As Annual General Debate Begins, Secretary-General Calls for World Leaders’ Commitment to ‘New Heights of Solidarity’ in Forging Better Future

GA/11822
20 September 2016
Seventy-first Session, 8th, 9th & 10th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

As Annual General Debate Begins, Secretary-General Calls for World Leaders’ Commitment to ‘New Heights of Solidarity’ in Forging Better Future

Member States Must Forge Strategic Partnerships around Climate, Conflict, Diseases, Other Issues, General Assembly President Says

Amid “gulfs of mistrust” that had divided citizens from Governments, slowed the delivery of life-saving aid to millions in need and fomented divisions of “us” and “them”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the seventy-first annual debate of the General Assembly today, pressing world leaders to commit to new heights of solidarity in forging a better future.

“My message to all is clear,” Mr. Ban said in opening remarks.  “Serve your people.  Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics.”  In too many places, leaders were rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate measures that would enable them to cling to power.  Holding office was a trust granted by the people, not personal property, he emphasized.

Secretary-General Ban said that after 10 years in office, he was more convinced than ever that “we have the power to end war, poverty and persecution”.  The Sustainable Development Goals offered a manifesto for a better future, and the Paris Agreement on climate change, a blueprint for tackling the “defining challenge of our time”.  And yet, those gains were threatened by conflict and failures of governance that had pushed societies over the brink.  Their tragic consequences were on full display from Yemen to Libya and Iraq, from Afghanistan to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, he said.  In Syria, many groups had killed innocent people, but none more so than that country’s Government.  Attending the general debate today were representatives of Governments that had ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned atrocities against Syrian civilians, he noted.

More broadly, he lamented that prospects for a two-State solution between Israel and the Palestinians were diminishing by the day, and that the fifth nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had threatened international security.  In Ukraine, violence had caused internal upheaval, while in South Sudan, leaders had betrayed their people.

He also expressed regret for matters that had tarnished the reputation of the United Nations and traumatized many.  Sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers had compounded the suffering of people already caught up in conflict.  In Haiti, the cholera outbreak that had followed the 2010 earthquake had heaped misery upon misery.  An assistance package was being prepared for those most affected, he said.  “I feel tremendous regret and sorry for Haitians affected by cholera”.

At the same time, he said he was proud that the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) had come to life during his tenure, that the Organization was tapping the energies of young people as never before, and working with the private sector to advance responsible practices.

However, he pointed out that Member States were blocking essential action and good ideas in the budget process, the Security Council and the General Assembly itself.  Encouraging the Assembly President to explore the possibility of creating a high-level panel to improve decision-making in the Organization, he said States must also respect the independence of the Secretariat.  “We must all be open and accountable to the people we serve.”

General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a beacon of hope raised to guide humanity to a better world.  With a universal spirit, it set out a plan for transforming the world into one without extreme poverty, and in which peaceful and well-governed societies would live in harmony.  To produce the results that the world so desperately needed, it was essential to teach young people about the Sustainable Development Goals, allocate public resources, create better regulatory environments and support access for poor communities.  Member States must forge strategic partnerships around issues, from climate change and conflict, to violent extremism and disease.  Committed to a universal push for implementation of the Goals, he said he would also oversee preparations for the United Nations Conference on Oceans, to be held from 5 to 9 June 2017.

Throughout the day, Heads of State and Government from around the world outlined their visions for a better world.  Many argued that the world had changed drastically since the end of the cold war, and offered prescriptions for adapting the United Nations to a twenty-first century international landscape.

President Barack Obama of the United States addressed the paradox that defined today’s reality, pointing out that while the world had become less violent and more prosperous by many measures, societies were still filled with uncertainty, unease and strife.  People had lost trust in institutions, he said.  Leaders faced a choice:  to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration, or retreat into a world sharply divided along age-old lines of nation, race and religion.

While they may be imperfect, open markets, accountable governance, democracy, human rights and international law constituted the firmest foundations for human progress, he said.  International institutions were ill-equipped and underfunded to handle transnational challenges, and too often, decision-makers forgot that decisions were made from the bottom up.  “Each of us, as leaders, each nation, can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best,” he said.

President Michel Temer of Brazil said that xenophobia and extreme nationalism had stretched across continents, and to counter the resulting instability, States must unite through diplomacy.  While those who initiated violence had reinvented themselves, multilateral institutions had yet to transform.  More collaboration was needed to advance the sustainable development agenda.  “We live on the same planet,” he said.  “There is no plan B”.

On that point, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji said small-island developing States faced a nightmare scenario in which a single event could wipe out economies and set them back decades.  “Our message from the Pacific is this:  the 2°C cap is not enough,” he said, urging Member States to embrace the 1.5°C cap.  Ratifying the Paris Agreement would be a first step towards that goal.

President Andrej Kiska of Slovakia said that implementation of the 2030 Agenda would not succeed without cooperation supported by United Nations entities.  Indeed, with nationalism, extremism, racism and intolerance posing real dangers, political leaders were obliged to provide for their citizens and ensure peace, while helping those fleeing violence.  “Let’s be honest and ask ourselves:  are we all doing enough to improve the lives of people in need?”  Many world leaders cared more about retaining power than improving their peoples’ lives, yet they were more than capable of tackling the challenges of poverty, hunger and discrimination.

President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi said “the choices for human destiny, world over, lie with us in this Assembly.  These challenges must be resolved by us or nobody else”.  The adoption of the 2030 Agenda was just the beginning, and pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals would depend on working as a community.  Malawi had ensured peace and security and created an environment for progress.  It was governed under the principles of democracy and rule of law, from a belief that humanity was only safe when everyone was accountable to someone else.

King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein of Jordan said the question was whether the international community would pass on a world dominated by dread and division.  After years of global war on terror, the failure to understand the true nature of Islam on the part of Western officials, think tanks, media leaders and policymakers was striking.  “False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorists’ agenda of a global struggle by polarizing and factionalizing societies, East and West,” he warned.  Radical outlaw groups did not exist on the fringes of Islam, but outside it altogether, he said, emphasizing that a new mind-set, new partnerships and reformed methodologies would be needed to confront such a non-traditional enemy.  For Muslims it was, first and foremost, a fight for their future.

Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom said her country would be a “confident, strong and dependable partner internationally,” true to shared universal values.  The United Kingdom had always been at the heart of global efforts to secure peace and prosperity.  The British people, in leaving the European Union, had not voted to turn inwards or to walk away from its world partners, she said.  “This is not the time to turn away from our United Nations.  It is time to turn towards it”.

For several speakers, that would require reform of the Security Council, a point made clear by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, who stressed that peace and prosperity would remain a “distant dream” if powerful nations continued to place national interests ahead of global ones.  He questioned whether the United Nations and the Security Council were fit for their purpose of acting in the collective interest.  South Africa would continue calling for the Council’s transformation to ensure, in particular, Africa’s representation, he said, declaring:  “One billion people cannot continue to be denied a voice.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government of Chad, Guyana, Qatar, Argentina, France, Uruguay, Switzerland, Peru, Turkey, Canada, Tunisia, Poland, Slovenia, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Zambia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Senegal, New Zealand and Italy.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 September, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that, in taking the oath of office in December 2006, he had pledged to work with delegates for “We the Peoples”.  With the United Nations Charter as a guide, as well as dedicated staff, much had been have achieved, he said.  He said he also felt deep concern amid the gulfs of mistrust that had divided citizens from their leaders, extremists pushing people into camps of “us” and “them”, assailed by rising seas, and with 130 million people needing life-saving assistance.  Yet, after 10 years in office, he said, he was more convinced than ever that “we have the power to end war, poverty and persecution”.  With the Sustainable Development Goals, States had the manifesto for a better future, and with the Paris Agreement on climate change, they were tackling “the defining challenge of our time”.  He urged the Paris Agreement’s entry into force in what remained of 2016, an effort that required a mere 26 countries representing only 15 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions.

What gains had been made were threatened by grave security threats, he continued, pointing out that conflicts had grown more protracted and that failures of governance had pushed societies over the brink.  Their tragic consequences were on brutal display from Yemen to Libya and Iraq, from Afghanistan to the Sahel and to the Lake Chad Basin.  Today, the Syrian conflict was taking the greatest number of lives and had sown the widest instability, he said, adding that there could be no military solution.  Many groups had killed innocent people, yet none more so than the Government of Syria, which continued to barrel-bomb neighbourhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees.  Powerful patrons feeding that war machine had blood on their hands, and present in the hall today were representatives of Governments that had ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syrian conflict — against Syrian civilians.

The bar of depravity had sunk even lower with the apparently deliberate 19 September attack on a United Nations-Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy, he said, adding that it had forced the Organization to suspend aid.  Stressing that accountability for such crimes was essential, he appealed to all those with influence to end the fighting and get talks started.  A political solution was long overdue.  More broadly, one year ago, Palestine had raised its flag at United Nations Headquarters, yet the prospects for a two-State solution were being lowered by the day, he said, adding that it pained him that the past decade had been 10 years lost to illegal settlement expansion, to intra-Palestinian divide and to growing polarization.

Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he said the fifth nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had threatened international security, and urged that country’s Government to change course and fulfil its obligations to its own people.  In Ukraine, violence had caused internal upheaval, while in South Sudan, leaders had betrayed their people.  In too many places, leaders were rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking desperate steps to cling to power, he said.  “My message to all is clear:  serve your people.”

Turning to the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, adopted on 19 September, he said it pointed the way towards protection of the rights of millions of people.  “We all must meet those promises,” he said.  Cautioning against the cynical and dangerous political maths that stated “you add votes by dividing people”, he said factors that compelled people to move must also be addressed by investing in conflict prevention and engaging in diplomacy.

