Defeating Terrorism, Human Trafficking Crucial for Addressing Huge Migratory Flows into Europe, Speakers from Continent Stress as General Debate Continues

GA/11829
23 September 2016
Seventy-first Session, 17th, 18th & 19th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Defeating Terrorism, Human Trafficking Crucial for Addressing Huge Migratory Flows into Europe, Speakers from Continent Stress as General Debate Continues

Foreign Minister of Hungary Says National Security Comes First; Other Speakers Urge Engagement over Isolationism

With 65 million people displaced and on the move, several European countries discussed myriad ways to deal with the unprecedented phenomenon by defeating terrorism, bringing human traffickers to justice, while others called on Member States to make the better choice between engagement and isolation as the General Assembly continued its annual debate today.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said it was important to address the root cause of what was uprooting so many from their homes.  As long as terrorism existed so would the migration pressure on Europe, and while the right to a safe life was a fundamental human right, choosing a State where one wanted to live was not.  Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees and that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed.  Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security.

“Hungary puts security of the Hungarian people in first place and we will not allow violations of our borders,” he said.  Europe would not be able to take on such an immense challenge.  “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he continued, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to deal with millions of people they had taken in.  It was perhaps vital to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the circumstances for their people to leave their homes. 

Several delegations echoed one another stressing the need to go after traffickers who had profited handsomely from smuggling people, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Pavel Filip, urging the international community to “resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons”.  He also made the link between people moving to seek a better life elsewhere and development.  As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution to the forces driving people to uproot their lives, he said.  

Bujar Nishani, President of Albania, said his country had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows as migrants and refugees had made their way to Europe.  “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he added, emphasizing the need for regional coordination to address the phenomenon.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people.  Everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation.  Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice.  Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities.  Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees. 

Echoing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence” were being challenged.  She emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, autocracy and fear-mongering and reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the millions of refugees fleeing harm.

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, echoed several speakers, saying indeed it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants.  While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature.  Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist.  Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism.  The principles of solidarity and burden-sharing were of vital importance. 

“We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said.  “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.” 

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government and senior officials of Guinea, Niger, Central African Republic, Comoros, Yemen, Haiti, Samoa, Belgium, Mauritius, Russian Federation, Armenia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Morocco, Mali, Botswana, Indonesia, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Jamaica, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Andorra, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Azerbaijan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Brazil, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 24 September, to continue its general debate.

Statements

BUJAR NISHANI, President of Albania, expressed concern about global challenges, saying his country would address them in close cooperation with other actors.  Its actions would include increasing humanitarian aid, ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change and implementing all commitments in the security realm.  Describing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an international platform for strengthening the connection between development and security, he said it would guide national, regional and international actions over the next 15 years.  Albania had been a pilot country in designing the global indicators for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, and in that regard, the Agenda had become an integral part of its national programmes, sectoral strategies and national development strategy, he said.

Since the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement provided opportunities for the present and future generations, he continued, their implementation was of key importance in tackling climate change, achieving sustainable development and ensuring peace.  On climate change, he said that he had deposited Albania’s instruments of ratification two days ago.  Regarding migration, Albania had joined the international community’s efforts to deal with refugee flows in a consistent and coordinated manner.  “Today, the realities on the ground are leading and forcing us to change our approach at the regional level and beyond,” he said.  Albania had organized a high-level conference on migration.

Another fundamental challenge to world peace was international terrorism and violent extremism, he said.  Terrorist attacks, especially those with religious links, had intensified, hitting major cities in France, Belgium, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon.  Acknowledging the indispensable role played by the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s Action Plan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism.  Albania had been among the first countries to join the global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and had contributed five packages of military equipment for the Peshmerga forces fighting in Iraq, he said, adding that Albania was listed and ranked among the proactive countries committed to full implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With the policies pursued over the past two decades, Albania had increasingly contributed to security efforts in the international arena, he said.  It continued its proactive membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and supported implementation of the European Union’s common security and defence.  At the same time, Albania continued to support United Nations peacekeeping operations, while strengthening partnership with other countries.  Turning to regional efforts, he emphasized that Albania’s foreign policy was maximally oriented towards strengthening good-neighbourly relations, citing its support for Kosovo’s participation in all multilateral regional and international activities.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that Africa — the continent with the world’s youngest population and some of its most vulnerable countries — required particular attention in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.  To reduce that vulnerability and build up the continent’s resistance, Africa needed deep structural transformations and a vibrant private sector.  Public policies must integrate the needs of the most vulnerable, youth and women in particular, in order to enable them to realize their full potential, he said.  Partnerships and financing were equally needed to accelerate growth.

Sustainable access to energy was another challenge to Africa, he continued, pointing out that 700 million Africans lacked access to electricity.  A robust plan for the continent’s electrification was needed within the framework of the Paris Agreement.  With that in mind, he called upon the international community, global financial institutions in particular, to work with the continent to help build a strong Africa.

At the same time, he said, Guinea was proud of its contribution to The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), notably its deployment of a battalion of 850 men to Kidal.  Guinea had paid a heavy price with the loss of nine soldiers in less than one year, he said, emphasizing that much must be done to ensure Mali’s sovereignty and improve its capability to prevent future attacks, he said.

Turning to the Ebola outbreak, he cautioned that, while the victory in ending the outbreak was something for all to celebrate, the road ahead was long.  The disease had undermined all economic activities in Guinea and made women and young people especially vulnerable.  He expressed gratitude to all partners that had allowed Guinea, as well as Liberia and Sierra Leone, to re-engage quickly on the road to sustainable development.

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, recalled that the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated the possibility of achieving remarkable progress.  The objective of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty had been reached by 2010.  Equally, the number of children not attending school, as well as child and maternal mortality had been reduced by half.  However, those positive developments obscured enormous disparities as they primarily reflected improving conditions in Asia and Latin America.  African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan region, had attained little progress, he said.

The capability of States to implement sustainable development programmes would depend on their ability to change national economic and political conditions, he said.  Noting that the current world situation did not inspire optimism, he said there was need for a new kind of economic governance that would strike a balance between speculative financial capital and industrial capital.  Developing countries, especially the least developed ones, would receive more capital which they could invest in sustained economic growth, which in turn would contribute to global economic growth, he said.

Turning to governance of the United Nations, embodied by the Security Council, he emphasized the need to reform it in order to “rectify the anachronism which characterizes the Organization”.  There was need for a better and more representative body, where States, especially those adjacent to countries ravaged by conflict and violence, could express their views.  He called for a review of the mandates of certain peacekeeping missions, with a view to making them more “offensive”, saying that citizens in regions affected by conflict thought it inconceivable that peacekeeping missions were unable to protect them.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, said his country had returned fully to stability and constitutional legality.  In that regard, he expressed gratitude to the United Nations for the deployment of international forces to restore security.  “We invested trust in people,” he said, expressing his intention to address vast challenges facing the Central African Republic and to meet the citizens’ expectations.

“My people are determined to put an end to the cycle of violence,” he continued, emphasizing that, since he had taken office, various reforms had been introduced in areas ranging from fighting corruption to economic development.  However, the situation remained fragile, he said, while pledging that he would rebuild the country and improve living conditions.

