Reviewing Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, General Assembly Delegates Say Quest to Tackle Poverty, Inequality Remains ‘Salient as Ever’
Reviewing Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, General Assembly Delegates Say Quest to Tackle Poverty, Inequality Remains ‘Salient as Ever’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM)
Reviewing Secretary-General’s Report on Work of Organization, General Assembly
Delegates Say Quest to Tackle Poverty, Inequality Remains ‘Salient as Ever’
As Assembly Takes Note of Wide-ranging Report, Speakers Praise
Focus on Sustainable Development but Urge Ongoing Support for Millennium Goals
Citing an increasingly interdependent world in which the three pillars of the United Nations - peace and security, development and human rights – continued to converge in complex ways, General Assembly delegates today called for greater equity between developed and developing countries in matters ranging from multilateral decision-making to sustainable development policy, as they considered the Secretary-General’s annual report on the work of the United Nations system.
Even as they heralded momentum in a number of key areas, many speakers addressing the 193-member body this morning underscored the ever-expanding gap between the world’s North and South, its developed and developing countries and its “haves” and “have nots”, with some warning that ignoring those gaps would have dire consequences on the very survival of the planet and its inhabitants.
At the forefront of that discussion were references to both the Millennium Development Goals, whose target deadline of 2015 was rapidly approaching, and their post-2015 counterparts, the yet-to-be-elaborated Sustainable Development Goals. In that regard, several delegates voiced concern that the original Goals still had not been met in many parts of the world, while others underscored the need to focus on the reasons for the failures – including the insufficient representation of developing countries at the highest levels of global decision-making – and the urgency of addressing them in the post-2015 context.
The successful conclusion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – known as “Rio+20” – had launched a new “era of sustainable development”, said Egypt’s representative as he took the floor. It was an era that would recognize the inter-linkages between the world’s challenges, and which would avoid separate tracks in dealing with them. In that respect, “integration and coherence” were key words, he said, and should also be the driving forces behind United Nations efforts in coming years.
Adding his voice to those who stressed the need to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said that his delegation viewed certain recent developments, including a recent unprecedented decrease in official development assistance (ODA) and the rise of trade protectionism, with great concern.
In the context of advancing efforts to meet the Goals, the representative of Cambodia – who spoke on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – said that a primary mandate of the Association was to alleviate poverty and narrow the development gap within the region through mutual assistance and cooperation. In that regard, ASEAN welcomed efforts to define new paradigms for sustainable development and fully endorsed the outcome of the Rio conference and the policy guidelines set out in the resultant document, “The Future We Want”.
He went on to stress the vital importance of immediate and concerted action to address climate change to preserve a liveable planet for the next generation. Small States in the Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean were threatened by rising sea levels, he said, while developing nations dependent on agriculture faced threats to their livelihood as a result of floods and drought caused by climate change. “It is regrettable that the international community remains divided on the most appropriate response,” he said in that regard.
The lack of international agreement on several key elements of climate change policy was another issue that resounded through the Assembly today. In particular, many representatives, including the delegate from Argentina, stressed the primacy of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” among States. Indeed, he said, the obligation of each country in the economic, social and environmental spheres should correspond to their development level, their particular circumstances and their different historical responsibilities with regard to environmental deterioration.
In addition, sustainable development must reflect the principle of full sovereignty of each country over its natural resources. He continued, adding that there was no single development model that was applicable to all nations. Turning to the “green economy”, he stressed that Argentina would not accept the proposal that the green economy move towards “green protectionism”. Nor should the green economy constitute policies that were, in fact, disguised restrictions on international trade, he stressed.
“One thing abundantly clear is that unmet development priorities must be well integrated in the new post-2015 framework”, said E. Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, adding that the quest for poverty eradication and sustainable development remained as salient as ever. Significant roadblocks still stood in the way of food and energy security, health and education for much of the developing world, he stressed, and the magnitude of present challenges was driven home by the fact that more than a billion people worldwide continued to languish in extreme poverty and hunger.
Echoing the sentiment of many other speakers, he expressed India’s deep-rooted conviction that “the relevance of the United Nations ultimately hinges on more fundamental reform of its governance architecture that is frozen in another era,” perpetuating the rights of the “haves” of the 1940s. Similarly, an issue that was inexplicably missing from the Secretary-General’s report was that of Security Council reform, where intergovernmental negotiations had seen much movement and a clear affirmation by an overwhelming majority of Member States for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. The omission was a “significant drawback” in the report, and India hoped that it would be corrected in future editions.
