Sustainable Development, Climate Finance Take Centre Stage as General Assembly Opens Annual Debate

GA/11692
28 September 2015
Seventieth Session, 13th, 14th & 15th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Sustainable Development, Climate Finance Take Centre Stage as General Assembly Opens Annual Debate

Secretary-General Urges Greater Action to ‘Leave No One Behind’

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community was poised to reach higher, broader, and deeper, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly today as he opened the seventieth session’s general debate.

“You, the world’s leaders, have committed to leave no one behind,” he said, lauding the Assembly for its towering achievement and urging them to do more by coming to a robust agreement on climate change.  There was “wind in the sails” of climate action, but more ambitious national targets were necessary.

“Why is it easier to find the money to destroy people and planet than it is to protect them?” he asked, cautioning the Assembly that climate finance would be crucial.  Confronted with the risk of temperatures rising above the 2°C threshold, the international community must work in synergy and get the Green Climate Fund up and running.

“The global humanitarian system is not broken, it is broke,” he said, and underscored the importance of following up emergency assistance with lasting solutions.  Recalling how Europeans had sought the world’s assistance after the Second World War, he urged Europe to “do more”.  The crisis in Syria was out of control, and he called on the five key countries, the Russian Federation, United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, to overcome the diplomatic paralysis.

He also urged leaders in conflict situations around the world to return to the negotiating table — in Yemen, in the Middle East, in the Korean Peninsula.  “Dialogue and patient diplomacy have paid dividends,” he said, pointing to the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Germany).

Also delivering an opening statement was General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark, who said that the United Nations had proved its value with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda — “epic in its analysis and revolutionary in its ambition”.  The current session of the Assembly would focus on the strong linkages between development, peace and security, and respect for human rights.

“We live in paradoxical and transformational times,” he said.  Never before had such a large share of humanity enjoyed so good a life, yet never before had the world been at greater risk of fundamentally disrupting the basic living conditions on the planet.  Every person had a legitimate demand for a decent life.  However, that demand must be met without further depleting the natural resources that future generations would inherit.

Barack Obama, President of the United States, drawing on his country’s experiences, emphasized the importance of diplomacy and democracy in his address.  “I lead the strongest military the world has ever known and I will not hesitate to protect my country or its allies,” he said, but the old ways of coercion did not work.  He was confident that the increasing contacts between his country and Cuba would lead to the lifting of an embargo that should not be in place.  In Iraq, the United States had learned the value of working with other nations under the mantle of international norms.

Acknowledging that diplomacy was hard and rarely politically popular, he told the Assembly that the Iran nuclear deal was the result of two years of complex negotiations, involving the United States, the Russian Federation and China.  That was the strength of the international system when it worked the way it should.  However, there was no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), and a managed transition away from the Assad regime was needed.

Challenging that assertion, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, said that no one but President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were truly fighting the terrorist forces in Syria and that it was an enormous mistake to not cooperate with the Syrian Government.  Throughout the Organization’s 70 years, there had always been differences.  Referring to the criticism that decision-making in the Security Council was often inefficient, he added that the lack of unanimity was natural for so diverse an organization.  His country believed that it was dangerous to play games with terrorists.

No one cared about human rights in the region, he emphasized.  Instead of stability, foreign interference had produced violence and social disaster.  Elsewhere, in Ukraine, the logic of confrontation had resulted in an externally organized coup.  Turning to climate change, he noted that it impacted all people and required a new approach.  The international community should join efforts to live in harmony with nature.

On that theme, François Hollande, President of France, said that the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change would decide whether humankind was capable of deciding to preserve life on the planet.  Success in Paris depended on commitments on emission reductions, a review mechanism, and commitments ensuring support from developed countries to developing countries.  France would increase its annual climate funding from €3 billion to €5 billion to be disbursed, not as loans but as grants.

He also called on the international community to find a collective solution to the Syrian tragedy.  The blame for the conflict lay with Bashar al-Assad, a dictator who bombed his own people.  He also expressed support for limiting the use of the veto when dealing with cases of mass atrocity.  The right to veto was not intended as a right to block and his country was committed to that.

Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, called the nuclear deal a brilliant example of “victory over war”.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and “the six world Powers” was the result of two sides engaging in dialogue and understanding before the eruption of conflict, as opposed to negotiating peace after war.  Through the Plan of Action, Iran had not only sought a nuclear deal but also a new and constructive way to recreate the international order.

The potential transformation of terrorist organizations into terrorist States, he said, was the gravest threat facing the international community.  Iran was prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and Yemen, he said, urging the world community, especially the States of his region, to create a united front against extremism and violence.

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of Jordan, condemned the “outlaws of Islam”, who targeted religious differences and hoped to kill cooperation and compassion among people of all faiths.  There was no crime worse than twisting God’s word to promote one’s interests.  He urged protecting the purity of the Muslim faith from worldly contamination.  “As Muslims, this is our fight and our duty,” he stressed. 

Calling for a new form of international relations, based on partnerships rather than alliances, Xi Jinping, President of China, said that the security of all countries was interrelated.  “We must abandon the cold war mentality,” he said, and big countries should treat small ones as equals.  The dreams of China’s people were connected to the dreams of other people in the world.

Welcoming other countries aboard China’s express train of development, he added that emerging markets in developing States, globalization and increased connectivity had brought the world to a turning point.  No matter how the global landscape evolved, China would never pursue hegemony or spheres of influence.

Striking a sombre note, Raul Castro Ruz, President of Cuba, said the pledge made in 1945 to promote social progress and improve standards of peoples’ lives remained an illusion when 795 million people went hungry, 781 million adults were illiterate, and 17,000 children perished every day from curable diseases while annual military expenses worldwide amounted to more than $1.7 trillion.  It was in poverty and inequality where the cause of conflicts should be sought out.

Agreeing that there could be no peace without social justice, Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, said that in the 70 years of the existence of the United Nations, capitalism had failed and had only brought about a humanitarian, financial, food and energy crisis.

Turning to reform of the Organization, Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, lauded the institutional changes undertaken in the areas of human rights, peacebuilding, gender equality, and the responsibility to protect.  However, almost no progress had been made on the commitment made to reform the Security Council.  “It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that 1 billion people on the African continent are still excluded as permanent members of the key decision-making structure of the United Nations.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government of Brazil, Poland, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Mozambique, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Portugal, Denmark, Ethiopia, Uganda, Chile, Egypt, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Belarus, Nigeria, Gabon, Paraguay, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Ecuador and Afghanistan.

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 September, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the seventieth session of the General Assembly had opened with a towering achievement:  the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  While the Millennium Development Goals had made poverty history for hundreds of millions of people, the international community was poised to continue the job while reaching higher, broader and deeper.  “You, the world’s leaders, have committed to leave no one behind — and to reach those farthest behind, first,” he said, calling on the Assembly to build on the momentum with a robust agreement on climate change.

There was “wind in the sails” of climate action, he said, but it was clear that the national targets submitted by the Member States would not be enough.  The choice was between raising the ambition of the world or risk raising temperatures above the 2°C threshold, which science had warned against crossing.  Reaching sustainable development goals meant better organizing.  Instead of walls and boxes, and ministries and agencies working at cross-purposes, the international community must work in synergy, supported by long-term planning, data, and a will to do things differently.

Welcoming the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the renewed pledge by developed countries to invest 0.7 per cent of the gross national income in official development assistance (ODA), he added that climate finance would be crucial.  Developed countries should meet the agreed goal of $100 billion per year by 2020 and the international community must get the Green Climate Fund up and running.  The world continued to squander trillions in wasteful military spending.  “Why is it easier to find the money to destroy people and planet than it is to protect them?” he asked.

One hundred million people required humanitarian assistance today, he noted, with 60 million having been forced to flee their homes or countries.  The global humanitarian system was not broken; it was broke.  People wanted emergency assistance but also lasting solutions.  “They may appreciate a tent, but they deserve to go home,” he said.  Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey were generously hosting several million Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  Commending those in Europe that were providing asylum, he urged those countries to “do more”.  After the Second World War, it was Europeans who had sought the world’s assistance.

Four years of “diplomatic paralysis” by the Security Council and other bodies had allowed the crisis in Syria to spin out of control, he went on.  While the responsibility for ending the conflict lay with the Syrian warring parties, it was time now for others, primarily the Council and key regional actors, to step forward.  Five countries in particular held the key:  the Russian Federation, United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.  As long as one side did not compromise with the other, it was futile expect to change.

Noting the conflict in Yemen where airstrikes were destroying cities, and the dangerous drift in the Middle East peace process, he urged leaders to return to the negotiating table.  Da’esh, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab remained major threats, and it was vital to unite against the brutality of those groups, while ensuring that States did not violate human rights in the fight against terror.

Commending the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Germany), he said “dialogue and patient diplomacy had paid dividends”.  Leaders must build on the recent agreements in South Sudan and finalize the agreement in Libya.  Renewed dialogue was also necessary to address the tension on the Korean peninsula.  “I am ready to support inter-Korean cooperation,” he said, also expressing concern about the growing restrictions on media freedom and civil society around the world.

Over the past 70 years, the United Nations had helped to liberate millions from colonialism and had supported the struggle against apartheid.  “We have defeated deadly diseases, defended human rights and deepened the rule of law,” he said.  With more connectivity and better tools than ever before, the recipes for positive change were on the table and the ingredients for success were in the hands of the international community.  “When we stand together, there is no limit to what we can achieve,” he said.

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said the Assembly’s recent approval of the 2030 Agenda — “epic in its analysis and revolutionary in its ambition” — proved once again the universal relevance and value of the United Nations.  Now it faced the even more daunting task of transforming its vision into action.

Noting that the traditional growth model of the past could not be relied upon, he said inequality in income, wealth, access to resources and to quality education and health must be overcome.  Each and every person had a legitimate demand for a decent life.  However, as the number of people on the planet had tripled in the last 70 years, that demand must be met without further depleting the natural resources that the current generation would pass on to future ones.