In the area of security, the Government had introduced a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme as part of the peace process, he said.  In order to restore State authority, the Government had put security forces in place to ensure control of the national borders.  Other efforts included eliminating crime and money-laundering, as well as preventing terrorism and human trafficking.  Citing the progress made, he declared:  “The arms embargo is no longer justified.”

He went on to say that the Government had ensured peace and national reconciliation.  “I have every confidence that my country has resumed its place as a free and democratic State,” he added.  However, further progress would require support from the international community.  The time had come to reduce inequality between the poor and rich, he emphasized.  The Government had also launched a framework for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  “We want to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said that his country had turned a page in achieving political stability, having undergone a peaceful change of power through free, transparent and democratic elections observed by the international community.  In that context, he thanked the United Nations for having stood by his nation and expressed hope that future international assistance would help consolidate that progress.

He said that the ambitious sustainable development programme Comoros had adopted to protect the planet and improve the lives of its people had also allowed him to be optimistic about the future.  Nevertheless, sustainable development was only possible when people could live at home and were not forcibly displaced.  To that end, the plight of refugees putting their lives at risk called for urgent action, he said.

Comoros had itself been dealing with the issue of internally displaced persons moving within and among its four islands, including Mayotte, which remained under French administration, he said.  The displacement had left hundreds dead in the inlets between Mayotte and the other islands.  Despite many resolutions, the indifference of the international community had left the issue unresolved.  Nevertheless, it was to be hoped that a viable solution would be found between Comoros and France, and that dialogue would lead to a consensus-based outcome allowing all to live in peace and harmony.

Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said it had no frontiers and did not belong to any religion or civilization.  Comoros was available to work with the international community in fighting the scourge.  Conveying the trust of his people in the United Nations, he said the Organization acted with independence and sovereignty and had for decades helped resolve conflicts around the world.  At the same time, Comoros believed that poorer nations, especially those in Africa, should have a seat on the Security Council.

ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said his country continued to face challenges, yet the leadership was working in full force.  “Militias have no chance in succeeding,” he said, adding that the Government would soon put an end to the ongoing war and tragedies.  Recalling the steps taken in the Gulf Cooperation Council on the path to political transfer, he said that comprehensive dialogue had been translated into a new civilian Constitution.

Despite all efforts, the Houthi militias continued to wage war and kill innocent people, expel civilians, blow up homes and control national assets, he continued.  “We are not advocates of revenge,” he said, adding that the Government had chosen the path of peace in order to end the suffering of the Yemeni people.  In that regard, national dialogue was necessary to build a federal State based on equal rights.  Stressing the need to rid Yemen of militias and sectarian gangs, he said they must withdraw and endorse the new Constitution.

He went on to underline that extremism and sectarianism sponsored by Iran would create further terrorism and brutality.  The Houthi coup d’état had created similar outcomes, including a security vacuum, economic collapse and extreme poverty.  The militias had recruited children, besieged cities and waged a meaningless war against the Yemeni people, whose suffering had reached unbelievable levels with regard to health, education and other services.

After the coup d’état, the leadership had continued its efforts to reduce the consequences of the chaotic war that had been launched against the people of Yemen, he said, adding that, as his patience had run out, he had ordered the relocation of the Central Bank to the southern city of Aden.  That would escalate pressure on the Houthi rebels controlling the capital, he said, while acknowledging that it would also cause greater hardship for millions of Yemenis living under their rule.  “We might fail to pay the salaries of people working in public service,” he said, calling for support from the free world and its financial institutions.  Acknowledging the catastrophic situation in Yemen, he renewed his call on all donor countries to fulfil their pledges and end the suffering of the Yemeni people.  The country would emerge from the ruins with international support, and the Government would not stop until the militias were defeated, he vowed.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that the multitude of threats facing the international community included terrorism, violence and environmental devastation.  In a time of such volatility, the United Nations must ensure stability and peace, and contain international terrorism.  Although important progress had been made in reaching a peace agreement in Colombia and in easing relations between the United States and Cuba, those recent developments had been overshadowed by many other threats to peace and stability, he said.

Under the existing conditions, many Haitians chose to leave their country to seek improved livelihoods elsewhere, he said.  By assuming deliberate ownership of the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Haiti had committed itself to improving living conditions for all its citizens.  The country needed peace, as well as measures to strengthen the rule of law, the economy and the infrastructure, so that it could provide Haitians with better living conditions.

Haiti’s upcoming election would strengthen stability, as well as help the country to move out of underdevelopment, he said.  A credible and honest electoral process would restore constitutional order, as well as citizens’ trust in their elected leaders and political institutions.  The election would “truly break with the cycle of instability and uncertainty”, he said, adding that he would not spare any efforts to ensure the election was free and fair.

He said that, while the work of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been slow in the eyes of some observers, during its 12 year tenure, the Mission had helped to strengthen security, promote human rights and reinforce the capacities of national institutions.  Furthermore, Haiti noted with high interest the Security-General’s remarks in a recent report that highlighted multiple cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by “Blue Helmet” officers, as well as the introduction of cholera by United Nations personnel in Haiti.  “The United Nations’ recognition of its responsibility in the latter case opened the way for the right discussions to take place in order to eliminate cholera in Haiti for good,” he said.  He appealed to the Secretary-General to implement a substantial programme that would reinforce the fight against cholera and help victims of the disease.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that, during his country’s 2015 European Union presidency, he had learned the vital importance of solidarity and burden-sharing, a credible migration policy, border control and respect for the Dublin Rules.  Indeed, it was important to distinguish between refugees and irregular migrants.  While many refugees had fled violence, much of the migration to Europe was economic in nature.  “We can’t despise those who, for themselves or their loved ones, have embarked on a long and dangerous journey,” he said.  “We can’t fail to welcome them, but it is difficult to welcome them all.”  Populism only led to an uncontrolled situation, he said, condemning suggestions that each refugee could be a terrorist.  Refugees were victims, not perpetrators of terrorism.

Conflict, arms proliferation, violent extremism, terrorism and climate change threats still persisted, he said.  While Africa was particularly vulnerable to internal and external challenges, countries could work together to ensure peace in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, he said, pressing the parties to those conflicts parties to lay the basis for sustainable development.  Africa had major potential, in its young people, first and foremost, which made education and job creation important priorities in national development programmes.  The United Nations often acted too late to prevent crises, but the Assembly’s adoption of regulations to bring about peace marked an important change, placing conflict prevention at the heart of United Nations action.

Turning to Syria, he said the country’s Government had perpetrated atrocities, while Da’esh and other groups flourished from the war economy and external support.  A generation of children had been traumatized, deprived of protection and education, he said, calling for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to be brought to justice, including before the International Criminal Court.  Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that a two-State solution was the only way to resolve it, adding that he supported the convening of an international conference to help the parties reach a settlement.  On Iran, he urged vigilance in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he urged a resumption of negotiations to bring about verifiable denuclearization.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, said it was important to bear in mind the complex nature of motives that drove people on the move.  “We must resolutely fight smuggling and the illicit trafficking in persons,” he added, emphasizing the need to focus on strategies for preventing loss of human life, as well as the resilience and self-reliance of refugees.  As long as the world remained stricken by poverty, underdevelopment, social inequality, and human rights abuses, there would be no resolution of the forces driving people to uproot their lives.  To that end, the Republic of Moldova attached great importance to fostering development partnerships aimed at supporting countries in need to achieve their development goals.

