnitude. Twenty-first century multilateralism had to broaden and deepen the foundations laid over the last 100 years in dramatic ways.
“The United Nations can and should be the hub of the new multilateralism”, the Secretary-General declares, adding that the Organization has made structural and policy changes that can define multilateralism in the new century. The world body has emerged as a key partner in managing the impacts of the global economic crisis, notably by identifying and advocating for the poorest populations, and showing its willingness to tackle the hardest issues related to humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping.
In response to emerging threats, the United Nations has adapted to ensure it delivered on a set of crucial goods, including by reviving climate change negotiations to reach an ambitious new agreement, and coordinating the global response to the A(H1N1) influenza outbreak. In the fight against terrorism, the Organization has secured full consensus on a global counter-terrorism strategy.
In addition, the United Nations has initiated steps to strengthen accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. While future generations will likely look back on 2009 as a year marked by multiple crises, the Secretary-General expresses hope they will also see it as a historic turning point, when Governments and peoples united to address problems through joint action.
To deliver results to people most in need, the United Nations has an important role to play in giving voice to the voiceless, the report continues. The Organization charted an ambitious course for development with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. However, that course today is being threatened with uncertainty and a determined effort is needed to overcome that difficulty.
Due to the economic downturn, slower poverty reduction rates in developing countries may affect whether they reach their targets. Without strong action to fight hunger, targets to reduce the prevalence of under-nourishment will not be achieved. On universal primary education, the 2015 target is being reached slowly, with significant improvements in enrolment throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. In the past five years, more girls enrolled for school, though the goal of narrowing gender disparities by 2005 was not met. In that context, the Secretary-General urges Member States to support the United Nations-led initiative “Unite to End Violence against Women”.
On health care, a critical precondition for progress towards most other goals, the Secretary-General observes that progress has been mixed. The report states that child mortality is more common among rural and poor people, and that death rates of children under five years old are extremely high. Little or no effort has been made to mitigate this in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Maternal mortality rates, 99 per cent of which occurs in the developing world, has hindered progress towards Millennium Goal 5, and the Secretary-General urges swift global Governmental and non-governmental efforts to tackle that issue. At the same time, however, HIV- and AIDS-related deaths appear to be declining, due, in part, to more widespread use of mosquito nets, preventive measures and effective anti-malaria drugs. To halve tuberculosis-related deaths by 2015, African and Asian countries that lag behind must improve how swiftly and successfully they diagnose and treat it.
On the special needs of Africa, the Secretary-General notes that the global economic crisis could reverse the continent’s decade-long expansion and growth. Its average annual growth rate fell sharply in 2009, with shrinking Government revenue threatening the achievement of the Millennium Goals. An up-and-down economic situation might prompt political tensions with food shortage riots and unconstitutional Government change throughout the continent. As such, the strategic link between the United Nations and the African Union, especially in peacekeeping, with regard to violence against women and children, is a positive move.
In the area of peace and security, the report states that the challenges peacekeepers face today are unprecedented in complexity and risk. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, with the support of the Department of Field Support, manages 17 operations deployed across five continents. The operations comprise more than 117,000 deployed military, policy and civilian personnel, with an annual budget of nearly $7.8 billion. Yet, available resources are in danger of shrinking, the Secretary-General warns.
The Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support continue to evolve, notably through the development of a standing police capacity in a strengthened Police Division, and increased capacity in both the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, and in the Office of Military Affairs in the Peacekeeping Department. The Department of Field Support’s capacity as a service provider is also being enhanced. However, much remains to be done to ensure that the United Nations can meet evolving demands.
As for peacebuilding, the report notes that, over the past year, Member States worked through the Peacebuilding Commission to provide support to nationally driven efforts in Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. The Peacebuilding Fund provided assistance to a growing number of countries emerging from conflict. As of April 2009, with more than $309 million in deposits, the Fund has allocated more than $131 million, spread among 65 projects under way in 12 countries. These projects support, among other things, national dialogue and conflict reconciliation initiatives, security and justice sector reform, and demobilization and disarmament of former combatants. Despite all the progress, additional efforts are needed to meet the challenges of the countries recovering from conflict.
In the area of humanitarian affairs, the United Nations responded to some 55 emergencies in 2008, including damage caused by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, conflict in Georgia, hurricanes in Haiti and Cuba, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and drought in Ethiopia. Also, almost $12 billion was spent on global humanitarian response -- a 40 per cent increase over 2007 -- with about half of that directed towards projects in United Nations-consolidated appeals and flash appeals. Among the challenges were growing humanitarian access problems, unsafe operating environments and decreased respect for the principles of humanity, independence, impartiality and neutrality.
Continuing, the Secretary-General underscores that it is crucial for the Organization to promote human rights, the rule of law, genocide prevention, the responsibility to protect, democracy and good governance. On genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect, Special Advisers to the Secretary-General have taken great strides in establishing a response and prevention mechanism based on a three-tiered system: the State’s responsibility for its populations, global support for the State and timely response by the international community. The Office of the Special Adviser has created a framework to detect situations that could erupt into mass violations, including genocide.
Regarding democracy and governance, the Secretary-General states that those principles are woven into the Organization’s normative fabric by adopting more international instruments and greater operational activity. Information and communications technology help broaden transparency, accountability and public administration. The United Nations Democracy Fund helps bolster civil society, human rights and peoples participation in democratic processes.
In terms of climate change – “the defining challenge of our generation” – the Secretary-General recalls that Governments will convene in Copenhagen in 2009 to negotiate a new global climate agreement. Indeed, no issue is more fundamental to ensuring sustainable prosperity and human survival. Several elements had to be resolved to seal a deal: mitigation measures from developing countries, increased financing, equitable institutional and governance arrangements, and a framework for adaptation. Going forward, he says, the United Nations will be committed to assisting Governments in implementing all existing and future climate change agreements.
Regarding global health, the A(H1N1) influenza outbreak is a reminder that geography does not guarantee immunity, the report continues. The United Nations has worked to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic, and is looking beyond the influenza outbreak to more systemic problems underlying global health provisions. Central to these efforts is addressing maternal health, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, tuberculosis, malaria, as well as other diseases like neglected tropical diseases, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
To counter terrorism, in September 2008, the Secretary-General institutionalized the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force to ensure coordination and coherence in counter-terrorism efforts. The Task Force identified cross-cutting areas of work and organized into eight working groups. As part of this work, the Secretary-General convened an international symposium on supporting victims of terrorism. While the United Nations and the Task Force have an important role to play, strategy implementation must take place at the national, regional and grass-roots levels.
