General Assembly Delegations Press United Nations to Harness Unrivalled Convening Power to Tackle Modern Threats, Launch Institutional Reforms
General Assembly Delegations Press United Nations to Harness Unrivalled Convening Power to Tackle Modern Threats, Launch Institutional Reforms
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
25th &26thMeetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly Delegations Press United Nations to Harness Unrivalled
Convening Power to Tackle Modern Threats, Launch Institutional Reforms
Taking Up Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, Speakers
Hail Successes, but Note Slow Progress on Climate Deal, Security Council Reform
While the United Nations had seen breakthroughs in its efforts to serve the poor and empower women, the Organization must harness its convening power to achieve a binding climate agreement, ensure respect for basic rights of self-determination and, above all, reform its key structures to reflect current geopolitical realities, General Assembly delegates stressed today as they considered the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization.
Among the historic opportunities that had been presented — and missed — according to some of the day’s 22 speakers, was the chance to reach a legally binding climate change accord to replace the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Cuba’s delegate took issue with the report’s assessment that the agreement reached at last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen was “a step forward. In truth, as questions about the transparency of those negotiations were raised, a crisis of confidence had seized the meeting. He, therefore, urged that the Sixteenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in Cancun at the end of November, be more inclusive and press for concrete agreements on mitigation and adaptation.
Others pointed out that the United Nations’ ballooning annual budget — now some $5 billion — represented a 30 per cent increase versus four years ago, which was unsustainable. They argued for, among others, a more streamlined Secretariat, an end to duplication of work, and drawing solutions for unresolved peacekeeping issues from the ‘New Horizons Initiative”, which reflected perspectives of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support on the creation of a forward agenda.
It was not so long ago, Malaysia’s representative said, that United Nations “blue helmets” were given deference in going about their duties. “We need to reclaim that level of respect for the work of the Organization,” he stressed, adding: “The United Nations is more than just a collection of buildings or ideals — it represents the strength of its Members working together.” Offering one idea, Japan’s representative said measures must be taken to ensure that peacekeeping operations were assigned clear mandates and managed effectively with adequate resources.
Taking a broad view of the United Nations’ reputation, Lichtenstein’s delegate said its operational legitimacy had to be earned through transparent and efficient work, as well as through independent accountability mechanisms. The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was essential to raising awareness about structural deficits and he expressed concern that eagerness to implement its decisions was in decline. Meanwhile, the Security Council was seen as lacking political legitimacy due to its non-representational composition. The Organization risked an institutional crisis as a whole if that situation prevailed much longer.
Nepal’s representative would have liked the Secretary-General’s report to have spotlighted the situation of least developed countries, especially in terms of their huge challenges as the most vulnerable group. In today’s globalized world, perpetuation of poverty could often lead to conflicts of a colossal scale that impacted international peace and security, he observed.
On a related point, South Africa’s representative pressed the United Nations to play a meaningful role in ensuring that the people of Western Sahara, the last colony on the African continent, exercised their right to self-determination. The Organization also must help reach a lasting peaceful settlement in the Middle East amid serious concern that the partial moratorium on the building of Israeli settlements had not been renewed.
The United Nations had, however, reached a significant milestone with the historic creation of UN Women, many speakers said, which signalled that the global women’s empowerment movement had finally arrived at the Organization. Many delegates hailed its establishment, saying it would speed progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide.
India’s representative said he had been struck by the singular lack of mention in the Secretary-General’s report of the important progress made towards Security Council reform. The launch of text-based negotiations and emphatic support by Members for that 15-member body’s expansion could not go unacknowledged.
Also today, the Assembly appointed the following countries to the Credentials Committee for the sixty-fifth session: Bahamas; China; Finland; Gabon; Guatemala; Kenya; Russian Federation; Singapore; and the United States.
Also speaking today were the representatives of China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, Brazil, Belarus, Guatemala, Senegal, Colombia, Republic of Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Thailand and Sudan.
The Observer for the Holy See also addressed the Assembly.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 8 October, to take up the annual reports of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The General Assembly met today for its annual consideration of the Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (document A/65/1), which notes the past year brought some important successes, but also tremendous losses in the work and life of the Organization. The United Nations lost more of its dedicated staff than ever before in its 65-year history. Their sacrifice would not be forgotten or in vain, the report says. Those who remained were now responsible to work tirelessly to reinvigorate and support the mission of the United Nations.
The Millennium Development Goals underpinned an unprecedented endeavour to collectively address poverty and inequality. Despite great strides, progress towards the Goals was uneven and new challenges had emerged, the report says. The World Bank estimated that, owing to recent economic crises, 64 million more people would fall into extreme poverty by the end of the year. Many important initiatives were accelerating progress, but major donors had to meet commitments, especially to Africa, where impact of global recession may linger due to lack of social protection.
Over the past year, the United Nations system redoubled preventative diplomacy efforts, leading or assisting mediation in more than 20 countries. Peacekeeping, crucial for stability, reached an unprecedented level of 124,000 deployed personnel last year, notably to Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire and Afghanistan. But, the report goes on to say, several peacekeeping mandates were hampered by differing views on political strategy within the Security Council and by stakeholders, as well as insufficient consent by host Governments. A five-year review of peacebuilding architecture was also launched in February 2010 to explore ways in which to realize its full potential.
The year was marked by natural disasters and escalation of armed conflicts, as well as emerging vulnerabilities and humanitarian needs, the report says. The United Nations responded to some 43 new emergencies, including the devastating 12 January earthquake in Haiti where staff deployed within 36 hours to coordinate emergency response in the face of the loss of the Mission’s leadership. Staff deaths and attacks increased in several missions, forcing adjustments to security that changed the way programmes were implemented.
A more tightly coordinated needs-based humanitarian financing system reached $10 billion over the past year, of which 71 per cent was funded. The sum was double that of 2007 and triple that of 2004. There was also increased accountability of humanitarian funds, but they were decreased by global currency fluctuations. Members were asked to increase contributions for humanitarian coordination, adjusting for local exchange rates, as funding had flattened and not kept pace with requirements.
