Opening General Debate, Secretary-General Says ‘Great Goals Are Within Reach’, Urges Members States to Stand United ‘Against Forces that Would Divide Us’

23 September 2010
GA/10996

Opening General Debate, Secretary-General Says ‘Great Goals Are Within Reach’, Urges Members States to Stand United ‘Against Forces that Would Divide Us’

23 September 2010
General Assembly
GA/10996
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

11th & 12thMeetings (AM & PM)

Opening General Debate, Secretary-General Says ‘Great Goals Are Within Reach’,

Urges Members States to Stand United ‘Against Forces that Would Divide Us’

 

Theme of Debate: Reaffirming Central Role United Nations in Global Governance;

Assembly President Says World Body Must Reform, Act with More Efficiency, Unity

Achieving the United Nations ambitious agenda for a more prosperous and sustainable world free of nuclear weapons was among the great challenges of our era, and the Organization had a moral duty to pull together in a principled stand against the divisive forces, be they social, economic or geopolitical, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told world leaders as he opened the General Assembly’s week-long annual general debate today.

“The great goals are within reach,” he said.  “We can achieve them by looking forward [and] uniting our strength as a community of nations in the name of the larger good,” the Secretary-General said.  Following the Assembly’s review of the status of the Millennium Development Goals, which had concluded the day before, the challenge now, he said, was to deliver on the pledge for a mutually accountable partnership to better the lives of billions within this generation.

Work would hinge on helping people help themselves, and investing smartly in areas such as education and women’s empowerment.  He stressed that that the United Nations was working on a host of longer-term issues, with new momentum seen in nuclear disarmament, climate change and women’s empowerment.

During the year, the Organization had been on the ground in times of emergency, he said, citing its involvement in Pakistan following epic floods, in Haiti after a devastating earthquake, in Iraq brokering a compromise to keep elections on track, and notably in Africa, where it had adapted its mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to changing circumstances there.  Defining the United Nations work, however, were efforts to build a stronger institution.  In the weeks ahead, as the Assembly’s substantive work got under way in earnest, delegates must remember that the world still looked to the United Nations for moral and political leadership.

Echoing that thought, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss, stressed: “It is up to you, the Member States, to make the United Nations strong and able to play a central part in facing global challenges.”  The Organization risked being marginalized by the emergence of other actors on the global stage and criticism that it was ineffective, especially in the wake of a global financial crisis that had demanded a fast, coordinated response.  To maximize its ability to play a global governance role, “we must work to make it strong, inclusive and open”, he said.  It would be up to Members to determine the ideal combination of legitimacy and effectiveness.

For the African Union, that meant holding two permanent seats with full veto power, and five non-permanent seats on the Security Council, said Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, who spoke as the Union’s 2010 Chairman in the lengthy debate that followed.  Such reforms would allow Africa to effectively participate in global governance carried out by the United Nations, a point reinforced by Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, who said no continent should have an exclusive monopoly over the Council’s membership.  He looked forward to the situation evolving during the Assembly’s session.

Throughout the day, world leaders and high-ranking officials from more than 30 countries outlined national objectives and offered other prescriptions for making the United Nations a more representative yet agile body, able to confront complex situations and meet weighty demands.  Gatherings like the annual general debate would only be valuable, some said, if they allowed for shaping of a common vision for action towards peace, development and justice.

Citizens participating more directly in solving societal challenges would demand the United Nations to be accountable to them, many said.  To meet that expectation, said Swiss President Doris Leuthard, each Member State must first put its own house in order and commit itself clearly within the Organization.

Carrying that thought further, and touching directly on the theme of the debate, Steven Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of Belgium, said that at the heart of any form of governance lay responsibility, whether global or local, national or international.  However, responsibility alone was not enough, as governance was not only about behaving responsibly, it was also about being accountable.  That applied not only at the level of the single State, but also at the level of the United Nations.

For other speakers today, peace and security concerns emerged as a top priority, particularly in their respective regions.  For Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, his country’s decision 16 years ago to give up what had then been the world’s third most powerful nuclear arsenal had not lost its importance.  Ukraine’s “non-bloc” status, declared this year, had reduced regional tensions and created a strategic balance throughout the country.  To enhance global security, the United Nations could make greater use of existing regional security mechanisms, he added.

In Central America, drugs were the region’s “weapons of mass destruction”, said Panama’s President, Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, adding that the area was also being used by human traffickers who steered mixed migratory flows of persons from other continents through its borders.  In the face of those challenges, Panama and members of the Central American Integration System had decided to create a Regional Security Coordination Centre. 

Perhaps nowhere was peace and stability more discussed than for the Middle East, a goal that Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, said could only be achieved by renouncing the use of force, clearing that region of weapons of mass destruction, and settling bilateral disputes on the basis of international agreements.  Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey, underscored that efforts to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East should be intensified, and a conference on that issue should be convened in 2012.

To make headway in the region, United States President Barack Obama said his country had pursued direct talks this month between Israel and the Palestinians.  He challenged the Assembly to come back next year with an agreement that would lead to the induction of a new United Nations Member, an independent, sovereign State of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.

Also speaking today were the Heads of State of the Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tajikistan, Peru, Georgia, Iran, Slovakia, Jordan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Chile, Albania, Dominican Republic, Lithuania, Bolivia, Iraq and Niger.

The Prime Ministers of China and Canada addressed the Assembly, as did the Minister of External Relations of Brazil and the Special Envoy of the President of Benin.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Iran and Belgium.

The General Assembly will reconvene its general debate at 11:30 a.m. Friday, 24 September.

Background

The General Assembly met today to begin its general debate.

Opening Remarks

Opening the general debate, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON recalled that the Organization was bound by sacred duties:  to care for the welfare of others, to peacefully resolve conflicts and practise mutual respect.  “Today, we are being tested,” he said, stressing that social inequalities were growing and people everywhere were living in fear of losing their jobs.  Too many others were caught in conflict.

Amid such uncertainty, people naturally sought a moral compass, he said, and at the United Nations, “we find the proper path in community […] mutual responsibility for a destiny we share.”  That was the soul of global governance, the theme of the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session.  It was a collective stand […] against the forces that divide, which was why the United Nations remained the indispensable global institution for the twenty-first century.  This was a season for pulling together, consolidating progress and delivering results.

Over the past three years, the Organization had embraced an ambitious agenda, he said, framed by three overarching themes:  a more prosperous world, a cleaner, more sustainable world for our children and a safer world, free of nuclear weapons.  Those were the great challenges of the era; “they are not dreams”, he said.  “They are opportunities within our power to grasp.”

At the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit, 139 Heads of State and Government agreed on a mutually accountable partnership that would better the lives of billions of people within this generation.  The challenge now was to deliver on that promise and draw on lessons learned:  helping people help themselves, coupled with smart investing in education, decent work, health, smallholder agriculture, infrastructure and green energy.  In that work, women must be placed at the fore and he welcomed the endorsement of the United Nations Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health.  “By empowering women, we empower societies,” he said.

Turning to climate change, he said that, while the road to a comprehensive, binding agreement would not be easy, progress had been made, and this year, it would be important to build on areas including financing for adaptation and mitigation, technology transfer and capacity-building.  By 2050, the global population would grow by 50 per cent, and to keep climate change in check, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 50 per cent by that time.

On nuclear disarmament, there was also new momentum, he said, seen with a new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START).  The focus now was on finding a path to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force and to realize agreements on fissile materials and securing nuclear facilities.  Tomorrow, the United Nations would host a high-level meeting to reinvigorate the Disarmament Conference.  The next few years would be crucial.  “Will we advance our work on non-proliferation and disarmament, or will we slide back?  It is up to us.”

Describing the United Nations’ work in the last year, he said the Organization had assisted Pakistan in coping with epic floods, as well as Haiti, where reconstruction work continued and where so many lives had been lost, including 101 United Nations staff.  Work continued for peace and security in Somalia, Sudan, Niger and Gaza, he said, adding that, three years ago, in partnership with the African Union, the United Nations deployed the first peacekeeping force in Darfur.  Tomorrow’s high-level meeting on Sudan would help chart a path to maintaining peace between the north and south of that country.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations had adapted its mission to changing circumstances.

Recalling the United Nations activities in Iraq, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Kyrgyzstan, he said that in Afghanistan, the Organization was carrying on despite difficult security and humanitarian conditions, while on the Korean peninsula, it had encouraged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.  On Iran, the United Nations had urged constructive engagement with the global community and compliance with Security Council resolutions.  In the Middle East, it was working with the Quartet to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Describing efforts to build a stronger United Nations, a theme that had defined its work, he said reforms taken in recent years were bearing fruit, including with the New Horizons’ Initiative to streamline peacekeeping operations, which would create a more dynamic Organization.  In coming weeks, he said, as delegates discussed the importance of issues facing humankind, they should remember that the world still looked to the United Nations for moral and political leadership.

“The great goals are within reach,” he said.  “We can achieve them by looking forward, pulling together, uniting our strength as a community of nations, in the name of the larger good.”

JOSEPH DEISS, President of the General Assembly, said the effects of poverty, conflict, global warming, the economic and financial crisis and other challenges could not be addressed without shared global strategies.  That was why he had put forward “reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in global governance” as the theme for this year’s general debate.  The United Nations had a unique legitimacy for such a role, with its 192  Member States and its purpose to promote the rights of every man and woman in the world.  It also had the necessary expertise and presence on the ground to play that central role, as evidenced by its peacekeeping missions, humanitarian work, disaster relief, and a host of critical activities “well outside the spotlight”.

“Yet the United Nations is in danger of being marginalized by the emergence of other actors on the international stage,” he said, adding that the world body was also criticized as too inefficient and ineffective.  The feeling seemed to be that urgent action on key issues could be taken more quickly and easily in a smaller forum.  There was no question of challenging the role of bodies like the Group of Twenty (G-20); the economic and financial crisis showed the importance of a fast, coordinated response.

However, he said, the United Nations had to act, and act urgently, to connect with the efforts of others, improving cooperation between bodies and countries that were not members of them.  That was a task that only the United Nations and the General Assembly could fulfil.  To maximize the Organization’s ability to play a global governance role, “we must work to make it strong, inclusive and open”, building a strong link between States, the private sector, civil society and regional players.  Making the United Nations strong required Member States to be decisive in pursuing reform, including revitalization of the Assembly, reforming the Security Council, and reviewing the operations of the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.

“It is up to you, the Member States, to make the United Nations strong and able to play a central part in facing global challenges,” he declared.  Making the Organization strong required it to be decisive in pursuing reform, but also fully exploit the potential of its economic organizations so they could fulfil the role they were established to perform.  He invited States during the general debate to share their views on inclusive global governance.  The United Nations was expected to act with more efficiency and unity, and it needed to find the ideal combination of legitimacy and effectiveness.  It was up to Members to determine how to make rapid progress towards a worldwide partnership in which all countries feel included in a united and effective pursuit of a better world.

Statements

CELSO AMORIM, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, noted that, within days, more than 130 million Brazilians would go to the polls “to write another important chapter in the history of our democracy”.  Brazil had changed in the last eight years:  sustained economic growth, financial stability, social inclusion and the full exercise of democracy had converged and reinforced one another.  Over 20 million Brazilians rose out of poverty and many others out of extreme poverty; nearly 30 million people had joined the middle class.  The country had achieved almost all of its Millennium Goals and was well on the way to meeting them all by 2015.  He said promotion of development was a collective responsibility and, therefore, Brazil was working with other countries to replicate its successful experiences.

