Secretary-General, Opening Annual General Debate, Urges World Leaders to Tackle Global Challenges Decisively for Sake of Future Generations

21 September 2011
GA/11147

Secretary-General, Opening Annual General Debate, Urges World Leaders to Tackle Global Challenges Decisively for Sake of Future Generations

21 September 2011
General Assembly
GA/11147
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

11th, 12th & 13thMeetings (AM, PM & Night)

Secretary-General, Opening Annual General Debate, Urges World Leaders to Tackle

 

Global Challenges Decisively for Sake of Future Generations

 

General Assembly President Welcomes Newest Member State;

Calls for Transparent, Impartial Negotiated Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Opening the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate amid a global climate marked by lingering financial uncertainty, widening social inequality and growing cries for self-determination, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged world leaders to tackle those challenges decisively so as to secure a better world for future generations.

“We have five imperatives — five generational opportunities to shape the world of tomorrow by the decisions we make today,” the Secretary-General said, calling on delegations to rally behind a set of priorities including sustainable development; preventing and mitigating conflicts, human rights abuses and the impacts of natural disasters; building a safer, more secure world; supporting countries in transition; and boosting opportunities and participation for women and young people.

Flagging sustainable development as the most pressing of those concerns, he said:  “We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”  It was also necessary to start thinking immediately about concrete ways to take the Millennium Development Goal agenda forward, beyond the 2015 deadline.  He called on leaders to reach a binding agreement on climate change, with more ambitious national and global targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and to take urgent emission-cutting action and adaptation measures.

He went on to say that the effort to build a safer and more secure world was the core responsibility of the United Nations, noting that it had been “sorely tested” in that regard.  In Côte d’Ivoire, the Organization had “stood firm” for democracy and human rights, while in Afghanistan and Iraq, it would carry on its missions with determination and commitment.  “In Darfur, we continue to save lives and help keep peace under difficult conditions,” he added.

But, turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue that was much on the mind of all speakers today, he said:  “[We] must break the stalemate.  We have long agreed that Palestinians deserve a State.  Israel needs security.  Both want peace,” pledging unrelenting efforts to help achieve that peace through a negotiated settlement.  As for the dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East, he cited Syria as a cause for special concern.  “For six months we have seen escalating violence and repression. […] The violence must stop.”  On a more positive note, the United Nations was deploying a special mission to support the transitional authorities in Libya, he said.  “Let us help make the Arab Spring a true season of hope for all.”

In his address, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar) noted that the United Nations had this year welcomed its newest Member State, South Sudan.  The question of Palestine would also be particularly crucial and receive great attention during the coming session.  He said he looked forward to working with Member States for a just and comprehensive negotiated peace, based on a two-State solution and conducted in a transparent, impartial manner, in keeping with the will of the collective United Nations membership.

Recalling the theme of the general debate, “The role of mediation in the settlement of disputes”, he said mediation had been one of the key reasons for which the Organization had been founded.  In its previous session, the Assembly had taken an important step by adopting its first ever resolution on mediation as a vital tool for conflict prevention and resolution.  “It is my intention to give high priority to mediation through this session, to galvanize this theme and operationalize it for real multilateral capacity,” he said.

Also reflecting on the sweeping changes of the past year, President Barack Obama of the United States said:  “Something is happening in our world.  The way things have been is not the way they will be.”  He noted that dictators were now “on notice”; technology was putting power in the hands of the people.  “But, remember, peace is hard,” he cautioned.  “Progress can be reversed.  Prosperity comes slowly and societies can split apart.”  As such, the measure of success for the United Nations was whether people could live in sustained peace and security, he said.

President Obama acknowledged that for many in the Assembly Hall, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was a test of that principle and of United States foreign policy.  Recalling that he had called for an independent Palestine one year ago, he said:  “I believed then — and I believe now — that the Palestinian people deserve a State of their own.”  However, he had also said that genuine peace could only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.  “I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress.  So am I.  But, the question isn’t the goal we seek; the question is how to reach it,” he said.

Convinced that there was no shortcut to the end of a conflict that had endured for decades, he said it was ultimately Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side, and it was they — “not us” — who must reach agreement on the issues dividing them, including borders and security; refugees and the status of Jerusalem.  “Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted,” he said, emphasizing that the deadlock could only be broken when each side learned to stand in the other’s shoes.

But later in the meeting, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said that after the past year, when populations crushed by oppression had risen up to claim the right to be free, the world must find a solution to the Israel-Palestinian stand-off.  By setting preconditions for negotiations, “we doom ourselves to failure”, he said, calling for a halt to “endless debates on the parameters”.  He proposed a timetable for reaching a “definitive agreement”, with talks to resume within a month and a final deal to be reached in a year.  He also offered to host a donors’ conference to help the Palestinians complete the construction of their future State.

“We should not look for a perfect solution, because there are no perfect solutions,” he emphasized.  Member States therefore faced a choice:  everyone knew that Palestine could not immediately gain full and complete recognition as a Member State, yet a veto in the Security Council risked engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East, he pointed out.  “Let us not be diplomats for a day,” he said, urging delegates not to exclude an intermediate stage in resolving the conflict.  Such a solution would offer Palestine the status of a United Nations observer State.  The ultimate goal must be the mutual recognition of two nation-States for two peoples, established on the basis of the 1967 lines, with agreed and equivalent exchanges of land, he said.

Another example of the changes occurring in the past year was the appearance of President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, the only woman in the 66-year history of the United Nations to speak first in the general debate.  Taking the podium to rousing applause, she declared:  “I am certain this will be the century of women.”  Among three other women Heads of State addressing the Assembly — along with the Presidents of Argentina, Finland and Switzerland — she set the tone for the discussions, recalling the mass popular demonstrations that sparked the “Arab Spring”.

She said Member States must be united in finding legitimate and effective ways to help societies that called for reform, while keeping their citizens in the lead.  Brazil repudiated the brutal repression of civilians and remained convinced that the use of force must always be a last resort, she said, emphasizing also that the quest for peace and security must not be limited to interventions in extreme situations.  While much had been said about the “responsibility to protect”, little was heard about responsibility while protecting — two concepts that must be developed together.

She was among several speakers who underscored the Security Council’s vital role in that regard, arguing further that the greater the legitimacy of that body’s decisions, the better it would be able to play its part.  However, its legitimacy hung on reform, which, after 18 years, could no longer be delayed.  “The world needs a Security Council that reflects contemporary realities,” she asserted, calling for new permanent and non-permanent members, particularly from developing countries.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda challenged diplomats on their commitment to the session’s theme, saying:  “While it is appropriate to talk about how mediation can support efforts to prevent and manage conflict, we should also ask ourselves why, after decades of trying, we are not making the progress we would like to in this regard.”  The likelihood of conflict was high when citizens felt disenfranchised and marginalized, and it made good economic and political sense to invest in conflict prevention, thus reducing the potential for future outbreaks and avoiding short-term quick-fix solutions, he said.

Experience had shown that, if mediation was to succeed, national efforts should be supported on the basis of specific cultural and political contexts, he said.  Rwanda had seen that type of approach to mediation produce long-lasting solutions and tangible results on the ground because they were “home-grown”.  Involving regional and subregional players, who were familiar with often-complex local dynamics, was also important, as was examining the toll that traditional diplomatic mediation could have on the lives of those in conflict areas.  “Too often while resolutions are being debated and refined, people are dying,” he pointed out, stressing that ultimately, long-lasting solutions were those emanating from within.

Also speaking today were the Presidents of Mexico, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Lebanon, Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Colombia, Nigeria, Estonia, Switzerland, Honduras, Ukraine, Paraguay, Guyana, Mongolia, South Africa, Latvia, Guatemala, Senegal, Mozambique, Bolivia and Slovenia.

Also addressing the Assembly were the Amir of Qatar, the King of Jordan and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 22 September, to open its High-level Meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  At 11 a.m., it will continue the general debate.

Background

The General Assembly met today to open its general debate for the sixty-sixth session.

Opening Remarks

United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that late next month, Earth’s 7 billionth citizen would be born.  If that child was a girl, she would most likely be poor and might not grow up to be healthy and strong.  “If she is especially lucky, she will be educated and go into the world full of hopes and dreams,” he said, noting that beyond that, the only thing about the newborn that would be certain was that she would be entering a world of vast and unpredictable change in the environmental, economic, geopolitical and demographic spheres.

He said the world’s population had tripled since the United Nations had been created, and, as its numbers kept growing, so did the pressures on land, energy, food and water.  The global economic crisis continued to shake businesses, Governments and families worldwide.  Joblessness was rising, social inequalities were widening and too many people lived in fear, he said.  The United Nations existed to serve those in whose name it was conceived — “We the Peoples”.

During his first term as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said, he had travelled the world to meet people where they lived, to hear about their hopes and fears.  Just two weeks ago, he had visited Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, where villagers had told him they feared the threats posed by climate change.  Waters were washing into their homes, and one day they might be swept away entirely.  A young girl had asked him: “What can the UN do for us?”  He posed that same question to the world leaders gathered in the Assembly Hall today:  What could be done?  How could the United Nations held people find greater peace, prosperity and justice in a world full of crises?

Reflecting on his five years in Office, he said he was filled with passionate conviction — and unshakable faith — “in the enduring importance of this United Nations”.  In that light, he drew the Assembly’s attention to five generational opportunities to shape the world of tomorrow by decisions that would be taken today.  “The first of and greatest of these is sustainable development — the imperative of the twenty-first century,” he declared, urging the international community to “connect the dots” between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.  “Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

He stressed that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — known as Rio+20 — must succeed.  “We must make progress on climate change.  We cannot burn our way to the future.  We cannot pretend the danger does not exist, or dismiss it because it affects someone else,” he continued, calling on all Member States to reach a binding climate agreement — one with more ambitious national and global emission targets.  Meanwhile, action was needed on the ground now to cut emissions and jumpstart adaptation measures.

“Energy is key — to our planet, to our way of life.  That is why we have launched a pioneering new initiative, ‘Sustainable Energy for All’,” he said, calling also for investment in people, especially women’s and children’s health.  Development was not sustainable unless it was equitable and served all people.  It was also necessary to intensify the worldwide effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to think “bigger and beyond the 2015 deadline”.  To that end, Member States should work together to develop a new generation of sustainable development that picked up where the Millennium Goals left off and agree on a means to achieve them.

He went on to highlight his second generational priority — prevention — noting that this year, the Organization’s peacekeeping budget would total $8 billion.  “Consider the savings if we act before conflicts erupt, by deploying political mediation missions, for example, rather than troops,” he said, noting that the United Nations record in countries like Guinea and Kyrgyzstan proved that the Organization knew how to take preventive measures.

To prevent human rights violations, he urged all to work for the rule of law and stand against impunity.  “We have carved out a new dimension for the ‘responsibility to protect’.  We will continue,” he declared, adding: “Let us remember, development is ultimately the best prevention.”  With that, he urged Member States to commit the resources required to raise prevention from an abstract concept to a core operating principle across the Organization’s work.

He said the third imperative — building a safer and more secure world — was a core responsibility of the United Nations.  The world body had been “sorely tested” in that regard over the past year.  He cited the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, ongoing challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the situation in Darfur, “where we continue to save lives and help keep peace under difficult circumstances”.

Turning to the Middle East, he said the international community must break the stalemate.  “We have long agreed that Palestinians deserve a State.  Israel needs security.  Both want peace.  We pledge our unrelenting efforts to help achieve that peace through negotiated settlement,” he said.

He urged maximizing “the force for good that is UN peacekeeping”, which today was more capable than ever of more rapid and effective responses.  Moreover, the United Nations remained the world’s first emergency responder, as had been proved in Haiti, Pakistan and beyond.  It had strengthened its field support and reconfigured the architecture of peacekeeping operations.  It was essential that the Organization build on its most effective tool for humanitarian relief — the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  In that regard, he urged Member States to help save the children of the Horn of Africa.  Pointing to the lesson of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, he called for strong international safety standards to prevent future disasters, and he urged leaders to “keep pushing” on disarmament and non-proliferation.  “Let us fulfil the dream — a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said.