In response to increased xenophobia and discrimination against non-citizens and ongoing impunity for human rights violations, the United Nations increased efforts to integrate human rights into development projects. The Organization conducted rule of law programming in more than 120 countries to address imbalances that prevented marginalized groups from accessing justice systems. Of particular note, according to the report, was the creation of an expert team to strengthen the rule-of-law response to sexual violence in armed conflict, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1888 (2009), as well as revised strategies to eliminate violence against women in the field of crime prevention.
The principle of the “responsibility to protect” was also gaining traction and the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide strengthened monitoring of developments in all countries, the report notes, but further work by all stakeholders was necessary to prevent mass crimes. Over the past year, the Organization had provided electoral assistance to over 50 Member States as addressing weak governance - in particular by promoting empowerment of women - was integral to development.
Securing global goods also remained a concern. While the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen had not fulfilled all of its expectations, the report says progress had been achieved in building a broad political consensus. The ultimate goal, however, was an ambitious global agreement that would set the world on a path to low-emissions development and catalyse clean-energy growth in developing countries. Still, the Secretary-General’s report says time is of the essence, and as such, he launched a High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing to help identify funding sources.
Regarding global health, the report says that a renewed focus spurred innovation and new creative partnerships. In the fight against malaria, 150 million insecticide-treated nets were delivered to Africa during 2008-2009, and child deaths from the disease decreased by more than 50 per cent in nine countries. Moreover, the global rate of new HIV infections has decreased by 17 per cent since 2001, and the number of people receiving anti-viral treatment for HIV increased tenfold in five years. Nevertheless, AIDS remained the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age, and progress was “unacceptably” slow in the areas of maternal health and treatment of the two biggest killers of children — diarrhoea and pneumonia.
In response to the ongoing threat of global terrorism, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force mobilized resources and initiatives to protect the most vulnerable targets, but State support remains essential for the continued implementation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The report goes on to say that over the past year, the international community achieved meaningful progress in the areas of disarmament and nuclear proliferation, most notably the 8 April signing of the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) between the United States and Russian Federation.
However, the report also notes that progress in some areas remained slow, and a particular urgency was needed to pursue a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. “The world is over-armed and development is underfunded”, the Secretary-General declares in the report, adding that the Organization would continue to work with Member States to ensure that stability and security could prevail throughout the world.
Creating a stronger United Nations will require action across a wide range of issues in order to achieve its long-term objectives and address the new set of twenty-first-century global challenges, the report says. To that end, the Secretary-General initiated a number of important changes in the areas of human resource policy, budget planning and accountability, among them, various policies designed to empower and promote women working in the Secretariat. In 2010, the Assembly unanimously adopted the landmark resolution 64/289 to create UN Women, a new gender entity to tackle global women’s issues. Further, the Organization made progress in enhancing its intergovernmental machinery, creating system-wide coherence and furthering cooperation with regional organizations.
Finally, the report notes that, in the last year, the United Nations made important strides in strengthening its partnerships with civil society and the business community, most notably, in the areas of climate change, disarmament and women’s issues. The heartening increase in the number of non-governmental organizations associated with the Organization suggested that its outreach and communications had an impact and that mutual interest existed between the constituencies. Looking ahead, the Secretary-General says that encouraging corporate action in support of the Organization’s goals will remain a priority.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said measures taken to stimulate economic growth and recovery had not always responded to the needs of the poorest. Despite promises, developed countries had resorted to “barefaced protectionism” to the detriment of developing nations. At the Assembly’s recent Millennium Development Goals review, it was clear that lack of financial resources was the main reason for delays in meeting the Goals, and that calls to fill them had been ignored by developed nations, as highlighted in the outcome document. Such promises made in context of United Nations conferences and summits were the framework for the Organization’s activities. Only through radical changes in consumption and production patterns in the global North, and building a new economic order would the Goals be reached. Indeed, a new global financial architecture should take pride of place in the United Nations’ deliberations.
Recalling the reference in the Secretary-General’s report to nine joint initiatives created to respond to global financial crisis, he stressed that any such initiative be duly discussed with States before being put into practice. The same was true for the work of the High-level Panel on Climate Change Financing. Developed countries must comply with their historic responsibilities outlined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol. For their part, developing nations were prioritizing the achievement of sustainable development and they needed new resources, notably to transfer technologies under preferential conditions. He expressed concern at the report’s mention that the Copenhagen Agreement was a step forward in responding to climate change. That conference had created a crisis of confidence due to a lack of transparency. The Convention must continue to be the only framework for global climate change talks along two tracks. The Sixteenth Conference of Parties, set to be held in Cancun at the end of November, must see agreements on mitigation and adaptation.
Turning to United Nations reform, he said such reform could not lead to the Organization becoming an instrument used for the caprice of a few rich and powerful countries. The Assembly had no space for hegemony. True reform must include reform of the Security Council and intergovernmental negotiations on that matter had not yet produced expected results. He urged that real progress be made to ensure that the Council acted in a truly representative, transparent manner. Expressing hope that UN Women would develop mechanisms to implement all outcomes of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women, he also urged avoiding the bad habits affecting the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council, whose review must be a transparent, intergovernmental process. That body’s Universal Periodic Review was the correct forum for considering national situations, he added.
In other areas, Cuba would prioritize human resource reform and would press for better geographic distribution in such offices as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Proposals made by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) should be taken into account. In the area of disarmament, there were over 22,000 nuclear weapons around the world, and their complete elimination was an urgent task to be accomplished. He reiterated Cuba’s proposal to allocate half of military spending to development through a special fund, and to create a global action plan to eliminate nuclear weapons in a time frame of no longer than 15 years.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Lichtenstein) said the Assembly’s past session had brought some long-awaited breakthroughs in the agenda to reform the United Nations. The creation of UN Women was a major contribution towards a less duplicative Organization, while the reform of the Security Council’s Taliban and Al-Qaida sanctions regime was a big step in the right direction. The new office of the Ombudsperson would contribute to the legitimacy and effectiveness of that regime and the Security Council itself. Lichtenstein hoped “Global Governance”, the theme of this year’s general debate, would remain the overarching theme of the entire session. Lichtenstein would also welcome a high-level debate on rule of law during this session, as a system of global governance required clear applicable rules.