Never before had the correlation between migration, sustainable development, climate change and peace and security been more obvious, he said. “We cannot realistically expect to fulfil the Agenda for [Sustainable] Development in the absence of peace,” he added, emphasizing that the United Nations must adjust to new global realities.  Security Council reform was critical to making that body more efficient in discharging its primary responsibility:  maintaining peace and security.  Efficiency could be achieved by improving transparency and accountability, as well as restricting the right of veto to issues of substance.  Addressing protracted conflicts in a proactive manner could prevent attempts aimed at changing the political borders.

Despite the many difficulties encountered in the settlement process in the Transnistria conflict, the Republic of Moldova remained committed to a political solution based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Negotiations would only succeed if all sides displayed political will and refrained from putting forward rigid preconditions.  That would require enhanced confidence-building and bringing together both banks of the river Nistru.  He also expressed deep concern about the lack of progress concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops and armaments stationed on the Republic of Moldova’s territory, saying that the fragility of the overall situation in the region, including Ukraine, required a constructive re-engagement by the United Nations.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, thanked the Secretary-General for having made climate change a priority for the Organization during his tenure, and expressed hope that his successor would continue his legacy.  While encouraged by the adoption of the Paris Agreement, he emphasized that delivering on its promises and making good on its commitments was “the seal of true leadership”.  The challenge remaining for the Green Climate Fund and other funding institutions was to help small island developing States access their resources.

Partnerships would be crucial in that endeavour, he said, expressing hope that all development partners, as well as United Nations entities would actively engage the SIDS Partnership Framework — a platform for monitoring the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships.  He stressed the importance of protecting oceans, which were critical to the economic survival of small island developing States, and indeed, to global prosperity more generally.  That vital resource was under threat from overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, loss of habitat and pollution.

Concerning the mass migration of people fleeing war and terrorism, he stressed the need for a collective response that should begin with the Security Council.  He called upon the Council to address the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.   On the issue of Security Council reform, he said it was time for an enlarged Council — the membership of which would reflect contemporary geopolitical realities.  It was also important that more democratic and transparent processes and procedures be put in place to govern the Council, and that it engage more effectively with the General Assembly.  Finally, he pledged Samoa’s continuing commitment to provide civilian policemen and women for United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said the global community was faced with a reality in which equality between women and men had still not been achieved.  Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were too often thwarted, and homophobia remained legal in certain countries.  The rule of law was too often just a façade, and justice nothing but a menace to citizens and companies.  Turning to Africa, he said the region was replete with potential, and it was the international community’s responsibility to support its development.

Africa had experienced several successful democratic transitions in the last decades, in which its citizens had participated in electoral and political processes, helping to strengthen sovereignty and democratic institutions, he said.  Emphasizing that respect for the rule of law and the constitution was the only path to guaranteeing stability, he said the right to exercise the rule of law had been denied the people of Burundi, who had experienced oppression and discord instead.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the upcoming elections would be indispensable, he said, condemning the violence seen in Kinshasa over the last couple of days.

Turning to Syria, he described it as “a country of blood and war, of unspeakable suffering and large-scale displacement of people uprooted from their homes”.  Appealing to all permanent members of the Security Council to exercise their responsibility, he said impunity could not be the response to such human rights violations.  Furthermore, Al-Qaida, Da’esh and Boko Haram presented a new form of totalitarianism, as recent acts of terror in Belgium had shown.  In that regard, there was a need to reform the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he said.

ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said his country was focusing its resources on eradicating extreme poverty by establishing a social register of those living in dismal conditions and those requiring targeted measures and assistance.  “There are yet many miles to go and we will pursue our journey,” he said, emphasizing that action on climate and oceans was “of paramount importance for our survival”.  Addressing the root causes of climate change would require robust determination and strong political will, but all efforts would be futile in the absence of peace and security.

Calling for a reformed United Nations, including the Security Council, he said it would benefit from enlarged and more inclusive representation.  “We believe that the historical injustice done to African representation on the Council should be redressed,” he added.  Welcoming the move by the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an observer, he called for a revival of efforts towards a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He went on to note that, while Mauritius had become an independent State in 1968, it remained unable to exercise its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin, both of which were part of its territory.  Mauritians living in the Chagos Archipelago had been forcibly evicted from their homes and moved, in total disregard of their human rights, he recalled.  Mauritius had consistently protested against the illegal excision of the Chagos Archipelago, he said, adding that for decades, it had called upon the former colonial Power to find a fair and just solution.  However, its efforts had been in vain so far.  Despite United Nations resolutions, the United Kingdom maintained that its continued presence in the Chagos Archipelago remained lawful, he noted.  The General Assembly had a direct interest in the matter, given the historic and central role it had played in the decolonization process throughout the world.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that ideas of supremacy persisted in a number of Western countries to the detriment of equitable cooperation.  Saying it was “high time” to prevent a catastrophe in Syria, he noted that his country’s military assistance to the Syrian Government had prevented a collapse of statehood.  Russian engagement had led to the establishment of the International Syria Support Group, which sought the start of a political process to ensure that Syrians determined their own future, a point embodied in recent agreements between the Russian Federation and the United States.  It was essential to carry out an impartial investigation of events in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, which had undermined those accords.  Elsewhere, Ukraine’s development had been undermined by an anti-constitution coup and the refusal to implement the 2015 Minsk Agreement.  Using the crisis to achieve corrupt geopolitical goals had no prospects of success, he said, emphasizing that only implementation of the accord could enable mutually beneficial cooperation.

He went on to state that it was indecent to reserve the right to use doping, launch “unilateral adventures”, conduct geopolitical experiments, engage in extraterritorial blackmail or set criteria for national greatness.  Freedom of expression or peaceful assembly should not be used to condone Nazi ideology, he said, calling for efforts to block neo-Nazism and revanchism.  Joint efforts were required to fight terrorism, he said, adding that his Government was drafting a Council resolution aimed at eliminating terrorist and extremist ideology.  Expressing concern about the “torpedoing” of compromises around the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he stressed that progress on disarmament must consider factors affecting strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defence systems, the placement of non-nuclear strike weapons and the threat of deploying weapons in outer space.  He went on to call upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear missile programmes and return to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  On climate change, he said the creation of mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was a priority.

EDWARD NALBANDIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, condemned the crimes of Da’esh and other terrorist groups, while expressing concern about the devastating impact of the war in Syria.  Pointing out that many of those displaced from Syria were Armenian-Syrians who had found refuge there 100 years ago, he said that his country had provided refuge to more than 20,000 refugees from Syria.  Calling for wider international cooperation to address the challenges posed by mass displacement, he emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of large movements of people by preventing crimes against humanity, settling disputes in a peaceful manner and seeking lasting political solutions.  Armenia had contributed to such efforts by having initiated resolutions on the prevention of genocide in the Human Rights Council, he said.

