World Leaders Appeal for International Solidarity, Applied through Legitimacy of United Nations, as General Assembly Continues Annual High-Level Debate

25 September 2010
GA/11001

World Leaders Appeal for International Solidarity, Applied through Legitimacy of United Nations, as General Assembly Continues Annual High-Level Debate

25 September 2010
General Assembly
GA/11001
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

16th & 17thMeetings (AM & PM)

World Leaders Appeal for International Solidarity, Applied through Legitimacy

 

of United Nations, as General Assembly Continues Annual High-Level Debate

 

Heads of State and Government called for the building of global solidarity through the United Nations to help resolve local conflicts as well as international crises, as the annual high-level debate at the General Assembly continued with its third day today.

“We have been calling for all our voices to be heard”, in order to bolster such solidarity, King Mswati III of Swaziland said early in the day as he pledged his support to the pre-eminent role of the United Nations in applying multilateral solutions to a host of local, regional and global issues.  He called for African representation on the Security Council to be strengthened so that more effective, multilateral action could be applied to the continents’ problems.

In that light, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, appealed to Member States to not let their commitments fade to help his country to defeat the alarmingly increasing extremist tendencies of Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam militias, saying that the former sought to establish in the Horn of Africa a terrorist hub to “wreak havoc in the region and beyond”.  Pointing to the accomplishments of his Government following the Djibouti Agreement despite its battle against those groups, President Sharif called for international support in institution-building, as well as security.

Similarly, Malam Bacai Sanha, President of Guinea-Bissau, called on Member States not to let their solidarity with his country be shaken because of what he called the tragic, widely condemned events of last year that had led to early presidential elections from which he had become the country’s leader.  He appealed to all partners to proceed with the same spirit of friendship, assistance and cooperation with his people and their democratically-elected institutions “in this hour of need”, particularly in the urgent reform of the country’s defence and security sectors, as well in the area of debt relief.

Leaders of Balkan nations also appealed for international solidarity, applied through the legitimacy of the United Nations, to help resolve problems in their region that lingered from the conflicts of the 1990s.  

Haris Silajdžić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, due to inadequate response from the international community, groups he called “the remnants of those who still believe in the completion of the political project that proved catastrophic” during the 1990’s were now publicly calling for secession in an area that had killed or expelled hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs.  In a sense, they were asking the international community to reward genocide, ethnic cleansing and other horrors.  He stated that the collective resolve to prevent the “opening of wounds” must not fail this time.

For his part, Boris Tadić, President of Serbia, welcomed the General Assembly’s endorsement of a process of dialogue that would hopefully lead to a mutually acceptable compromise solution to the problem of Kosovo.  Serbia had always maintained that the province’s attempt to secede unilaterally was a violation of the basic principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  He maintained that the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice on the matter had reaffirmed that Kosovo remained under United Nations interim administration until that compromise was worked out. 

On the Middle East, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority said that rectifying the path of the political process as direct negotiations resumed between Israelis and Palestinians could only be achieved when the international community, through the United Nations, assumed the main responsibility for ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in their independent, sovereign state.

Throughout the day, State leaders also stressed the national implications of global problems, such as the economic crisis and climate change, which they affirmed could only be addressed through collective action through the world Organization.  Jurelang Zedkaia, President of the Marshall Islands, reminded the Assembly of the need to take global action on climate change.  “We have no mountains or high ground — we have only our narrow archipelago resting metres above the ocean,” he said.

Failure to address the various impacts of the phenomenon in the short-term would mean economic and moral costs for all low-lying islands and beyond, he said, adding that global solidarity with the most vulnerable faced a true litmus test at the upcoming Cancun meeting of the States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where he advocated that nations build political trust through “fast start” finance.

Also speaking today were Heads of State of Dominica, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Czech Republic and Kiribati.

The Vice President of Federated States of Micronesia and the Second Vice-President of Burundi also spoke.

Also speaking were the Prime Ministers of Slovenia, Portugal, Netherlands, Mauritania, and Bangladesh.

The Vice Chancellor of Germany also made remarks.

The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy, Spain, Austria, South Africa, Armenia, and the Republic of Korea also spoke.

A representative of Sudan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will continue its general debate on Monday, 27 September, at 9 a.m.

Background

The General Assembly met today to continue its annual general debate.

Statements

JURELANG ZEDKAIA, President of the Marshall Islands, reminded the Assembly of the need to take global action on climate change.  “We have no mountains or high ground – we have only our narrow archipelago resting metres above the ocean,” he said, noting there had been enough talk “and too much repetition for meaningful action”.  Failure to address the various impacts of the phenomenon in the short-term would mean economic and moral costs for all low-lying islands and beyond.  The global commitment to safeguard the most vulnerable faced a true litmus test, and he urged that, by the upcoming Cancun meeting of the States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, nations build political trust through “fast start” finance.

In that regard, his Government had endorsed a new climate road map that spelled out actions to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, among other strategies.  In addition, the Marshall Islands had made relevant inroads towards achieving its Millennium Development Goals, but much remained to be accomplished.  Practical and “shovel ready” adaptation measures, including water security, resource conservation and infrastructure protection, would sharply reduce the long-term risk to its security and sovereignty.  Such threats could not be ignored and the political rights to its land must be safeguarded if the thin water table became unusable because of rising seas.

The Marshall Islands was considered a small island developing State but was first and foremost a large ocean nation.  As Chair of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, he noted that he was also addressing delegations on behalf of the Western and Central Pacific countries bound together to ensure the protection of the world’s largest viable tuna fishery.  Inertia regarding overfishing had strangled the region’s development and threatened the viability of resources.  For its part, the Marshall Islands Government had and would continue to close surrounding pockets of international waters if the ecosystem remained threatened.

He said the Marshall Islands realized only a tiny fraction of a multibillion industry – one penny from each can of Pacific tuna – and the Government was seeking political support and economic partnerships to grow its benefit.  Without such cooperation and if fishing targets remained out of line with science, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement were certain that their economic development would remain at a standstill as its coastal resources decline.  Therefore, greater efforts were needed from both United Nations agencies and regional fisheries management organizations, he added.

Reiterating the need to reform the Security Council, he called for an enlargement of that body to accommodate nations whose size, leadership and responsibility - in particular the “G-4” of Japan, Germany, India and Brazil - deserved a role as permanent members.  Further efforts should also ensure that Africa and small nations and States had an improved voice.

Regarding nuclear weapons, he said the Marshall Islands had a unique reason to seek a world free of them.  Indeed, during its time as a United Nations Trust Territory, 67 large-scale surface tests of nuclear weapons were conducted in his homeland.  “No people should ever bear such burden,” he said, and reiterated that communities remained displaced and suffered from health issues decades after the deliberate use of his people as scientific experiments.  The country still faced challenges of the nuclear waste storage that must be addressed by the international community.  He said, “The past legacy of nuclear activities can no longer be ignored.”

NICHOLAS LIVERPOOL, President of Dominica, said scientific and technological innovation had made the world a truly global village characterized by continuing connectivity and unimagined possibilities for facilitating global development.  Those technologies, integrating as they did even the smallest and traditionally most distant countries into the day-to-day activities of the world community, had the potential to combat hunger, eradicate poverty, generate employment, and to elevate the standard of living of people throughout the world, without compromising the integrity of the ecosystem and planet Earth.

However, realizing the full potential of those opportunities meant that the nations of the world needed to muster the courage to pursue with determination reforms in international and multilateral institutions like the United Nations.  That would ensure equality of treatment, and bring the benefits of development, to those countries which, in consequence of small size were often the least endowed, and most vulnerable in today’s world community, he stated.  On the Millennium Development Goals, he observed that, while results to date had been encouraging, there still remained a number of unresolved global issues, which had stymied the efforts to attain those targets.  He suggested, therefore, a reconfiguration and acceleration of efforts by all Member States during the next five years before the target date of 2015.

Turning his attention to the phenomenon of climate change, which was well documented, he said it was the experience of Caribbean and other small island developing States that the increasing intensity of hurricanes, droughts, floods, destruction to coastal areas and rising sea levels had had severe impacts on their agriculture, tourism and physical infrastructure.  As a result, more money was being allocated to the increasingly high cost of adaptation and mitigation measures, undercutting funds that would have otherwise been used for social and economic development.  Climate change, therefore, had become a major threat to the ability of most developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals.

Making the case for small island developing States, he pointed out that for nearly two decades, the United Nations had recognized the special economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities of those States.  Since the 2005 Mauritius meeting, their situation had become even more precarious, as the impacts of the world food and fuel crises in 2007, and the financial and economic crisis in 2008 had clearly demonstrated the open and vulnerable nature of small island economies.  In that regard, it was regrettable that to date no consensus had been reached on the best way to deal with what he considered a “clear and present danger” to the planet.  “The failure at Copenhagen should be further motivation for all countries to work assiduously towards an agreement in Mexico,” he stated.

On Peace and security, he called for a world free of nuclear weapons and joined calls for total disarmament.  As for small arms and light weapons, he said Dominica was concerned over the increase in that illicit trade in the Caribbean region.  He was far from convinced that larger nations understood the extent of the inability of smaller nations like his own – virtually bridges between the producers and consumers of narcotic substances - to cope with that new “horror”.  Indeed, the continued demand in the North for drugs produced in the South, and the growth of the related trade in small arms, had placed countries like Dominica in the crossfire of those illicit activities.