In the area of disarmament, the Secretary-General outlines a five-point plan, which calls, among other things, for cuts in nuclear arsenals, efforts to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force, and a start to negotiations on a fissile material treaty by the Conference on Disarmament. As for conventional weapons, combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons remains a priority. In terms of landmines, much remains to be done to achieve a world free of them, although March 2009 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention on Landmines.
To create a stronger United Nations, the Secretary-General stresses that the world body must improve organizational functioning through better accountability, transparency and efficiency. The Secretariat needs a modern and efficient administration to support increasingly operational and field-based programmes. Its business processes must be streamlined and firmly rooted in a culture of client orientation. Accountability has been strengthened, with the introduction of a new administration of justice system to handle internal disputes and disciplinary matters. Also, the five-year Capital Master Plan, now well under way, will modernize facilities and decrease energy consumption by 50 per cent.
As for legislative and other bodies, the report states that the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council took on the additional challenge of responding to the global financial and economic crisis. The General Assembly played an important role in promoting dialogue through interactive thematic debates on the financial crisis, while the Secretary-General continued the practice of periodically briefing the Assembly on his most recent activities. The Secretary-General views Security Council reform as part of the ongoing efforts to make that body more broadly representative and efficient.
On cooperation with regional organizations, the Secretary-General notes that strengthening the United Nations partnership with the African Union within the framework of the Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme is a high priority. Other initiatives deepened the United Nations engagement with civil society, including through the “Know Your Rights 2008” campaign and the “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” campaign. To engage business, the United Nations hosted a private sector forum during the Assembly’s annual debate.
Statement by General Assembly President
Before turning to the agenda, General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, expressed his condolences to the Governments and people of Indonesia and Samoa for the tragic loss of life and extensive material damage that resulted from the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in that region. He also expressed his hope that the international community would respond promptly and generously to any request for help.
ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, reconfirmed his delegation’s commitment to face the multiple challenges before it through effective multilateralism, and said: “We need the United Nations’ broad-based legitimacy for international actions and norms and to coordinate our efforts. The United Nations will have to adapt to stay relevant and to be able to address the issues before us.”
Climate change was one of the greatest challenges for today’s generation, he declared, adding that the upcoming Copenhagen conference on a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol was critical. At Copenhagen, the European Union would work to reach a comprehensive, fair and ambitious global climate agreement. On scientific grounds, the rising of global temperatures must be kept below 2° C. To secure that, global emissions needed to be reduced by at least 50 per cent by 2050. He reaffirmed that the European Union would contribute its fair share of financing and support to developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said the European Union had been encouraged by the reports of concrete progress on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis targets, but was concerned by glaring setbacks regarding maternal mortality. In order to achieve the Goals, efforts needed to be stepped up, and to that end, the role of the United Nations was pivotal. The European Union would continue to support the Organization’s work, he added.
The United Nations also had an opportunity to support preventive diplomacy through the Mediation Support Unit. In terms of United Nations peacekeeping, the challenges, complexity and risk peacekeepers faced were unprecedented. He noted that it was crucial to form partnerships that shared the burden, and the European Union was committed to forming close partnerships and continuing to provide funds. To date, European Union member States contributed 40 per cent of the peacekeeping budget. Lastly, he urged that Security Council resolutions on “women and peace and security” be followed up by concrete actions.
He noted that the United Nations could make a real difference in counter-terrorism and disarmament, as well as non-proliferation. While encouraged by the growing momentum towards global arms control and disarmament, he cautioned: “At the same time, we continue to be faced with major proliferation challenges.” As such, it was crucially important to ensure full and immediate compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
Finally, he said progress had been made on human rights issues, but much remained to be done. There had been strong and unanimous support expressed in the General Assembly for the creation of a composite gender entity headed by an Under-Secretary-General. Reforming and modernizing the United Nations continued to be an issue, and thus, the European Union would continue to study budget and reform proposals presented to Member States.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said as the world recovered from one of the darkest periods in global economic history, the United Nations had learned that adapting to change was the only way in which it could maintain relevance; and relevance was important for a 60-year-old body. Commending the Secretary-General’s ongoing efforts in the process of adapting the Organization, he pointed out, however, that reform should not be a “stand-alone project”, limited to the approval of the Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations.
Member States must have a fair amount of say in the goings-on of the Secretariat, other organs, bodies, agencies and programmes of the United Nations, especially when such changes involved creating new mandates, or expanding current and existing mandates. In his view, the Secretariat also needed to exercise restraint in proposing and embarking on activities which would be detrimental to the work of the wider Organization, particularly when the views and opinions of Member States had not been gleaned.
On terrorism, he noted that after many years of Member States belabouring the point, this year the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force was finally formally institutionalized and placed under the Department of Political Affairs. In the four years since its establishment by the Secretary-General, the Task Force had been free to establish working groups. However, those groups, now numbering nine, existed without any kind of mandate from the Member States, something he, -- like many countries of the developing world -- viewed with much concern. “And to have unmandated, unapproved working groups on the issue of terrorism, which is one of the prolific high politics issues of the United Nations, is simply baffling to this Member State”, he declared.
Continuing, he also expressed particular concern about the practice of appointments within the United Nations system itself. Making top-level appointments or naming advisers to the Secretary-General, more often seemed to be the exclusive purview of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and United States. The rest of the Member States only found out about any such appointment “after it was a done deal”, he said, adding: “While we do not challenge the Secretary-General’s prerogative to appoint members of his team, a little transparency, consultation and dialogue will no doubt go a long way towards contributing to the ‘inclusion’ factor that is in the spirit of the United Nations.”
On peacekeeping, he stated that in an environment where allocations were seeing a drop in funding, United Nations expenditures on peacekeeping alone were “simply staggering”, and this year’s forecast had seen the figure for peacekeeping rise to $7.8 billion, up from $5.3 billion nearly a year ago. Indeed, that figure was more than half of the entire United Nations Secretariat budget.