In that vein, Cuba’s representative recalled the “plethora” of initiatives intended to reform the United Nations, many of which had had “deficient” results of simply had not brought about any essential change. Indeed, one of the major challenges facing the international community was to reform the United Nations so that it continued to serve all nations on an equal footing, and to prevent it from being turned into an instrument that served the “interests and caprices” of a few nations. As such, he agreed with other delegates who stressed that the central role of the General Assembly should be re-established, and the Security Council must be reformed as a democratic, transparent and “truly representative” body.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Japan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Argentina, Belarus, Pakistan, China, Brazil, Ethiopia and Venezuela.
Taking part in the meeting was an observer of the Holy See.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of India and Pakistan.
The Assembly will reconvene on Thursday, 11 November, at 10:00 a.m., to hold a joint debate on the revitalization of its work.
The Assembly had before it a wide-ranging Report of the Secretary General on the work of the Organization (document A/67/1), which describes United Nations activities undertaken in various areas over the past year. In the area of the promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development, it reviews progress made towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline, noting that – while strides had been made – progress remained uneven and inequalities among many populations were rising. It also stresses the need to develop accountability mechanisms to monitor delivery on Millennium commitments.
A new course in sustainable development had been charted at the United Nations summit on the issue (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June. The Conference accomplished a number of important milestones. In the outcome document, “The Future We Want”, Member States agreed to define universally applicable sustainable development goals and launched a process for their elaboration. Member States also decided to pursue policies for an inclusive “green” fund accompanied by technical support to help countries to adapt green economy policies to their own particular circumstances.
The report states that world leaders further had agreed to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum, which would replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, and to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Also critical over the reporting period had been the growing need for action on climate change and efforts towards achieving sustainable energy solutions for all.
In addition, sustainable development was confronted with several challenges related to the global economic and financial crisis. The report notes that the crisis, coupled with the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, had thrown the global jobs crunch into stark relief, with over 75 million young people, in particular, looking for work around the world. The United Nations addressed the issue during the Annual Ministerial Review of its Economic and Social Council, as well as in the resulting declaration. That document put full and productive employment for all, especially women and young people, at the centre of national development strategies and the United Nations development agenda.
In the area of international peace and security, the report states that conflicts in recent years had grown more complex, and the drivers of conflict had multiplied while the participation of non-State actors has increased. In its work on conflict prevention, peace processes, democratic transitions and elections, the United Nations had undertaken a number of initiatives, including mediation efforts and support for transition in Libya, efforts to resolve the political crisis in Yemen and support for diplomatic efforts in Syria. Among other efforts, the Organization had also responded to coups d’état in Mali and Guinea Bissau and supported the continuing transition in Somalia.
Demand for United Nations peacekeeping was high during the past year, the report continues. In the Golan Heights, in southern Lebanon, in Cyprus, in Jammu and Kashmir, and in Western Sahara, United Nations peacekeepers oversaw the cessation of hostilities, while more durable, political solutions were being pursued. United Nations peacekeeping also provided support to national elections in 2011 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti and Liberia.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan, United Nations peacekeepers played a role in stabilization and the protection of civilians. In addition, in South Sudan, a new peacekeeping operation — the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) — was established and assisted national authorities in their efforts to prevent and contain inter-communal violence and related population displacement.
The United Nations-established and United Nations-assisted criminal tribunals continued to contribute to combating impunity and bringing about an age of accountability. The Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity - the first conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal since the famous Nuremberg trials of 1946.
The report goes on to say that the lack of progress in the field of disarmament over the reporting period was troubling. Work towards implementing the new nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation commitments and agreements reached at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) faced protracted deadlocks, and progress in the nuclear field continued to be impeded in particular by the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to overcome its differences. In addition, it states that The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran should fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions as they related to nuclear programmes and associated concerns about means of delivery.
It also notes the rising threat to peace and security posed by organized crime and drug trafficking, recalling that, in 2011, the Secretary-General created a Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking to develop comprehensive and effective United Nations responses and mobilize collective action against that threat. The Organization and its Member States also made important progress in the past year in strengthening response to the terrorism threat, including by creating the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre.