He also expressed regret for matters that had tarnished the reputation of the United Nations and traumatized many.  Sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by United Nations peacekeepers and other personnel had compounded the suffering of people already caught up in conflict and undermined the Organization’s work around the world.  “Protectors must never become predators,” he said, underlining that Member States and the Secretariat must deepen their efforts to enforce and strengthen the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy.

Regarding the cholera outbreak following the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, he said it had heaped misery upon misery.  “I feel tremendous regret and sorry for Haitians affected by cholera,” he added, stressing that the time had come for a new approach to easing their plight.  “This is our firm and enduring moral responsibility.”  A package of material assistance was being prepared for those most affected, and the United Nations was working to build sound water and health systems, an effort that could not succeed without sustained support by Member States.  “Let us work together to meet our obligations to the Haitian people.”

He went on to say that he was proud that the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) had come to life during his tenure and that he had appointed more women to senior positions than ever before.  Far more must be done to end violence against women and ensure that every girl had the start in life that she deserved.  The Organization had also deepened support for the “responsibility to protect”, while landmark convictions by the International Criminal Court had advanced accountability.  Civil society had been essential in all those efforts.

Calling for building upon a decade of progress in education and health, he noted that polio was almost eradicated, more mothers now survived childbirth and more children were in school.  The collective response to the Ebola outbreak had prepared the world for future health emergencies.  He also called for building upon recent momentum in order to move closer to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United Nations was tapping the energies of young people as never before, he said, including with the appointment of the first United Nations Special Envoy on Youth and a new Special Envoy on Youth Employment.  The Organization was working with the private sector to push for responsible practices that would harness the best of business.  Continued progress would require new heights of solidarity, he said.

Pointing out that States had not agreed on a formula for reforming the Security Council, he said that, in the same spirit, he had put on the table a major reform to improve fairness and effectiveness in the United Nations, having too often seen proposals blocked in the name of consensus, sometimes by a single country.  Essential action and good ideas had been blocked in the Security Council, the Assembly, the budget process and elsewhere, he said, asking whether it was fair for any one country to wield such disproportionate power and hold the world hostage over so many important issues.

“Consensus should not be confused with unanimity,” he said, proposing that the Assembly President explore the creation of a high-level panel to search for solutions.  States must also respect the independence of the Secretariat.  When United Nations reports “say what needs to be said”, Member States should not try to rewrite history.  When human rights personnel acted on behalf of the most vulnerable, States should not block their path, and when envoys raised difficult issues, States should not threaten to banish them.  “We must all be open and accountable to the people we serve,” he said.  While a perfect world might be on the far horizon, the route to a better world was in each person, he said.  “I know that together, united, we can get there.”

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, recalled that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had been adopted 361 days ago.  The result of two years of intense multilateral negotiations, the Agenda’s adoption had been like a beacon of hope raised to guide all humanity to a better world.  Imbued with a universal and transformative spirit, the Agenda set out a master plan for transforming the world into one where extreme poverty had been eliminated, and peaceful and well-governed societies lived in harmony.

The first great indication of progress had been the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change, he continued, adding:  “Overcoming the challenges of climate change was the existential responsibility of our time.”  More energy was being produced from affordable renewable sources than ever before, and it was heartening to see that the numbers of people living in extreme poverty, and suffering from communicable diseases like polio and malaria, continued to fall.  However, while the 2030 Agenda was increasingly used as the framework for improved national development plans, the international community was far from where it needed to be.

Millions of people around the globe were suffering the brutal effects of war, he said, noting that the crisis in Syria continued to generate immense human suffering.  Strongly condemning the attacks on a United Nations aid convoy carrying food and medical supplies for people in need, he emphasized that the deliberate targeting of humanitarian personnel was a flagrant violation of international law.  “Week after week, innocent people are falling victim to despicable acts of violent extremism,” he said, adding:  “Collaboration and partnership are needed more than ever.”

In order to produce the results that the world so desperately needed, the international community must do better to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  It was essential to teach young people about the Goals, allocate greater public resources, create better regulatory environments, and support greater access for poor and marginalized communities.  Among other things, it was critical to advance collective action by Member States and to forge strategic and inclusive partnerships around issues from climate change to conflict, violent extremism to contagious diseases.

“During the seventy-first session, I am committed to a universal push for the implementation of all 17 [Sustainable Development Goals],” he said, stressing that he would push for a United Nations development system that would work seamlessly as one.  He said that, in response to the crisis that oceans faced, he would oversee the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Oceans, to be held from 5 to 9 June 2017.  Furthermore, in collaboration with Member States, he would work to strengthen the Organization’s peace and security pillar, advance the “sustaining peace” agenda, combat discrimination, strengthen the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture and strive for greater consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation.

Statements

MICHEL TEMER, President of Brazil, said political near-paralysis had led to prolonged and unresolved wars, and that the system’s inability to react to conflicts had exacerbated the cycle of destruction.  That had reintroduced xenophobia and extreme forms nationalism across continents, which, in turn, had spilled over into the economic realm, with greater displays of protectionism.  To counter the resulting instability, the international community must unite through diplomacy, he emphasized.  Several events throughout the past year had displayed the power of diplomacy.  They included the resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue; the peace accord between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States; and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials.

While those who initiated conflicts and violence had reinvented themselves, multilateral institutions were yet to transform, he said, noting that Brazil had called reform of the Security Council.  Reinventing multilateral institutions would help the international community more effectively combat global challenges, including trafficking in drugs and weapons, countering organized crime networks, and pushing nuclear-disarmament programmes forward.  In the Middle East, reaching a political solution to the war and suffering in Syria was paramount, he stressed, calling on parties to respect the agreements endorsed by the Security Council and to ensure humanitarian access to the civilian population.  Regarding Israel and Palestine, Brazil continued to support a two-State solution, he said.

Underlining the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he underscored:  “We live on the same planet, there is no plan B.”  Greater collaboration and solidarity were needed to push the sustainable development agenda forward, but regrettably, that endeavour was hindered by rising protectionism, which placed a barrier to development, especially in the agricultural sector.  “Development is more than just an objective; it is an imperative,” he emphasized.

Domestically, Brazil had experienced a complex journey, with the impeachment of its former President and its political system undergoing a cleansing process, he said.  “The will of individuals does not prevail over the strength of institutions,” he said, adding that the ahead for his country was to resume economic growth and revive the job market in order to bring millions of lost jobs back to Brazilian workers.

IDRISS DEBY ITNO, President of Chad, said the world was more interdependent and interconnected than ever.  At the same time, challenges had become global, ranging from terrorism to climate change, migration to poverty.  “No region is immune to these challenges,” he noted.  As the most vulnerable continent, Africa faced the challenges of underdevelopment, with Somalia, Libya and suffering destabilization which could spread to other regions.  Chad had done its part to fight Boko Haram, contributing to the establishment of a regional force, he said.

Africa had undertaken various measures to solve its problems, he continued, stressing that regional efforts must be strongly supported by the international community.  The African Union was anxiously awaiting agreement with the United Nations on progress in addressing regional problems.  While the situation in Libya remained deeply disturbing, the action by the African Union and the United Nations aimed at deploying civilian forces in South Sudan was a positive development.

The situation in the Central African Republic remained precarious, he said, adding that, as armed clashes continued in that country, the Government needed support for its efforts to normalize the situation.  He urged the political players there and in other countries, such as Burundi and Gabon, to engage in dialogue.  Regarding South Sudan, he said a political solution must be found through direct negotiations with the parties to the conflict.  On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he underscored the need for an independent and viable Palestinian State, and called for a relaunch of the peace process.

With more than a billion men and women, Africa was working towards advancing development, he said.  However, eradicating poverty “will be possible only if actors keep their promises”.  In order to eliminate extreme poverty, strengthen resilience and promote sustainable economic growth, Africa must have the necessary resources, he said.  The continent was ready to play its part as no region and no State could prosper on its own.  Climate change and environmental issues were among the major challenges, he said, warning that ecological disaster dangerously threatened food security and stability in the region.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said steps had been taken to return the global economy to growth, remove terrorist safe havens and strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  Assistance had helped power communities across Africa and promoted models of development, rather than dependence.  Yet, the forces of globalization had also exposed deep fault lines in the international order:  refugees flowed across borders fleeing conflict, while financial disruptions weighed on workers and communities; basic security and order had broken down in vast swaths of the Middle East; and too many Governments had muzzled journalists, while terrorist networks used social media to foment anger.  That was the paradox defining the world today.  Twenty-five years after the end of cold war, the world was less violent and more prosperous by many measures, yet societies were filled with uncertainty, unease and strife.  People had lost trust in institutions and governing had grown more difficult.  “At this moment, we all face a choice” — to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration, or retreat into a world sharply divided along age-old lines of nation, race and religion.  “We must go forward and not backward,” he emphasized.

Though imperfect, open markets, accountable governance, democracy, human rights and international law were the firmest foundation for human progress in the present century, he said.  The path to global integration required a course correction.  Leaders had ignored equality in and among nations, while international institutions were too ill-equipped and underfunded to handle transnational challenges.  Alternative visions of the world had emerged from religious fundamentalism, and from the politics of ethnicity, tribe or sect, aggressive nationalism, and crude populism, all of which sought to restore a simpler age, free from outside contamination.  While those visions could not be dismissed, they also could not deliver security or prosperity because they failed to recognize a common humanity.  The answer could not be a rejection of global integration, he stressed.  Rather, there was a need to work together to ensure that the benefits of integration were shared, and that its economic, political and cultural disruptions were addressed.