People in developed countries could not continue to consume and produce in the manner to which they were accustomed, he said.  A sustainable global infrastructure over the next 15 years required trillions of dollars, he said, adding that least developed countries depended on rich countries’ longstanding commitments to provide development assistance.  Much stronger international cooperation was needed to ensure that rich companies and individuals no longer evaded payment in tax havens.  Underscoring that a huge share of investment must come from private sources, he said Governments must create a framework for markets that made green investments the obvious, safer and better investment for business and mankind.

Action was needed now, he urged, to bring an end to devastating conflicts and to start investing big in sustainable development.  Failure to do so could result in unmanageable and inescapable damage to the political, social, ecological and climate balance on the planet.  Failure to stop climate change would force further hundreds of millions of people away from their habitats, resulting in large-scale uncontrolled migrations that could destabilize societies and lead to further conflicts. 

“We live in paradoxical and transformational times,” he said, adding that never before had such a large share of humanity enjoyed such a good life, yet never before had the world been at greater risk of fundamentally disrupting basic living conditions.  The follies of war and self-destruction had increased in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, creating unfathomable humanitarian catastrophes and more refugees than at any time since the end of the Second World War.  Tensions between major Powers increased as did investments in all kinds of armaments. 

He said that the United Nations must make an extraordinary effort to break all vicious circles and act in accordance with the 2030 Agenda, by recognizing the strong linkages between development, peace and security, and respect for human rights.  It must take specific actions to achieve progress in each of those areas, and that would be the central focus of the current Assembly session and his presidency.  The seventieth anniversary of the Organization must be a defining year to confirm and invigorate the universal values agreed in the Charter. 

Statements

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, opening the general debate, said that while the United Nations had broadened its initiatives since its founding 70 years ago, it had not had the same success in addressing collective security, an issue present at the Organization’s origins and which remained at the centre of its concerns today.  The proliferation of regional conflicts — some with destructive potential — as well as the expansion of terrorism were indicative of the Organization’s great challenge.

The profound sense of indignation felt around the world caused by the picture of a dead Syrian boy on the beaches of Turkey and by the news of the 71 people asphyxiated inside a truck in Austria must be translated into unequivocal acts of solidarity, she urged.  As a hosting country, Brazil had received Syrians, Haitians, men and women from around the world, just as it had sheltered millions of Europeans, Arabs and Asians over a century ago.

Today’s worrisome backdrop required swift and decisive action, she said, adding that the creation of a Palestinian State, for example, could no longer be delayed.  The Security Council must be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories so to make it more representative, legitimate and effective.  Welcoming the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, she expressed hope that the process would culminate in the end of the embargo. 

Turning to the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December, she said her country was making a significant effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continued to diversify the renewable sources in its energy mix, invest in low-carbon agriculture and reduce deforestation in the Amazonian region.  Brazil was one of the few developing countries to have committed to an absolute goal for emissions reduction.  It had made significant efforts to eradicate poverty, evidenced by its graduation from the World Hunger Map.  It had also undertaken initiatives to reorganize its fiscal situation, while continuing its process of social inclusion in a democratic environment.

Looking ahead to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, she welcomed citizens from around the world and said that occasion would be a unique opportunity to promote sport as a key tool for peace, social inclusion and tolerance, as well as an opportunity to promote the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, reflecting on the achievements of the United Nations during its 70 years, warned, however, of dangerous currents that endangered the system of collective security.  Some, he said, argued that the ideals enshrined in the Charter were out of date and that power was a zero-sum game.  According to that logic, tyrants such as Bashar al-Assad should be supported because the alternative was worse.  The nations of the world, however, must not return to the old way of conflict and coercion.

“I lead the strongest military the world has ever known and I will not hesitate to protect my country or its allies,” he said.  At the same time, he acknowledged that the United States could not solve the world’s problems alone.  In Iraq, his country had learned the hard lesson that hundreds of thousands of troops and trillions of dollars could not impose stability on a foreign land without a coalition under international norms.  Likewise, dictatorships were unstable; the strong men of today sparked revolution tomorrow.  It was possible to jail opponents, but not to imprison ideas.  Real strength rested on the success of a nation’s people — their knowledge, innovation, imagination, creativity and opportunity — which required good governance and individual rights.

A principal achievement of the United Nations, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, had been endangered by Iran’s violations.  The goal of the resulting Security Council sanctions was not to punish, but to try to get Iran to change course.  For two years, the United States and partners had stuck together through complex negotiations to achieve a lasting, comprehensive deal that allowed Iran to have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but not weapons.  That was the strength of the international system when it worked the way it should.

That same fidelity to international order — not a desire to return to the cold war — was the basis of the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation after its actions in Crimea, he said.  Protecting Russian interests through diplomacy would be better for Ukraine and also better for the Russian Federation and for the world.  Encouraging China and other claimants to peacefully resolve disputes over the South China Sea, he acknowledged that diplomacy was hard and rarely politically popular, but, referring to his country’s new contacts with Cuba, he said, “As these contacts yield progress, I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore.”

Nowhere was the commitment to international order tested more than in Syria, he said.  When a dictator slaughtered his people and when a terrorist group beheaded captives and enslaved women, then that was not only a nation’s internal affair.  There was no room for accommodating “an apocalyptic cult like ISIL”.  While the United States would work with any country, including the Russian Federation and Iran, there could be no return to the pre-war status quo.  Maintaining that the crisis had begun with repression of peaceful protests, he called for a managed transition away from Assad towards a new inclusive Government.

Among other points, he noted that the United States was welcoming an increasing number of refugees and he pledged to work with every nation to confront climate change and to end extreme poverty.  Stressing that the strongest leaders, from George Washington to Nelson Mandela eschewed personal power, he admitted that democracy was frustrating.  It was certainly imperfect in the United States and, at times, dysfunctional, but inclusive democracy made a country stronger.  When opposition parties could seek power through the ballot and a free media could expose corruption, when immigrants were welcomed, when girls could go to school; that was when a country realized its full potential.

ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, recalling Nazi Germany’s invasion against his country in September 1939, said Poles knew fully well not to take peace for granted.  Stressing the importance of respect for international law, he said it was Rafal Lemkin, a great Pole of Jewish descent, an eminent lawyer and university lecturer nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize, who had invented and applied in professional literature the term “genocide”, having lost almost his whole family in the German annihilation camps.

The world community must always remember that international law was a fundamental value and tool to build peace, he said.  The use of force in relations between States was not only immoral or incompatible with humanism, but violated international law.  In that regard, the work on streamlining the effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council must continue.  The right to veto in recent years had led on many occasions to a total stalemate of the Council’s work on the most important security issues.  For that reason, his country supported the French proposal to adopt a code of procedure for refraining from a veto when confronted with the gravest crimes in the context of international law.

Looking at today’s trouble-ridden world, he remarked that once a war had broken out, there was usually no binding law to rule on the territories overcome by warfare.  That was evident in the Middle East where State institutions had been either excessively strained or replaced by private armies, terrorist militias and self-proclaimed courts.  More and more frequently, conflicts arose in which litigant parties could hardly be defined and wherein combat was carried out, not by States, but rather by indeterminate armed groups.  Noting the unfortunate systematic restraint of freedom of conscience and religion in various parts of the world and the persecution faced by religious minorities, especially Christians, he appealed to the world community to protect the rights of religious minorities.

His country worked to reinforce the global system of humanitarian aid by fostering cooperation among international institutions, Governments and non-governmental organizations, he said, adding that Polish humanitarian organizations built schools and welfare centres, assisted victims and responded in the aftermath of natural disasters.  Also important was protecting freedom of speech and addressing the special needs of women, particularly in the aftermath of warfare and mass migrations.  Ready to participate in the attainment of the Goals and to arrive at a new climate agreement, Poland’s economic transformation had contributed to the lowering of carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent in relation to 1990.  It also stood ready to increase its direct contribution to peacekeeping and, with that aim, had submitted its candidacy for non-permanent Council membership. 

XI JINPING, President of China, said that only by looking in the mirror of history could the world avoid future conflict.  The past could not be changed, but the future could be shaped.  “We aim to create a better future and pass the torch of peace from generation to generation,” he said.  The world had reached a turning point.  The movement towards a multipolar world and emerging markets in developing countries had become an irresistible force of history, and globalization and increased connectivity had created unprecedented opportunity.

He said that commitment to the Charter must be renewed and new commitments made for win-win cooperation to achieve the goals of mankind.  As the sovereign equality of States underpinned the Charter, new partnerships must be forged in which all were equal, with equal respect for the social and economic development of all countries.  The notion that one’s gains were another’s loss should be rejected.  He called for a new form of international relations, one that sought partnerships rather than alliances.  Big countries should treat small countries as equals, and justice should be put before interests.  In the age of economic globalization, the security of all countries was interrelated; none could protect its security alone and none could find stability at the expense of another’s.  “We must abandon the cold war mentality,” he said, urging a holistic approach to both conventional and unconventional security threats.

Global prosperity could not be built on the shaky foundation of a market without restraints, he went on.  With close to 800 million people still living in extreme poverty, nearly 6 million children dying before the age of 5 and 60 million unable to attend school, the new Development Agenda must be turned into action.  Further, inter-civilization exchanges should be increased.  The history of humankind was the history of exchange between civilizations and integration, learning from each other for the benefit of all.  Nature must be put first and industrial development reconciled with nature to achieve sustainable development.  All economies should build on a sound global eco-environment and green, low-carbon circular sustainable development should be pursued.  Stating that China would do so, he urged developed countries to honour their commitments and help developing countries to mitigate climate change.

The dreams of China’s more than 1.3 billion people were connected to those of other peoples’ of the world.  In turn, those dreams could not be fulfilled without the help and support of others.  No matter how the international landscape evolved, or how strong China might become, it would never pursue hegemony or spheres of influence.  Rather, it would pursue development and the win-win strategy of opening up.  He welcomed other countries aboard China’s express train of development.  Additionally, China, having been the first to sign the United Nations Charter, would continue to uphold it.  It would support a greater voice for developing countries, particularly African countries, in global governance.  It also would establish a 10-year, $1 billion China Peace Development Fund for the United Nations, and it would join the new United Nations peacekeeping system, establishing an 8,000-troop stand-by peacekeeping force to be at the ready and providing $100 million to the African Union to establish its own stand-by force.  “Let us establish a new win-win partnership for all mankind.  Let prosperity, fairness and justice spread across the world,” he said.