The United Nations had the broadest legitimacy of all intergovernmental organizations, based on its near universal membership and the democratic structure of its main deliberative body. But legitimacy could not be based on structural and institutional aspects alone, he continued, stressing that the world body’s funds, agencies and peacekeeping missions must increase their legitimacy as well. In addition, operational legitimacy of United Nations initiatives needed to be earned through transparent and efficient work and through independent accountability mechanisms. The work of the OIOS was essential to raising awareness for structural deficits in the Organization, and Lichtenstein was concerned eagerness to implement its recommendations was in decline. The United Nations must urgently address all allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, as well as misappropriation of funds, he added.
The General Assembly’s current agenda provided an opportunity to streamline processes in peacebuilding and human rights, he said. Substantial improvement in different human rights regimes in the United Nations was possible and necessary but the relationship between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly had been, to say the least, “irregular and inefficient”. The Security Council was the most powerful tool in international law, yet was perceived as lacking political legitimacy due to its non-representational composition. Member States risked an institutional crisis of the Organization as a whole if that situation prevailed much longer, he said. Lichtenstein was ready to contribute to serious discussion on measures to improve Security Council accountability, including as part of the S-5 group on reforming that body’s working methods.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said the most urgent challenge ahead for the United Nations was the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and he expressed concern about the impacts of the global financial crisis on developing countries’ efforts to reach them. All commitments must be followed through in order to reach the Goals by 2015. For its part, Japan would deliver on its promises, notably related to the crucial sectors of health and education. Poverty reduction efforts alone would not achieve the Goals. A significant proportion of the “bottom billion” was surviving in tenuous post-conflict situations and to break the cycle of poverty and conflict, it was essential to comprehensively address those factors. Once a conflict was resolved, there should be quick delivery of a peace dividend that would be felt in the improvement of people’s lives. In that context, he expressed appreciation for the Peacebuilding Commission’s work to fill some of the most conspicuous gaps.
During its presidency of the Security Council, Japan had organized open debate on post-conflict peacebuilding and would continue to promote that approach, he said. Regarding human security - an integrated strategy to actualize freedom from fear and want - he said it was a bottom-up approach that began with the empowerment of the individual and the community. In that regard, he welcomed the adoption of a resolution on “Follow-up to Paragraph 143 on Human Security of the 2005 World Summit Outcome” (2010), a milestone in integrating the human security approach into the United Nations’ work. Welcoming the creation of UN Women, he said Japan would work to ensure that all gender-related activities in the United Nations operated collaboratively in the most efficient manner possible. Japan planned to use such momentum to advance gender equality in Japan and the wider global community.
Taking up peacekeeping issues, he said measures must be developed to ensure peacekeeping operations were assigned clear mandates and managed effectively with adequate resources. Recent developments in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation included the conclusion of the NPT Review Conference. Japan would submit a draft resolution to the session outlining measures to eliminate nuclear weapons. On climate change, Japan would coordinate with States and the United Nations so that international negotiations led to a successful conclusion of the Sixteenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun.
Turning to Security Council reform, he said Japan recognized progress made on that issue in the last session, and looked forward to further talks based on the second revision of the negotiation text in the current session. Permanent and non-permanent memberships must be expanded so that the Council reflected current geopolitical realities. The Secretary-General’s efforts to work towards a more responsive Secretariat had Japan’s enthusiastic support. The recent trend in United Nations fiscal management, characterized by an expanded peacekeeping budget, could no longer be sustained and the Secretariat must be streamlined.
WANG MIN ( China) said that, on the whole, the international security situation was stable, however, uncertainties were growing. In the face of diverse threats, the United Nations had carried out multilateral cooperation, playing an important role in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and carrying out peacekeeping operations, among other work. The recent high-level meeting on the Goals had injected a new vigour into the international development agenda and the next five years would represent a critical stage. The United Nations should establish an assessment mechanism to ensure that work on the Goals not be delayed.
The United Nations should also help Africa eliminate poverty and intensify its support for the least developed countries. China’s Prime Minister had declared that his Government would continue its work to that end, and would donate $40 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It also would deepen its cooperation with developing nations, notably by establishing financial support for exports, strengthening agricultural cooperation, and helping them develop human resources. Turning to climate change, he said China was the most populous developing nation and as such, it faced various development difficulties. The Government attached great importance to climate change. The twelfth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the United Nations Framework Convention, now being held in Tianjin, was the final negotiating conference before the Conference of Parties met in Cancun, Mexico.
In that regard, it was necessary to uphold the aims of the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, he said, as well as mandates of the Bali road map, and principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, among other things. In other areas, he said global governance should be devoted to the achievement of security and protection of human rights, and should ensure the principles of equity and justice for countries small or big. It was necessary to follow the rule of law and uphold the Charter’s principles. In that context, he urged the establishment of multilateral mechanisms that ensured equity and efficiency. The United Nations was the most important arena for the practice of multilateralism and China supported carrying out its rational reform. Reforms should be multisectoral. More focus should be placed on the inputs of developing nations. Efforts also should ensure that the on-time achievement of the Goals was promoted so as to benefit the developing nations at large.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the three pillars of the United Nations - human rights, peace and security and development – were closely interlinked. That trinity of purposes must be kept. The global economic and food crisis had had devastating impact on the promotion of human rights. The United Nations must continue its efforts to help Member States integrate human rights into their development efforts. It was crucial that good governance was established, the rule of law strengthened and democratic institutions reformed. Indonesia was embracing democracy, Islam and modernization in the same breath. The Human Rights Council, to be reviewed in 2011, was truly representing the diversity of the global community, something its predecessor was not. He also welcomed the creation of the new gender entity, UN Women.