As for the fourth opportunity — supporting nations in transition — he said that the “dramatic events” in North Africa and the Middle East “inspired us”, and the international community must help make the Arab Spring into a “true season of hope for all”.  While a new United Nations support mission was being deployed to assist transitional authorities in Libya, the situation in Syria remained a “special concern”.  For six months, the international community had witnessed “escalating violence and oppression”, and even though the Syrian Government had pledged to carry out reforms and listen to its people, it had not done so.  “The moment to act is now.  The violence must stop,” the Secretary-General declared.

Continuing, he said the United Nations must help countries find the right path, whether that country was emerging from war, or moving from autocracy to democracy.  The United Nations might be involved in building back public services, organizing elections or writing a Constitution.  Those were challenging tasks, and nowhere was that more clear than in the case of South Sudan, where the Organization was helping to build a functioning State after decades of conflict.

Fifth, he said, the United Nations could dramatically advance its efforts in every sphere by working with — and for — women and young people.  Women represented more than half of the world’s unrealized potential.  They held families together, drove economies and they were natural leaders.  “We need their full engagement — in Government, business and civil society,” he declared, adding that the United Nations now had its own dynamic and powerful engine for change, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

He was pleased to see so many women at this year’s General Assembly, and he especially welcomed Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the first woman in the Organization’s history to open the general debate.  He went on to say that the United Nations Secretariat would continue its policy of promoting women.  It would also focus on the new generation.  He called for finding new ways to create decent jobs and opportunities for young people around the world.

“These are extraordinary challenges.  We cannot respond in ordinary ways,” he said, adding: “We need one thing above all else — solidarity”.  It all began with resources, without which the United Nations could not deliver.  Scaling back was no answer.  He asked Governments that had generally borne the lion’s share of costs not to flag in their generosity.  Even in the face of tight budgets, investing through the United Nations was smart policy.  Burden-sharing lightened the load.

To the rising Powers, whose dynamism increasingly drove the global economy, he said that with power came responsibility.  “For all, I ask that you give what you can — expertise, peacekeepers, helicopters.  Never underestimate the power of you leadership,” he said.  Yet, Governments could not do the job alone, and therefore, Member States must broaden their bases and extend their reach to harness the full power of partnership across the wider United Nations system.  Indeed, when the United Nations unparalleled convening authority and technical resources were combined with the various strengths of Governments, the private sector and civil society, “we are a formidable force for good”.

Finally, the Organization must adapt to change.  In times of austerity, it must learn to do more with less and invest global taxpayers’ money wisely by “Delivering as One” — eliminating waste and avoiding duplication.  Accountability and transparency would remain the world body’s watchwords.  The budget process must be streamlined so that it could deliver at a cost no nation could match on its own.  “We must keep pushing to develop a more modern and mobile workforce — a UN that is faster and more flexible […] that helps solve real-world problems in real time,” he said.  Importantly, everything must be done to protect United Nations staff.  The world body had lost too many lives; it had become too soft a target.

In closing, he said that 7 billion people looked to world leaders with hope.  “They need solutions; they demand leadership; the want us to act” with compassion, courage and conviction, he said.  The United Nations was the answer.   “Let us carry on this journey together.”

“Let there be no doubt that 2011 is the year of new horizons,” said NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly.  Welcoming “new faces and new friends” to the Assembly’s annual gathering, he stressed that the United Nations would work to ensure that the shifts taking place across the globe resulted in stable and prosperous democracies, continued growth and development and the protection and promotion of human rights.

The United Nations this year welcomed its newest Member State, South Sudan, he noted, adding that the issue of Palestine would also be particularly crucial and receive great attention during the coming session.  In that regard, he looked forward to working with Member States for the attainment of a just and comprehensive negotiated peace settlement in the Middle East, based on a two-State solution and conducted in a transparent, impartial manner, in keeping with the will of the United Nations collective membership.

Indeed, he said, addressing the critical issues on the Assembly’s agenda would require political will, open dialogue, close collaboration and consensus-building.  He placed great value on South-South and triangular cooperation, as well as dialogue among civilizations and advancing the culture of peace, and said that the most vulnerable States should receive the support they deserved.

He said he had identified four key areas to help frame the Assembly’s work this session, he continued:  the peaceful settlement of disputes; United Nations reform and revitalization; improving disaster prevention and response; and sustainable development and global prosperity.  Efforts must continue this session to revitalize the General Assembly so that it maintained its rightful place as the centre of global decision-making.  It should be made more efficient and able to respond more quickly to emerging situations of global concern.  He was also fully committed to advancing efforts to reform the Security Council.

On the issue of improving disaster prevention and response, he stressed that he was “deeply conscious” of the tragic food and humanitarian crisis gripping Somalia.  He would remain fully committed to focusing the Assembly’s attention on that crisis and would also work closely with Member States to further improve prevention and reduce risk and vulnerability to natural hazards.

As the world’s population reached 7 billion people, he said there would be a number of major global conferences related to sustainable development, focusing on issues including desertification and climate change, poverty eradication and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  He urged leaders to find consensus and take “strong and urgent action” to ensure fruitful outcomes.

Recalling that the theme before the Assembly today was “the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes”, he said that mediation stood as foremost among the reasons for the United Nations founding.  The Organization brought legitimacy and operational breadth to mediation efforts.  In its previous session, the Assembly had taken an important step in adopting its first ever resolution on mediation as a vital tool for conflict prevention and resolution.  “It is my intention to give high priority to mediation through this session, to galvanize this theme and operationalize it for real multilateral capacity,” he said, stressing that he would do so in a transparent and interactive manner in close coordination with the Secretary-General, Member States and other relevant actors.

Statements

“For the first time in history, a female voice opens the general debate,” said DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, stressing that it was the voice of democracy and equality reverberating from the most representative podium in the world.  It was with personal humility, but justified pride as a woman that she met this historic moment.  “I am certain this will be the century of women,” she said, noting that in Portuguese, words such as life, soul and hope, as well as courage and sincerity, were feminine nouns.

Underlining the present extremely delicate moment, she said that unless the global economic crisis was overcome, it could become an unprecedented and grave political and social rift capable of causing serious imbalance in relationships among people and among nations.  Yet, the crisis was too serious to be managed by a small group of countries.  While their Governments and central banks continued to bear greater responsibility in taking the process forward, all countries suffered the consequences.  Thus, all of them had the right to participate in the solutions.  It was not a lack of resources preventing the developed world’s leaders from finding a solution, but a lack of political resources and clarity of ideas.  Caught in a trap that did not distinguish between partisan interests and the legitimate interests of society, part of the world had yet to find the balance between appropriate fiscal adjustments and the proper fiscal stimuli to growth.  The challenge was to replace outdated theories that originated in an old world with new formulations for a new one.

To that end, she said coordination must be intensified between the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, such as the G-20 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while fiscal and monetary policies should be subjected to mutual scrutiny.  The priority must be resolving the problem of sovereign debt crises and turning back the tide of recession.  Developed countries must put in place coordinated policies to stimulate those economies most weakened by the crisis.  The financial system’s regulation must also be reinforced and the inexhaustible source of instability controlled.  Floating exchange rate regimes should be adopted to control the currency war, while the reform of multilateral financial institutions must proceed.  Protectionism and all forms of trade manipulation should be fought.  Brazil was doing its part by keeping spending under strict control and strengthening its domestic markets through income distribution policies and technological innovation.  Her Government maintained that the cause — and not just the consequences — of global instability must be addressed.

Recalling the mass demonstrations now known as the “Arab Spring”, and underscoring Brazil’s wholehearted support for the search for the universal ideal of freedom, she said United Nations Member States must be united in finding legitimate and effective ways to aid those societies that called for reform, while keeping their citizens in the lead of that process.  Brazil vehemently repudiated the brutal repression of civilian populations, but remained convinced that the use of force must always be a last resort.  Moreover, the quest for peace and security must not be limited to interventions in extreme situations.  While much was said about the responsibility to protect, little was heard about responsibility while protecting — two concepts that must be developed together.

She stressed that the Security Council’s role was vital in that regard, arguing further that the more legitimate that body’s decisions, the better it would be able to play its role.  But the Council’s legitimacy hung on its reform, which, after 18 years, could no longer be delayed. “The world needs a Security Council that reflects contemporary realities,” she asserted, calling for new permanent and non-permanent members particularly from developing countries, and stressing that Brazil was ready to shoulder its responsibility as a permanent Council member.

Welcoming South Sudan as the newest member of the United Nations, she pledged her country’s commitment to supporting its sovereign development.  Brazil regretted that Palestine’s full membership could not yet be welcomed.  Indeed, like the majority of the countries in the Assembly, Brazil believed that the time had come for Palestine to be fully represented.  “Only a free and sovereign Palestine will be able to heed Israel’s legitimate desire for peace with its neighbours, security in its border and political stability in its region,” she said.

Turning to other matters, she underlined Brazil’s commitment to fighting climate change and reiterated her country’s invitation to all Heads of State and Government to attend the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012.  She noted Brazil’s achievement of almost all of the Millennium Development Goals before 2015, recalling that 40 million Brazilian men and women had risen out of poverty and joined the middle class.  As Brazil sought to eradicate extreme poverty, it would continue to work to empower women; it saluted the establishment of UN Women.  She added her voice to those women who dared to struggle, to participate in politics and the workforce, and to forge political space, without which she could not stand before the Assembly.  “As a woman who was tortured in prison, I know how important the values of democracy, justice, human rights and liberty are,” she said, expressing hope that those values would inspire the Assembly’s work this session.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world was at the heart of the work of the United Nations.  At the first part of the twentieth century, advances in modern weaponry had led to death and destruction on a staggering scale.  Such tragedies had compelled the founders of the United Nations to create an organization that aimed, not just to end one war, but avert others.  Indeed, the United Nations had been founded to prevent conflict, as well as to address its causes.  The men and women who built the Organization understood that peace was not just the absence of war; it depended on justice and opportunity, dignity and freedom — for individuals and nations.  It also depended on sacrifice, compromise and a sense of common humanity.

Yet, he continued, “we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we can not avoid having war forced upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.  The fact is, peace is hard, but our people demand it,” he said.  As the United States had worked to avert a third world war, this was still a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty.  He had taken office at a time of two wars for the United States.  The extremists that had drawn the country into war — Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida — were at large.  “Yet, today, we have set a new direction,” he said, recalling that at by the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq would end and it would have “a normal relationship with a sovereign [Iraq] that is a member of the community of nations”.

As it drew down the Iraq war, the United States and its coalition partners had likewise begun a transition in Afghanistan, he said.  Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan Government and security forces would step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country.  As they did so, the United States was drawing down its own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.  “Let there be no doubt, the tide of war is receding,” he declared, adding that by year’s end, the number of American troops in the field would be slashed in half.  That would be critical, not only for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan, but for the United States, as it built its nation at home.

He went on to say that the United States was prepared to end those wars from a position of strength.  Ten years ago, there was “an open wound of twisted steel and broken hearts” in New York.  But, today, new towers rising at “Ground Zero” were a sign of the city’s renewal; Al-Qaida, its leadership degraded, was under more pressure than ever before.  Osama bin Laden would never endanger the peace of the world again.  Indeed, it had been difficult decade, “but, today, we stand at the crossroads of history with a chance to move decisively towards peace”.

To do so, he said, the international community must return to the wisdom of those who had created the Organization.  The Charter called upon Member States, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”.  And the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds the world that, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.  Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of States, and the rights of men and women — must be the guide.

“In that effort, we have reason to hope,” he continued, noting that this year had been a time of transformation.  More nations had stepped forward to maintain international peace and security.  And more individuals were claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.  Recalling a series of topical events, he noted that at this time last year, the prospect of a successful referendum on South Sudan had been in doubt, but the international community had overcome “old divisions”, and a few months ago, as a new flag was a raised in Juba, former soldiers had laid down their arms; men and women had wept with joy; and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future they would shape.

Continuing, he said the world had refused to look the other way during the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and the Security Council had come together to support the will of the people.  That country was now being led by the man the people had chosen.  In Tunisia, where one year ago the people had been oppressed, a vendor had lit a spark that ended his own life but started a movement.  In the face of a crackdown, students had led to the march towards democracy.  Turning to Egypt, he said that for 18 days, the eyes of the world had been glued to the events in Tahrir Square, and all had witnessed the moral force of non-violence.  “And we knew that change had come to Egypt and the Arab world.”