Condemning Azerbaijan’s policies of ethnic cleansing and aggression against the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said those policies stood in violation of the Armenian right to self-determination.  Earlier this year, Azerbaijan had indiscriminately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in the region, he recalled, noting that there was evidence of torture — a gross violation of international law.  He called for full adherence to the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, the creation of a mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations, and expanded capacity for the office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office.   Finally, he condemned Turkey’s land blockade of Armenia as a gross violation of international law, which hampered the economic cooperation and integration promoted under the 2030 Agenda.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people, and everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation.  “We could also choose to put our faith in the power of diplomacy or shrug our shoulders” in the face of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.  Europe was faced with the choice of fighting to hold the region together or allowing it to fall apart again and be overrun by populists.  Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice, he said.  Whether the world would succeed in finding better solutions to its many challenges depended on resolving the crisis in Syria and the migration phenomenon.  The United Nations would remain the central forum, he said.  In the context of all the crisis meetings, “it gives me hope that we have made the right choice of the direction we want to take and that we have chosen unity and sustainability”.  He condemned the latest nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  In Libya and Yemen, Germany would continue to support the tireless efforts of United Nations envoys in those countries.  As for Syria, he said the hope raised by last week’s ceasefire had been extinguished yet again.

It was time for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire that would allow aid to reach those in need, he said, adding that Moscow also had a responsibility in that regard, he continued.  “If we do not succeed, all efforts to bring peace will be lost in a hail of bombs,” he said, noting that the Assad regime was continuing to bomb Aleppo “to bits”.  He declared: “There will be no winners in this war”.  As the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, Germany was particularly active in helping to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, he said, adding that it was working with the United Nations to rebuild schools and neighbourhoods so that people could return.  Germany was also promoting education and access to labour markets in neighbouring countries that had generously opened their doors to millions of refugees.  Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities.  Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees.  Noting that new rifts had emerged in Europe following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, he said it was important to step up dialogue between East and West, but the United Nations was necessary to ensure that diverging interests and opinions did not turn into lasting divisions.  Germany’s history reminded it to do everything possible to avoid that, he said.

RI YONG HO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, emphasized the importance of peace to his country, which was embarking on its five-year strategy for national economic development.  Unfortunately, the country’s future was being threatened by the aggression of the United States, which had recently conducted large-scale joint military exercises involving more than half a million troops and strategic assets, including nuclear bombers and submarines.  In the face of such aggression, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made every possible effort to prevent an armed conflict and a possible subsequent escalation, he said.  Its nuclear programme was, therefore, a necessary defensive measure.  It was regrettable that the Security Council was covering up “the high-handedness and arbitrariness” of the United States, in violation of the United Nations Charter.

He went on to remind the Assembly that his country had made several requests to the Council for an emergency meeting on the threat to international peace and security posed by the large-scale joint military exercises of the United States on the Korean Peninsula, but had been turned away.  Reiterating the defensive nature of his country’s nuclear programme, he explained, however, that as long as there was a nuclear State with a hostile posture towards his country, it would continue to strengthen its nuclear programme.  Finally, he extended his Government’s support for and solidarity with the people of Cuba “in their struggle to safeguard their dignity and sovereignty” in the face of the United States-imposed blockade.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also stood in solidarity with Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, which today faced war and violence as a result of interference by the United States.  He criticized that country’s practice of politicizing human rights issues as a way to target anti-imperialist and independent countries, such as sovereign African States.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that world order had been changed by three factors:  the spread of terrorist organizations, the destabilization of key and vulnerable regions of the world and the movement and displacement of some 65 million people.  He called for the elimination of global terrorism and said that until then there would be no stability in the Middle East, Christian communities would continue to be threatened and the migratory pressure on Europe would continue.  “We have to destroy the business models” of human traffickers which had caused the death of thousands,” he continued.  It was important to change migratory policies to inspire people not to violate borders and move to countries thousands of miles away.  “Instead of emotional debates, we need debates based on common sense,” and instead of accusing and bashing each other, world leaders must stand on the stability of international law.  The right to a safe life was a fundamental human right but choosing a State where one wants to live was not a fundamental human right.  There would be no excuse to violate borders of safe and secure countries.

Hungary was among 23 countries that had sent troops to fight ISIL, he continued.  There were 143 Hungarian men and women serving in Iraq, and his country had sent ammunition to the Peshmerga and soon would begin carrying out training of the Iraqi army.  His Government had established an office on the persecution of Christians to address threats that group faced and to ensure that criminal acts were punished.  Furthermore, the Parliament had established strict regulations against human traffickers.  “Hungary put security of Hungarian people to first place and we will not allow mass violations of our borders,” he said.  Migratory policies that considered all migrants refugees had failed.  Migratory policies that had taken in thousands against the wishes of their own people had failed.  Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security.  “We have to help people to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their homes as soon as possible,” he said, stressing the need to help Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan in dealing with millions of people they had taken in.  “Europe would not be able to take such a challenge,” he added.  It was also important to link development programmes to conditionality so that Governments were responsible in not creating the conditions for their people to leave their homes.  Central Europe faced many challenges and a Secretary-General from the region would help it to overcome its historic challenges.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warned the Assembly that “the basic tenets of our coexistence are being challenged,” and emphasized the need to respond to rising xenophobia, aggressive nationalisms, autocracy and fear-mongering.  She reminded the international community of its responsibility to protect the 65 million refugees fleeing from harm, and welcomed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants as a first step in that direction.

She went on to address several key areas that she believed required determined action by the international community:  prevention of armed conflict, gender equality, financing, security, the Middle East peace process and post-conflict development assistance.  On peacekeeping, better measures were needed to prevent armed conflict, including early warning and early action systems.  Those mechanisms would require sustainable financing of regional and sub-regional organizations’ peace operations.  On gender equality, she called for the United Nations to lead the way in enhancing the rights, representation and resources of women and girls around the world.  One way the Organization could do that was through increasing women’s participation in peace processes, protecting them against gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and strengthening their political and economic empowerment.  For peace to be sustainable, the root causes of conflict needed to be tackled.  She regretted that peace accords had not been implemented in the Middle East and Security Council resolutions pertaining to Crimea had been disregarded.  Finally, to sustain peace, greater investments were needed in post-conflict development and State-building.  She pledged her country’s commitment to “continue to talk with, not only about, countries” in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the Council during the 2017-2018 term.

SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, said his country was eager to adopt a dynamic approach to sustainable development that would adapt its own vision with the goals of the United Nations.  Morocco participated in peacekeeping operations in Africa and Asia to which it had contributed thousands of “blue helmets”.  There could be no development without peace and security, he added, emphasizing that Morocco was dedicated to establishing partnerships.  Sustainable development was at the top of the list.  Morocco had made a political commitment to continue towards actualizing the aspirations of people in the developing world.  It had launched a national plan — “a basic pillar of the social development,” including in the sectors of economics and environment.  It kept the well-being of the human being at its core.  The plan also focused on strengthening its partnership with African partners in areas of combating poverty, promoting education and strengthening security.  He looked forward to the next climate meeting in Marrakesh and said that the implementation of the Paris Agreement was directly linked to the availability of financing.