Regarding the Organization’s peace and security work, he strongly supported the participation of more female peacekeepers and greater participation of women in peacebuilding. The “New Horizon” process would allow for better and stronger peacekeeping in the future. Progress had been made in combating terrorism, including through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. He supported implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Calling the 2010 NPT Review Conference “truly historic”, he expressed disappointment that the Conference on Disarmament remained stalled. He also regretted that the promising talks between Palestine and Israel were jeopardized by Israel’s decision not to extend the moratorium on settlement building.
Addressing the pillar of development, he noted the report’s cautious prognosis on the beginnings of a global economic recovery. That recovery could only succeed if the need for strong commitment, leadership and political will on the part of Member States was fulfilled, he said. With climate change being a major threat to equitable and sustainable development, he urged Member States to work towards a consensus agreement at the upcoming Cancun climate talks, on the basis of the Copenhagen Accord and progress made in the two working groups in Copenhagen. He added that the United Nations must continue to enhance cooperation with regional organization and implement its reform agenda to the fullest. The General Assembly must be revitalized and the Security Council restructured to reflect present realities.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that, as the world moved from economic depression to the first manifestations of recovery, such improvement remained fragile and uneven, and the possibility of a relapse remained. In that regard, it was the responsibility of Member States to make substantial efforts to stimulate growth and development. The United Nations had the concrete framework to guide actions, as well as significant resources to help address the challenges; however, appropriate measures would only be adopted if the Organization was able to mobilize collective global leadership and will. Over the next five years, it must focus on accelerating progress, most notably in the areas of innovative financing and investment need to support the provision of global goods, dedicating resources to promote peace and security and mobilizing to meet humanitarian and human rights goals around the world.
Regarding gender issues, she said the global message was clear: gender equality and women’s empowerment were indispensable goals that the United Nations must champion for the benefit of all. Therefore, Kazakhstan welcomed the formation of UN Women, a programme that would help to empower women. Regarding the Millennium Goals, she said Kazakhstan was ready to contribute actively towards helping developing countries to achieve their Goals, adding that her country had set an example that the Goals were achievable.
Turning to nuclear disarmament, she noted that the international community celebrated on 29 August the first International Day against Nuclear Tests. The programme, which was initiated by the Kazakh Government, reaffirmed the world’s commitment to reducing nuclear arms. In that regard, she thanked the Secretary-General for his April visit to the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and called on the international community to redouble its effort in the interests of a world free from nuclear threat. In closing, she reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s support of the ongoing efforts of the United Nations’ Secretariat and forging strong working relationships with the international community.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) said high unemployment, ongoing conflict, natural disasters and food insecurity were among the problems the United Nations faced today. He agreed that the Millennium Development Goals, if implemented, would guide the Organization’s work. The recent high-level plenary on the Goals had offered Member States the chance to reaffirm their commitment to speed the attainment of those targets. In that context, he underscored the importance of Goal 8 (global partnership for development) as a means of putting in place a more equitable economic and financial system. Other essential factors for realizing the Goals concerned access to energy and job creation. To solve the employment crisis, official development assistance (ODA) commitments, outlined in the outcome document to that high-level meeting, must be implemented.
Turning to international trade, he said world leaders had rejected use of protectionism and agricultural subsidies and had reaffirmed States’ rights to use the World Trade Organization agreement related to universal access to medicine. Keeping such pledges would strengthen efforts being taken by countries like his. Cameroon planned to implement a growth and employment initiative, encourage fiscal reforms and improve its business climate to better mobilize domestic savings and foreign direct investment. More generally, Africans needed tools that enabled them to create jobs and income. Developed countries must keep pledges made at the Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of Twenty (G-20) summits, notably to double their aid to the continent. The African Union had underscored Africa’s progress in implementing the Goals, but he noted that the pace and quality of achievements allowed for being “only slightly pleased” with progress.
Taking up peace and security matters, he said the Organization had worked on the ground in Africa, involving itself in both conflict prevention and peacebuilding. He welcomed progress made in Côte d’Ivoire in implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement; in Burundi, which was moving from the peacekeeping to peacebuilding phase; and farther afield, in Haiti, which was becoming more stable. Resources, however, were not commensurate with the various deployments, and he, therefore, supported the New Horizons Initiative to find solutions. Finally, on United Nations reform, he said the Organization’s central role in global governance was undeniable. It must receive the resources it needed to remain the crucible of multilateralism. Reform also should enable Africa to have a permanent presence in the Security Council.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said a partnership for financing was needed for developing countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals. India also shared the priority of climate change, and welcomed the creation of the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, as well as the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. The Secretary-General’s report captured priorities and progress on a number of fronts, but India was struck by the singular lack of mention of important progress made towards Security Council reform. The launch of text-based negotiations and emphatic support by Members for that 15-member body’s expansion could not go unacknowledged. Relevance of the United Nations and its activities diminished every day it delayed implementing real reforms to its governance architecture.
He drew attention to progress in revitalization of the General Assembly as the Organization’s pre-eminent deliberative, policymaking and representative organ, with provisions to enhance its role in selection of the Secretary-General and its role in maintenance of international peace and security. India also believed the adoption of a comprehensive convention against international terrorism and strengthening the sanctions regime created by Security Council resolution 1267 (1999) would be significant steps in the fight against terrorism. As one of the largest contributors to peacekeeping operations, India also supported efforts by the Secretary-General to strengthen the capability to keep peace in increasingly complex situations.
India was encouraged by the invigorated international debate on disarmament this year and attached highest priority to the goal of universal nuclear disarmament, he continued, expressing appreciation for the Secretary-General’s initiative to convene a high-level meeting on the issue. The upcoming review of the work of the Human Rights Council should explore ways to preserve transparency and inclusiveness while ensuring urgent human rights situations were addressed and dialogue between the Council and Members States was genuinely interactive. India particularly welcomed the creation of UN Women as the Organization worked to deliver its vision and mandate.