While Malaysia was committed to having United Nations peacekeepers on the ground, we will need to carefully weigh each and every peacekeeping mission, and the viability of still continuing a mission which should be turned over for peacebuilding, not peacekeeping purposes, he said, explaining that the practice of clustering all peacekeeping funding together as a group, for approval of Member States, without a critical analysis of the need for specific missions needed to be stopped.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said it was imperative to reinforce the global multilateral framework, with the United Nations at its centre. Indeed, confronting today’s massive challenges required multilateral action that depended on States’ diverse inputs to collective action. Taking up the report, he said the Secretary-General should submit concrete proposals to the Millennium Development Goals review summit in 2010, especially in the area of social development.
He commended the United Nations for establishing a global early warning system to identify the most vulnerable parties -- Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS) -- saying that developed nations must let go of the idea that the financial crisis justified relinquishing their development commitments. Further, he supported the designation of 2009 as the year to confront climate change, saying that all efforts should be invested towards reaching a new climate agreement in Copenhagen that ensured international unity in addressing that issue.
Continuing, he said greater importance should be given to United Nations efforts in preventive diplomacy, peaceful dispute settlement and post-conflict peacebuilding. Due care should be given to reforming peacekeeping operations, especially in light of positive results of separating the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support. Egypt firmly supported the Peacebuilding Commission’s work, especially in Africa. Various criteria should be used to review the Commission, notably the principle of national ownership.
He emphasized continuous improvement of the United Nations’ role in humanitarian assistance, especially in institutional capacity-building. Such efforts should start with assistance in prediction, early warning and disaster preparedness. Despite work on human rights, there still were attempts to politicize human rights issues, with some pursuing selectivity and double standards. Egypt supported enhancing the Human Rights Council’s role and reviewing that body’s work in 2011. While Egypt welcomed the Alliance of Civilizations, he cautioned that noble concept was more a “theoretical hypothesis” than a reality, and urged media and other institutions to stand against intolerance.
Also, he said Egypt had participated in consultations on the responsibility to protect and looked forward to continuing dialogue aimed at formulating a common view and overcoming associated fears. In the area of gender equality, Egypt, as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, had worked with others to adopt Assembly resolution 63/311, which represented a step forward in enhancing the United Nations’ gender architecture. Revitalization of the Assembly and reform of the Security Council had much work to go, notably to restore balance between those bodies, he added.
On disarmament, Egypt welcomed initiatives to achieve the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world, and agreed that some progress had been regained, especially towards the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. He urged that the Treaty achieve universality. However, Egypt had hoped the Secretary-General would have mentioned the Israeli nuclear capabilities in his report. Success of 2010 Review Conference would depend on implementation of the indefinite extension package, especially the resolution on the Middle East. Egypt would promote a balanced implementation of that deal.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said deepening economic globalization and rapid development in science and technology had strengthened interdependence among countries and regions. No country could handle acute challenges of the financial and economic crisis, climate change, food insecurity and resource security alone. In that context, he said any efforts to address the financial and economic crisis must take into account the development needs of least developed countries and African nations.
The United Nations should play a bigger role in promoting development, and work to create a favourable environment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said. China supported full implementation of activities to follow up the High-level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Conference. On climate change, he said that as the most populous developing nation, China faced various difficulties but would work with other countries to take a responsible approach to the issue and abide by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Turning to international security, he said the financial crisis had exacerbated existing social problems and triggered new social conflicts in various countries. The United Nations had been engaged in preventive diplomacy. In deploying peacekeeping missions, equal attention should be paid to promoting political negotiations. China firmly opposed all forms of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
He stressed that double standards should not be allowed in the combat against terrorism and, in turn, terrorism should not be linked with any one country, ethnic group or religion. Countries should aim to achieve universal security, and uphold the new security concept characterized by mutual trust, benefit and cooperation. He also urged moving forward on nuclear disarmament, eliminating the risk of nuclear proliferation and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
On United Nations reform, he said that processes must emphasize development and should be multidimensional and multisectoral. Revitalizing the General Assembly should lead to the full implementation of that body’s resolutions and decisions, while in reforming the Security Council, priority should be given to increasing the representation of developing nations, especially those in Africa. He hoped States would continue their broad-based consultations on that issue with a view to achieving the widest possible agreement.
Also, China hoped that the Peacebuilding Commission would strengthen coordination with other United Nations bodies, and that the Human Rights Council would avoid politicizing human rights issues, increase mutual understanding and narrow differences through dialogue. Finally, on the functioning of the United Nations, he said the capacity to pay was a basic principle that defined ways to assess contributions. It should be upheld. Keeping the current method of calculating contribution assessments was in the interests of the majority of Member States.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said the Secretary-General’s report called for a new multilateralism as the vehicle for the international community to meet the global economic, financial, food, environmental and health crises. Brazil had agreed with this vision for a long time, and President Lula had been working towards a globalization based on solidarity and social responsibility. Regarding the financial crisis, she said developing countries needed new and additional resources to implement counter-cyclical policies as financial market regulations needed to be overhauled.
She went on to say that the link between development and climate change could not be overstated and for developing countries to embark on a low-carbon development path, access and transfer of technology were imperative, as well as adequate new financial resources. Brazil welcomed the progress in the area of disarmament in recent months and said there was a clear and inextricable link between disarmament and non-proliferation. They were mutually reinforcing processes, in which the best guarantee against nuclear proliferation was nuclear disarmament.
United Nations peacekeeping was another important element of international efforts to make the world safer for everyone, she continued. Peacekeeping needed to be adapted to the needs of the twenty-first century, and enhanced cooperation among the Security Council, the troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and regional organizations was the key to successfully addressing the challenges.
Peacebuilding efforts were another tool for peace and development and had borne fruit in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and the Central African Republic. The international community needed to strengthen the United Nations peacebuilding structures so they were more responsive to the needs of countries emerging from conflict. The Human Rights Council was an important vehicle for promoting and defending fundamental rights. She cited the implementation of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review, the adoption of the Optional Protocol on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the positive outcome of the Durban Review conference as relevant developments. The Council should continue to operate in a non-selective and constructive manner.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) invited members of the international community, especially world Power centres and leading political groupings, to translate their good intentions into global partnerships and collective crisis strategies, calling specifically for more attention to be paid to the global energy crisis. The current situation called for a new partnership and a global mechanism that would improve access of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to technologies of new and renewable sources of energy.