The international community must make the global economy work better for all people, not just those at the top, he said.  While open markets and capitalism had raised living standards, global capital had too often been unaccountable, with $8 trillion “stashed in tax havens”.  A pervasive sense of injustice had undermined faith in the global system.  Another path offered the clearest route to national success:  economies were more successful when growth was broadly based, respecting workers’ rights, investing in peoples’ skills and education, and strengthening the safety net that protected people from hardship.  Advanced economies must do more to close the gap with poor nations, he said.  The Paris Agreement on climate change offered a framework for action, and there must be a sense of urgency about its entry into force, he said.  In the same way, there was need for new, inclusive and accountable governance models.  Believing in a liberal political order, built through elections, respect for human rights and civil society, independent judiciaries and the rule of law, he said strong men would be left with two choices:  permanent crackdown or scapegoating enemies abroad, which could lead to war.  Successful countries were those in which people felt they had a stake.  Too often, in capitals, decision makers forgot that decisions were made from the bottom up, he noted, underlining that leaders advocating democracy abroad must strive harder to set a better example at home.

In that context, he called for rejection of any form of fundamentalism, racism or belief in ethnic superiority, urging instead tolerance for all human beings.  The mindset of sectarianism, extremism and retribution would not be quickly reversed, he cautioned, saying:  “We must be honest about the nature of those conflicts.”  While there was a military component to destroy networks like Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), there was no military victory to be won in Syria, where diplomacy must be pursued, aid delivered and support given to those working for a political settlement.  “We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.”  States must sustain a commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights of individual nations, he said.  The United Nations could only realize its aims if powerful nations, such as the United States accepted constraints.  There was a darker view of history to adopt:  one in which humans were motivated by greed and power, big countries pushed smaller ones around, and States defined themselves by what they hated.  “Perhaps that’s our fate,” he said.  “Each of us, as leaders, each nation, can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best.”

ANDREJ KISKA, President of Slovakia, said many world leaders cared more about retaining power than improving the lives of their people.  Recalling States’ commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said that leaving no one behind was a clear way to address people’s needs.  “We are more than capable of tackling challenges of poverty, hunger and discrimination,” he said, pointing out that the international community had the best means to make the planet a better place.

He went on to emphasize that the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would not be successful without effective international cooperation supported by United Nations entities.  “We should not forget our homework — to win the hearts and minds of our people.”  With the world having become smaller due to globalization, it was the social instinct of human beings to remain local.  However, there were real dangers from the increasing threat posed by nationalism, extremism, racism and intolerance around the world.  One of the main duties of political leaders was to provide for their citizens and to ensure peace and development in their countries.

Nevertheless, the world was witnessing the most pressing global crises, he said, citing the increasing number of refugees.  “Migrants and refugees are real people,” he said, adding:  “We might have a different starting positions and experiences, but we all have to understand that refugees need our empathy and help.”  It was the moral duty of political leaders to help those running away from violence and death.  “Let’s be honest and ask ourselves:  are we all doing enough to improve the lives of people in need?”, he asked.  As terrorists continued to target millions of people around the world, “we need to stay strong in our societies”, he said.

While it was not difficult to make people fear or hate, it was essential not to judge them by their choice of worship or the colour of their skin, he said.  As the crisis in Ukraine entered its third year, Slovakia was very concerned about the destabilization of its neighbour, he said.  Stressing the importance of peaceful settlement of problems, he said the Minsk Protocol was the only viable way forward.  On the selection of the next Secretary-General, he said the process had been more consultative and open than before.  Slovakia had to be part of the process as it had its own candidate, he said, adding that Eastern Europe had much to offer in terms of capabilities, knowledge and accomplishment.

DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, said his country was pursuing a secure future for its people through a green economy, and was proud to be a reliable partner in international efforts to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.  Noting that his country played an important part in climate-change efforts as part of the Guyana Shield rainforest system, he said more than 85 per cent of its land mass was covered by a green canopy.  Agreements had been signed recently on preserving its status as a carbon sink and home to a rich biodiversity.  He pledged expanded research facilities for both rainforest conservation and biodiversity issues.

Laying out other initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and foster low-carbon growth, he said, however, that all Guyana’s efforts for sustainable development in an environment of peace were challenged by the territorial ambitions of its neighbour, Venezuela.  As Guyana celebrated its fiftieth anniversary of independence, Venezuela reasserted its repudiation of a border treaty it had signed more than 117 years ago and had respected for 60 of those years.  He recalled that, during the 2015 general debate, he had warned of Venezuela’s threat to Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to peace and security in the region.  Since then, Venezuela had thwarted all the Secretary-General’s efforts to pursue a resolution of the controversy.

Guyana stood ready to have the International Court of Justice determine the matter with finality, he continued.  He pledged to work resolutely with the Secretary-General, in his final months in office, to free Guyana, and the next Secretary-General, from “this surreal burden”.  Since Venezuela had controverted its 1966 agreement to allow the Secretary-General to determine the means of settling the matter, the United Nations could not be a dispassionate party in the resulting challenge to the law of nations.

As a small State, Guyana relied on the United Nations for protection against threats to its security, he continued, describing Venezuela’s as a threat to Guyana’s existence.  “They are a scandalous revival of the conquistadorial disease,” he added, while expressing sympathy for Venezuela’s people as they faced internal problems.  He urged the international community to reaffirm its support for Guyana and its efforts to become a green State.  In the context of national sovereignty and sustainable development, he also reiterated support for the complete lifting of the United States blockade against Cuba.

SHEIKH TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, warned against the “selectivity” of the Security Council in addressing world problems, particularly those relating to the use of force.  He highlighted, in particular, the international community’s failure to bring about a just resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict and the lack of action in the face of violations of so-called red lines in Syria.

Recalling Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and that country’s continuing occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, he said they were based on discrimination and racial segregation.  In that regard, Qatar called upon the Security Council to impose an international consensus on a two-State solution, including the establishment of a Palestinian State along the pre-1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Until such a time, “the Arab peoples can’t accept any kind of normalization of relations with Israel”, he emphasized.

Turning to other conflicts affecting the Middle East, including the five-year-old Syrian civil war and the conflicts in Libya and Yemen, he said the Syrian regime had deliberately dragged what had started as a peaceful uprising into violence.  Underlining the international community’s inaction in relation to protecting civilians, he said that “red lines were set for the regime […] yet those who demarcated those lines have not felt provoked to raise a finger”.  On Yemen, he blamed the international community’s negligence in implementing Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) for that country’s ongoing political turmoil.  Similarly, in Libya, he said that some countries supported forces working against international resolutions.

In addition to security measures to combat terrorism, he said it was important for the world to tackle its social roots and the circumstances contributing to the promotion of radical ideologies, including desperation and lack of opportunity.  “We must be diligent in defining terrorism and standing against it,” he said, adding that such a definition must not be altered according to the identity of the perpetrator or the victim, or in the furtherance of certain political interests.  He reiterated Qatar’s support for efforts to eradicate and root out the phenomenon of terrorism, within the framework of international legitimacy.

MAURICIO MACRI, President of Argentina, said the international community was undergoing large transformations and must rapidly adapt to new realities.  To that end, Argentina had outlined three main goals:  eradicating poverty; combating drug trafficking and violence associated with organized crime; and promoting greater unification among citizens by strengthening the country’s political leadership.  While Argentina had embarked on a new path to reinforcing both its economy and its relationship with neighbouring countries, as well as multilateral institutions, it was evident that it could not achieve any of those goals on its own alone.

While Argentina must seek help from its neighbours, the dire economic situation in Latin America was a harsh reality, he said.  Global trade had declined, punishing those who had the least.  However, there had been progress in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Important strides had been taken, including the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, and the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army.  Additionally, the establishment of a peace corridor in the region would further contribute to prosperity and security.

The challenges facing the global community were “not exclusive to countries or regions”, he stressed, adding that “we must think globally and act locally”.  Climate change was the largest challenge facing humankind.  Argentina had focused its energy production heavily on solar, wind and biomass generation, in addition to having been one of the first countries to ratifying the Paris Agreement.  Other critical challenges facing the international community were the refugee crisis and global terrorism, he noted.

Argentina was committed to receiving more refugees from Syria and neighbouring countries, and to supporting their integration into Argentinian society, he said.  “There is a part of the world in every corner of my country,” he pointed out.  While the world was trending towards greater fragmentation, the global community must work together to rebuild networks and lay bridges.  As a country that had itself experienced terrorism in 1992 and 1994, Argentina asked the international community for assistance in bringing clarity to those past events.  The rise of global terrorism proved the need to promote development both inside and outside national boundaries, he said, adding that “development does not end at the border”.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, urged Member States to do everything possible to implement the “historic” Paris Agreement.  “Despite the significant nature of this agreement, we have no time to lose,” he warned, emphasizing that the last two years had been the hottest ever on record.  The agreement would only come into force if it were ratified by at least 55 per cent of countries.  Encouraging Member States to ratify the agreement, he commended both China and the United States for doing so, adding that “nothing would have been possible” without their commitment to decrease carbon emissions.

“The appeal I want to make to you here is an appeal for Africa,” he said, pointing out that the continent was full of potential, but impeded by insecurity, mass migration, desertification and drought.  The fact that two thirds of Africans currently lacked access to electricity was an injustice.  While noting that Europe was devoted to providing millions of Africans such access, he stressed that he was not calling for solidarity, but rather for a “mutual investment” that would benefit all.  France would continue to remain committed in Mali where it would uphold its responsibilities.  It was critical to avoid the situation where terrorist organizations could take control of countries and destabilize entire regions, as demonstrated by the actions of Boko Haram and Al-Qaida.  “Let’s be clear.  The security of Africans must come from Africans themselves,” he said.  Therefore, it was vital to equip armies so that they could organize themselves in a free fashion.