REGINA DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that facing the global challenges ahead required enhanced cooperation and participatory decision-making among the international community. While many of the traditional players already understood the initiatives, others continued to resist sharing power and responsibilities. Africa was — “and rightly so” — a key priority of the work of the United Nations, and such priority should be permanently translated in specific initiatives. Africa occupied a special place in Brazilian diplomacy, and through trade and investment, it had joined forces with several African Governments to develop the enormous potential of the continent and reduce its dependency on foreign assistance. This year, in which a significant number of African nations celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their decolonization, Brazil had renewed its commitment to an independent, prosperous and just, democratic Africa.
Brazil was proud to have achieved almost all of its Millennium Goals and was well on its way to achieving them all by 2015, she said. Achieving the Goals, however, would require significant financial resources, particularly to the poorest countries. The inability of a country to reach its agreed development targets was a responsibility to be shared by the international community. Regarding climate change, Brazil was doing its part, but a positive outcome from Copenhagen, with tangible progress on forests, and reaffirmation of Kyoto commitments, among other achievements, was paramount. In addition, she reiterated Brazil’s commitment to the upcoming Cancun climate talks to achieve this objective. Turning to human rights, she said her country’s commitment was unwavering, and called on the Human Rights Council to operate in a non-selective and constructive manner. Brazil also welcomed the formation of UN Women, and was ready to work with Member States to further advance gender equality and empowerment of women.
This year, the disasters in Haiti and Pakistan, among others, tested the international community’s ability to respond to humanitarian issues, she said. Despite witnessing true success stories, the world also witnessed the limits of the current mechanisms when facing calamities of “biblical proportions”. Therefore, it was imperative for the international community to redouble its efforts to ensure timely lifesaving assistance, as well as means to promote the transition to recovery and development. Regarding Haiti, the Donors’ Conference had been an important example of the Organization’s aid efforts, but success required donors to honour their pledges. In closing, she reaffirmed Brazil’s support of the Organization’s international peacekeeping role, but noted that, in order to achieve a truly secure world, the promise of total elimination of nuclear weapons must be fulfilled. Unilateral reductions were welcome but insufficient, especially when they occur in tandem with the modernization of nuclear arsenals. She said, “The balance between the three-pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty must be maintained.”
ZOYA KOLONTAI ( Belarus) supported additional measures to create innovative mechanisms for financing and investment, provide resources to strengthen peace and security, as well as to meet humanitarian needs and honour human rights. Belarus shared the Secretary General’s view that partnerships were important to put those measures into effect. Belarus had put forward an idea of a new global partnership to defend and promote interests of youth, and believed Member States would respond positively to protect young people from social decline. Technologies based on new and renewable energy should be a pillar of a sustainable global economy, she said. Belarus expected the United Nations to pay special attention to transfer of modern energy technologies, and was ready to make its contribution to the effort.
Modest achievements at the Copenhagen climate conference proved it was necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Belarus had been so far unsuccessful in its attempts to gain acceptance of its amendment to Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol. She noted support of China, Egypt, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Morocco, Republic of Korea and Ukraine for the amendment and believed the Secretary-General would play a decisive role accelerating entry into force of the Belarusian amendment. The successful mitigation of consequences from the Chernobyl catastrophe also met the interests of the entire international community and she called for support of the draft resolution in the General Assembly on Chernobyl.
Enhancing the economic potential and political role of middle-income countries could make an important contribution to stable growth of the world economy, and Belarus invited the United Nations system to become more efficient to guarantee its economic and social effectiveness. She also hoped that the outcome of the 2010 NPT Review would become an efficient basis towards achievement of its aims, believing negative security assurances of non-nuclear-weapon States would significantly strengthen the non-proliferation regime. Belarus also believed the General Assembly could help consolidate efforts combating terrorism by speedily completing the comprehensive convention on terrorism.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) noted that the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization was complete, balanced, and it suggested that current international challenges were characterized by more “shadows than light”. In addition to the Organization’s three core challenges, including ensuring a more prosperous world, a greener world, and a more secure world, he said Guatemala would add three additional categories that showed promise: the core function of the Organization to promote and defend human rights; the growing importance of the Organization in providing humanitarian assistance; and progress on cross-cutting issues, such as gender balance and equality for women.
Regarding human rights, new topics had surfaced in recent years, including the responsibility to protect global populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; a stronger commitment towards situations of indigenous peoples; efforts to combat impunity and establish rule of law; and the possibility to review the functioning of the Human Rights Council. Next, he noted that the Organization’s role as a source of humanitarian assistance had been dramatically apparent in the last year, especially through its efforts to alleviate suffering after the Haiti earthquake and the flooding that affected millions of people in Pakistan. Finally, the creation of UN Women had contributed to generating high expectations on the renewed impetus that the Organization would provide to this matter.
That sampling of the ample and diverse agenda, in addition to other high-priority issues, such as combating transnational crime, implementing counter-terrorism and analysing trends in international migration, underscored the singular nature of the United Nations, and its continued relevance, despite its shortcomings. To that end, he said it was germane to recognize that the Organization was designed for the problems of the twentieth century – not the twenty-first century. While there had been some progress in the areas of management, coordination and tackling emerging issues, that progress has been slow, insufficient and in some cases superficial. Security Council reform, which continued to languish, would “unplug the path for the other reforms the Organization needs to reach its potential”, he said. In closing, he remembered the 105 persons serving the United Nations who lost their lives in Haiti, which underscored the importance of the Secretariat’s motivated staff and unshakable leadership. To that end, he reiterated the importance of the Assembly’s agenda to review its human resource policies.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said the recent summit-level review on the Millennium Development Goals recalled that “timid” progress had been made to reach those targets by 2015. The Goals represented minimal conditions to be met and “we must act quickly”, he said, so that the expectations of millions of women and men were not dashed. Developed and developing nations alike must play their parts, notably in managing debt, promoting free and fair trade, improving mechanisms for granting assistance and in creating access to modern technologies. For Africa, it was important to reaffirm that Africans needed neither pity nor charity, but rather tools to generate income. Methods that had guided work thus far must be reformed to better adapt to geopolitical realities and establish a world order in which Africa could play its proper role.