Finally, the report describes efforts to strengthen the Organization itself, including by continuing the harmonization of the conditions of service across the United Nations system. To achieve a global, dynamic and adaptable workforce, the Organization was enhancing young professional recruitment, implementing a system of continuing contracts and rolling out the new talent management system. An accountability system was being internalized in the Organization’s day-to-day work through outreach, education and training of staff at all levels.
SEA KOSAL ( Cambodia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), attached great importance to sustained economic growth. Given declining economic prospects and mounting global challenges, collective action at regional and international levels was necessary to effectively respond, he said. While ASEAN continued its efforts to establish an Economic Community within the bloc by 2015, economic integration with its partners through the ASEAN+3 Mechanism and East Asia Summit had been strengthened.
ASEAN had worked closely with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to stabilize the financial sector by strengthening a regional safeguard mechanism, known as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization. Its funding doubled recently from $120 billion to $240 billion, serving as a firewall against a liquidity crisis. At a global level, Cambodia, acting as ASEAN’s representative at this year’s G-20 Summit, reiterated the need to sustain economic stability and structural reform for growth and employment, stressing the urgency to improve and strengthen international financial architecture in an interconnected global economy. In that vein, it was imperative to complete the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and prevent the return of trade protectionism.
Noting that the 2015 deadline for Millennium Development Goals was nearing, accelerating progress to achieve them was of paramount importance, he said. A primary mandate of ASEAN was to alleviate poverty and narrow the development gap within the region through mutual assistance and cooperation. Southeast Asia was prone to natural disasters, making disaster management a priority. In this regard, ASEAN welcomed efforts to define new paradigms for sustainable development and fully endorsed the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - known as Rio+20 - and the policy guidelines set out in the resultant outcome, “The Future We Want”.
He went on to stress the vital importance of immediate and concerted action to address climate change in order to preserve the liveable planet for the next generation. Small states in the Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean remained threatened by rising sea levels. Developing nations dependent on agriculture faced threats to their livelihood as a result of floods and drought caused by climate change. “It is regrettable that the international community remains divided on the most appropriate response,” he said. Turning to other priority issues, he said ASEAN continued to support international disarmament initiatives, including efforts towards the signing of the protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by the five nuclear weapons States.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said his Government was committed to the shared principle of the international community to settle disputes in a peaceful manner based on international law. It would protect peace, ensure the safety of its people and protect its sovereignty in accordance with international law and work to strengthen the rule of law by facilitating the use of international courts and tribunals and assisting developing countries to improve their legal systems and human resources. That was connected to the United Nations pillar of enhancing human rights, he said, adding that with the European Union, Japan would again submit a draft resolution on human rights in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea to address, among other things, abduction issues.
On peace and security, he noted Japan’s contributions to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and its work in counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. Japan had also allocated an additional $12.5 million to the Peacebuilding Fund and believed more attention should be devoted to the linkages between peacekeeping and development. Human security was important to the three pillars of the United Nations and would be discussed next year at the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development. To share lessons learned from the March 2011 earthquake, Japan intended to host the Third United Nations Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015.
Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa highlighted the importance of democracy and the rule of law, he continued, adding that Japan would support reform efforts in each country. He condemned the violence in Syria and supported the United Nations-Arab League Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi. He commended the Organization’s mediation efforts in Libya and Yemen and stressed that it must play a proactive role in the Middle East peace process. While strengthening the rule of law, the Organization must also redouble efforts to suppress the proliferation of arms that could fuel conflict. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran to comply with Security Council resolutions on their nuclear programmes. In addition, creating a strong arms trade treaty for conventional arms was of the highest priority.
On sustainable development, he said that it was crucial to accelerate worldwide efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals and noted Japan’s significant contributions to discussions on a post-2015 development agenda. Japan was committed to following up on Rio+20, as well as to the Green Future Initiative announced by Japan at that summit. Efforts must be advanced to reduce greenhouse gasses without waiting for a future framework both in individual countries and through partnerships. Among Japan’s efforts to that end is the East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership to promote low-carbon growth and climate resilient development. On Security Council reform, he called on Member States to engage in text-based negotiations.
AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt) said the successful conclusion of Rio+20 and the adoption of its outcome document, “The Future We Want”, had launched an “era of sustainable development” at the United Nations. It was an era that would recognize the interlinkages between the world’s challenges, and which would avoid separate tracks in dealing with them. In that respect, “integration and coherence” were key words, and should also be the driving forces behind United Nations efforts in coming years. Still, Egypt was concerned that a working group on elaborating the Sustainable Development Goals, mandated by the Rio summit, had not yet been established. He therefore proposed the appointment of two facilitators — one from a developed country and one from a developing country — to serve in that capacity until agreement was reached on the composition of the Working Group itself.
He stressed the need to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and viewed certain recent developments, including recent unprecedented decrease in official development assistance (ODA) and the rise of trade protectionism, with great concern. International efforts to combat climate change must be aligned with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility, he said, adding that he hoped the upcoming Conference of States Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha would reach a legally binding second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Egypt also looked forward to further efforts of the United Nations to help the African continent reach its development goals, he said.
“The democratic transition in Egypt and the Arab world proves that change comes from the people,” he said, stressing the need to provide further support to the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to development, around the world. The “responsibility to protect” lay mostly with Member States, he noted, however, conversations should continue on that principle at the United Nations level, and should avoid politicization or the use of that concept as a pretext to interfere in the domestic affairs of States. Egypt welcomed the inclusion of youth among the priorities of the Secretary-General’s second term, and recommended the establishment of “UN-Youth”, a body aimed at addressing the particular needs of youth around the world.
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN ( Bangladesh) said that the ideal of global peace and stability would remain an empty slogan without prosperity in developing countries. Many years of development gains had been lost to the global economic downturn. Realization of the Millennium Goals would not be possible for many developing countries without additional financing. A fair, rules-based multilateral trade system must be established and developing countries must have a greater say in decision-making in the international financial system. Least developed countries must have greater access to markets; trade barriers must be removed, overseas development aid promises fulfilled and new commitments made to fund climate change adaptations. Implementation of Mode IV under the World Trade Organization would assist the free flow of migrant labour, whose remittances alleviated poverty and contributed to development.
The greatest challenge faced by the international community was building foundations for sustainable development, he said. In the outcome document to the Rio + 20 conference, Member States had agreed to define universally applicable sustainable development goals. That work should be coordinated with the post-2015 development agenda. Unmet Millennium targets should also be incorporated so that development priorities would continue to be the main focus. A comprehensive agreement on climate change must be reached which would include provisions on: greenhouse gas emissions, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities; climate migrants; the transfer of green technologies; and provisions for the “Green” Climate Fund, among others for adaptation and mitigation.
He supported efforts to mainstream the rule of law into all activities of the United Nations system. Countries that promote the rule of law internally must also respect the rule of law in international settings, he said. He expressed concern at the stagnation of multilateral negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation and said that the failure to reach agreement on an arms trade treaty for conventional arms frustrated the hopes of people around the world who bore the brunt of the consequences of conflict fuelled by unregulated arms trade. On peacekeeping he said that all stakeholders must be closely involved with planning and managing operations.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) said it was important for the international community to scale up concerted efforts to follow up on the outcome of the Rio+20 summit. Since they were approved, the Millennium Development Goals had lifted millions of people out of poverty, helping them enjoy better lives and livelihoods. Yet, progress had been uneven and unbalanced, with many countries off track to achieve the Goals by 2015. Therefore, a priority must be to urgently accelerate progress by providing necessary support for those countries. It was also a timely juncture for Member States to begin discussions toward a robust, bold and ambitious post-2015 development agenda.
Stressing that achieving economic growth and poverty eradication remained priorities for developing countries, he said Indonesia continuously sought to establish bilateral and multilateral cooperation on promoting and developing the use of renewable energy. In that regard, the Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative could be used as an input in formulating his nation’s energy policy, he added. Turning to global job crisis, he said unemployment was estimated to reach 200 million this year worldwide, including 75 million youth. Speaking of Indonesia’s experience, it was important to invest intensively in such sectors as health and education that could generate a large number of jobs.