Brazil’s actions on the international stage over the last eight years, was driven by a sense of solidarity, he said, and it was possible to have a humanist foreign policy without losing sight of national interest.  That policy was supported by the South-South cooperation.  The Poverty Alleviation Fund, created by the IBSA forum, which brought together India, Brazil and South Africa, financed projects in Haiti, Guinea, Bissau, Cape Verde, Palestine, Cambodia, Burundi, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Sierra Leone.  The country had also substantially increased its humanitarian aid.

Africa, he continued, occupied a special place in Brazilian diplomacy.  Since President Lula da Silva had taken office, he had made 11 visits to some 20 African countries.  Brazil had set up an agricultural research office in Ghana and a model cotton farm in Mali, among other projects.  Through trade and investment, it had also helped Africa reduce its dependency on a few centres of political power.  Brazil was also helping Guinea-Bissau address its challenges regarding development and encouraged reforms, especially in regard to the Armed Forces.

Turning to Haiti, Brazil mourned the hundreds of thousands of Haitian people that lost their lives in the devastating earthquake.  Many Brazilians also died, such as Dr. Zilda Arns, who dedicated her life to the poor, and Luiz Carlos da Costa, Deputy Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in addition to 18 peacekeepers. Regarding Brazil’s commitments to Haiti, he said:  “We are keeping our promises and will keep a watchful eye.”

In recent years, the Government had also invested heavily in integration and peace in South America.  It had strengthened its strategic partnership with Argentina, and reinforced the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), with unique financial mechanisms among developing countries.  He said the establishment of the Union of South American Nations aimed to consolidate a genuine zone of peace and prosperity.  With the Community of the Latin American and Caribbean States, launched in Bahia and confirmed in Cancun, reaffirmed the region’s willingness to extend the region the ideals that were priorities for South Americans.

Brazil had restated its condemnation of the illegitimate embargo against Cuba and had condemned the coup d’ état in Honduras.  He expressed hope that the world had learned a lesson from the invasion of Iraq, that “blind faith in intelligence reports tailored to justify political goals must be rejected”.  Nevertheless, achieving a secure world required the promise of total elimination of nuclear weapons.  As the world recovered from the financial and economic crisis, he said the Doha Development Round of world trade negotiations demonstrated that the world had not demonstrated the necessary commitment to global economic stability; instead they are dictated by “parochial interests”.

Brazil, he said, continued to build peace.  The Tehran Declaration of 17 May, signed by Brazil, Turkey, and Iran, removed obstacles that had previously prevented agreement.  Nevertheless, the world could not risk a new conflict like Iraq.  Regarding the Middle East, he hoped the current talks between the Palestinians and Israelis would produce a Palestinian State in line with the pre-1967 border; one that provided the Palestinian people a dignified life.  Crucial to the process was freezing construction in the settlement in the occupied territories, lifting the Gaza blockade and ending attacks against civilian populations. He noted that Brazil was home to about 10 million Arab descendants and an important Jewish community living in harmony.  Therefore, it would not shy away from giving its contribution to the peace, “which we all yearn for”, he said.

In his eight years in office, he said, President Lula had developed an independent and innovative foreign policy that did not distance itself from the values of the country’s values:  peace; pluralism; tolerance; and solidarity.  In closing, he reaffirmed Brazil’s unwavering commitment to human rights.  He said:  “ Brazil will go on fighting to make these ideals real.”

DORIS LEUTHARD, President of Switzerland, said the ongoing renovation of the United Nations building prompted her to ask what kind of Organization was being built for the next 10, 20 or 30 years. “We need a UN that can make an effective contribution to solving the world’s problems,” she said, with Member States ready to take on that responsibility.  The Organization’s future must reflect the world of tomorrow, and, thanks to new developments in technology and information, people would participate more directly in the challenges facing societies.  They will also demand that the United Nations be accountable to them.  In an increasingly globalized world, the principles in the United Nations Charter must be treasured.  Solidarity meant more than providing assistance to countries when they were unable to help their own citizens; it meant reminding States of their duties towards their own people in terms of security, the rule of law, human rights and democracy.  In that work, States must place their national interests second to the common good.

The search for sustainable solutions to the global economic crisis, climate change, security and development must reflect the world’s new realities, she continued, with States whose economic success enabled them to play a more active role in world governance accepting that new duty.  As for the United Nations, its legitimacy depended on its ability to respond to the expectations placed upon it, and at times, it appeared ill-equipped.  Debates must lead to action and results in the interest of the common good.  Failure in that regard would mean other groups, representing only some of the world’s countries, would step in.  Such groups lacked legitimacy and it was crucial for the Organization to remain at the centre of world governance.

Concerted global action was required in several areas, she said, stressing first that the Millennium Development Goals must be fully implemented.  “Dropping sacks of rice from helicopters is not enough,” she said.  Further, binding objectives must be defined as quickly as possible for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  Clean technology was available and every nation must act with targeted measures.  Waiting for the industrialized countries to invest in the South would not lead anywhere.  Switzerland would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

In other areas, she said 30 years after the end of the cold war, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remained a grave threat, but the gravest harm among civilians was caused by small arms and light weapons, and terrorists benefited from that situation by supplying themselves in the arms market.  Switzerland, among others, supported the full implementation of the United Nations global anti-terrorist strategy.  Gender equality also must become a priority, as it was high time to make full use of their potential in mediation and reconstruction efforts.  She closed by saying “we must avoid making the United Nations an immutable historic monument”, but rather turn it into a dynamic Organization.  To do that, every State must put its own house in order and commit itself clearly, within the Organization, to respond to the urgent questions facing the world.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said the United Nations had been built from the rubble of war and designed to help States pursue peace.  Outside the Assembly today, the neighbourhoods of New York City told the story of a difficult decade, marked by the destruction of the World Trade Centre and a financial crisis on Wall Street that affected people around the globe.  The global economy had suffered an enormous blow, crippling markets and deferring dreams on every continent.  Underneath those challenges were deeper fears:  ancient hatreds and religious divides.

Over the last 20 months, there had been no greater focus for the United States than rescuing its economy from catastrophe, he said.  It was reforming its finance system and had made the G-20 the focal point for global coordination, as the circle of cooperation must include emerging economies.  Today, the global economy was growing again, protection had been resisted and expanded trade was being explored.  “We will not rest until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity,” he said.

As for common security, the United States was waging more effective fight against Al-Qaida, he said, adding that it had also responsibly removed nearly 100,000 troops from Iraq and now was focused on building lasting partnership with the Iraqi people.  In Afghanistan, United States was pursuing a strategy to break the Taliban’s momentum and build the Government, so that a transition to Afghan responsibility could begin next July.  From South Asia to the Horn of Africa, the United States was moving to a more targeted approach to dismantle terrorist networks, he said, denying extremists the most dangerous weapons.  The United States had signed with the Russian Federation a comprehensive arms treaty, reduced the role of nuclear weapons in its security strategy, and at the United Nations had worked to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

As part of those efforts, Iran had been extended a hand last year, he said.  Iran had both rights and responsibilities as a member of the global community.  It was the only country to the NPT that could not demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear programme, such actions had consequences.  If it failed to do so, the United States, through Security Council resolution 1929 (2010), had made it clear that international law was not an empty promise.  The United States sought a resolution to difference and held an open door to diplomacy.  Regarding climate change, the United States had helped forge an accord in Copenhagen that had forced all major economies to cut emissions.  It was a first step.  It had also pledged assistance to Pakistan and he urged all to support such efforts.  When Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, the United States had joined a coalition of countries in response.

Amid such upheavals, the United States had pursued peace, he said, recalling that last year, he had pledged to support the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of comprehensive peace.  This month, the United States had pursued direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.  While many were pessimistic, saying that peace simply was not possible, he asked delegates to consider the alternative:  Palestinians would never know the pride that came with their own state.  Nor would Israelis know security among neighbours committed to coexistence.  More blood would be shed.  “I refuse to accept that future,” he said, asking each to choose the path of peace.  Parties must answer the call of history.

He called on Israelis and Palestinians to rally behind the goal that their leaders shared.  A test of that would centre on Israel’s settlement process and he urged that the moratorium be extended and that talks press on until complete.  Security for Israel meant statehood for Palestine, and rights of Palestinians would be won only through peaceful means, including reconciliation with Israel.  The Arab Peace Initiative Follow-Up Committee should make tangible steps in that regard.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs were not “strangers in a strange land”.  Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel, which was a sovereign State.  Efforts to chip away at its legitimacy would be met with United States opposition.  He challenged the Assembly to come back next year with an agreement that would lead to a new United Nations Member, an independent, sovereign State of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.  Three great religions saw Jerusalem’s soil as sacred and if that was recognized, next year could be different.

Indeed, the United Nations reflected people’s desire to address the emergencies that would inevitably come and he said foresight must be summoned to consider what would be built in the long term.  Freedom, justice and peace for the world must begin with human beings.  That was a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States.

The United States supported universal values and understood from experience that those defending them were the closest friends and allies; those who had denied them had chosen to be adversaries.  Tyranny was still active, whether seen in the Taliban, a North Korean regime that enslaved its people or in an armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that used rape as a weapon of war.  There was a false notion at play that economic growth could come at expense of freedom.  However, democracy, more than any other form of Government, delivered for its citizens and the United States was working to shape a world that fostered such openness.

Yesterday, he said he had put forward a new development policy that recognized that global development was in the common interest.  Governments’ obligation was to empower, not impede, individuals.  Calling civil society the conscience of communities, he said the United States would always extend itself beyond the halls of government.  It was promoting new tools of communication, and in repressive societies, to do so securely.  The United States supported a free and open Internet.  The common thread of progress was that Government was accountable to its citizens.  Everywhere, there was a promise of innovation to make Government more accountable, and next year, States should bring forward commitments to fight corruption, leverage new technologies, and live up to ideals that could light the world.  The United States saw a future in which the cloud of recession gave way to renewal and opportunity.

BINGU WA MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi and speaking as Chairman of the African Union for 2010, said African leaders believed that the United Nations was well placed to build political consensus for global governance.  More than ever before, the United Nations needed to strengthen its institutions to promote peace and stability and facilitate balanced growth and prosperity.  International media glorified the Africa of underdevelopment and hopelessness, but that media did not present the success stories in participatory democracy and good governance and others by a number or African Governments.  He wanted to present another Africa of new hopes and opportunities — the Africa of the new beginning.  The world should know that African Union leaders had a clear vision of a new Africa free of hunger, disease and poverty.  African Union leaders had decided to unlock its combined huge natural resources and human capital; Africa was not a poor continent, but rather it was its people that were poor.

Five years from now, Africa would be able to produce enough food to feed its people.  African leaders also decided that five years from now, no child in Africa should die of hunger or malnutrition.  To meet those targets, African leaders had agreed to focus policies on three priority areas:  agriculture and food security; transport and energy development; and climate change.  The “African Food Basket” concept envisages full cooperation between African and Group of Eight (G-8) Governments, the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.

Among the major concerns of Africa were the adverse effects of climate change, fragile peace and security, terrorism and piracy, maternal, infant and child mortality and slow reform of the United Nations.  African countries were among the least equipped to cope with the impacts of climate change and the international community acknowledged climate change was a real threat to humanity.  Yet, the intransigence of major players at the Copenhagen Conference disappointed Africa and other developing nations.  On behalf of Africa, he called for immediate implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, in order to avert impending human catastrophe.  Africa also appealed to developing partners and donors for increased resources towards maternal, newborn and child health and called for an urgent conclusion of the Doha Round Multilateral Trade negotiations that provided clear benefits for developing countries.