ABDULLAN II IBN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, said a more peaceful future was under threat by khawarej, the “outlaws of Islam”, operating globally, targeting religious differences and hoping to kill cooperation and compassion among people of all faiths through suspicion and ignorance.  He asked what the world would look like if those forces were not defeated, if a future where mass murder, public beheadings, kidnapping and slavery were common practice.  Such a crisis would constitute a third world war, which would require a response of equal intensity, with collective action on all fronts.  “But make no mistake, the more important war is the one we wage on the battlegrounds of the heart, soul and mind,” he said.

Outlining ways leaders must build the road ahead, he stressed first the need to return to the shared spirit of the world’s faiths and creeds:  love, peace, justice and compassion.  “Let’s change our tone,” he said, asking when and how fear and intimidation had crept so insidiously into our conversations.  Indeed, the world was threatened when fear and anger dominated discourse, whether in schools, sermons or international affairs.  The third step was to act upon our beliefs, by loving one’s neighbours and being kind to one’s children.  The voice of moderation must be amplified, by populating the media and minds of young people with the purity and power of that principle.

It was also important to recognize deceit, he said, asking whether there was a crime worse than twisting God’s word to promote one’s own interests.  He urged protecting the purity of the Muslim faith from worldly contamination.  “As Muslims, this is our fight and our duty,” he stressed.  Moderation did not mean accepting those who trampled on others.  Today’s global fight was not between peoples, communities or religions; it was between moderates of all faiths against all extremists in all religions.  Leaders must take a clear public stand against intolerance by respecting all places where God was worshiped.  In framing that issue, nothing had more impact than Jerusalem and he rejected threats to holy places and the Arab character of that city.

Finally, he advocated a hyper-connectivity that brought people together in consciousness and common cause, underscoring the world’s obligation to provide relief for the millions of refugees in his region.  Vital United Nations programmes and agencies, such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP), faced huge shortfalls.  Syrian refugees constituted 20 per cent of his country’s population and it was high time that the international community supported countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, which had carried the brunt of that burden for the past four years.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, President of the Russian Federation, said the cooperation in the United Nations was unique, as was its universality.  The Organization had been widely criticized for not being efficient enough, with decision-making stalled on many issues, particularly in the Security Council.  Yet, there had always been differences throughout the Organization’s 70 years, and lack of unanimity was natural for so diverse an organization.  The mission was to reach compromise.  After the end of the cold war, a single centre of domination had emerged.  The world was changing and the United Nations had to change with it.  His country stood ready to work with its partners.  He rejected word play, stressing that every word in the international arena should be clear and transparent, while differences among nations and people should be respected.

There were many problems in the world and instead of learning from others’ mistakes, the mistakes were being repeated, he said, noting in particular problems in the Middle East and North Africa.  Rather than bringing stability, foreign interference had produced violence, poverty and social disaster.  No one cared about human rights.  It was now obvious that the power vacuum in the Middle East was being filled with extremists and terrorists.  ISIL had been exported to other regions and it planned to go further.  The situation was more than dangerous.

He expressed his country’s belief that any attempts to play games with terrorists, including arming them, was dangerous.  The Russian Federation had always fought terrorism in all its forms, and it was an enormous mistake to not cooperate with Syria.  No one but Assad’s armed forces was truly fighting the terrorist forces there.  The current state of affairs on the global stage could no longer be tolerated.  On the basis of international law, the international community should create a general, broad-based coalition against terrorism, and Muslim countries should play a key role.  The Russian Federation supported a comprehensive analysis of threats in the Middle East.  Coordination should be Charter-based.  The flow of people forced to leave their homeland was engulfing neighbouring countries and Europe.  That was a harsh lesson for all, including Europe.  The only way to help would be to restore statehood where it had been destroyed.

The blocked thinking of the cold war was still present among some, he said, pointing to the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Even with the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO continued to expand.  The logic of confrontation was exactly what had happened in Ukraine; a coup had been organized from the outside.  Ukraine’s territorial integrity could not be ensured through a force of arms.  He pointed to unilateral sanctions as a sign of the growing economic selfishness. The issues that impacted all people included climate change, and staunching it required a new approach.  The international community should join efforts to live in harmony with nature.  The Russian Federation believed in the huge potential of the United Nations and was confident that by working together, its Members could make the world safe and provide conditions for growth for all.

PARK GEUN-HYE, President of the Republic of Korea, said 2015 marked the seventieth anniversary of the joy of her country’s liberation and the anguish of its division.  Over the past 70 years, the Republic of Korea had risen above the ordeals of partition and war and achieved industrialization and democratization, as the United Nations had stood with it.  The country’s achievements were a testament to how the Organization’s goals to achieve a better world were successfully manifested.  Yet despite such efforts, humanity was confronted with multiple challenges around the world, from the surge in extremism represented by ISIL to climate change and infectious diseases.  The international community should rally around the United Nations and return to the founding spirit of its Charter, which called for faith “in the dignity and worth of the human person”.

Regarding the environment, she said it was critical for the international community to produce a meaningful outcome at the 2015 Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December.  Climate change was not a burden, but a fresh opportunity to create future drivers of growth through technological innovation.  As a country that had experienced a devastating war and remained scarred by partition, the Republic of Korea was acutely aware of the importance of peace and was strongly supporting the efforts of the United Nations to protect that goal.  The country, with some 13,500 peacekeepers in 18 United Nations peacekeeping missions, would soon make additional deployments and strengthen its partnership with the African Union.

Referring to the consultations among countries in the region on many issues, she said hers would do its part to help resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, which posed a serious threat to peace in North-East Asia and beyond.  “Resolving the North Korean nuclear issue should be accorded the highest priority if we are to uphold the integrity of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and live up to the aspirations of humanity for a world without nuclear weapons,” she added.  If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would give up its nuclear ambitions and choose the path of openness and cooperation, the Republic of Korea “will work with the international community to actively support North Korea in developing its economy and improving the quality of life of its people”.  The two Koreas were now at a juncture after reaching a 25 August agreement through high-level talks.  “Just as the UN blessed the birth of the Republic of Korea in 1948, I dream for the day to come soon when the entire world will celebrate a unified Korea.”

HASSAN ROUHANI, President of Iran, mourning the loss of thousands of Muslim pilgrims and hundreds of its citizens who had come together in the global gathering of the Hajj, called on Saudi Arabian officials to grant immediate consular access for the expeditious identification and return of bodies, as well as to prepare necessary conditions for an independent and precise investigation.

Recalling that, two years ago, his country had voted for constructive engagement with the world, he said he could now proudly announce that “a new chapter has started in Iran’s relations with the world”.  The same national will that had given him the mandate for consolidating peace had manifested itself through a diplomatic effort resulting in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and “the six world Powers”.  That instrument set a strong precedent illustrating that two sides, rather than negotiating peace after war, had engaged in dialogue before the eruption of conflict.  Recognizing the role of all negotiators with his country, including from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russian Federation, Germany and China, he said that multilateralism and win-win solutions should be the basis of engagement. 

While the United Nations had not been successful in most cases in sustaining global peace and security, he said that “this time […] the United Nations made the right decision”.  Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), despite significant shortcomings, was an important basis for terminating sanctions against Iran, which had been unjust and illegal.  The nuclear deal, a brilliant example of “victory over war”, should herald a new era and lead to positive outcomes regarding the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in the region.  Noting that the gravest threat to the world today was the potential transformation of terrorist organizations to terrorist States, he said Iran was prepared to assist in eradicating terrorism and paving the way for democracy. 

Just as the country had aided in establishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was also prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and Yemen, he said.  Iran had not only sought a nuclear deal through the joint action plan, but a new and constructive way to recreate the international order based on mutual respect and non-intervention in States’ internal affairs.  Regarding the “shattered” Middle East, he advocated for a joint comprehensive action plan to create a united front against extremism and violence.  The roots of today’s wars, destruction and terror could be found in the occupation, invasion and military intervention of yesterday, he said, remarking that:  “If we did not have the US military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the its unwarranted support for the inhumane actions of the Zionist regime against Palestine, terrorists today would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes.”  Despite the many problems in the Middle East, however, he expressed hope in a promising future and in the will of nations to pick the path of goodness and purity.

Sheikh TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, said the conflict in the Middle East would remain a constant threat to international peace and security, and a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian question could not be delayed.  The international community, represented by the Security Council, should assume its responsibilities by taking a firm stance and forcing Israel to comply with the deliverables of peace, including the halting of all forms of settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and lifting the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip.  The Syrian crisis was generating catastrophic consequences for the Middle East region and the world.  The Syrian regime had manipulated the concept of terrorism by depicting peaceful demonstrations as terrorism, while it had been practicing actual acts of terrorism.  He called for cooperation to impose a political solution in Syria that would end the reign of tyranny and replace it with a pluralistic regime based on equal citizenship for all Syrians.

He said that the achievement of stability in the Gulf was essential for all countries in the region and the international community.  Qatar emphasized its firm position that the Gulf region must be spared of the danger or threat of nuclear weapons.  At the same time, the right of countries in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in accordance with relevant international rules, must be recognized.  Iran was an important neighbour, and cooperation between it and other countries was in the region’s interest.  Bilateral relations between Qatar and Iran were evolving, based on common interests and good neighbourliness.

Qatar, he went on, affirmed its commitment to Yemen’s unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty, and supported the legitimacy and completion of the political process, in line with relevant initiatives, mechanisms and declarations, as well as the relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2216 (2015).  Iraq’s stability required a national general consensus devoid of any external interference and free from any sectarian or ethnic discrimination.  Any political solutions in Iraq, Yemen, Syria or Libya must include ending the existence of militias outside the legitimate institutions of the State.  The political forces in the region must be alert to the phenomenon of thousands of young people who had recently taken to the streets in more than one Arab country, demanding that citizenship be the basis for partnership and refusing either to be represented on a sectarian basis, or that sectarian representation be used to cover up corruption.  The rising toll of victims of terrorist operations had necessitated the use of military force.  Qatar was committed to fight terrorism, but even in the harshest conditions, the underlying causes should not be ignored. 