On Syria, he said that the tragedy would be viewed as an international disgrace if not ended quickly.  Aleppo was a “martyred city” where thousands of children had died in bombings and where chemical weapons had been used. “I have one thing to say:  it is enough,” he stated, emphasizing that the regime was responsible for the recent failed ceasefire.  Foreign supporters must pressure the regime to end the bloodshed or they would also bear responsibility.  Meanwhile, the Security Council must not be a “theatre for fools”, evading responsibility.  France would continue to request a ceasefire and assure the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo and other cities.  It would continue to call for political negotiations to resume and for the punishment of those who had used chemical weapons.  That kind of intervention would also mean that Iraq could be free from the threat of Da’esh that occupied its territory now.  The alternative would be continued chaos and division.

Turning to the matter of Israel-Palestine, he said the objective was to meet by the end of the year for a conference where both sides could negotiate.  As well, Member States should do everything possible to implement the Minsk agreements for a peaceful outcome to the conflict in Ukraine or risk more violence, and perhaps even a war.  On terrorism, he underscored that no country could say it was immune.  Terrorism prospered from open conflict.  In the face of that danger, France would continue to turn to the United Nations.  “We cannot just talk about solidarity when a terrorist attack happens to a friendly country,” he said, stressing that France would continue to reject populism and the notion of pinning different people against each other.

ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, said the mission of every generation should be to leave the world a better place for future generations.  Today, that mission faced a mountain of challenges, including wars, political instability, violence, terrorism, radicalization, global warming and endless migration caused by conflict.  Africa and the rest of the developing world were suffering dehumanizing poverty, the pain of hunger, insufferable diseases, disgraceful inequalities and unjustifiable gender imbalances.  “The choices for human destiny, world over, lie with us in this Assembly,” he said, adding that “these challenges must be resolved by us or nobody else”.  The international community had risen to the occasion and begun the journey of conquest with its adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but that was just the beginning, he said.  The sustainability of that pursuit depended on a common understanding and walking together as a community of humankind.

For its own part, Malawi continued to guarantee basic human rights and offered every care to its brothers and sisters seeking refuge, he said.  The country ensured peace, stability, security and tranquillity for everyone, while creating an environment for progress.  It was governed under the principles of democracy and the rule of law because humanity was only safe when everyone was accountable to someone else.  Pledging to continue to live in peace with Malawi’s neighbours, he highlighted his country’s record in peacekeeping and its active support of the African Union’s 2063 Agenda to “Silence the Guns” by 2020.  Citing Malawi’s steady but considerable economic progress, he said a combination of robust fiscal and macroeconomic reforms would lead to further growth of its gross domestic product (GDP), as well as more job creation and improved incomes.

Malawi’s only major setback over the last two years had been the effects of climate change, he continued.  The country had been struck by both floods and drought; 6.5 million of its people would require food assistance in 2016.  While the Government was doing all it could, it also sought the support of cooperating partners and multilateral institutions within and outside the United Nations system, in the order of $246 million.  Malawi would sign the Paris Agreement, which would also guide its domestic policy on climate issues.  Describing additional progress in the areas of health, gender equality, trade, investment and market access, he emphasized that “we are ready to do business with the world”, and invited Member States to attend Malawi’s Annual Investors’ Conference, to be held in October.

Stressing that regional and global markets must be free of distortions such as subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, he said the international community must live up to the aspirations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Agenda.  Only by taking such steps would African countries be able to produce and add value to their commodities, thereby generating the jobs necessary to retain young people in Africa and propel its economies to sustainable growth and prosperity.  Such investments would also reduce the risk of youth being lured into radicalism and extremism, he said, underlining his commitment to promoting youth development and harnessing the demographic dividend within Malawi.  On United Nations reform, he said Malawi espoused the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in the belief that the Sustainable Development Goals could not be achieved without representation, fairness, efficiency, transparency and accountability in the Security Council.

TABARÉ VÁZQUEZ, President of Uruguay, said it was “painfully obvious” that, despite the efforts of the United Nations to combat terrorism, violence and poverty, they continued to harm many human beings.  Noting that non-communicable diseases — mainly cardiovascular ailments, cancer, diabetes and chronic pulmonary pathologies — were the main cause of death in low- and middle-income countries, he said the poorest people in all countries suffered ailments directly related to smoking, alcoholism, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles.

“Vicious cycles are easily formed in these populations,” he continued.  “Poverty exposes people to behavioural risk factors of non-communicable diseases and in turn, these diseases tend to make poverty even worse.”  Moreover, sanitary systems suffered the impact of high-cost treatments required for non-communicable diseases.  Unless epidemics of non-communicable diseases were strongly fought, their impact would continue to grow and the plausible global goal of reducing poverty “will move father away every day”, he warned.  There was a need to implement strategies that would control smoking and alcohol consumption.

There had been immense challenges, he said, recalling a claim brought by Phillip Morris against his country’s regulations to control smoking.  That company’s “main reason was to punish a small country which has decided to control tobacco consumption” as a warning to all.  The best way to move forward was to invite all countries to implement the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with “no fear of threats or retaliations from powerful tobacco companies”.

He commended Colombia for having reached a peace agreement with the FARC-EP, and urged the lifting of the embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba.  Underlining the essential need for everyone to adhere to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, he said the Paris Agreement on climate change had been the first step taken by States to demonstrate their commitment to reducing emissions and diminishing global temperatures.  He welcomed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, and said that Uruguay would remain committed to United Nations peacekeeping, adding that it would continue to contribute thousands of personnel to operations.

ABDULLAH II IBN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, recalled that his country’s national parliamentary elections were presently taking place, adding that they represented yet another step in Jordan’s positive, evolutionary path.  As the world gathered together at the General Assembly, a network of extremist terrorists was working to stack the odds against the core values that bound the worlds’ common humanity.  The question confronting the international community was what its legacy would be, and whether it would pass on to its children a world dominated by dread and division.  After several years facing the global war on terror, he was struck by the lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam found among many Western officials, think tanks, media leaders and policymakers.  “False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorists’ agenda of a global struggle by polarizing and factionalizing societies, East and West” and driving themselves deeper into mistrust and intolerance, he stated.

In that regard, when the outlaws of Islam — the “khawarej” — murdered, plundered, exploited children and rejected the equality of women before God, they abused Islam, he said.  Islam taught that all humanity was equal in dignity and that there was no distinction between different nations, regions or races.  The khawarej deliberately hid such truths in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart.  “We cannot allow this to happen,” he warned.  The radical outlaw groups did not exist on the fringes of Islam, but outside it altogether.  A new mind set, new partnerships and reformed methodologies would be needed to confront such a non-traditional enemy.  For Muslims it was, first and foremost, a fight for their future.

The international community also faced a fight for its future, he continued.  The war would not be fought on the battlefield alone, but everywhere humans lived and interacted.  Security cooperation was imperative, but equally important was a holistic approach.  New channels between continents and nations, within countries and among people needed to be opened.  That meant reforming the way people communicated, shared information and used technologies.  “Ours is a global fight,” he said, emphasizing that the focus must not stop with the Middle East, but reach far beyond, in West and East Africa, South-East Asia and the Balkans.  In Syria, a military approach would leave no winners, only losers on every side, along with further civilian suffering.  An end to violence demanded a political process shepherded by a unified global vision and led by all components of the Syrian people.

As those goals were pursued, he said, the international community must also take responsibility for those whose lives had been crushed — millions of refugees, victims and impoverished.  The scourge of terror and violence could not be decisively defeated without rooting out the injustices that provided its fertile ground, from the prisons of Abu Ghraib to the streets of Kabul to the schools of Aleppo, where injustice and humiliation had left tremendous human suffering in their wake.  No injustice had spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian State, he said, stressing that Israel had to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred.

JOHANN N. SCHNEIDER-AMMANN, President of Switzerland, recalled that, on 26 July, a Swiss solar aircraft concluded its world tour.  That same day, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that, since the start of 2016, more than 3,000 migrants had lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea.  Those events showed how “humans were simultaneously capable of the best and the worst.”  The international community was confronted with powerlessness and inertia in the face of immense tragedy, such as the violent situations in the Middle East, certain regions of Africa and Europe.  That fragility had been the breeding ground for global terrorism which had affected the entire international community.  Other threats, such as climate change, natural disasters, unemployment and economic crises, required firm responses from global decision makers.

In light of that, he continued, a unified and strong United Nations was more necessary than ever before.  Its capabilities had been illustrated by mobilizing the international community to bring populations out of poverty; increasing life expectancy; and improving global education.  Although the current generation was the first not to have lived through a world war, too many conflicts were occurring.  To mitigate those challenges, a new global vision had taken shape in which all States participated.  Among those efforts was the 2030 Agenda, which formed the basis of a new social contract between leaders and their constituents.   The ratification of the Paris Agreement by the United States and China was another important step, as well as the World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in May.

Focusing specifically on sustainable economic growth, he said that promoting sustainable development was the equivalent of enabling equal opportunities to all members of society.  A flourishing economy provided easier access to the job market for women, as well as younger and older members of society.  Furthermore, a dynamic economy that generated jobs was an important factor in the prevention of armed conflicts and terrorism.