A year ago, the people of Libya had been led by the world’s longest ruling dictator.  But, faced with bullets and a leader who had vowed to “hunt them down like rats”, the Libyan people had shown relentless determination.  Moreover, the United Nations had lived up to its Charter.  The Security Council had heeded the call of the Arab League, and the subsequent actions by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had stopped Qadhafi’s forces in their tracks.  Now, 42 years of tyranny had ended in six months.  The United States was re-opening its embassy in Tripoli.  “This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security; individuals claiming their rights,” he said, calling on all Member States to stand by their responsibility to support the new Libya and help the Libyan people “turn this moment of promise into lasting peace of all Libyans”.

“Something is happening in our world.  The way things have been is not the way they will be,” he said, noting that dictators were now on notice; technology was putting power in the hands of the people.  The promise written on paper was closer at hand.  “But, remember, peace is hard.  Progress can be reversed.  Prosperity comes slowly and societies can split apart.”  As such, the measure of success for the United Nations was whether people could live in sustained peace and security.  In that, the world body had more work to do.  Iran had a Government that refused to recognize the rights of its own people.  The Syrian regime was harassing and murdering its own citizens, many during Ramadan.  But, the people of Syria were protesting peacefully and dying for the principles the United Nations stood for.  “Will we stand with the Syrian people or stand with their oppressor,” he asked, recalling that the United States and its allies had put sanctions on the country.  For the sake of the Syrian people, the United Nations must do the same.

He acknowledged that, for many in the Assembly Hall, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was a test of those principles and a test for American foreign policy.  One year ago, he had called for an independent Palestine.  “I believed then — and I believe now — that the Palestinian people deserve a State of their own.  But, what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves,” he said, stressing that, despite extensive efforts by the United States and others, the parties had not bridged their differences.  In light of the stalemate, he had put forward a new basis for negotiations in May.  That basis was clear:  Israelis must know that any agreement assured their security; and Palestinians deserved to know the territorial basis of their State.

“I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress.  So am I.  But, the question isn’t the goal we seek; the question is how to reach it,” he said, expressing the conviction that there was no short cut to the end of a conflict that had endured for decades.  Peace would not come through statements and resolutions.  Ultimately, he said, it was Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side and it was they — “not us” — who must reach agreement on the issues that divided them, including on borders and security; on refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

“Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted,” he continued, recalling the lessons of Northern Ireland and Sudan.  And that was the path to a Palestinian State.  The United States sought a future where Palestinians lived in a sovereign State of their own, with no limit to what they could achieve.  Yet, in all that, America’s commitment to Israel’s security was unshakable; the two countries shared a friendship that was deep and enduring.  He called for honesty, saying that Israel was surrounded by neighbours that had waged repeated wars against it.  Israel’s children came of age knowing that other children throughout the world grew up being taught to hate them.  Jewish people had forged a successful State in their historical homeland.

He said the friends of the Palestinians did them no favours by ignoring such truths, just as Israel’s friends should recognize the need for pursuing a two-State solution.  The truth that each side had legitimate aspirations was what made peace so hard.  “The deadlock can only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other shoes.  That’s what we should be promoting,” he declared, adding that the United Nations, dedicated to the dignity of every person, must recognize the realities of both Israelis and Palestinians.  “We can only succeed if we encourage the parties to sit down and listen to each other […], that is what America is committed to,” he said, reiterating that there were no shortcuts.

True peace depended on creating opportunities that made life worth living, and to do that meant confronting common challenges, such as nuclear weapons, poverty and disease, he said.  The United States and Russia would continue implementing the agreement the two had reached last year and planned to cut their arsenals to the lowest levels in half a century, and they were pursuing talks on how to achieve deeper reductions.  “We have begun to move in the right direction [and] the United States is committed to its obligations.”  At the same time, others must live up to theirs.  Both North Korea and Iran continued their belligerent stances and actions.  If those Governments continued down the path outside international law, their actions must be met with strong stance by the international community.

In conclusion, he recalled the belief in the central principle of “freedom from want”, and urged all Governments to act in places like the Horn of Africa to reach those in need and insist on unrestricted humanitarian access.  “Common humanity is at stake; let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other.”  Overall, nations must harness the power of open societies to empower citizens.  No country should deny rights of freedom of speech and religion, and neither should people be denied the right to live and love as they pleased.  That was why the rights of gays and lesbians should be respected.  The international community should also actively support all efforts to broaden women’s participation and break down the economic and political barriers that stood in the way of progress of women and girls.

Conflict and repression would endure so long as some refused “to do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.  Yet, that was why institutions like the United Nations had been built, to “bind our fates together”.  Peace was hard, but all knew it was possible.  He urged all nations to resolve to see that peace was “defined by our hopes and not our fears.”

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, said he came from a region with great expectations that was navigating strong currents, whose peoples were calling for reform.  They hoped to achieve their goals, assume their responsibilities and take their place in the partnership of the future of mankind.  Qatar supported the promotion of dialogue among cultures and civilizations, the strengthening and consolidation of relations among peoples and the consolidation of “rapprochement among Powers”, on the basis of international charters and covenants.

He said that the “blossoming of the Arab Spring” — with all that it represented in Arab and human history — had presented all Member States with heavy responsibilities to assume and positions they must take.  On the one hand, Qatar had always had a clear policy with regard to the rules governing its Arab, regional and international relations, on the other hand, Qatar, as well as others, had been unable to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the calls of the wounded seeking help against an entrenched oppression.  For its part, Qatar had exhausted all means, leaving only the option “to hear and sympathize, to see and help”. 

“We know that our choices of principle are stable and strong,” he continued, adding that the unrest needed to be settled on the basis of the rules and charters that governed modern international relations.  The situation should shift the responsibility to act from individual States to the international community.  In previous General Assembly sessions, Qatar had expressed its views that the United Nations system must evolve in line with the realities of a new world — a world conforming to the principles that governed “civilized behaviour”, while preserving the unity of interests.

FELIPE CALDERÓN HINOJOSA, President of Mexico, said the extremely significant stories of major global changes — from terrorism to climate change, peace, poverty and economic crisis — had caught the Assembly’s attention.  Against that backdrop, it was time to transform the United Nations, turning it once again into an Organization able to tackle the challenges of the current pressing times.  Poverty was exacerbated by rising food costs, which had increased by 26 per cent over the last year, forcing the poorest families to allocate most of their income to feeding themselves.  Consequently, many people around the world were going hungry, requiring that technology be harnessed to broaden access to food.  More attention must also be paid to the causes and impact of drought.  Financial speculation was also driving up the price of basic foodstuffs, such as wheat and maize, and the time had come to impose controls on those markets contributing to world hunger. 

Underlining the need to address the threat from transnational drug trafficking and organized crime, he said those phenomena were killing more people — particularly youth — than all the dictatorial regimes combined.  Indeed, tens of thousands of people between Mexico and the Andes were dying at the hands of drug traffickers and unscrupulous organized criminals, who were sometimes stronger than the Governments fighting them.  That strength was due to the exorbitant profits from their drug sales and their unlimited ability to purchase weapons.  Pointing to the unbridled profits that resulted from the arms trade as the reason why those criminals had access to so many powerful weapons, he said serious controls were needed in countries producing and selling weapons.

Organized crime was strengthened from profits generated by the sale of illegal drugs, he said, adding that continued consumer demand would increase criminal financing, and with that, its consequences.  Now more than ever, consumer countries must take effective action to eradicate demand.  Many said the continuing rise in drug consumption — particularly in the United States — made that impossible.  But if the demand for drugs could not be cut, consumer countries were morally obliged to reduce the vast economic rewards from the drug market.  Indeed, they must seek out all possible options to stanch profits, including through market solutions.

Concerning climate change, he noted the impact of recent hurricanes in the Caribbean region and highlighted the agreements reached in 2010 on a binding instrument to limit rising temperatures to a global average of under 2° Celsius, as well as the advent of a global Green Climate Fund for adaptation and mitigation efforts.  He also drew attention to a mechanism to allow countries to use their forests sustainably in return for payment for conserving their trees.  Yet, Mexico feared that absent sufficient political leadership at the upcoming seventeenthUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, earlier gains in fighting climate change would be lost.  Moreover, with the Kyoto Protocol expiring next year, further progress was needed, particularly regarding what would happen to its annex I obligations.  To accomplish all that, the world community must break away from the false dilemma that societies had to choose between fostering economic development and stopping climate change.

Among other issues, he noted the growing number of new hospitals being built in Mexico and boasted that the country would achieve universal health care this year, with medicines and treatment for every Mexican.  Mexico also had already virtually reached all the Millennium Development Goals.  The Mexican Government believed the United Nations bore the responsibility to constructively contribute to resolving conflict in the Middle East.  Any solution must be politically viable and recognize the right to existence of Israel and lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State.  Yet, no solution could be found while one side either explicitly or implicitly wanted to annihilate the other.  Finally, just as the United Nations building was being remade, so, too, should the Organization’s structure be reformed.  Mexico wanted complete reform of the Security Council to make it truly representative.  “We cannot allow the greatest supra-national body to remain the decision-making body of the few,” he said.

NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, said that this year, his country would celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its independence and it would, as it always had, continue to carry out the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter.  Among other things, Kazakhstan had shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and, in the process, had become one of the world’s first newly independent non-nuclear-weapon States.  The Government had also succeeded in convening the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia, which it had proposed some 19 years ago.  It had also succeeded in holding a Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and had assumed an important mission, that of Chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  In that endeavour, Kazakhstan had focused on international and regional security, dialogue between the Islamic world and the West, and the efforts to counter “Islamaphobia” and enhance non-proliferation regimes.

He said that after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan had been able to press ahead with reforms and economic growth.  In the past two decades, it had posted a 14-fold increase in per capita gross domestic product (GDP), from about $700 to $10,000.  His country had also called for the adoption of a global energy and environment strategy and, to that end, had put forward an ambitious “Green Bridge” environmental initiative.  His delegation planned to bring those ideas to Rio+20 next June.  As for today, the world was entering a critical phase, as humanity harnessed powerful sources of energy, but was powerless against the forces of nature.  Pockets of poverty and destitution were popping up even in the wealthiest countries, and it was becoming harder and harder to contain outbreaks of ethnic and religious intolerance.

Although the world had come together a decade ago in the wake of the tragic terror attacks of 11 September, “no conclusive lessons have been learned from [these events] and the recurrence of international terrorism is on display in different parts of the world,” he said.  As Member States proceeded with their work in the coming weeks, Kazakhstan hoped they would assiduously tackle those and other pressing challenges.  Among the key areas for action, he cited the need to address global nuclear safety and security and called for nations to begin drafting a universal declaration on a “nuclear-weapon-free world”.  Kazakhstan considered that all States that belonged to the “nuclear club” should join the process of reducing their arsenals, in light of the agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation.  That was essential because today such weapons were not a deterrent, but catalysts for an arms race.

Turning to global finance, he said the key aim should be to reform relevant United Nations and other international financial bodies to predict economic crises, head them off and eliminate their causes.  It was generally agreed that the current economic and financial turmoil had been caused by deficiencies in international mechanisms, yet, no real steps had been taken to address the flaws that were at the heart of the downturn.  “Procrastination in tackling this issue will only result in new violent waves of the crisis and a surge in regional and global instability,” he said, calling for the early establishment of an effective global economic governance mechanism, with clear powers and lines of accountability for all actors and institutions.

He also called for action on a host of other challenges, including global hunger and water scarcity, and in protecting the “information space,” which was as important for the future of humanity as the aquatic world and outer space.  He was concerned that no international treaty or convention to that end was being considered.  A resolution on the nine elements of a global culture of cybersecurity adopted by the General Assembly in 2002 was a sound basis for moving forward on elaborating such an instrument.  He also called for action to prevent and end conflicts.  At the same time, it was important to note that the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity was “often exposed to erosion,” which could undermine trust among nations.