Turning to efforts to rebuild Haiti in the wake of January’s devastating earthquake, he called on Member States to make good their promises so as to ensure that the rebuilding process could continue and to avoid further deterioration of the political, social and economic situation of that country.  Concluding, he said Dominica strongly supported the principle that it was the United Nations – to which all countries turned in times of crises – which had to play the fundamental role in the surveillance of all developments which affected the planet; and in that regard reaffirmed his commitment to the central role the world body had to play in global governance.

MSWATI III, King of Swaziland, pledged his support to the United Nations in its primary role of ensuring peaceful coexistence among all countries.  The Assembly’s theme on reaffirming the Organization’s central role in global governance was most opportune, since “we have been calling for all our voices to be heard”.  All conflicts could be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiations, and the United Nations was best positioned for that task.  There was no other place for multilateralism.  He called for finalizing reforms to the Security Council and he supported the common African position on that matter - that Africa should receive two permanent and five non-permanent seats on that body.

Indeed, the cooperation between the African Union and various regional blocs was starting to pay “handsome” dividends, he said.  With 2010 declared Africa’s “year of peace”, the continent had made it clear that perpetrators of coups, civil wars and all forms of conflict would be dealt with squarely and decisively.  “We are committed to the promotion of lasting peace,” he said, a prerequisite for sustainable development.  On global governance, the United Nations should work with relevant regional organizations to find a lasting solution to the issue of Morocco.

Elsewhere, he noted with concern continued conflict in Madagascar, Somalia, Darfur, and the Middle East, where Swaziland was following with interest efforts to ensure peace between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.  He supported that process and remained optimistic that Israelis and Palestinians could live together in harmony.  Turning to cross-straits relations, he noted with appreciation that “the Republic of China on Taiwan” and China had made impressive strides to promote mutual understanding and was pleased to see the former allowed to participate as observers in the World Health Organization.  He expressed hope to see “ Taiwan” participating in a similar manner in all other United Nations agencies.

Moving on, he said the spread of nuclear weapons made a mockery of efforts to promote peace and he called on the United Nations to enhance the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s ability to enable inspectors to do their work more effectively.  Countries also must be made to comply with clear time frames in implementing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On climate change, he looked forward to the upcoming meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Mexico, saying it was essential for developed countries to honour pledges of assistance for adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing nations.  As for poverty alleviation, Swaziland’s focus was on limiting raw material exports and emphasizing production of finished goods.  The Kingdom also continued to promote equality in all development spheres.

BORIS TADIĆ, President of Serbia, recalled the resolution adopted recently by the Assembly weeks ago that acknowledged the content of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo, which, he said, was fundamentally status-neutral with regard to the status of Kosovo.  The Assembly had welcomed the European Union’s readiness to facilitate a process of dialogue between the parties, and Serbia welcomed, and looked forward to, engaging in a process that would hopefully lead to a mutually acceptable compromise solution to the problem of Kosovo.  Serbia had always maintained that the attempt to secede unilaterally was a violation of the basic principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

He said a vast majority of Member States had refrained form recognizing Kosovo’s unilateral declaration and had continued to abide by Charter obligations to respect Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Consequently, Serbia’s position remained unchanged:  the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo would not be recognized by Serbia explicitly or implicitly.  He stressed that the World Court’s ruling had reaffirmed that Kosovo remained under United Nations interim administration and that Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the United Nations Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government in Kosovo stayed in force and continued to apply.

Reaffirming Serbia’s readiness to abide by the resolution, he declared:  “We are now ready to talk and we will do so in good faith.”  As such, he called on Member States to engage fully in a spirit of their vote in the Assembly, stressing that dialogue required trust.  “Soon the two parties will be talking to each other for the first time in many years.  We must be patient and seek out those issues which allow confidence to be built on each side,” he stated, pointing out that there would be many issues to discuss and some of them would be complicated.  He cautioned that it would be harmful if there were attempts to alter what he termed “realities on the ground” while discussions got under way, as any such attempt to change realities through the use of force would bring an immediate end to the process of dialogue.

Turning his attention to organized crime in the region, he said that scourge was now a global industry and was the dark side of globalization as it attached itself to weak societies.  It also attached itself to political and religious extremists and attempted to buy and subvert democracies.  He considered organized crime in the Western Balkans to be the greatest challenge to his country and to the region as a whole.  As such crime had always been present in the Western Balkans, largely propped up by wars in the region, he was gravely concerned that it was developing capabilities – acquired from the globalization of crime and access to technology – at a much faster pace.

Criminals brought drugs, guns, human trafficking and corruption into societies and, in so doing, used the region to spread into Europe.  Warning that “this is a race against time,” he stated that the stark choice was that South-Eastern Europe would become either a valuable bridge between Europe and vital areas of the East or it would become the beachhead of organized crime trying to reach Europe.  He said leaders of the region had a common responsibility to eliminate that scourge on their societies, pledging that Serbia would spare no efforts in its quest to eradicate the threat.

DESIRÉ DELANO BOUTERSE, President of Suriname, said there had been no fundamental change since he told the Assembly 27 years ago that the United Nations “lofty goal of creating an international order based on respect for international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes, seemed elusive as ever”.  Change required the international community to refrain from using military force and/or economic coercion.  Suriname rejected the unilaterally imposed embargo against Cuba, which had caused unnecessary hardship on the development and well-being of its people.

He said Suriname was at a crossroads; its leaders had been given a mission to create a society in which everyone participated and shared in the country’s offerings.  The aim was to create a just society in which people could develop themselves to their highest potential and become international role models.  “No one will be left behind in this task of nation-building,” he said.  The Government pledged to protect national inheritance and assets for future generations, and would seize opportunity to generate national wealth.  He sought to break the isolation and improve the quality of life of the indigenous people and countrymen living in tribal communities.

Fulfilling that task while facing the country’s many challenges, however, would not be easy.  Almost all sectors of the economy and society suffered enormous neglect that left many people desperate and hopeless.  A bold visionary approach was needed to provide its people what they justly deserved as “co-owners” of the nation that was blessed with many riches.  Nevertheless, the country must overcome two challenges that had haunted and blighted the national destiny since colonization.  First, it must dismantle the colonial police state, which blocked a free, democratic, constitutional State free of Government corruption; a legislature that acted in the interest of the people; and free press.  Second, it must transform its society from an economy that was merely a source of profit for foreign interest groups into one based on healthy interdependence, an approach, he said, “created by Surinamers and for Surinamers”.

Regarding climate change, Suriname, with its low-lying coast, was among the top 10 countries that would be affected by sea level rise.  Even though the country had not contributed to the excessive levels of greenhouse gases, it was set to “take a heavy brunt”, he said.  Regarding biodiversity, Suriname could serve as a model for saving forests:  it boasted a 90 per cent forest cover, and had rightly been called the “greenest country on Earth”.  Nevertheless, Suriname’s environmental track record was overlooked and taken for granted by the global community.

Despite a lack of incentives in place for it to continue on the path of sustainability, Suriname promised to respect a proper balance between nature and development.  In closing, he said his Government believed education related to survival skills and production was the only way to eradicate poverty.  Money given to poor people for the sake of one’s own conscience was wasteful.  Therefore, his country’s slogan was, “break away from poverty by pursuing wealth”.

MALAM BACAI SANHÁ, President of Guinea-Bissau, noted that yesterday his country celebrated 37 years of independence, during which it went through much transformation.  He recognized that there was still a lot to be desired, however, in the area of social and economic progress, as well as in the area of stability, peace and security necessary for achieving development targets.  Less than a year ago, Guinea-Bissau faced tragic events that had led to early presidential elections, assisted by the international community to be free and fair, from which he had become the country’s leader.  Unfortunately, the condemned events of 1 April had clouded his country’s reputation, despite the authorities’ efforts since that time.

He appealed to all partners to proceed with the same spirit of friendship, solidarity, assistance and cooperation with his people and their democratically elected institutions “in this hour of need”, particularly in the urgent reform of the country’s defence and security sectors.  The military, which had been admired due to the struggle for independence and other accomplishments, now needed restructuring, as well as attention to other needs.  In addition, there was a risk that the more than 80 islands that made up the country could become a sanctuary for “evil-doers” who abused the space and the local people and potentially compromised the functioning of Government institutions.

A coordinated regional and global response was needed to address such problems, he said.  He thanked the regional organizations that were already providing assistance to address them, as well as bilateral support provided by Portugal, Brazil and other countries.  He added that the country itself was determined to confront its problems through dialogue that would culminate in a conference on national reconciliation.  Guinea-Bissau also boasted peaceful and stable relations with its neighbours, and had preserved approximately 15 per cent of its territory for nature conservation.