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said immense progress had been made since the establishment of the United Nations.  However the world still experienced tragedies, dramas and wars.  There were hundreds of thousands of refugees, terrorism from which no country was safe and conflicts that had been unresolved for years and which could disintegrate at any moment.  Enumerating many natural disasters caused by climate change, he said the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Paris must answer the question:  “Is humankind capable of deciding to preserve life on the planet?”  Otherwise, it would be too late.  He noted some progress, singling out recent commitments made by the United States and China.

He favoured a global climate agreement, differentiating the responsibilities of each country.  There were three conditions for success in Paris:  every country must make commitments on emission reductions; a review mechanism must be established that allowed for revisions every five years; and developed countries should fulfil their commitments to developing countries by ensuring $100 billion in support.  France would increase its annual funding to fight climate change from €3 billion to €5 billion to be disbursed, not as loans, but as grants.  If a universal agreement emerged with funding and new technology for the future, it could be said that “we rose to the challenge of the future”.

Turning to the situation in Syria, he laid the blame for the conflict on Bashar al-Assad, a dictator who bombed his own people.  Over the course of three years, an enormous number of refugees had fled the Assad regime.  The current Syrian refugee crisis stemmed from the actions of the current regime, as well as those of terrorists.  A broad coalition was needed to resolve the issue through diplomacy, based on the Geneva II Conference, with a transitional Government that included all opposition groups, he said, but excluded Bashar al-Assad, as he was the cause of the conflict.

With 80 per cent of Syrian refugees fleeing to other countries of the global South, it was the poor and most vulnerable who were hosting the poor and most vulnerable, he said.  The right of asylum united European countries, which should do more.  UNHCR and the WFP must be provided the means to ensure the necessary support, and refugees must be allowed to work in their host countries.  France was contributing €100 million to the WFP for refugees in countries neighbouring Syria.  In closing, he said:  “We have to make sure that our future is worthy of what the founding fathers imagined.”  He expressed support for expanding the Security Council and for limiting the use of the veto when dealing with cases of mass atrocity.  France had made that commitment for itself.  The right to veto was not intended as a right to block.  What was needed was the ability to act.

FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique, said that in commemorating 70 years of the United Nations, what was being celebrated was the establishment of an international body responsible for peace, security and development of Member States, and their mutual commitment to strengthen international law as an instrument to regulate and standardize relations among States.  However, the state of prevailing conflicts presented a contrast to that inspiration.  International peace and security had not been fully guaranteed; old and new challenges were emerging, inter- and intra-State conflicts were proliferating and terrorism was growing as a serious threat.  Decolonization was incomplete and obstacles to development were exacerbated by the problems of refugees and illegal migration.

Those failures should be taken up as challenges requiring concerted action by the international community, he said.  In the area of international peace and security, those actions should include, among others, the adoption and implementation of effective structures to prevent and manage conflicts and the conclusion of a convention against terrorism, along with an emphasis on diplomacy.  Platforms should be established for dialogue among cultures and civilizations as an essential tool for promoting tolerance, the culture of peace and a dignified and peaceful world.

Turning to development, he rejoiced in the adoption of the post-2015 Agenda to build on the Millennium Development Goals.  Its implementation also required action:  mobilization of resources; adherence to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; respect for commitments made under international agreements; appropriate technology transfer; aid without political conditions; strengthened cooperation; and respect for national priorities.  Further, national Governments should incorporate the Agenda into their plans, with clear definitions of indicators and targets for monitoring and evaluating progress.  The United Nations, he said, should not be an obstacle to its own mandate.  Security Council reform was a hidden pillar for implementation of the new Development Agenda, and tangible results were needed in that regard.

The shocking humanitarian crisis arising from the unprecedented flow of refugees and migrants resulted from a succession of unresolved situations, he said, urging that the underlying problems be confronted.  When talking about proliferation of conflicts, political, social and economic exclusion, he said:  “We are talking about poverty, injustice and hunger,” and about dialogue replacing threats.  He called on all leaders to redouble efforts towards sustainable solutions.  On other matters, he commended developments in relations between the United States and Cuba and said that Mozambique had become party to the Convention banning anti-personnel mines.  In that light, he announced that Mozambique had successfully completed its mine clearance programme.

WILLEM-ALEXANDER, King of the Netherlands, noting that the United Nations had helped to halve global poverty and enable 2.3 billion people to gain access to drinking water, congratulated the Organization for the 70 years it had battled cynicism and fatalism.  Indeed, it would remain the primary organization for peace, justice and development, which was why his country was a candidate for a non-permanent Security Council seat for the 2017-2018 term. 

At the same time, he said, it must look openly and honestly at the goals that had not been achieved.  His Government was gravely concerned about the terror and contempt for human rights that were gaining ground in some areas.  Refugees had been in a desperate situation for too long.  “We cannot look the other way,” he said, urging all countries to show solidarity in the face of that crisis.  The Netherlands had increased its assistance, making it one of the largest donors, and he called on others to support the United Nations in that regard.  On the security front, he said a combination of defence, development and diplomacy was needed to fight discrimination and exclusion.

Recalling that the Netherlands was home to the International Court of Justice, he said his country, along with Malaysia and Australia, grieved for loved ones lost in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster.  They awaited results of Security Council resolution 2166 (2014), which demanded that those responsible be held to account.  His Government would work until justice was done.  It would also ensure the success of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, stressing that there was not enough focus on the role women could play in that regard.  Promoting equal rights and opportunities was “sustainable development in action”.

Finally, the Security Council should act more boldly in the face of atrocities, he said, and restraint in veto use would help.  Welcoming France’s initiative in that regard, he said Africa in particular was underrepresented in that body, as were other regions.  “This needs to change,” he said.  The Netherlands understood the importance of the plea by small islands for a more active approach to climate change and marine pollution.  As one of the best-protected deltas in the world, investing billions to mitigate the effects of such phenomena, the Netherlands would make its voice heard at the upcoming Climate Change Conference.

NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, supported all initiatives aimed at restoring trust in international relations and strengthening peace and security, based on international law.  For seven decades, the world had sought an effective formula to resolve conflict, yet disputes had only grown more sophisticated and complex, an evil that stemmed from destroyed statehood.  He urged shifting from “routine” conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation to a new development strategy that rendered conflict “senseless”.

In that context, he proposed the creation of a 2045 global strategic initiative plan that would launch a new trend in global development — one based on fair conditions in which all nations had equal access to infrastructure, resources and markets.  For that purpose, he urged transforming the Economic and Social Council into a global development council, with States elected by the General Assembly and heads of all United Nations specialized agencies acting as a global economic regulator.  A draft “world anti-crisis plan” was under discussion at the Astana Economic Forum.

He said clear rules must be created for the trade of global reserve currencies, which today did not meet the criteria of justice, democracy, competitiveness and international control.  “Our world needs qualitatively new instruments,” he stressed, proposing the creation of a supranational currency that would be relevant for global prosperity.  On the security front, he proposed a universal declaration to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  As the first country to close a nuclear weapon test site, Kazakhstan had helped create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  Such zones were needed in other regions, particularly the Middle East.  His Government had signed the agreement on the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) bank of low-enriched uranium in Kazakhstan, an important step that the world should acknowledge as safe use of the atom.

Finally, he said, the erosion of international law and weakening of global institutions was a dangerous challenge.  He cautioned against the arbitrary imposition of sanctions, which contravened the United Nations Charter and international law.  “The right to impose international sanctions that can damage the well-being of millions of people should remain the exclusive prerogative of the Security Council,” he said.  He advocated peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  More broadly, he proposed establishing, under United Nations auspices, a global network to counter terrorism and extremism.  The “2045 global strategic initiative plan” could include a new future concept to define the goals of the next stage of human development.

ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, President of Mexico, said that, since 1945, his country had maintained the highest level of commitment to the United Nations.  Following the missile crisis, it had put its weight behind the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Latin America and Caribbean.  It had celebrated the peace process in Colombia, as well as the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.  A member of the Human Rights Council for 2014-2016, Mexico had one of the most progressive sets of pro-human rights legislation. 

Noting that the twentieth century had suffered from individuals who had opted to divide populations, he cautioned societies to be on alert for those who took advantage of fears or concerns.  Encouraged by recent major agreements, he said the United Nations was now advancing towards Security Council reform.  Underscoring that the veto power must not be used for national ends, he supported France’s initiative to restrict the veto in cases of serious violations of international law and war crimes. 

Turning to the situation of migrants, he said movements of people in search of a better life was the norm in today’s world; however, in all continents, the migrant experience had been one of risks, discrimination and abuse made worse by ignorance, racism or pure political opportunism.  “Let us not allow that injustice to continue,” he urged, adding that the world community must be united in its effort to create a global scheme to protect migrants’ rights.  Millions of migrants required a global response — a response that should come from the United Nations.  Humanity must also reassess its vision of the global drug problem, which too required a more just and humane international response.  During the Assembly’s special session next year, there must be a collective willingness to “reverse inertia” and develop people-centred policies.  Keeping a watchful eye over the principles that had given birth to the United Nations was the responsibility of all, he said, urging Member States to work together to build a better future.

ANIBAL CAVACO SILVA, President of Portugal, said it was imperative that the international community reached a lasting agreement on climate change that was global, fair and binding on all.  The condition of the oceans was very important to Portugal and, in June, it had organized an international event — the Blue Week — to discuss the challenges of responsibly managing the oceans on a global basis.  More than 70 countries and institutions had attended.  Portugal had co-chaired the United Nations working group, which had created a reliable and detailed system of information on the marine environment.  The publication of the first Global Ocean Assessment Report was a step in the right direction.