The African Union believed that without peace and security, democracy and good governance, development could not be sustainable.  Several African countries had conducted peaceful elections and there was growing tolerance between ruling and opposition parties in many countries, but Africa has also lately witnessed the re-emergence of coups d’état and other unconstitutional changes of government.  The African Union took a strong collective decision that those negative trends would not be allowed to continue.  It was also gravely concerned that Somalia has had no stable or functioning Government for a long time, a situation compounded by rising organized piracy in the Indian Ocean, and called for more countries to be involved in finding a lasting solution to the crisis.  He said the general consensus in Africa was the International Criminal Court’s push for the arrest of Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir would hamper efforts at lasting peace in Sudan.  He, therefore, appealed to the General Assembly to amend article 16 of the Rome Statute to enable it to assure the powers of the Security Council to defer the case for one year to allow ongoing negotiation to succeed.

The African Union called for immediate lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe and Cuba, which have caused great hardship and whose ideological justifications, if there ever were any, had outlived their time.  On the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the African Union supported the position taken by the Non-Aligned Movement, which called for justice and equal treatment for all concerned nations.  There was a need to implement fair reforms of the United Nations and Security Council, and he reiterated the African Union’s request for two permanent seats with full veto powers and five non-permanent seats.  The African Union should also have the right to determine Africa’s representative in the Security Council.  Those reforms would allow Africa to effectively participate in global governance propagated by the United Nations.

LAURA CHINCHILLA MIRANDA, President of Costa Rica, expressed renewed support for the United Nations and its significant contributions to human rights, peace, security, and sustainable development, among others.  The world could congratulate itself for progress made in the areas such as education and gender equality.  However, her country remained concerned with the economic and social conditions of women, children, the elderly and families.  Immediate and concerted action was needed to counteract the devastating effects of climate change.  Those who ignored the urgency of such action should recall the natural disasters that have affected the lives of millions worldwide.

She went on to say that Costa Rica was offended that even today, women were waiting to be stoned, populations sank in the barbarism of genocide, and nuclear weapons were amassed while barns are depleted.  “Good governance starts with good national Government,” she said, at the same time noting that the success of domestic administration depended on a fair international system which would be capable to undertake the great challenges of our time.  Her country was striving to represent its people’s values and promote their welfare through respecting individual freedoms and social rights.  Moreover, it promoted economic growth, free trade, environmental responsibility and political transparency.  Costa Rica stood firmly upon its legacy in order to act in the present and construct the future.

For leaders of countries committed to the fundamental principles of freedom and human dignity, the main question was how to advance them in today’s world.  To that end, she proposed the empowerment of concepts, organisms and instruments, which promote and protect human rights.  Respect of human rights relied greatly upon international justice.  She reiterated her country’s support of the International Criminal Court, noting that the active use of weapons of law was an unavoidable responsibility of global governance.  Turning to peace and security, she insisted on the start of negotiations for an Arms Transference Treaty, as well as advancements towards the Model Convention for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“Peace must go beyond action.  To educate for peace is to vaccinate against war,” she declared.  The international community had not been capable of confronting the lashes of drug traffic, organized crime, terrorism, or weapons and human trafficking in an effective manner.  The battle against transnational crime demanded more from world leaders, while the fight against the drug trade could only be won with coordination, global cooperation and a major strategy reform.  In that regard, she called for the highest drug-consuming countries to take more effective actions.  Furthermore, she underscored the need for worldwide solidarity.

Concluding her statement, she highlighted the importance of international aid which recognized its ethical dimension, as well as the need to establish peace with the environment and development.  She hoped that, during the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, the world’s big polluters and carbon emitters would “assume their responsibilities towards humanity”.  Achieving overall sustainability was of the utmost importance in achieving the Millennium Goals.  To that end, developed countries should, as a minimum, fulfil their commitments to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to international cooperation.  Lastly, she stressed the need for the United Nations to adapt to the challenges of global governance, calling for more effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.

MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, said the fact the United Nations was in the sixty-fifth year of its existence served to underline the Organization’s durability as an important mechanism to ensure cooperation between States and discussion between sovereign nations.  Saying that he was giving this address at a critical juncture in the history of his country, he added that in two months, he would be assuming a second term in office.  His mandate would be different from the last; he planned to deliver sustainable peace and prosperity, and ensure that terrorism would not be able to raise its ugly head again.

In 2005, he was elected on a promise to rid the country of terrorism and was proud and humbled that Sri Lanka was now at peace.  Over the past year, much was reported regarding the country’s liberation from terrorism.  “However, far less has been said of the suffering we had to undergo and the true nature of the enemy we have overcome,” he said, and added that the rapidly forgotten truth was that the country faced one of the most brutal, highly organized, well-funded and effective terrorist organizations, which could even spread its tentacles to other countries.

Many of the atrocities of terrorism that the West experienced recently had been present in Sri Lanka for nearly 30 years.  Almost 100,000 lives had been lost, among them the President of Sri Lanka, intellectuals and politicians.  The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was an organization so brutal that even those it claimed to represent, the Tamil community, were as much victims of its terror as the rest of the population.  Those observing from afar who suggested the Sri Lankan Government should have conceded to the demands of those terrorists needed to be reminded that “terror is terror, whatever mask it wears”.  His responsibility was to the peace and prosperity of the nation.

Invoking the capacity of current international humanitarian law, he said it must be remembered that such law evolved essentially in response to conflicts waged by the forces of legally constituted States, not terrorist groups.  The asymmetrical nature of conflicts by non-State actors gave rise to serious problems which needed to be considered in earnest by the international community.  He reminded that, “We, along with many others, made repeated attempts to engage the LTTE in constructive dialogue,” but the attempts were rejected.

The entire focus was now on building peace, healing wounds and ensuring economic prosperity.  In order to fulfil those aspirations, economic development and political reconciliation needed to go hand in hand.  Towards that end, constitutional changes would evolve with full participation of stakeholders.  He mentioned the return of 90 per cent of the internally displaced persons, rebuilding of the eastern province, and establishment of a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission.  He welcomed support from the international community as rebuilding took place, and said the economy was well on its way to realizing the dividend of peace, as the economy grew by 8 per cent in the last quarter.

Despite the struggle against terrorism, the country graduated from middle income status, unemployment declined to around 5 per cent, poverty went from 25 to 15 per cent.  In order to receive full potential he welcomed a supportive external environment.  He concluded by saying that leaders who have been chosen by their people faced difficult decisions; they must be entitled the goodwill and confidence of the international community, and the results of their decisions needed to be evaluated objectively and allowed to speak for themselves.

ABDULLAH GÜL, President of Turkey, called terrorism a pressing international challenge.  The struggle against that scourge was bound to fail unless all terrorist organizations were confronted, irrespective of their political, ideological, ethnic or religious goals.  He also said there could be no credible non-proliferation regime if the de facto existence of nuclear weapons by certain countries at the heart of the world’s most delicate regions was ignored.  Efforts to create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East should be intensified, and a conference on such an entity should be convened in 2012.

Economic, demographic, ecological and biological issues were no longer “soft risks”, but rather clear and present threats to humankind, he said, calling for relevant action within the United Nations framework.  The idea of a global rapid reaction capability to respond to disasters, food shortages and epidemics should be explored.  Defence equipment no longer suitable for military purposes could also be pooled for disaster relief operations.

Turkey welcomed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but progress towards lasting peace would be very difficult without an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, he continued.  The Israeli attack on an international humanitarian aid convoy on the high seas in May had been a clear violation of international law; Turkey expected a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims and for those who had been injured.  The report of the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Council on that incident provided a legal framework for establishing the facts, and Turkey looked forward to the successful completion of the work of the Panel of Inquiry.

The political stalemate the followed the 7 March elections in Iraq had aggravated the security situation in that country and had hindered the launch of comprehensive reconstruction; its new Government must be inclusive, effective and democratic, the President said.  With the withdrawal of foreign combat troops, Turkey urged Iraq’s neighbours to act responsibly and support its territorial integrity, political unity and sovereignty.  The Iranian nuclear issue could only be resolved in line with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) norms and Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations, respecting the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.  The Tehran Declaration and the July gathering in Istanbul provided a window of opportunity; there was no alternative to diplomacy.

Turkey attached cardinal importance to peace, stability and economic development in the Balkans, the President stated.  This year had been remarkable for Turkish-Greek relations, with the creation of a high-level cooperation council, and Turkey was determined to resolve its differences with Greece over the Aegean Sea, which should be “a sea of friendship”.  Turkey shared the Secretary-General’s vision of a settlement to the Cyprus issue within reach before the end of this year, although the process should not be open-ended and the international community should take steps to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

The international community faced unpredictable consequences due to its failure in Afghanistan, the President said.  That country deserved close attention and sincere commitment during a historic process of transformation.  In the wake of the terrible floods in Pakistan, it was critically important to help that country’s people and its democratic Government to heal their wounds.

HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Emir of Qatar, reminded the Assembly that the threats that beset the world last year were not only still present, but had “increased and diversified”.  And the world was not any closer to achieving the Millennium Goals.  The problems the world faced were not due to a lack of resources, he said, but to mismanagement and a lack of justice and equality.  Therefore, it was time to “reformulate” the global economic system to achieve justice and equal opportunity for all.

He called on delegates to discuss and adopt those appropriate, the proposals posed at the World Economic Forum Global Redesign Summit - hosted in Doha – to improve the international structures and partnerships that would help meet the century’s challenges.  Also, the Middle East continued to experience the highest degree of tension in the world; the decades-old question of Palestine, unstable situations in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and Iran nuclear crisis, required a solution.  His Government had stressed the importance of reaching a solution through peaceful means and, in its view, a fruitful, direct dialogue between the United States and Iran would contribute to a resolution of the crisis.

He said the Arabian Gulf’s geo-strategic position – it sits on half of the world’s oil and gas reserves, and is the source of one quarter of the world’s production of the two driving forces of the global economy — should remind the international community of the importance of political security in the Middle East.  That goal could only be achieved, however, by renouncing the use of force, freeing the region of weapons of mass destruction, and settling of bilateral disputes on the basis of international agreements.

Regarding Palestine, he said that Israel’s “persistent violation of international and humanitarian values was reflected in the acts of piracy committed against peace activists who tried to break the unjust siege imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.  He called for the international community to demand that Israel lift the blockade “immediately and fully”.  A lasting acceptable peace agreement on the question of Palestine would “guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the establishment of Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital”.

Turning to terrorism, he emphasized two important issues of concern.  First, the attribution of “this so-called terrorism” to the Islamic religion, he said, was incorrect and unjust.  Violent actions that had occurred in the United States, Europe and Asia were attributed to underlying political, economic, and ideological ideals - not to a particular region, country or idea.  Further, the term “war on terror” had plunged the region into a war “with no limits, end, logic, nor legal or moral conditions”.  Second, he said terrorism should not be treated by waging wars.  Contrary to achieving security, peace or security, that method had spread destruction, killed and displaced millions and undermined efforts for dialogue among cultures.