It was essential, therefore, to upgrade national legal norms concerning State sovereignty, taking into account new realities and clearly defining the bounds beyond which the international community’s involvement in the settlement of internal conflicts was warranted.  “Global peace will only be enhanced if the United Nations works closer with regional security arrangements,” he continued, citing such organizations as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.  On other matters, Kazakhstan had announced its candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2017-2018.  On the “complex” question of Palestine, he said that difficult issue had been placed on the scales of history, and Kazakhstan advocated a just and lasting settlement of the conflict, including direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, wondered who among those gathered at the General Assembly one year ago could have imagined that the world — already convulsed by an unprecedented economic crisis — would have undergone such changes.  In just a few months, the “Arab Spring” had given rise to extraordinary hope.  For too long, the Arab peoples were oppressed.  They had now opposed those who proclaimed that the Arab-Muslim world was by nature hostile to democracy and human rights.

“We do not have the right to disappoint their hopes,” he stressed, adding that breaking those dreams would “vindicate the fanatics”.  The international community could not respond to the aspiration for democracy by perpetuating the tragedy of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  In that regard, new methods should be adopted where others had failed.  It was time to stop believing that a single country or group of countries would resolve so complex a problem; too many crucial players had been sidelined for those efforts to succeed.  A collective approach was now indispensable to create trust and offer guarantees to each of the parties.  The peace would be built by the Israelis and the Palestinians and by no one else; no one could impose peace upon them, but they must help.

In that regard, by setting preconditions for negotiations, “we doom ourselves to failure”, he said.  “Let us cease endless debates on the parameters” and begin negotiations with an ambitious timetable, he said, calling in particular for the parties to take one month to resume discussions, six months to reach agreement on borders and security and one year to reach a “definitive agreement”.  France also proposed to hold a donors conference to assist the Palestinians in completing the construction of their future State.

“We should not look for a perfect solution, because there are no perfect solutions,” he said.  Instead, the path of compromise should be embraced.  The Palestinians had been waiting for a State for more than 60 years, and meanwhile, Israel had been denied the right to live in peace.  The question of peaceful coexistence of the two peoples had continued to fester.  Who did not see that a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian State would be, for Israel, the best guarantee of security?  In that vein, any threats made against a Member State of the United Nations were unacceptable.  Should such threats be made, France would immediately and wholeheartedly stand beside Israel.

Member States today faced a choice, he said.  Everyone knew that Palestine could not immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of a United Nations Member State.  However, a veto in the Security Council risked engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East.  “Let us not be diplomats for a day,” he told delegates, urging them not to exclude an intermediate stage in the conflict’s resolution, which would offer Palestine the status of a United Nations observer State.  The ultimate goal must be the mutual recognition of two nation States for two peoples, established on the basis of the 1967 lines, with agreed and equivalent exchanges of land.

“Each [party] must make efforts to understand each other’s reasons, their sufferings and their fears,” he stressed.  It was time for them to build peace for their children.  Both Israeli and Palestinian mothers felt the same pain for the death of their children.  At the same time, the United Nations should take the opportunity to “wake the Arab people up to the service of democracy”.  A compromise solution would rebuild trust and give people hope.  “We must not miss this appointment with history”; the solution was on the table, he concluded.

CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, said her Government had, since her predecessor Nestor Kirchner first stood before the Assembly in 2003, called for reform of multilateral financial institutions — particularly the IMF — as well as the United Nations.  At that time, Argentina was considered a “black sheep” in the world economic community, although its problems stemmed from its being a guinea pig for the financial experiments of the 1990s.  Today, the world was vastly changed, and Argentina had restructured its debt.  Its unemployment rate was low and, in the Latin American region, it was enjoying leading growth levels.

Taking up the issue of financial speculation, she said a look at the relationship between global financial stocks and gross national product (GNP) — which had been 1 to 1 in the 1980s but had shot up in the 1990s — clearly revealed the reasons behind that problem.  Indeed, the gap between the value of what was produced and the valuation of stocks was astonishing.  It was also a cause for the volatility currently destroying jobs around the world as others pocketed significant profits.  Political organizations, therefore, must regulate the movement of capital around the world and arrest instability; otherwise, efforts to promote economic growth in developing countries would amount to little.  She cautioned that recent actions by the G-20 — to which Argentina had, as a member, agreed — had so far produced only cosmetic changes and it was time to focus on the nitty-gritty of regulation, including of the ratings agencies.

She said that while her country recognized the benefits of, and need for, increased multilateralism, it did not share the call for an increase in the number of permanent members in the Security Council.  Her Government instead favoured the elimination of permanent membership, as well as the power of veto, which was only relevant in a bipolar world.  Like the majority of South American countries, Argentina officially recognized the State of Palestine and believed its recognition as a United Nations Member State would prove beneficial to Israel.  Furthermore, excluding Palestine would create greater global instability.  Allowing Palestine to take its seat as Member State number 194 would result in a world that was not only more secure but also more just.

Suggesting that the question of Malvinas was “a similar test of fire” for the United Nations, she called on the United Kingdom to comply with United Nations resolutions, citing, in particular, the missile tests it conducted in May and July.  She also urged Member States to look in the mirror and ask whether the world’s natural resources were being used legitimately, particularly with respect to the areas surrounding Malvinas.

Acknowledging the recent offer by Iran to hold a dialogue regarding the 1994 bombing of the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, she said that, while it signified a change, it did not constitute justice.  However, Argentina could not, and would not, refuse the offer for dialogue.  Indeed, it, too, called for dialogue on that issue, just as it did in the case of Malvinas.

MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, said the current Assembly session was being held in a context dominated by major developments in the Arab world and the endeavour of the Palestinian people to gain independence.  Also looming in the background was the fallout from the 2008 financial and economic crisis, tensions on the Korean peninsula, political developments throughout the African continent and natural disasters wreaking havoc in various parts of the world.  While keeping a keen eye on international events, at home, Lebanon had committed itself to the principles of freedom and solidarity.  It remained committed to the resolutions and decisions of international organizations, including those of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

As dramatic events had spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, he said his country had hailed all peaceful approaches to reform and to preserving dignity and fundamental freedoms.  Indeed, only through such principles could dignity, freedom and lasting development be ensured by all societies.  Events in the Arab world must foster good and avoid “veering towards extremism or fragmentation on religious and sectarian grounds”.  As the impact of those events reverberated, the international community must recognize the importance of ending oppression for all those that were marginalized.  Most importantly, that would mean engaging seriously and urgently to ensure a just and lasting solution to all aspects of the conflict in the Middle East, based on all international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Such a move, he said, would lead to a renewed dialogue of understanding between the West and the Arab world and end decades of misunderstanding.  The overall effort should include support for the legitimate cries of the Palestinian people for self-determination.  It was important to note that until a just and final political solution was agreed, which guaranteed the return of all Palestinian refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) remained responsible for the Palestinian peoples’ well-being.  The agency’s budget, therefore, needed steady support, and its work must not be merged with that of other United Nations organs or bodies.

Noting that earlier this week the second meeting of State signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions had met in Beirut, he said that treaty was meant to eventually ban the use, manufacture and transfer of those weapons.  While the instrument and the meeting had addressed the issue from a humanitarian standpoint, it had also spotlighted the devastating impact of those weapons, which had been used by Israel when it had launched a war in Lebanon in 2006.  He called on Israel to end the use of those weapons and to take responsibility for the damage those weapons had caused, as well as the damage caused by the oil slick left after Israel had bombed a power plant, also in 2006.

Continuing, he called for full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which had ended the war, but which Israel had failed to respect.  Israel must be compelled to end daily violations of that text and also immediately pull out from all Lebanese lands, which it still occupied, including Shebaa Farms.  Lebanon retained the right to retrieve all its occupied territories by legitimate means.  It also emphasized sovereign and economic rights over its waters and exclusive economic zones, including natural resources on land and sea.  The Lebanese Government had recently sent a letter to the Secretary-General that explicitly marked and underscored the limits of the boundaries of its waters and lands.  That letter had rejected Israeli exploitation of such zones and resources.

He commended the crucial role being played by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), particularly the mission’s cooperation with Lebanese Armed Forces.  He meanwhile strongly condemned terrorist attacks against UNIFIL in recent months and assured the Assembly that his Government was actively pursuing the perpetrators.  Returning to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he said that the international community had been unable to prove its effectiveness by coming up with a just and comprehensive solution.  While that had largely been due to Israel’s ongoing defiance of international resolutions and its illegal activities in Gaza and the West Bank, the situation had also exposed the need to reform the Security Council.  That 15-member body must be reshaped to reflect modern reality.  Finally, he called on all nations to celebrate the contributions that women made to peace and socio-economic development.

LEE MYUNG-BAK, President of the Republic of Korea, said maintaining peace and security was the fundamental responsibility of the Organization, and the Republic of Korea was proud to participate in 10 peacekeeping missions, including those in Haiti and Lebanon.  But nuclear terrorism was perhaps the greatest threat of all; following the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last year, the second Nuclear Summit would be held in Seoul next March, presenting a valuable opportunity to build a more solid system of international cooperation necessary to prevent nuclear terrorism.

He said the market economy and democracy had improved lives, but the growing gap between the rich and poor called for reflection within the capitalist system.  The income gap could destabilize international peace and stood against the vision of prosperity for all.  Aid must support infrastructure and trade-related capacity-building, while multilateral organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, must be strengthened, grounded in the belief that developing countries could expand demand, providing a valuable growth engine for all.  He hoped the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in the Republic of Korea in November, would be an opportunity for a new paradigm of development cooperation to emerge.

Technology devoted to protecting the environment would create more jobs and enable sustainable economic growth for decades to come, he said.  The Global Green Growth Institute, founded by the Republic of Korea and like-minded countries, aimed to share cutting-edge technology and experience with developing countries.  The organization had a more important role than ever in restoring equilibrium to the ecosystem and promoting shared growth, and he looked forward to the 2012 Rio+20 Conference to produce a solid action plan towards sustainable development.

The nuclear threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to challenge peace, but his country would sustain diplomatic efforts with the international community to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  “It is my hope to see the DPRK enjoy peace and prosperity by becoming a responsible member of the international community.  When the DPRK chooses the path to mutual benefit and common prosperity, we will be ready to help in this endeavour along with the international community.  I sincerely hope that this will transform the Korean peninsula from a place of conflict and strife into a bedrock of peace in North-East Asia and the world,” he said.

Since the United Nations establishment, the dynamics of international relations had fundamentally transformed; the Organization should consistently strive to renew and reinvent itself to meet new demands and address diverse future challenges, he said.  “In particular, the United Nations Security Council should be reformed to become more democratic and accountable, so that it can fully fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.”  His country had been actively participating in discussion on the Council’s reform, and it would continue to contribute constructively to those discussions in the future.

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea and Chairperson of the African Union, said that, thanks to the General Assembly’s 66 years of accumulated experience, the international community should feel itself “morally inspired” to deal with any threat or situation affecting the planet.  The United Nations must reconfigure itself, in light of the trend for it to be converted into a “club for the powerful”.  The Organization should return to its foundation of a more just representation of the world, in which those who needed to have their problems resolved could also have their voices heard.

He said that when it came to peace and stability, Africa, which had been the scene of many fratricidal conflicts, had resolutely stated its support for the peaceful resolution of conflicts — wherever they may be — through dialogue and peaceful negotiations.  Some world Powers used the humanitarian work of the United Nations as a “neo-colonial” pretext to violate human rights around the world.  In that regard, the entity that was the African Union must be respected.  The African Union recognized the victory of Libya’s National Transitional Council and supported its holding of free and transparent elections; it summoned the Governments of Tunisia and Egypt to do the same.  It congratulated South Sudan for becoming the United Nations newest Member State.

The world’s unpredictable economic situation was the result of an “irrational social and economic world order”, which had departed from the principles of equality, justice and fairness, he said.  Current barriers, blockages and discriminatory practices in trade relations, which perpetuated the impoverishment of some and the increasing wealth of others, could not be justified.  Africa was not asking for handouts, but for support, which required a readjustment of the economic procedures used in world trade.  While it was true that democracy was noble, its spirit must develop alongside the individual cultures.

In addition to the economic crisis, he said the African continent was facing the devastating effects of climate change, including drought, famine and non-communicable diseases, which affected millions.  The African Union was working to “face up” to the emergency in the Horn of Africa, but it still needed support from developed countries — which were responsible for the climate’s warming, owing to their high levels of industry.  The Government of Equatorial Guinea had adopted a national economic development programme with the aim of raising the country to the level of an emerging economic State by 2020.