Portugal’s course of actions overall had been geared towards the defence of human rights, and combatting violence against women was a clear priority, he said.  Regarding the increasing number of violent clashes around the world, President Silva said that the international community must act in a responsible and supportive manner in connection with the tragic humanitarian situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya and many other conflict settings.  In line with its consistent humanistic tradition, Portugal had demonstrated solidarity by welcoming several thousand people in need of protection.

Regarding the deadlocked peace process in the Middle East, he said there would be no lasting peace without a fair resolution of the Palestinian issue, which also ensured Israel’s security.  Portugal urged the parties to resume the peace talks since it was convinced that the two-State solution was the only viable one.  Portugal welcomed the agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear programme, and added that it was up to all parties involved to ensure its full implementation.  Africa held a special place in Portuguese foreign policy and it had close relationships with key partners.  The situation in Guinea-Bissau deserved a special reference, and Portugal trusted its political leaders would recognize the essential value of political stability and collective efforts towards the necessary reforms, including in the security sector, to combat impunity and support socioeconomic development projects.

LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said that 70 years ago the Organization had been born from the ashes of the Second World War with the vision of a future that would be better than the past.  It was committed to solve common problems through dialogue.  Much progress had been made since then.  The world was wealthier, the number of armed conflicts between nations had declined, and many infectious diseases had been eliminated.  Yet conflict remained the biggest threat to human development, human rights were routinely violated and the planet was under stress.  It remained a complex world.

In Denmark’s view, one of the priorities for the United Nations was peace and security, he said.  A historic moment had occurred in 1989, when the Berlin Wall had come down and the Iron Curtain disappeared.  Yet, cooperation and dialogue had been replaced by force and violence.  In Ukraine, there had been an unacceptable violation of international law.  In Syria, civilians suffered horrific abuses committed by terrorists and ISIS.  A strong unified response was needed to confront violent terrorists in Syria, Iraq and parts of Africa.  Denmark planned to increase its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts.  At the same time, migration flows were surging as people were fleeing their homes.  There was an international responsibility to help those people.  Denmark took that responsibility very seriously.  The world needed more than peacekeeping troops.  It needed a Security Council that would take the necessary decisions and address conflicts in a timely manner.

Mass migration was a global challenge, and inclusive growth had to be a goal, he said.  Member States and other nations had to do their part.  Denmark would continue to meet its ODA commitments and would increase its humanitarian aid to address the mass migration in Europe.  He called on all States to increase their contribution in that area.  Human rights and gender equality were another priority for the United Nations.  The best way to build a better world was to unleash the potential of all people.  Denmark had always pursued an active human rights policy and women were key drivers to ensure sustainable development.  Denmark was also engaged in the global fight against torture.  It was totally committed to upholding the core values of the United Nations, and to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Another priority for the international community was implementing the climate change agreement and effectively addressing climate change, he said.  It was necessary to act through national policies and financial support.  The Sustainable Development Goals carried a multi-trillion dollar price tag.  The Goals needed the support of all actors, including the public and private sectors and civil society groups.  The need for an effective United Nations was greater than ever, and Denmark had been one of its strongest supporters.  That fact would not change.  The United Nations anniversary was an opportunity to set ambitious goals.  “We had to show our grandchildren that we could deliver on our promises, today, tomorrow and 70 years from now,” he said.

HAILEMARIAM DESSALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said the political will and commitment demonstrated in adopting the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda gave hope and optimism that a new globally binding climate agreement could be secured under the auspices of the United Nations during the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.  Although his country, one of the United Nations’ founding Members, had not been able to count much in its hour of need on the League of Nations’ support, it had never lost confidence in multilateralism and remained a staunch supporter of the principle of collective security embodied in the Charter.

Based on that conviction, his country had actively contributed to the advancement of the Organization’s principles and purposes, he said.  Today, it was the second largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping.  However, United Nations achievements were a far cry from the “Herculean” challenges it faced today.  While its “very many failures”, especially in the areas of peace and security, could not be overlooked, the United Nations remained an organization that no one could afford to live without, for it remained the only universal organization that provided all nations, regardless of their size or wealth, a unique platform to advance common objectives and address the myriad problems they collectively faced.

As for how the Organization could be made more relevant and effective, he said it was up to Member States to empower it to fulfil its promises in a new era.  Not only had the Organization’s membership changed dramatically over the years, but so had the world’s geopolitical and economic realities.  While the need to reform the Organization had long been recognized, forging the necessary compromise among the wider membership had not been easy, but could not be further delayed.  It was not enough to adopt the next generation of Goals; the United Nations must be made fit for the post-2015 era. 

Noting that comprehensive reform of the United Nations, and of the Security Council in particular, was imperative, he repeated Africa’s call for full representation in all of the Organization’s decision-making organs.  Expressing gratitude for the United Nations support of his country’s development efforts, he said Ethiopia had been able to achieve remarkable progress, including most if not all of the Millennium Development Goals, because it took charge of its own destiny and made best use of its partnership with the United Nations.  It would continue to work towards achieving middle-income status by 2023, based on carbon-neutral growth and a climate-resilient green economy strategy.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, said that 70 years after the founding of the United Nations, inequalities among States persisted in defiance of the underlying messages of brotherhood and solidarity every religion preached.  Underdeveloped countries were in their current state today because of various internal and external factors, which the world could no longer afford to debate.

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals constituted a landmark in humanity’s quest for peace and prosperity and was a prescription closely aligned with the national strategy Uganda had been following, he said.  For the first time, the Goals proclaimed in bold letters the concept of universal prosperity, which would assist the prioritization of the use of scarce resources by international agencies.  In particular, the use of the word “transformation” in the Goals was most revealing, he said, stressing that the purpose of sustainable development was to ensure growth both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Uganda had overcome enormous challenges over the decades by drawing on its indigenous capabilities, he said, urging the international community to be wary of those seeking external solutions to every problem.  The United Nations should avoid being lured into situations by groups that did not enjoy domestic legitimacy or support.  Otherwise, the Organization would only become part of the problem.

MICHELLE BACHELET JERIA, President of Chile, said a conjunction of serious crises in various parts of the world had made the international community duty bound to react with solidarity to restore peace and security.  Expressing appreciation for the efforts many countries had made to take in the ongoing flow of refugees, she said more needed to be done.  Chile had decided to take in refugees from the civil war in Syria and would expand cooperation with Africa.  From 2016, it would participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in that region.

In addition to tackling the most urgent challenges to peace, the planet had yet to stem growing inequalities and reach an agreement on halting global warming, she said.  The seventieth session of the General Assembly, which had adopted the 2030 Agenda, would go down in history as an important moment.  The primary responsibility for sustainable and more equal development rested with individual countries.  However, that endeavour required a favourable environment, since many of the targets were affected by global dynamics.  For that reason, the challenges the world faced today could not be resolved by each country in isolation.

She said that a basic prerequisite for making the Agenda was to strengthen the system of global institutions and multilateral cooperation, with broad representation, clear mandates and effective tools.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Chile reaffirmed its belief in the need to increase the number of permanent seats and reduce the veto use, at least in cases of crimes against humanity.

Agenda 2030 gave a shared horizon, she said.  Each country must act individually, but at the same time cooperate with various North-South and South-South forums and tackle global challenges jointly.  Congratulating Cuba and the United States for establishing diplomatic relations, she applauded the use of dialogue and respect for international law as the civilized way for countries to resolve their differences.

RAÚL CASTRO RUZ, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, said that despite the Charter’s call for fundamental human rights, fulfilment of those rights remained a utopia to millions of people.  Humanity was denied the right to live and the right to development.  It was in poverty and inequality where the cause of conflicts should be sought out.  Conflicts had been generated, first by colonialism and the plundering of the original peoples, and later by imperialism and the distribution of spheres of influence.  The pledge made in 1945 to promote social progress and better standards of life for the peoples, along with their economic and social development, remained an illusion when 795 million people went hungry, 781 million adults were illiterate and 17,000 children perished every day from curable diseases, while annual military expenses worldwide amounted to more than $1.7 trillion.

He requested that the small island developing States facing the devastating effects of climate change, and African countries suffering from the relentless advance of desertification, be treated in a special and differentiated way.  The establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the signing of the proclamation of the region as a peace zone, showed that differences could be overcome for achieving common goals while respecting diversity.  He pledged solidarity with Venezuela and Ecuador, whose leaders became the targets of the “destabilization script” enforced against progressive Governments of the region.

Among other things, he supported the demands of Caribbean nations for fair reparation for slavery and the slave trade, as well as for Puerto Rico’s independence from more than a century of colonial domination.  He also supported Argentina’s claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands[1], South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands, while rejecting the intention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to expand its presence to the Russian borders and the unilateral and unfair sanctions imposed on that nation.  He went on to welcome the nuclear agreement with Iran, expressed confidence that the Syrian people could resolve their disputes by themselves without external interference, and supported the Palestinians’ inalienable right to statehood within the pre-1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem.

The migration crisis in Europe was a direct result of the destabilization actions promoted and executed by NATO in the Middle East and North Africa, and of poverty and underdevelopment prevailing in Africa, he argued.  The European Union should take up full and immediate responsibility for the human crisis it helped generate.  After 56 years, Cuba-United States diplomatic relations had been reestablished.  Normalization of relations could be achieved only with, among other things, the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and the return of territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo Naval Base.  While that measure remained in force, the draft resolution titled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” should continue to be introduced.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said the Assembly had remained, over the years, central to support for the disadvantaged, marginalized, occupied, and oppressed peoples of the world.  The Assembly had elevated the South African struggle for liberation to the international stage when it declared apartheid a crime against humanity.  The year 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the World Summit Outcome, which discussed United Nations reform.  Since that time, several reforms had been successfully implemented, including the replacement of the Human Rights Commission with the more effective Human Rights Council, the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, the reform and streamlining of the Organization’s management system, the mainstreaming of gender equality through the establishment of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), and the “responsibility to protect” norm to assist populations facing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Nevertheless, almost no progress had been made on the commitment made to reform the Security Council.  “It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that 1 billion people on the African continent are still excluded as permanent members of the key decision-making structure of the United Nations, the Security Council,” he said.  The United Nations could not pretend that the world had not changed since 1945.  African countries were no longer colonies, but free, independent and sovereign States.  Another critical matter that needed attention was a review of the process to select the next Secretary-General. 