He said that instability had made the country’s financial situation difficult despite continued growth and the good performance of its exports in cashew nuts.   The weight of the external debt continued to be unsustainable, although a triennial agreement was approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would cover 2010 to 2012, following positive evaluations by that Fund and the World Bank.  Thus, it was essential that no hesitation should put in danger the country’s benefiting from the Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

As the end of the first decade of the new millennium drew to a close, he said, he said that ethically acceptable answers must be found for such problems as migration, human trafficking and the trafficking of organs.  He supported efforts being made to resolve the conflict in the Middle East and to promote peace between ethnicities and religions, as well as respect for human rights.  He supported, further, global efforts to rehabilitate Haiti, and expressed hope that efforts to restructure the Security Council would result in a more equitable representation of the world and the ascension of the African continent.

SHEIKH SHARIF SHEIKH AHMED, President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, said that unfortunately, after 65 years since the inception of the United Nations, the world was not more secure, as shown by “the rampancy of bloody and destructive wars around the world and the proliferation of extremism and terrorism”.  His country, in particular, had been witnessing the alarmingly increasing extremist tendencies of Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, with the former openly boasting about its allegiance to Al-Qaida and seeking to establish in the Horn of Africa a terrorist hub to “wreak havoc in the region and beyond”.

The solution, he said, for the twin dangers of terrorism and the piracy that was collaborating with it in havoc, lay in restoring peace and stability on land in war-torn Somalia, he said, calling on the international community to address all those menaces without delay.  In addition, he said, illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali territorial waters have increased piracy and induced deadly diseases and must be dealt with.

He said that, despite the great challenges faced by his Government following the Djibouti peace conference it had been able to overcome some of the most pressing problems.  For example, it had been able to reach an agreement with parties that were outside the Djibouti agreement such as Ahlu Sunna Wa Jamee’a, as well as elements of the Hizbul Islam militants.

Other accomplishments of the transitional Government, he said, included the rehabilitation of Government institutions, the recruitment of competent professionals, the delivery of foodstuffs to the needy and internally displaced persons, the creation of opportunities for youth, capacity-building for the civil service, training for security forces, preparation of the draft constitution, re-commissioning of the judiciary organs, creation of an environment conducive to national dialogue and reconciliation, and ending internal discord through democratic processes.

In view of those efforts and the challenges that lay ahead, he called on Member States to continue their commitment to the Somali cause, particularly in training national security forces and providing support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  He called on the Security Council to pass a strong resolution to deter the spread of Al-Qaida and their home-grown affiliates such as Al-Shabaab.  Furthermore, he called on Member States to continue their support to the transitional Government in its efforts to provide services to the Somali people, as well as other efforts to stabilize the country, such as investing in the rehabilitation of critical State institutions, particularly in the legal and educational sectors.

In conclusion, he expressed profound gratitude to all those who had been providing assistance to his country.  On the other hand, he emphasized the gravity of the current political and economic situation and stressed that unfulfilled promises would not, in any way, assist Somalia out of that current, perilous condition.  With good planning, commitment and continued support, Somalia could, for the first year in two decades, be reporting good news – peace, progress and prosperity.

HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that his country had come a long way since the Dayton Agreement brought peace 15 years ago and he thanked the Governments, organizations and individuals that assisted them in travelling that road.  Unfortunately, the restoration of a pluralist society remained the most difficult task ahead, after the old, genuinely multicultural society had been brutally and intentionally torn apart.  Hope, however, lay in the upcoming constitutional changes that would lay a foundation for the new generation to bridge old divides.  No matter what, the country would strive to revive the tolerant spirit of its society because it believed that cultural pluralism was mankind’s most precious treasure.

A good economy, he said, could be a powerful tool to achieve that goal and the Bosnia and Herzegovina had invited international investors to participate in developing its rich resources.  It continued to develop infrastructure and agricultural resources, but not at the optimum pace.  Similarly, the education system was generally improved but remained in some aspects hostage to divisive political influences.  Rising trade activities had improved regional relations and more progress could be unlocked by more intensive regional cooperation.  He hoped such opportunities would take advantage of the resource of the country’s youth and boost employment opportunities.  Defence reform continued to succeed.

Progress was hindered, however, by what he called “the remnants of those who still believe in the completion of the political project that proved catastrophic not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but for the whole region”.  After hundreds of thousands of non-Serb civilians had been expelled from one part of the country, they were now publicly calling for the secession of that area, in a sense, asking the international community to reward the genocide in Srebrenica and other horrors of the early 1990s.  He vowed that they would not succeed, being unable to count on the mighty armies of Slobodan Milošević, which had been heroically defeated, and failing to take into account the will to defend Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Unfortunately, inspired by inadequate response from the international community, those forces would continue to destabilize the region, he said.  The collective resolve to prevent the escalation and opening of fresh wounds in Bosnia and Herzegovina must not fail this time.  He was confident that progress in the country could not be stopped and that the entire region would maintain stability and achieve prosperity in the coming years, thus fulfilling the dreams and desires of all its citizens.

BORUT PAHOR, Prime Minister of Slovenia, said that, while the United Nations needed to keep its place at the core of global governance structures, the Organization also needed to adapt to the realities of today’s interconnected world and the resultant new challenges and threats.  In that regard, the world body’s reform was long overdue - the composition of its Security Council was visibly out of date and the work of the General Assembly needed revitalization.

He told the Assembly that progress in reform of peacekeeping would strengthen all other United Nations activities relating to the maintenance of international peace and security, including preventive diplomacy and post-conflict peacebuilding.  The reforms of international economic and financial systems needed to continue at an accelerated pace, to reflect global development needs.  He said the international community’s efforts to that end needed to aim at increasing accountability, responsibility and solidarity, while taking into account the need for a stronger voice and better participation of developing countries, which must be fully included in the international response to the crisis.

He regretted that, as a result of far-reaching developments, the international community continued to face an even greater challenge in climate change, observing that the past year had been a year of lost opportunities.  Stressing that climate change was real, he urged the international community not to lower its ambitions or lose its resolve to address the consequences of that phenomenon, pointing out that the loss of biodiversity was unprecedented, and the consequences were already being felt by far too many people around the world.

Continuing, he said that it was unfortunate that the ongoing internal debates about the financial and economic crisis in many European States had pushed aside discussion of some other topics that were important, natural and of strategic interest to the continent as a whole.  The need for a continued process of enlargement of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was one of them.  He underscored the importance of honouring the commitment to expansion to the Western Balkans, particularly since the situation in the region had changed for the better.

JOSÉ SOCRATES, Prime Minister of Portugal, said his country was guided by the principles of national independence, respect for human rights, equality between States and peaceful conflict resolution, all of which were inscribed in the Constitution.  Indeed, avoiding war was among the noblest of objectives and the United Nations Charter defined the way States should act to prevent or remove threats to peace.  A contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, Portugal was present in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Southern Lebanon, the Western Balkans and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The coming year, he said, would be critical to the Middle East peace process and he welcomed renewed negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authorities with a view to realizing a two-State solution.  In Afghanistan, the results of the Kabul Conference would need to be complemented at the NATO summit in Lisbon.  International peace and security, however, required effective multilateralism, and the United Nations must be “the central and dynamic platform” to fight every form of terrorism.  Thus, any reforms must reinforce - not weaken - the goals that presided over its creation.  The Organization’s universalism must be strengthened, as it was the sole body where all States, including small and middle-sized countries, had their own say in solving global problems.

Establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission - an idea put forward by Portugal – had marked a significant step in the reform process.  He urged enlarging the Security Council into a more representative and transparent body, saying it was illogical that Brazil and India still were not permanent members.  Africa also must be considered for permanent membership.  As for the Millennium Development Goals, he said Portugal was firmly committed to applying the agreed political vision to reach the objectives over the next five years.  In that context, he called for more participation of developing countries and regional groupings in debates about reforming global financial institutions.

On climate change, he said Portugal was already producing 45 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources and working to achieve 60 per cent.  It ranked second in the use of renewables in its energy mix and had shared such knowledge with others in adaptation and mitigation activities within the Copenhagen framework.  Urgent measures were needed to mitigate the vulnerability of least developed countries and small island developing States to climate change.  Finally, he said Portugal’s conduct in the United Nations was rooted in its capacity for open dialogue.  It sought active participation in all bodies of rotational composition, especially the Security Council.

JAN PETER BALKENENDE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, noted that the parallels were obvious between the major renovations of United Nations Headquarters now under way and the reforms needed to keep the Organization relevant after 65 years.  Global challenges had grown larger, including the multifaceted climate, energy, food and economic crises.  Ground had clearly been lost by the Organization; for example the Group of 20 (G-20), not the United Nations, was taking the lead in tackling the economic crisis.  Further, the world had not been able to unite behind tough decisions needed in climate change and the Millennium Development Goals were producing mixed results.

Yet, he had every faith that the United Nations could continue in the future to take its vital role as the world’s overarching governance organization.  Following the cold war, the international agenda was redefined with great speed and vigour, calling attention to climate change, social themes and gender issues, strengthening the international legal order, setting up peace missions and creating an ambitious development agenda.  Unfortunately, the United Nations greatest strength – inclusiveness - was also its greatest weakness, leading to sluggish decision-making and bureaucracy.  He was convinced, however, that effectiveness and decisiveness could be improved by putting all its machinery in the service of solving problems.  He pledged his county’s full commitment to making that happen.