At the national level, Qatar would pursue “human-centred” development policies based on a holistic approach.  The country had made concrete steps in enhancing its development capacity, particularly in the areas of health and education.  It was also striving to utilize its abundance of hydrocarbon fuel reserves, in the service of its citizens and to improve human development indicators.  Because it was also keen on addressing climate change, clean energy, particularly natural gas, was a priority.  In closing, Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to play its part in the collective responsibility “as expressed in the Charter for the common good”.

MWAI KIBAKI, President of Kenya, said since his last address to the Assembly in 2008, Kenya had made tremendous progress in implementing far-reaching reforms to entrench democracy and secure peace and stability.  Kenya’s new Constitution, promulgated on 27 August following a successful national referendum, greatly improved the country’s governance structure and laid a firm foundation for political stability and economic prosperity.  It injected vitality and a sense of renewal and would go a long way towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  He expressed hope that it would help consolidate democratic governance in the region.

Kenya had invested significantly in pursuing the millennium targets, he said.  It had made substantial progress in poverty reduction and education, reducing maternal and child mortality, fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Kenya had taken major steps to enhance environmental sustainability.  It had reclaimed and protected its five major water towers; invested in wind, solar and geothermal energy; and made comprehensive commitments to green the economy.  Still, it faced many negative consequences of climate change.  Its crop and livestock agriculture, on which most of the population depended, was at the mercy of unpredictable weather patterns.  He noted with deep concern the international community’s inability to make headway in critical climate change negotiations, and looked forward to positive outcomes from upcoming meetings on the subject in Mexico and South Africa.

Turning to one of the “major obstacles” to peace and development in the region, he said continuing political instability in Somalia was festering beyond that country, and since the early 1990s, Kenya had borne the full weight of it.  The security situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate and threaten regional peace and stability.  Its threat to international peace and security was greater than in any other conflict in the world.  But, Somalia continued to suffer benign neglect from the international community, resulting in many lost opportunities to solve the crisis.  The Council’s perceived reluctance to engage with Somalia was of great concern to those who suffering the greatest consequences of the conflict.  Today, he wanted to draw the attention of the international community to another opportunity that should not be lost.

In July, the Inter-Governmental and Development Summit (IGAD) identified critical elements of engagement and made several decisions endorsed by the African Union Summit in Kampala, on the way forward, he said.  But, the international support needed to implement them had not been forthcoming.  He urged the United Nations and the international community to seize the opportunity created by the African regional initiative to support the appointment of an eminent high-level personality for Somalia, effectively deploy 2,000 troops, review the current mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to enhance its peace enforcement capacity and support the Transitional Federal Government to bolster its effectiveness countrywide.

As chair of the IGAD Committee on Sudan, he said he was actively engaged in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which held the key to peace and stability in Sudan and the region.  He had received assurances from Sudan’s President and First Vice-President that they were committed to remaining on course in preparing for the referendum, resolving all outstanding issues, holding it on 9 January 2011, and accepting the results.  It was critical that the world support those initiatives.  Continued engagement with the leadership of the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was the only way to peacefully resolve the challenges facing Sudan.  He said he would convene a second IGAD special summit on Sudan in November to take stock of progress, ensure the process remained on course and support efforts for post-referendum arrangements.

EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, said that strengthening of a global partnership was essential for creating an environment favourable for sustainable economic growth and increase in employment.  Revitalizing global trade and investments was necessary to drive industrial growth.  That was particularly vital for landlocked countries, whose participation in global trade was hampered by their geographical situation, affecting industrial growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Efforts should focus on creating new international transport systems and corridors and efficient use of existing ones to help put an end to such countries’ marginalization.

He called for a speedy completion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, which would contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Trade systems must remain open, he said, particularly in times of crisis.  They must be non-discriminatory and based on concerted rules.

While the ultimate in quantitative growth had been achieved in terms of development, that should be followed by qualitative new developments, requiring an entirely new approach that took into account the interests of current and future generations.  The Government of Tajikistan had formulated three strategic goals, namely, ending communication isolation, ensuring energy security and ensuring food security.  To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the country had adopted and was implementing a “National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan till 2015 (NDS)” and the “Strategy for Poverty Reduction”, to achieve sustainable economic growth, improve access of the population to basic social services and reduce poverty.

To address long-term issues such as climate change, preservation of biodiversity and desertification, a transition to sustainable development was necessary, and needed to be regarded from a critical point of view particularly after last year’s Copenhagen conference.  More resolute measures should be taken to mitigate emission of detrimental gases, and transfer technologies should be transferred that promoted a low-carbon economy.  He expressed conviction that the forthcoming meeting in Cancun would produce a new global agreement to serve as an important milestone in the post-Kyoto period.

As initiator of the International Year of Freshwater in 2003 and the International Decade for Action “Water for life” 2005-2015, Tajikistan was actively advancing the water agenda in the United Nations.  The Dushanbe International Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the International Water Decade had confirmed once again that further water use strategies should be based on the principles of sustainable management of freshwater resources.  His country believed water cooperation should strengthen rather than undermine relations in other areas and build confidence among all water resource users.  With that in mind, his Government had proposed that 2012 be proclaimed the International Year of Water Diplomacy.

With regards to combating international terrorism, he said that it could not exist without financial support, a major source of which was illegal drug trafficking.  Because Tajikistan found itself between the major world producer of opium and heroin, and drug-consuming countries, and given the fact that its border with Afghanistan was almost 1,500 kilometres, it must perform the role of a buffer to block the ever increasing stream of “white death”.  Combating narcotics successfully could only be achieved through consolidated and collective efforts.  To involve Afghanistan in the process of multifaceted regional cooperation, he underlined the efforts undertaken by the “Quad” – comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russian Federation and Tajikistan – aimed to counteract narcotics and terrorism.

Alan García Pérez, President of Peru, said today there were enormous economic and climate change challenges that knew no borders.  For Latin America, the last decade had brought the challenge of choosing between two different models of economic and social development.  The social democracy model recognized the market, attracted global investment by clear rules, was open to the world, and aimed to grow through fairly negotiated free trade treaties and the rights of workers.  The antithesis of that model was advocated by countries with great natural resources, who objected to global realities, looking inwards toward growth, and used subsidies and wages in the public sector instead of promoting infrastructure and securing the future of the people.  That second path avoided reality and did nothing to create the jobs people wanted.  Poverty alleviation and job creation required global integration.

Peru had opted for a realistic approach, he said.  It was now a more stable, independent and egalitarian country, and better able to help defend global freedom, democracy and economic stability.  In the last five years, Peru’s economy grew 6.5 per cent annually.  Employment increased and poverty fell.  This year the economy would grow 8 per cent.  Public spending on infrastructure, health and education was made a priority.  Peru would reach its goal of cutting the poverty rate to 30 per cent in the next year, and it expected that rate to fall to 10 per cent in 2021.  Peru had already met many of the millennium targets and it would continue to work to reduce poverty, and improve nutrition, health, education and literacy.  The infant mortality rate was cut by one third in the last five years.  Currency reserves, now at $42 billion, had tripled in the last five years.

Faced with the same challenges, some other countries had chosen the second path of State ownership, Government administration of trade and confrontation, he said.  But they could not boast similarly positive results.  Peru had chosen “the right course” in history.  The economic crisis showed that favouring the free market did not mean the absence of Government.  Peru had doubled its exports in four years, tripled its reserves and signed trade agreements with many nations, giving it the necessary basis to spur growth and create jobs.

The proliferation of nuclear arms must be stopped at any price, he said, as should conventional weapons.  Peru had pushed for a South American protocol on peace, security and cooperation to achieve lasting peace and the reduction of arms expenditures.  Enormous global spending on military expenditures was shameful when millions of people were so poor.  Multilateral loan organizations that had lending clauses regarding the environment should also have them on weapons.  Regional integration was essential and the sharing of information was a key to achieving it.  Ecuador and Peru, only 15 years ago divided by war, had since taken a quantum leap forward towards integration and development.  He commended the role of the G-20 in international cooperation, but said everyone must coordinate to combat drugs, terrorism and other global concerns.

Peru was at high risk for climate change, but it was strongly placed to mitigate it, he said.  He called on the richest nations to fulfil their obligations to mitigate climate change.  Peru was working to develop a clean, sustainable, low-carbon economy and it aimed to have alternative energy account for at least 40 per cent of nation’s energy consumption.  The globalization of capital, services and products went hand in hand with the free movement of people.  Migration was a tool for development.  He condemned any anti-migrant provision in Arizona and similar legislation elsewhere, as well as any type of xenophobia.  It was paradoxical to countries led by the children of migrants who were condemning migration.  The best way to avoid unbridled migration was by unhampered free trade.

VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH, President of Ukraine, stressed that his country approached such issues as poverty eradication, education, environmental preservation and improving maternal health with full responsibility, with its achievements laid out in its national report on the Millennium Development Goals.  Ukraine was undergoing profound internal change, having finally achieved political stability and launched economic and social reforms, which would allow it to participate more actively in implementing the United Nations processes.  He urged expanding the free movement of people, goods and services, saying that new free trade areas and visa-free travel regimes were important for responding to global challenges.

Sustainable development, he continued, was impossible without security, and Ukraine had actively contributed to peace worldwide.  This year, Ukraine declared its “non-bloc” status, which had reduced regional tension and created a strategic balance around the country.  Sixteen years after Ukraine had given up the world’s third most powerful nuclear arsenal, that decision had not lost its importance, with recent decades showing that nuclear weapons did not always increase security.  The best way to counter their proliferation was by eliminating them, while taking steps also to reduce the risks related to the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology.  Ukraine hoped to see its partners comply with their obligations of security guarantees, especially the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.  Such guarantees for States that had disposed of their arsenals, and those not part of a military alliance, should be reflected in a legally binding global instrument.

Turning to other areas, he said the principles of coexistence, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and good neighbourly relations were the cornerstone of Ukraine’s foreign policy.  To enhance global security, the United Nations could make greater use of existing regional security mechanisms and strengthen its peacekeeping.  Mechanisms to respond to new challenges, like piracy and armed robbery at sea were needed, and the United Nations should play a key role in that fight.  Ukraine would work to increase international maritime security and the protection of seamen’s social rights, which would require cooperation.

“Soft” challenges must also be addressed, he said, noting that the global community should do its utmost to avoid a worst-case scenario related to climate change.  By signing the Copenhagen agreement, Ukraine had taken a step in that direction.  A global environmental organization with universal membership was also needed.  In addition, he said the peaceful use of nuclear energy was crucial, and States possessing nuclear technologies bore a huge responsibility in that regard.  With next year marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, Ukraine planned to hold a high-level international conference next April to discuss nuclear safety.

WEN JIABAO, Premier of China, noted that since the start of reform more than 30 years ago, his country had made “a historic leap from mere subsistence to moderate prosperity”.  But despite the fact that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was the third largest in the world - in per capita terms - it was just one tenth of that of developed countries.  Further development, he said, would face energy, resources and environmental constraints.  In addition, the country still did not have a fully fledged social security system, its democracy and legal system still had room for improvement and social ills such as inequity and corruption still existed.

“This is the real China,” he stated, adding that, while many coastal areas and large and medium-sized cities were modern and thriving, central and western regions and vast areas in the centre of the country “are still rather backward, and we have 150 million people living below the poverty line set by the United Nations”.  As such, China’s goal was to achieve modernization by the middle of this century.  “Development is our top priority,” he stated, and “political restructuring” would be pushed forward to achieve economic reform.