His Government, he continued, had identified three key elements for countries to function properly in the realm of innovation and competition, including an education system which reflected the demands of the job market; a set of liberal labour laws that promoted greater flexibility in the economy; and an effective social partnership between employers and employees.  Those elements would only reach their full potential in a broader economic, scientific and cultural exchange with the rest of the world.  It was also crucial to address the challenges met by globalization in the digital space.  In open and democratic societies, it was paramount that people had access to and could utilize digital technologies.  “It is easy to predict which jobs the digital revolution will render obsolete”, he said, ”but it is more critical to identify which jobs would instead be created”.

PEDRO PABLO KUCZYNSKI GODARD, President of Peru, said that his country’s public policies incorporated the 2030 Agenda, including ensuring access to water, education and health care for all Peruvians.  Such policies would drastically reduce poverty.  His Government had also waged an all-out battle against corruption and drug trafficking, and was working to guarantee water and sewage access for 10 million people, almost a third of the country’s population.  He pledged a significant investment for the Amazonian and non-urban areas and to implement systems for rain water collection.

In that regard, integration and collaboration with the United Nations was a top priority, he emphasized, noting the success of a recent top-level meeting on water he had just participated in.  Peru was particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially with the melting of its glaciers in its mountains.  His Government had a clear vision of the new challengers and responsibilities that it must grapple with, and it welcomed partnerships with other neighbouring countries to tackle the many challenges of development.

Fundamental freedoms and the right to participate freely in political life, along with the checks and balances of power, were critical pillars of Government, he stated, adding that he also respected the principle of non-interference in international law.  There was concern for the critical political and economic concerns that currently faced all of Latin America.  In Venezuela, social and political instability must be tackled by an internal, political dialogue in the context of full respect of the national Constitution.  His country would stand by to assist “our Venezuelan friends” in any way to bring about a resolution.  In addition, he welcomed the recent peace agreement in Colombia.

The Government in Peru was also working towards modernization in line with the United Nations goals and efforts.  “We live in different parts of the world and are experiencing a loss of confidence,” he said, emphasizing that the unprecedented wave of refugees must be dealt with humanely.  “We are betting on a creation of South America and Latin America as a peaceful bridge,” he added.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, said that in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, humankind had reached the peak of its achievements in science, economic development and health.  However, that picture also had “a disgraceful and dark face”.  Syria, Iraq and many other countries were marred by war and terrorism that had killed hundreds of thousands of women and children, young and elderly.  Those fleeing that “death and tyranny”, he said, “face degrading acts in European cities”.  What was more even distressing was that many of those crises could easily have been resolved, he said.  Regarding the domestic situation in Turkey, he said the country had been exposed to a “malicious coup attempt” initiated by Fethullah Gülen.  Although the attempt had been successfully prevented, the initial intention had been to destabilize countries far beyond Turkey’s borders.

Turning to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, he said that his country was hosting nearly 3 million Syrians and had received only limited assistance of $512 million from the international community, including the United Nations.  “I observe that the international community has simply been listening to the number of refugees fleeing indifferently and unresponsively for a long time,” he said.  While it seemed as though the rest of the world would not assume its responsibilities, Turkey would.  His country was obliged to keep its doors open and continue to keep them open in the future.  He called upon the international community, and “all European friends” who perceived Syrian refugees as a threat, to “look for peace behind the barbed wire and high walls”.

Turkey attached great importance to the protection of Syria’s territory and the establishment of political unity, he continued, adding that his country’s support for the Syrian opposition was intended to help re-establish stability and peace in a region that was in despair.  However, Turkey’s calls for the establishment of safe zones along its border with Syria had gone unheard.  The country had therefore launched an operation to implement the safe zones, despite not having received the necessary support.  The safe zones should also be declared “no-fly zones”, he added.  Noting the failure of the ceasefire and the attack on a United Nations humanitarian convoy, he asked: “When will the United Nations and the Security Council stop tolerating the Syrian regime’s policy of ‘either surrender or die’, which condemns civilians to hunger?”

Regarding the situation in neighbouring Iraq, he stressed that the operation to recapture Mosul should be conducted with due consideration for the sensitivities of the region’s people in order to prevent the outbreak of a new humanitarian crisis that would result in more forced displacement.  Furthering his critique of the Security Council, he underlined that “the world is bigger than five”, and that the Council did not represent the diversity of its members.  He suggested an expansion of the membership, the only way to establish full fairness.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, said that Cyclone Winston, packing winds of more than 300 kilometres per hour, killed 44 people and left many thousands homeless.  It had, however, spared the tourism areas, which was Fiji’s main source of income.  “But, if this is what awaits us as global warming triggers weather events that are more frequent and more extreme, then God help us,” he stated.  Small island developing States faced a nightmare scenario in which a single event could wipe out economies and set them back for decades.

“Our message from the Pacific is this:  the 2°C cap is not enough,” he said, urging Member States to “go one better” and embrace the 1.5°C cap.  Ratifying the Paris Agreement would be “a first step” towards that goal.  Meanwhile, Fiji would be implementing the 2030 Agenda and had even adopted a plan that stipulates that “no development whatsoever in Fiji will be permitted unless it can be conclusively demonstrated to be sustainable”.

Apart from focusing on making quality products and developing infrastructure, Fiji was also focusing on equipping its young people with skills to sustain livelihoods and contribute to nation’s progress.  “We have set our sights higher than ever before:  to become a smarter, more dynamic country at the hub of the Pacific,” he said, adding that Fiji was currently experiencing a record period of economic growth that included seven straight years of expansion.  Whatever the challenges of Cyclone Winston, Fiji would remain confident to forge ahead with its many goals, including placing trade at the centre of its foreign policy efforts.

THERESA MAY, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, addressed the General Assembly for the first time, saying that her country would be a “confident, strong and dependable partner internationally”, true to shared universal values.  It would honour its commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of GDP to development assistance, remain a steadfast permanent member of the Security Council and make a leading contribution to United Nations peacekeeping.  The United Kingdom would complete domestic procedures to enable ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of 2016 and would strengthen partnerships for resolving conflicts around the world.

In order to tackle today’s big security and human rights issues, the United Nations must forge a bold new multilateralism, she said, adding that the Organization must modernize in order to meet the challenges of terrorism in the twenty-first century.  Noting that the 65 million forcibly displaced people around the world equalled her country’s entire population, she emphasized that countries must be able to exercise control over their borders.  Refugees should claim asylum in the first safe country they reached, and there should be better ways to distinguish between refugees and economic migrants.  A better overall approach to managing economic migration was also needed as well, she said, adding that by ensuring managed and controlled international migration, isolationism and xenophobia could be rejected.

Turning to modern slavery, she said her Government was creating a task force to coordinate efforts against such cruel exploitation.  It was also setting up a dedicated fund for high-risk countries whose citizens were trafficked to the United Kingdom.  However, in order to eradicate modern slavery, security relationships must be developed among countries.  Stressing that the United Kingdom had always been at the heart of international efforts to secure peace and prosperity, she said that the British people, in leaving the European Union, had not voted to turn inwards or to walk away from its world partners.  More global action was needed, “so this is not the time to turn away from our United Nations”, she said.  “It is time to turn towards it.”

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, said he had learned much from speaking with the Canadian people, including young people frustrated by the lack of employment, women still faced with discrimination and parents struggling to give their children opportunities.  While Canadians still believed in progress, that optimism was mixed with concern — an anxiety shared worldwide.  Far from exploiting those fears, leaders should work to allay them by enabling a safer, more peaceful world and creating economic growth that was broadly shared.  For Canada, that meant reengaging in global affairs through institutions such as the United Nations.  Among other things, Canada had helped to negotiate the Paris Agreement, reasserted its support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), strengthened its role in peacekeeping and increased its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In Canada, he continued, diversity was seen as a source of strength, not weakness.  While the country had had many failures — from the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and other Canadians during the Second World War to the shameful marginalization of indigenous peoples — what mattered was that it had learned from its mistakes and was committed to doing better.  To that end, Canada had recently opened its arms to thousands of Syrian refugees, welcoming them as neighbours, friends and new Canadians.  The Government had been working with the business community, civil society and citizens to help the newcomers adapt.  He also pointed out the contrast between middle-class Canadians who struggled with anxieties and middle-class Syrians, who often found themselves living in refugee camps.

Going forward, he said, Canada would continue to invest in education and infrastructure development, while working to build an economy that worked for everyone, not just for the richest 1 per cent.  It would refuse to give in to pressure to change its most profound values in order to win votes.  Indeed, strong, diverse, resilient countries such as Canada did not happen by accident, and they would not continue without effort.  “Every single day, we need to choose hope over fear” and unity over division, he stressed.  The citizens of the world were better than what the cynics and pessimists thought of them.  “People want their problems solved, not exploited,” he said, calling on the international community to work in concert to those ends.

BÉJI CAÏD ESSEBSI, President of Tunisia, said the general debate was taking place as his country marked the sixtieth anniversary of its independence.  Thus, it was an opportunity to reaffirm Tunisia’s commitment to promoting peace and security, human rights and development.  While the country had made significant progress since the revolution, it still needed support to improve its fragile economy.

As a young country, Tunisia attached great importance to the principles of freedom and the rule of law, he continued.  However, it faced various challenges at the national and regional levels.  To overcome them, the Government had adopted an ambitious initiative aimed at improving the economy and ensuring sustainable development.  In addition, Tunisia would soon host an international conference to attract investors.

Despite challenges, African communities could achieve development, he said, emphasizing the importance of preventing conflict and ensuring stability on the continent.  Tunisia had renewed its commitment to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which was a call for action to build a prosperous and united Africa on the basis of shared values and a common destiny.