He said strengthening of the economic potential and political role of middle income countries should supplement measures proposed by the Secretary-General to fight hunger, poverty and disease. Belarus believed it was the United Nations system that must play a proactive role in helping such countries in addressing their specific social and economic problems, as progress in those areas would create a stable global system, better opportunities for economic growth of poor countries and an increase in development assistance.
Belarus also supported a global partnership to combat trafficking in persons and other forms of twenty-first century slavery. Indeed, a United Nations action plan to fight such trafficking could be a key element of that partnership. He went on to stress the special role and responsibility of nuclear weapons States. As a party to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Belarus welcomed the intention of the Russian Federation and the United States to negotiate further cuts and limitations, and to conclude a new legally binding agreement, he said.
Along with nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and ensuring indiscriminate access to peaceful nuclear technologies, the provision of the unambiguous legally binding security assurances to the States with no nuclear weapons was a matter of vital importance. Finally, he invited all Member States to consider proclaiming 11 September an annual “International Day of the Fight against Terrorism”.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala), noting that, as never before, humanity faced challenges that required international cooperation, highlighted the examples of those challenges as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, which included the impact of the financial and economic crisis on the feasibility of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. In his opinion, the fight against transnational crime needed to be added to that list.
Not one single country, large or small, was equipped to meet those challenges all on its own, he continued, adding that it was for that reason the Secretary-General had emphasized the imperative of taking advantage of the enormous potential of multilateralism, and within it, of the United Nations.
On the need for reform of the Organization, he observed: “Today, as in the past, the world needs our Organization […] but one could have some doubts as to whether it would not be better to invent a new Organization instead of working under the weight of the old and petrified structures and working methods that so frequently undercut our work.”
He stressed that he was not advocating for such a radical departure, but was rather making the point of how urgent reform really was. He pointed to Security Council reform, General Assembly revitalization, and system-wide coherence, issues that had been on the agenda for years, as examples of the sluggishness that marked Member States’ own capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.
He further acknowledged that it was often difficult to reconcile the sometimes opposing interests of 192 Member States, just as it was equally difficult to face the powerful interests in the real world -- a world affected by the recommendations and actions promoted by the United Nations. “But at the end of the day, a climate of cooperation must prevail over confrontation if we are to have at least the opportunity to address the major problems that humanity faces, among which we rank, in the first place, offering the inhabitants of our planet a level of material and spiritual welfare compatible with the means and knowledge that are at our disposal,” he stated, adding: “We know what we have to do to eradicate poverty: we should now move on to action.”
NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), underlined the multiple crises that the world faced today, saying that there was an urgent need for unity of purpose, harmony of efforts and a spirit of cooperation from all parties. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that now was a critical “multilateral moment”, and the United Nations stood out as the best instrument there was to harmonize interests and bring the world community together. The ASEAN would continue to do all it could to advance the goals of the Charter of the United Nations.
In terms of development, he expressed concern about the impact of the world economic crisis, and that the poorest countries would be hit hardest, especially as any gains they had made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals would be reversed. It was necessary to continue putting a “human face” on the economic crisis, which had propelled ASEAN to strive for a broader and deeper integration among its member countries and other partners, including China, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and India. He added that they were making efforts to strengthen social safety nets, and create a regional self-help financial mechanism through the establishment of a regional pooling reserve arrangement of some $120 billion.
Moving on to climate change, he said tackling that phenomenon was not a matter of luxury, but one of utmost necessity and of survival for the region. Citing the enormous amounts of damage wrought by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, and the recent storms in the Philippines, he outlined the importance of the gathering in Bangkok for the penultimate round of climate negotiations before the Copenhagen summit in December. “Either we put aside our individual interests and strive for a compromise that has the collective interest of all at heart, or we risk even more severe weather patterns in the future. It is a choice between win-win or lose-lose”, he said.
In terms of disaster relief, he said ASEAN was determined to strengthen its already strong partnership with the United Nations in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster release and mentioned ongoing cooperation with the United Nations humanitarian agencies in the region. In the context of peacekeeping, peacebuilding and disarmament, he supported a nuclear-weapons-free world, and noted that during this year’s General Assembly, ASEAN would propose a draft resolution on a weapons-free zone in South-East Asia.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the United Nations’ most pressing challenge was achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and it should deepen its focus on development, as the 2010 high-level meeting on the Goals approached. It was necessary to tackle poverty and conflict in an integrated manner to achieve the Goals, and the Peacebuilding Commission was the key organ to develop an integrated strategy to that end. The notion of human security was based on a human-centred and integrated approach to realize all fundamental and individual freedoms.
Continuing, he said it was essential to address the Millennium Development Goals and peacebuilding, and Japan wanted the urgency of that perspective to be properly reflected within the Organization’s work. The relevant United Nations organs should collectively work to manage the peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities, more effectively.
As the only country that had suffered nuclear devastation, Japan was determined to stop nuclear proliferation and work together for the elimination of nuclear weapons. He said the international community was at a critical juncture ahead of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and all nations must work to create a world free of nuclear weapons. Japan planned to draft a resolution during the current Assembly session laying out measures towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Turning to climate change, he said Japan’s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, had announced during the general debate the country’s midterm target to reduce its emissions by 25 per cent by 2020, over 1990 levels. He had also announced the “Hatoyama Initiative” to support developing countries with technology and financing of climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
He said United Nations reform was not complete without meaningful Security Council reform that expanded the permanent and non-permanent membership in that body. Japan believed it was vitally important to ensure transparent, accountable and efficient management of the United Nations, and welcomed the Secretary-General’s determination to make the Secretariat more efficient and responsive. The Secretariat should prioritize its expenditures and meet new requirements by redeploying available resources. Stronger financial discipline was needed to plan and implement the 2010-2011 programme budget and the peacekeeping mission budgets.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) recalled that his country had warned repeatedly that the Millennium Development Goals would not be achieved without radically changing the unjust international economic order. Today, he could confirm that prediction. The multiple crises that had struck countries of the global South had resulted from capitalism and neo-liberal policies that promoted unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
While agreeing with the report’s call for additional resources to address the needs of low-income countries, he said that was not enough, and underscored the need for human-centred policies that promoted development of all countries. Indeed, the prompt bailout of financial institutions contrasted with the limited funding for development assistance. It was essential for the United Nations to play a key role in addressing the multiple crises and seize a historic moment to promote progress, he continued.