He went on to say that China was also committed to “promoting the establishment of a fair, equitable, inclusive and well-managed new international financial order and an open and free international trading regime”.  China respected and protected human rights, and upheld social equity and justice.  In order to narrow the development gap with the advanced countries and sustain its growth, he drew attention to the country’s medium- and long-term development programmes on education, as well as and science and technology, respectively.

On the topic of culture, he stated that the moral values and wisdom drawn from its 5,000-year-old civilization belonged not only to China, but also to the world.  China would develop cultural programmes and “a moral and ethical code” commensurate with its socialist modernization drive.  “The Chinese nation, who has created an economic miracle, will create a new cultural splendour as well,” he said.  He concluded by noting that China’s development would not pose a threat to anyone, adding that “there were powers who sought hegemony once they grew strong.  China will never follow in their footsteps.”  That said, the country would not yield or compromise when it came to sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity.

STEPHEN HARPER, Prime Minister of Canada, affirmed his country’s unwavering commitment to fulfil the mandate of the United Nations’ Charter, and noted that, as a founding Member State, Canada was the seventh-largest contributor to the Organization’s finances.  It also supported the efforts of the United Nations not just financially, but with resources, aid, and recently with the lives of its civilians and Armed Forces serving and working in Afghanistan.

The spirit in which Canada took action, he continued, emphasized sustainable development.  Military efforts went hand in hand with reconstruction and programmes, such as the Dhala dam project, which would have “enduring economic benefit”.  Furthermore, Canada would be doubling its overall development assistance to Africa by March of next year and would allow the greater utilization and untie all aid by 2013.  Acting in concert with the G-20 partners, Canada had increased the lending capacity of development organizations, including the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

Because of the ideals from which Canada developed its actions, he stated that, if elected, his country was prepared to serve on the Security Council.  As chair of the G-8 and host of the recent G-20 meeting, Canada strove to ensure these meetings served the “broader interests of the entire global community” and to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, notably through the enactment of the Muskoka Initiative.  He also informed the Assembly that over the next five years, his Government would be mobilizing more than $10 billion from donor nations and private foundations for the Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Urging for words to be turned into actions, he informed the Assembly that Canada had forgiven a total of $1 billion in debt owed by the world’s poorest countries.  It was not the time to do “the least we can do”, but to reach for much higher goals that were within capacity of the international community.  Towards this end, he said, the world needed to adopt an enlightened view of sovereignty.  In light of the recent global crisis, he observed, all nations had been painfully reminded that “in this shrinking world, we travel together in one boat, not as solo-voyagers, and that how we travel together matters”.  He then called for Member States to recognize that what was beneficial to others in fact might be the very best way to pursue one’s own interests.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, President of Georgia, said cooperation was more necessary than ever in the face of global challenges.  Gatherings like the Assembly’s general debate were valuable only if they allowed for the shaping of a common vision for concrete action towards peace, development, solidarity and justice.  Thanks to coordinated efforts of the international community, as well as the leadership of United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, direct peace talks had resumed between Israelis and Palestinians.  The road to peace, security and justice was still long, yet the goal was so noble and necessary that no effort should be spared.  A common objective must be to encourage risk-takers to forge new paths to peace.  “Peace is not an easy way, but peace is the only way,” he declared.

Furthermore, peace should be seen as not only the goal, but also the means to any goal.  Change had taken place in his country, and he planned to promote a specific vision – a vision for a free, stable and united Caucasus.  In the aftermath of full-scale invasion and threats of total annihilation, few believed that Georgia and its Government would survive as an independent and democratic State.  He was proud to note that, two years later, his country had succeeded against the odds.  Thanks to the commitment of the Georgian people and the support of allies, Georgia was back as a “laboratory” for political reform and social transformation.  Local elections last May were proof of such transformation and a milestone for democracy.

Once one of the most corrupt countries of the post-Soviet world, Georgia had since made greater gains in the fight against corruption than any other country over the past five years.  Moreover, his country was now ranked by the World Bank as number 11 for ease of doing business.  Such rankings showed that Georgia was “winning the peace […] through peace”.  He paid tribute to the nearly 1,000 soldiers in South Afghanistan to help the region’s people secure a stable, terror-free future.  Georgia was also fighting other common scourges, particularly nuclear trafficking.  In the past seven years, his country had intercepted criminals who possessed ingredients to make nuclear devices, cooperating with allies in the international community to do so.

Turning attention to what he called a “grave problem” – Russian occupation of his country – and the lawlessness it bred, which had left two occupied regions in “a black hole of governance”.  In those lands, criminals acted with impunity, humans were trafficked and drugs and weapons were smuggled.  While strides in achieving the Millennium Goals could be seen, such successes remained bittersweet because they could not be savoured by all Georgians.  The Russian Federation, he said, had been violating the ceasefire agreement brokered in August 2008.  It had not withdrawn as it had agreed.  Therefore, hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and victims of “the ethnic cleansing campaign led by Russian forces” were prevented from returning to their homes.  Georgia responded to Russia’s violations of international law and human rights using “constructive unilateralism” – behaving in a civilized and patient manner and upholding a position of peace.

To that end, he called for “those three isolated United Nations Member States”, which recognized the Russian Federation’s de facto annexation of Georgia’s territories and legitimized the Russian-led ethnic cleansing campaign, to reverse their decision.  “It is never too late to overturn a bad policy.  The dismemberment of Georgia has failed categorically – and even the Russian Federation will one day need to reverse its disastrous policy.”  In that regard, he made three calls to the Assembly.  First, he affirmed that Georgia would protect the rights, culture and history of its citizens of the Abkhaz and Ossetian regions who now live behind the “new iron curtain” dividing the country.

Next, he alerted the Russian Federation of the choice it faced:  it must either take major part in the ongoing transformation of their common region or watch the transformation happen without it.  His country wanted the Russian Federation as a partner rather than an enemy.  In that regard, the Georgian Government supported the United States’ reset policy and the European Union’s engagement with Russia.  “Instead of fighting each other, we should excel together in modernizing our common region,” he declared.  Finally, he called on the international community to help secure peace in Georgia and its broader region.

MAHMOUD AHMEDINEJAD, President of Iran, said that the League of Nations and the United Nations were established with the promise to bring about peace, security and the realization of human rights, which in fact, meant global management.  Almost all Governments and known figures had condemned the event of 11 September 2001, which had affected the whole world for almost a decade.  The propaganda machine had, however, come into full force and it had been implied that the whole world was exposed to a huge danger, namely terrorism, and that the only way to save it would be to deploy forces into Afghanistan.  Eventually, Afghanistan, and shortly thereafter Iraq, was occupied.

It was said that 3,000 people were killed on 11 September, for which all were saddened.  Yet, up until now, in Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people had been killed and millions wounded and displaced, but the conflict was still going on and expanding.  Other views were that some segments of the United States Government had orchestrated the attack to reveres the declining American economy, or that the attack had been carried out by a terrorist group but supported by the United States Government.

He, therefore, proposed that the United Nations should set up an independent fact-finding group for the events of 11 September so that in the future, expressing views about it would not be forbidden.  He announced that, next year, Iran would host a conference to study terrorism and the means to confront it.  The country invited officials, scholars, thinkers, researchers and research institutes from all countries to attend the conference.

Turning to Palestine, he said that the Palestinian people had lived under the rule of the occupying regime for 60 years.  They had been deprived of freedom, security and the right to self-determination while the occupiers had been given recognition.  On a daily basis, houses being destroyed over the heads of innocent women and children and people were deprived of water, food and medicine in their own homeland.  The Zionists had imposed five all-out wars on neighbouring countries and on the Palestinian people.  They had committed the most horrible crimes against defenceless people in the wars against Lebanon and Gaza.  They had also attacked a humanitarian flotilla in blatant defiance of international norms and had killed civilians.

That regime, which enjoyed the absolute support of some Western countries, regularly threatened countries in the region and continued publicly announced assassinations of Palestinian figures and others while Palestinian defenders and those opposing it were pressured and labelled terrorists and anti-Semites.  All values, even freedom of expression valued in Europe and the United States, were being sacrificed at the “altar of Zionism”.  Solutions to that problem were doomed to fail because the rights of the Palestinian people were not taken into account.  He wondered if those horrendous crimes would have been witnessed if, instead of recognizing the occupation, the sovereign right of the Palestinian people had been recognized.  Iran’s unambiguous proposition was for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland and for a vote by the people of Palestine to exercise their sovereignty and decide on the type of governance they wanted.

He said the nuclear bomb was the most inhumane weapon and must be totally eliminated.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty prohibited its development and stockpiling and called for nuclear disarmament.  Nonetheless, some permanent members of the Security Council had equated nuclear energy with the nuclear bomb and had distanced that energy from the reach of most nations by establishing monopolies and pressuring the IAEA while they had continued to maintain, expand and upgrade their own nuclear arsenals.  That situation had meant that nuclear disarmament had not been realized but that nuclear bombs had been proliferated in some regions, including the occupying and intimidating Zionist regimes.  Iran, therefore, proposed that 2011 be proclaimed the year of nuclear disarmament and “Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for None”.

He said that the inefficiency of capitalism and the existing world management and structures had been exposed in the wake of the financial crisis.  The majority of States and nations were on a quest for fundamental changes and for the prevalence of justice in global relations.  The cause of the ineptitude of the United Nations lay in its unjust structure.  The major Powers had monopolized the Security Council due to the veto privilege while the main pillar of the Organization, the General Assembly, had been marginalized.  The veto privilege encouraged impunity for aggression and occupation.  He called for the veto to be revoked and for the General assembly to become the highest body of the United Nations.

IVAN GAŠPAROVIČ, President of Slovakia, said that one of the most important missions of the United Nations was to act as a guarantor of the formulation, protection and implementation of the principle of collective security of States.  The preservation of international peace and security at the global level, and within the bounds of international law, must remain at the core of United Nations activities.  That was important, because peace and security became particularly vulnerable in times of global financial and economic crises and required increased attention on the part of States.  The arms control and disarmament process represented the most important instrument for the prevention and conflicts.  The progress that had been achieved in the area of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction gave reason for “cautious optimism”.  The duty of the international community was to continue that effort and to strengthen the global system for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The risk of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, however, remained high.  In that regard, his country remained prepared to cooperate with its partners on a number of priorities, such as the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Peacekeeping operations represented one of the most visible activities of the United Nations in its effort to preserve peace and security in the world, he continued.  As an active contributor to such missions and other international crisis management operations based on a United Nations mandate, he welcomed the steps towards reviving the reform of peacekeeping operations, as described in “A New Horizon for Peacekeeping”.  The new Global Field Support Strategy would also contribute, in real terms, towards more rapid deployment of peacekeeping missions and, at the same time, ensure more efficient utilization of human and financial resources.

According to the United Nations Charter, the primary responsibility for international peace and security lay with the Security Council, he noted.  The process of the reform of the Council could, however, almost be called a never-ending story.  His country was, therefore, pleased that the intergovernmental negotiations on the reform had been given a clearer shape.  That reform must stand on the pillars of representativeness; effectiveness in fulfilling its mission; and transparency of its working methods.  It must also allow for possible enforcement of the Council’s decisions by sanctions.

He noted that the global financial and economic crisis had laid bare the weak spots in the existing structures of the world economic order.  The key role of the United Nations and its Member States, therefore, needed to be confirmed in the financial and economic dimension at the global level.