Expressing concern about the increase in violence and conflict, he noted that the lack of stability in the Arab world was threating global peace and security.  In that regard, he called upon the international community to step up its efforts and contribute to a solution.  Among other things, he stressed that the Palestinian people must create an independent State and live in dignity.

ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, said that without responsibility, solidarity and justice, it would not be possible to achieve sustainable development.  Responsible development was essential to preserving continuity between generations.  When respect for tradition was absent and social engineering was applied instead, development would not take place.  Family was the basic form of the human community, he said, adding that his Government was implementing an ambitious programme with a view to improving the living conditions of children.

He went on to emphasize that implementation of the 2030 Agenda called for responsible policies and care for the environment.  “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all,” he said, expressing concern about climate change resulting from human activities.  States had demonstrated at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 that they were capable of making responsible decisions and adopting a new climate agreement.  However, responsibility for the environment required more than mere interventions to reverse the effects of climate change.

A development model based on solidarity could produce a system that would provide equal opportunities for all and eliminate social exclusion, he continued.  For their part, Governments must take the necessary measures to improve the quality of life of their citizens.  “We want solutions which actively involve all social groups in the development processes,” he emphasized, noting that they would eradicate poverty and exclusion.

At the international level, solidarity among countries was necessary to meet the needs of those affected by conflicts, economic crises or natural disasters, he said.  Expressing concern about the growing numbers of people affected by such problems, he said Poland had increased its humanitarian and development assistance to the Middle East.  On justice, he said that making the world a better place would not be possible without safeguarding international law, under which States were equally obliged to uphold their commitments.  Any actions violating State sovereignty must be categorically denounced by the international community, he stressed.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said that this year marked his country’s sixtieth anniversary of the women’s march against discriminatory and racist laws and the fortieth anniversary of the 6 June youth uprising against apartheid.  Both events had marked turning points in the struggle against minority rule, and in the past two decades, his country had made significant strides reversing the impact of underdevelopment and the legacies of colonialism and apartheid.  However, to develop faster, Africa had to address inadequate infrastructure, exposure to commodity price volatility and limited investment in such areas as science and technology, among other constraints.

His country, he continued, had implemented a national development plan aligned to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as the 2030 goals, at the core of which was the focus on poverty eradication and uplifting the standard of living.  Industrialization was critical to Africa’s prosperity and the continent should not be excluded from the fourth or new industrial revolution.

Such development plans all depended on resource availability and he expressed concern over illicit financial flows, which deprived developing countries of much-needed economic resources.  The joint African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s high-level panel estimated that illicit flows from the continent could total $50 billion annually.  His country remained committed to efforts to combat this problem, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan.  That initiative sought to curb efforts by multinationals to reduce taxable income or move profits away from high-tax jurisdictions to low-tax ones.

Inclusive growth, he said, was a peace, security and prosperity imperative, but would only remain a “distant dream” if powerful nations continued to put national interests ahead of global ones.  His country remained committed to the peace and security architecture of the African Union, which had resolved that the continent must “silence its guns” by 2020, and he urged Member States to support that goal.  Beyond Africa, the conflict in Syria bore the “hallmarks of the failure of a regime change agenda”, and questioned whether the United Nations and the Security Council were still fit for their purpose of acting in collective interest rather than that of a few States.  His country would continue calling for a transformation of the Organization and the Council in particular to ensure Africa’s representation.  “One billion people cannot continue to be denied a voice,” he said.

BORUT PAHOR, President of Slovenia, discussed the challenges and opportunities of the digital transformation sweeping the globe.  While expressing optimism that such progress would offer new solutions to problems, he also warned that it could deepen the age-old challenge of social inequality.  A key challenge, he said, was to ensure that the technological revolution would benefit all, not just the most privileged.  That issue would have to be addressed by the United Nations.

That challenge was not beyond the capacity of the United Nations to solve, he said, pointing to the international community’s successful efforts to reach the Paris Agreement.  Among the factors contributing to that success may have been that climate change was a major factor of global migration.  However, he warned, “as long as migration is not regulated, it will continue to cause the world’s paramount security problem”.

He went on to discuss the role of the United Nations in conflict resolution — a fundamental reason for the organization’s existence.  It was vital for the Organization to adapt to the new global balance of power.  “If the UN system is not successful in coping with international conflicts, it risks being side-lined,” he warned.

Noting that Slovenia had presented Danilo Turk, former Head of State and former Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, as a candidate for Secretary-General, he said it was time for the Organization’s head to come from the Eastern European Group.  As a member of the Human Rights Council and as current chair of the Human Security Network, among others, Slovenia would continue to promote United Nations principles.  His country would be particularly active within the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during this General Assembly session.  Slovenia would continue its efforts to have 20 May proclaimed “World Bee Day”, based on its belief that strengthening common care for pollinators was crucial for food security, biodiversity and sustainable development.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, said that despite the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Plan, developing countries were not afforded a sufficient opportunity to achieve sustainable development.  The role of the State must be supported in order to guarantee a balance between the different dimensions of sustainable development.  He affirmed Africa’s commitment to confronting the challenge of climate change and its aspiration towards implementing technology transfer and sustainable financing.  Egypt had established the track for the African Renewable Energy Initiative and presented it in the context of its presidency of the committee of African leaders concerned with climate change.

Egypt’s new constitution enshrined rights and freedoms based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, consolidated protection for vulnerable groups and paved the way for women to occupy an unprecedented number of the seats in the House of Representatives, he said.  Highlighting the deterioration in regional security, he said that Egypt had managed to preserve its stability in the midst of a highly unstable region, thanks to the solidity of its institutions and its people’s awareness of their great cultural heritage.  Egypt was “an anchor of stability in the Middle East”.  He noted several regional conflicts.  The continued violence in Syria was no longer acceptable and a halt to hostilities was a necessary step that would lead to a political settlement. 

On the Arab-Israeli conflict, the hand of peace remained extended through the Arab Peace Initiative, he said, and appealed to the Israeli people to look for a solution.  “We have an opportunity to move towards peace,” he said.  The Egyptian experience could be repeated by establishing a Palestinian State side by side with the Israeli State.  In Libya, the implementation of the Sukhirat agreement faced continued difficulties, which had direct implications for Egyptian security.  He called for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on the Libyan army.  Egypt supported the efforts of United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to resolve the crisis in Yemen.  “I must reiterate Egypt’s rejection of any foreign interference in Arab affairs,” he said.

Turning to issues of the African continent, Egypt favoured enhanced cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations and supported efforts to operationalize the African Standby Force, he said.  He stressed the importance of supporting the Somali Government and the need for resolution of the political crises in Burundi and South Sudan.  Terrorism was an urgent threat to international peace and security and it was necessary to address the roots of the phenomenon and decisively confront terrorist groups.  Unconventional threats to international peace and security had left the world at a crossroads, and it was essential to instil the principles of tolerance and coexistence in the minds of people.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, noted that although his country had been adversely affected by the global economic downturn, it had embarked on reforms aimed at diversifying its economy and creating an environment conducive to foreign direct investment.  He said that fighting corruption remained important to his Administration and the campaign had yielded positive results, including the recovery of stolen assets.  The recovered funds were being channelled to the development of critical infrastructure and the implementation of social inclusion programmes.  Nigeria supported the development of an international legal framework to enforce anti-corruption measures and strengthen existing international institutions to deal with corrupt practices, he said, calling upon all Member States to sign up to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

He said his country was also committed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a coalition promoting accountability in managing revenues from oil, gas and solid minerals, because transparent governance was imperative for resource-rich developing countries such as Nigeria.  Turning to climate change, he emphasized the importance of the Paris Agreement and said his country would continue its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster a low-carbon economy and build a climate-resilient society.  Climate change had resulted in the drying up of Lake Chad, which threatened the livelihoods of an estimated 30 million people across the region.  Replenishing the lake would cost $14 billion under a five-year plan that deserved global attention, he said.

Regarding the rising threat of violent extremism, he noted that the United States had just marked the fifteenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks.  While urging justice for the families of the victims, he also urged the international community to avoid reacting to such actions by taking unilateral measures that would have a negative or disruptive effect on collective efforts to fight terrorism.  Nigeria had made progress in its battle to defeat Boko Haram, having limited its operations to the sporadic use of improvised explosive devices against “soft targets”.  He commended the participation of neighbouring countries in a multinational joint task force, the efforts of which had restored normality to areas previously occupied by Boko Haram.

Thanking international partners, he went on to say that the experience was evidence that, with international collaboration, terrorism could be defeated.  Expressing particular concern about the plight of persons internally displaced by Boko Haram terrorism, he said Nigeria had taken concrete steps to ensure that their humanitarian needs were met and their return voluntary.  Thanking all agencies and partners deployed in north-eastern Nigeria, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to an effective global response in addressing the root causes of worldwide refugee flows.  Finally, he called for reform of the United Nations Security Council, with representation from Africa among the permanent membership.  Nigeria stood ready to serve Africa and the world in that regard.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, welcomed the push for the Sustainable Development Goals during the current General Assembly session as a way to eradicate abject poverty worldwide.  The logic of affluence at the expense of others had now expired.  He noted that a number of countries had risen from  poverty, including China and India.  The world was a better place when there was affluence that spread across all countries.  The Sustainable Development Goals captured that concept in an appropriate, well-balanced manner.

Prescriptive measures must be avoided, he stressed.  The inclusion of energy issues in the Sustainable Development Goals was a welcome departure from past development agendas.  Issues that pertained to misguided ideology, repression of the private sector, underdevelopment of infrastructure and social services were not as well represented in the new development goals, and they had been identified as bottlenecks.