Yet, that would not be possible without a new international economic order based on sustainable economic development. In that context, he expressed hope that the General Assembly’s open-ended working group would follow up on issues addressed at the High-level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development.
On climate change, he said the Assembly’s recent summit on the issue had reaffirmed the developing world’s main concerns regarding the need for financing and sharing technological know-how. Success of current climate negotiations would depend on developed countries’ willingness to meet their commitments and set more ambitious goals in line with their historic responsibility.
He said United Nations reform must be undertaken by respecting the Charter, not by distorting its principles. Reform must not fail -- the Organization must not be turned into an instrument that serves the interests of a few powerful countries. Concerns about the “responsibility to protect” remained, and the Assembly was obliged to continue its deep consideration on that matter, and to take relevant decisions. More generally, the Assembly’s lead role must be strengthened.
On Security Council reform, he was confident that real progress would be made during the session, as a truly equitable Council, acting on behalf of all and within its given mandate, was urgently needed. Reaffirming the need to improve humanitarian assistance, he also recognized work being done by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Reaffirming the importance of international cooperation and genuine dialogue on human rights, he said selectivity and double standards in handling that matter must be eliminated. The Human Rights Council, among others, should avoid being affected by those vices.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said the Secretary-General’s report provided an opportunity to evaluate the United Nations’ activities and redraft its orientation. In each area, significant progress had been made, however, given that those excluded from prosperity and peace were so numerous, the maintenance of peace and the combat against the effects of climate change should be a large focus of attention. Indeed, universal acceptance of the United Nations largely depended on accelerating and deepening the Organization’s reform efforts.
Turning to Africa, he recalled that the continent’s average growth rate had registered 6 per cent from 2004 to 2008, but that it had fallen to 0.9 per cent in 2009. Further, unemployment could be expected to rise, due to reduced export receipts and public revenues. Such a situation revealed that the impacts of the global crisis were far from being mitigated in Africa, where the ability of many countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals was already under pressure.
Moreover, he said the food crisis was a heavy burden that was draining African economies, with some 300 million Africans suffering daily from chronic hunger. While solutions to overcome that problem were well known, the means to put efforts into affect were lacking. Resources existed, but were not within reach of poor countries, particularly in Africa, where many of the hungry lived. It was clear that finding solutions to the food, energy and financial crises would need more resources and, while he welcomed the Group of Eight’s (G-8) agreement to mobilize $20 billion to combat hunger and promote sustainable agriculture, he expressed hope that such pledges would be honoured.
Continuing, he said Heads of State and Government at the Assembly’s recent summit on climate change had issued a strong statement, which he hoped would be echoed at the upcoming Conference in Copenhagen. Senegal was ready to contribute to low-carbon efforts and to the creation of a global “Green New Deal”. However, such willingness in no way meant that Senegal would mortgage its prospects for sustainable development. African countries had undertaken initiatives like the Great Green Wall project, a 15-kilometre band of land from Dakar to Djibouti that would provide a “green lung” for the planet.
On peace and security, he welcomed important administrative reforms, notably the creation of a standing police force within the framework of a strengthened Police Division, and a proposal on strengthening peacekeeping mechanisms submitted by France, Canada and the United Kingdom. A major challenge lay in translating the mission to protect civilians into an operational strategy. Thequadrupling of the overall peacekeeping budget within 10 years also posed a great burden on the international community.
In reforming the United Nations, he said any progress would leave an aftertaste of underachievement without Security Council reform. Intergovernmental negotiations had shown clearly that agreement was within reach, provided that all demonstrated an elevated sense of history. He expressed hope that the sixty‑fourth session would see that final outcome.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said the impacts of financial, food and energy crises, and rapid spread of the H1N1 influenza were unfolding while countries confronted perennial challenges of achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world and combating terrorism. “We must seize this moment to embrace new multilateralism”, he stressed, explaining that working together was in the interests of all. Central to that was making the multilateral institutional architecture more proactive and ensuring the United Nations was more democratic.
In addressing the development imperative, he said the threat of climate change was taking place against the backdrop of crises in food finance and fuel. It was most urgent to disentangle the global economy from the economic crisis, whose underlying causes still had not been fully addressed. In addition, global food security remained illusive, with 1 billion currently suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The United Nations should continue to mainstream agriculture policies into the international development agenda.
Specifically on climate change, he underscored the need to reach an inclusive, equitable and fair agreement in Copenhagen, saying that the Assembly’s recent summit on the issue had galvanized political momentum towards consensus. Negotiations should be guided by the Bali Road Map and based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. As for the Millennium Development Goals, he was concerned that global crises threatened to roll back progress, and called for the Assembly to contribute to global efforts towards their attainment. The United Nations should monitor progress and provide valuable input for next year’s review summit.
Expressing Indonesia’s appreciation for the support shown by many after the earthquake which hit west Sumatra, he said the human and economic loss from natural disasters underscored the need for joint emergency response and preparedness, especially in developing countries. The United Nations should continue to mobilize funds and strengthen capacity.
Welcoming ongoing talks on United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said the role of women should not be neglected in that context. Peacekeeping was not a panacea; its potential lay in creating a conducive environment for political processes to move forward. To advance the work of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly must provide strategic guidance and integrate human rights into all aspects of its work. On the responsibility to protect, he said “prevention is key”, and that deliberations on that principle should focus on helping States meet requirements for good governance and the rule of law.
While not all solutions lay with the United Nations, the Organization’s relevance could not be overstated, and he urged it to become more transparent, effective and efficient. The Security Council had to reflect the plurality of the world today, while the General Assembly should be reaffirmed as the chief deliberative body. The Economic and Social Council had to be empowered to advocate policy advice in all aspects of development.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India), while broadly agreeing with the Secretary-General’s identification of five essential elements to renew multilateralism, said the fifth element, reform of the global multilateral architecture, was the key to progress in all areas. Efforts at a new multilateralism had little chance of succeeding without a comprehensive reform of global governance structures. The ongoing financial crisis highlighted the need to restructure such architecture so it gave developing countries better representation. A critical need at the United Nations was the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members of the Council and an improvement in its working methods.