Africa’s security situation had seen significant progress, he said, especially in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and the Sudan. However, focus on Somalia must be maintained. In that regard, the United Nations and African Union should work jointly to end the human tragedy continuing to unfold in that country. Various conflicts continued to grow in intensity, and he speculated about incorporating peacebuilding work into peacekeeping operations. The review of the Human Rights Council should help correct that body’s shortcomings and transform it into an “arena for dialogue” where dynamic compromises could emerge. More broadly, the United Nations should play its role as custodian of the international legal order, which would help it ensure the prevention of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. “In truth, we have a shared responsibility to act” in that regard, to ensure that such atrocities never happened again.
By the same token, it was important to succeed in the crusade against terrorism, he said, and the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy would constitute a great step forward. Given the seriousness of new threats and the existence of various shortcomings, the United Nations had the main responsibility to provide optimal responses to obstacles in its continued quest for progress. UN Women had brought the gender dimension onto the international agenda, and he ensured Senegal’s support for that new entity. In closing, he encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to create the conditions for coexistence, peace and security, all of which hinged on the creation of a sovereign, viable Palestinian State within safe and recognized borders.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said that the High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals last month served as a framework to reaffirm commitment to meeting the goals set out in 2000. Recent actions of the Organization had showed that it was possible to develop specific tools to achieve substantial improvement in the living conditions of the needy and to ensure basic rights for all. The “Action Agenda” adopted by Member States at the end of the meeting on the Millennium Goals for the next five years, and the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health were but two examples. As it was essential to recognize the intrinsic relationships between climate change and biodiversity, she hoped that agreements could be reached at both the Nagoya Conference on Biodiversity and the Cancun Climate Change Conference.
Emphasizing the important role of international cooperation in meeting the Millennium Goals, she said that, now that the world economy was showing some signs of recovery, it was time to get back on track towards achieving the commitments made by the entire international community regarding development cooperation and assistance. Regarding the effort to bolster the Organization’s peacekeeping operations, she stressed the importance of strengthening coordination among the General Assembly, Security Council and Secretariat in order to promote inclusiveness through their respective competencies.
This year, she said, the world had suffered from several serious natural disasters. It was, therefore, time to strengthen measures for prevention and mitigation, as well as coordination of humanitarian assistance and sustainable actions to strengthen transition to development. Haiti deserved special attention in that regard. Welcoming the establishment of the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – known as “UN Women” – she congratulated former Chilean President Michele Bachelet for appointment as Under-Secretary-General to lead that entity.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia), outlining achievements in the last year, welcomed the establishment of UN Women, saying that women’s empowerment was nothing new for his country. At the same time, there had never been an abundance of women in national politics, with figures hovering around 10 per cent, well below the 19 per cent internationally. UN Women signalled a milestone in that it meant the global movement for women’s empowerment had finally arrived in the Organization. Historic events had also taken place in the final month of 2009, when climate change negotiators meeting in Copenhagen failed to deliver on the promise for a better future. Expectations for a breakthrough agreement had been in no way unrealistic. States would have another chance to create real change in Cancun at the end of November, with the United Nations playing a lead role.
Another historic event involved the regular budget, he said, which topped $5 billion this year for the first time since the Organization’s establishment, representing a 30 per cent expansion versus four years ago. In a world of increasingly limited resources, the United Nations must find innovative ways to halt that growth, notably by ending duplication of work. Also, with deployment of peacekeeping personnel rising to an “unprecedented” 124,000 in 2009, it would be important for such figures to decrease with the scheduled withdrawal or drawdown of the United Nations in three of its current 16 peacekeeping missions. He expressed hope that the integrated approach being introduced would bring about greater efficiency on the ground.
In other areas, he said the 43 new humanitarian emergencies over 12 months meant that an overstretched United Nations would be under even more pressure, resource wise, to effectively and efficiently respond. The increase in natural disasters could be attributed to climate change, which meant that the only solution would be to address that phenomenon now. On the issue of humanitarian assistance, he expressed deep concern at increased attacks on humanitarian workers. In the short term, a review and adjustment of security arrangements would allow the United Nations to carry out its mainstay activity, but long-term programmes also must be put in place to ensure the safety and security of workers on the ground. It was not so long ago that those wearing “blue helmets” were given deference to go about their tasks. “We need to reclaim that level of respect for the work of the Organization,” he stressed. The United Nations was more than just a collection of buildings or ideals — it represented the strength of Members working together. While it could not be everything for everyone, it was still the best hope for building a more just and secure world.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal) said his country was glad global sensitivity to development issues had prominently increased, yet there was still a long way to go to see accompanying commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals. With only five years left to reach the targets, overall vulnerabilities of the extreme poor had increased and continued to increase in the wake of economic, food and energy crises, together with the disproportionate impacts of climate change. Nepal would have liked the Secretary-General’s report to spotlight the situation of the least developed countries, especially in terms of their huge challenges as the most vulnerable group. In today’s globalized world, perpetuation of poverty could often lead to conflicts of a colossal scale that impact international peace and security.
New patterns of conflicts and crises often required innovative solutions, he said, and Nepal shared the Secretary-General’s concern that United Nations peacekeeping missions needed clear-cut mandates that took into account the concerns of all involved. With more than 5,000 Nepalese peacekeepers were working in 13 different missions around the world, he said that peacebuilding efforts should be integrated early on in the peacekeeping process. More effort was also needed to elaborate on the concept of responsibility to protect to come up with a formula that was acceptable to all and in keeping with the United Nations Charter. The right to development also needed to be underlined, and Nepal welcomed the rights-based approach to the Millennium Development Goals.
The Secretary-General’s report stated his priorities were climate change, global health, counter-terrorism and progress on non-proliferation, but Nepal believed poverty and hunger should also be treated with equal priority within the overall strategy of the Organization. The least developed countries were also bearing unacceptably disproportionate impacts from climate change and, in Nepal, about two dozen glacial lakes could outburst anytime from rapid melting Himalayan mountain snow, causing huge loss of life and property. The international community must fast-track mitigations and adaptation technologies to help least developed countries vulnerable to climate change.