Turing to peace and security, he noted that Indonesia had actively participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions since 1957, adding that his country would continue contributing troops and police to those missions. Regarding counter-terrorism, Indonesia’s national response for the past several years had followed the four pillars of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. On humanitarian assistance, Indonesia, alongside Australia, Peru and Norway, had initiated the establishment of the Group of Friends for Disaster Risk Reduction as an open-ended informal mechanism to discuss and promote awareness about the issue, including post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that the work of the Organization was becoming increasingly interrelated, and welcomed efforts to make the actions of the United Nations in different areas more coherent. In that vein, sustainable development should effectively incorporate its three pillars – economic, environmental and social – and should reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, which had been reaffirmed in Rio. That principle had been part of Argentina’s logic in environmental negotiations for more than two decades, “and rightly so”. The obligation of each country in economic, social and environmental arenas at the global level corresponded to their development level, their particular circumstances and their different historical responsibilities with regard to environmental deterioration.
In addition, he said that sustainable development must reflect the principle of full sovereignty of each country over its natural resources. There was no single development model applicable to all nations however, social inclusion should be part of all development models, allowing those who had the least to recover their dignity. Turning to the “green economy”, Argentina would not accept the proposal that the green economy move towards green protectionism, and believed that it should constitute policies that were in fact disguised restrictions on international trade. In addition, the green economy must not be a substitute for the paradigm of sustainable development; instead, each country should have it available as a tool to be used in a sovereign fashion.
Argentina agreed that, in recent years, conflicts had become more complex, and therefore gave great importance to the theme of the current session of the Assembly, the peaceful settlement of disputes. Reaffirming the country’s unshakeable commitment to that principle, he also encouraged other nations to adopt policies that reflected it. Argentina had been the first country in Latin America, and the second in the world, to ratify International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and welcomed the first session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance. Argentina highlighted the important contribution of the International Criminal Court to the international fight against impunity. Recalling that 2012 marked the Court’s tenth anniversary, he recalled that the year had also seen the Court’s first conviction, of former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. Argentina also stressed that all States – both parties and non-parties of the Rome Statute – must cooperate with the Court.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) shared the Secretary-General’s view that the principal task facing the international community was to lay the foundations for sustainable development, and said that Belarus would work to realize the decisions taken at the Rio+20 summit. Among other things, that called for transfer of technology and technological cooperation in energy and other areas. Achieving the Millennium Goals was the best way for the world to flourish in the long term. Due to the world economic crisis, it was important to set the development agenda for the post-2015 period so progress on the Millennium commitments would not be lost. To create a world free from poverty and the anachronistic application of unilateral economic sanctions the principle of respect for the interests of every Member State must be observed.
Noting that the Organization could do more to help restore the global economy, he called attention to the need for targeted assistance to middle-income States, as that would expand the pool of donor countries in future as they moved to a new level of development. Expressing alarm at the drop in basic resources for United Nations operational programmes, he said that the donor-base must be broadened to stabilize financial development. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s focus on support for youth, who were crucial to creating sustainable development. In addition to support for the most vulnerable, talented youth should also receive support.
The links between development and peace and security were clear. He hoped the substantive work of the Conference on Disarmament would start quickly, despite the current impasse due to an imbalance in State interests, and also supported the formulation of a new arms trade treaty on conventional arms. Belarus recognized the rule of law as the basis for preventing and resolving problems of peace and security and called on Member States to act only in accord with the Organization’s Charter rather than on wilful interpretations allowing for “humanitarian intervention” in the internal affairs of sovereign states. He underscored the need to have the agreement of all States before implementing any initiatives to prevent conflicts, which must be based on the principle of the equality of sovereign States.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA ( Cuba) said initiatives to improve the functions of the United Nations for development, both at Headquarters and on the ground, should reflect the agreements reached between Member States, and be accountable to them. In that vein, “we must be very careful when it comes to taking part in […] exclusionist policies” that were not agreed upon by Member States. He wished to draw attention to the “plethora” of initiatives intended to reform the United Nations, many of which had had “deficient” results or simply had not brought about any essential change. Before making new proposals for changes, the current processes must come to a close, and their impact must be assessed. Cuba welcomed the dialogue of the Secretary-General with Member States, and said that accountability of the Secretariat at all levels was critical. Cuba had expressed its concerns at some reports of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, which had pointed to the duplication of some functions.