The global financial crisis meant there was no place for protectionism in any form by developed countries, and greater assistance and investment flows to developing countries were needed so these nations could achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He said major progress had been made at a small ministerial meeting of trade ministers in New Delhi towards revitalizing the Doha phase of global trade talks, which India hoped would produce an outcome to help developing countries meet their development goals.
The United Nations had neither the resources nor expertise to satisfactorily execute many of its ambitious peacekeeping mandates, even as peacekeeping remained its most visible activity, and was an aspiration of the Charter. He said the challenge, therefore, was to create the framework that enabled the Organization to tap into the existing resources and capacities. As an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping activities, India would contribute to building the renewed global partnership on peacekeeping that the Secretary-General had called for, including the areas of the rule of law and deployment of police units.
While a national process, peacebuilding required the efforts of the international community to help countries emerging from conflict, he continued. India consistently held the view that the “responsibility to protect” was one of the primary responsibilities of every Member State, and to that end, it had sponsored Assembly resolution 63/308. India gave the highest priority to universal nuclear disarmament and believed that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing processes that required concerted international efforts. India welcomed the renewed global debate to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. ( Philippines) stressed the need for a new multilateralism that could effectively deal with transboundary challenges such as climate change, lagging economic growth, food insecurity, global health, disarmament, non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism. However, he warned that there was no time-bound scope for the work before the Organization. Indeed, the lack of such time frames left room for “interminable debate.”
For example, he said the tendency of some to look past the upcoming Copenhagen climate conference revealed indecisiveness about achieving a solid agreement there, when in reality, that meeting must be viewed as a defining moment in the climate change debate. If there were more residual or implementation issues, they should be taken up at the next climate change event in Mexico City.
On financing for development, he said the United Nations would organize next year the fourth high-level follow-up conference on the Monterrey Consensus. Marginal issues should not obscure the purpose of the Monterrey Consensus, which had reaffirmed the 0.7 per cent official development assistance (ODA) target for aid to poor countries. Very few developed countries had succeeded in meeting that target, and he hoped the upcoming conference could explore how most developed countries could meet their ODA commitment.
Touching on several other issues, he said food security continued to be an issue, and he noted that futures markets and commercial greed could distort the market, and called for a specific time frame to consider how the futures market could be mainstreamed into the food security planning process. In terms of global health, he had been inspired by the world response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak, but said that preventive and pre-emptive measures should be time-bound through a reporting system at the multilateral level.
Finally, he stressed that the Millennium Development Goals were the best model of time-bound international cooperation, as they had set out 15 years as a specific target for realizing sustainable development for all. He reiterated his call on the United Nations to specify time frames or timetables for the accomplishment of agreed courses of action.
KIM BONGHYUN (Republic of Korea) expressed strong support for the idea of building a new multilateralism, as stated in the Secretary-General’s report, and stressed that the international community needed to engage in such multilateral cooperation using the United Nations as the platform and hub of the renewed cooperation. To that end, his delegation was fully committed to engage actively and constructively to further advance and restore global hope and solidarity.
Based upon its development experience both as a partner and a donor, the Republic of Korea would fulfil its pledge to triple the volume of its 2008 official development assistance (ODA) by 2015. In an effort to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, his country was mobilizing further resources through the airline ticket solidarity levy.
Additionally, he said the Republic of Korea was striving to improve the quality of its ODA by joining the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2010, and would continue to contribute to the strengthening of the global partnership for more inclusive and effective development cooperation by hosting the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011.
On climate change, he said his country highly appreciated the Secretary-General’s leadership in treating that issue as an urgent priority and galvanizing global efforts to ensure a successful outcome at the Copenhagen Conference in December. Given the current slow progress in climate change negotiations, he believed that countries needed to do their best to contribute to the success of the Copenhagen climate negotiations.
On disarmament and non-proliferation, he shared the view that there was an encouraging momentum in that field, especially in achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. In that regard, he was highly appreciative of efforts in that field, including the so-called five-point proposal for nuclear disarmament. The Republic of Korea was ready to cooperate with all Member States to take full advantage of that window of opportunity for tangible progress in the area, against the persistent challenges of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms, including the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
JÓN ERLINGUR JÓNASSON (Iceland) said the global economic crisis had put unprecedented strain on the multilateral system, and had raised questions about the effectiveness of the United Nations. However, now was not the time to turn inward or fall back on individual means; it was time to cooperate within the existing framework. The world community must prevent the financial crisis from becoming a “real development emergency” that would reverse the hard-won gains towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He complimented the Secretary-General for introducing the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS).
Concerned that current global challenges might undermine confidence in the international systems and structures, including the United Nations, he urged stronger and more representative international institutions, sound global regulatory frameworks, and greater surveillance in international finance. He said that more was required to fashion the new multilateralism that the Secretary–General had called for in his report, including reform of the Security Council.
To that end, he called for a more coherent, coordinated and responsive United Nations system, and welcomed the proposed creation of a consolidated gender entity to be headed by an Under-Secretary-General. In addition to structural issues, he urged reform in the ways the international community responded to global challenges. “The genocides of the twentieth century show that too often the international community has failed in preventing, or adequately responding to mass atrocities”, he said, adding that by putting the concept of the “responsibility to protect” in practice, the Organization could shore up the protection of basic human rights.
He also called for an effective solution that would ensure cooperation on climate change, as it was essential to safeguard the Earth’s ecosystems. “We must join hands and seek to conclude a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen”, he said, and also called for a gradual but fundamental reorientation of energy policy. As part of that overall effort, the state of the world’s oceans must also be taken into account. The planet’s waters were being threatened by a host of man-made hazards, including pollution, overfishing and climate change.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) welcomed the Secretary-General’s report, saying it provided an opportunity to tackle seminal topics on the United Nations agenda. He agreed fully with the Secretary-General that “this is a time of crisis” and that it was only through strengthening multilateralism that States could address the challenges ahead. He was gratified at the success of the High-level Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis in June, and hoped there would be fruitful follow-up from it, particularly as it had underscored the need for reforming the global economic and financial architecture.