In the area of human rights, he said that the United Nations fell short of enforcing the standards it had set.  It was unacceptable that women were stoned to death in 2010.  He urged the capacity of the human rights machinery be strengthened through a clear division of tasks between the Human Rights Council and the Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

In addition, he said bold action was required to strengthen the international legal order, through international cooperation on investigation and prosecution, increasing compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and pushing for as many countries as possible to sign the Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court and to conduct themselves accordingly.  In that regard, he maintained it was unacceptable that President Omer al-Bashir of Sudan, and others against whom warrants were outstanding, should be allowed to move freely in a country that was a party to the Court’s statute.

Finally, he said that, in matters of peace and security, the United Nations and the Security Council were best placed to provide legitimacy and resolve.  Unfortunately, the Council often had problems exercising those qualities.  For that reason, he supported reforming that 15-member body so that it reflected the geopolitical realities of today and not 1945.  The exact substance of those reforms was open to debate, but it was clear that the Council needed to be open to more countries to join the discussion and exert influence.  He added that countries that wanted such influence should realize that it entailed financial, political and moral obligations.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the Palestinian National Authority, said the Palestinian people, in particular, and the region, the Middle East, were facing dangerous problems that continued to push them into the corner of violence and conflict, wasting chance after chance to seriously address the issues faced by people of the region and to attain comprehensive and genuine solutions.  In his view, that was the result of the “mentality of expansion and domination” that still controlled the ideology and policies of Israel, which continued to occupy Palestinian land and which had made non-compliance with resolutions of international legitimacy its prevailing policy.  He believed Israel’s “disrespect” had rendered those resolutions ineffective, denigrating the United Nations’ credibility and deepening the predominant view of a policy of double standards, especially with regard to the cause of the Palestinian people, and that Israel was a State above the law, as it had been flouting all those resolutions.

He further called on Israel to cease its “illegal” measures and policies of excavations, demolitions of homes and deportations and revocations of the residency rights of the population of the ancient city of Jerusalem.  That was also the case with regard to the situation in the Gaza Strip, which he said had been subjected to an unjust and unprecedented land, air and sea blockade in violation of international and United Nations resolutions, in addition to being subjected to Israeli military aggression.  He welcomed the efforts of the international independent fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council over the Israeli attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” and also welcomed the mission’s conclusions and looked forward to the submission by the United Nations Panel of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General of its findings to the Security Council.  In addition to all that was the fact that there remained thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres.  “We cannot reach a peace agreement that does not liberate all of them from their chains and cells,” he added.

Continuing, he said that despite the historic injustice that had been inflicted upon the Palestinian people, their desire to achieve a just peace that guaranteed the achievement of their national rights in freedom and independence had not and would not diminish.  “Our people aspire to live in security, peace and stability on their Palestinian national soil to build the life and future of our generations,” he said.  The Palestinian people were willing and ready to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement, based on righteousness and justice and on the resolutions of international legitimacy, and which led to the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab and Palestinian territories.  He said, based on a genuine desire to realize a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, the Palestinian Authority had decided to enter into what he called “final status negotiations”, and pledged to exert every effort to reach an agreement for Palestinian-Israeli peace within one year, in accordance with international legitimacy, the Arab Peace Initiative, the road map and the vision of the two-State solution.

He urged the international community to draw lessons from the reasons for the failure of the political process and the inability to reach its goals in the past, noting that restoring the credibility of the peace process mainly required compelling Israel to comply with its obligations and commitments.  The Palestinian demand for the cessation of settlement activities, the lifting of the siege and an end to all other illegal Israeli policies and practices did not constitute arbitrary pre-conditions in the peace process, but were consistent with implementation of obligations and previous commitments, compliance with which had been repeatedly reaffirmed in all resolutions adopted since the very start of the political process.  Israel’s implementation of those obligations and commitments would lead to the creation of the necessary environment for the success of the negotiations and would give credibility to the pledge to implement the final agreement.  To that end, Israel had to choose between peace and the continuation of settlements.

He further stated that rectifying the path of the political process could only be achieved when the international community itself assumed the main responsibility for ending the Israeli occupation and ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in their independent, sovereign State on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just and agreed solution for the plight of the Palestinian refugees.  The Palestinian people were also determined to restore national unity between the two parts of their homeland and would spare no effort to end the division resulting from the coup against Palestinian legitimacy.  Concluding, he expressed thanks for United States President Barack Obama’s affirmation in his address to the General Assembly of the two-State solution and the necessity for a freeze of settlement activities, as well as his hope for the establishment of the independent State of Palestine and its full membership in the United Nations.

MOULAYE OULD MOHAMED LAGHDAF, Prime Minister of Mauritania, said that his country had taken a significant step forward and the new era called for “serious work” to improve the living conditions of its people, strengthen democracy, and build a State based on justice, equality and the values of the Republic.  “In the new era, there isn’t any political prisoner in Mauritania,” he said, adding that the pluralistic Parliament would play a full role in legislation and Government control, and the press would exercise freedom without restriction.

In that regard, the Government would implement ambitious development policies to eliminate corruption, utilize resources in a responsible and transparent manner, impose respect of law and prestige of the country, disseminate social peace, provide basic services and construct essential infrastructures needed for the development of the country.  Confidence in that policy had earned Mauritania a financial pledge by the international community of $3.2 billion over three years.

Continuing, he said progress was under way to build roads, health and educational facilities, and projects aimed to empower women and youth, and improve conditions for the poor.  On another important issue, he said Mauritania faced dangers of terrorism and cross-border organized crime.  Terrorism was a global issue and, therefore, it was unacceptable to confuse Islam with the problem.  Combating terrorism required strengthening social justice, integrating young people into society and creating hope for them so that they did not become easy targets for recruitment by terrorist and extremist organizations.

As for regional concerns, he said the failure to establish a United Maghreb, would reflect negatively on the future of that vital area.  A quick solution to the Sahara issue would accelerate the pace of integration, and enable the Union to be an effective regional partner.  In that regard, Mauritania supported efforts to reform the Security Council, and called for permanent representation of Africa and the Arab world.  The Arab-Israeli conflict remained a source of tension, and he called for a lift of the “unjust” siege on Gaza City.  Mauritania hoped the direct negotiations between the two sides realized tangible results in an acceptable time frame.

GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, in a broad ranging statement declared that the world had changed dramatically since the founding of the United Nations some 65 years ago and only if its Members were able to act, would they shape those global changes.  Indeed, the international community would only manage to solve security, economic, social and ecological development problems if it stood united.  Germany was ready to assume such global responsibility within the framework set by the United Nations.

Saying German foreign policy was firmly embedded in the international community, he observed that in Europe, a system of cooperation had replaced the confrontation that had cruelly divided that continent for centuries.  The European Union was successful because, in Europe, all peoples and States met on an equal footing.  The United Nations, too, brought together nations both large and small, rich and poor, those that were more powerful and those with less influence.  Cooperation on an equal footing between equals was thus the guiding principle also for the Organization’s work.  Emphasizing that his country’s foreign policy was “peace policy”, he said this autumn Germany would stand for election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, because that was an ideal forum in which to cooperate in the causes of peace and development.

He noted that climate change had a direct impact on all nations.  Countless people were already personally feeling its economic and social consequences.  Therefore, with that in mind, everyone needed to play their part to protect the climate, he said.  Germany had recently adopted a forward-looking energy strategy whereby 80 per cent of its electricity production would come from renewable sources by 2050.  The country had also pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 compared to the 1990 baseline.  At the same time, Germany was helping those who were now worst affected by climate change, with particular concern for the fate of small island States.

He said anyone who was serious about combating climate change had to build on innovation, new technologies and exchange.  Both developed and developing nations could profit from cooperation on future energies, and Germany would contribute its technological expertise in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency.  It was his view that education was the key to development, asserting that the true wealth of many nations was no longer found in their raw materials, but in the minds of their people, and that education was a human right.  Continuing, he was of the view that the United Nations itself had to keep up with the pace of change, declaring that the world order of today was not properly reflected if Africa and Latin America were not permanently represented on the Security Council.  Asia, too, rightly considered itself underrepresented.  Germany, too, remained ready to assume greater responsibility.

Turning his attention specifically to the issues of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he believed that those were not issues of the past, but challenges of our time.  “Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are two sides of the same coin.  We have to do all we possibly can to ensure that weapons of mass destruction do not become the bane of globalization,” he declared, explaining that, unlike the Conference five years ago, this May’s Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had been a success.

If Member States worked together to maintain that momentum, it would be in their power to ensure that this decade did not see a build-up of arms but became a decade of disarmament.  A world without nuclear weapons was a long-term vision, but even a marathon began with the first step, he said.  Noting that for over 10 years the Geneva Conference on Disarmament wasn’t even able to agree on an agenda, he observed that there was now movement in the disarmament debate.  The group of States founded in New York on Wednesday to advance disarmament and arms control did not stand alone, and the world would be a more secure place when the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) entered into force and the production of fissile material ended.