He also highlighted the launching, at the last session of the General Assembly, of an intergovernmental process to improve the functioning of the international treaty body system, which Cuba had supported since its inception. Regarding human rights, Cuba was concerned at the “imbalance” which continued to exist in the international system; indeed, it was “deplorable” that there was increasingly extended use in the Human Rights Council and other settings of human rights in order to politicize and manipulate opinion against some developing countries, while systematic violations of human rights continued to exist in others. The “invasion” of the Security Council in issues that clearly fell under the jurisdiction of other bodies was also of major concern. Concepts such as the responsibility to protect and others, which were not clearly defined or internationally agreed upon, could not be used as a pretext for interference in the domestic affairs of States, or for support for regime changes from the outside.
One of the major challenges facing the international community was to reform the United Nations so that it continued to serve all nations on an equal footing, he said. The Organization could not be turned into an instrument that served the “interests and caprices” of a few nations. In that vein, the central role of the Assembly should be re-established, and the Security Council must be reformed as a democratic and transparent body. In that regard, he stressed, the Council reform process had come to stalemate and a “truly representative” Security Council was urgently needed. In addition, he recalled that there were more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world ready to be used. The complete prohibition of nuclear weapons was therefore another urgent task. “More than ever before, the world needs the United Nations” and its collective action, he concluded.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) was concerned that faltering economic growth was leading to growing unemployment across the globe and the sovereign debt crisis ran the risk of spreading to other economies. The United Nations must come together in forging a response to the ongoing economic crisis. It was not enough to seek solutions in exclusive gatherings. “We need an inclusive United Nations development agenda that is in sync with imperatives of poverty eradication, green economic growth and sustainable development,” he said.
While his Government remained committed to accelerating progress on Millennium Goals, he asked the United Nations to help Pakistan navigate through its own challenges. To that end, he invited the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda to undertake special review of the challenges facing countries like Pakistan in achieving such targets. On the Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, Pakistan expressed interest in working with his office and Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Co-Chair of the new High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.
Noting that Pakistan was a leading contributor of personnel to the United Nations peacekeeping missions and currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council, he expressed his country’s commitment to “consolidate the successes achieved in many situations and address the challenges that remain in so many others”. He added that “we are particularly conscious of the urgency of the situations in Syria and Mali.” He went on to call for updating the long overdue troop cost reimbursement. On disarmament and non-proliferation, Pakistan was of the view that acknowledging and addressing the underlying security concerns of all States was imperative to overcome the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. In that regard, his delegation reiterated its call for convening a special session of the General Assembly to craft a new consensus on the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda and machinery.
E. AHAMED, Minster of State for External Affairs of India, said that, even as the 2015 “finish line” for the Millennium Goals was approaching, there was already haste to look at the post-2015 agenda. The quest for poverty eradication and sustainable development remained as salient as ever, and significant roadblocks still stood in the way of food and energy security, health and education for much of the developing world. Countries were only tentatively emerging from the shadow of the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the magnitude of the challenge was driven home by the fact that more than a billion people worldwide continued to languish in extreme poverty and hunger.
“One thing abundantly clear is that unmet development priorities must be well integrated in the new post-2015 framework”, he stressed in that respect, adding, “we must now train our energy on the best way to implement it in an intergovernmental setting”. As the international community embarked upon a process of framing Sustainable Development Goals, crucial issues such as that of resource mobilization – be it ODA, technology transfer, trade or Foreign Direct Investment – must find appropriate priority and be enshrined in the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and equity.
With regard to development partnerships, he said, India was resolved to carry forward and expand on its multi-faceted and “vibrant” cooperation with Africa, including through the framework of the India-Africa Forum Summit. The country also continued to build on its commitments for enhanced cooperation with the least developed countries, the landlocked developing countries and the small island developing States within the rubric of South-South cooperation. Among other matters, he also addressed that of the Secretary-General’s internal reform efforts, taking note of measures that had been undertaken to date.
Nevertheless, he stressed, it was India’s deep-rooted conviction that “the relevance of the United Nations ultimately hinges on more fundamental reform of its governance architecture that is frozen in another era,” perpetuating the rights of the “haves” of the 1940s. Similarly, an issue that was inexplicably missing from the Secretary-General’s report was that of Security Council reform, where intergovernmental negotiations had seen much movement and a clear affirmation by an overwhelming majority of Member States for expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. The omission was a “significant drawback” in the report, and India hoped that it would be corrected in future reports.