He said creating the conditions for equitable and sustainable development needed to go hand in hand with respect for nature and its rules.  There was an inherent link between those two, as both had an impact on the lives of individuals, who were part of the universal system.  The people of Slovakia had had the misfortune of witnessing nature’s power, as floods of an unprecedented scale had ravaged the country earlier in the summer.  That showed that a proper balance needed to be struck between development and respect for nature.  That balance should be based on well-reasoned arguments supported by proper analysis, without giving way to the influence sought by certain narrowly focused transnational organizations that called themselves environmentalists.

Touching on a broad range of other issues, including the situation in the Middle East, Africa and the Western Balkans, he said the United Nations had to be able to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century and that called for synergies across the United Nations system and among Member States.

ABDULLAH II, King of Jordan, said that, more than ever before, the world faced multiple global crises that could not effectively be addressed without coordinated, multilateral action.  “No country can face these crises, and provide for its future in isolation,” he said, noting that both the threats — and the solutions — were global issues.  Resisting forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust was also essential, especially among peoples of different religions.

Humanity around the globe was bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments:  “to love God and Neighbour; to love the Good and Neighbour”, he said.  In that regard, the Jordanian delegation would introduce a draft resolution for an annual World Interfaith Harmony Week, during which the world’s people, in their own places of worship, “could express the teachings of their own faith about tolerance, respect for the other, and peace”, he said.

In the meantime, it was critical for the United Nations to reassert its leadership role in promoting peace.  Indeed, peace remains hanging in the balance in some regions.  While an end to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict was long overdue, the recent direct negotiations between the two sides had opened the door to a final, two-State settlement.  The establishment of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel, would pave the way for regional peace.  He noted that no regional conflict “has had a longer or broader impact on global security and stability, remained longer on the UN agenda, or had frustrated peacekeepers more”.

However, he stressed that success must not be underestimated.  Without swift action, hard choices and real results, the suffering and frustration would continue; a catastrophic scenario would continue to “drag in the whole world”, threatening security and stability beyond borders in the Middle East.  To prevent that, he said, the direct talks must be approached with commitment, sincerity and courage, and he warned against provocative or unilateral actions that could derail negotiations.  Further, final status issues must be addressed with a view to ending the occupation and achieving a two-State solution, he said, “the only solution that can work”.

In conclusion, he said Jordan and the Arab and Muslim world remained committed to achieving peace; its Arab Peace Initiative reached out to Israel with an unprecedented opportunity for a comprehensive settlement that would enable Israel to have normal relations with 57 Arab and Muslim States.  He said, “Together, we must tip the balance toward peace.”

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said humanity faced several crises which were made worse by the self-interest of nations.  The adoption last night of the declaration on achieving the Millennium Goals was a message of hope, but it also highlighted a gap which separated wealthy countries from the poor.  The food crisis and famine afflicted many people, and diseases that had once disappeared were now resurfacing.  Moreover, a plethora of natural disasters had occurred in the wake of climate change.  That grim reality should motivate the world to become more unified.  The international community must mobilize efforts in a spirit of constructive solidarity to find solutions commensurate with challenges.  To that end, he appealed to all States to tirelessly undertake efforts to bring about peace in remaining areas of tension.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo faced multifaceted crises, further worsened by previous wars.  It also suffered from the negative consequences from the global economic and financial crisis.  Poverty, misery and the country’s precarious situation were neither inevitable nor revocable, he noted.  He wanted to see a brighter and more promising future for his country, and he stressed that his country would surely make its contribution towards a better world.  Turning to the issue of environmental preservation, he reaffirmed the Congolese Government’s commitment to defend biodiversity in its policies and national development plan.  He also highlighted the need to establish a global environment authority in cooperation with both public and private institutions, civil society and scientific circles.

With regard to establishing and consolidating peace, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to consider establishing a United Nations office for Central Africa.  Such an office would help to bring the Organization closer to and ensure better coordination with the countries of the region.  Issues of peace, security and humanitarian efforts could also be considered much more promptly.  It was up to world leaders to consolidate peace throughout the region via international and regional mechanisms for maintenance, prevention and the settlement of conflict.

The Congolese Government had recently focused its efforts to eradicate the phenomenon of foreign arms groups in its national territories.  Its actions related to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were a matter of defence, as well as public order.  In light of the crimes the group continued to commit against civilians, his Government would need to remain mobilized and vigilant to stop the LRA from doing more harm.  Congolese women in North and South Kivu experienced violence at the hands militias supported by illegal exploitation of resources due to a lack of security in the area.  He noted that his Government had decided upon measures to correct the situation, and had begun to address causes of recurrent conflict.

Moreover, it was working to enhance its judiciary system to address peace, justice and security issues, making the fight against impunity a key priority.  He underscored his country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals and meet its people’s basic needs.  The complex nature of the different tasks related to the Goals meant that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was “a project in the making”, requiring multiple contributions.  His country had cooperated with partners to improve political and administrative management, and planned to hold presidential and legislative elections in 2011.  Turning to United Nations reform, he called for Member States to work firmly together on reform of the Secretariat and the Security Council.  The Council needed to be expanded, he said, stressing that the Assembly’s authority must be affirmed in order to enable the Assembly President to find effective solutions to the challenges of our time.

ILHAM HEYDAR OGLU ALIYEV, President of Azerbaijan, recognized the central role the United Nations played in maintaining international peace and security and promoting development.  In addition, the Organization needed to be stronger and more capable of engaging in a range of global issues in every part of the world and, as a country suffering from the devastation of war and occupation, he believed in the importance of faithful observance of the worldwide accepted norms and principles of international law concerning good neighbourliness, friendly relations and cooperation among States.  The ongoing armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan represented a major threat to international and regional peace and security.  The conflict resulted in the occupation of one fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan.

It was internationally recognized that the Republic of Armenia bore the primary responsibility for occupying Azerbaijan’s territories, and committing the most serious international crimes during the conflict.  The Security Council had adopted four resolutions, and expressed its full support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.  Despite ongoing political efforts towards a resolution to the conflict, the activities in the occupied areas of Azerbaijan were in gross violation of international law and served to further consolidation of the current status quo.

Consistent measures were being undertaken by Armenia with the purpose of altering the historical and cultural features of the occupied areas.  The soonest resolution of the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan remained a primary task.  The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)-Minsk Group countries had extended their efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.  The resolution of the conflict envisaged the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories within the fixed time framework, restoration of communication, return of refugees and international security guarantees.

Despite the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, and occupied territories, the Government of Azerbaijan succeeded in guaranteeing political stability, democratic development, economic prosperity and social welfare.  In addition, the country possessed oil and gas reserves.  As an active member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Azerbaijan used its energy revenues for development in an open and transparent manner.  He concluded by saying that Azerbaijan demonstrated full support for promotion of sustainable development and global prosperity for all.

RICARDO MARTINELLI BERROCAL, President of Panama, said his country’s geography allowed it to fulfil the functions as a bridge and meeting point of the most diverse cultures and civilizations.  Thanks to the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, the country now connected Europe, America and the East.  It still worked for the benefit of the world’s maritime commerce.

Moving on to other topics, he noted that the trafficking and possession of illegal weapons had a devastating effect on human security and governance.  For Panama and Central America, drugs were the region’s “weapons of mass destruction”.  Additionally, the region was being used by webs of human traffickers that steer mixed migratory flows of persons from other continents through its borders.  In the face of those challenges, Panama and members of the Central American Integration System decided to create a Regional Security Coordination Centre.  Such regional efforts, based in Panama, were yielding encouraging results.

He defined globalization as the safe, legal and efficient flow of services, goods, capital and persons.  This fact had been the catalyst for a period of convergence of different economies which would last for some years to come.  As a result of that convergence, he said:  “We have suffered during the past two years the effects of a significant crisis.”  Panama was still expanding its commercial relations through the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements with Peru and Colombia.  Thus, he asked for the support of respective Governments, with a view towards the approval and ratification of free trade agreements with Canada, the United States and the association agreement between Central America and the European Union.

Lastly, he touched on other issues, including Panama’s signing of agreements to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion.  “We want to portray the Panamanian experience as an example to the world.  Our economic story, reform at home, and strengthening trade and business ties across the region and around the world, have been fruitful.”

He reaffirmed commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and noted that Panama had developed structural reforms and programmes to attend to the needs of the people.  Specifically, he mentioned programmes for the elderly who did not have pensions, a system of universal scholarships, economic support for students, and a pay raise, which benefited labourers in the public and private sectors.  In addition there would be an investment of $13 million for public infrastructure, such as hospitals, roads, and buses.  He reiterated the conviction that the United Nations was the international forum for the exchange of ideas and it should adopt measures that strengthened the pillars of governance.  “Rest assured of our disposition to offer all the peoples of the planet the best possible service and utility and as a result, develop our citizens,” he said.

PAUL BIYA, President of Cameroon, said the Millennium Development Goals had called for halving poverty in the world by 2015, yet 10 years after the Goals had been adopted, more than a billion people were still living in poverty.  In addition, results in the seven other priority areas under the Goals were disappointing, and even unsatisfactory.  The global economic crisis was certainly to blame.  Indeed, the slowdown in worldwide activities and the recession in some cases had monopolized the attention of countries in the North, who had given priority to reviving their economies and resolving their social problems.  Their response was understandable, but the root of the problem resided in the dangerous and ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, which exacerbated tensions and jeopardized international peace and security.

The situation in Africa was a case in point, he continued.  It was the continent most affected by extreme poverty, which was generally accompanied by food shortages, epidemics, population movements and insecurity.  “Is it any wonder that such profound misery sometimes reaches explosive proportions?” he asked.  The international community could no longer remain indifferent to a threat that could undermine efforts to advance democracy and ensure development.  Africa had changed significantly in the last 50 years since independence.  It was time for a broad-based ideological debate that would lead to the realization of the “famous Marshall Plan” that was often mentioned but had yet to see the light of day.

Cameroon had organized an international conference for its fiftieth anniversary of independence, he said.  The final declaration could serve as a “guide” for rehabilitating Africa with regard to both its economy and its participation in international life.  That would ensure the continent did not remain aid-dependent and that it played a rightful role in global affairs since it was affected by most major problems of modern humanity, from migratory flows to financial regulation to global warming.

Certainly, Africa wanted to emerge from poverty, he concluded, but Africa also wanted to be free from fear and want and to embrace a future without anxiety.  Over the last decades, Cameroon had embarked on that path by setting up representative institutions, establishing the rule of law and promoting respect for human rights.  It had made significant progress in the areas of public finance, education and health.  If the trend continued in the medium term, Cameroon would attain the status of an emerging country.

SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA, President of Chile, said his country, which had recently commemorated the 200th anniversary of its independence, was living through times of huge opportunities, but also adversity and sadness.  A few months ago its central zone, where 75 per cent of the population lived, was pounded by the fifth largest earthquake and seaquake known to mankind, killing 521 people and injuring almost 2 million while demolishing entire cities and villages.  Total losses amounted to $30 billion, which was 18 per cent of the GDP.  Yet, out of the ruins rose a people of solidarity, brotherhood and heroism, restoring access to health services, constructing emergency housing and, in 120 days, Chile’s economy was again growing with a vigour it had not displayed for many years.