In that context, he said the General Assembly must preserve its independence and reverse the trend of allowing the Security Council to involve itself in issues that lay outside its area of competence. The United Nations had to be reformed with greater speed, to allow for more transparency and accountability. He was satisfied with the Assembly’s decision to continue intergovernmental negotiations on reforming the Security Council, which was essential for the United Nations to regain its credibility around the world.
By correcting its deficiencies, the Organization could reveal the face of justice and equity. Venezuela, he said, supported expanding the Council’s membership, eliminating the veto, improving its working methods and allowing the Assembly to directly participate in the selection of the Secretary-General. Also, the Secretariat must comply with mandates given to it by the General Assembly.
Continuing, he said Venezuela had taken note of progress on the Millennium Development Goals, notably efforts to increase investment in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, but remained concerned that the Goals would not be attained. Also, he had been struck by the Secretary-General’s chapter on genocide and the “responsibility to protect” -- an inappropriate conflation of those two topics. He was concerned that initiatives were being taken in areas in which the General Assembly had not achieved consensus.
ESHAGH AL-HABIB ( Iran) said it was necessary to renovate the existing global multilateral architecture to properly address modern challenges. To that end, the United Nations can and should be the hub of that new world order. For that to be achieved, however, he said the balance between the world body’s principal organs must be restored and the General Assembly’s role and authority reaffirmed to the extent that it promoted true multilateralism.
He said the point needed to be repeatedly underlined that multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, provided the only sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security issues. The continued existence of nuclear weapons and their possible use or threat of use was an issue at the top of the United Nations agenda. It was a matter of grave concern and a threat to international peace and security. Therefore, nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority, he said, noting, however, that it was regrettable to see the slow pace of progress in that regard. Also disappointing was the lack of progress by the nuclear-weapons-States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
In fact, he continued, reductions in deployments and in operational status of such weapons could not substitute for irreversible, verifiable and transparent cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons. He reiterated that Iran’s nuclear programme was, and had always been, for peaceful purposes and in full conformity with the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. To that end, the concerns expressed were “without any foundation”.
Continuing, he said establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was yet another priority that was left unaddressed due to the non adherence of the Israeli regime to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That regime also continued to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals, and he, therefore, called for necessary steps to be taken in various relevant international forums, including at the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for the immediate establishment of such a zone.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said Iran shared the Secretary-General’s concerns regarding the slow progress in overall attainment of the Goals, and he pointed out that the full impact of the financial and economic crisis on their realization had yet to be unveiled. On climate change, he said the issue was the defining challenge of the current generation. While developing countries were committed to the aims of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the Bali action plan, concerted and ambitious commitments and measures were required on the part of developed countries to address the impacts of climate change on the developing world.
JAIRO MONTOYA ( Colombia) began his statement voicing concern that the global financial crisis had seriously impacted the poor in terms of food security, education, gender equality, infant mortality, and progress towards adequate health care. Thus, he called for a redoubling of efforts by the international community to support the needy and to ensure adoption of additional measures that would allow the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for all.
Next, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s global warning system for the vulnerable in terms of impact on specific populations, informally known as GIVAS. That tool would make it possible to closely follow the effects of global crises on the poor and vulnerable. Continuing, he said Colombia hoped for progress at the Copenhagen climate summit, and mentioned his Government’s own contribution to tackling the phenomenon.
Continuing, he said Colombia had made significant progress in developing biofuels without compromising food security, implemented environmentally friendly mass transportation systems, and had protected water sources and conserved biodiversity. It had implemented programmes covering more than 51 per cent of the rainforest, almost 578,000 km². The “Forest Ranger Families” programme included more than 90,000 rural families who took care of the forest. That had helped avoid predation of the forest.
Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said that Colombia had supported initiatives to combat that scourge, and he noted efforts to institutionalize the Special Team of Nations on the execution of the fight against terrorism. Columbia had contributed by acting with severity against production and trafficking of illicit drugs. “Each gram of illegal consumption is a gram that turns into violence, arms trafficking, killings, destruction of forests and water pollution,” he said. Calling finally for the creation of a strong United Nations, he said reforms should result in better allocation of instruments and resources required by the Organization to fulfil its mandate.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) recalling that the world faced the multiple challenges of underdevelopment, poverty and hunger, said it was only through a strong commitment to multilateralism -- through the United Nations -- that the global community could address such crises. Indeed, eradicating poverty and hunger must remain central to the United Nations’ efforts, and the Organization must work harder towards alleviating the suffering of the world’s poor.
Developing countries had not caused the economic and financial crisis but were severely impacted by it, he said, expressing concern at the grave impacts of the crisis on the most vulnerable, especially in Africa. He went on to say that the Secretary-General’s report rightly stated that, in the past decade, Africa had achieved impressive growth. However, the confluence of crises had taken a severe toll on the continent and was likely to reverse positive trends. Trade had slowed, unemployment had jumped, and the United Nations must now play a significant role in finding solutions.
In that context, he urged the global community to implement commitments made at the high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs last year. Similarly, on climate change, leaders attending the upcoming conference in Copenhagen must achieve a binding, inclusive and fair global agreement. “Our goal should be to significantly reduce emissions across the globe without constraining development in the countries of the South,” he said.
On other matters, he noted with concern the impact of the global economic downturn on women and children. While pleased at the United Nations strengthened support for Africa’s development agenda, he urged enhancing cooperation with the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Cooperation with the African Union was more essential with regard to peace and security and South Africa would continue to work in the Assembly and the Security Council to enhance that relationship.
Turning to United Nations reform, he said South Africa would continue to take part in intergovernmental negotiations on reforming the Security Council to ensure that the historic injustice against Africa would be corrected and that membership in both categories was expanded. South Africa was committed to reaching the goals of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. After recent statements by some nuclear-weapon States that they would reduce nuclear arsenals, he urged recommitting to the full implementation of obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Finally, he reiterated South Africa’s commitment to the full implementation of the outcomes of the Durban Review Conference and World Conference against Racism. His delegation would present a draft resolution to the Assembly calling for the celebration of an “International Mandela Day”, and another day to commemorate the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Arica would host.
Archbishop CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer for the Holy See, said that over the past year, the financial crisis had raised questions about the causes and consequences of the economic downturn. The result had been a renewed sense of purpose to learn from past mistakes and commit to cooperation. He called for a broad commitment to ease the burden of the crisis on the vulnerable, and reiterated the urgency of the United Nations and developed countries to come together to give assistance to countries unable to respond to the security and development challenges posed by the crisis.