WANG MIN ( China) said that the globalization and “informationalization” of society were developing rapidly, and at the same time, the deep impact of the recent global economic, social and financial crises was far from over. The international security situation was complex, with turbulence in the Middle East and West Asia persisting. Over the last year, the United Nations had actively promoted multilateral cooperation and played an active role in promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights, combating terrorism, and other key areas. However, the Organization needed to further promote the development of developing countries, narrowing the gap between North and South, so that the benefits of development could be shared by the world as a whole. The formation of a post-2015 development agenda should make the eradication of poverty a core objective, and should allow for the active participation of civil society, non-governmental organizations and other actors.
“State sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be violated”, he stressed, and the principle of the sovereign equality of States, and non-interference in internal affairs, must be respected. The United Nations should advocate and promote a culture of peace and support the peaceful settlement of disputes, he said. China opposed all forms of terrorism, and felt that it was necessary to “renounce double standards” in that area. Indeed, diversity in the world must be respected and the international community should advocate for mutual respect and equal coexistence between different cultures and religions.
China supported efforts to carry out needed reforms of the United Nations that should give developing countries a greater say in international matters. He said that it was especially necessary to provide necessary safeguards in development, in both mechanisms and resources. China had always practiced multilateralism, and supported the quorum of the United Nations in international affairs. It firmly supported the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, making sure that the Organization promoted the greater inclusion of developing countries in all international matters.
SÉRGIO RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS ( Brazil) said that strengthening multilateralism must be at the forefront of the Organization’s plans and actions. The work of the General Assembly must be revitalized and the Security Council reformed. Work must commence on the post-2015 development agenda. The high-level panel of eminent persons on the issue would provide significant input to broaden development goals and strengthen the framework for partnerships as well as for the requisite financial and political support. On sustainable development he said that the Rio+20 conference had strengthened multilateralism, as it had been the largest and most inclusive summit in the history of the United Nations. Sustainable Development Goals, to be developed through cooperative efforts, should be consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and allow flexibility for the specific needs and priorities of developing countries. Financing and the use and transfer of green technologies were equally important.
On peace and security, he said that political instability and emerging threats continued to pose a threat to international security. Peacekeeping was one of the most important aspects of the Organization’s work for millions of people around the world. He supported the partnership between police and troop contributing countries, the Security Council and other main organs. Among many recommendations, he said that peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts should be brought together and that the interaction between United Nations missions and local populations needed to be improved to enhance the protection of civilians. Ways must be found to address problems of security and development in ways that were distinct yet mutually reinforcing.
Brazil continued to partner with African countries in maintaining peace, protecting human rights, and promoting economic growth and sustainable development, he said. He further noted that human rights formed a basic pillar of the United Nations and that the Organization must strive to operate in a non-selective and constructive manner. He emphasized the importance of prevention with regard to the responsibility to protect and said further that, when all non-coercive measures had been exhausted, and forceful collective action was contemplated, there was a need to promote responsibility while protecting as a complement to the responsibility to protect.
FORTUNA DIBACO CIZARE ( Ethiopia) welcomed the Secretary-General’s plan to develop a comprehensive proposal that sought to harness the power of partnership. In peacekeeping, Ethiopia supported the strengthening of strategic and operational collaboration between the United Nations and regional organizations, such as the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). As the largest African troop contributing country, Ethiopia reaffirmed its commitment to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts in the region and elsewhere.
She also commended the Secretary-General’s continued commitment to Africa. “Despite considerable progress achieved in the last 10 years, Africa still continues to face significant challenges in the area of peace and security as well as socio-economic development,” she said. Obviously, Africa was negatively affected by the global economic situation. No part of the world was immune to the consequences of the crisis, particularly least developed countries, a majority of which were African countries, she added.