ABDULLAH II, King of Jordan, noting what he called historic changes in his region this year, said that “the Arab Spring can be an opportunity to institutionalize positive change, change that is necessary for a strong, secure, prosperous future”, building on the achievements of Arab-Islamic civilization and its values of compassion, responsibility, tolerance and respect. 

In his own country, he said, that opportunity meant opening the door to “a major revitalization of our reform effort”, in an inclusive way that could achieve the goal of parliamentary government and embed a democratic way of life that included the responsibility to participate in political parties.  It also meant “building reform into reform”, including the rule of law, justice and the rights and freedoms of political life.  In that context, a review of the country’s Constitution had been conducted and Parliament was putting the final touches on amendments for ratification.  Among key provisions were an independent constitutional court and elections commission. 

Turning to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he described “a dangerous impasse” in negotiations.  “Frustrations are at a peak,” he added, pointing to continued Israeli settlement activity despite international protest in Jerusalem, and touching on final status issues that he stressed could only be resolved through negotiations.  He warned of a severe crisis that would arise from harm to the holy sites of any faith in that city, adding that Muslims around the world were bound by “a sacred chain”.  Only a two-State solution that met the needs of both sides could bring about lasting peace.  Thus, negotiations must go forward, and the key issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements must be resolved.

He said that Arabs viewed positively the parameters for a solution set out by United States President Barack Obama and ideas put on the table by the diplomatic Quartet, but Israel responded by building settlements.  In the resulting impasse, Jordan and the Arab States were holding fast to the principles of peace and law and had come to the United Nations “to seek the justice of nations”.  It was the right of the Palestinian people to come to this “house of nations” to seek to fulfil their aspirations in accordance with United Nations resolutions and within a comprehensive settlement.  “This we must all support”, he said.

In that context, he said, he sought “a new and vigorous international push, with concrete steps toward the end-game.  Not words, not process”.  What was sought was a peace that came from statehood and recognized rights for Palestinians and that brought real security to Israel, ending “their fortress mentality and achieving acceptance in their neighbourhood and the world”.  Around the world, too many people’s hopes for the basic components of a better life were unanswered.  “But a new era is beginning in my region, with new opportunities to move forward in democracy, security and peace,” he concluded.

TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, agreed with the Secretary-General’s assertion that, in the era of integration and interconnection, no country could resolve all challenges on its own.  Hence, the importance of the United Nations had grown.  That body, what she called the “G-193”, had been a success story.  Its guiding principles of peace and security, human rights and development had served well for decades, and the Millennium Development Goals had shown the United Nations global reach.  At the forefront in supporting women’s empowerment, its creation of UN Women gave women and girls an even stronger and more unified voice.

She said that much had been accomplished since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, and both had been effective in reducing poverty.  However, the work must continue with enhanced determination.  The three dimensions of sustainable development — social, economic and ecological — must be respected, she continued.  Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East had once again emphasized that those dimensions were interlinked.  Alongside President Zuma of South Africa, Finland was pleased to co-chair the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, and would deliver its recommendations towards the end of the year.  The Panel was building bridges between economy, ecology and social justice, for which the empowerment of women and youth was vital.  Expanding the Millennium Development Goals into “Sustainable Development Goals” by 2015 could help the world community continue its fight against poverty and enhance sustainable development.

There were far too many conflicts in today’s world, rendering mediation, which was at the heart of the United Nations, an important theme for the general debate, she said.  That process should be used at every stage of conflict; the capacities of the Organization in that field, thus, should be strengthened.  The resolution unanimously adopted by the Assembly in June on the initiative of Finland and Turkey aimed at enhancing the United Nations role in mediation, and she urged Member States to continue their common efforts during the session.

She said that as Finland contributed “more than its share” to United Nations peacekeeping, development and the promotion of human rights, it wished to serve on the Security Council for the term 2013-2014.  She welcomed South Sudan and a “new Libya” into the world community.  She extended her country’s full support to Libya, whose transition reflected the aspirations of the Libyan people.  The United Nations should play a central role in coordinating the international community’s contribution, and in that, she welcomed the new Support Mission.

Finally, she said, reaching a solution to the Middle East conflict was more pressing than ever.  The Palestinians had a right to their own State, and the United Nations must show that it was united in its message to the parties to that conflict.  She called for the urgent resumption of negotiations that would lead, within an agreed time frame, to a two-State solution.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, said the past year had seen popular uprisings that were changing the planet both politically and economically.  While their impact depended on how they were managed, such crises could often become clouds with silver linings.  What people in North Africa and the Middle East were yearning for was freedom, as well as respect for human rights.  If the world turned its back on them, a period of civil war and ongoing conflict could result.  In that context, he stressed that the more preventive diplomacy was used, the better the results.  Nevertheless, to be effective, mediation must not attempt to create protagonists, but build trust and further progress.

He said those lessons were recently made clear in Latin America, where Governments and States of differing opinions found a way to live together peacefully.  Venezuela and Colombia united to bring together the parties to the political crisis in Honduras, forging a resolution through dialogue and a resumption of trust.  As a supporter of direct dialogue and effective mediation, Colombia was concerned about the cessation of peace talks in the Middle East and implored the parties to return to the table.  That was the only way to secure the desired outcome, he stressed, drawing a parallel to the path of South Sudan, which Colombia welcomed as the newest United Nations Member State.  Similarly, peace in Haiti would come only from the empowerment of Haitians themselves, and not from a peacekeeping operation.

Detailing Colombia’s plans to contribute to next year’s “Rio+20” sustainable development conference, he said the meeting’s main outcome should echo the thrust of the Millennium Development Goals and be based on the original 1992 Rio Conference.  Among other things, specific objectives must be defined to allow success to be measured and any delays to be evaluated.  Indeed, the planet’s future required the use of benchmarks to guarantee the effectiveness of efforts to curb climate change.

Turning to domestic developments, he said the development of new legislation, such as new laws on property rights, was making Colombia a fairer, more egalitarian country.  Colombians had decided that justice, truth and reparations should not have to wait for a conflict to end.  Other reforms included the establishment of a fairer distribution of oil and mining resources, and a constitutional amendment outlining criteria for fiscal responsibility, which ensured the State would maintain fiscal discipline.  That latter change would lead to a more stable economic future for Colombia, freeing it up to focus on pressing issues, such as poverty.

Enumerating ongoing challenges in fighting drug trafficking, he said there could be no doubt that drugs and terrorism threatened democracies and the rule of law.  For Colombia, it was a question of national security, although the State recognized success to be possible only through cooperation.  Highlighting the Latin American and Caribbean region as one of economic stability, he said it could provide the world with solutions on energy, climate and labour issues, among others.  The region also intended to advance hand in hand with the broader global community.

GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, President of Nigeria, after welcoming South Sudan as the newest Member of the United Nations, said the world of the twenty-first century was becoming more precarious, unpredictable and dangerous than at any other time in history.  Terror was increasingly used as a form of political action and posed a serious threat to international peace and security.  Saying the war against terrorism must be won, he noted the recent upsurge in terrorist attacks in Nigeria over the last few months.  Noting that the United Nations building in Abuja was the target of an attack that left several people dead, he conveyed Nigeria’s condolences to the victims’ families, as well as to the entire United Nations family, for that barbaric and heinous attack.

He stressed that such acts only strengthened Nigeria’s resolve to develop appropriate national strategies and to collaborate more closely with the international community in fighting that menace.  In June, the Nigerian Government enacted a terrorism prevention bill and an anti-money-laundering amendment act.  It was also working with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate and other relevant international bodies and friendly countries to sharpen its response mechanisms.  It would launch its first project with the Task Force in November, aimed at promoting conflict prevention and countering the appeal of terrorism to youth. 

Boasting that Nigeria’s April general elections had been judged credible and transparent, he said the Government was on course to implement its strategic plan to ready the country for the future.  In that context, there was a new sense of activity and self-belief in the ability to create a new Nigeria, founded on the principles of personal freedoms, democracy, good governance and rule of law.

Underlining the importance of using preventive diplomacy in resolving armed conflicts around the world, he said the international community had focused too little attention on mediation and preventive diplomacy in favour of the military aspects of peace and security.  Cultivating peace and fulfilling the aims of Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter required early identification and appropriate intervention.  The goal should always be to present the peaceful alternative as a less costly and effective way of achieving political and social objectives.

Yet, to move from a culture of response to one of prevention, the international community must muster the political will to promote preventive diplomacy, particularly through mediation, he said.  Greater human and financial resources must be extended to existing institutions and mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution, both within and outside the United Nations system.  He also proposed the establishment, under the Secretary-General’s Office, of a conflict mediation commission to collate information on conflict situations and to develop rules of engagement, including sanctions, which could apply to anyone preventing a conflict’s peaceful resolution.  He also stressed the need to tackle the problem of trafficking in small arms and light weapons, particularly through the actualization of an arms trade treaty.

Among other issues, he voiced support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to deploy an assessment mission to study the situation in the Gulf of Guinea, where increasing piracy and other maritime crimes were damaging security, trade and other economic activities, in order to explore possible options for United Nations support and action.  Nigeria also supported the newly created UN Women and strongly emphasized women’s political participation in its national action plan on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  It had recently ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and acceded to four other international human rights instruments, while domestically enacting national human rights legislation.  The international community must provide robust assistance to Côte d’Ivoire as it embarked on post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation.  Nigeria looked forward to membership in a revamped Security Council.

TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, said his country’s transformation, after a half century of “thuggish” Soviet and Nazi occupation, into a modern technologically cutting-edge European democracy in just one generation was a testament to what committed people could do, as well as a challenge to those who found excuses for not implementing democracy, eliminating corruption and stopping the brutalization of their citizens.  Hope of liberty and democracy were in the air in the Middle East:  “again people have come together and said ‘Enough!’”.  Enough of the lies, the corruption, the 3 a.m. knock on the door by the dull-brained goons of the secret police,” he said.

He encouraged the United Nations to move forward on the Secretary-General’s decision to focus on democracy and human rights during his second term.  He lamented that most people living under undemocratic rule two decades ago continued to do so today.  Of the former Soviet Union, only Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had earned the “free” designation in Freedom House’s annual report card on the rule of law, respect for fundamental freedoms, and free and fair elections.  That was a “poor result”.

It was fundamentally important that the North African and Middle Eastern revolutions had been popular reactions to sustained human rights violations, corruption and injustice, he said.  Ongoing revolutions could not occur or succeed without women, he said, worried that women were often welcomed to protest against corrupt regimes, but not always welcomed to participate in the political process.  Therefore, he placed great hope in UN Women and its role in putting into practice the principles set forth in Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  Estonia would continue to insist that the Organization as a whole did its part to stand up for women’s rights. 

Estonia had always protected and promoted human rights at home and abroad; its candidature for the Human Rights Council was a logical consequence of its work, he said.  Ongoing events underscored the need to focus on protecting civilians from atrocities.  It was vital to develop common practices and the capacity to implement the principle of the responsibility to protect.  That included bringing perpetrators of crimes against civilians to justice through international law and the International Criminal Court.

The international community must not shy away from addressing unresolved issues of the recent past, such as creating lasting security in Afghanistan by helping that nation further develop good governance and the rule of law, he said.  The world must remain committed as long as necessary to reach that goal.  Estonia would continue to support Afghans, especially women’s and children’s access to health care and education, through development cooperation projects.  Georgia, whose territorial integrity had been violated during the 2008 war, also required attention.  It was essential to continue to support the Geneva talks; the United Nations sustained involvement there was vital.

In the technological age, unimpeded access to the Internet was a human right, he said.  “Estonia’s development over the past 20 years is proof that information and communications technology can be a springboard to success for all States,” he said, pledging Estonia’s continued cooperation in sharing experiences with other countries, particularly regarding increased Government transparency and openness.  The Internet posed dangers, such as disruptive cyberthreats and attacks, but Estonia’s experience had shown that a proper balance between rights and security could be achieved without compromising either principle.