On Afghanistan, he said Germany was one of the major supporters of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan.  To make progress in a country long ravaged by war and civil strife, effective measures needed to be taken to prevent the violence.  However, military means alone would not bring success.  He urged all sides to have the courage and stamina to engage in reconciliation now, and expressed similar sentiments on the conflicts in Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere in the world, where, he said, Germany was working hard to bring peace.  Reconstruction efforts in devastated regions could not bring success overnight.  Equally, for societies torn by war and civil strife, the route to life in dignity was through peace and reconciliation, he added.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said that, over the last 50 years, the Non-aligned Movement had contributed much to reinforcing international multilateral action, most notably, the ability of developing countries to contribute to international peace and security, development, human rights, and good governance on an international level.  The United Nation’s should remain the main organ to maintain and promote global peace, he said, but the roster of the Security Council’s permanent membership was obsolete and its work lacked transparency and balance.  The formation of other groups, such as the G-20, had begun to assume the lead role in managing the international community’s “hot files”, but that would not guarantee balance.  “Marginalization is no longer acceptable,” he said, and stressed that countries in the South must also have a voice in international forums.

Noting an increase in “appalling” incidents against symbols and icons of the Islamic faith, he said the West was being drawn into a clash with the Muslim world that would serve no one except extremists.  In such a clash, “the winner is a loser and the victor is defeated”, and he called on Governments, as well as the forces of religious and cultural moderation, to propagate cultures of enlightenment and tolerance.

Turning to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he said Israel’s failure to freeze the settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory would cause the current direct negotiations to collapse.  Such a freeze would be a major factor in determining Israel’s intention and level of commitment.  Egypt also supported direct negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, in a way that would allow both countries to implement the Arab Peace Initiative and end the Arab Israeli conflict once and for all.

Regarding Sudan, which was facing “the most difficult juncture since its independence”, he said that, in addition to the developments in Darfur, the referendum on self–determination for the south of Sudan was drawing closer.  His Government was following that situation closely and with great interest and would continue its efforts towards preserving the unity of the country as long as it is the choice of the majority of its people.  On other issues, he said Lebanon had been “witnessing surprising political development that overshadowed its civil peace and stability”.  Egypt reaffirmed its support for the institutions of the Lebanese State, and supported the work of the Special Tribunal and looked forward to its findings.  Indeed, uncovering the identity of the culprits of political assassinations could end this “ugly period in its history”.  Egypt also looked forward to the end of the current stalemate in Iraq, and stands ready to provide support.  Security of the Arab Gulf was a priority of Egypt’s foreign policy.

He went on to affirm the urgent need to reach a political settlement regarding the Iran nuclear file, and called on Iran to refrain from any measures that could exacerbate the situation in the region.  Securing the southern strait of the Red Sea was also of strategic interest.  It continued to participate in efforts to combat piracy off the Somali coast, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, and continued its efforts to raise international interest in Somalia.  In conclusion, he said Egypt would continue to work for the achievement of peace and stability in the world.

KEVIN RUDD, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, said the increased interdependency of global financial markets meant no economy had been spared from the recent economic crisis.  The radical increase in global people movements, while it had improved well-being, also had amplified a new set of security threats:  pandemic diseases; transnational organized crime; and the continuing threat of global terrorism.  There was also the challenge of climate change, with the unconstrained carbon emissions of one country impacting the survival of all.  Indeed, the United Nations now faced more challenges in an increasingly fragmented, yet global world, which demanded effective global governance systems.  Failure to make the United Nations relevant would eventually lead to the Organization becoming a “hollow shell”, with States increasingly avoiding it to use other mechanisms for obtaining results.

He noted three examples of how the current system was “not meeting expectations” — the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, and the Conference on Disarmament — and said the United Nations had most of the essential structures in place, but for structures to work, political will must be harnessed to enable existing institutions to do their job.  “We must do that which we say,” he said, noting that a conference on disarmament should do just that, “not pretend”.  The actions of a few dissenting States should no longer block the common resolve of the many.  The outlawing of terrorism under relevant Security Council resolutions, together with State measures, reflected unprecedented global collaboration.  Some States had committed their armed forces to Afghanistan, and the result was that it was no longer an unimpeded base for Al-Qaida terrorist operations.

Equal concern centred on nuclear proliferation, he said, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran representing a potential threat to everyone.  Australia supported the United Nations sanctions regime for those two countries and believed they must continue, or possibly be enhanced, in the absence of policy change in those two nations.  He also urged the nine remaining States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty so it could enter into force.  The report tabled by Australia and Japan in the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament was the most comprehensive blueprint for considering and adopting a nuclear arms control agenda.  Also, Australia looked forward to the prospect of welcoming Palestine as an Assembly member next year. 

He urged a fresh approach to responding to natural disaster, as the magnitude of recent events in Pakistan had underlined the need for more cooperation and coordination.  Amid challenges to global economic stability, he said implementing the “Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth” agreed by the G-20 in 2009 was vital.  On climate change, the adaptation needs of the most vulnerable, especially small island developing States, must be addressed and early success must be seen on rainforests, notably through the United Nations Collaborative Initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).  Australia fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals and would continue to prioritize the needs of small island developing States, especially its neighbours.  It would invest $1.6 billion in women’s health by 2015 and looked forward working with UN Women.  Australia was a founding member of the United Nations and a candidate for the Security Council, contributed 65,000 citizens to 52 peacekeeping operations, and was the twelfth-largest funding source for the United Nations budget.  Australia had been committed to the United Nations since the beginning.  It was imperfect, but that meant its Member States must “work to make it better”.

KANAT SAUDABAYEV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, recalled that 29 August 1949 had marked the first atomic explosion carried out on ancient Kazakh land, near Semipalatinsk, unleashing a nuclear arms race.  On 29 August 1991, the Government shut down one of the world’s largest nuclear test sites.  His people knew all too well the horror of nuclear tests and a total ban of such weapons was of special relevance to them, he said, calling on States that had not yet done so to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  Other steps were needed towards nuclear disarmament, including an early drafting of a fissile material cut-off treaty.

The drafting of a legally binding international instrument that provided security assurances by nuclear Powers to non-nuclear-weapon States was also extremely important, he said, as was movement towards establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, which would help create trust in the Middle East, among other regions.  The world’s largest uranium producer, Kazakhstan planned to contribute to the development of nuclear energy and was ready to host an international nuclear fuel bank, under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) auspices, and commit to its safe storage.

He said a summit, organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which Kazakhstan chaired, would be held in December to shape a common security community in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian zones.  The issue of Afghanistan would be discussed, as would the creation of a mechanism to prevent conflict.  As for new threats, he said the Kazakh Government supported the early adoption of a convention on global terrorism and, on a related note, attached great importance to the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking in drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors.

Welcoming activities to observe the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures, and work of the Alliance of Civilizations, he said Kazakhstan favoured the use of regional arrangements, like the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in efforts to overcome nationalism and religious intolerance.  In other areas, he said Kazakhstan had proposed developing a new financial architecture with a global financial market oversight system at its core.  To address environmental concerns, Kazakhstan planned to hold ministerial conferences for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), in 2010-2011, with a view to building a “green bridge” between Europe and Asia.  Kazakhstan also passed its first Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council last February.

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, President of Timor-Leste, acknowledged Mayor Bloomberg for “his intellectual clarity and moral courage in standing for the rights of American Muslims in building a Cultural Centre and sacred place of worship in Lower Manhattan”.  At the same time, he stated, “What President Ahmadinejad said during the forum in regard to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center was an obscenity.”  “Otherwise,” he said, “we fully subscribe to Iran’s legitimate rights to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and we caution the powers that be not to be hasty in reaching conclusions that may lead to irreversible catastrophic decisions”.  That said, the country expressed serious doubts about the reliability and safety of nuclear energy, recalling Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.  “Nuclear weapons”, he added, “are not a short cut to superpower status as some in Asia seem to think and do not insure anyone against twenty-first century conventional and non-conventional security threats”.  They had, in fact, “become obsolete”.

He noted that Timor-Leste was not independent until 2000 and had only set its Millennium Development Goals targets in 2004, but the country enjoyed real peace and economic growth of over 12 per cent.  Infant and under-five mortality rates had already reached their 2015 targets.  School enrolment had increased to 83 per cent and he estimated that within two to three years, Timor-Leste would be completely free of illiteracy.  About 30 per cent of its General State Budget was allocated to public health and education.  In addition, the nation was finalizing this year its own Road Map — 2011-2030 Strategic Development Plan that would lift its people into an upper-middle-income country by 2030.

In terms of good governance, he drew attention to the 1July 2010 report of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative that gave the nation the number one spot in Asia and number 3 spot in the world for sound, transparent and effective management of its oil and gas revenues.  He also noted that the nation set up an Anti-Corruption Commission, and he hoped they would be able to stamp out that malignant cancer.  As regarded human rights, he said, women made up almost 30 per cent of the deputies in the National Parliament.  The nation’s Constitution prohibited the death penalty and Timor-Leste had ratified all core International Human Right Treaties.  Also, recently he had issued pardons to all former soldiers and police officers involved in the violence in 2006 and 2008.

Turning to other issues, he appealed to President Barack Obama to release five Cuban citizens and lift financial and economic sanctions as well as the trade embargo against Cuba.  He commended Israeli and Palestinian leaders for their renewed dialogue and said the aborted decolonization of Western Sahara was an indictment of the international community.