Ethiopia, however, was on track to achieve many of the Millennium Goals, she noted. “Our achievement” of goals on poverty alleviation, universal primary education and gender equality/women empowerment was “encouraging”, she said. Access to safe water and sanitation was one area that would require attention. In 2010/2011, the Government spent the equivalent of more than 13 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on poor-friendly growth measures. Among other topics, she said Ethiopia’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights “is unwavering”. The Human Rights Council must operate in a non-selective and constructive manner, especially through the Universal Periodic Review, while maintaining the capacity to address situations of particular concern. She said Ethiopia was prepared to engage directly in the process through Council membership, asking Member States to support its candidacy during the forthcoming election in November.
ARLINE DIAZ MENDOZA ( Venezuela) called for unlimited respect for international law, in line with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. The Organization had recorded important achievements in the settlement of disputes over the course of its history; however, it was not free of flaws, which were often related to the actions of the world’s hegemonic powers. The role of the United Nations in the search for the peaceful settlement of disputes must be framed within the purposes of its Charter, including the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the threat or use of force.
The creation of favourable economic and social conditions was an important element in the peaceful settlement of disputes, she continued. Poverty and racism were “powerful generators of crises”, she said in that respect, and they could be manipulated by certain countries. Venezuela condemned the use of force or threat of the use of force by major powers, and was concerned with the actions of the Security Council in defence of the principle of the “responsibility to protect”, in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
In that vein, she said, Syria – like Libya last year – was subject to the interference of imperial powers which, through funding or training, supported armed groups in the country. Venezuela called for dialogue between the parties to the Syrian conflict, which would create the climate of stability necessary to strengthen democracy and the political reforms supported by President Bashar Al-Assad. Indeed, developing countries found themselves facing a “new offensive of imperial powers” who tried to impose their strategic interests. Humanity faced a complex, dynamic panorama where the world’s economic and political elite refused to set aside their “selfish, partial views”. Instead, she stressed, the spirit of dialogue and solidarity must prevail. The economic and political reality of the times called for radical changes in the current unfair economic world order, she said.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Observer for the Holy See, said that at the heart of the challenges facing the United Nations was the need to foster trust: between nations, within society and trust that those in positions of power would carry out their mandate to promote the common good rather than advance self-interests. Decisions were being taken on issues ranging from international security and disarmament, environmental protection, and financial governance, to health care, food security and human rights, in venues where those in power could dictate the terms of agreement rather than in international forums, such as the United Nations, where all States had a say. It was easier, that way, to achieve short-term agreements, but hindered achieving long-term development, peace and security, and other United Nations goals.
It was imperative to restore the trust, now lacking, that would enable progress at the Conference on Disarmament, he said. Further, as the Assembly prepared for the post-2015 development agenda, the proposed Sustainable Development Goals should be created with a focus on the human person, and recognition that development was not simply economic growth but growth of the entire person, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Further, such a development model must be created with respect for the relationship between humanity and the environment so that all members of society would understand their responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for each other and for future generations.
In the effort to promote human rights, he continued, trust between nations, between their people and governmental leaders, and in mechanisms designed to promote human rights remained fragile. “[It] is imperative that leaders of [the United Nations] and its Member States make every effort to ensure that human rights are applied and interpreted in a way which fosters trust within society and with [the] institution. Efforts to radically redefine or reinterpret human rights using a reductionist and relativist notion of humanity or by relying on ambiguous terminology, in the end, led to the breakdown in trust in those bodies mandated to upholding human rights. The efforts, moreover, foster distrust between nations and result in a world where basic human rights and fundamental freedoms are challenged rather than protected.”
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of her right of reply, the representative of India said that Pakistan’s speaker, in his statement, had made a “gratuitous” reference to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was a state of India. The remark should be rejected in its entirety, she said.
Responding, the representative of Pakistan said that “gratuitous” was a favoured word by the Indian delegation. However, “vocabulary cannot be a substitute for truth,” he said, advising that the Assembly not tackle important, “long-standing and festering issues” such as the question of Kashmir by “casting them aside with casual remarks”.
Taking the floor again, India’s speaker said that “untenable” references had once again been made by the representative of Pakistan, and that references to the state of Jammu and Kashmir had no place in the Assembly.
Pakistan’s representative said that “lest repetition create the illusion of veracity”, he wished to draw attention to previous exchanges with the Indian delegation during the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session, which would “bring out the truth on the matter”.
The Assembly then took note of the report on the Work of the Organization.
* *** *