The Assembly’s seventieth general debate was taking place in the context of growing international concern about the rise of violent extremism, terrorism and untold brutality, which his delegation strongly condemned.  The current situation in Libya and the Sahel region was a direct consequence of some Security Council members not heeding the informed counsel from the African Union.  The norm “responsibility to protect” had been abused for narrow political interests, he stressed, adding that the current refugee crisis in Europe was the direct result of the militarization of civilian unrest, which included the massive arming of civilians and opposition groups in Libya, Syria and other affected countries.

He welcomed the recent signing of a peace agreement in South Sudan, the re‑establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and the accord reached on Iran’s nuclear programme, among other accomplishments.  But the continued failure of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to reach an agreement was a major setback for nuclear disarmament.  As the initiator of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action through the current round of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, South Africa had a special interest and a commitment to the success of the Climate Conference in Paris.  He urged the fulfilment of the three parts of the Durban mandate, namely: the closing of the current ambition gap in the pre-2020 period; the entry into force of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; and the adoption of a new agreement for the post-2020 period that contained all essential elements, including a means of implementation and loss and damage and response measures.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, said that his country and the Middle East had been, in recent years, confronted with a danger that required creating brighter prospects and opportunities for youth.  Counter-terrorism efforts had, so far, been defensive.  Alongside those efforts, world leaders needed to channel the energy of youth away from extremists and false ideas towards a peaceful future.  There existed no doubt that more than 1.5 billion Muslims had refused to subscribe to the view of the terrorist minority that claimed to speak on their behalf.  But many in the international community had refused to recognize that Muslims and non-Muslims alike were at war with the same enemy.

The United Nations had witnessed Libya break up into extremist factions — a situation which motivated the formation and signing in Skhirat of the political accord to end the Libyan crisis.  World leaders’ efforts should focus now on rebuilding the Libyan State and empowering it to effectively defeat the terrorist groups before they could establish a base from which to target Libya’s neighbours and extend their reach into the depths of Africa.  Egypt had also observed the ways in which extremists had exploited the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to drag the nation into conflict.  His country called on the Syrian national parties to meet in Cairo to formulate a clear plan to build a democratic country that would preserve the Syrian State and its institutions, as well as protect its diversity and national identity.

Furthermore, Egypt’s political and military support for Yemen and its Government had taken place at Yemen’s request, and stemmed from Egypt’s commitment to preserving Arab national security, he said.  International leaders must exert the necessary efforts to resume the transitional peace process, in accordance with the Gulf Initiative and its mechanisms, as well as relevant Security Council resolutions.  Finally, the increasing plight of refugees fleeing destructive armed conflicts reaffirmed the need to work towards confronting the scourge of terrorism, in addition to creating channels for legal immigration.  Resolving the conflict in Palestine and empowering the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination would effectively eliminate one of the most influential factors of the region’s instability and dangerous pretexts used to justify terrorism.

Egypt realized the importance of other factors, besides defeating extremism, to achieve stability and comprehensive development, he said.  Last March, the country had launched its own vision for post-2015 development, in conjunction with the international community’s endeavours.  It was Egypt’s hope that the 2030 Agenda would take into consideration the importance of common but differentiated responsibilities in confronting global challenges based on disparities in capacities and resources, as well as the diversities of cultures.  Additionally, through its nomination to a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the coming two years, Egypt aspired to enhance its role in consolidating international peace and security.

SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA, President of Switzerland, said that while the United Nations had succeeded in avoiding another world war, old and new challenges persisted.  Some 120,000 personnel were active in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world, which meant that wars and crises were far too many.  There were 60 million refugees in the world today, more than at any time since the Organization was founded.  New problems, such as global warming, had emerged as a threat to international peace and security.

The world must recognize the inconsistencies in its behaviour, she said.  Many countries continued to live in poverty amid great natural wealth.  The world had not succeeded in creating equality, establishing rule of law, ending corruption or protecting the environment.  In many instances, national interests continued to impede resolution of crises.  The challenge of migrant flows required a common approach.  One could not ask Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to take all the refugees fleeing Syria, nor could a few European countries be asked to take in the wider flow of migrants.

If countries continued to seek answers in an individualistic way, they would create an impasse, she noted.  The United Nations had become more necessary than ever to foster the kind of collective action today’s global challenges needed.  The adoption of the Sustainable Development Agenda must be followed by a binding climate agreement in Paris.  Conflicts had to be resolved through a political strategy, not on exclusively military terms.

Switzerland would continue supporting the greater involvement of women in peace and security, she said, reiterating her country’s call on permanent members of the Security Council to not use the veto when it came to preventing or putting an end to genocide, crimes against humanity and other atrocity crimes.  On human rights, Switzerland’s priorities included abolition of the death penalty, prohibition of torture and protection of human rights workers.  Lauding the role played by the International Criminal Court in fighting against impunity, she said the international humanitarian system had reached its limit, as 82 million people required assistance today.  The World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 would provide an important opportunity to revitalize that system, while Switzerland would continue its efforts to strengthen international humanitarian law and global governance.

ROBERT G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that the post-2015 global development agenda was in tandem with Africa’s own development plan, Agenda 2063, which recognized the intrinsic and inextricable linkages between peace, security, development and the full realization of human rights.  The Common African Position on the post-2015 agenda designated “peace and security” as one of its six key pillars.  The prevalence of peace not only created conditions conducive for development, but ensured that the maximum possible resources could be dedicated to development programmes.

He said Agenda 2063’s first 10 years would entail implementation of flagship programmes, including the creation of a continent-wide free trade area, an African centre for disease control, a pan-African university of science and technology, a single aviation market, a high-speed train network and a pan-African e-network.  As the United Nations marked its seventieth anniversary, adaptation to change was crucial to its vibrancy and effectiveness.  It was disappointing that on such an occasion the opportunity had been lost to address that burning issue of Security Council reform, which would reflect Africa’s just and reasonable proposals.

He rejected any attempts to prescribe “new rights”, including those of gays, which were contrary to his country’s values, traditions and beliefs.  Self‑determination and independence were intrinsic and fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by all peoples everywhere, without distinction.  The continued denial of that basic right to the Saharan people was concerning.  The United Nations should expeditiously conclude the decolonization of the Western Sahara.  He also urged the world body to bring an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict, expressing support for the two-State solution.  The African Union had designated 2015 as “the year of advancement of women empowerment and development” towards 2063.  Gender quality and women’s empowerment were central to human development, progress and the elimination of poverty and deprivation.

On refugees, he said that the majority of the affected people were from Syria or from other countries in conflict induced, in large part, by the destabilizing policies of external forces.  That tragic situation could have been avoided by respecting the independence of other countries and not interfering in their internal affairs.  He denounced the illegal sanctions imposed on his country by the European Union and the United States, calling for their immediate and unconditional removal, while stressing that his country was desirous to live in harmony with all nations.

CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, noting that the General Assembly had recently adopted a resolution on the guidelines for the restructuring of external debt of countries, said it was crucial that States enjoy the sovereign right to decide their own macroeconomic policy.  That was a logical principle, she said, noting that creditors established timetables for repayment when a company or municipality defaulted.  Argentina had gone bankrupt in the early 2000s, leading to a default in 2001, but it had rebuilt itself.  Politicians had retaken control of the Government and decided it was necessary to allow Argentina to grow in order to be able to pay.  That was economic logic.  Argentina had then begun its inexorable progress, which had led to paying off its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2005.  The State was moving towards sustainable development.  “We do not forget that the greatest growth occurred among the emerging countries,” she said.

The recent global financial crisis had begun in the United States, “the very heart of international finance”, she said.  It had then extended to the Eurozone.  It was a euphemism when people spoke of “saving countries”; that really meant saving the banks.  It was essential to have regulation to ensure that the flood of resources into the financial sector came back into the real economy, but no such rule was implemented.  In the Eurozone, that had led to historic levels of unemployment and unprecedented financial woes.  The collapse of financial institutions had now threatened developing countries, which had previously been growing at a rapid rate.  The current refugee crisis was caused by “financial predators”.  According to the IMF, 1 per cent of the global population held a shockingly large percentage of the world’s wealth.  She asked how the world could talk about gender empowerment when resources were so inequitably distributed.  It was time to inject resources into the “real economy” — to create jobs in production as engines driving society.

She went on to commend the United States and Iran, as well as the other five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, for having reached an agreement on nuclear issues that would bring more stability to a world plagued by conflict.  She described the history of Argentina’s relationship with Iran’s nuclear programme, noting that her country was a producer of nuclear fuel, but a leader in nuclear non-proliferation.  She also discussed the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (“AMIA”) bombing of 1994, which had occurred in her country.  The case of that terrorist attack remained blocked, she said, stressing that her country would tirelessly seek the truth.  Vulture funds had said that Argentina was complicit with Iran; however, if that was true, what did that mean for United States President Barack Obama, she questioned.  “We can’t have double standards in diplomacy”, she stressed in that regard.

On the Middle East, she asked who was financing the “freedom fighters” that were now part of ISIL.  The world saw horrendous scenes of events taking place in Syria, with three or four cameras filming them.  It was as if there was a Hollywood set there.  On her region, she said that it was triumphant to see the President of Cuba back at the Assembly.  Latin Americans had struggled to ensure that Cuba could return to the international community, and in that regard, she recognized the United States, which had “opened its mind”, and thanked Pope Francis for his role in that agreement.  The Pope had said that “money could not continue to determine politics”.  Similarly, conflicts could not be resolved by guns and bombs, but through talk and respect among parties.  Her region had no religious or cultural conflicts, and it was open to migration, which was necessary to establish a fairer world.  Argentina’s economy would continue to grow at an estimated 2.7 per cent annually, and that growth was based on developing a more egalitarian society.