As pertained to United Nations reform, he underscored the importance of making the United Nations, including its agencies and programs, less bureaucratic and more efficient in their internal management and services delivery.  Further, the Security Council had to be expanded to accommodate the “new demographic and economic realities of the twenty-first century”, granting major regional powers such as India and Brazil permanent member status.  Concluding, he thanked the international community for the “steady and generous” assistance provided to his country in its years of need.

VÁCLAV KLAUS, President of the Czech Republic, said that because the world had changed so much since the United Nations was founded, the structure of the United Nations needed to be different, as well.  That was particularly true of the Security Council, which needed to be reformed to reflect the geo-political, economic and demographic reality of the twenty-first century.  It was frustrating that discussions about reform had been going on for the past 16 years without results, and the time for concrete outcomes had arrived.

However, not everything needed to be changed.  For example, the organization did not need to search for a new mission.  Rather, its goals should remain the same, namely to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; and to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems.  It must not divert from these principles, but should remain an intergovernmental platform, based on the plurality of views of its Member States. 

Regarding the world economic and financial crisis, he said that the international community was moving in the wrong direction.  Anti-crisis measures that had been proposed and partly implemented followed the assumption that the crisis was a failure of markets and called for protectionism and regulatory governmental interventions.  The solution did not lie in more bureaucracy, or in creating new governmental and supranational agencies, or in aiming at global governance of the world economy.  Rather, international organizations, including the United Nations, should reduce their expenditures, make their administrations thinner and leave the solutions to the Governments of the Member States, which were directly accountable to the citizens of their countries.

He said that developing countries should not be prevented from achieving economic growth.  They needed access to foreign markets and free trade, and must not be forced into agreements about ever more ambitious targets in the fight against climate change.  The United Nations should not have an all-encompassing agenda, and should not turn away from political topics towards “scientific” ones.  The United Nations was not there to determine what science was, but to engage its Member States in a rational, reasoned debate about political issues.  The most harmful political debate in the last couple of years had been about climate change.

In April of this year, the Czech Republic had hosted an important event on nuclear non-proliferation, during which the United States and the Russian Federation had signed a treaty on further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.  It was an important step forward.  At the same time, while the Czech Republic did not dispute the right for any country to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes, it must be done in a responsible way.  Countries must not ignore agreed and respected international standards to threaten stability in their regions and increase the risk of proliferation.

He closed by saying that instead of becoming a source of funds for various and sometimes dubious non-governmental organization, which without accountability or control sought to profit from United Nations activities, the organization should strive to be an efficient body where States and their people were represented.

ANOTE TONG, President of the Republic of Kiribati, said climate change was the “greatest moral challenge of our time” and it was ironic that the poorest and smallest countries with the least contribution of greenhouse gases were paying the ultimate price, so the lifestyles and development agenda of some countries could be maintained.  Copenhagen failed to meet the expectations of many people, but especially those countries on the frontline for whom climate change posed the greatest threat.  For low-lying island countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives and the Marshal Islands, climate change was a matter of survival.  He hoped to use this session to communicate “the deep sense of urgency and growing sense of despair besetting our people in the face of this oncoming catastrophe”.

It was important that adaptation funds not be regarded as additional development funds by either development partners or recipient countries, but be provided solely for adaptation to the harmful impact of climate change, he said.  The international community needed to modify its approach to Mexico, if it was to succeed.  Any alternative to a legally binding framework was unacceptable and would have potentially destabilizing consequences.  It was not surprising that the most vulnerable countries, spending their limited resources fighting the onslaught of rising seas and storm surges that impacted their homes and livelihoods, were not on track to achieve most Millennium Development Goals.  It was imperative that the pledges made in Copenhagen for fast-start funds to assist vulnerable countries to adapt to the impact of climate change be mobilized at the earliest opportunity.

To maintain the health of its biodiversity, Kiribati designated the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) as the largest marine protected area and marine World Heritage Site.  PIPA covers an area of more than 400,000 square kilometres, about 11 per cent of its Exclusive Economic Zone, and was a collaborative partnership with Conservation International and the New England Aquarium.  It provided a natural breeding ground for tropical fishery and ocean ecosystems and was a “gift to humanity”, he added.  Describing a number of regional initiatives for conserving biodiversity and ecosystems, he said such steps were not only important for the sustainable development of the Pacific peoples, but were of vital importance to the rest of the world.  Thus, support for protecting ecosystems should not be viewed as a handout, but as an “investment for future generations of this planet”.

In closing, he said “As we chart the path towards a new world order, we must address the fundamental threats to the very existence of the units that make up our organization.”  The international community had to guarantee the survival of everyone by addressing this “defining challenge of our era”.  Climate change had to be resolved before it was too late for the frontline nations and for humanity.  “Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option,” he said.

GERVAIS RUFYIKIRI, Second Vice President of Burundi, noted that Burundi had renewed its national institutions “from top to bottom”, with democratically elected institutions signalling reconciliation and stability.  The winning political party was determined to promote national reconciliation and political tolerance.  Indeed, the national constitution provided for mechanisms of political inclusion in the management of affairs of state.  The new legislature was engaged in pursuing its program to consolidate peace and reinforce security for all, notably through the disarmament of the civilian population and the socio-economic reinsertion of the demilitarized and repatriated.

The promotion of good governance was a main concern of the Government.  On the subject of political governance, the country would continue to favour the emancipation of political parties in the spirit of enhanced dialogue.  As concerned economic governance, efforts would be made to continue to improve conditions for business to benefit local and foreign investments.  The nation reasserted its commitment to combat “with zero tolerance” financial fraud.  Moreover, the judiciary would do everything in its power to combat impunity of all crimes, and transitional justice would be promoted during this parliamentary session.

All efforts would be made towards social development to combat poverty, prioritizing agriculture and livestock, energy, social infrastructure, tourism and regeneration of the environment and new technology.  Special attention would be given to public and private partnerships.  In the domain of education and health, many schools and hospitals would be built throughout the nation, with a view to improving quality.  To further strengthen the Burundi economy, the nation would heighten its role in regional organizations to develop programs and projects that were of common interest.  That would require significant support, and he strongly appealed to the international community in that regard.

He stressed the promotion of equity and the need for additional efforts to allow developing countries to be sufficiently represented in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and others.  Also, the nation stood by the African Union in what concerned Security Council reform, notably that Africa have two permanent seats with all the privileges afforded to the five permanent members.

Africa — in particular — he stated, was harshly affected by climate change due to a lack of resources.  Countries must provide financing towards the transfer of technologies and capacity-building for those most in need.  In doing so, countries would also combat food insecurity, which was also a threat to sustainable development.  Burundi called upon rich countries to act for developing countries, particularly those in post-conflict, through support to key socio-economic sectors.  It was urgent for development partners to respect the promises they made to developing countries, particularly in Africa, and to increase official development assistance.  Within a framework of international solidarity all countries must combine their efforts “to make the world a harbour of peace”.  As concerned Somalia, the nation renewed its request for the improvement of living and working conditions for the armed forces and called on other countries to deploy more troops to AMISOM, so it could fulfil on its mandate.

ALIK L. ALIK, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that, despite many years of negotiations to curb its devastating effects, the climate change crisis continued.  The negotiating process moved very slowly, while environmental hazards continued to take their toll with devastating results.  As other small island developing States, the Federated States of Micronesia’s future was intrinsically linked to the global climate.  Delays in adopting a comprehensive and legally binding agreement to avert global disaster were without excuse.  He was deeply disappointed by the glacial progress at the negotiating sessions and climate change meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was growing increasingly alarmed by the prospect of lowering ambitions for the meeting in Cancun later this year.

He said that the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer could solve a big part of the climate change problem, and his country had developed a proposal with the support of Mauritius, the Marshall Islands, Seychelles and the Philippines, which called for the phasing down of the production and use of Hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs).  He said Federated States of Micronesia was equally proud of an initiative within its own Pacific region launched in August calling for 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by suppliers in areas such as transportation and electric power generation, 30 per cent improvement in energy use by end users, and 20 per cent electricity generation through renewable energy by 2020.

While it may seem that island living was idyllic and easy and that island dwellers only demanded action from others, island nations were actively playing their part in maintaining and promoting the protection of the planet.  They accepted responsibility for conserving the biodiversity of the islands and waters, and for using resources in a sustainable manner.  This is why the country, along with like-minded nations, would continue to support the Micronesia Challenge to conserve at least 30 per cent of the near shore marine resources, and 20 per cent of terrestrial resources across the Micronesia region by 2020.

With regards to illegal and unreported fishing, he said there were notable trends towards the disappearance of key tuna species once thought inexhaustible, and the parties to the Nauru Agreement had signed early this year the Koror Declaration, agreeing to introduce further conservation measures to protect key tuna stocks.  Overall, Pacific small island developing States had not claimed their rightful share of their own fisheries resources, and international support should be given to help build those capacities, not only in negotiating agreements and developing fisheries industries, but in realizing a greater share from the benefits of the catch from their own Exclusive Economic Zones.