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) said the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals in September was a good opportunity to consolidate political will and galvanize the international community’s efforts, noting that, with just five years remaining until 2015, many leaders shared the concern that the prospects for achieving the Goals did not appear bright. At the same time, he urged the international community to maintain its resolve, saying that his Government believed, among other things, that the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health was an effective jump-start towards meeting the targets on the issues outlined in the Millennium Declaration.
In the area of peace and security, he stated that the intensifying demand for peacekeeping with progressively complex and multidimensional mandates signified the faith that the world had in United Nations peacekeeping operations; while on human rights, he observed that, despite the significant progress in that field, serious violations continued to be committed in many parts of the world. Multiple global crises had further deteriorated the overall human rights situation. Further, his country believed that women’s rights and gender issues were an essential part of human rights. Against that backdrop, he looked forward to the Assembly’s upcoming review of the work of the Human Rights Council, as that exercise would provide a good opportunity to identify ways to bolster the wider Organization’s work in that area.
Continuing, he said that a new consensus now seemed to be forming in the international community not only towards nuclear non-proliferation, but also regarding the eventual goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. With many promising signs in the world, he urged a redoubling of efforts to ensure tangible results. More than ever, greater demands were being placed on the United Nations to respond effectively to the most daunting challenges of the era, he said, adding that, at the same time, the Organization could do better. To that end, the international community needed to persist in its efforts to strengthen the world body through reform, which would enable it to be better equipped to confront the challenges of the future.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the Organization should be owned and run by its whole membership, and the tendency to over-emphasize some areas at the expense of others hurts equilibrium in United Nations activities. The substantive portion of the Secretary-General’s report regrettably reflected the existence of such imbalances when it came to development. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, more needed to be known about the work to promote Millennium Development Goal 8 (global partnership) to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the international financial and economic system. Iran agreed that economic and food crises had a negative impact on human rights and believed the United Nations system should, in response, embrace the right to development.
Iran also welcomed the news that the number of United Nations peacekeeping missions would not substantially increase in the future and that it was time to consolidate work on existing ones. It was incumbent on Member States to ensure deepening peacekeeping processes should be the product of inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders, and he said it was important to note that all three existing peacekeeping operations in the Middle East were adopted after “a certain regime” illegally and forcibly occupied the lands of three other nations in the region. The only way to lead those missions to a fortunate ending was to pressure the occupying Power to withdraw unconditionally from all occupied lands. That was among the main prerequisites for establishing durable peace in the region.
The Secretary-General’s report should also avoid entertaining vague and controversial notions still under review by the general membership, such as the “responsibility to protect” or “global goods”. The international community must remain vigilant against mass killings and genocide, but not in a manner which prejudices principles of the Charter, particularly respect for sovereignty. Iran believed the notion of responsibility to protect needed further refining and did not endorse the way it was presented in the report. Iran was also concerned about the failure of the Secretariat to meet its equitable geographic representation goals, particularly in senior management positions, and urged the Secretary-General to improve the international character of the Secretariat.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) expressed his appreciation for the Secretary-General’s reactivation of the Good Officer role with the appointment of the distinguished Jamaican, Norman Girvan, in order to encourage dialogue on the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana on the Guyana Essequibo territory. Regarding the global financial and economic crisis, he said the matter was getting worse, despite reports to the contrary. He blamed financial speculators, the complicity of the world’s most powerful Governments and the Bretton Woods institutions as the joint causes of the current economic unease. In that regard, the United Nations should promote a development model based on values such as solidarity, justice, social inclusion, equality, respect for human rights and citizen participation, he said.
Addressing the issue of change within the Organization, he said Venezuela demanded reform of the Security Council, most notably expansion of its membership to include countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Further, he called for the elimination of undemocratic privileges arising from the use of the veto, inherited from the Second World War and the cold war; for the Assembly to recover the rights that were “usurped” by the Security Council; and for direct and universal participation of all countries “on an equal footing” in the selection of the Secretary-General. He stressed that the Secretary-General must uphold the Charter to ensure that the interests of powerful countries were not imposed on the most vulnerable. Attempting to introduce agreements reached at other negotiation forums, such as G-20, was unacceptable, he said.
Turning to climate change, he expressed hope that the upcoming Cancun climate meeting would reach a legally-binding and ambitious agreement that respected the Kyoto Protocol, which “some choose to ignore”. He reiterated that his Government expressed the disagreement of the countries of the Bolivarian Alliances for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) at the undemocratic manner in which the so-called “Copenhagen Agreement” was adopted. Further, he expressed deep concern that the concept of “responsibility to protect” was included in the Secretary-General’s report, as it was still under discussion by Member States. The concept, he said, eroded the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs of the States, as enshrined in the Charter. Without those principles, developing countries would be at the mercy of powers which sought to impose - often via force - economic, political and military interests. In closing, he said the United Nations reflected the unjust and inequitable global power relations and, therefore, called for a rebuilding of the Organization.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said that, if the United Nations was indeed about people, it should always reflect their interests in its decisions. Focusing on the implementation of commitments, he said it would be crucial to strengthen global partnerships to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Too often, implementation of generous pledges had lagged. Commitments were taken seriously by recipient Governments who planned on them to serve their peoples. Citing the report, he said fewer than half of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members had met their target of donating 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to least developed countries. Of equal concern was the projected $16 billion shortfall in ODA, pledged for Africa at the 2005 G-8 meeting in Gleneagles.
On the issue of climate change, he supported the Copenhagen Accord as containing elements for a political agreement and urged increasing momentum towards a legally binding agreement in Cancun. Recalling the fiftieth anniversary of resolution 1514 (XV) on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, he said the United Nations must play a meaningful role in ensuring that the people of Western Sahara, the last colony on the African continent, exercised their right to self-determination. The Organization also must work towards reaching a lasting peaceful settlement in the Middle East, as his Government had noted with serious concern that the partial moratorium on the building of Israeli settlements had not been renewed.