ALYAKSANDR LUKASHENKA, President of Belarus, regretted that the world had not become more stable, predictable and comfortable for the majority of people, despite “tremendous” efforts by the United Nations.  While there had been “shifts” in reducing global poverty, increasing maternal and child health and ensuring educational access, a qualitative breakthrough for civilization had not been achieved.  As the world confronted new geopolitical phenomena and military conflict, the tension in international relations was almost unprecedented.  The global security system was experiencing crisis amid a loss of trust among international players and an unwillingness to compromise.

Indeed, he said, foreign intervention, the export of “colour” revolutions and controlled regime change had plunged stable countries into chaos.  States that claimed global leadership had not escaped the temptation to use force and economic blackmail to promote their interests, and the world had come close to the de facto renunciation of international law.  Discussion was needed in the United Nations about the principles of coexistence.  On the economic front, currency wars, sanctions, redivision of commodity markets and unfair competition had aggravated the global crisis.  As a basis for economic cooperation, Belarus proposed the creation of a global integration structure that connected the world’s regions in ways that enabled peaceful coexistence.

He said the value of integration laid in its democratic nature, equalizing opportunities for small- and medium-sized countries to develop their potential.  The prerequisite was mutual benefit.  Another global threat concerned social, humanitarian and environmental issues.  Calls for maximum freedom had tested the foundations of society, including the family, while irresponsible social ideas could lead to new divisions among cultures.  At the root of such crises was an artificial “cult of individual rights and freedoms” to the detriment of collective social interests.

Under the guise of human rights protection, he said, Governments had been overthrown and resource wars justified.  Such approaches had given a green light to social degradation.  The answers to such issues laid in the ideas advanced by the founding fathers of the United Nations; first among them, an unconditional condemnation of violence.  Belarus supported all efforts to strengthen international law and had built a sovereign, independent State with a socially oriented economy.  It would do its utmost to ensure that future generations preserved socially nurtured moral values, and it advocated peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.  Amid the spectre of “a new big war”, it was important to draw lessons from history.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said his country had lived by the conviction to uphold the principles of the United Nations, even when judgement went against that conviction in territorial disputes.  Nigeria respected those judgments and abided by them as a mark of respect for the rule of law and the Charter.  Nigeria’s record in peacekeeping was second to none, and the country had contributed to peacekeeping efforts in Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Darfur.

It was gratifying that most countries had pledged commitment to the post‑2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  Those Goals mirrored the hopes and aspirations of much of the world.  In order for the Goals to be truly global, they must be practical.  In that regard, the core objective of the Goals — to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities — must be met within the framework of a revitalized global partnership supported by policies and actions as outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Luckily, those two objectives of the Goals were precisely at the centre of Nigeria’s new Administration’s agenda.  In that connection, he appealed to industrialized countries to redeem their pledge of earmarking 0.7 per cent of their GDP to development assistance.

Peace was close to the hearts of Nigerians, he said, even as they were on the front line of the war on terror.  Boko Haram’s war against the people of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon may not attract as much worldwide attention as the wars in the Middle East, but the suffering was just as great and the human cost was equally high.  The new Government of Nigeria was attacking head-on the problems it had inherited.

Nigeria intended to tackle inequalities arising from massive unemployment and previous Government policies favouring a few people to the detriment of the many, he said.  He had intended to emphasize technological education for development and lay a foundation for comprehensive care of the aged, the disadvantaged and the infirm.  However, for the time being, terrorism was the immediate problem.  Nigeria intended to put in place a bold and robust strategy to defeat Boko Haram.  Together with its neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger, as well as Benin, his country was working to face the common threat within the regional framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and had established a multinational joint task force to confront, degrade and defeat Boko Haram.

The world now faced a big new challenge in human trafficking, he said.  It was an old evil taking an altogether new and dangerous dimension that threatened to upset international relationships.  Those in Africa were grieved to see on international television networks how hundreds of thousands of able-bodied men and women were fleeing to Europe and that in the process, thousands were dying in the desert or drowning in the Mediterranean.  He condemned those human traffickers in the strongest terms, and supported any measures to apprehend or bring them to justice.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said humanity faced numerous challenges, from economic crises to pandemics to threats against peace and security, and — 70 years after the establishment of the United Nations — the world’s peoples had pinned their hopes on the Organization more than ever before.  It was time to acknowledge the changing nature of the United Nations and its role in the management of international affairs.  Above and beyond all else, peace and international security remained under threat, and the Organization required restructuring to adapt to new international realities, such as terrorism, piracy and trafficking.

In Africa, he said, several crises continued, most notably in the Central African Republic.  The situation in that country remained fragile and worrying, and the international community must redouble its efforts in inviting the stakeholders to become involved in the dialogue and not undermine efforts already made, especially in light of the upcoming elections.  Regarding Israel and Palestine, the United Nations needed to help restart the peace process, but the creation of a Palestinian State was the only possible way towards a sustainable peace.  Gabon welcomed the nuclear agreement with Iran, and only with an international non‑proliferation treaty with respect of the right for peaceful nuclear development could nations solve the burning question of weapons of mass destruction.

In Africa, where terrorism had multiplied in the form of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, the monitoring of financial flows required strengthening as a means of effectively fighting that threat, he stressed.  Significant and undeniable progress had been achieved in the area of human rights, but further improvement was a pedagogical rather than political phenomenon.  Now was the time to translate talk of reform of the Security Council into meaningful action, and Gabon supported France’s proposal to expand the use of the veto.  In peacekeeping operations, new technologies had improved the connection between local populations and peacekeeping personnel, but in order to improve effectiveness, missions required predictable financing and a more robust mandate.  They needed the right to impose peace where the conditions did not exist, rather than to maintain a fragile peace through a ceasefire.

Finally, climate change posed another new challenge to the United Nations, and if it did not act today, the consequences would be devastating, he said.  Two months from the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, there was still no agreement on which nations could negotiate.  Member States must have the courage to overcome their difficulties — experts had found 2014 as the warmest year on record, and if nothing was done the temperature would increase as much as 5°C.  Africa and South America were the “two lungs of the world” with an important role to play.  The world had changed at a fast pace, and if the United Nations was to play a role in solving the world’s problems, a new architecture must be reflected in the Organization.

HORACIO CARTES, President of Paraguay, said efforts to strengthen the United Nations should aim to build a world of fairness and solidarity, which involved overcoming the inequities overshadowing the world order.  Paraguay sought to reduce poverty through policies that fostered employment and housing, as well as access to education and health services.  It aimed to achieve inclusive growth.  With one of the strongest growth rates in the region, Paraguay had diversified its economy through industrialization and increased production, and sought to modernize its infrastructure.

He said his country, with 75 per cent of its population younger than 40 years, had valuable human capital.  “We trust the immense potential of our youth,” he said, highlighting a $73 million scholarship programme for 1,500 professionals to complete advanced degrees in the best universities around the world.  On 17 September, the Government had put in place an instrument to regulate the law on free access to public information and Government transparency, which allowed people to exercise their right to be informed.  He supported cooperation, exchange and complementarity among countries and regions.  People were the most important resource, and education was essential.  Developed countries should increase financing for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as education and scientific research should be a universal public good. 

Regarding people fleeing conflict, as in Syria, he urged the United Nations to encourage States to support the most vulnerable.  Preserving the environment was another concern, and Paraguay had prioritized the rational management of its natural resources.  Effort and political commitment should be redoubled at the upcoming Climate Change Conference.  On United Nations reform, the General Assembly’s legitimate powers should be restored and the Security Council’s working methods should be improved, in order to make decisions that were more transparent and ensure that the views of non-member States were heard.  He welcomed efforts by “the government of Taiwan” to reduce cross-strain tensions, calling for pragmatic dialogue and mutually beneficial interaction.  Along similar lines, he reaffirmed Paraguay’s support for the peace process in Colombia.  More broadly, he said the rights to freedom, assembly, human integrity and quality of life were essential.

UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, said the maintenance of international peace and security faced further challenges due to the increased intensity and complexities of conflicts in Africa, especially the Great Lakes region, Horn of Africa and the Sahel.  While Al-Shabaab’s capacity to launch terrorist acts inside Somalia had been diminished, its continued presence in that country had negatively impacted the security, stability and prosperity of Eastern Africa.  The Kenya Defence Forces, within the framework of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), would continue working with the Somalia National Army to help them secure their territory.  Additionally, the South Sudan crisis threatened the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region, and the United Nations must support the IGAD‑PLUS peace initiative’s efforts towards a comprehensive and viable resolution.

He said that 2015 would be remembered for the conferences that put the world on the path towards sustainable development.  While the Sendai Declaration called on Governments to mobilize the required means towards implementation of disaster risk reduction, risk management must inform governmental development policies and be mainstreamed to all levels of national development.  Moreover, although the third International Conference on Financing for Development had focused on both financial and non-financial means of sustainable development, the role of official development assistance (ODA) remained key to the credibility of international development cooperation.  Partners must redouble their efforts to support and finance developing countries, as well as address capacity deficits in important institutions, such as national statistical offices, which would capture quality, timely and reliable data required for follow-up and review processes.

The Agenda of the Sustainable Development Summit stipulated the end of poverty in all its forms as its overarching goal, but also recognized that sustainable development could not be reached without peace and security, or without addressing human rights and humanitarian issues, he said.  To complete the road to sustainable development, Kenya looked forward to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference, which would hopefully result in the political will to reach an agreement to keep global warming below 2°C.

Finally, the East African Community remained committed to expanding cooperation among partner States, he said.  Much progress had been recorded since the establishment of the East African Common Market in 2010, and the protocol for the East African Monetary Union had been put in place with its implementation under way.  Kenya had also committed to fast-track the process towards an East African Federation in constructing a powerful and sustainable East African economic and political bloc.

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that 70 years after the creation of the United Nations, the international community was marching on the path laid out by the founding fathers and seeking to uphold the principles they created, such as fostering peace and promoting respect for human rights.  One of the principal missions of the Organization was to save the world from the scourge of war, but that task had become more complicated because peace was not just an absence of war.  Extreme poverty, hunger and disease, and the unprecedented worsening of the environment had all destabilized the world.  In that regard, the upcoming Climate Summit in Paris must be a success, and the transfer of environmentally friendly technology to the developing world would also be crucial.