With regards to the Millennium Development Goals and the Mauritius Strategy, he urged the international community to take into consideration the creation of a special small island developing States category for the Mauritius Strategy Political Declaration.  On other issues, he reiterated support for Japan and India to be given permanent membership to the Security Council, and said that Germany and Brazil also deserved equal consideration.  With regards to peace in the Middle East, Federated States of Micronesia fully supported the peace process and urged all members of the Assembly to play a constructive role in that insurmountable challenge.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, told the Assembly that Bangladesh was a secular, progressive nation that fulfilled the promise of democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law made by her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Rahman, from this podium 36 years ago.  Bangladesh had established an International Crimes Tribunal to try persons responsible for war crimes and crimes again humanity committed during its war of liberation in 1971 and immediately after.  This action was in accord with the rule of law reflected in the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, which Bangladesh had ratified.  She recalled the 15 August 1975 terrorist act that killed her father and 18 family members.  A target of several assassination attempts since her return home from exile in 1981, she said the most audacious was an grenade attack on 21 August 2010 at a public rally being held to protest terrorist attacks and killings.  The attack left 24 people dead and more than 500 people injured.

“I want to unequivocally state that terrorism will not be allowed in the soil of Bangladesh,” she said, adding that the country was a party to all United Nations Conventions related to terrorism.  The country’s policy against terrorism and love for peace had led her to negotiate the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.  In the international sphere, the country’s commitment to peace was reflected in its unflinching support of United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Since 1988, Bangladesh had sent 97,000 troops to 24 countries on 32 missions and lost 92 soldiers.  Bangladesh was the top troop-contributor to United Nations peacekeeping troops.  Sadly, despite that involvement, the country’s presence in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations remained negligible.

Turning to the negative impact of climate change and global warming, she said Bangladesh faced serious threats, such as food security, the displacement of people and depleting biodiversity.  The increasing frequency of floods, cyclones, droughts and other natural disasters had created climate migrants whom were crowding the country’s cities and stressing its limited infrastructure and creating social disorders.  The country had adopted a 134-point adaptation and mitigation action plan, which needed enormous funds.  At the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last year, Bangladesh had worked hard to achieve a legally binding agreement and create an international “climate fund” to help the most vulnerable countries.  She urged world leaders to use the sixteenth Conference of the Parties this year to conclude a positive agreement and contribute to this international climate fund.

The world was still recovering from the world economic crisis, she said.  The least developed countries, suffering as all countries from reduced exports, would benefit through more liberal trade concessions, such as duty-free and quota-free market access.  The least developed countries sought a quick end to the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization talks and fulfilment of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries’ official development assistance commitments to developing countries of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, with 0.2 percent to the lest developed countries, as outlined in the Brussels Programme of Action.  Bangladesh had maintained an annual growth rate of 6 per cent.  It aimed to use technology to accelerate its socio-economic development and achieve a “digital Bangladesh” and transform the nation into a middle income country by 2021, the “Golden Jubilee Year” of the country’s independence.  The world’s fast developing technologies and new challenges, such as climate change, terrorism and economic interdependence, were drawing the world together.  “Indeed, our destiny is now one, as is our burdens and responsibilities”, she added.

FRANCO FRATTINI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that his country was a strong supporter of the United Nations central role in governance and the management of international crises.  By virtue of its universality and impartiality, the Organization had the legitimacy to intervene in such crises.  Italy participated in peace-keeping missions not only by contributing large numbers of highly-qualified troops, but by drafting strategic plans and doctrine, and providing training and logistical support.  Approximately 8,000 Italian troops were assigned to United Nations peacekeeping, with a presence spread across 22 missions throughout the world.

In order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, he said that the United Nations system must be strengthened, starting with its capacity to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.  The international community must continue to foster synergies between the United Nations and regional organizations that played a key role in bringing peace to crisis areas, namely the African Union and the European Union.  The Treaty of Lisbon included new arrangements for the European Union’s international representation.  Once the resolution on its participation in the work of the United Nations was finally approved, he hoped the Union would be able to make a greater contribution to the responsibilities of the General Assembly.

He went on to say that the time had come for the international community and the United Nations to increase their commitment to two regional crises, namely in Somalia and Pakistan.  But in addition to providing aid, the international community must act wisely, and in this light Italy had called for new trade measures to increase market access for Pakistani goods and bolster Pakistan’s economic recovery.  In Somalia, international support for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) must be stepped up.

Warning against the risks of relativism, he said there could not be a fruitful dialogue among cultures without universal values.  Affirming that human beings were the measure of all things, the Italian Government had promoted a campaign for the moratorium on the death penalty and welcomed the consolidation of an international trend towards achieving that objective.  He also said that Italy was profoundly committed to protecting the freedom of religion, and would always oppose discrimination against religious minorities.  Another target in the fight against discrimination was the initiative to ban female genital mutilation.

He said that women’s rights and national progress went hand in hand, but that women continued to suffer in many countries throughout the world.  By pooling efforts, the international community could ensure the necessary consensus for resolutions that safeguarded this and future generations from prejudice and intolerance.  In this spirit, he welcomed the creation of UN Women within the Secretariat.  With regards to United Nations reform, he said Italy sought a realistic compromise solutions for the reform of the Security Council and solutions that garnered the broadest possible consensus.  More than 15 years of negotiations had proven that the membership was profoundly divided, and it was now time to search for genuine and far-reaching compromise.  The vision of the future to which Italy aspired — peaceful coexistence and mutual enrichment between values and cultures — could only be ensured through the successful completion of the many reform processes under way.

MIGUEL ÁNGEL MORATINOS CUYAUBÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said the first decade of the twenty-first century had seen terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers investment bank and stress in intercultural relations.  Such events were taking place amid rapid growth and interdependent transformation — an historical crossroads where United Nations reform must be promoted.  New governance mechanisms should be established to update the system of international relations.  Effective multilateralism stemmed from efforts of the Assembly and the commitment of world leaders.  It was based on respect and the recognized value of building common strategies.

The United Nations success, and its capacity to deliver, had been seen after natural disasters suffered by Haiti and Pakistan, he said, while the year had also seen progress made in security, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation matters.  The new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) allowed for a 30 per cent reduction in nuclear warheads in the United States and the Russian Federation, marking the greatest nuclear pact in 20 years.  Signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty agreed to hold a 2012 conference to transform the Middle East into a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

On the economic front, the absence of international regulation enabled the crisis of financial institutions, he said, meaning that international markets needed not only an “invisible hand”, but also a global regulating system.  Europe had adopted measures to harmonize legislation, allowing regulatory authorities to exercise executive and disciplinary powers.  The European Union also must have an appropriate status in the Assembly, subsequent to the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force.  As for climate change, he encouraged efforts to reduce emissions and dependency on fossil fuels.  The Summit on Climate Change, to be held in Cancun, Mexico, would succeed only with an approach that favoured vulnerable countries, which in turn, should bring about an ambitious agreement with certifiable objectives and commitments.

Turning to women, he said the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) should bring about consolidation of gender equity in the public and institutional spheres.  In the Middle East, Spain continued to work so that the process of direct talks between Israel and Palestine led to a two-State solution, and he urged maintaining the freeze on settlement activity.  In the Western Balkan region, he said the full integration of its countries in the European Union was an essential priority for Europe.  Some issues had to be addressed and the Assembly’s adoption of a consensus resolution on one of those issues expressed the global community’s will to achieve stability in that region.  Finally, on Africa, he said progress made in good governance and democratization must encourage optimism and allow the international community to overcome crises in the Sahel, Somalia and the Great Lakes Region.  Instruments of intercultural diversity, including the Alliance of Civilizations, should be reinforced.

MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs for Austria, said the tragic earthquake in Haiti, devastating floods in Pakistan and the financial crisis were a reminder that the global challenges of the twenty-first century required concerted action.  The United Nations needed to be at the centre of our activities.  It was the forum in today’s multilateral system that enjoyed the highest degree of legitimacy, with inclusiveness its key advantage.  But that moral authority had to be matched by mechanisms and resources to ensure its effectiveness.  Adherence to the rule of law was fundamental; all multilateral efforts needed clear and predictable rules which were equally applied to all Member States.  Member States, but also men and women around the globe, must be able to trust the United Nations capacity to turn the promises of the Charter into reality.

Cooperation with other international actors was indispensable for the United Nations efforts to deal with complex challenges; Austria and the European Union were reliable partners in areas ranging from development cooperation and humanitarian aid to the maintenance of international peace and security to promoting respect for the rule of law and human rights.  He expressed hope that the initiative to obtain modalities for the Union’s participation in the General Assembly reflected in the Lisbon Treaty would soon be adopted.  That would greatly help reinforce the productive partnership of the United Nations with an organization fully committed to the principles and objectives enshrined in the Charter.  Austria was also proud to contribute to the work of the United Nations through hosting its headquarters in Vienna, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime based there was central to the effort to combat corruption and organized crime.  Corruption presented one of the major challenges for the reduction of poverty and the recent foundation of the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria was an important step to address this challenge.

The fight against climate change, one of the central issues of the twenty-first century, required global consensus now to achieve the goal to limit global warming to 2° C and reverse the trend of rising greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  Austria was committed to contribute to that difficult endeavour, which also gave opportunity to create sustainable, qualitative growth at the global level.  All efforts were also needed to live up to the renewed commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  As a member of the European Union, Austria was also ready to fully play its part in the Israel-Palestine peace talks, which offered the first concrete prospects for sustainable peace in the Middle East in many years.