Welcoming the Secretary-General’s efforts for increased commitment to peacebuilding and peacekeeping, he said that would be achieved only in the context of a renewed commitment to responsible sovereignty at national and international levels. Turning to the issue of climate change, he said that the upcoming Copenhagen Conference would test the ability of the international community to work together to deal with a problem which had global causes and consequences. At the heart of the climate change debate was the duty of all States and international corporations that had disproportionately used and abused global resources to shoulder their fair share in solving the problem, he said.
Turning to the issue of civil society, he said that that sector was crucial in renewing the work of the United Nations, because those partners were critical to delivering humanitarian relief, promoting the rule of law, and bringing to light gross violations of human rights. He noted that faith-based organizations played a vital role in providing insight into the needs of local communities, delivering care and fostering solidarity both locally and internationally.
Lastly, he said that the numerous global problems -- corruption, pandemics, maternal mortality, economic crisis, terrorism, food security, climate change, migration -- illustrated that national solutions are only one part of the formula. These global problems called for an international response, and it was, therefore, imperative that the United Nations looked inward and outward to make the necessary reforms to respond to the challenges of this interconnected world, he said.
Action on Draft Resolution
The General Assembly then turned its attention to a draft resolution on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit (document A/64/L.1).
Speaking prior to action, a representative of the Secretariat read the terms under the resolution’s operative paragraphs 1 to 12, which concerned, among other things, a decision to hold a three-day conference on South-South cooperation in Nairobi in December.
He said, however, that the meeting had been included in the 2009 calendar of meetings on the understanding that it would be held in New York and no later than the first half of 2009, according to resolution 62/2009 (2007). Had it been held at the Headquarters at that time, conference services would have been provided from existing capacities, without added programme budget implications. However, the venue and date had been changed.
He explained that the offer by Kenya to host the Conference required it to reimburse the United Nations the actual additional costs directly or indirectly involved. The related programme budget implications included only estimated direct costs required for conference services. It was estimated that the conference would require 13 meetings with interpretation in all six official languages, among other things. Costs were estimated at $333,000, which included $163,600 for meetings services and $169,400 for documentation services.
Should the General Assembly adopt the resolution, he said there would be no programme budget implication for the 2008-2009 biennium, on the understanding that Kenya would undertake the direct or indirect costs.
The General Assembly then adopted by consensus the resolution contained in document A/64/L.1.
After that action, the representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation greatly valued South-South cooperation. In that connection, he stressed the importance of the “G-77 conceptual framework” and principles contained in the “Yamoussoukro Consensus”, reaffirmed at the Thirty-third Annual Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77, held at the United Nations Headquarters on 25 September. After citing those principles, he reiterated his delegation’s commitment to work towards the successful outcome of the Conference on South-South Cooperation and engage in constructive dialogue with all partners.
Also speaking after adoption, Qatar’s representative said the conference would give decision makers the chance to tap into the momentum of South-South cooperation, which could strengthen their development strategies in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The conference would consist of plenary sessions and round tables, and would result in a final document agreed among participating Governments. He called on Member States to provide voluntary contributions to support the Kenyan Government with the necessary resources to successfully prepare the conference.
Next, Kenya’s representative said the important role of development partners in promoting South-South cooperation could not be overemphasized and the role of the United Nations in nurturing such cooperation was equally important. It was in that context that Kenya had offered to host the conference as its contribution to a noble objective. With less than two months to go before the conference, the Kenyan delegation called upon all Member States, the United Nations system and other stakeholders, to fully cooperate and support the final preparatory process to ensure a successful conference.
Speaking in explanation of position after action, the representative of Cuba said her delegation joined consensus on the resolution, which expressed the importance it attached to holding a high-level conference on South-South cooperation. The negotiations had proven to be unnecessarily difficult. The objective of the Group of 77 and China was to submit a procedural resolution, allowing the substantive issues to be examined during talks on the final outcome document. Mention in the text of the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development aimed to establish a link between the principle of aid effectiveness and South-South cooperation.
Such cooperation was a step forward in the economic and political paradigms of developing countries, she said. Through it, developing nations found ways to exchange ideas, knowledge and capacities without preconditions or interference in their internal affairs. If there was interest in helping countries in the global South, she wondered why countries of the North had not met their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to official development assistance (ODA), or why attention had been diverted to so-called “principles” to make “effective” use of assistance.
Cuba rejected attempts to use such principles as the basis for South-South cooperation and did not deem it necessary to mention the Doha Declaration in a procedural resolution, she continued. Cuba would reject any attempt to prejudge the Conference’s final outcome. In closing, she reiterated Cuba’s unambiguous commitment to the holding of the Conference and hoped it would strengthen intraregional and interregional agreements.
Next, the representative of Nicaragua, aligning herself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the resolution was the outcome of lengthy negotiations to achieve consensus. Nicaragua would not accept the placement of conditions on South-South cooperation or the imposition of guidelines. Her delegations had joined consensus on the reference to the Doha Declaration, as it was linked with triangular cooperation. Aid effectiveness did not apply to South-South cooperation and attempts by developed countries to fit it into their framework were attempts to avoid responsibilities regarding ODA. She was offended by such attempts to impose rules that ran counter to South-South cooperation.
Nicaraguans enjoyed free education, for example, thanks to South-South cooperation, and she reiterated the principles of self-determination and non‑interference in internal affairs, among others. Similarly, she underlined the complementary nature of South-South cooperation in relation to North-South cooperation. She hoped the Conference’s goals would be met through an action-oriented outcome document that would allow developing countries to strengthen trade and reach national development objectives.
Switzerland’s representative then said South-South cooperation had grown in importance as a complement to North-South cooperation, and it was timely for States to consider achievements and lessons learned thus far. Switzerland believed in the potential complementarity between South-South and North-South cooperation, including through triangular cooperation, and hoped that synergies could be developed between them. If traditional donors were to increase emphasis on South-South cooperation, it was essential to understand its functioning, potential impact on national capacities and accountability mechanisms. As time was short before the start of the Conference, presentation of a work plan would be most welcome. He thanked Kenya for hosting the Conference.
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