Furthermore, the world must address racism, discrimination and violent extremism, he said.  People were discriminated by the colour of skin and social background.  Migrant workers were excluded from public policy, even though they contributed to the economy of the host country.  Greater generosity must be shown for refugees and migrants.  “The promise of a better world is within our reach,” he said, stressing that change was the main dynamic in shaping the course of the future.  With 142 States having joined the 51 founding Members, the Organization had achieved greater universality.  However, its structure remained unchanged.  Today’s world was not the same as that of 1945.

Common sense required that the Organization must change, with the enlargement of the Security Council needed to reflect the new reality, he said.  His country was running for a non-permanent seat in the next election and would push for reform.  It also made sense to reform the global governance structure so that developing countries had more equitable representation and access to credit.  On the mining industry, there was a need to protect the interests of local people while protecting investors.  The illicit financial flow of $30‑60 billion per year from the continent exceeded ODA.  If 17 per cent of those assets were recovered, African countries could pay off their entire debts and finance their own development.  Finally, he noted that Senegal, out of 128 troop contributors, ranked seventh, deploying its forces in eight missions.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, said that today marked the fifty-fifth anniversary of his country becoming a Member of the United Nations.  Since that day in 1960, nations had spared no sacrifice to rid the world of wars.  Mali had always given preference to dialogue rather than taking up arms, including with the multidimensional crisis it was besieged by recently.  After eight months of discussion with its friends and brothers in the north, he said, Mali was pleased to see that the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali had been signed.  Its signing had sealed a reunification of all the sons and daughters of Mali in order to implement the Agreement.  It was a compromise, but it was a balanced one that respected unity and territorial integrity.

No country had been assisted and helped as much in recent years as Mali, he said, which was thanks to the international community.  A follow-up committee had been created for Mali’s Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, which was taking measures to build confidence for citizens so they could have unflagging faith in their country.  The people of Mali had expectations that the international community would continue to be by their sides for that process.  There was a conference planned to be held in Paris in October for the implementation of the Mali Agreement, and God willing, that conference would be held and many friends from the United Nations would come to that event.  The emergency plan for the interim period was welcome, although the signing of the Agreement was not an end in and of itself.  It needed to be carried out, and he appealed to Member States to attend the conference in Paris and help with that implementation.  Terrorist groups, which were narco-jihadists, were only trying to quench their thirst for power with fear.

He expressed gratitude on behalf of his Government to the international mediation efforts led by Algeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation and others.  There were now 193 United Nations Member States taking part in a cooperative effort that was founded on peace, security and human rights.  It was an honour to celebrate the seventieth anniversary with those countries.  That celebration would show the world how far the Organization had come and what could be done when the global community pooled efforts to respond to common challenges.

The United Nations was called upon to face new challenges, and the focus was on a sustainable development programme, he said.  Africa’s Agenda 2063 aimed to achieve development, including saving and preserving the environment.  There was a need for good economic governance and financing for development.  Furthermore, he expressed gratitude to those who met in 2013 in Brussels to re-boost economic recovery in Mali by presenting €3.5 billion of assistance while also calling on those who had made pledges to honour those commitments.

Among the world’s biggest challenges was international migration, which was due to many factors including the cynicism of man and those involved in organized crime, he said.  Thousands of people who were involved in illegal migration were losing their lives in the oceans or deserts or in makeshift vessels.  It was necessary to find appropriate solutions to improve conditions for migrants.  On security, it had become important to strengthen tools and mechanisms to face the rising threats of violent terrorism.  It was urgent to make up the gap between security challenges and the United Nations doctrine in regard to peacekeeping.  Reform to that architecture was needed.  Finally, he commended the courage of President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro, as well as the Pope for the role that he played, in mending relations between Cuba and the United States.

RAFAEL CORREA, President of Ecuador, stressed the importance of viewing peace not as the absence of war but as the presence of justice, dignity for life and development.  Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said:  “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) had declared the region as “the zone of peace”, but poverty prevailed, with 164 million people living in poverty and 68 million people in extreme poverty.  People were waiting for justice and real democracy, not periodic elections.  Poverty was not a scarcity of food, but rather exclusion by the power structure.

With inequality prevalent, he said, the international community could not settle for “minimalist” goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.  Quoting the Secretary-General, he said that the aim was “not just to keep people alive, but to give them a life — a decent life”.  It was vital to pursue maximum goals and benefits for human beings and nature.  On the issue of migration, he said it was regrettable that human mobility was omitted from the 2030 Agenda.  Capitalism promoted free movement of merchandise.  Penalizing people for moving to have a better life was not right.  Seeking more borders was not the solution; solidarity was. 

Turning to climate change, he expressed serious concern about growing greenhouse gas emissions and highlighted the unfairness of countries that produced fewer emissions bearing the brunt of climate change.  Ecuador, for instance, contributed only 0.1 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, but significantly suffered the consequences of global warming, he said, proposing a universal declaration of the right of nature.  For climate change adaptation, it was imperative to bridge the technological and scientific gap between the rich and poor countries.  If two apples were exchanged between two people, each person could enjoy one apple.  But if two ideas were exchanged between two people, each had two ideas.  The problem was that knowledge and technology was costly.

Ecuador would host the Habitat III conference in October 2016, a forum to formulate a new urban agenda to create inclusive cities, he said.  Finally, he denounced exploitation of natural resources and environmental damage by transnational companies, such as Chevron, calling on Member States to adopt a binding treaty to sanction companies that violated human rights and damaged the environment.  He said Ecuador would use a “lethal weapon”, which was the truth, to back its claims against the companies.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said it was important to take deep stock of the political, social, cultural and environmental achievements of the United Nations since its founding.  It had been 70 years, yet wars and invasions continued and the origin of that violence was the ambitions of certain regions and nations, and the policy of keeping capital in the hands of the few, where oligarchies dominated.  Therefore, the goals of peace and stability in the world had not been obtained.  All said they sought peace, but there could be no peace without social justice.  In those seven decades, capitalism had failed and had only brought about a humanitarian, financial, food and energy crisis.  Nearly half the inhabitants of the world still suffered from hunger, and millions upon millions of dollars had been spent to destroy Mother Earth.

How much money was spent on military conflicts that could be spent to save the environment, and what had caused the ills for the people of Libya and Syria, he asked.  Muammar al-Qadhafi was overthrown and called a tyrant.  The target had not really been him, but the oil that belonged to the Libyan people, who were now on their knees with their resources in the hands of a few Americans and transnationals; “that was capitalism for you”.  Trying to live better than others was the synthesis of capitalism; living well, in solidarity and complementarity, as one with Mother Earth, was socialism.  Water, light, telecommunications and other services were considered a human right in Bolivia and should never be privatized or owned by foreigners or transnationals.  Natural resources were so important when it came to economic health, and that was why Bolivia had freed itself economically.  “Do not believe in capitalism,” which merely concentrated capital into the hands of the few, he said.  The world had a huge responsibility at the Paris Climate Change Conference in December.  Future generations would hold the present generation responsible and would be anti-capitalists.

Social movements sought unity for integration, not policies of invasion for domination, he said.  There were different kinds of democracy — that of the transnationals and that of social movements.  True democracy was not governed by businesses, and financing Democrats and Republicans both wasn’t democracy; it was capitalism.  There were now “soft coups” and espionage, and that was why he did not share those policies.

On migration, he said that migrants were being criminalized and expelled.  Europeans had invaded the Americas 500 years ago and then implemented policies to exterminate the indigenous peoples and pillage natural resources.  Now, however, people travelled to the United States and Europe and were criminalized, persecuted and expelled.  For that reason he proposed to work together to create universal citizenship, since people had the right to live wherever they liked in the world.  Globalization should not just be for trade or money, but for all human beings.  Bolivia would never expel anyone.  He refuted comments by United States officials that Bolivia could not have diplomatic relations with Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.  No one could tell Bolivia with which countries it could have diplomatic ties.  Now, the United States had diplomatic relations with Iran and Cuba, so perhaps in the future it would have diplomatic relations with Venezuela as well.  In closing, he commended the messages of peace from Pope Francis, who had said he “did not believe in money”, which had made President Morales believe in him.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, said a set of menaces — mostly man-made — posed threats to human societies across the world and challenged the United Nations existing mandate and traditional approaches to dealing with global issues.  Never had the world and the United Nations faced such fast-paced change — both constructive and harmful — and immediate demands for solutions and answers.  The United Nations and other specialized and multilateral organizations needed to drive the agenda and provide the required platform for decision-making.  Afghanistan urged future reforms to take on pressing needs and offer flexible and fast-track problem management.

As a case in point, Afghanistan was suffering and its people demanded practical, verifiable and durable solutions, he said.  The presence of terrorist sanctuaries and support networks in Pakistan continued to cause trouble in Afghanistan, with the Haqqani network identified as the main culprit.  He called on Pakistan to adhere to its promise to crack down on known terror outfits, as well as honour its commitment to engage in peace talks with the Taliban.  Afghanistan also needed regional stakeholders and international partners to realize the gravity of the situation and use their “good offices” to support the country’s process leading to talks with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups.

Afghanistan’s National Unity Government had achieved significant milestones since its inception in 2014 such as improved health care, greater female participation in politics and the electorate, and a comprehensive plan to root out corruption in all levels of Government, from the executive to the judiciary, he said.  However, in addition to the security challenges, the illicit drug trade was adversely affecting the economy and society.  Beyond that particular difficulty, the Government was committed to enhancing regional engagement to turn Afghanistan into a connectivity hub for energy, trade, transport, transit and pipelines.  The sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul had agreed to develop and consolidate partnerships towards promoting regional economic cooperation and integration for those goals. 

Finally, Afghanistan looked to the United Nations to remain beside it for years to come as it made its transformation, he said.  With that said, the Government called for a strategic realignment in the international community’s support role — as well as the part of the United Nations — as it moved forward.  He welcomed the outcome of the work of the Tripartite Review Commission to determine the guiding principles of the United Nations future engagement in Afghanistan.

[1] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).

For information media. Not an official record.