Efforts towards internal reform of the United Nations, including enlargement of the Security Council to reflect today’s realties, were needed to ensure its central role in global governance.  As an elected member of the Security Council, Austria was committed to its work.  It was also vitally important for the Council to effectively oversee peacekeeping mandates adjusted to the needs of the twenty-first century.  Peacekeeping and peacebuilding must be integrated, he said, and Austria strongly supported enhanced interaction between the Security Council and the Peacekeeping Commission.  Protection of civilians in armed conflict was the yardstick for success, and credibility of the United Nations and the Security Council resolution 1894 (2009) was a major step in efforts to better protect them.  But the resolution had not yet had full impact on the ground, and mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court should be a viable tool to reinforce accountability.  Ensuring implementation of Resolution 1894 would be a key priority for Austria during the remainder of its term on the Council.

It was also of utmost importance to enhance the role of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, and the latest shocking mass rapes in eastern Congo showed there was urgent need for action.  Austria welcomed the decision to establish UN Women, which would make the United Nations a stronger and more effective partner in advancement of women worldwide.  As chair of the Al-Qaida/Taliban sanctions committee, Austria saw the United Nations as pivotal to counterterrorism efforts and was committed to enhancing due process in sanctions regimes.  To end on a positive note, Austria was honoured to have contributed to the agreement to a comprehensive Action Plan restoring confidence in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  For the first time, a “world without nuclear weapons” was accepted as the goal by all parties and the catastrophic consequences of use of such weapons were recognized — an important step towards the eventual legal ban of nuclear weapons by means of a convention or legal framework.   Austria would also support the establishment of a Competence Centre for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Vienna early next year, which would hopefully contribute to further progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

MAITE NKOANA-MASHABANE, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, said the United Nation’s relevance as a multilateral mechanism that could administer and resolve today’s complex challenges could not be overemphasized.  South Africa was committed to working with other Member States to address these challenges and make the United Nations more relevant, responsive and representative.  Its growth from 51 members in 1945 to 192 members today demonstrated the confidence that people around the world placed in the Organization and the ideals of its Charter.  The Organization was instrumental in ending the universally despised apartheid system in South Africa.

The revitalization of the Assembly was a cornerstone of the United Nations reform agenda and South Africa supported measures that aimed to enhance its effectiveness, especially regarding its role in maintaining international peace and security, she said.  No transformation could be complete without a fundamental reform of the Security Council that made the body truly representative of the Organization’s membership and responsive to international crises, as mandated by the Charter.  “It remains indeed a travesty of justice that Africa, which constitutes a large portion of the work of the Council, is not represented in the permanent category,” she said.

Turning to economic issues, she noted that the Doha Development Round of the world trade talks, crucial to the developing South, had not been concluded, while the global economic crisis had emphasized the need for an international financial architecture that represented the South’s development needs.  South Africa looked forward to the transformation of this architecture, including the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, to build a world system founded on equity and social justice.

As the African Union Chairperson, Bingu wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, had told the Assembly during the general debate’s first day, peace and stability were a precondition for a “new beginning” in Africa, she said.  The United Nations had to view Africa as a partner to maintain international peace and manage conflict, as it strengthened the working relationship between the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.  South Africa would continue to support all international efforts to help Palestine and Israel find a lasting peace and she also called for the lifting of the embargo against the Republic of Cuba.  She said the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, held earlier this year in South Africa, demonstrated the role that sport can play in advancing development and peace.  The fans also celebrated diversity and Ubuntu — that I am because you are — and confirmed faith in a belief that a better world was possible.  As it played a central role in the global system, the international community could best respond to that message by making sure that the United Nations was more relevant, inclusive and representative.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, touching upon the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, said that the people of the latter had exercised their right to self-determination two decades ago.  They fought for their right to freedom and withstood the brutal war unleashed by Azerbaijan that was suppressing them for 70 years to attempt to cleanse them from their homes.  The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process moved forward with the internationally mandated mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group of Co-Chairs, which continued efforts to peacefully settle the conflict based on the fundamental principles of international law, non-use of force or threat of force, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and territorial integrity.

Unfortunately, he said that Azerbaijan was attempting to turn the negotiations process upside down, and to distort the nature of the conflict in various international platforms.  Unabated war rhetoric, increased violations of the ceasefire regime, and the unprecedented increase of the military budget of Azerbaijan only exacerbated the situation.  Azerbaijan should not shift the settlement process to formats and frameworks other than the Minsk Group.  He went on to mention the thousands of medieval sculptures destroyed by Azerbaijan between 1998 and 2005.  The International Council on Monuments and Sites said of those giant sculptures, “This heritage that once enjoyed its worthy place among the treasures of the world’s heritage” could no longer be transmitted to future generations.

He further said that Armenia’s initiative  for the normalization of relations with Turkey without any preconditions was fully supported by the international community, and Armenia had made a confident investment in a durable rapprochement while Turkey, unfortunately, had backtracked from its commitments and returned to its initial language of preconditions.  Consequently, up until now the Armenian-Turkish border continued to remain the only closed border in Europe.  Armenia would be ready to move forward when Turkey was once again prepared to normalize relations without preconditions.

As a nation, Armenia had survived the most heinous crime against humanity — the genocide of 95 years ago — and attached the utmost importance to the advancement of all international efforts aimed to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.  It was encouraging that further discussions on the Secretary-General’s report on “Early warning, assessment and the responsibility to protect” were undertaken within the General Assembly to come up with a formula that would allow a timely and coherent preventative response to genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

SHIN KAK-SOO, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of maternal and child health in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and stated that the nation had joined the G-8 Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in this regard.  Further, the Republic of Korea fully supported the Secretary-General’s pursuit of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  The success in achieving the Goals would depend on the honouring of development commitments, he stated.  Thus, the Republic of Korea had embarked on a midterm plan to triple its official development assistance (ODA) over the next 5 years to .25 per cent of gross national income.  The nation was also seeking to improve the quality of its development assistance through the reform of its official development assistance system.  A basic law on ODA had already been enacted as the first step and ODA policy would reflect the actual needs of recipient nations.

As regarded the upcoming G-20 Summit in Seoul, he noted that the shared goal of the G-20 and the United Nations was to narrow down the persistent development gap.  Accordingly, development would be tabled as a “crucial new item” with focus given to building capacity in the developing world.  Global financial safety nets would also be new on the agenda and the reform of international financial institutions and regulations would be “central” to discussions.  Green growth, he noted, lay at the heart of sustainable development.  In this regard, the nation had set a voluntary reduction target of 30 per cent against business-as-usual level by 2020 and had also launched the Global Green Growth Institute.

In light of the increasing demand and complexity of peacekeeping operations, he stated that “all stakeholders, including troop-contributing countries and financial contributors, should focus on close coordination and cooperation”.  The newly enacted, Law on Participation in United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations would further enhance Korea’s capacity to respond on this front.  But “one of the most urgent challenges of today” was the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  In this context, the Republic of Korea welcomed the adoption of the final document at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and looked forward to follow-up discussions on nuclear security at the second Nuclear Security Summit to be held in the Republic of Korea in 2012.

As pertained to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he said the President of Korea had proposed a new vision for peaceful reunification, consisting of three communities:  a “peace community”; an “economic community”; and a “community of the Korean Nation” to ensure dignity, freedom and human rights for all.  Many obstacles remained, he added.  Concerning the attack on the Republic of Korea’s naval vessel in March, “[the Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea must take responsibility for its unprovoked attack and refrain from any further provocations.”  The most looming task as concerned the “peace community”, he noted, was the resolution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue.  “To depart from sanctions and isolation,” he stated, “[the Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea should make the strategic decision to live up to its commitments to denuclearization.  Noting the “Grand Bargain” initiative proposed by President Lee Myung-bak, he affirmed, “Once [the Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea demonstrates genuine change in its behaviour and attitude, my Government is prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue and cooperation with [the Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea.”

In light of increasingly diverse and interconnected challenges, the United Nations, he said, should heighten its reform efforts aimed at broadening its operational response capacity.  He commended the launch of UN Women in this regard, noting that it would greatly enhance system-wide coherence.  Furthermore, it was “crucial” that the Security Council be more representative, effective and accountable.

Rights of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Sudan said that the Assembly had listened in the morning’s meeting to the representative of the Netherlands, who said in his statement that “a person such President Al-Bashir, against whom there was an order of arrest, should not be allowed to move freely in countries that were parties to the ICC.”  Accordingly, he wanted to tell the speaker from the Netherlands that Sudan’s delegation was surprised by such a statement, because it expressed an ignorance of the statute of the International Criminal Court.  Sudan was not a party to the statute.

The statement also showed a blatant ignorance of the principles of international law that even students in the first years knew.  In that respect, he wished to refer to the Vienna Convention of treaties that stipulated that a State that was not party in an agreement was not bound by the provisions of said treaty.  Further, following the visit of Sudan’s President to Kenya and Chad, the African Union had reaffirmed its commitment to all State parties to the Union and had praised the courageous stance of Kenya and Chad.  Finally, such a statement by the representative from the Netherlands was interference in the internal affairs of his country.  It was the right of any country to host whomever they wanted, and his delegation was still moved by memories of heinous colonialism that usurped the freedom and wealth of nations.

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