Chile aimed to eliminate poverty in the country by the end of the decade by strengthening a participatory and transparent democracy, a social market economy trusting in entrepreneurship and individual creativity, and a State that efficiently combated poverty and promoted equal opportunity.  Other developing nations also had to enhance their integration and govern globalization better, lest globalization should end up governing them.  Any attempt to tackle global warming, natural disasters, health emergencies, hunger and extreme poverty would require much more concentrated and concerted action by the community of nations.  Meanwhile, the United Nations and multilateral organizations urgently needed to adapt to new times if they wanted to play a leading role and not be mere spectators of the events and changes of the new century.  Among reforms, he said, Brazil and other countries should be included on the Security Council to make it more plural and representative of the new global reality.

He also congratulated his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, on her recent appointment to head up UN Women and expressed the pride of the Chilean people that their compatriot would lead the global effort to achieve greater equality for women - a noble and just cause to which their Government was committed.  Chile would never cease to raise its voice to defend principles such as respect for international law, the peaceful settlement of disputes and self-determination of people, which were essential foundations of stability and peaceful coexistence between nations.  Chile would always be on the side of those defending their dignity and rights.  Globalization had resulted in a rebirth of local identities and original identities, resulting in a magnificent opportunity to begin to do justice and promote rediscovery of peoples who inhabited lands for thousands of years before European explorers and conquerors arrived.

Chileans were proud to be a multicultural nation, but for centuries did not properly recognize or respect opportunities for the advancement of those communities.  For that reason, he said, the Government granted them constitutional recognition, leading to genuine respect, appreciation and protection of their language, culture and values.  This week, the representatives from Government, churches, civil society and the Mapuche people had begun a dialogue to produce a national agenda for the Historic Rediscovery of indigenous people.

In addition, the Government was also launching the Araucanía Plan to begin seriously improving the lives and opportunities of indigenous people.  Chile urged those who have chosen the path of confrontation, violence and coercion to abandon their attitude and unite in the spirit of peace, harmony and unity with which it has commemorated its bicentenary.  He also paid tribute to the courage, perseverance, brotherhood and hope displayed by the 33 Chilean miners trapped in a collapse since 5 August.

BAMIR TOPI, President of Albania, said that, in an interconnected and interdependent global world, multilateralism remained a priority for the international community.  In that regard, a reformed and revitalized United Nations was necessary and irreplaceable in “the complicated process of global governance”.  He urged that the focus be on strengthening peace and security, the fight against terrorism, climate change and on the reduction of poverty, among others, and he stressed that his country would remain committed to contributing to the Organization’s agenda.

Albania was also fully committed to reaching the European Union’s goals of “Acquis Communautair”, a process that would be accompanied by constructing Government systems and development capacities, he said.  Also, Albania, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), with internal democratic stability, was seeking a growing international presence, as a condition of long-term development.  Further, “Delivering as One” was a crucial factor of the reform to assist the development of countries.  Albania, as a pilot country, had from the first day engaged fully in the system of all-inclusive coherence of the United Nations, in full accordance with national sovereignty, the national ownership of development and by responding to the needs of its people.

Continuing, he informed the Assembly of Albania’s signing the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which, as a NATO member, was essential to its policy of good neighbourly relationships, the preservation and strengthening of stability in the region and the stability and peace in other parts of the world.  His country had participated in the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was prepared and willing to contribute in other parts of the world in need of such support.

The Alliance of Civilizations was, in his view, a political means of the United Nations to promote peace and harmony, and to build an all-inclusive society through education, understanding and mutual knowledge.  As members of the “group of friends” he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to that process, which had been enriched by the Inter-Religious Forum in Tirana in January 2010.

Albania’s membership and integration into the European Union, an important and regional process, would also imply full integration of the region.  “These are hopeful and promising times as the bitter past of this part of Europe will remain only as history,” he stated.  Concluding, he offered his gratitude for all the international efforts regarding the approval of the resolution on the international legitimacy of the proclamation of Kosovo’s independence.  Now that the matter of the status of Kosovo and its borders belonged to the past, it became relevant to begin a dialogue on practical issues.  He hoped that the message sanctioned in the resolution would be put immediately to practice by the two independent countries.  “We support the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which should start at once.”  He appealed to the Member States who had not yet recognized the independence of Kosovo to do so, as it ensured and contributed to long-term stability and peace, not just regionally, but globally.

LEONEL FERNÁNDEZ, President of the Dominican Republic, said in 1998 a General Assembly special session was held to eliminate or substantially reduce illegal production of drugs.  Ten years later, another meeting concluded that little progress had been made, and the international community should be concerned about the growing threat posed by the global drug problem.  At the end of that session, it was determined that a new 10-year plan was needed, covering the period until 2019, for the General Assembly to evaluate the outcomes of policies applied to the most serious threat to citizen safety:  organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.  While drug usage was dispersed across the world, consumption was highest in areas with the highest levels of economic and social development, “such as the United States, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia”.  Harmful effects of drug consumption included loss of will, apathy, bulimia and the development of pathological behaviours and could expose users to HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C.

This “global black market” reached the astronomical amount of $400 billion each year, making it larger than the GDP of 122 out of the 184 countries registered on the World Bank’s Economic Index – more wealth than countries like Chile, Denmark, Finland and Portugal.  Drug trafficking utilized kidnappings, contract killings, torture and decapitations, and murdered journalists, teachers, doctors, students and housewives.  Its power was so great that it interfered in vital government areas such as the armed forces, police, intelligence services and the justice system.

Yet, “it is possible to confront and defeat it”, he said.  To do so, the international community must change paradigms and strategic visions to focus not just on the supply side, but on demand and consumption as well.  Indiscriminate gun sales and human trafficking must be curtailed, and cooperation policies must be developed among the countries that produce, serve as transit points for, and consume narcotics.  It was necessary to introduce new technologies, strengthen intelligence systems, increase personnel professionalism and strengthen development to protect against crime.  In 2019, when the General Assembly again convened to evaluate its plan against drug trafficking, he hoped that the Assembly would be able to say it had prevailed.

Turning to the costs of recent natural disasters, the losses experienced in 2010 were a great cause for concern, he said.  To date, there had been 47 floods and landslides affecting countries from Brazil to Sudan; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, from Mexico to Madagascar; eight serious droughts from California to the Russian Federation; seven earthquakes from China to Haiti; and Iceland’s volcanic eruption, which constituted the most serious interruption in air traffic since the Second World War.  Vulnerability to natural disasters was increasing, and development levels were starkly declining as a result.  As most of those disasters were caused by climate change, it was imperative that the General Assembly approved possible guidelines as soon as possible to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and to protect the planet’s biodiversity.

He stressed the necessity for early warning systems in coastal areas, as well as at-risk cities, schools and hospitals.  In this regard, the Dominican Republic planned to take an active part in the work towards the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, including its next meeting in Geneva in May 2011.  The United Nations system should create a world alliance of countries at risk, in order to exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas, as well as transfer the best practices learned in catastrophic circumstances.  This would help to save lives and minimize material damages.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, said recent years had been marked by many challenges and that all countries, large and small, should take actions to address the fallout from the financial and economic crisis and deal with the painful consequences of natural and man-made disasters.  In a globalized world, all countries must share responsibility for the future, and the scale of deeds and openness of hearts would make the difference, not the size of territories.

In the fields of security and the environment, she said Lithuania had launched an initiative to draft a resolution on sea-dumping of chemical weapons for consideration by the General Assembly, and had also hoped to strengthen international efforts to raise awareness about the dangerous munitions buried at sea.  Guidelines must be put in place outlining courses of action in case of disaster.  She called on the United Nations to take a more active role in very concrete projects, “even if they may not seem big enough for the world”.

She went on to say that gender equality was another issue of vital importance, but which was rarely associated with overcoming the impacts of the economic crisis or helping communities cope with the effects of climate change.  However, it had been estimated that ending gender discrimination in labour markets would increase GDP by as much as 30 per cent.  In Lithuania, for instance, women held a number of top positions in political and business life, and it was only natural that women in the country had taken to heart the famous saying:  “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.  Nevertheless, more and better coordinated efforts were needed, she said, stressing that universal gender equality would only be achieved when a certain level of security and economic development had been reached.

The international community needed to coordinate and scale up its efforts to eradicate intolerance and discrimination, which were so often at the heart of conflicts.  That would pave the way for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, she said.  European Union initiatives such as the Lithuania-based European Institute for Gender Equality could serve as a model for other regions.  She hoped that the framework for the Community of Democracies, in Vilnius next June, would explore many more relevant ideas and good practices.

Security, environment and gender equality were all interdependent, she continued, stressing the need for deeper and more concrete discussions on those issues at the global level.  The European Union had been the most responsible worldwide donor for years.  For its part, Lithuania, with its limited resources, had provided humanitarian aid to Haiti, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Russian Federation and other countries.  It had also engaged in training national security forces and community-based education programmes in Afghanistan.  Each time a concrete project was implemented, she stressed, the international community moved closer to achieving its agreed goals and objectives.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that his small country, with some 10 million people, had undergone many structural and social changes in the last four and a half years.  Economic growth was now nearly 5 per cent and there had been a democratization of the national economy that had improved the lives of the poorest people, including indigenous people and workers.  The country’s recovery of its gas and other natural resources was behind many of the positive economic changes.  Previous contracts with multinational energy companies had given them 82 per cent of the revenue stream from those resources and only 18 per cent had gone to the Bolivians, he added.

He acknowledged that companies had the right to recover their investments and earn profits, but not to an 82 per cent share.  In May 2006, the first year of his Administration, the Government had assumed control of all petroleum deposits and nationalized the companies.  The investing company had enough profits to ensure the company would not be harmed and recover their investments.  The companies were still invested, but there was not “an ongoing sacking of our natural resources”.  For the first time, the Government had a surplus, and an income stream for the most sensitive sectors of the population, including the elderly and youth.

He went on to say that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to address the damages that its restructuring programmes had brought to Bolivia and Latin America, as well as their impact on the planet.  Noting the differences between cultures and continents, he said the international community had to get beyond its differences and unite so human rights for all would be protected.

He proposed that all current Governments shape an alliance to save humankind by saving “Mother Earth”.  The alliance’s first objective would be to guarantee human rights for everyone.  Water and all basic services, such as energy and electricity, were human rights.  He stressed that the rights of migrants had to be protected.  He had heard that United States President Obama had rejected the immigration law in Arizona and some of his Administration’s policies must reflect that.

He urged an end to policies that expelled migrants.  He criticized the building of walls in Mexico and Palestine.  “Walls were built for cattle and sheep.  We cannot confuse human beings with animals,” he said.  “How was it possible to prevent people from going from one continent to another?”  He noted that commerce could freely circulate, but people could not.  It was necessary to put an end to such walls and there could not be embargoes, such as the one against Cuba.  He appealed to President Obama to put an end to the economic embargo against Cuba and in Palestine.

The second objective of his proposed alliance would be to save humanity by saving Mother Earth.  He objected that a price was being placed on the environment and said that “carbon bonds” could not be bartered as if the forests were for sale.  “How can Mother Earth be turned into a business?” he asked.  An alliance was necessary to cool down the planet and control global warming.  He urged developed countries to assume their responsibilities that had been made under the Kyoto Protocol.

The third objective was promoting equality and social justice for all people, which was necessary to ensure peace.  The best way to fight against the drug trade was putting an end to banking secrecy laws.  The Bolivian Government was making strong efforts to reduce its coca crops.  It was important to end the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the threat against Iran.  All nuclear arsenals must be taken out of commission as they were a threat to life.