The United Nations was in desperate need of reform to effectively respond to current peace and security challenges, he said, noting specifically that efforts to revitalize the Assembly must continue. While South Africa did not wish to see the Assembly usurp the mandate of the Security Council, his Government believed that the Council could respond more effectively to global crises. Africa and Latin America had waited too long for permanent representation on that body and it must thus expand both those categories to redress that historical injustice. In sum, he reiterated South Africa’s commitment to multilateralism and the United Nations’ central role in global governance. He called on States to redouble their efforts to ensure that key bodies were focused on addressing people’s needs.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said: “Multilateralism is not an option, but a must if the international community is to realize its common goals.” The United Nations, with its universal membership, could and should do more to provide global leadership and coordinate global actions. In that regard, Thailand would continue to be a strong supporter of the Organization’s efforts in pursuing those common goals. On development, he expressed concern that the impact of the recent global financial and economic crisis could derail progress towards the Millennium Development Goals achieved in many countries around the world.
Of the Goals, he felt that international development cooperation, as called for in Goal 8, was most crucial to ensure the realization of agreed development targets by the 2015 deadline. In that connection, he encouraged the United Nations to accelerate its efforts towards achievement by that date. On peace and security, Thailand commended the efforts of the Organization in the past year in the areas of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. He stressed that close consultations between the United Nations and concerned Member States, as well as ownership in both the process and outcome were crucial to sustainable peace on the ground. Any intervention by the Organization had to be guided by the needs and consent of the host country.
Regarding disarmament, he reiterated the call for expansion of the membership of the Conference on Disarmament, and appointment of a Special Coordinator on that issue for 2011. Turning to human rights, which he said formed a core principle of the Thai Government and its foreign policy, he declared that only engagement and dialogue made a real impact to the improvement of people’s lives, and ultimately helped pave the way towards peace. In that regard, the creation of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights reflected the region’s determination to promote and protect such rights. He concluded by expressing Thailand’s belief that Member States needed to be closely consulted and kept informed on the work and initiatives of the Secretariat, United Nations mandate holders, agencies, funds and programmes, on a regular basis and in a transparent manner, especially when changes involved creating new mandates, expanding existing ones, initiating new concepts and defining their applications.
MUSTAFA ELHOSSEIN ELSHAREEF ( Sudan) said he was grateful for efforts put forth by the Secretary-General, notably in the Organization’s work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However, he reminded the international community that it must fulfil its commitments in order for all countries to realize the full objectives and achievements of their Goals.
Turning to peacekeeping, he emphasized the positive cooperation and contributions of the United Nations through its two international missions in his country: the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), in particular its support of the elections, held in April. In addition, the Sudan greatly appreciated the many declarations and expressions of willingness by the international community to ensure success of the upcoming 11 January 2011 referendums in the Sudan. In that regard, he called on the international community to fulfil its promises to support the efforts to complete the remaining peacekeeping process in Darfur, and commended the cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.
To that end, the goal of the tripartite mechanism was important to the fulfilment of removing obstacles and enhancing constructive consultation to enable concerned parties to fulfil the mandate of the United Nations, African Union and the Sudan. All parties had commended the spirit of cooperation of his country’s people to assist in implementation of the Darfur mission’s goals. He said UNAMID’s deployment had passed 80 per cent, and it had begun cooperating in the great improvements in security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur.
Quoting paragraph 54 of the Secretary-General’s report, he said: “Restrictions on the freedom of movement of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur continued to hamper the Operation’s ability to implement its mandate”. Actions by criminals, bandits and members of rebel movement warranted security measures in order to protect missions and personnel from aggressive acts. His Government reiterated its commitment to fulfil the mandate of the mission, and stressed the importance of the Doha peace process. Further, he called on the United Nations to exercise pressure on rebels and movements that refused to join peace process in Doha, so that Darfur could achieve peace. In closing, he emphasized his country’s principled position to realize peace and the referendum on the Sudan, and called on the international community to continue support the peace process.
FRANCIS CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer for Holy See, said his delegation remained hopeful that the United Nations would continue to commit itself to taking decisive actions in fulfilling its purposes, despite the increased challenges faced by the Organization and the international community. As the international financial and economic crisis began to show signs of easing, many of the poorest within society remained outside its benefits, he said, noting that an additional 64 million people would fall into extreme poverty by the end of 2010. The crisis would create a greater challenge for the developed countries to find the financial resources to meet their ODA commitments. The challenge was real, he said, but not insurmountable, and remained within the capacity of the Member States.
In 2007, $1.3 trillion was spent on arms and other military expenditures, he said, noting that the “never-ending ability” to find funds for military spending highlighted the need for leaders to refocus their priorities and financial commitments. Especially troubling was that 1.4 billion people around the world still lived on less than $1.25 per day, and universal access to primary education, clean drinking water and sanitation remained elusive for so many. To that end, meeting the Millennium Goals by 2015 would require moving financial resources from military spending to other programmes. That spending demonstrated that development, peace and security were inherently interlinked and, therefore, the progress made by the United Nations in those areas would be temporary unless all nations were given an effective voice directed towards the betterment of the human race.
Turning to human rights, he noted that chief among the Holy See’s concerns was the fundamental right to life. Populations and health services that failed to recognize the right to life and the right to found and raise a family undermined the inherent dignity of the human person. Concepts of reproductive health and sexual rights that incorporate access to abortion or other forms of life-destroying services or research, he added, fostered the flawed logic of a culture of death instead of one that respects and embraces life and a better more sustainable future of humankind. Human rights must also recognize the right of individual’s to religious freedom, which included the freedom to worship and express one’s faith publicly. In that light, “religious intolerance and violence in the name of religion or in the name of God must be condemned”, he said. His delegation also called for universal solidarity in favour of those most in need. Disaster response must recognize the particular role of local and faith-based providers in responding to emergency situations. In closing, he called on the United Nations to revitalize its work so it is more capable of responding to needs of the international community as mandated in its Charter. The Holy See reiterated its commitment to the Organization.
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