There was a strong link “based on love and respect” between Morocco and Africa, he said, outlining various development programmes his country was involved with on the continent.  On the matter of the Sahel, the last resolution adopted by the Security Council had reemphasized a political solution based on stability and democracy, he said, pledging his country’s willingness to work with the United Nations in that respect.  It was important to uphold human rights and utilize regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.  On the national level, Morocco had adopted a strategy focusing on a religious, social and legal approach to fight foreign terrorists.  “Christians, Muslims and Jews must all stand against hatred and terrorism,” he said, adding that no progress could be achieved with xenophobia existing in societies.  He called on all Libyan political forces to continue dialogue and provide the Libyan people with dignity and democracy.  The Middle East could never “enjoy lasting peace” without establishing a Palestinian State, he said, urging the revival of a peace process and an end to changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, noted that peace and security were essential for development.  Fifteen months after the peace agreement in Mali was signed, hostilities had effectively ceased between the Government and signatory groups, and significant progress had been made.  The effective application of Security Council resolution 2295 (2016), renewing the mandate of MINUSMA, would allow for the progressive recovery by the Government of sovereignty throughout Malian territory.  Implementation of the peace agreement required mobilization of outside resources so as to support national efforts, and Mali thanked its international partners.

The peace agreement faced serious challenges linked to the activities of terrorist groups in the north and asymmetric attacks on civilians and peacekeeping forces, he continued.  It was necessary to increase the process of cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration so as to isolate armed groups that had not signed the agreement and those affiliated with terrorist networks.  The Government was ready to fully undertake its responsibility for the new mandate and work with MINUSMA.  He welcomed the high-level meeting on Mali that had taken place that morning between all stakeholders, where his country spoke of the urgency of accelerating implementation of the peace agreement.  The people and Government of Mali were grateful for the United Nations support of the peace process.  No country in the world was free of terrorism and no cause could justify violence against civilians.  Mali encouraged international cooperation between Member States to neutralize the hydra of terrorism and its networks.

The timing of the General Assembly session, one year into 2030 Agenda, allowed Member States to take stock to see how to find the best ways and means to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  Mali was convinced of the need to adopt strategies to strengthen economic growth and respond to the needs of populations.  That meant protecting the environment and providing education, health care, social protection, employment for youth and women’s empowerment.

Climate change was a major challenge that affected all humanity, in particular the countries of the Sahel.  He welcomed the Paris Agreement and announced that Mali had today deposited its instruments of ratification for the Agreement.

MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President of Botswana, noted that his country would on 30 September celebrate its fiftieth anniversary of independence.  Once among the poorest States in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $70 per capita in 1966, it now counted amongst middle-income countries.  Two days before Botswana became a sovereign nation, a Canadian journalist had observed:  “It is destined to be an international charity case forever exporting its ablest men and cattle in exchange for cash and kindness from abroad”.  Reflecting back on the country’s challenges and achievements, he expressed pride that it was one of Africa’s most stable democracies, having held free, fair and peaceful multi-party elections every five years without interruption.

He expressed concern about the crisis in Syria, which could have been contained had the Council and the international community intervened promptly.  “Assad and his machine” was not the only party committing crimes against humanity, he said, adding that his country was equally concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous testing of ballistic missiles.  Botswana had terminated its diplomatic relations with that State because of its poor human rights record.

Considering increasing security threats, he called upon the Council to demonstrate seriousness and alacrity in executing its mandate, adding that it could no longer be acceptable to “hide behind the veto while millions of innocent lives are lost”.

Turning to the Olympic Games, he commended Brazil for hosting them successfully despite criticisms from some quarters which had spread fear by linking the Games with the Zika virus, terrorism and other issues.  He went on to condemn the International Paralympic Committee for its blanket ban on Russian athletes.  Such treatment represented injustice and discrimination, and his country believed there was another agenda beyond the stated reasons for the decision.  He closed by wishing the people of the United States successful elections in November and expressed hope that the winning candidate would be someone known to be tolerant and who embraced all.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice President of Indonesia, said the international community had laid down a new set of goals and timeframe in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Indonesia was fully committed to implementing it.  The Government was mainstreaming the Goals into the country’s policies, finalizing a financial framework, engaging all relevant stakeholders and developing national guidelines as well as a monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be supported by strong global partnerships that would make a difference in advancing sustainable development, he said.  The global community must provide sufficient means and funding mechanisms for all countries to carry the Agenda forward.  Peace was a prerequisite to development and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Indonesia’s experiences in the 1950s and 1960s attested to that.  But instability and insecurity continued in many parts of the world due to territorial disputes, terrorism and extremism.

He said the Middle East peace process remained difficult to move forward and irregular migration continued.  The global community was confronted almost daily by media pictures of the stark reality created by continuing insecurity, all taking place against the backdrop of a slowing global economy, he said.  The gap between rich and poor was widening and climate change was accelerating, as were its effects on small island States.  Emphasizing that no one country could resolve those challenges on its own, he said they required a global partnership for a global solution.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice-President of South Sudan, said conflict had broken out in his country again in July, when its leaders had failed to agree on internal governance and leadership challenges.  The situation was now stable and peaceful, the Government was functioning and life was returning to normal.  However, the effect of the conflict, coupled with low global oil prices, had put the economy under unprecedented fiscal stress, creating hardship for the general public, he said.  Together with development partners and friends, South Sudan was exerting every effort to tackle those economic shocks by stabilizing the security situation, streamlining fiscal policies, improving income from non-oil revenues, engaging in agriculture, mining and tourism and encouraging investors to come to the country.

More often than not, he said, nations had taken decisions individually, and sometimes collectively, in addressing situations like preventing a country from slipping into conflict, urging reforms, democratization and respect for human rights.  Sometimes, however, the results of such actions actually contributed to the same effects they had been intended to avoid in the first place.  Some leaders who may not agree with such interventions dictated such negative actions.  Interventions in such countries – supposedly taken in order to protect civilians, advance democracy and ensure respect for human rights and justice – had not always produced the expected results.  Instead, they ended up creating displacement and refugees in most cases.

He said the push to transform the world through the Sustainable Development Goals could not be achieved without all nations listening to each other, whether they were big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing.  Countries must work together to resolve critical issues affecting the planet, such as terrorism, conflict, migration, climate change, nuclear proliferation, racism and food security.  To transform the world, everybody must be made to feel that they belonged to the world and must work as true partners.  Patronising attitudes of superiority – disguised as the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom and justice – could easily lead to serious crises in the form of resistance by affected parties, he cautioned.

MOISÉS OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said that the 2030 Agenda offered an historic opportunity to fight for a just world order.  However, endemic poverty and inequality had become more noticeable than ever, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups including peoples living under colonial occupation and foreign intervention.  Colonialism had to be eradicated, and military intervention and aggression needed to cease.  The right to development was a right for all, and developed countries needed to comply with their commitments regarding official development assistance (ODA).

Turning to climate change, he said that the Paris Agreement failed to establish a firm benchmark to address the biggest challenge facing the planet.  The voluntary, non-binding formula would lead to a 3°C increase in global temperatures, with disastrous effects for highly vulnerable countries.  Many countries concurred that the Agreement was not sufficient and called for stronger efforts.  Nicaragua demanded a global compensation policy to deal with the damages of climate change.