He said that climate change was also a security issue that could have a destabilizing effect, and Estonia would contribute to fast-track financing to combat it.  Sustainable development and the green economy needed a global approach.  As climate change had increased the number of people in need of clean water and food, Estonia would scale up its contribution to the United Nations humanitarian system.  As the world’s humanitarian needs grew, greater coordination and strict scrutiny of the real needs of aid recipients was vital.  

On United Nations reform, he welcomed system-wide coherence, the “Deliver as One” concept and revitalization of the Assembly.  He called for the same spirit of reform in the Council and for a “new attitude of openness to new developments” so the Organization could better deliver on its mandate.

MICHELINE CALMY-REY, President of Switzerland, opened her statement with a call for equity and a series of questions.  She asked:  What development policies should be shaped so that all could benefit?  Why were the poorest countries benefiting so relatively little from globalization and what could be done to change that?  What did the words equality and social justice mean in the twenty-first century?  As examples of the modern world’s deep inequality, she noted that Switzerland’s GDP was 130 times that of Mozambique, and that one quarter of the world’s population consumed three quarters of available raw materials.

She said that with the world’s population set to shortly cross the 7 billion mark, the international community must find some way to ensure that there would be sufficient and affordable food, water and energy for everyone.  “It is up to us to find the answers,” she said.  That called for a sense of responsibility and a readiness to reflect together on norms, values and priorities.  It also required a readiness to fight for global social justice.  The United Nations was the Organization most and best equipped to support such an effort.  However, she cautioned that with global governance so fragmented and inefficient, for the United Nations to succeed, the structures of governance must be strengthened.

The events in the Arab world were a reminder that “democracy is the twin sister of sustainability”, she said.  Ultimately, it was the lack of political freedom combined with social injustice and poor economic prospects that had driven the fundamental changes in the Arab world.  Many nations were now facing difficult transitions and must also face the fact that relations among States and regions, and between regions and the world, should be based on new principles.  “That is the challenge facing the countries concerned and the new social groups that have taken the lead in bringing about change — youth, women, emerging middle classes, and civil society,” she said.  It was also a challenge for the wider United Nations.  Indeed, the international community must do its best to ensure that the victims of unrest and violence were helped quickly and effectively.  That meant committing to strengthening security and the rule of law, as well as promoting national reconciliation and legitimate efforts to create new constitutions.  Help must also be directed at protecting the human rights of all.

She noted with regret that the spirit of optimism generated by the “Arab Spring” had not breathed new life into the Middle East Peace process.  Following United States President Obama’s address last year, “for a few minutes, we dreamed” of peace between Palestine and Israel.  Yet today, all looked with bitterness at the bleak horizon, darkened by “lead-footed progress, stagnation and hardened positions”.  Indeed, it appeared that after 60 years, the “peace process” had replaced peace.  Nevertheless, influential parties on both sides continued to work to unblock the stalemate.  Indeed, she recalled that the Geneva Initiative was a “consolidated, detailed proposal”, compatible with internationally acceptable parameters, including the Arab Peace Initiative.  It remained at the disposal of the relevant decision makers, as well as of the populations whose right it was to demand peace.

Recalling the central principle of preventing future wars, she stressed that if the Security Council was to play its rightful role to that end, it must be adapted to modern political realities.  “I would like to see a Security Council that is more open and transparent and more accountable to Member States”, she said, adding that the 15-member body’s decisions affected all States and were legally binding.  As such, Switzerland was working with its partners in the “Small Five” group to improve its working methods.  She also noted that the United Nations could only improve its functioning when countries insisting on a greater say in decision-making revealed themselves to be ready to accept greater responsibility for such proper functioning.

PORFIRIO LOBO SOSA, President of Honduras, said the United Nations was still the best venue for efforts to further the well-being of humanity, adding that all peoples had a right to their own territories and traditions.  In that context, Honduras had recognized Palestine as a State and looked forward to a negotiated settlement of the Middle East conflict on the basis of the two-State solution, corresponding to the needs of the two peoples involved.

Recalling that his country had experienced its own deterioration in human rights after the events of 2009, he said his administration was focused on consolidating peace on the basis of social justice and a stronger democracy.  He thanked the leaders of Colombia and Venezuela for their help in ensuring the return of Honduras to the Organization of American States, and said that inclusive dialogue was now taking place to allow all groups to participate in reforms for a better future.  The Secretariat of Justice and Human Rights had advised on that process, and Honduras now had a national action plan on human rights.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had completed its tasks and presented its recommendations to ensure that the disruption of human rights would never be repeated.

Regarding the global economic and financial crisis, he said all sectors had been consulted on the creation of a national plan for equitable economic growth, salaries and productivity.  Widespread reform of the education system and the provision of equal opportunities for all were also priorities.  In addition, a family help programme hoped to reach about half of the country’s families by 2012, and a nutrition-assistance programme was also under way.  As for sustainable development, Honduras was involved in shark-preservation programmes and had signed instruments on reducing global warming and controlling chemical products.

Expressing support for all measures to preserve the global environment based on the Rio principles, he called on the United Nations to expand those principles to better serve the needs of the world’s populations, including indigenous peoples and those of African descent, adding, in that regard, that Honduras had ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and celebrated the international commemorations instituted for people of African descent.  He also called for a decade dedicated to indigenous peoples, and for a permanent forum for African peoples within the United Nations.

One of the biggest challenges facing Central America was insecurity due to drugs and organized crime, he said, adding that the twin menace had made the subregion the most violent in the world.  The economy of Honduras had been seriously harmed as murders, kidnapping, money-laundering, and trafficking in people and arms, as well as sexual exploitation of women and minors, posed a serious threat to the population, society and development.  Much of that activity was related to drugs, he said, adding that the subregion’s countries were investing large sums in combating their production and supply.  However, the traffickers adapted to those efforts, and there was a need to build the capacity to investigate all such crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.  Consumer countries must be courageous in reducing demand, he emphasized, adding that coordinating all strategies was critical to ending the threat.

VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH, President of Ukraine, said that preventing armed conflict and the consequent loss of human life and suffering had been one of the cornerstones of his country’s Security Council membership in 2000-2001.  Preventive diplomacy and mediation at the regional and international levels remained an integral part of Ukraine’s foreign policy.  During armed conflict, top priority must be given to human rights, he emphasized, noting that his country had been among the first to carry out a humanitarian mission in Libya at the beginning of 2011.

At the twentieth anniversary of independence, his country had implemented sweeping reforms, crystallizing its position on defending human rights, as seen from its membership in the Human Rights Council from 2006 to 2011, he said.  While chairing the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers from May to November 2011, Ukraine had also focused on children’s rights, and on developing local self-governance and the rule of law.

Ukraine also stood as an example, he stressed, recalling that his country had voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons and stockpiles of enriched uranium.  To raise awareness of nuclear safety, he added, he had convened the Kyiv Summit and welcomed the upcoming High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security in support of irreversible nuclear disarmament.  His country insisted on legally binding security assurances for non-nuclear and non-aligned States.  “I urge leaders of other States to consciously follow the example of Ukraine and its real actions to promote disarmament and non-proliferation,” he said.  Expressing support for United Nations peacekeeping reform, he recalled that 34,000 Ukrainian soldiers and police had participated in United Nations peace operations over the last 20 years.

Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he emphasized his country’s commitment to its own national goals, saying its main priorities were poverty reduction, ensuring quality education, environmental protection, improving health, reducing child mortality, curbing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and ensuring gender equality.  Climate change and environmental preservation required more attention, he said, stressing the relevance of a proposal to create an effective international environmental-protection mechanism.  He also called upon Member States to study the idea of developing a new universal instrument that could serve as an “environmental constitution”, giving all countries clear guidelines and identifying compulsory sustainable-development principles.

Global approaches were also needed in the energy field, and to prevent new challenges to the global financial sector, he said.  In addition, there was a need for effective international mechanisms to counter security threats arising from natural and man-made disasters.  Ukraine looked forward to strengthening the competent specialized United Nations agencies and improving their efficiency.  The General Assembly should be more involved in international life and strengthen its voice on a wide range of global issues, he emphasized, adding that Ukraine was open for discussions on all progressive concepts of United Nations reform, including modernization of the Security Council, he said, calling for the addition of at least one non-permanent seat for the Group of Eastern European States on an expanded Security Council.

FERNANDO LUGO MENDEZ, President of Paraguay, said that to discuss the future of humanity it was necessary to correct past errors and rethink paradigms.  Development could not be discussed unless the final aim was to achieve human dignity.  One could not talk about technological advancement when millions of children were still starving to death.  It appeared at times as though the world was resigned to poverty and inequality, and to a situation in which rich banks that ran the world’s economies and poor countries that provided the planet’s natural resources engaged in senseless dialogue, he said, pointing out that, although Paraguay’s economy had grown more than 15 per cent in 2010, the increase in tensions over inequality and wealth distribution was even greater.

Solidarity was not only a moral imperative, but a prerequisite for progress and for combating violence and crime, he said.  The world urgently needed a paradigm shift away from the development model of the past five decades, which had failed to improve the lot of millions of people, and towards a model that placed people centre-stage.  Mutual trust and goodwill were needed to ensure that all men and women lived well, he stressed, adding that the sharing of wealth was the only way to avoid future conflict.  The focus must be on achieving human dignity rather than the exploitation of resources, he emphasized, pointing out that poverty persisted in Latin America despite excellent conditions for the creation of wealth.  It made no sense that the region’s countries remained poor when they had so many assets and other goods that enriched the rest of the world, including fresh water, food and renewable energy sources.

Reaffirming his country’s steadfast commitment to multilateralism and a new democratic world order based on equality, he expressed support for strengthening the United Nations and making it more democratic.  Paraguay also supported strengthening regional integration processes such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).  The Assembly’s theme of strengthening the role of mediation in conflict prevention and resolution was also very relevant, he said, expressing support for mediation, based on the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities among developed and developing countries in overcoming global social injustices.  Mediation should prevent the ruinous use of “preventive attacks”, which only destroyed lives and cities while spreading mistrust, he said, emphasizing that the self-determination of peoples must not be based on political and economic interests.

Paraguay was an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping, he said, noting that the country had sent an engineering faction to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  The Assembly must adopt the necessary reforms to make it a universal, democratic and respected body that could prevail over the Security Council, which required urgent reform and greater legitimacy.  To achieve that, there must be greater representation of other Member States on the Council and a gradual elimination of veto power.   Expressing concern over recent developments in Libya, he emphasized that the use of force must always be a last resort.  He went on to say that his country opposed the 50-year-old United States economic blockade of Cuba and called for its immediate end, deploring its impact on the Cuban people.  Paraguay did not recognize the extraterritorial application of international laws in violation of State sovereignty, he added.

Recalling that Paraguay had established diplomatic relations with Palestine in March 2005, he said it recognized a free, independent State within the pre-1967 borders.  The Assembly’s inclusion of Palestinian statehood on its agenda was the consecration of the international community’s historical debt to the Palestinian people to ensure their right to their own State, and it would contribute significantly to the Middle East peace process.  As the current President of the Group of Landlocked Developing States, Paraguay called on transit countries and their neighbours to commit more strongly to implementing the Almaty Programme of Action, he said.  Paraguay also reaffirmed its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and as part of its efforts to guarantee human rights, it had sought membership of the Human Rights Council for the 2014-2017 period.  On climate change, Paraguay fully supported a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the effects of decades of conflict had been unacceptable loss of life and a reversal of global social and economic progress.  One needed to examine the dividends of striving for shared global prosperity, which would increase capacities to deal with conflict.  Tackling development issues through the framework of the Millennium Goals, for example, would create conditions conducive to global stability, he said, pointing out that the $7.1 billion reportedly spent for peacekeeping purposes in 2011 and 2012 could otherwise have been channelled through the United Nations or other relevant institutions towards improving better the lives of millions.

“While it is appropriate to talk about how mediation can support efforts to prevent and manage conflict, we should also ask ourselves why, after decades of trying, we are not making the progress we would like to in this regard,” he said.  The likelihood of conflict was high when citizens felt disenfranchised and marginalized, and it made good economic and political sense to invest in conflict prevention, thus reducing the potential for future outbreaks and avoiding short-term quick-fix solutions, he said.