Ideology had to be singled out and must be addressed to prevent discrimination based on religion, gender and political orientation, he said.  Economic growth served as an effective stimulus that occurred without ideology.  Being “my brother’s keeper” was the true antidote to do away with discrimination of any kind.  The development of markets in Africa was moving the continent in the right direction.  Local production, trade and consumption were indicators of successful economic development which benefited everyone.  Bottlenecks had to be recognized and addressed so that the Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved and celebrated. 

MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, said it was important to adopt a “culture of prevention” in the maintenance of peace and security by promoting sustainable development and respect for human rights.  Such a culture should focus first and foremost on safeguarding human dignity.  Strengthening prevention actions in Africa was essential to avoid crises, he said, pledging his country’s continued support for deploying military contingents for peacekeeping operations.  Portugal would promote maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and support Guinea-Bissau in constructive political dialogue, he said.

Turning to the other side of the Atlantic, he welcomed the peace agreement reached in Colombia, saying it would pave the way for national reconciliation, enabling all Colombians to live together in peace and respect for the rule of law.  He expressed hope for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying there was still a way to build peace and a sustainable settlement of the conflict.  There could still be a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel, whose legitimate security aspirations must be guaranteed.  He expressed concern over the recent escalation of threats to security and stability in the Korean Peninsula, which he condemned, calling for the resumption of collaboration between neighbours and the international community.

Terrorism was threatening humanity everywhere and could not be tolerated, he said, stressing that the international community had a lawful right and a moral duty to end it.  The exodus of refugees and migrants must be dealt with at the root of the problem by Governments eradicating terror and fear.  Another issue underlying the humanitarian crisis was the increasing wave of migration linked to the lack of opportunities in origin countries.  He stressed the importance of promoting higher education for refugees in emergency situations so that “no generations are lost”.  Portugal had already accepted more than 100 Syrian university students, he said.

On the question of human rights, he said there was still much to be done in the area of gender equality.  Portugal would maintain its commitment to global mobilization efforts for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of the oceans.  The issue of protecting oceans and seas was a top priority for Portugal, which would remain committed to supporting the efforts of small island developing States to overcome the challenges facing them.

ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, President of Mexico, affirmed that his country had taken on implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a “commitment of the State”.  Structures were being set up at the national and regional levels to coordinate the activities of all actors, alongside mechanisms for monitoring progress.  Mexico was also working actively on the cross-cutting issues of migration and women’s empowerment.

Driven by a sense of urgency, Mexico had also ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, aiming “to bring economic development into harmony with social inclusion and environmental protection”.  A law on energy transition required 25 per cent of electricity to be generated from clean sources, which would bring the total to 60 per cent in 2040.  Mexico would soon host the States parties to the Convention on Biodiversity and the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, he said.

The country confirmed its pacifist identity by promoting human rights, the pre-eminence of institutions and the rule of law in the region, he said.  In that vein, he applauded the Colombian peace agreement and reiterated calls to lift the blockade on Cuba.  Mexico would continue to be a proponent of disarmament and to work for a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons, he said.  Noting a “clear deterioration” in public support for democracy in Latin America due to dissatisfaction among the region’s people, he described the trend as a grave threat to peace and stability.  “Faced with this challenge, the world cannot fall into the trap of demagoguery or authoritarianism,” he emphasized.  “The only viable way ahead, the only true response to a demanding citizenry, is democracy itself.”

There was a need for greater transparency and better accountability on the part of Governments, he continued.  Achievements must be publicized, missteps acknowledged and the road ahead mapped out, with public participation.  For that purpose, public debate must be encouraged through the use of technologies that were increasingly available to the entire population.  Governments must foster societies that recognized pluralism, were ever more inclusive and participatory and in which all citizens enjoyed the benefits of development, he said, reaffirming Mexico’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through its strong commitment to democratic principles.

DON FELIPE VI, King of Spain, said that his country believed in the principles of the Charter, which represented hope for refugees, victims of terrorism and other vulnerable people.  It was also the source behind the 2030 Agenda, which inspired Spain’s domestic and foreign actions.  He called for economic models that would provide opportunities for all those who had suffered from the crisis in recent years.  Turning to climate change, he emphasized the importance of the Paris Agreement, the application of which was a priority for all.  The next Conference of Parties in Morocco would be an opportunity to further strengthen commitment to the Agreement.

He went on to note that 2016 represented the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, who had communicated the importance of living alongside others.  Developed democracies such as Spain often experienced complicated periods in history, such as economic problems, but overcame them through a firm belief that disputes could be resolved with respect for rules.  Such values of dialogue, commitment, duty and solidarity could turn nations into beacons of freedom throughout the world.  The 2015-16 biennium had demonstrated that his country shouldered its responsibility, met its commitments and took part in solutions to global problems.  It was approaching the final stage of its work in the Security Council with transparency, having worked on effective solutions to existing and potential conflicts.  It had taken initiatives in humanitarian affairs and promoted the role of women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, while fighting abuses and violations against their freedom and dignity.  Spain would further work on the adoption of a resolution to ensure that non-State terrorists could not access weapons, especially those of mass destruction.

On the conflict in Syria, he said that the whole region had been destabilized, and neighbouring countries’ generosity in welcoming refugees should be recognized.  Iraq was suffering from the terrorism by Da’esh.  Spain had participated in assistance provided by the international coalition and would support Iraq in building a democratic country involving people from all ethnic and religious identities.  He continued to the matter of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), urging parties to resume dialogue in order to put an end to the dispute.  Spain accorded particular attention to Africa and was concerned about conflicts on the continent:  in Mali, Somalia and the Central African Republic, where Spain had a special interest.  He acknowledged the work of the African Union in maintaining peace.

The European Union was at a major crossroads, he said.  The European project was based on a common trust in the ability of its people to overcome past mistakes.  No one would gain if it were to become paralysed or fail, he added.  Spain was proud of belonging to the European Union, having both gained from it and made contributions.  It was ready to continue expanding the body in all areas.

EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU, President of Zambia, said that the international community had come together at an important time as Member States started the implementation of the new development agenda.  He expressed his appreciation for the obvious synergies between the 2030 Agenda adopted by the United Nations and “Agenda 2063:  The Africa We Want”.  The new development Goals represented a clear demonstration of the commitment of the international community to achieve a better world for all.

His Government attached great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals, he continued, stressing that in that context the eradication of poverty was of utmost importance to achieving meaningful development for all.  Least developed countries deserved more attention because of their vulnerability.  Measures to bring about positive economic transformation should include the development of value-chain clusters, diversification in agriculture, promotion of forestry and the establishment of multi-facility economic zones and industrial parks.

He presented the measures his Government had taken to achieve economic development and to advance small- and medium-size enterprises in particular.  Those measures were supported by the seventh five-year National Development Plan.  Noting that Zambia was currently addressing various challenges, including unemployment, appropriate infrastructure, climate change, access to health services and gender equality, he also highlighted the importance of inclusivity and democracy.

It was critical that the international community justly recognize the role of African countries, he stressed, calling for reform of the United Nations, including adequate permanent representation of his continent on the Security Council for effective global governance and the maintenance of peace and security.

JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, said that his country was one of dialogue; a multi-ethnic, multicultural and peace-loving nation.  He highlighted the completion on 26 June 2016 of the expansion of the Panama Canal, which would now have a capacity for dramatically more cargo than before, benefiting global trade.  Panama, he said, was a “bridge across the world”.

The Government’s strategic plan 2014-2019 was in sync with the 2030 Agenda, he continued.  His nation’s plan featured a public investment plan of $19 billion to provide every Panamanian with access to safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, health care, security and transportation.  In education, by the means of the private sector, the Government had allocated funds needed to develop an educational model with 100 per cent secondary school coverage together with bilingual education and the building of new and modern technical higher education.  The Government was building 10,000 new classrooms and renovating more than 3,000 public schools nationwide.  With support of $3 billion in foreign investment in energy, Panama was diversifying its energy sources with more clean energy.  It was also expanding its transportation systems.

Panama continued to cooperate with the international community to ensure that financial systems were used for purposes that represented the common good, he said.  The international community had come together on climate change and Panama had recently ratified the Paris Agreement.  The international community now had to find solutions for irregular migration flows while taking steps to defeat organized crime, terrorism, inequality and poverty.  Panama spoke out against the situation in Syria and believed discussions had to continue in the Security Council to bring peace to that country.

Highlighting the pressing importance of irregular migration flows, he spoke of the 19 September United Nations high-level event on migration.  “All migration policies and measures to be adopted will have to be based on the protection of the principle human right, which is the right to life,” he said.  Panama reaffirmed its commitment to providing humanitarian treatment to migrants, and appealed to all countries in the hemisphere to do the same.  In Panama’s region that particularly applied to Haitian migrants, and he also expressed hope that improved relations between Cuba and the United States would lead to solutions to migrant flows, as well as to other areas.

The issue of production and trafficking of drugs threatened the region, he said.  Panama continued to strengthen its capabilities to protect its national territory, and “27 months of this activity has led to a decrease of more than 40 per cent of this delinquency,” he said.  Panama was also recently designated as the host for the next World Day of Youth in 2019, an event which would bring together more than half a million young people.  “This could be a great opportunity to sow a seed of peace for youth in Central America,” he said.

LUIS GUILLERMO SOLÍS RIVERA, President of Costa Rica, said little progress had been made to resolve the worst refugee and migrant crisis since the Second World War.  “We are not fulfilling our commitment to leave no one behind,” he said, adding that little attention had been paid to the tragedy of thousands of migrants travelling across Latin America from south to north.  Floods, droughts and rising sea levels would force more people to be displaced or to migrate.  Escalating tensions, conflict and the use of force only benefited those few who profited from suffering and death.  It was in the national interest of all States to strengthen the international system, he said, adding that the United Nations was at the centre of that effort.