Continuing, he said that Nicaragua welcomed the re-establishing of relations between Cuba and the United States, but it was disappointed to see heightening of existing measures maintaining the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba.  Nicaragua also welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia.  Nicaragua demanded the immediate end of the occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories by Israel, expressed solidarity with the people of Western Sahara and with the Government and people of Syria and condemned foreign interventions in the latter, including the delivery of weapons to terrorist groups.  Nicaragua would continue to foster peace, stability and good governance, as well as fight poverty.

THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that Southeast Asia continued to enjoy peace and stability.  That provided an environment conducive not only to socioeconomic development, but also regional cooperation, as evidenced by the advancement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community.  As Chair of ASEAN in 2016, he hoped the international community would continue to support the Association as it had contributed significantly to promoting peace, stability and cooperation in both the region and the world at large.

At the same time, his newly-elected Government was focused on graduating from its least developed country status.  As a least developed and landlocked country, his State faced many challenges in infrastructure and human resources, and as such required assistance from the international community.  That support, along with strong determination, would enable it country to achieve its goals.

He also said that his Government was focused on the issue of climate change, which affected the livelihood of people around the world.  That was a major challenge that no country alone could address.  For its part, his country had signed the Paris Agreement and integrated climate change and natural disaster risk reduction into its national socioeconomic development plan.

ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said his country’s path toward sustainable development had been hindered by years of low growth, crippling national debt and high unemployment, exacerbated by its vulnerability to natural hazards.  Highly indebted middle-income countries such as Jamaica were poised for economic transition with relatively high levels of health and education, but that potential was threatened by its having to choose between debt repayment and spending on growth.  Developing countries would ordinarily be able to tap into development assistance, to be used for growth, thereby inducing counter-cyclical investment in infrastructure, which could in turn strengthen their debt repayment capacity, he noted.  However, arbitrary classification on the basis of gross domestic product per capita precluded countries like Jamaica from accessing such resources.  The middle-income classification indicated average incomes but said nothing about the stock of wealth a country possessed or its vulnerabilities.

Countries like Jamaica had made reforms in order to improve fiscal management and achieve debt sustainability, he said, but new investment was needed of a scale and velocity difficult to undertake without the engagement of international development institutions.  That created the prospect of a trap for such countries, which were on the cusp of transitioning but stalled by the risk of reversal, which threatened hard-won developmental gains.  He called for an initiative for highly indebted middle-income countries, underpinned by the principle that their structural vulnerabilities could not be diversified.  Their responsible servicing of debt should be facilitated by assistance, he said, adding that the potential impact of such an initiative would put more countries in a position to make greater contributions to the international system in the near future.

He went on to emphasize the importance of effectively addressing the emerging crisis resulting from the withdrawal of correspondent banking services to certain financial institutions in the Caribbean, a trend that hindered Jamaica’s participation in the global financial system.  Trade represented approximately 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy and “de-risking” measures threatened its integration and economic viability.  Regarding climate change, he said that his country was the host country to the International Seabed Authority, and therefore attached great importance to matters pertaining to the Law of the Sea.  Jamaica supported the development of a legally binding international instrument on the conservation of and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and was actively participating in the relevant negotiations.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, expressed gratitude that a Pacific Islander had been elected President of the General Assembly for the first time.  He also expressed hope that the United Nations would upgrade its presence in his country to a full country office under the new Secretary-General.  Recalling that 2015 had been a year of agreements, he said 2016 was the time for implementing the agreed goals.  He said his Government had started integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its 2016–2035 National Development Strategy.

Regarding refugees and migrants, he noted that small island developing States required more assistance to manage large displaced populations.  The challenge of climate change had not been adequately addressed in the context of displacement and migration, he said, also noting with concern that not enough attention had been paid to achieving the goal of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5°C.  He called on major emitters and industrial countries to treat the threat of climate change with a renewed sense of urgency since the existence of island States was at stake.  Delaying action further would come at a steep cost, he warned.

He called for further action to protect biodiversity, including a new international agreement to address it, and for the creation of a world authority on oceans.  The Solomon Islands welcomed the decision to convene the United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in 2017.  In addition, he expressed grave concern about human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua and called for Taiwan’s full participation in the work of the United Nations.  He also noted the need to reform the Security Council and to ensure adequate regional representation.

PAKALITHA B. MOSISILI, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that the intractable conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, tension on the Korean Peninsula and other parts of Asia, were the biggest refugee problems since the Second World War and were some of the challenges that the United Nations and the world were facing today.  At the same time, terrorism continued to rear its ugly head, with ISIS and other groups causing needless loss of lives.  Amid such challenges, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement were landmark achievements which had cemented the role of the Organization as the only forum for collective diplomacy.

The unique challenges faced by least developed, landlocked and small island developing States, as well as those emerging from conflicts, must be paramount in the consideration of all strategies for the 2030 Agenda’s successful implementation, he continued, stressing that the inclusion of all stakeholders would bring about fundamental changes in the livelihood and well-being of societies.  In Lesotho, women constituted a significant majority of the population, and were the backbone of rural communities.  In that regard, the Government had promulgated laws, allowing them to access to land, credit and resources for their unfettered engagement in economic activity.  Furthermore, in line with the Agenda, Lesotho had undertaken various initiatives to capacitate youth-owned small, macro and medium enterprises to acquire skills for job creation.  “With our limited domestic resources, we are looking for innovative ways of pursuing our development priorities and aligning them to global, continental and regional agendas,” he stressed.

He went on to emphasize that a private sector-led growth strategy was vital for competitiveness and expansion of trade and investment opportunities.  Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognized the importance of infrastructure, industrialization and technology to the progress and development of countries like Lesotho.  Furthermore, the threat posed by underdevelopment, climate change and HIV/AIDS had picked the conscience of mankind for many years.  Lesotho had adopted an innovative, indigenous leadership programme which sought to ensure that the health delivery system was affordable, accessible and effective.  On the role of disarmament in the maintenance of international peace and security, he called upon all nuclear weapon States to make deep cuts in their current stockpiles, with the ultimate aim of finally eliminating them.  On Security Council reform, he said:  “the sooner it is concluded the better for humankind and peace in the world,” expressing support for the African Union’s position.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said his country had dedicated the 2016 Summer University to the Sustainable Development Goals, and for one week, Andorra la Vella had hosted experts and representatives to debate key issues.  Quality education, Goal 4, was particularly important, both as a goal in itself and as the means to achieve the other Goals.  Andorra prioritized education in its external policies, notably during its presidency of the Council of Europe, from 2012 to 2013, when it had joined the Global Education First Initiative, and in the contexts of the Ibero-American Community and the International Organization of La Francophonie.  He said that, in keeping with Goal 17, his Government was aware of the need to seek alliances with other countries and to create partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Education was also important in ensuring young people understood that their futures did not end at the borders of their countries.  “If we educate our young people as citizens of a global world, we will be laying the foundations for a much more open, cooperative and fair world,” he said, noting that Andorra’s “Education by Skills” model sought to overcome the idea of education as an accumulation of knowledge, and instead promote abilities that could be applied to knowledge.  With the Council of Europe, Andorra would introduce training in democratic values and systems in order to measure young peoples’ skills in that area, he said.