Describing youth as a major investment that remained under-utilized, he said the current generation of young people carried less historical and political baggage and should be more included in getting the most out of the “global village”.  With their social and communication skills, they were key innovators and thought leaders, not only of tomorrow, but of right now, he said.  Experience had shown that, if mediation was to succeed, national efforts should be supported on the basis of specific cultural and political contexts.

He went on to say that his country had seen that type of approach to mediation produce long-lasting solutions and tangible results on the ground because they were “home-grown”.  Involving regional and subregional players, who were familiar with the often-complex regional dynamics, was also important, as was examining the toll that traditional diplomatic mediation could have on the lives of those in conflict areas.  “Too often while resolutions are being debated and refined, people are dying,” he said.

“And sometimes when those resolutions are eventually adopted, enforcement is slow, or they only halt the conflict for a short time but with no sustainable solutions,” he continued.  National ownership remained critical, he said, stressing that mediation must be based on an overriding desire to bring conflicting parties together to resolve their differences.  The most viable option for preventing conflict was to empower citizens, especially youth, politically, economically and socially so that they had a stake in the nation’s management and stability.  “Ultimately, long-lasting solutions are the ones which emanate from within,” he said.

ŽELJKO KOMŠIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, noted that his country’s two-year Security Council membership would soon expire, saying that the experience proved that it could be an equal partner on the international diplomatic scene.  While on the Council, Bosnia and Herzegovina had helped to achieve a more efficient response to events that could threaten peace and it intended to share its experiences in post-conflict peacebuilding.  The Council’s thematic debate on that topic, initiated by Bosnia and Herzegovina, had concluded that success depended on building institutions that would enable to reduce its dependence on the international community.

Emphasizing his country’s determination to pursue full membership of the European Union, he said it placed special emphasis on regional and subregional cooperation and on dialogue with its neighbours, which represented the different cultures and traditions seen in the Balkans for centuries.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was committed to cooperation with them, based on mutual respect, and respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.  It was also interested in developing mutually beneficial relations with others in the field of post-conflict peacebuilding on the basis of mutual respect for differences.  Such issues were closely tied to the country’s future integration into the European Union, the goal of which was to achieve the full functioning of national institutions, based on free-market principles, the rule of law and human rights protection.

He said his Government was following with concern the social and political events in Arab countries, and supported processes aimed at creating free and democratic societies, while calling for an end to the violence.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was also deeply concerned about the standstill in the Middle East peace negotiations, and wished to underline that the only way forward was a solution based on the peaceful coexistence of two sovereign States — a viable, independent Palestine and a stable, secure Israel.  Elsewhere, international efforts to deal with terrorism and to create the conditions for peace in Afghanistan required more work, he stressed, adding that his country had decided to send an infantry unit to join the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  Supporting full implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said his country was cooperating with others in the region to improve security.

Outlining other concerns, he called for everything to be done to prevent further erosion of the Millennium Development Goals, saying that the international community, and especially the United Nations, must redouble efforts to help the least developed countries in that regard.  As for climate change, Bosnia and Herzegovina shared concerns that drought, among other phenomena caused by global warming, threatened international security and required urgent action.  It joined States supporting the Copenhagen Agreement as a necessary step until a final, legally binding agreement was adopted.

With respect to United Nations reform, he supported the Secretary-General’s proposals, noting the importance of ensuring the efficient and coordinated functioning of all the Organization’s bodies and avoiding the duplication of activities.  He also emphasized that the Group of Eastern European States must have another non-permanent Security Council member.  As Chair of that organ’s informal working group on documentation and other procedural matters, the Bosnia and Herzegovina had Government set as a primary goal, the consideration of the Council’s working methods and transparency, he said, emphasizing that the Council should also be more active in preventive diplomacy.

BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, said this would be his last address to the Assembly and he was proud to be the first Guyanese President to leave office under the constitutional term limits he had himself signed into law.  Looking back over the past 12 years, it was striking that, in spite of the timeless values of peace, equality and justice that informed the work of the United Nations, challenges to the international community had changed dramatically.  The rise of China, India, Brazil and other developing countries in a world that was interconnected through instant communications and globalized trade and finance presented the Organization with great opportunities.  However, collective action was needed to take advantage of them, and the recent record on that front was not good.

Human security required not only physical security, but the realization of human rights and meeting the challenges of food, energy and resource security in an ever more populous world, he said.  In addition, the challenge of climate change must be met if the biggest economic and social catastrophe ever seen was to be averted, he warned.  Unfortunately, the increase of 4° or 5°C, which now seemed inevitable, represented a disaster beyond anyone’s comprehension, and the failure to treated it as such would be viewed by history as the biggest-ever derogation of responsibility on the part of Governments and societies.  Those challenges were also opportunities in the sense that there was enough human ingenuity and resources to improve the situation and create new platforms for peace, development and physical security.

That could happen through integrated, sustainable development in which responses to security challenges were integrated, changing global paradigms, he continued.  Since food, energy, minerals and other commodities were increasingly provided by the developing world, it could lead the transformational shift required, he said, noting that much of the structure needed to solve problems in an integrated way already existed within the United Nations.  Next year’s “Rio+20” Conference could be a starting point for the necessary changes.  For that to happen, however, consistency was needed in efforts to address all forms of insecurity, he said.

Underscoring that peaceful peoples everywhere must be supported in asserting their basic rights, he said the global response to the Arab Spring was “remarkable for its inconsistency”, and also supported the right of the Palestinian people to full statehood.  Around the world, support for development, food, energy and resource security must be rapidly upgraded, and efforts to complete the Doha Trade Round, as well as to meet the Millennium Development Goals, redoubled.  Finally, the world must “move beyond the global insanity that is our response to climate security”, by building trust between the developed and developing world, he stressed, adding that Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, developed in cooperation with Norway, could be a model.

In order to make progress in all those areas, he said, the Security Council must become more democratic through an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories.  There must also be enhanced representation of developing countries.  Practical solutions to all current crises were also needed, and the developed world must realize that it was in their respective, vital national interests to do the work that needed doing, given the effects on all countries of a failure to fulfil such tasks.  “The narrative is changing, distinguished colleagues, and I hope that we will rise to the challenge,” he said.

ELBEGDORJ TSAKHIA, President of Mongolia, emphasized the imperative of ensuring that the Millennium Development Goals were met on time.  A post-2015 development agenda integrating developing countries into the world economy — taking into account the vulnerabilities of those that were landlocked and susceptible to desertification and climate change — must also be formulated.  Every sixth Member State was a landlocked developing country, remote from world markets and saddled with high transport costs, he noted, stressing that all relevant parties must sign and ratify the Almaty Programme of Action, which was vitally important to countries facing impediments to their development, he said.

The Assembly had reviewed the Millennium Development Goals in 2010, yet significant gaps remained in commitments to aid, trade, debt relief and access to new technologies, he said, noting that his country could realize 66 per cent of the Goals by 2015, but targets on poverty, environmental degradation and gender inequality were “seriously off track”.  In the face of that challenge, Mongolia had implemented poverty-related initiatives such as a nationwide movement to stop alcohol abuse.  “With a view to encouraging such movements in other countries, it might be useful to look into the possibility of developing an international convention aimed at reducing alcohol consumption,” he said.

Underlining the vital importance of financial assistance to developing countries, including his own, for building capacity in energy production, construction and agriculture, he said that, being highly susceptible to the impact of climate change, Mongolia supported global efforts to combat its negative effects and would host the 2012 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Environment Ministers’ Conference on Sustainable Management of Water and Forest.  In July this year, the country had assumed the duties of President of the Community of Democracies, and would use the role to promote democracy education, good governance and the elimination of corruption, while building partnerships with civil society and consolidating regional cooperation.

Over the past 20 years, Mongolia had fundamentally transformed its political, social and economic systems, he said, stressing that, while it was proud of those accomplishments, it was fully aware that more must be done to nurture democratic values.  To address challenges to democracy and open society, the Government was implementing Mongolia-specific Millennium Development Goal 9, on democratic governance, human rights and zero-tolerance to corruption.  “Bad governance is the worst problem of all,” he said.  “Therefore, any aspiration to improve and streamline such governance ought to be strongly supported at all times.”  He hailed the revolutions of the Arab Spring but noted that there would be much work to do in establishing democratic systems.

He went on to underline that the Organization’s main purpose was to settle disputes by peaceful means, pointing out that North-East Asia was a region where mediation activities could be vigorously pursued.  Mongolia’s proposal to set up a permanent mechanism to promote peace and stability in the region remained valid, he said, adding that his country remained strongly committed to the activities of the United Nations.  Mongolia would present its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2023-2024, at the elections to be held during the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly, he said, adding that he was humbly seeking the valuable support of fellow Member States.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, noted the importance of mediation as a tool for settling disputes, saying it was enjoying renewed relevance given the number of current conflicts.  The United Nations should always maintain its impartiality, while regional organizations, which had a crucial role to play in conflict-resolution and mediation processes, must be enforced and enhanced rather than undermined.  The African Union continued to play a significant role in mediation, trying to produce African solutions to African problems, he said, recalling its critical role in seeking a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis.  However, the African Union’s efforts had never been given a chance, he said, pointing out that military action had been preferred over peaceful means.

Nonetheless, South Africa would work with the National Transition Council, through the African Union and the United Nations, as it proceeded to form an inclusive transitional Government and took up the Libyan seat in the regional body.  He called for a cessation of hostilities during the transition period, and an end to aerial bombardment by NATO.  He went on to describe arms proliferation in Libya as a major concern, saying that the transitional Government would need support to address that issue, which posed a grave threat to regional security if left unattended.

The new Libyan authorities should ensure the protection of migrant workers, especially those from sub-Saharan Africa, who numbered about 2.5 million, he said, calling for immediate measures to end the killing, arbitrary arrest and detention of migrant workers and black Libyans.  He also expressed full support for the Palestinian Authority and its intention to seek United Nations membership for the State of Palestine.  “It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic cooperation and prosperity for the millions of people in the Middle East,” he said, adding that South Africa also supported the ongoing struggle for self-determination by the people of Western Sahara and calling for the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba.

Turning to United Nations reform, he said Security Council membership should be consistent with the principle of equitable geographical representation, and reiterated Africa’s call for representation in the permanent category.  He said South Africa was involved in efforts to address climate change, to provide famine relief in Somalia and to realize the Millennium Development Goals, pointing out that with just four years to go before the target date, it was clear that many targets would not be met, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  South Africa called on the international community and the United Nations to redouble efforts to assist countries that were lagging behind.

On the subject of racism, he said the scourge remained a challenge to humanity and highlighted 8 January 2012 as marking the 100th year since the founding of his country’s governing African National Congress.  South Africa would host a symposium tomorrow, 22 September, on its contribution to the fight against racism and racial discrimination, he said, expressing hope that, working together, the current Assembly session would promote a more equal and just world.

ANDRIS BĒRZIŅŠ, President of Latvia, said the Organization must adapt to sustain its influence as the only truly universal international body.  It was essential to revitalize the General Assembly and to reform other principal organs to keep pace with modern realities.  He welcomed the Security Council initiative to cut the Organization’s budget for 2012-2013 by 3 per cent, and said reform of the Security Council was long overdue.  “Latvia is ready to assume greater international responsibility and is planning to engage more actively in the work of the UN Security Council by putting forward its candidature for the non-permanent seat,” he said.

He said that in the 20 years since Latvia regained its independence and joined the Organization, it had emerged as a democratic society that respected rule of law and human rights.  “Now we are able to share our transformation experience by helping other countries in their own development,” he said, calling on the international community to support the street demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East, so that their people could build stable, trusted democratic institutions and the rule of law.  Israel and Palestine should resume dialogue without delay, and the international community must help them reach a two-State agreement that took into account both parties’ legitimate interests.

The economic crisis reminded all that today’s world was interdependent, he said, adding that Latvia was deeply worried by the level of uncertainty and volatility in trade and financial markets.  “My country, Latvia, was one of those hit first and hard by the crisis, but now is among the countries that is steadily recovering,” he said.  The recovery of the Latvian economy could teach several simple lessons.  Firstly, the importance of acting quickly and decisively in adopting austerity measures; secondly, to carry out structural reforms, there was a strong need to communicate and to engage with society; and finally, the value of international solidarity.