The last objective of the alliance would be to strengthen the United Nations by democratizing the Organization — “a difficult task”.  He said the authoritarian regime led by the United States was only emboldened by the right to veto extended to it and other permanent members of the Security Council.  The international community must ensure that the United Nations was an anti-capitalist Organization.  He proposed a “war cry” for saving humanity, with the slogan: “The Planet or death”.  There had to be a political will to save the people of the world.

ERNEST BAI KOROMA, President of Sierra Leone, describing successes, said that, thanks to the global community’s engagement, Sierra Leone was on a path to sustained economic growth, with a 4 per cent annual growth rate — higher than the average 2 per cent growth of sub-Saharan Africa — and now ranked fifty-third on the Global Peace Index.  To protect basic rights, the Government had put in place justice sector reforms in response to national and global demands, and was among the few countries emerging from conflict to have formulated a comprehensive action plan for Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).  It was determined to ensure their implementation in addressing gender-based violence.

Sierra Leone’s commitment to a free media was equally strong, he said, and the Government was delivering results on key priorities in his Administration’s “Agenda for Change”, notably with its launch of free health care for pregnant and lactating women, as well as in efforts to commercialize agriculture, an economic mainstay.  Improvements made on infrastructure, including road construction and delivery of electricity to key provincial regions, would help generate economic activity.  Further, the Sierra Leone Trade and Investment Forum, held last summer, had successfully attracted large-scale international investors.

Despite his country’s great strides, many challenges remained.  In order to make progress, the Government must remain committed to improving human rights and good governance, in addition to fighting corruption and drug trafficking.  Nevertheless, he said tackling those issues required further technical assistance and cooperation, private capital investments and access to advanced technologies.

Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, he said progress was uneven, particularly among developing countries, and most notably in Africa, and that the economic and financial crisis had only further compounded their challenge.  While the United Nations remained the “hub” for maintaining peace and security, he said, transparency and equitable representation in the Security Council was imperative for reform, but was long overdue.  In closing, he requested that the Council allocate at least four seats to Africa, which remained the only continent without representation.  “No one continent should have an exclusive monopoly over membership,” he said, and urged all delegations to muster the political will required for progress.

JALAL TALABANI, President of Iraq, said his country had seen a significant decrease in violence and marked improvement in its security situation over the past year, paving the way for withdrawal of United States combat forces.  There was also considerable Arab, regional and international interest in the successful 7 March legislative elections, as they expressed their conviction the poll had been transparent and fair.  The principal political parties had been in continuous communication and hoped to form the new Government as soon as possible, as any delay would negatively affect the security situation, reconstruction and prosperity.  Improved security encouraged many countries to reopen their diplomatic missions and helped broaden the horizons of those relations.  Iraq’s assumption to the presidency of the current session of the Arab League, as well as the Arab Summit Conference in March 2011, were important steps towards regaining its position as an effective and responsible member of the international community.

The Iraqi Government would continue to deepen bonds of friends, cooperation and good neighbourliness to strengthen chances of stability and security in the region.  Iraq had initiated a five-year, $186 billion plan containing 2,700 strategic projects to develop its economy and aid the return of refugees.  Iraq needed the experiences of all its citizens to help build its future, and therefore called upon those receiving and working with Iraqi refugees to disseminate the culture of voluntary return.

He said Iraq’s foreign policy sought to establish international relations based on shared interests and respect for its international obligations.  On that basis, it sought better relations with Arab and Islamic countries.  It supported the Palestinian people’s struggle for rights, including the establishment of a Palestinian State, and considered the Arab Peace Initiative a practical step towards resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and accomplishing peace and stability in the Middle East.

Iraq also called for the Middle East to be made a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and for States that had not yet acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to accede to the Treaty and comply with its provisions.  With regard to Iranian nuclear production, he said Iraq believed States had the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and stressed it was important to reach a peaceful solution to the issue.  Dialogue and diplomacy were the most successful means to achieve that goal, and any escalation of the matter would hurt the interests of all parties and put the security of the region at risk.

The most important issue that Iraq still faced was getting rid of the burden of resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and it was very serious about putting an end to those files in 2010.  He said it was working very hard with friends and members of the Security Council to settle remaining restrictions in the field of disarmament, the conclusion of remaining contracts of the “oil-for-food” programme and finding the right mechanism to guarantee protection of Iraqi money to replace the Development Fund for Iraq and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq.  The new Iraqi Government would also work seriously to reach a settlement on issues with Kuwait, such as maintenance of border pillars and compensation of missing Kuwaiti persons and properties that would satisfy all parties and its commitment to Security Council resolutions.

The situation in Iraq was drastically different from when the Security Council had adopted resolution 661 (1990) and the time was right to for the body to review all resolutions adopted against the country.  Iraq aimed to build a united country where citizens worked within constitution-based institutions and the rule of law, while human rights were protected, and it had rich natural and human resources to achieve those objectives, he said.  But, it needed political and economic support as well as international cooperation to stand on a firm base that would enable it to move towards prosperity.

SALOU DJIBO, President of the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy of Niger, commended the Secretary-General for his many efforts.  In February, political forces intervened in the face of an anti-constitutional drift and sparked a risk of the disintegration of national coherence.  Those political forces were not an army hungry for power, but officers who desired to defend their country.  A civil coup d’état had been undertaken and all laws of the republic were ignored.  He noted that the arrival of the political forces was welcomed in national and international opinion.  After stepping in, the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy immediately set a main goal to take all actions that could bring about peace in the country.

With that goal in mind, it had created a programme of governance that focused on the fight against corruption and the reconciliation of people of Niger.  The National Independent Electoral Commission was set up, and a draft budget for seven planned elections from 31 October 2010 to 6 April 2011 was approved.  Members of Government and the defence forces were ineligible for election during the transition period, he recalled.  Ahead of the elections, he urgently appealed to the international community to continue assisting Niger and the Electoral Commission.  Such assistance was crucial in order to achieve Niger’s goal of returning to constitutional life.

In hopes of ensuring free and transparent elections, he asked that the United Nations and all other interested institutions to observe the different elections.  He had travelled to New York despite the conditions in his country to solemnly reaffirm that commitments made by Niger were in the advance stages of implementation.  The transition authority fully upheld commitments made, and would surely complete implementation with the help of the international community.  In May, a commission to combat economic and financial crime was set up along with a high authority for the reconciliation of democracy.  Those efforts clearly reaffirmed Niger’s commitment to peace, security, good neighbourliness, and the rule of law in compliance with the United Nations Charter, the charter of the African Union, and other relevant legal documents.

Turning to the Millennium Goals, he recalled that progress had been “very uneven” in the international context.  However, tangible progress had been made daily in many areas of concern.  In Africa, many positive developments were recorded, including free and transparent elections in countries such as Sudan and Burundi.  He hoped to see significant political progress made soon in other African countries.  Moreover, he wished for the full success of the direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine.  In spite of efforts made to counter threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, national and regional authorities still faced challenges in stopping arms groups. “Our response must be concerted,” he declared.

STEVEN VANACKERE, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reform of Belgium, said that at the heart of any form of governance lay responsibility, whether global or local, national or international.  However, responsibility alone was not enough as governance was not only about behaving responsibly, it was also about being accountable.  That applied not only at the level of the single State, but also at the level of the United Nations.  Human rights, security and development were at the core of the Organization’s mandate.

He pointed out that accountability in international affairs was about respecting international law, the rules that governed relations among States.  Without a solid legal basis, international cooperation remained optional and fell short of the necessary transparency and long-term sustainability.  To that end, taking up responsibilities in the area of human rights implied ensuring efficient means and mechanisms to ensure their protection.  Regrettably, however, attention today was all too often focused on how to react to human rights violations instead of focusing more on prevention and on the root causes of those violations.

Continuing, he observed that in the field of security, another pillar of the United Nations, there was a need for increased accountability, although he acknowledged important progress had been made in that regard over the last year.  Noting that respect for Non-Proliferation Treaty provisions and cooperation with IAEA was accountability in practice, he said Belgium particularly welcomed the entry into force earlier this year of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Unfortunately, the non-acceptance or non-respect for those provisions by countries such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran threatened the international non-proliferation regime.

On the Millennium Development Goals and the climate negotiations, he said those were at the top of the development agenda for the twenty-first century, and rightly so, because “we are all responsible for our planet”.  He asserted that if world leaders indeed accepted that they were accountable for the results they did or did not obtain, they should have the courage to evaluate and adapt the institutions and instruments at their disposal.  In that respect, Belgium was fully supportive of the efforts of the European Union to participate in a timely and effective manner in the General Assembly’s work.  He further lauded the creation of UN Women as a welcome development that had his country’s full support.

Turning his attention to important discussions on the reform of the Security Council, which he noted had been going on for quite some time, he expressed the hope that those negotiations would soon lead to concrete results.  He further stressed that his key message of increased responsibility and accountability also applied to certain situations in the world, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In all the three situations, he urged the international community — with the United Nations playing a central role — to continue to stand by the people of those countries in helping them to find lasting solutions to the governance and democratization, the devastation and human suffering challenges they faced.

JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU, Special Envoy of the President of Benin, reiterating his Government’s full support for the United Nations Charter, said the Organization’s raison d’être was to address various interests that defined areas of tension.  If it did not exist, it would have to be created.  He noted the irreplaceable role of the United Nations and its specialized institutions, which provided an invaluable service.  Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, it was important to take into account the deadline set, he said, noting the global community’s duty to mobilize resources to address causes of the global financial crisis.

Indeed, the Goals must be achieved and it was important that the United Nations use its influence to help countries in difficulty, and ensure the survival of vulnerable groups who faced decimation from disease and hunger.  Addressing hunger, he said the short-term priority should be to strengthen social protections in low-income countries, and promoting small and medium-sized businesses.  In the medium- and long-term, States should rethink their agriculture policies to create a balance between cash crops and food products.

More broadly, international monitoring mechanisms should be evaluated to better forecast systemic shocks, he said, underscoring that increasing agriculture’s share of ODA from 3 per cent to 10 per cent should be implemented with the political will commensurate to the challenge.  For its part, Benin was carrying out social transformations needed to ensure the participation of all groups in development efforts.  It was working to mechanize agriculture, while plans to rationally manage water were also under way.

The Government was also considering promoting biofuel crops to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons, he said.  West Africa was affected by soil degradation and frequent floods due to climate change and it was important to provide more resources for implementing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Development institutions should focus on revitalizing soil to increase food availability.

In March 2011, Benin would organize elections, he said.  In collaboration with the United Nations, Benin had created a computerized electoral list to ensure transparency and reduce the risks for post-election protests.  Despite differences over the process, its schedule and use in the 2011 elections, Benin would be able to “once again surprise the world”, and he urged continued support for his Government.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Iran’s representative said Belgium had made “baseless allegations” against his country’s nuclear programme.  Iran’s nuclear activities were, and always had been, for peaceful purposes.  According to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, development of peaceful nuclear energy was the inalienable right of all States and his country was no exception.  Iran took its responsibilities seriously and its commitment to non-proliferation remained intact.  There had been an unwarranted focus on its safeguarded nuclear facilities, rather than addressing the unsafeguarded facilities of the Zionist regime.  He urged abandoning such an inconsistent approach to non-proliferation.

Also exercising his right of reply, Belgium’s representative reminded Iran that Belgium, as member of the European Union, fully adhered to the position repeatedly expressed by the Union with regard to the Iranian nuclear issue.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.