“The great dialectic of our times is between being open and being closed,” he said, emphasizing that the open road to commitment, negotiation and multilateralism was one that States had followed for decades.  The closed path of fear was a recipe for populism.  Andorra’s belief in multilateralism was reflected in its economy, which was open to foreign investment, its provision of economic rights to all international residents, its tax system’s adherence to international standards and its progressive outlook in matters of exchanging fiscal information, which would culminate in 2017 with the automatic exchange of information.  With that in mind, the refugee and migrant challenge must be met through both international and local regulation, the right to asylum, the fair distribution of impacts and the guarantee of respect for the rights and dignity of displaced people.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that climate change was real and its consequences were being felt worldwide.  Vanuatu had deposited its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the Secretary-General two days ago, he said, calling on other States to follow suit as soon as possible.  Like any organization, the United Nations needed reform.  Vanuatu favoured greater Security Council transparency, accountability, relevancy and inclusiveness.  It also supported a revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.  Such reforms required leadership on the part of large States, he said, urging the Council and Assembly to appoint a new Secretary-General of irreproachable personal integrity who would be a beacon of hope for the voiceless.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations system must work actively with regional groups such as the Pacific Islands Forum, he said.  Vanuatu condemned all forms of nuclear proliferation and remained committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and reaffirmed its position in favour of a nuclear-free Pacific.  He noted how Vanuatu was integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development policy, with protection of the oceans being given top priority.  Mobilizing domestic resources to finance sustainable development was a priority for the Government, complementing funding from development partners.  Such initiatives would help Vanuatu exit the list of least-developed countries in 2020.

Noting his country’s vulnerability to climate change and rising sea levels, he said international assistance was appreciated, but that coordination of post-disaster financial aid through non-governmental organizations was sometimes inefficient and failed to respect national reconstruction priorities.  Vanuatu was proud to contribute to United Nations missions in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire and it was ready to send more troops if called upon.  On decolonization, he welcomed United Nations assistance with electoral lists in New Caledonia, whose people should freely choose their future status of self-determination.  He went on to urge the United Nations to take concrete measures to address human rights concerns in West Papua.

RALPH E. GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, observed that, in 2016, the pressure for change had come not only from the “marginalized outposts of globalization’s casualties” but also internally from within rich and powerful nations.  Marginalized nations and peoples had “thirsted too long at the dry spigot of promised trickle-down prosperity”, and the long-foretold “rising tide that lifts all boats” had come in the form of rising seas which threatened to inundate small island developing States.  His country had aggressively adopted the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on job creation, quality education and renewable energy, among others, central to its national medium-term development plans.  In 2016, it had launched a “Zero Hunger Trust Fund” inspired by Goals 1 and 2, and employing multifaceted tools to ensure that no citizen would go to bed hungry by 2020.  He expressed hope that the programme would be supported by partners and become a best-practice template to be adopted in other small island contexts.

Turning to Goal 7, which spoke to the development of renewable energy with particular emphasis on small island States, he said his country had invested heavily in developing geothermal resources.  By 2019, it was anticipated that 50 per cent of its national energy would be supplied geothermally and 80 per cent generated by a mix of renewable resources, including hydro and solar.  As big emitters continued to dither, more frequent and intense hurricanes washed away large swaths of his country’s GDP in a matter of hours.  While applauding the international community for reaching the Paris Agreement, its promises to mitigate climate change and provide climate finance were inadequate and unenforceable.

On the United Nations role in the spread of cholera in Haiti, he said that catastrophe had now killed over 10,000 Haitians and infected almost 800,000 others.  The Organization had belated acknowledged its culpability while claiming immunity to deny victims their rights.  In the Dominican Republic, thousands of citizens of Haitian descent were affected by an unresolved human rights crisis and the United Nations indifference towards them was unacceptable.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, President of Tuvalu, expressed hope that the United Nations would be able to save peoples and countries affected by man-made conflicts and climate change.  He was encouraged by the actions of the international community this week in that regard, which must be followed up.  The Paris Agreement must enter into force, he said, calling on Member States to operationalize it as soon as possible.

Urgent action was needed to address the impact of climate change on small island developing States, he said.  He urged the international community to take collective efforts to keep the global temperature increase to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.  The international response must also include adequate strategies to deal with persons displaced because of climate change, and their human rights must be protected.

With regard to peace and security, he deplored the actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country’s destabilizing effects on the region and called for their immediate end.  Furthermore, he expressed his concern about the situation of Taiwan and asked the international community to work towards the integration of Taiwan, also with a view to achieving full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He expressed his gratitude for the implementation of the Samoa Pathway and its contribution to sustainable development.  To implement the 2030 Agenda, Tuvalu recently launched a national strategy entitled “Te Kakeega III”.  Its theme was “Protect and Save Tuvalu”.  The strategy focused on resilience, education and capacity-building.  Tuvalu also committed to derive all of its electricity from renewable energy.  He also acknowledged the support of development partners.

PATRICE EMERY TROVOADA, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, said democracies in rich countries seemed to be providing inadequate responses to real problems like the refugee crisis.  It was commendable to hold a special United Nations meeting on refugees, but the international community must do more to bring definitive settlements to ongoing conflicts and terrorist attacks.  The Organization should be able to establish more binding mechanisms to address such insecurity, especially when it came to long-lasting conflicts between Israel and Palestine and in Libya as well as Syria.

He expressed pleasure, however, at a more peaceful Central African Republic and was encouraged by support for free and peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commitments to stabilize South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia.  Genuine progress in resolving conflicts always occurred when priority was given to living together and opening people’s minds to differences, which was needed to come up with intelligent solutions leading to sustainable peace.  It was also necessary to show a spirit of inclusion in efforts to reach sustainable peace and development.  To that end, reform of the United Nations was needed to make it more credible, especially when it came to seats on the Security Council.

His country had made significant development progress, especially in the areas of access to drinking water, Internet connectivity and eradication of malaria, he said.  It now needed to build up its infrastructure to attract investment and generate revenue for the Government.  He invited developed nations to provide financing through various mechanisms discussed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa.  Africa lagged behind in almost all human development indices and had paid a heavy toll compared to other countries for centuries.

DELCY ELOÍNA RODRÍGUEZ GÓMEZ, Political Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda was people-based, universal and transformative.  However, the main obstacle to achieving those purposes was capitalism, which created deep inequalities and threatened the planet and its species.  It was a model based on violence, she said, noting that of the $1.7 billion spent on wars in 2015, a third was spent by the United States.  That country was the largest exporter of violence throughout the world, and an intrinsic link between violence and capitalist expansionism could be demonstrated throughout history.

Terrorism was also reconfiguring itself, she noted.  The centres of hegemony were seeking to create artificial sub-categories of terrorism, which was seen as good if it served to overthrow Governments out of line with their interests, but bad if not.  The military invasion of Iraq had been based on a lie.  Libya had also seen a military intervention by NATO, and once again, the Powers’ imperial obstinacy had hampered that country’s right to peace.  The resultant migratory flows of Libyan citizens had impacted its levels of poverty.  Her country welcomed the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which had resisted State terrorism from the north.  She called for an end to the economic blockade of that country and the provision of reparations.