In the face of transnational threats, including terrorism, regional actors and organizations were increasingly important, he said.  The European Union, OSCE, as well as the United Nations must continue to work towards peaceful settlements of protracted European conflicts in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh.  The review process of the Human Rights Council had been a unique opportunity to improve its performance and credibility, but much more could have been done; its members must fully commit to promotion and protection of human rights.  “Latvia attaches the greatest importance to this commitment by putting forward its candidacy for the Human Rights Council elections in the year of 2014,” he said.

ÁLVARO COLOM CABALLEROS, President of Guatemala, said that despite the global financial crisis, a national political crisis in 2009 and three major natural disasters, his Administration had provided social services to the poor, reduced violent crime by reforming the security sector, and regained control of territories dominated by narcotic drug traffickers.  It had adopted wide-ranging policies to ensure greater Government transparency, including the creation of the Transparency Secretariat and the adoption of a national law on transparency in public information and public expenditures.  It had also promoted the use and availability of renewable energy and developed two economic corridors that had improved living standards in poverty-ridden regions.

Moreover, the Administration had pursued a dynamic foreign policy that had bolstered Central America on the world stage, he continued.  It had given greater power to municipal governmental authorities and faithfully respected the independence of different branches of the Government.  Still, much work remained to be done towards eliminating poverty and raising the standard of living, particularly among children, single-parent households and indigenous communities.  He said that his Government had also made staunch efforts to end the use of Guatemala as a transit point for illicit trafficking in drugs and human beings.  Alongside other members of the Central American Integration System, it had adopted a subregional security strategy that had been presented to the international community at a conference on security held in Guatemala in June.

Noting that his country grappled with at least one major natural disaster every year, due largely to climate change, he called on humanity to “close ranks to defend our common habitat:  our planet”, expressing disappointment that progress towards that goal had been minimal thus far.  He called on the international community to redouble efforts to adopt tangible action plans during the next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Durban, South Africa, in December.

Thanks to the Government’s active foreign policy efforts, he said, he was confident that within three weeks it would achieve its aim of winning election as a non-permanent Security Council member for the next biennium.  Guatemala was fully committed to strengthening preventive diplomacy as well as United Nations conflict-prevention tools.  He noted that while his country accepted sanctions adopted collectively by the Council, it rejected such coercive measures when implemented unilaterally.  In that regard, he called on the United States to end its economic embargo against Cuba.  He also expressed support for the creation of a viable, prosperous Palestinian State, living in peace and harmony with Israel.

Reiterating his country’s commitment to re-launching the regional integration process of the Central American Integration System, he said Guatemala also supported the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.  In addition, the Government had taken steps to resolve the age-old territorial dispute with Belize by signing a special agreement that would permit both countries to seek a juridical solution through the International Court of Justice.  The Guatemalan Congress had approved the special agreement, which would now be put to a national referendum.

ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, said the United Nations Charter contained a number of provisions on conflict resolution and prevention, but despite progress, that goal, set down 66 years ago, remained a long way off.  While the spectre of conflict had faded since the end of the cold war, millions of men and women continued to suffer the consequences of old and new conflicts.  Peace could be threatened in different manners, he said, pointing out that the United Nations could not do everything alone, and that mediation operations must be considered at other levels, such as the regional one.

It was a pity that Africa had been forgotten and that its original mediation mechanisms had been ignored in favour of international methods, he said.  West Africa had much experience in conflict mediation, having often brought different points of view together or opposition parties into government.  Guinea-Bissau, the Ivoirian crisis, Niger and South Sudan provided examples of how conflicts could be resolved at the regional level, he said, recalling that just a few hours ago, there had been a threat on the border between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.  The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had met with the two Heads of State and had been able to prevent mercenaries from entering Liberia and disrupting elections there, he said.

He said that his country, as President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, supported Palestine’s application for statehood.  He denied, however, a recent statement by the Prime Minister of Israel that he had himself been a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing that he had never been one and had never sought to be one.  He had once, however, intervened unsuccessfully for the release of a young Israeli soldier.  “We ought to do more than have one person or one country mediate in such a complicated situation,” he said.  To mitigate fear and mistrust between Israel and Palestine, three States chosen by both parties should determine their demands for a resumption of direct dialogue, he suggested.

Underscoring the importance of international order, he said the current functioning of the Security Council fundamentally ignored the African continent.  While general reform would not happen overnight, that historical injustice must be remedied, he said, pointing out that 70 per cent of the issues before the Council pertained to Africa.  A permanent African seat, with the right of veto, should therefore be a permanent demand, he stressed.  Senegal also proposed the establishment of a United Nations body for global agricultural governance headquartered in Africa, he said, noting that his country was now self-sufficient in food and could begin exporting it this year.  That was “a remarkable achievement”, realized with the help of international organizations, he added.

ARMANDO EMÍLIO GUEBUZA, President of Mozambique, said the multiple challenges currently facing the world required a multilateral approach in order to develop consensual, effective and sustainable responses.  For that reason, there was a need to focus on dialogue, inclusive governance, accountability, transparency and respect for human rights, he said, welcoming the session’s focus on mediation.  He also noted that the session was not only taking place on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, but also 25 years after the assassination, “by apartheid”, of his country’s first President, Samora Moises Machel.  Mozambique called on the international community to honour those two people, who had given their lives for mediation and preventive diplomacy, by redoubling commitments to initiatives aimed at building a world free of conflict.

However, mediation should be conducted in an objective, impartial and neutral manner, ensuring the involvement of stakeholders at all stages and their ownership of the process, he stressed.  Under those principles, Mozambique was proud to be part of mediation processes in Southern Africa that had helped other countries return to the path of socio-economic development.  In that light, he appealed for appreciation of the mediation role played by regional and subregional organizations, and saluted the recent signing of the road map for a return to constitutional order in Madagascar as the culmination of a negotiation process mediated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which had started in 2009.

Calling on the United Nations to assume full responsibility for the peaceful settlement of disputes, entrusted to the Organization by its Charter, he said it should strengthen the relationships among its organs as well as its own links with regional bodies.  He also renewed his country’s commitment to reform of the United Nations that would make the world body more effective and proactive on peace and security as well as other issues.  Mozambique called for completion of the General Assembly’s revitalization, which would endow it with the necessary authority and competence as well as adequate resources.  The Security Council, for its part, should follow the evolution and dynamics of contemporary global challenges, in a transparent, inclusive and democratic manner, and assume its vital role in building the credibility of the United Nations as a universal entity.

Regarding social and political developments in North Africa and the Middle East, he called on all actors to engage in constructive dialogue and to work for peaceful solutions.  Internal dialogue, regional cooperation, and fairness regarding international intervention were crucial, he stressed.  On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he urged the parties to commit themselves to the re-launch of negotiations towards concrete actions aimed at realizing a lasting, comprehensive and fair solution.  He also reiterated unequivocal support for the cause of the Palestinian people and a two-State solution based on 1967 borders.  Similarly, Mozambique reiterated its support for a sustainable solution in favour of the legitimate right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination, he said, praising also efforts by the international community to alleviate the suffering in East Africa, where people were suffering from drought and famine.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, recalling earlier statements by some Heads of State today, said he realized that there were “enormous differences” between small countries and major Powers; between those who valued the “culture of life” and others who valued the “culture of death”.  While everyone had the right to hold differences, the United Nations was obliged to help align Governments in order to guarantee the equality of all peoples.  With 1 per cent of the world’s population holding 50 per cent of its wealth, the problem of poverty would not be solved, he stressed.  Imperialism sought to control oil resources, while drug trafficking and terrorism were used as excuses for foreign intervention.

What use, then, was the United Nations when a small group of countries decided on interventions? he asked.  “It’s a Security Council for whom?  It’s the insecurity council for the Presidents of people who seek cultural and social liberation and recovery of their economic resources.”  He called for a “re-founding” of the world body because it was time that its resolutions, especially those on the Cuba embargo, were respected.  Expressing his country’s recognition of Palestine, he welcomed it to the United Nations, while recalling that there had been a coup d’état in Honduras and killings in Palestine, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Security Council were nowhere to be found.

Against that backdrop, he reflected on how Governments could free their countries, saying that natural resources could never be privatized or handed over to transnational companies.  Recalling that Bolivia had nationalized its resources in 2006, he said that from that moment on, it had stopped being a “beggar State”.  Investment in the country before 2006 had stood at $600 million, but today it had reached $3.6 billion, he said.  He also stressed that basic services like water, energy and electricity could never be private services, and that the State must be responsible for public utilities.  Water was a human right, he added.

Discussing the struggle for human dignity and national sovereignty, he recalled that before his presidency, Bolivia had hosted a United States military base and the Chimore Airport could not be used without permission from that country’s embassy.  On assuming office he had closed that base and now wished to develop proposals for the United Nations so that it could restore dignity to all peoples.

Turning to the question of international financial institutions, he said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had shut off Bolivia’s access to international credit, placed conditions on loans and privatized its refineries.  Instead, credits had been provided to transnational companies.  Calling for the creation of alternative financial bodies, he pointed out that the Bank of the South did not make money off the backs of the Bolivian people.

On other matters, he said Bolivia had appealed to the International Court of Justice for help in settling a dispute with Chile over access to the Pacific Ocean, which should not be considered an “unfriendly” act.  Bolivia’s landlocked status was the product of a war and it was seeking reparations of an injustice, he said, noting that the treaty of 1954 between the two nations had led to neither peace nor friendship.  Rather, it meant that Bolivia lacked access to a port, he said, requesting United Nations support.  On the fight against drug trafficking, he said the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in Bolivia was controlling the trade.  Drug traffickers used banks to launder their money, which meant bank confidentiality must stop, he added.

With respect to the food crisis, he said new ways were needed to encourage production through fair trade, emphasizing that naked competition would never solve the problem of poverty.  Finally, he said the “crisis of capitalism” was a “bottomless hole” and that imperialist countries sought any pretext for invasion.  Just this morning, the President of the United States had said that Iraq was free and that Iraqis could govern themselves, he recalled, wondering who was in charge of oil reserves in that country and in Libya, where bombings were taking place so that the United States could get its hands on the country’s oil.  With that, he called for a new “10 commandments” of social demands for basic services, natural resources, dignity and sovereignty.

DANILO TÜRK, President of Slovenia, also welcomed the mediation theme as timely, given current focus on finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Mediation under way through the European Union aimed to revive the peace process and find an early solution, while determining an adequate status for Palestine within the ranks of the United Nations, he said.

The world body was committed to its inclusive character and the universality of its membership, he said, welcoming South Sudan as the newest Member State.  The Organization should render all assistance to that country’s efforts to establish its structures and serve the well-being of its people.  He also welcomed the granting of Libya’s seat to that country’s National Transitional Council, which had established the much-needed link between the United Nations and the Libyan people in their efforts to build legitimate, democratic and effective institutions while pursuing the path of economic, social and political development.

Noting that political and security concerns were always an important priority for the United Nations, he said they must, however, be considered against other priorities, both long and short term.  The international community must take steps towards establishing a new and effective system to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure the necessary adaptation, he said, expressing hope that the Durban Conference of Parties in December would bring the international community a step closer to final agreement.  The negative impacts of climate change were disproportionate, and particular attention should be paid to the unique challenges faced by small island developing States, he said.  “Rio+20” next June would be an opportunity to secure renewed political commitments to sustainable development, assess progress on implementing commitments, and address new and emerging challenges.

The international community should develop a new concept to capture economic growth, social development and environmental protection, he said, adding:  “It is our duty to make a difference.”  Particular attention should be paid to Africa regarding attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.  With the global economic crisis raging unabated in donor countries, increases in aid had proven difficult to attain, he said, emphasizing the importance of improving aid effectiveness, since there could be no gains in development if trade, agriculture, migration, climate change, and other policies cancelled them out.  Furthermore, the concept of the right to development was gaining in substance and recognition, he said.

Research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that empowering women in agriculture could reduce hunger by 30 per cent, he noted, stressing that gender equality and women’s empowerment were essential to promoting peace, security and development.  Slovenia strongly supported the work of UN Women in expanding opportunities and tackling discrimination around the globe.  Slovenia also placed high value on the rights of the child and on human rights education.  As the 2011 President of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board, Slovenia was working tirelessly to ensure universal ratification of both Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said.

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