He shared the conclusions of the draft report of the High-Level Panel on the Economic Empowerment of Women, which he co-chaired at the invitation of the Secretary-General.  Its recommendations included breaking down stereotypes and challenging rules that limited women’s access to work or which devalued their labour.  It also called for reforming discriminatory laws and regulations, and ensuring decent working conditions for domestic workers.  Women’s voices should be heard through greater participation in leadership in business and political decision-making, he said, adding that such empowerment was a necessary step towards equality in other aspects of the relationship between men and women.

Noting the work of Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica during her term as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he said the Paris Agreement must enter into force immediately.  Costa Rica would soon ratify that document, and it aspired to have a carbon neutral economy by 2021 as well as a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 as compared with 2012.  “Our planet needs our care and this care must be all-encompassing,” he said, adding that Costa Rica was committed to processes within the United Nations framework to protect oceans and marine resources.

His Government condemned all forms of terrorism, he said, adding that the fight against terrorism must be carried out in strict observance of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.  In that context, it was time for countries that had not yet done so to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty without delay.  Fewer weapons would be diverted to extremist groups if more States implemented the provisions of that instrument.  He welcomed efforts towards full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, as well as the signing of peace agreements in Colombia, and expressed concern over missile launches and nuclear exercises conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The General Assembly had the power to define the term of office of the next Secretary-General, which should be for a single period of seven years.  The Security Council’s endorsement of more than one candidate would increase the inclusiveness, transparency and legitimacy of the appointment process.  He also said the next Secretary-General should be female, noting that six of the candidates — including one from Costa Rica — were “extraordinary women”.

ELBEGDORJ TSAKHIA, President of Mongolia, making his seventh and last address to the General Assembly, emphasized the need to achieve sustainable development.  Mongolia had incorporated the 2030 Agenda into its national development strategy and ratified the Paris Agreement.  His country was among the world’s smallest carbon emitters, but it suffered disproportionately from climate change, with desertification, deforestation and loss of biodiversity dealing a blow to its traditional nomadic culture.  Promised international cooperation and support were lacking, he said, urging multilateral institutions to take the lead with regard to green funds and carbon credits.

Development and accountability were all about democracy, which should never be taken for granted, he continued.  It should be the common goal of leaders to provide an environment in which democratic institutions could thrive.  Member States also had the primary responsibility to uphold human rights.  In that regard, Mongolia had embarked on a new phase of legal reform and abolished the death penalty.  “I believe that, one day, our loving human family will become free of the death penalty,” he said.  He went on to note his country’s membership in the Human Rights Council, saying that body must act effectively to create a global culture based on respect for human rights and dignity for all.

He recalled that Mongolia had successfully hosted the eleventh Asia-European (ASEM) summit in July, where leaders from the two regions reaffirmed their determination for joint action to consolidate peace, security and stability.  ASEM multilateralism would advance global well-being and prosperity.  At the same time, ASEM leaders agreed on the key role that the United Nations should play in maintaining international peace and security, he said, adding that it was a delight for him to report the successful service of Mongolia’s sons and daughters in United Nations peacekeeping missions, including in South Sudan where people needed help and support.

North-East Asia was home to many unresolved issues, with the Korean Peninsula being the last cold war stronghold, he said.  It was Mongolia’s firm position that the Peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons.  To resolve tension and conflict, it was crucial to end mistrust between concerned nations and for direct talks to take place more often.  The Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security was called upon to promote trust, facilitate the exchange of ideas and find solutions to common concerns.  The task was not easy, but every Member State should strive for the right solution.

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that never had the world been as violent and dangerous as it was today.  Innocent people were being killed for no reason, leaving whole families in grief.  No cause, certainly no religious cause, could justify violence.  Attacks on priests and imams were the height of cowardice.  Senegal was a land of diversity where a Muslim majority lived in harmony with Christians and others.  Neither Islam nor Muslims could be blamed for the senseless actions of a lawless and faithless minority.  It was high time to counter senseless Islamophobia which compounded suffering, exasperated the clash of civilizations and played into the hands of extremists of all stripes.

Priority must be given to tackling all threats to international peace and security, including finding a fair solution to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.  Respect and humanity must be extended to migrants, refugees and displaced persons, regardless of their places of origin.  That Africa was the only continent with no permanent seat on the Security Council was an historic injustice, even though its countries represented almost one-third of all Member States and that issues concerning Africa made up the bulk of the body’s work.  Senegal would pursue its Council mandate in line with the African position expressed in the Ezulwini Consensus while remaining open to dialogue with others.

Noting the 2015 adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, he said energy remained a vital challenge for African countries.  Without competitively priced energy, there could be no industrialization and development.  Africa could not enlighten other continents with its resources while remaining itself in the dark.  It could not remain a reservoir of raw materials transformed elsewhere to the detriment of its economy, and it could not remain the continent most affected by climate change even if its energy-related CO2 emissions were the lowest of any region.

Pointing to the launch by the African Union in July of a fund to support the electrification of Africa, he called for old clichés about African development to be put aside.  It should no longer be seen as a land of humanitarian emergencies and a receptacle for development aid, but as a continent of growth and progress.  Senegal would realize its ambitions not through assistance, but through large-scale investment in sectors that produced growth and development.  He called on all public and private partners not to overestimate the risk of investing in Africa, saying the region had made significant progress with regard to good governance and improving the business climate.  The risk was no higher than elsewhere and, given the current state of the global economy, it offered opportunity for recovery and shared growth.

JOHN KEY, Prime Minister of New Zealand, outlined a number of current global challenges, noting that borders were closing to people and products, investment and ideas.  Many States were turning inward and the politics of fear and extremism were gaining ground.  No country could face such challenges alone, he said, emphasizing the need to unite in common respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.  As a proudly independent nation, New Zealand was committed to being a good global citizen and playing its part.  There were many areas in which the United Nations could be more efficient, representative and responsive and show greater leadership, he said, adding that it was the collective responsibility of Member States to provide the political commitment necessary to make the Organization what they wanted it to be.

In that regard, he continued, New Zealand was using its term on the Security Council to raise tough issues.  A weak Council was not an option for most Member States, he said, pointing out a number of shortcomings, including the Council’s failure to live up to its responsibilities in Syria.  “No matter how difficult and sensitive the issues, the Council cannot watch the situation go from bad to worse,” he said, adding that his delegation would convene a leadership-level meeting tomorrow on the matter.  Hopefully, it would provide an opportunity for the Council to throw its weight behind the ceasefire agreement negotiated by the United States and the Russian Federation.  On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests, he said that regime’s provocative actions showed blatant disregard for Council resolutions and posed a grave threat to international law.  In that regard, New Zealand welcomed recent steps by the United States and China to begin negotiating a new resolution that would send a clear signal that such actions were unacceptable.

Stressing that the Council must move beyond vested political interests and work on compromise solutions, he called for immediate reform of the organ to better reflect today’s needs and realities, improve its responses to political conflicts before they spiralled out of control, and work more closely with regional organizations.  Other parts of the United Nations system had made significant steps forward on development, climate, financing, humanitarian efforts and disaster risk reduction.  However, the world needed a fair, rules-based trading system, more open trade and the removal of trade barriers.  The World Trade Organization should do more in that regard.  “Countries that close their borders can’t do business,” he said, warning that protectionism would have a chilling effect on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  On the next Secretary-General, he said New Zealand had nominated former Prime Minister Helen Clark to take up the position, and whoever held it must have the courage, experience and skills necessary to keep the United Nations relevant and responsive.

MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, echoed the earlier statement of the United States President, highlighting how the world had become divided between one of fear and another of courage, between anger and opportunity.  Terrorism menaced cities and everyday life, threatening not just conventional targets but a theatre, a museum, a stadium, a restaurant.  Pandemics and environmental risks were also real.  All of that made the future look like a moment of concern rather than hope, and the problems were not theoretical but real, in the faces of the victims and survivors.  Those challenges no longer had borders.

Italy, he continued, contributed its voice through the actions of its military and coast guard, who saved thousands and thousands of lives in the Mediterranean every day.  It contributed its voice through its leadership in culture and scientific research.  But it also gave through its history and values, including those of The Aeneid, in which Aeneas travelled not to return to his home but to a new land to create a new civilization.  “Without compassion for others, we are not worthy of being called a community,” said the Prime Minister.  The Mediterranean was the sea which thousands of people were crossing to escape war, poverty and hunger.  It was essential that Europe and the international community unite to deal with the issues of that part of the world.

The threat of terrorism had come not just from war zones but also from the abandoned and forgotten outskirts of cities; investing in human capital was essential to defeating this terrorism, he said.  Italy had, in response, approved a law matching every euro for security and policing with one euro for culture and education.

Italy would tackle the challenges of 2017 by participating in the Security Council in a year that would also see a new Secretary-General, he said.  Italy would also host on 25 March 2017 the countries of the European Union at the sixtieth anniversary of the signature of the treaty.  And Italy would also host the Group of 7 in Sicily, a place noted for its culture and values and history.  Italy planned to use the Group of 7 meeting to reflect on cultural values and to highlight the challenges of food — both food insecurity and health awareness.  Many of the issues facing the Security Council, Europe and the Group of 7 were from the same matrix.  It was essential to create a world based on hope, not resentment, hatred and fear.

For information media. Not an official record.