She said that President Hugo Chávez had 16 years ago cautioned that the United Nations could not proceed with the 1945 map, and must instead reform the Security Council to include developing countries from Latin America, Africa and Asia.  Recently, Venezuela had hosted the seventeenth summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.  States in the group shared the same concerns and continued to be committed to peace and solidarity.  Their desire for peace could only become reality through the creation of a global government, and they were committed to that aim in the south.  During the meeting, a United States aircraft had violated Venezuelan airspace.  Through the use of media campaigns and financial boycotts, that country had encouraged extremist groups to overthrow the elected Government of Nicolas Maduro.  Venezuela had alerted the international community that its territorial integrity was being attacked with a view to taking control of its strategic natural resources. Those aggressions had made up an unconventional war designed to penalize her country’s socialist economic model.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said protecting ecology and preserving the environment had in 2015 taken on an even greater significance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in tackling changes of nature.  The Aral Sea tragedy was a vivid example.  With its ecologic-climatic, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences, the tragedy was a direct threat to the sustainable development of the region, health, gene pool and future of the people residing in the area.  The consequences of that tragedy included an unfavourable ecological state, drying up of the Aral Sea and ongoing humanitarian catastrophe around it, lack and declining quality of potable water and growth of dangerous diseases.

Turning to regional security, he said Afghanistan remained a key problem for international and regional stability.  Internal dynamics of the Afghan conflict were flaring up rather than fading and also becoming more complicated.  Settling the conflict was possible only with an intra-Afghan national accord and through peaceful political negotiations among major parties under the auspices of the United Nations.  Peace in Afghanistan would bring a colossal and tangible benefit to all countries of the Eurasian continent.  It would stimulate the construction of motorways and railroad, development of regional and trans-regional commerce and laying of pipelines in all directions.

GUILLAUME LONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the last decade of the citizen revolution in his country had shown that to achieve development it was necessary to do the opposite of the prescription of the neoliberal hegemony.  Ecuador had been able to recover the faith and hope of a country that had been destroyed, and that could be reflected in tangible results for its people, notably in the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality.  The Powers of hegemony had appropriated widely used words and given them meaning to impose a political and moral agenda on the planet.  The word “development” was not just a technical issue, but a political one, especially when it came to the redistribution of wealth.  “Human rights” included economic and social rights, not just political ones, and were violated not just by States but by multinational corporations as well.

Ecuador, he said, called for an intergovernmental body in the United Nations for tax justice to prevent tax havens, and for the adoption of a legally binding international instrument that would be binding on transnational corporations which violated human rights.  At the Paris conference on climate change, Ecuador also called for the establishment of an international environmental justice court to punish crimes against nature and to establish obligations in terms of ecological debt and the consumption of environmental goods.  “We claim the supremacy of human beings over capital,” he said.  The United Nations also needed to be democratized, he said.  It was necessary to recalibrate the weight of the General Assembly vis-à-vis the Security Council.  The composition and working methods of the Council needed to be changed, and the use of the veto, the exclusive province of the conquering nations of the Second World War, did not ensure the supreme objective of international peace and security.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said his country had adapted its national development strategy to take into account the Sustainable Development Goals.  Despite the global economic crisis and sharp fall in oil prices, its economy had grown, enabling it to actively support international development, he said, noting his country’s membership in the Economic and Social Council.  However, there could be no sustainable development without peace, he said, noting that since the last general debate, there had been no substantive progress in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.  Armenia still occupied Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, in flagrant violation of international law and Security Council resolutions.

Armenia’s policies and practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan undermined prospects for a political settlement and threatened regional peace and stability, he said.  It was refusing to withdraw its troops and it was preventing hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis from returning to their homes.  This month, it began intensive military activity in the occupied Aghdam district.  Azerbaijan expected Armenia to halt is military build-up and to engage in negotiations in good faith in order to find a long-overdue political solution.  The conflict could only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had decided to integrate the 2030 Goals into its national development plans to ensure that its policies were coherent.  It had put together a five-year plan for the period 2017-2021, during which priority would be given to improving human capital, requiring close cooperation between various development partners to guarantee strong economic growth and also, more importantly, to be inclusive.  Specific attention would be given to the needs of young people and women, in terms of their education, training and job prospects.

Turning to the political situation in his country, he said it recently had undergone a process of administrative decentralization in order to have local management.  Each of the 26 new provinces had its own local authorities, and elections had taken place in March and April.  Despite delays, initial legislative and presidential elections planned for early 2017 would be conducted by an independent commission and would take place as soon as technical conditions allowed.  The right to elect and to be elected was a fundamental right for Congolese and the diaspora.  A major challenge was to ensure the inclusivity and reliability of registers, and he welcomed the important role of registering voters.  He added that any recourse to violence should be condemned as well as any insurrection or other non-constitutional access to power.

Right of Reply

Several delegates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The representative of the United Kingdom, referring to the statement of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, said her Government was in no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.  The United Kingdom did not consider the International Court of Justice to be the appropriate way to resolve the issue, she said, adding that the United Kingdom would continue to engage bilaterally with Mauritius.

The representative of Ukraine, referring to remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the situation in Ukraine had been caused by Russian aggression against his country.  Russia had been urged time and again to halt its aggression.  Noting that the Minister had quoted from “Animal Farm”, he quoted from “1984” the phrase “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”.  That was the philosophy that Russia wanted to impose.

The representative of Brazil, in response to the statement by Venezuela, reiterated what his country’s President had said earlier in the week, that in the Latin American region, Governments of different political colours coexisted; that was natural and to be welcomed.  But it was also essential to have mutual respect, and recognize that all were capable of the same basic goals of human rights, social progress, security and freedom.

The representative of Armenia responded to the statement by Azerbaijan, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh was never part of Azerbaijan and had been transferred by a Bolshevik decision.  After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was independent.  It had never been and never would be part of Azerbaijan.  The sooner it stopped killing civilians, the sooner the issue would be resolved.  The war it had unleashed on those people was lost a long time ago.  The barbarism committed in the process had included intentional and indiscriminate targeting of women, children and the elderly, which was incompatible with the norms of the civilized world.  It could not be tolerated for the President of a country to encourage those who had committed such barbaric acts, and the glorification of persons directly involved in atrocities constituted as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said he wanted to counter the baseless allegations of his Armenian counterpart.  Armenia was occupying almost one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory and it had carried out large-scale ethnic cleansing.  With the use of force, Armenia had flagrantly violated the Charter of the United Nations as well as basic human rights, international law and international humanitarian law.  Armenia had sought to consolidate the status quo and mislead the international community, he said, adding that Azerbaijan stood for an effective ceasefire, which Armenia had violated.

The representative of Armenia said nothing was established until it was proven.  He added that if any nation had the right to self-determination, it was the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The representative of Azerbaijan said negotiations had been based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.  Regarding respect for the territorial integrity of States, he said he wondered how the Armenian side viewed its obligations under international law.

For information media. Not an official record.